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Ideal Jimmy Wants The Wire

Published: March 26, 2019 3:19 pm ET

Last Comment: March 27, 2019 10:06 am ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Forty years ago, Don Van Witzenburg had an Illinois-bred pacer named Iones Folly, who earned more than $400,000 lifetime. His trainer at the time told Van Witzenburg he could live a lifetime and never find another horse like him.

Van Witzenburg points out it proved to be an incorrect assumption.

“I’m 86 years old and I found another one just like him,” Van Witzenburg said, laughing.

The “another one” is Ideal Jimmy.

Ideal Jimmy, a homebred six-year-old male pacer named after one of Van Witzenburg’s grandchildren, has won 17 of 57 career races, including the 2015 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship, and earned $626,936. The horse suffered a broken coffin bone in December 2017, but returned to action a year later and is now enjoying success in the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series at Yonkers Raceway.

“He’s a pretty sporty little fella, especially over there at Yonkers,” trainer Erv Miller said about the gelding, who is one of two horses (with Rodeo Rock) to post wins in each of the first two preliminary rounds of the Levy. “He’s getting it done right now.”

Ideal Jimmy is a son of Western Ideal out of Armbro Nectarine, who in addition to Ideal Jimmy produced a string of stakes-winners for Van Witzenburg: Ideal Nectarine, Ideal Danny, Ideal Helen, and Ideal Ike.

Van Witzenburg got started in harness racing in the mid-1960s. A self-described workaholic, he is a man on the go, up from bed hours before the sunrise every day to oversee a variety of business interests from real estate to construction. The horses provide a happy diversion and help keep him young.

“You know why horsemen live to be a hundred years old? They got another baby coming,” Van Witzenburg said. “With broodmares, I have eight (horses now) with two more coming in April. It’s the anticipation. Once a man loses his dreams there ain’t nothing left to do but to bury him. It’s not about the money, it’s about the experience. It’s a trip. It’s a great life.”

Ideal Jimmy is providing a great experience. On Saturday he will compete in the third round of the Levy, and will start from Post 7 in the fifth of five divisions with Brent Holland in the sulky. The gelding has won nine of 26 career races at Yonkers and hit the board a total of 15 times.

“I admire his heart, his desire to win,” Van Witzenburg said. “That’s something you can’t train into them. It’s something they’re born with, just a natural thing. He wants to win.

“He’s handy,” the owner continued. “You can leave with him or he can sit in a hole and he can come like a freight train at the end.”

Ideal Jimmy is not paid into any races beyond the Levy, but could find himself garnering attention for upcoming half-mile-track invitationals if he remains sharp.

“We weren’t going to pay him into a bunch of stuff his first year coming back (from the injury),” Miller said. “If he stays good, next year he will probably be eligible to all the races on the small tracks.”

The Levy and companion Blue Chip Matchmaker Series, which continues Friday for older female pacers, both feature five preliminary rounds followed by added-money finals April 20. A horse receives 25 points each time she or he races in a preliminary round. Points are also awarded based on finish, with 50 points for a win, 25 for second, 12 for third, eight for fourth, and five for fifth.


March 27, 2019 - 10:06 amIf Ideal Jimmy's owner would

Mike Mobley SAID...

If Ideal Jimmy's owner would like to enter his horse in upcoming half-mile-track invitationals, it sounds like the gelding is a perfect fit for The Camluck Classic, The Battle of Lake Erie, The Gerrity Memorial, The Gold Cup & Saucer, and The Quillen.

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