The rags-to-riches, off-beat story of Richard Hans’ Googoo Gaagaa resumes when the world champion trotter makes his 2013 debut in Saturday’s $100,000 Meadowlands Maturity.
The inaugural edition, carded as the sixth on the 13-race program, features a strong field of four-year-old trotters and highlights opening weekend of the Championship Meet at the Meadowlands Racetrack.
Corey Callahan, the sport’s leading dash winner, who has been red-hot at the Big M, will be reunited with Googoo Gaagaa from Post 3.
The Maryland-bred, by pacer Cams Rocket, is out of the trotting-bred dam Koras Trotter that Hans purchased for a mere $1,200. Googoo Gaagaa now has 15 wins from 20 career starts and earned $663,212.
“Her first foal was a Broadway Hall filly (Rosy Picture) who was just crazy, and the next one was a filly by Tejano who won some Maryland Sires Stakes,” began Hans, who is based in Westminster, Maryland on a farm owned by his father, Roger Hans. “I was trying to breed her to Revenue S and she wouldn’t get in foal. Googoo Gaagaa was her third foal by natural cover.
“One guy had suggested I trying breeding Koras Trotter to this pacing stallion I have (Cams Rocket), and the mare got in foal right away. Right from when he first came out Googoo Gaagaa would trot across the field a hundred miles an hour. He looked like a show horse, and I first thought he would pace, yet anybody could have had him for free if they wanted him. I named him, and I knew it was kind of awful, but I figured it didn’t matter, and he could race anyway.”
“Cams Rocket is still here and he doesn’t breed much anymore,” Hans continued. “Kevin Sizer raced him. When Googoo Gaagaa won at Pocono Downs last year this girl there started crying. She said he was ‘Rocky’s baby.’ Cams Rocket was a New Jersey Sires Stakes winner, but they had trouble getting him to hit the pace. The girl had taken is hopples off and trained him in 2:10 on the trot. I thought that was a cool story.”
As a two-year-old, Googoo Gaagaa was an undefeated six-for-six at Ocean Downs, swept the Maryland Sires Stakes and trotted a world record of 1:56 on the half mile track.
“Jim Morand drove him as a two-year-old and said he could trot in 1:55 around that bull ring, but why hurt him,” recalled Hans. “The wind was whipping up around 30 miles an hour because there was a hurricane coming. When I went out to warm him up I really had fasten my helmet on.”
Last year as a three-year-old, Googoo Gaagaa reeled off stunning back-to-back world records of 1:51.3 and 1:50.4 at Pocono Downs in his elimination and the $500,000 final of the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial. He was not eligible to the Hambletonian, yet was invited to the Nat Ray.
“He wasn’t even blowing hard after those races there, but in that final he started getting a little sore somewhere,” noted Hans. “I had him checked out and they said he was sound. In the Yonkers Trot, he broke in the same spot on that track twice. Everyone said he was afraid of something, but that wasn’t the case. Then, he broke again in the Dancer at the Meadowlands. The next morning we discovered a blind splint issue, we freeze fired it and then he was fine.”
Googoo Gaagaa bounced back about a month later to upset Hambletonian champion Market Share in the $500,000 Colonial in a track record of 1:52.1 at Harrah’s Philadelphia. He went on the set a track record of 1:54.1 at Rosecroft Raceway in the $32,000 Maryland Sires Stakes Final, but got parked and finished sixth in the Matron Final at Dover Downs to close out his 2012 season.
“He wasn’t very good at the end of his three-year-old season,” admitted Hans. “I had this filly I bought at Harrisburg who was really sick. He wasn’t coughing or anything like that, but he just didn’t have any life to him. He was just very quiet. He had some sort of virus. I probably shouldn’t have raced him.”
Googoo Gaagaa has qualified twice at Harrah’s Philadelphia, the first in 1:58.3 (fifth), then in 1:55.2 (first) with a shoeing change. Driver Corey Callahan said he was absolutely super the second time around, he’s bigger and stronger, and now wears a regular overcheck because he’s seems totally comfortable.
“He was always kind of a big horse, but now he’s heavier and he’s got some fat on him,” Hans observed. “He’s got a lot of miles under him. We’ve got him in the Cutler next. He’s not real aggressive or studdy. We have bars on his stall, so he can always look out and be in contact with other horses.”
Googoo Gaagaa’s eighth dam is world champion Rosalind, the 1936 Hambletonian winner, and his paternal line traces to 1978 Hambletonian champion Speedy Somolli.
“I don’t know if that has anything to do with it, but genetics is where you come from. Pacers have the bigger engine and trotters have the deeper lungs. I think it’s called hybrid vigor. Corey Callahan told me he could trot in 1:49 at the Meadowlands. That was last year. I had a lot of European offers for this horse, including some who like the off-the-wall breeding. Some say he’d make a good stallion.”