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$2,000 Yearling Eyes Adios Orchids

Published: July 21, 2011 10:28 am ET

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It’s rare for a yearling to be haltered for $2,000 at a premier sale --- rarer still for that youngster to develop into a contender for national stakes laurels.

Yet, that’s the case with Keystone Velocity, a bargain-basement acquisition that will compete in the 45th edition of the Delvin Miller Adios at the Meadows.

Three $50,000 eliminations are set for Saturday, July 23. The $500,000 (estimated) final of the 'Pace for the Orchids' will take place Saturday, July 30, and will anchor a card which will offer more than $1 million in purses.

Frank Kamine, the 31-year-old trainer of Keystone Velocity, never actually saw the yearling that walked through the ring at Harrisburg.

“I was on my way to the sale,” Kamine recalled, “but my mother, Lauretta Galm, was there with some friends. She thought the horse would be a nice one for me to fool around with but didn’t get to bid on him.”

Galm and her party took a dinner break and returned to the sale to see a familiar horse on the block. It was Keystone Velocity, as the original deal had fallen through. This time, she bought the son of Western Hanover--Venus Killean for $2,000 and turned him over to Kamine for his Pocono Downs-based operation.

To put the acquisition in perspective, the average purchase price for the 15 other Adios horses sold at auction was just less than $43,867. Nevertheless, Kamine brought Keystone Velocity along and dropped him in a maiden race at Pocono Downs to launch his career. When he won in 1:54, Kamine knew he had a keeper.

Kamine raced him in the Metro Pace as a two-year-old — he was fifth in the Consolation final — and has kept him eligible to such engagements this year as the Breeders Crown, the Matron, the Confederation Cup and the Battle of the Brandywine. Keystone Velocity has justified that investment by earning more than $92,000 to date. In perhaps his most memorable performance, he fully extended Big Bad John before falling by a length in a July 16 Pennsylvania Sires Stakes event at the Meadows.

“I couldn’t stake him to the gills,” Kamine said, “so I picked a few of the big races.”

He has such confidence in his horse that, the day following that maiden victory, Kamine turned down $125,000 for Keystone Velocity and since has rebuffed several other offers.

“I’m not really interested in selling a piece of him or losing control of him,” Kamine said. “I’m the only person who jogs and trains him, and I have a lot of faith in him. I still keep seeing this horse far exceeding expectations.”

Kamine’s rejection of a big payday is more remarkable when you consider that his is a one-horse stable, although he has two youngsters not yet in training. In fact, Kamine’s journey to harness racing’s top stakes is about as unusual as that of Keystone Velocity.

A 2006 graduate of the Pennsylvania College of Technology, Kamine earned his degree in culinary arts and considered a career as a chef before the harness bug bit.

“I really enjoy working with racehorses, and what I learned about nutrition has helped me care for them,” he said.

Keystone Velocity will start from the rail in Saturday’s third elimination. Eric Ledford will perform the driving duties. If he wins, 'Chef Frank' promises to whip up his favourite treat — oat and honey bars — as a well-deserved reward.

(Meadows)

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