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Coleman Creating A Masterpiece?

Published: July 10, 2009 9:23 am ET

Last Comment: July 10, 2009 3:38 pm ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

When the hammer fell on Hip No. 382 at the 2007 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale, the usually confident trainer Casie Coleman was a bundle of nerves.

Her client, United Kingdom businessman Tom Hill, had just paid $157,000 for a son of Artsplace named Art Colony and Coleman now faced the pressure of delivering on that substantial investment.

While Coleman is breathing easier, as Art Colony has earned nearly $500,000 to date, she will still be nervous Saturday night as the colt bids for one of 10 starting spots in the $1 million Meadowlands Pace. A pair of $50,000 elimination races will decide the field for the track’s signature event for three-year-old colt pacers on Saturday, July 18. Art Colony will square off against the early favourite Well Said from Post 5 in the first of the two splits with John Campbell in the sulky.

“Art Colony was my pick of the sale,” Coleman said. “I absolutely loved the colt, but I really didn’t think we had to pay $157,000 for him. I told Tom Hill I thought he would go for about $80,000. When he got up to about $100,000, then $110,00, I told him to get out. That was too much money. Tom just kept going. When the hammer dropped I was ready to get sick wondering how we were going to make all of that money back.”

Fortunately, Art Colony earned nearly three times his purchase price during his two-year-old campaign, finishing first or second in all seven of his starts for a $423,750 bankroll. He was second to Well Said in the $700,000 Breeders Crown Final at the Meadowlands and beaten a head by Nebupanezzar in the $820,000 Governor’s Cup at Woodbine.

“I just like everything about Art Colony,” Coleman said. “His conformation is flawless and he’s a gorgeous animal. I also love Artsplace and always had good luck with his offspring. I originally didn’t have him marked in the sale book. I had a bunch of them circled, but not him, and I don’t know why. Then, I saw him walk by and he caught my eye. From day one, he’s always had a great attitude and ever since we started training him down, I was sure he was going to be a top one.”

The waters have not been as smooth this season for Art Colony. After a dazzling seven-length romp in his first qualifier of the year on May 22 at Mohawk, the colt’s progress was derailed by sickness.

“He trained down great this season and in his first qualifier he was awesome,” Coleman said, “but I wasn’t happy with his second qualifier [in which he finished a flat third]. He scoped sick, we thought we had it cleared up, and fought with that for about three weeks. In fact, I wasn’t able to train him very much at all.”

Though still not 100 per cent, Art Colony opened his three-year-old campaign with a 1:51 victory in a conditioned race on June 6 at Mohawk and followed that effort with a near miss in a $100,000 Burlington division on June 13. Art Colony finished second, three-quarters of a length behind Mr Wiggles, in his North America Cup elimination the following week, but Coleman was a bit disappointed in his performance.

“In his North America Cup elimination, I felt the colt cheated a little bit, and so did John Campbell,” she said. “John said he felt very good sitting in the hole, but he didn’t fly by like he should have.

“We changed up his bridle and training a bit, then he raced well in the final,” she continued. “As a two-year-old, we cut holes in a Murphy blind so he could see horses coming. A few weeks ago, I had him in closed blinkers and he just wasn’t picking up the bit in his mouth. I changed him to a quarter cup blinker with a small slit to get him to grab on more and try harder.”

Art Colony responded with a strong runner-up finish to Well Said in a 1:48.1 stakes and track record in the North America Cup Final.

“He trained up a very good mile going into the North America Cup Final, but I don’t know if anybody was going to beat Well Said that nigh,” Coleman said. “Art Colony paced in 1:48.4. I was hoping we wouldn’t have to meet Well Said again in the [Meadowlands Pace] elimination, but hopefully we’ll be able to give him a run this time.”

Coleman, 29, made her Meadowlands Pace debut in 2005 with American Ideal, who finished fourth in his elimination and fifth in the $1 million final won by Rocknroll Hanover. She bids to become the first woman to harness a Pace winner.

“It’s only his fifth start of the year on Saturday, and Art Colony is actually only about $5,000 off what American Ideal made lifetime,” she said. “American Ideal at the same time was the faster horse. I think Art Colony is going to be right there in the same league. American Ideal had the worst luck with post positions. For instance, he had the 10-hole in the Meadowlands Pace, the North America Cup and the Breeders Crown. The only time he drew inside Rocknroll Hanover was when he beat him in the Oliver Wendell Holmes.”

Coleman, who splits her stable between her native Ontario and New Jersey, will spend the balance of the 2009 Championship Meet at the Meadowlands.

“I have 17 horses in New Jersey right now,” she said. “I’d like to race more horses at the Meadowlands, but right now I have a lot of them at Yonkers and Chester. The purses there are simply too good, especially for the claimers.”

To view Saturday's entries, click here.


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