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Art Official Impressive In 2009 Debut


Published: June 14, 2009 12:32 am ET

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Last year’s Meadowlands Pace and Hoosier Cup champion Art Official, who posted 13 wins and more than $1.5 million in earnings for owner Jim Jesk’s Sawgrass Farms during his great sophomore season, made his four-year-old debut a winning one on Saturday night at Balmoral Park taking the $18,000 Free For All in 1:51.

Coming off winning qualifiers at Balmoral (1:55.4) & Hoosier Park (1:56.4) the Joe Seekman trained son of Art Major-Naughty Shady appeared fit as a fiddle on Saturday despite being away since his victory in the $293,000 Tattersalls Stake Final at the Red Mile on October 4th of 2008.

“Our original plan was to qualify him three times, but after those first two qualifiers we decided to aim for the Dan Patch next week at Hoosier,” explained Seekman. “Qualifiers are definitely not the same as a regular race and we wanted to make sure he was tight enough so we decided to enter him tonight.”

Handled by Seekman’s 19-year-old son Travis, who went from the emergency room to the winner's circle after getting banged up in a training accident at the family farm on Saturday morning, Art Official neatly tucked in third as Kashitin (Marcus Miller) led the field through an opening quarter in :28.3.

Moving to the outside as the field straightened up on the backstretch Seekman sent Art Official to the top where he proceed to rattle off middle splits of :57.1 and 1:24 while under a tight hold from his pilot. That move brought plenty of praise from a proud papa.

“I thought he drove a very heady race with him tonight,” said the elder Seekman. “Even though I think he races better when he’s chasing horses Travis saw that there was a longshot up there on the front end and he wasn’t going to allow that horse to get away cheap or get himself locked in so he put him on the front end.”

On cruise control and wrapped up the rest of the way Art Official still breezed home in an eye-opening :26.3 to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Kashitin held on for second while Well To Do Guru (Casey Leonard) finished third.

After the race Seekman seemed very pleased with the effort turned in by his star pupil. “I didn’t have a set time I wanted him to go or a set way I wanted him to race,” he said. “He looked pretty sharp to me and this race should have tightened him up nicely without taking too much out him for next week.”

(Balmoral Park)

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