Jimmy Freight's owner Adriano Sorella wrote a $60,000 check to make the horse eligible to the Meadowlands Pace.

Supplement entries from Ontario add spark to Meadowlands Pace

July 6, 2018

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by Brett Sturman

The big question this time last week was if Lather Up – the Pepsi North America Cup winner and looming prohibitive favorite in the Max Hempt final – would supplement to the Meadowlands Pace. The answer to that question was made obvious when Lather Up broke stride while on his way to being defeated regardless of the break at odds of 1-9 in last Saturday’s Hempt.

In his place comes two supplemental entries from Ontario in the form of colts Jimmy Freight and Courtly Choice. At a hefty amount of $60,000 plus the currency conversion to supplement, both horses are very capable and have turned around the entire complexion of the Pace with their late-arriving presence. What would have been just 13 horses for the Pace is still only 15, but more than that the Pace will now be contested with no deserving horse, other than Lather Up, being left out.

For the Ontario connections that made separate decisions to supplement the horses, the motivation is at least partially rooted in a wondering of what could have been in last month’s Pepsi North America Cup.

Jimmy Freight (Sportswriter—Allamerican Summer) wasn’t eligible to the North America Cup; a decision that I think it would be fair to say owner Adriano Sorella regretted in the weeks leading up to the race.

“When he won the Somebeachsomewhere (over 2-year-old divisional winner Lost In Time) in the way that he did your heart starts beating, and you start thinking that some of these same horses are going to the North America Cup and you think, ‘Why aren’t I there?’ I was kind of kicking myself for not paying into it.”

The Somebeachsomewhere was only the start, though, and it set in motion Sorella’s thinking towards the Pace. “The following week after the Somebeach when we put him in against older horses I’m thinking, ‘Why is he racing against older horses?’” asked Sorella. “I didn’t even think we were going to be in that week because why would we race against older horses. Then I was watching that race and when he came off cover and I could tell he was going to win, your heart is in your throat because even though it’s an overnight conditioned race, you start saying to yourself, ‘Where’s his limit and what’s his limit?’ At that point, everything starts going through your head and you start saying to yourself, ‘Did I make mistakes, did I not give him a chance, did I not have enough faith in him at the beginning of the year?’ So, that’s all been going through my head the entire time in making this decision to supplement.”

As for Courtly Choice (Art Major—Lady Ashlee Ann), he entered the North America Cup on the heels of a blistering 1:48:4 New York Sires Stakes win at Vernon. In his elimination, he seemed well positioned on the outside heading into the stretch but lost all chance when he had the misfortune of hooking wheels with Lost In Time.

“He’s just had back luck,” said trainer Blake MacIntosh. “I honestly think we would have been first or second in that elimination. If we clear, Lather Up may not have been able to get out and it would have been a totally different race. Dave (Miller) hadn’t pulled the plugs yet, was trying to keep them (horses to his inside) locked in and it was just a tough pill to swallow. If you can’t win the Cup, the next ones you’d want to win are the Pace and the Jug.”

In a friendly exchange on social media soon after the Hempt last Saturday, both Sorella and MacIntosh appeared to be goading one another into supplementing into the Pace. Sorella joked that he’d have to sell a watch or start a GoFundMe, while MacIntosh said that he’d keep the supplemental fee since they’ve been going at it five straight weeks and basically that his horse is cursed in eliminations. Evidently, both were just being coy.

For the quick about face, MacIntosh said, “Once I knew Lather Up was out along with Lost In Time (out for the season with a cracked sesamoid bone), it was a big thing. They’re two very nice colts and it certainly leaves the field more open. After the way our colt has raced in the two consolations, having bad luck in the draws and in eliminations, it was a big factor and pretty much the deciding factor really.

“And you know, I watched the replay again (from Courtly Choice’s 12-length romp in 1:48:4 in the Hempt consolation) and I kept thinking more and more that we can win. I texted one of the owners about the Pace and he said, ‘Let’s do it.’ I then called the other owners and they were all for it.”

Unlike Courtly Choice, who has multiple owners, Sorella is the lone owner behind Jimmy Freight which made the decision that much tougher.

“I have no partners so it’s just me and it’s a big check to cut,” Sorella said. “And some people think you’re crazy but when are you ever going to get another chance? I’ve been spending money at the sales and try horses at the sales and trying to buy horses privately thinking you might have a good horse but you don’t often get this opportunity.”

In regard to the final decision, Sorella describes a conversation he had with Jimmy Freight trainer Richard Moreau. “I was in New York Sunday night having dinner in Times Square and I called Richard and I said, ‘I want to go to the Meadowlands Pace.’ And he said ‘Okay. Your horse is good, he’s ready.’ I told him that I don’t want to upset anybody and he said ‘You’re not going to upset anybody. You might not ever get another chance. You might be waiting 5-6 years for a horse that you can enter in a race like that so take the chances while you can.’”

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