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Soho Lennon Brings Win Streak To Open

Published: February 8, 2020 2:35 pm ET

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On any given day when Soho Lennon comes off the track after training, Doug Dilloian, Jr. knows there could be a delay in getting back to the barn. Dilloian has trained Soho Lennon since early 2016 and the horse has developed a bond with his conditioner.

“He’s easy to fall in love with,” Dilloian said. “When he comes in off the racetrack, when I hook the lines up and go to take the jog cart off, he’ll stop and he’ll rub his head all up and down my back and he’ll do it for four, five, six minutes to the point where sometimes his bridle will come right off.”

Around the barn, Soho Lennon rules the roost. He lets his connections know at lunch time he’s ready to eat and he wants to be fed first. Each morning, Soho Lennon goes out in the paddock with barn mate Runrunjimmydunn, and if they aren’t the first two horses out the door, Soho Lennon starts banging on his stall gate and flipping his feed tub over.

“He knows he runs the barn,” Dilloian said.

And with good reason. Since arriving in the U.S., the Australia-bred Mach Three son has earned $441,380 in Dilloian’s barn for owners David Linker and Howard Perlmutter’s Pit Bull Stable. Soho Lennon had six-figure seasons in each year since his arrival except for 2017, when he only made 20 starts due to sickness. Now at 10 years old, the gelded pacer will try to earn his first victory in the Yonkers Open Handicap Pace Saturday night (Feb. 8).

“We bought him to be a high-level condition horse. His consistency over a long period of time has been more of a surprise. A lot of horses peak and once they get to nine or 10, start tailing off a little bit classification-wise. But for four years, especially in the wintertime, he’s been anywhere from a non-winners of 20 (thousand dollars last five) to an Open pacer consistently every year,” Dilloian said. “He gets a limited amount of starts. He’s a 20- to 25-start per year horse, which is probably why he’s remained as sharp as he has for all these years.

“He’s no world-beater by any means and he’s not the fastest horse, he’s just one of those horses that gives you 110 percent every week.”

Soho Lennon showed promise in his home country, winning the Group 2, $50,000 West Australia Nights of Thunder Final over 1,730 meters at Gloucester Park in January 2015. However, one year later, Soho Lennon was out of form, finishing sixth or worse in his last four Australian starts. The horse became available for sale and Dilloian saw the opportunity.

Dilloian connected with Perlmutter on Facebook via a mutual friend. After the pair had success with Australian import Bettor Reason, a solid partnership had been formed. David Linker later sent Dilloian a text indicating he would like to get involved with a foreign horse. He joined the group and they imported Soho Lennon in Feb. 2016.

“We bought him at a very reasonable rate,” Dilloian said. “He’s just been an absolute blessing since.”

“Since that time, those two are the two greatest owners I’ve had,” Dilloian said. “They don’t aggravate you; they don’t bother you. Whatever is in the best interest of the horse, that’s what they’ll do. If one needs a month off or two months off, if they need week of from racing, do it. Since I only have eight to 10 horses most of the time, we generally try to take care of our horses and not over race them. We try to get longevity.

“We bought Soho Lennon and then we’ve had a bunch of them since then. It’s just really been a good rapport. With those guys, it’s usually anywhere between seven and nine horses in the barn at any given time,” Dilloian continued. “And we just try to focus on quality. If they don’t go a half, I’d rather move them along or send them to other trainers, because I just want to focus on Yonkers. The purses are amazing and I really believe if you just week in and week out stay there, the horses will reward you.”

Of Soho Lennon’s 102 U.S. races, 95 have come at Yonkers. One rare exception came at the end of the gelding’s 2019 campaign. After the pacer had a tough trip in a local $22,000 overnight on Dec. 14, Dilloian pointed him to a $10,500 race at Freehold. Soho Lennon drew the inside and led gate-to-wire; the win put Soho Lennon over the $100,000 mark in earnings for the year.

Soho Lennon returned to Yonkers on Jan. 11, posting a 2 3/4-length victory in 1:52.2 in a $20,000 overnight. He continued to climb the class ladder in his next two starts and posted two more wins over off tracks to run his streak to four, all with Jim Marohn, Jr. in the bike.

“Going into the final week before Christmas, he had gotten roughed up at Yonkers, had gotten a tough trip and got parked. We wanted to take care of him the next couple starts, so I entered him at Freehold and he finished out the year over $100 (thousand),” Dilloian said. “It got his confidence back. And then we gave him a little break and since Yonkers reopened, he’s been drawing well, but he’s been earning it. He’s been very sharp.”

Soho Lennon continues to step up in class Saturday night (Feb. 8) as he will make his first start at the Open level since Dec. 15, 2018. Soho Lennon drew post one in the $40,000 feature and will again have Marohn in the sulky. The pair are 4-1 on the morning line.

Soho Lennon will face seven rivals, including Jacks Legend. The Rich Banca trainee impressed in the Open ranks last fall and enters off consecutive placings in the Preferred Handicap from outside posts. He was assigned post four this week and is the 3-1 morning line favourite with Jason Bartlett slated to drive.

Ostro Hanover also rides a four-race win streak into this week’s pacing feature, but has missed three weeks. Dan Dube will drive the Rene Allard trainee from post six. Bettor Memories enters off an upset win in the local Preferred Handicap on Feb. 1, but drew post eight. San Domino was the runner up in last week’s Preferred Handicap and the Andrew Harris trainee will start from post seven in his second start of the year.

Tookadiveoffdipper is 2-for-3 this season and upset the local Preferred Handicap on Jan. 25. Brent Holland will drive the Virgil Morgan, Jr. trainee from post five. Somebaddude and Don Domingo complete the lineup.

“The rail is obviously a great equalizer,” Dilloian said. “I don’t know that (Soho Lennon) is a true Open horse and Banca’s horse looks like he’s the real deal. Soho Lennon is one of those horses that when I watch him race, I never count him out, but things will have to go his way for sure to beat this kind of field. He trained good this week and I really believe when horses are sharp in their head, they don’t know who they’re racing against, so I definitely wouldn’t count him out.”

Dilloian expects Marohn to utilize the inside advantage and Soho Lennon’s speed to secure a good position early.

“He’s probably not the fastest leaver, but he leaves fast enough to where I hope he can protect. His best races are on the front. I don’t see that happening in there because he’s not going to be the favourite and I don’t know that he has enough speed to cut the corner and seat everybody,” Dilloian said. “It looks like he’s hopefully going to get away in the two-hole, but probably third. I’ll let Jimmy Marohn take it from there. Things will have to go his way, but if he has any kind of opportunity where he gets a decent trip, if he’s got to win on heart, he’ll do it.

“I’ve had him long enough now where he’ll forever have a home with me. I’ll never race him in a claimer and he’ll retire with me,” Dilloian said. “He kind of started the whole thing with the higher-level condition Yonkers horses, so I’m forever grateful for him. He holds a special place in my heart.”

Saturday night’s card also features the $40,000 Open Handicap Trot.

Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. First post time is 7:05 p.m.

(SOA of NY)

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