The Blacken Stallion (Part 6)

Presto Disappears – The Blacken Stallion (Part 6)

March 31, 2019

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The Real Life Ventures and Adventures of Trey and Batman

by Trey Nosrac

Outside my Prius, the snow swirled in little tornados. A long line of bumper-to-bumper traffic stretched far into the distance and over a hill on the Ohio Turnpike.

My passenger, a transplant from sunny Silicon Valley, flipped his chin towards the front window of my Prius and said, “We haven’t moved a hundred yards in five minutes, hope no one is hurt up there.”

I reached into the pocket of my hoodie and fished out a $20 reserved for the turnpike toll. I slapped the money on the dashboard. “Twenty bucks says it’s a jack-knifed semi. You get a regular car or road construction. Anything else, like a meteorite, extraterrestrials, or a Trump wall, is a push.”

We bumped knuckles to seal the deal. I said, “While we have time, let me tell you about my investigation as a potential suitor for Prestidigitator.”

“He’s the stallion from Canada?”

“Yeah, I spent half an hour trying to find information on the Pathway site and got nowhere.”

He shot me a confused look.

“I kept thinking I was typing the name wrong. Prestidigitator is fun to say but spelling the name is tricky. Finally, it dawned on me that this horse is Canadian. So, I went to TrackIT, the Canadian site, and was off to the races.”

“Lesson learned, dig in the correct haystack.”

“Both sites are amazing. You can pretty much follow every step a horse makes and find mountains of breeding and sales information. There is a reason this horse was not on my radar screen. With the exception of one day, all of his racing was in Canada. That one day in the USA was a biggie, the Hambletonian.”

He gave a low whistle, “The Hambletonian — he had to have talent.”

“He did. In his elimination race, he drew post eight. He started a long way back and still passed horses like a maniac to finish third. He made the final of the big dance. I watched this race. He was very impressive. I’m guessing that he did a lot of work in the first heat. He might have been gassed in the final, where he had the six post; he again started back, traveled wide, and didn’t cash.”

“He never raced in the States again?”

I shook my head and signed, “It’s the old ‘What if?’ game. What if Prestidigitator drew inside, what if he got a good trip in the big dance while the world was watching? The story could be SO different. Ah, there’s no crying in racing and Prestidigitator did go on to win big races in Canada and he did win a lot of money.”

“Prestidigitator raced 31 times, won 10 and averaged $28,069 every time he stepped on the track, making $870,530. Any way you slice it, he had a very strong career. He has a very strong female line, and for me this is good. The first thing I look at when shopping is how mother and grandmother did in creating good racehorses. His maternal side is outstanding. There are plenty of good racehorses with some very cool racehorse name like Illusioneesta, Gravitator, and Levitator. Mom had 10 babies and they all brought good prices in the yearling auctions.

“Great”, he said. “Any other thoughts?”

“I like the stallion, but I don’t know much about Canadian racing.”

“Never raced there?” He asked.

Again, I shook my head. “My first visit was as a kid. My uncle Ed loved to fish and loved harness racing. I had three uncles and they were all harness fans. Gosh, I miss them. Anyway, one summer Uncle Ed took me on a fishing trip up to Ontario. I don’t remember what lake we went to or what cities we passed through.”

“All I have are wisps of memories. For some reason, crossing through customs made me nervous, and this was before my permanent record had black marks. My uncle told me we would drive across the Peace Bridge and people could walk across. I remember roads carved through tall green trees, the pine smell through the open window, and an outboard motor that was a pain to start. We didn’t catch a single fish.”

The $20 bill began to slide off the dashboard. I snatched it and stuffed it into my cup holder.

“I remember one day he scooted me into his station wagon, drove a few minutes and bingo – there was a harness racetrack. This was in the middle of nowhere. I remember standing by the rail and having a good time.”
We inched forward in traffic and I turned down the blower fan.
“That trip left an impression on my young brain. Part of the impression was that Canadians must have harness racing in every city and town. My dive into racing in Ontario has led me to think this is no longer true or maybe it never was true. Ontario barely has a fair circuit. For a one-horse wonder like me, a mediocre horse doesn’t have much room to run.”

He caught on quickly, “This has to affect potential buyers.”

“Yeah, and it didn’t exactly encourage me when I discovered some articles about racetracks that might close as early as this year.”

“That’s not good.”

I nodded, “I looked up some auctions of Canadian horses. They have some top sellers, but it seems like the market for yearlings is not on fire. My first goal is always to sell the yearling; my target price is usually $16,000. I don’t think I will be able to get that in Canada. Almost for sure, I will face racing if I go the Canadian route, and my racing opportunities would be limited and far, far away.”

Two ambulances drove past us on the berm, sirens wailing.

I continued, “A big plus for me is that the owners believe in Prestidigitator’s potential as a stallion, and I’ve always been a big believer in belief. However, the normal marketplace is not working for Prestidigitator. In three years, he only shows 39 mares bred to him. The idea that they are willing to try to increase his chances and PAY to get a decent crop really appeals to me. This paying for a live foal idea is bold, innovative, and expensive. I hope they get a nice herd of Prestidigitator foals out of the project, and a few of the herd race like daddy did.”

“You’re going to be in his little herd?”

For the third time I shook my head slowly, “Location is always going to be an issue. I’ve bred to stallions in three different states with my mare, but never another country. I don’t know anyone in Canada and racing doesn’t seem to be on an upswing there these days. The money side could also be loony.”

“So, Prestidigitator is out of the running.”

“I never say, never. This stallion caught my attention, but he just seems like a Peace Bridge too far. I’m going in another direction.”

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