Star Minnesota Pacer Stuckey Dote To Close Out Career

Stuckey Dote winning at Running Aces
Published: September 14, 2023 02:01 pm EDT

Stuckey Dote has been a top-level competitor at Running Aces for many years and he will be hanging up his racing shoes after Friday night (Sept. 15), where he has been tabbed as the 7-2 second choice on the early line in the $15,000 Minnesota-sired consolation for older male pacers. Rick Magee will be in the driver's seat for trainer Brett Ballinger and owner/breeder Merlin Van Otterloo. 

Win or lose on Friday, the 10-year-old Voracious Hanover gelding will close out his impressive career as the current richest Minnesota-sired horse to date, with career earnings of $468,357 going into his final contest. He is also the only horse who has collected five wins on Minnesota Night Of Champions. 

He was a star from the beginning, dominating his division as a freshman in 2015 and again as a sophomore the following year. In 2017, he took his show on the road across the Midwest and over the next five years he racked up wins in top-level conditioned races and Opens at major tracks across Ohio as well as many winning trips at Hawthorne Racecourse in Illinois. He took a mark of 1:50.3 at Scioto Downs in 2019. 

Through the years, he always ventured back to Minnesota and when he did, you could always count on a big performance from the big black pacer. He became a fan favourite at Running Aces. He added more Minnesota Champions Night wins to his resume at ages five, seven and eight. 

He has always had speed and determination and lots of heart on the racetrack. Trainer Brett Ballinger shared a story about a time when the University of Minnesota did a study of racehorses, somewhere around 2019 or 2020, they came to Running Aces and also Canterbury Park and monitored horses, took all kinds of tests, scans and measurements, and Stuckey Dote was part of the study. 

One of the principal veterinarians who was involved in the study came to Ballinger and shared something interesting: he said that Stuckey Dote literally had the biggest heart, in size and volume, that they had ever seen in a horse. 

Somehow that makes all the sense in the world. He has shown his big heart on the racetrack time and time again.

Like every athlete, Stuckey Dote has had his share of injuries over the years but he has always come back with his 'A' game. 

In late 2021, Stuckey Dote suffered a broken foot and was sidelined for a year and a half. He has made a comeback from that this year and made his way back to the winner's circle, on Aug. 29, to record his 46th career win in 1:54.1 by more than two lengths. In nine races this summer, he has hit the board four times. 

Ballinger shared that, "I will really miss the 'ol boy... I always look forward to seeing him everyday... He has a great personality, a great attitude and that has always been my favourite part about him," and added, "I've had many good horses over the years but 'Stuckey' is really a cut above... just a special horse and they don't come along very often"

Ballinger mentioned that Stuckey Dote will have a second career as a riding horse.

Kyle Van Otterloo shared that, "Yes, it is kind of great because it's really a homecoming for 'Stuckey.' He will be right back here in Northwest Iowa where he was born, he will be right down the road from my dad [Merlin] in Rock Valley and he can go and see him whenever he wants."

Merlin Van Otterloo shared that he will be going to a young lady and a great family to learn to ride. The Van Otterloo family is very happy that he will be close by. 

"He has been the rock of our racing stable for many many years, we will miss having him on the track," said Merlin Van Otterloo. "He has also been a big, big part of our family over the years... all of the grandkids fell in love with him... nine girls... and they all love Stuckey Dote very much." 

The Minnesota-sired consolation race featuring Stuckey Dote is race two on Friday night.

Ten-year-old Minnesota-sired pacing mare Cruzin Coco, also by Voracious Hanover, will be closing out her racing career this weekend as well. 

Cruzin Coco is listed at 9-2 in the $65,000 Aged Mares Championship (race 11 on Saturday) and will have James 'Chip' Lackey driving for current owner Ashley Sluggett and trainer Michael Meza. 

She is one of the very top Minnesota-sired mares of all time with a career summary of  224-47-29-28 and earnings of $365,139 going into Saturday's race. 

She has been impressive in her final season on the track, winning eight times and earning $46,786 so far, and winning in 1:52.4 at The Meadowlands.

Trainer Meza shared that after her final race this weekend, she will be sold to Van Otterloo Stables to begin her next career as a broodmare. 

The 2023 live racing season at Running Aces wraps up this weekend, with post time at 7 p.m. (CDT) on both Friday and Saturday nights. 

(With files from Running Aces)

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