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Pontone On Somewhere In L A, Quillen

Published: September 15, 2017 12:00 pm ET

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He has owned the likes of Muscle Hill, Market Share, Red Bow Tie, Art Major and Shark Gesture, yet to Thomas Pontone, 2017 Bobby Quillen Memorial participant Somewhere In L A provides him with the same type of pleasure as his champions and represents what he has ultimately enjoyed the most from his involvement in harness racing.

“I’ve owned some horses of a lifetime, such as Muscle Hill,” said Pontone. “And every time any of my horses goes out on the track, I want to win; if that wasn’t the case there would be no reason to race them. Of course it was very special to win races like the Hambletonian and Breeders Crown with my father when he was alive, but the best thing about this business is owning a horse in partnership to share that experience with people you become such close friends with.

“For example, if I didn’t have Somewhere In L A, I never would have met the Gandolfo brothers, and they are wonderful people. You develop relationships through the horses, and there is nothing like being in the winner’s circle with these people.”

Pontone feels the odds may very well be in his favour when it comes to Somewhere In L A having his picture taken at the conclusion of the $150,000 Quillen Memorial on Monday (September 18) at Harrington Raceway.

Co-owned by the D’Elegance Stable IX, Carmen Iannacone, The Gandolfo Stables, and Pontone's T L P Stable, the six-year-old gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere-West Of L A is conditioned by Richard Banca and will be steered in this event by Tony Morgan. Somewhere In L A, a member of a select field of eight top older pacers, will leave from post position five and despite earning the most purse money this year of the group ($468,400), is ranked 9-1 on the morning line. His rivals include Bit Of A Legend N (post two, Jordan Stratton, 5-2), Wakizashi Hanover (post three, Victor Kirby, 7-2) and Mel Mara (post four, Corey Callahan, 4-1).

“Our horse is just so consistent,” Pontone said. “I know he’s not the same type of horse, but I would compare him to Shark Gesture as far as his racing style. He’s a grinder and loves to come first-over. Most people would not want that type of trip for their horses, but I prefer that kind of style for him. We also know any time he or Mach It A Par (world champion mare owned by the same individuals) is in a race, we have a very good chance of winning.”

Somewhere In L A commenced his career as a two-year-old with Bob McIntosh, who was also his co-breeder, in Canada. He demonstrated ability with a victory in a division of the Nassagaweya Stake and also competed in other stakes such as the Champlain and Metro.

The gelding was purchased privately from McIntosh in the beginning of his sophomore season by Pontone and his father in conjunction with Mike Gulotta of Deo Volente Farms, in addition to J&T Silva Stables. Turned over to Jimmy Takter, Somewhere In L A collected $519,349 as a three-year-old with third-place finishes in that year’s Little Brown Jug, Progress Pace, and the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. He was also second in the Adios final and the American-National Stake.

“Mike is a very dear friend of mine, so when he called me up to ask me about buying in on this horse, I told him of course,” Pontone said. “We didn’t know at the time he was a gelding, so Mike offered me the opportunity to get out of the horse and I told him no way, as I love owning horses with him. It turned out to be a great investment as he had a terrific year.”

As a four- and five-year-old, Somewhere In L A certainly did not disgrace himself, as he banked $250,526 while keeping top company, but his ownership group thought it could quite possibly be time to move on.

“We put him up for sale after that year,” Pontone said. “That’s when I received a call from Victor Leonardis (of D’Elegance Stable IX) and he asked me if I wanted a piece of this horse because he wanted to buy him. I told him no because we thought he was tired and actually might be done racing. That is when Victor insisted the horse still had a lot of racing in him and he thought he was going to come back to do very well, so that is when I went back in on him. It sure looks like a great decision now because Vincent was absolutely right.”

Since changing hands, Somewhere In L A also moved to a new barn. Trained for most of his five-year-old season by Ron Burke, the gelding then took up residence in Banca’s shedrow, where he has remained for nearly a year.

“He is not staked to anything, although I know Richie (Banca) probably feels pressured at times to put his nicer horses in them,” Pontone said. “But as far as I’m concerned, this horse is Mr. Yonkers. If I had my way, we would accept invitations for races like this (Quillen), but keep him at Yonkers the rest of the year with the goal always being to win the Levy (he was second in the series final this year). I think that is just best for the horse because he’s proven he likes it there, we don’t place the stress on him of shipping, and he has the same driver (Jason Bartlett) all the time who knows him.

“The real story with this horse though, no matter if he wins the Quillen or not, is the same with all my horses and that is how much pleasure I derive from my partnerships on them. I love texting and emailing my fellow owners about the horse each week, having a drink or grabbing dinner while discussing how the race set up or will set up. That is the fun part about this sport, which I love, and one of the primary reasons I do love it so much. There is nothing like meeting great people that never would have crossed your path in a lifetime except for the horses you share and how close you become because of it. I’ve met so many friends for life I value greatly, and it’s all because of harness racing with horses like Somewhere In L A.”

Here is the full field with drivers, trainers and morning-line odds for the Bobby Quillen Memorial:

1 – Mach It So – David Miller – Jeffrey Bamond, Jr. – 6-1
2 – Bit Of A Legend N – Jordan Stratton – Peter Tritton – 5-2
3 – Wakizashi Hanover – Victor Kirby – Jim King, Jr. – 7-2
4 – Mel Mara – Corey Callahan – Dylan Davis – 4-1
5 – Somewhere In L A – Tony Morgan – Richard Banca – 9-1
6 – Mr Wiggle Pants – Aaron Merriman – Scott McEneny – 20-1
7 – All Bets Off – Matt Kakaley – Ron Burke – 6-1
8 – Rock N Roll World – Ross Wolfenden – Jeff Cullipher – 20-1


This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com.


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