Rene Allard admits Springsteen can be a complicated horse to deal with and the challenge is reflected in the colt’s results. His sophomore season has been a mix of impressive miles and dull efforts. He won the $500,000 Max Hempt Memorial and two divisions of New York Sire Stakes, but came up flat in the Carl Milstein, Adios, and Art Rooney Pace.
Allard looks to make amends for the Rooney loss when he sends Springsteen out in the $500,000 Messenger Stakes Saturday night (Sept. 1), slated as race seven on a stakes-laden card at Yonkers Raceway. The son of Rock N Roll Heaven drew the inside while rival Jimmy Freight landed post eight.
“We’re happy with the season. Obviously, he threw a couple clinkers, there’s a couple races I wish he would have shown up better,” Allard said. “The final of the Art Rooney, he tied up that start and then the start at Northfield. Other than that, he’s a nice horse, he’s got high speed. We’re happy with him.”
Springsteen suffers from tying up when he trains too hard and deals with trying conditions, like long trips to the races and drastic changes in the weather. He can also be a difficult horse to drive. All these factors converged two starts back in the Milstein. After shipping all the way to Ohio, Springsteen choked in the race when Lather Up broke to his outside on the second turn.
“He had some tying up issues and he choked. (Lather Up) made a break and he shut his air off. He’s a real tricky horse,” Allard said. “When he sees the gate, he gets a little grabby and sometimes he shuts his air off. When he shuts his air off, that’s it, the race is over. That’s why the drivers have to be a little careful with him.
“If he doesn’t tie up and doesn’t shut his air off, he’s probably as good as any three-year-old colt out there,” Allard continued. “So, we just kind of keep our fingers crossed that everything goes good and have the equipment on him to control him and so far, 90 percent of the time it’s been working out.”
Everything worked out in the Hempt Final at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono June 30. Springsteen followed the cover of Hitman Hill and Lather Up as Dorsoduro Hanover paced through a :53.1 opening half mile. Simon Allard tugged on the right line before the three-quarters and Springsteen charged three-wide. He circled Lather Up past a 1:20.2 panel, the 1-9 favourite off his North America Cup and Hempt elimination wins offering no resistance.
Allard drove Springsteen confidently into the stretch, the colt drifting wide and the driver still holding the whip over his shoulder as he leaned flat in the bike. Allard finally went to the whip in the final sixteenth as Nutcracker Sweet shot through up the passing lane and put a head in front. Allard sat up in the bike and gave Springsteen a pair of right-handers and the colt extended, edging his nose in front just as the glow of the finish line lights appeared. He registered a head win in 1:48.3.
“He’s definitely got high speed and he’s a nice horse and it’s been a very fun ride, for sure,” Allard said.
Allard bought Springsteen with Bruce Soulsby midway through his two-year-old season. After watching Springsteen use a :26.1 final quarter to finish second in a Metro Pace elimination at Mohawk last September for Chris Ryder, Allard and Soulsby finally came to an agreement to purchase the horse during the Grand Circuit meet at the Red Mile, adding partners Alan Weisenberg and Kapildeo Singh.
Springsteen finished seventh in the International Stallion Stakes in Lexington Oct. 7, but the June 2 foal kept on improving. He registered his first win in a $12,000 maiden at Pocono Oct. 22 and won the Matron at Dover in his next start. Springsteen capped his freshman year with a win in the Governor’s Cup elimination and a seventh in the final after being parked the mile.
“We watched him finish second in the Metro Pace elimination and he came a huge last quarter. That’s when he caught my eye and I was talking to Bruce Soulsby about it and we ended up making a deal in Lexington. Chris Ryder did a tremendous job training him down and getting him ready,” Allard said. “I don’t see why he wouldn’t keep on going and keep on improving. Last year, toward the end of the year he just kept getting better and better.”
Springsteen finished a distant second to Jimmy Freight in his Messenger elimination last week, pacing a 1:51.2 mile and finishing 3-3/4 lengths behind the latter’s track-record effort. Off a 14-day break since his Milstein effort, Allard was happy with the trial.
“He was first-over to a horse that was just unbelievable. That was a huge mile, off 14 days and we don’t do a lot with him between races,” Allard said. “He’s one of those that you can’t train real hard between races, so I expect him to be a little better this week. I think he should be tighter. We just kind of keep him on his routine, light work every day. We don’t work him real hard, just kind of steady all week. No hard, fast miles, a lot of slow miles.”
Springsteen already won the Messenger post position draw. Although Springsteen typically doesn’t show early speed, Allard loves the prospect of starting along the pylons while Jimmy Freight will start from the far outside. Last week’s other elimination winner, Babes Dig Me, drew post 5 while the other runner-up, JK Wildfire, drew post 4. Stay Hungry will try to keep his Triple Crown hopes alive from post 6. Winston, Topville Olympian, and Nutcracker Sweet complete the lineup.
“Everything kind of has to go his way, but he has high speed and I think he’s in a good spot there. He’s got the rail, the best horse has the eight-hole. I think the draw could not work any better,” Allard said. “Brian (Sears) is going to have to work his magic. Of all the drivers at Yonkers, Brian is one of if not the best ones and I have a lot of confidence in him, so I’m going to let him do his thing.”
Saturday’s card also features the $500,000 Yonkers Trot for three-year-olds in race six where Six Pack is favoured over Helpisontheway. Lindseys Pride, Lindys Big Bang, Maxus, Mississippi Storm, Tito, and The Veteran will try to upend the favourites.
The filly companions to the Messenger and Yonkers Trot, the $129,014 Hudson Trot and $122,904 Lady Maud Pace go as races four and five, respectively. The night’s $44,000 Open Handicap Pace goes to post in race eight and features Bit Of A Legend and Evenin Of Pleasure. First post time is 6:50 p.m.
(SOA of New York)