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Schnittker Stablemates Near $1 Million

Published: April 6, 2011 9:01 pm ET

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If Grain Of Truth is to surpass the lifetime million-dollar mark on Friday with a win in the $25,000 Open at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, he will have to earn it. That should be no surprise. None of the 10-year-old trotter’s previous 990,634 bucks have come the easy way, either.

Grain Of Truth, who starts from post No. 9 on Friday, has won 60 of 215 career races for owners Charles Iannazzo and Giorgan Iannazzo. He was unraced at age two and earned a mere $8,225 as a three-year-old. He has raced for more than $70,000 only twice in his career – finishing fifth in the $100,000 Oleg Cassini Invitational in 2008 and second in the $71,035 Super Bowl in 2005 – and never won a race worth more than $35,000. Yet, he has posted six consecutive $100,000 seasons.

Beginning with his four-year-old campaign, Grain Of Truth has raced out of the stable of trainer Ray Schnittker. It should be noted another Schnittker warhorse, Armbro Barrister, is also closing in on the million-dollar level.

Grain Of Truth has been named Trotter of the Year at Pocono Downs the past two years.

“He’s been unbelievable,” said Charles Iannazzo. “He tries every time and he takes on all comers.”

Grain Of Truth is a son of Self Possessed out of the mare Aimees Promise and is a half brother to stakes-winning millionaire Celebrity Secret, who is four years younger than Grain Of Truth.

Iannazzo bought Grain Of Truth for $22,000 at the 2002 Kentucky Standardbred Sale.

“As a two-year-old we gelded and turned him out,” said Iannazzo said. “At three, he still wasn’t doing anything. I took him and gave him to Ray. I told Ray that I didn’t know what this horse was. I thought he had potential, but he hadn’t done anything. After a while, Ray said to keep him and he was better than what you think. He’s a nice horse.

“Ray has done so much for that horse. I’m in debt to him. He found the horse does not like to be in a stall. Ray takes him home to his farm and he runs around the paddock all day. Ray found out what he likes.”

In addition, Schnittker rides Grain Of Truth two or three times a week, just like he did with 2008 Trotter of the Year Deweycheatumnhowe. Iannazzo also was part of the Deweycheatumnhowe ownership group.

“I had a tremendous amount of fun with Dewey and made real good friends, met a lot of nice people,” said Iannazzo. “But having Grain Of Truth is special also. He wasn’t the caliber to be in stakes races, but in overnight races he gives you everything he has.”

Last year, Grain Of Truth won $205,190 and finished on the board in 27 of 31 races, winning 10. If he earns more than $100,000 again this season, he will join a group of horses that includes Admirals Express, Boulder Creek, Quality Western, Rair Earth, Rambling Willie, and Sanabelle Island to reach that level seven consecutive years.

Grain Of Truth has won two of four races and $25,375 this season.

“He’s as game a horse I’ve seen at his age,” Schnittker said. “He used to be a little hyper and now he’s more relaxed; that’s helped a lot. His legs look the same as when I got him. I don’t have to work hard on him at all. I have to give the owner credit; he gives him breaks and that helps. He always comes back fresh.”

At Christmas time, Grain Of Truth can sometimes be found wearing a Santa hat and posing for pictures.

“He’s a ham,” said Iannazzo. “He has such a great personality. He’s just a great horse.”

The other Schnittker-trainee approaching $1 million, Armbro Barrister, has won 50 of 212 races and earned $959,396. Schnittker owns the horse with Kelk’s Inc. and Earl Scheelar. In 2004, he won the Galt at Maywood Park and a division of the Zweig at Syracuse. A son of Malabar Man-Armbro Rocker, Armbro Barrister is a full brother to Armbro Copenhagen, who has earned $532,326 in his ongoing career. The maternal family also includes millionaire Armbro Fling.

Schnittker bought Armbro Barrister as a yearling for $50,000 at the same 2002 Kentucky Standardbred Sale as Grain Of Truth.

The 10-year-old Armbro Barrister is winless in four starts this year, but Schnittker is unconcerned. Last year, the horse was winless in four starts prior to mid-April.

“He doesn’t start racing good until I can start swimming him in my pond,” Schnittker said. “That should be in another couple weeks, and then he’ll be ready to go. It’s like flipping a switch. It seems like every year it’s the same time when he gets going.”

The main thing is he, along with Grain Of Truth, just keeps on going.

“It’s nice to look outside and see them there,” Schnittker said. “It’s really good.”


This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com.

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