Trainer On His Filly: “She Can Do It All”

Published: June 21, 2018 11:29 am EDT

Since making her three-year-old debut at Hoosier Park earlier this spring, Wisdom Tree has been nearly unstoppable. The daughter of Betterthancheddar out of the Artsplace mare Wisdom posted three straight wins in overnight competition in Indiana and at Saratoga before jumping into New York Sire Stakes action.

In three NYSS legs thus far, Wisdom Tree is two-for-three. The only blemish on Wisdom Tree’s 2018 campaign came in her first start of the year when she made an early miscue and finished seventh.

“She’s a really nice filly. She’s a doll, I love her,” trainer Ed Hart said. “I think she was a little immature last year. She made the odd mistake. You could never move her too fast, you always had to be a little careful with her. She definitely matured. She’s a sweetheart in the stall, does everything right, just a classy horse.”

Jeff Cullipher co-owns Wisdom Tree with Tom Pollack and prepared the filly for her three-year-old campaign before sending her east to Hart. Over the years, the relationship between Hart, Pollack, and Cullipher has proven fruitful.

“I started training horses for Tom Pollack. He was also an owner with Randy Bendis and Randy sent me horses from the Meadows when they came out east to race, especially for New York Sire Stakes,” Hart said. “And then Tom branched out to Indiana with Jeff Cullipher and they race together. They do the same thing, when they come out east, they send them to me.

“They always send me good horses and they’re good people to deal with. Jeff Cullipher developed this filly and trained her down. I just manage her out here and race her. It’s really nice,” Hart continued. “Jeff has a big stable out in Indiana; he’s a good guy to work with. It really is nice. It works out real well for me.”

In her first start in sire stakes competition this year (May 27) at Saratoga, Wisdom Tree raced from off the pace as the race’s 2-5 favourite Youaremycandygirl cut blistering fractions of :26.3 and :53.3. As the leader’s strides began to shorten nearing three-quarters, Wisdom Tree mounted a first-over bid. She struck the lead at the top of the stretch and powered away with a :28.2 final quarter to beat Alexis Faith by a length in 1:52.2 at odds of 8-1.

“That was a pretty wild race,” Hart said. “My filly did it right, she pulled going to the half and she was coming first-over and ground that one down. She raced tough as nails; you can’t take anything away from her.”

Wisdom Tree’s victory at Saratoga showed that the filly has developed a new dimension this year. In 11 starts at two, Wisdom Tree won three races, all of which came on the front end. She frequently made breaks in stride when forced to sit in a hole. Now more mentally and physically mature, Hart thinks Wisdom Tree has outgrown her breaking issues and is much more versatile.

“Last year, when she was on the lead where you could steady her and keep her on her own pace, she was really good,” Hart explained. “She was never quick to come out of the hole; you could never force her into anything. This year, you can. She can leave, she can sit. She can do it all.”

Wisdom Tree proved her efforts at Saratoga were no fluke as she finished second her next time out (she paced a 1:50.3 mile from Post 8 at Tioga Downs on June 3). In her most recent start, Wisdom Tree posted a four and a quarter-length victory after sitting a pocket trip at Buffalo June 13.

(Wisdom Tree, pictured victorious at Buffalo Raceway)

“I know Buffalo, I’ve raced there all my life and you’ve got to be really careful up there,” Hart said. “I was happy to see her get around that track and she handled it perfectly. Kevin Cummings said she never took a bad step. And there again, she left pretty quick and sat the hole and sat there nice. That was a nice trip up there for her.”

Wisdom Tree will try to score her third NYSS victory of the year Thursday night at Yonkers Raceway when she starts in the third and final division of the state-bred stakes in Race 11. Wisdom Tree will start from Post 5 as the 2-1 morning line favourite and will once again face Alexis Faith, the Casie Coleman trainee who finished second in a Fan Hanover elimination at Mohawk on June 9.

“I know Casie Coleman’s horse on the outside of us is a tough horse, I know she’s raced [well] in Canada. At that level, they’re all good, anything can happen. Hopefully we’ll get a good trip and we’ll see what happens,” Hart said. “I think Wisdom Tree is sharp. That Buffalo trip is tough. It’s a six-hour trip each way, it’s a two-day thing, but I think she’s sharp. She feels good.”

Hart will also start Medusa in Friday night’s featured $44,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. A 6-1 chance from an assigned inside post, Medusa will face the likes of Lispatty, Sell A Bit, Newborn Sassy, and Mach It A Par.

Hart broke Medusa as a yearling, but she campaigned with a host of stables including Paul Kelley, Ron Burke, and Randy Bendis before finally coming to Hart this spring for the Matchmaker Series. She was victorious in one leg and hit the board in three others to make the final, where she finished sixth. In her last start, the seven-year-old finished second, beaten a nose, in the Filly and Mare Open on June 15. In her career, Medusa is 32-for-109 with $732,753 earned.

“I had her a long time ago as a baby and she came back to me this year,” Hart said. “She raced tough in that series. Five, six weeks in a row is a tough series. Last week, she was super, but the fractions were a little slower up front – kind of played into her a little bit. That’s a really nice mare. Big, beautiful, sound mare. Pretty much tries every week and just another good horse.”

First post time Thursday and Friday at Yonkers is 6:50 p.m.

(SOA of NY)

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