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Beegle’s 'Warrior' Ready For Battle

Published: May 8, 2009 12:10 am ET

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It took a lot of hard work over the winter, but trainer Sam Beegle has Arctic Warrior relaxed and ready to do battle in the $230,000 Berry’s Creek Saturday night at the Meadowlands.

Arctic Warrior is rated at 18-1 on the morning line from post six in the Berry’s Creek, the first major test for three-year-olds and a stepping-stone to the $1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup on June 27 and the $1 million Meadowlands Pace on July 18.

He faces stiff competition from River Shark, who carries a four-race streak into Saturday’s featured seventh race. First race is 7 p.m.; estimated post time for the Berry’s Creek is 9:11 p.m.

Arctic Warrior was a game second in his Berry’s Creek elimination after coming first up to take on the leader Sheer Desire. He appeared to be en route to the winner’s circle until Hypnotic Blue Chip slid up the rail and bested him by a neck.

“I had worked all winter getting him to settle down,” Beegle said. “If he had any problems last year, he would get a little huffy at times. So, I worked at getting him to relax. We made some bridle changes when it was time to go and he responded. The other night [in the Berry’s Creek elims], I put what I call a cheater hood on him and it perked him right up. His Meadowlands debut last week was excellent and that’s sort of what we had in mind.”

Beegle, his wife, Kathleen, and daughter, Beth Ann Cook, own the homebred son of Blissfull Hall under the banner of the Wahoo Stable. Pete Eyerly, Jim Novinger and Carl Vizzi, who owned Hambletonian winner Prakas, later bought into the gelding.

“We own the dam Brets Grand Finale,” Beegle explained. “Her full brother, Nights Journey, was a world champion for me and set a track record at Garden State Park. There’s a lot of pedigree there. Arctic Warrior has been terrific ever since he trained down as a two-year-old, but he was always a bit different. When you were jogging him he used to see things and get distracted, but he always showed talent. He might run off the track going the wrong way, but going the right way he’s been all business.”

Arctic Warrior won six straight races as a freshman and set a 1:51.4 track record in an Arden Downs division at Pocono. He capped the season as the runner-up to Panmunjom in the $150,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship at Chester. He returned to the racetrack in April and finished sixth in his sophomore debut at Chester before shipping to the Meadowlands.

“I turned him out for a while over the winter,” Beegle said. “I’ve got paddocks, so I let him run around and play. When we brought him back we just took our good old time getting him ready. His first race back at Chester was tough. There were five four-year-olds entered who had several starts, and some of them at $300,000 and $400,000 on their card. I just told my man [driver Tim Curtin] not to cook him in his first time out. Tim told me he paced home all right, but it was like he didn’t care. I assured him the horse would care in his next start.”

Arctic Warrior is eligible to the $1 million Meadowlands Pace on July 18, as well as the Burlington and Pepsi North America Cup at Mohawk and the Hempt Memorial at Pocono.

“If the season pans out, we’ll supplement him to some other stakes later on,” Beegle said. “I didn’t put him in any half-mile track events. Most of them aren’t early closers and my personal preference is a five-eighths mile track.”

Beegle transferred the driving duties over to David Miller at the Meadowlands.

“Dave and I have known each other for quite awhile, and he’s driven for me before,” he said. “ We speak the same language. We’re farm boys. I’ve raced at the Meadowlands before, but I don’t usually come unless I have some stock.”

Beegle, 58, is the co-owner and managing partner of Ginger Tree Farms, a training facility in New Holland, PA. He grew up in Bedford, PA and fondly recalls playing against veteran horsemen Roger Hammer in high school sports. Beegle has 30 of the 75 stalls at Ginger Tree Farms, which is also home base for trainers Jim Raymer, Walter Carroll and Harold Brocklehurst.

Beegle’s top trainee is Gabby Glide, who trotted to a 1:52.2 World Record on the five-eighths-mile track at Chester in 2007. Sam and Kathleen Beegle have three children - Paul, Beth and Jason - and five grandchildren.

“I like to race from home with my grandchildren and family here,” he said. “I race in the sires stakes and overnights, and with the slots money now in Pennsylvania, I made over $1 million in purses the last two years. Now we’re playing a bigger game with this horse. He may not be an ace card, but we’re going to play it anyway. We’ll try this for a while and we’ll have some fun. We can also race him in the sire stakes here. If he doesn’t belong at the White House Ball we’ll go to the state ball.”

(The Meadowlands)

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