Friday’s $215,000 Windy City Pace, the signature event on a big Friday night of stakes action at Maywood Park, should be a hotly contested affair from start to finish as a very strong field of eight three-year-old pacing colts square off in this prestigious event.
Frank Bellino’s Pet Rock has been accorded the slight morning line favouritism at 2-1 after having drawn Post 2.
The son of Rocknroll Hanover--Casual Beauty enters the Windy City Pace off a second-place finish in the Messenger Stakes at Yonkers Raceway last Saturday night. The sophomore has racked up a record of nine wins, eight seconds and four thirds in 24 lifetime starts with earnings of $870,236 since being purchased before his first career start by his happy owner.
Spotted by trainer Virgil Morgan Jr. in a qualifier at Scioto Downs as a two-year-old, Bellino was contacted by the veteran conditioner to see if he would be interested in purchasing the colt.
“I called my dad and he said he wasn’t really high on the horse, let’s wait until he wins another qualifier,” Bellino said.
In the meantime, Morgan contacted salesman Ed Murphy and discovered Pet Rock was for sale. He then qualified at the Meadowlands, winning in 1:55.3.
“I was at my house all day waiting for the qualifier to come up,” Joe said with a laugh. “Once he qualified I called and said ‘Murph, get that horse for me.’ Of course, I had to pay a little more for him after that qualifier than I would have after the first qualifier.
“I took (the video) to my dad and said ‘I bought the horse.’ He said ‘What horse?’ and then he said ‘Why?’ I said ‘You’ll see after I show you the qualifier.’”
Joe was not only impressed by the Meadowlands qualifier, he had complete faith in Morgan, who now trains Pet Rock.
“Virgil saw him race out at Scioto,” Joe said. “Virgil knows his horses. If Virgil says it’s OK, I believe him. I would have bought him out (in Ohio) but it has to be a consensus, with me, Virgil and my dad.”
“It was a gutsy buy considering that he wasn’t staked to many races,” Morgan said. “The Bellinos have given him an opportunity. You never know after a qualifier in (1:) 58 whether they’re going to be that good, but he was one that definitely caught my eye. He’s got good conformation and he has proven that he doesn’t need any certain type of track to help him. He’ll get around any size track. That’s a nice advantage.”