Hempt Elim Upset Didn't Shock Owners

Published: June 30, 2017 01:47 pm EDT

When Santafes Coach strode into the winner’s circle at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Saturday (June 24) after his triumph at odds of 21-1 in his $25,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial elimination, quite the contingent was there to greet him. Although the public did not appreciate the three-year-old colt’s chances to have his picture taken, his connections were not surprised they were exactly in that very position and hope to repeat that experience on Saturday (July 1) after the $500,000 final.

“It was one of the most spectacular moments of my life; just unbelievable and words cannot really express watching him last Saturday,” said Edward De Rosa, the colt’s co-owner and breeder. “However, none of us thought it was stunning he won. He is very lightly raced, but we knew he had the talent and the heart to pace with these types of horses. His desire is something that makes him very special because he really wants to win and that is a trait you cannot breed into them.”

The son of Bettors Delight-Thesantafe Express, also owned by Matthew Iovaldi and Ralph Woythaler, will attempt to replicate his last journey at the Wilkes-Barre facility when he and regular pilot Anthony Napolitano begin pacing from post position two in the evening’s 10th race.

The Hempt is one of four stakes at Pocono on Saturday, with the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for three-year-old trotters, the $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace for older male pacers, and the $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for three-year-old female pacers.

Ariana G, the Dan Patch Award-winning filly who is 3-for-3 this season, is the favourite in the Beal as she looks to take down eight male rivals; elimination winners Mel Mara and Keystone Velocity lead the Franklin; while the top four finishers in the Fan Hanover Stakes -- Bettors Up, Agent Q, Tequila Monday and Idyllic Beach -- are ready for a rematch in the Lynch.

To duplicate his effort from last weekend, Santafes Coach, who is 12-1 on the morning line and conditioned by Leo Iordan, will have to best the daunting duo of North America Cup victor Fear The Dragon (PP1, David Miller, 5-2) and world champion and Hempt elimination winner Downbytheseaside (PP8, Brian Sears, 3-1), along with the other elimination winner Miso Fast (PP4, Matt Kakaley, 4-1).

With a lifetime record of 11-4-3-1 and $51,010 in earnings, Santafes Coach has been brought along slowly with an eye on this class level shortly after he entered training. Unfortunately, an injury adjusted his connections' plans for his 2016 season.

“Last spring he got a hind leg stuck in the back gate of his stall and popped a splint,” De Rosa said. “So we gave him the time to heal from that and took all the precautions necessary to not rush him along. He only had three starts last year and then this year we got him ready with the mindset that he would go up against these powerhouse horses like Fear The Dragon and Downbytheseaside. He deserves the opportunity to show himself.”

Santafes Coach is the culmination of a friendship between De Rosa, Iovaldi, Woythaler and Iordan, that developed at The Meadowlands in the 1980s. This same group also owned and trained the colt’s mother, who possessed enough ability to compete in the eliminations for the Three Diamonds and Matron as a two-year-old and the Breeders Crown at age three.

“This horse’s story begins with having such a nice mare,” De Rosa said. “She is by Western Hanover and made more than $100,000 ($112,010). She did well for us in her racing career, in fact she was fifth in her Breeders Crown elimination to Put On A Show, but she didn’t make the final because Casie Coleman had a horse in the other elimination that made more money than her. However, we were so proud of her, Put On A Show was just a monster out there and towered over the other horses. We were just thrilled she paced in 1:51.4 and kept up with a horse of that caliber.

“We took care of her with the intention of breeding her and this colt is a second foal. Her first one is a four-year-old gelding by Four Starzzz Shark (Santafes Prince) and we had a younger Rock N Roll Heaven sister to those two, but we ended up losing her.”

Although the result of Santafes Coach's endeavours this weekend has yet to be determined, his future is bright as he is eligible to a number of events, which will only provide more opportunities for him to demonstrate his ability.

“We don’t have a big stable and this is our only horse racing really, but he is staked to everything,” De Rosa said. “We are really excited about what this year will bring as our trainer does an unbelievable job and Anthony (Napolitano) fits him like a glove. We really feel his desire to win and his speed will make him competitive with the top class horses. This was his first time going up against them and it was so incredibly special to see him win.

“I live in California and stayed out here for the week to watch him. All of us had a bunch of family and friends with more than 20 people in the winner’s circle for him and they probably were ready to kick us out because we spent so much time there just savouring the moment. We are hoping to be in the winner’s circle with him many more times over his career and are thrilled to be part of this Saturday night. It really is a dream come true for all of us.”

Racing at Pocono begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. The night’s stakes finals are races nine through 12. Following is the field for the Max Hempt Memorial, which is race 10.

1. Fear The Dragon - David Miller - Brian Brown - 5/2
2. Santafes Coach - Anthony Napolitano - Leo Iordan - 12/1
3. Funknwaffles - Corey Callahan - John Butenschoen - 5/1
4. Miso Fast - Matt Kakaley - Ron Burke - 4/1
5. Boogie Shuffle - Scott Zeron - Mark Harder - 10/1
6. Ozone Blue Chip - Brett Miller - Ron Coyne Jr. - 20/1
7. Donttellmeagain - Tim Tetrick - Jo Ann Looney-King - 6/1
8. Downbytheseaside - Brian Sears - Brian Brown - 3/1
9. Eddard Hanover - Yannick Gingras - Ron Burke - 15/1

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

Have something to say about this? Log in or create an account to post a comment.