Trainer Confident After Bad Post Draw

Published: September 11, 2015 11:11 am EDT

Earndawg captured the Orange & Blue in 1:52.4 for trainer Roger Welch last year. He will be trying for his second consecutive Super Night victory on Saturday at Balmoral Park in the $112,000 Pete Langley Memorial. Even though Earndawg has drawn the dreaded 10-hole, Welch is still confident of his colt’s chances.

Owned by William C. ‘Bo’ DeLong (of Clinton, WI), William ‘Pat’ DeLong (South Beloit, IL) and Earnest Miller (Mount Horeb, WI), Earndawg was purchased for $35,000 at the 2013 Walker Sale.

The son of Sportsmaster, out of the Western Hanover mare Pacific Sister K 4, 1:54M ($107,550), is a full brother to Mystical MJ p,3,1:51.1 ($298,918) and has half-siblings in: Doubleshotascotch (by Dragon Again) p,4,1:51.f ($739,491); Sunshine Sister (by Real Artist) p,3,1:54f ($147,217); and MJs Sista (by Yankee Skyscraper) p,3,1:54.2 ($22,683).

Despite earning $217,015 as a two-year-old, Earndawg was no walk in the park to be around early in his career, Welch recalled.

“This colt initially was very spooky – he was scared to death of everything and it took a lot of work to get him to go around the track and pace a flat mile,” Welch said.

Earndawg wore a blind bridle with an elaborately-designed fly screen to help keep him calm. Welch jogged and trained the nervous gelding behind another horse every time he went to the track in the beginning, to get him used to sounds and dirt being thrown up in his face.

Welch’s efforts paid off, as the youngster won the $43,350 Cardinal at Maywood Park in 1:55.4 by more than four lengths in wire-to-wire fashion, and also triumphed in the $57,000 Abe Lincoln at Maywood in similar style. From 17 starts at two he amassed eight wins, four seconds and two thirds. The rambunctious youngster was then turned out for the winter at an Indiana farm. It was late April before he qualified and was ready to begin his sophomore contests.

“The colt matured a lot over the winter,” Welch noted. “He came back and was better physically and sharper mentally as well. For a long time, we jogged and trained him in an open bridle and he seemed to be over his previous nonsense of shying from things.”

Not so fast, though.

As Earndawg got closer to his qualifying date, he began “seeing” things on the track again.

“He kind of reverted back to his two-year-old ways once he started getting close to qualifying, and as a result we had to put the mask back on him,” Welch said. “I really thought he had it licked, but I think it’s more of a game with him, then a case of him really being scared of things.”

With or without his fly mask, Earndawg has continued to add money to his coffers despite a depleted Illinois purse account.

This season he has amassed $70,203 to date, with five wins, five seconds and a pair of thirds to his credit in 14 trips postward. He won the $36,000 Maywood Pace in 1:54.2 on June 19 and the $45,000 Incredible Finale at Balmoral in 1:51 on July 25. He captured his Illinois State Fair test on August 15 in 1:52.3 and was a close second in his Langley elimination to Engine One O One last week.

“The sad state is he’s won every major thre-year-old test and still doesn’t have a lot of money to show for it on his card,” Welch lamented. “And now we have the 10-hole in the biggest race of the year. We’ll see what happens. The trip is going to be crucial in here. We’ll just hope for the best and hope that Earndawg continues to be as gritty as he has been all year long.”

(Balmoral Park)

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