The Indiana-sired pacing filly has been a powerhouse for Roger Welch and the DeLong family.
by James Platz
We’ve all heard the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” In harness racing it can be hard to assess the measure of a horse simply by looking at the physical attributes alone. In the case of Indiana-sired pacing filly Voom Or Bang, what she lacks in stature she makes up for in determination.
“She’s very consistent and she tries 110 per cent,” said trainer Roger Welch. “She’s just a little bity filly; there’s not much size to her. I look at her as the second best filly in the division.”
For Welch and Voom Or Bang’s owners, Bo and Pat DeLong, there is familiarity with the filly’s family. They had previously teamed to campaign Voomerang, a Cole Muffler half-brother and the first foal from Camluck mare Vavoom Hanover. Voomerang made just shy of $180,000 during his two- and three-year-old seasons in Illinois, taking a mark of 1:50.2. During his stakes campaigns he won the Hanover Stake and raced third in the Abe Lincoln final at two and finished second in the $173,000 Pete Langley final as a sophomore.
The DeLongs owned Voomerang through March of his six-year-old campaign, and he earned over $260,000 during that time. Two years later, the father and son had a chance to purchase Vavoom Hanover, at the time in foal to Always A Virgin. The filly that arrived was named Voom Or Bang. While the names of the two pacers sound similar, that is the only thing they have in common.
“He was always kind of laid back. You had to make him do everything. He didn’t steer well. He had a lot of talent, you just had to get every ounce of it out of him,” Welch said when contrasting the older brother and younger sibling. “She never showed any talent until she started qualifying.”
The DeLongs break and train their homebreds and yearling sale purchases in their native Wisconsin before sending them on to Welch. In training, Voom Or Bang was not one of the top freshman fillies coming off the farm. But she did enough in the winter and spring to justify sending her on to Welch last year.
“She wasn’t very big when she was training down. We really didn’t have a lot of high expectations for her in the beginning,” Pat DeLong said of the filly. “Voomerang was a real good looking horse. The filly, she’s darker and she’s really not a lot to look at, but she tries real hard. Whenever you ask her to do something, she never stops trying.”
Once she arrived in Welch’s barn, everything changed for Voom Or Bang. As the trainer explains, the pacer blossomed as a 2-year-old. Perhaps it was the change in scenery and a more competitive environment, but the Always A Virgin lass responded.
“The first day I sat behind her I really liked her. The next two days my son Ryan took her. Both days he said, ‘Dad, this filly is really special. This is a special horse,’” Welch said. “I don’t know why, she just blossomed at the right time.”
In her freshman debut, Voom Or Bang raced fifth in the first Indiana Sires Stakes elimination of the season. That would be the last time she finished off the board the rest of the year. The next week she won the $25,000 consolation for driver John DeLong (who bought into the filly with his father, Jesse DeLong, in May of this year). Voom Or Bang would go on to qualify for the remaining four finals, winning one in 1:52.4, her fastest mile of the campaign. Sent off as the second choice in the $220,000 Super Final, the filly fell a neck short of victory.
“She surprised us when she started racing last year,” said DeLong. “She raced really well and we were really happy with the way she performed all season. We were happy to be second in the final with her last year. She raced super.”
Returning to action in May, Voom Or Bang is once again showing she is one of the top fillies in the division. She won her $20,000 Indiana Sires Stakes elimination May 26 in 1:51.1, the fastest of the splits held that evening. She followed that with a runner-up effort in the $85,000 final one week later. The earnings from that finish pushed the filly’s career bankroll over the $200,000 threshold.
With three weeks between the final and the next round of eliminations, Welch felt the filly was ready for action Friday, June 22. Lining up on the outside in the field of nine, Voom Or Bang was on her way to the front when the gate folded but made an uncharacteristic break passing by the grandstand. She recovered and dropped in fourth, but by the time the field circled the oval, the sophomore slipped to sixth at the wire. On a night marked by wind, heavy rain and a sloppy surface, Voom Or Bang missed a check for the first time in her career.
“Maybe she was overanxious. She didn’t race since the last final. She trained flawlessly in between. You just regroup and mark it off as a bad race,” Welch said. “That’s the first bad race she’s had in her life. We found nothing wrong with her. Unfortunately, it came in a sire stakes elimination. It was just bad timing.”
Missing next week’s final will cost the filly valuable points that will help secure a place in the Super Final this fall. She will, however, get a chance to get back on track in the consolation. Misstep aside, this pint-sized pacer should figure prominently into the three-year-old division in Indiana this summer. Don’t let what you see on the outside fool you.