Add another record to the growing legacy of the Clyde Francis trainee, this time a 1:47.2 mile on Friday while winning the $330,000 Dan Patch that equalled the track record at Harrah’s Hoosier Park
by James Platz
The 26th edition of the $330,000 Dan Patch Stakes was a case of another race, another record for red-hot Lather Up. Sent off as the 1-5 favorite for trainer Clyde Francis, the son of I’m Gorgeous did not disappoint Friday (Aug. 9) at Harrah’s Hoosier Park, equaling the stakes and track record en route to winning his fourth consecutive start. Montrell Teague steered the stallion to a 1:47.2 clocking, finishing two and one-half lengths in front of second choice McWicked.
“You get a horse like McWicked. He passed him. Lather Up ran back by him and beat him by a couple of lengths, pacing in :25.2 on the end of it,” Francis said of his charge’s latest triumph. “He just does stuff that amazes you. They go a quarter in :24 and Montrell pulled the right line and he just brushed right by them. He does crazy stuff.”
As of late, Lather Up has developed a habit of doing “crazy stuff” on the racetrack that defies traditional logic. In the $250,000 Graduate Series final, he became harness racing’s co-fastest pacer of all time, establishing a stakes, track and world record with his 1:46 clocking at the Meadowlands. The pacer, who races out of the George Teague Stable, backed that performance up with a 2:01.1 score in the $423,000 William R. Haughton Memorial, raced at a distance of one and one-eighth miles. Entering Friday’s Dan Patch, he again amazed the racing world by virtue of a dominating wire-to-wire effort in the $230,200 Sam McKee Memorial. In that contest, he shattered the world record at the one and one-eighth miles distance, pacing in 1:49.4. Lather Up clocked the mile in 1:46.3 before covering the final eighth in :12.4.
“George (Teague) kept telling me all along this horse could go in 46. He told me that last year. I take it with a grain of salt. The one good thing about George is that he can see things that other people don’t see in a horse. I didn’t see it,” said Gary Iles, who owns the homebred with his wife, Barbara. “When we saw this at the Meadowlands, and Montrell said he did it with ease, it was scary. Then he comes back and gets a mile and an eighth in under two minutes; it’s been quite a ride.”
Headlining a field of nine in Hoosier Park’s signature event, the racing world awaited Lather Up’s newest exploits. However, hours before he lined up behind the gate, the pacer made headlines for a deal struck to sell 50 per cent interest in the speedy stallion. A group led by Taylor Made Sales and Stallions and including multiple partners was negotiated and signed prior to the 4-year-old’s victory in the Sam McKee Memorial. Ernie Martinez brokered the deal.
“We had actually signed the deal before he won the mile and an eighth race,” said Duncan Taylor, president and CEO of Taylor Made. “We said we were going to buy him, and we signed the paper, but we didn’t participate in that race.”
This is the third standardbred venture for Taylor Made Sales and Stallions. The Nicholasville, KY-based operation previously purchased stallions What The Hill and last year’s Dan Patch winner, Lazarus N. Standing outside the winner’s circle following last year’s Dan Patch victory, Taylor stressed that if the economics and opportunity were right, the company would continue to invest in standardbreds. He reiterated that after the latest acquisition.
“We were looking. We’ll continue to look,” he said. “If we can find the right opportunities, we’re continuing to look at different horses.”
Iles said that after Lather Up’s victory in last year’s North America Cup they began to consider the pacer’s career after racing. He and his wife were in no hurry to make a decision, but Martinez’s persistence led to the agreement.
“I think you always think about it, especially when he’s having such a great year. After he won the North America Cup, we knew we were in the mix. There are a lot of very good horses out there and they are extremely well bred,” the 80-year-old breeder and owner said. “We’re very interested in his future after racing. You have to start making plans. When you’re at the top of your game, your plans start to get better. Ernie, every time we would see him, he would meet me in the paddock and say, ‘We’ve got to talk.’ He’s been good. We hope we have a great relationship, and I’m sure we will.”
Friday’s announcement may finalize some details for Lather Up’s future, but many are still yet to be determined. When asked, Iles and Taylor each said no decision had been made regarding a 2020 racing campaign. Until then, the stallion still has a full slate of events, beginning with his most recent test, which he passed with the stable’s red and black colors flying down the lane.
Tabbed the 6-5 morning line favorite, Lather Up drew post four, and when the gate folded, Teague fired with the favorite, joined to his outside by early leader Filibuster Hanover and Jimmy Freight. With Yannick Gringras aboard, Filibuster Hanover paced a :24.4 opening panel – the fastest ever recorded at Hoosier Park – before Teague brushed to the front from third.
“If Always A Prince had come out and had the front, I probably would have been a little bit more skeptical about coming first up because he probably would have wanted to cut the mile,” Teague said of his race strategy. “Once he took back and I knew that Filibuster and Jimmy Freight sat in there, I figured Yannick would want to follow mine.”
On the engine, Lather Up slowed the pace, turning in a :28.4 second quarter (:53.3 half) and registering a third panel in :28. McWicked, getting away fifth for Brian Sears before moving first up, challenged as the field raced into the turn and took the lead turning for home. Always A Prince followed McWicked’s cover and prevented Lather Up from moving out in the lane. Teague, familiar with the Hoosier Park configuration, waited to use the passing lane, and the homebred responded when seeing daylight, kicking clear by more than two lengths on the strength of a :25.2 last quarter. McWicked settled for second while 81-1 Endeavor and Sam Widger finished third.
“I knew the outside wasn’t going to open up. I had been here before, so I knew there was a passing lane. It’s definitely long enough that you can get by a horse,” the driver said. “He’s way better off a helmet, but the race doesn’t always stack up like that. You can’t always take back and be confident that somebody is going to take you to the finish. But it worked out perfectly tonight.”
The winning time placed Lather Up in the Hoosier Park record book. His 1:47.2 clocking equaled the all-age track record and stakes record set by Sweet Lou with his 2014 Dan Patch victory as well as Castle Flight’s mile earlier this season. The victory was the eighth seasonal triumph in 11 attempts and 23rd win in 36 career starts. The homebred raised his seasonal bankroll to $683,448, and his career earnings now exceed $1.65 million. Lather Up paid $2.60-$2.20-$2.10 as the heavy favorite.
“It’s more than a dream, it’s an absolute miracle. I wish everybody could go through life and experience something like this. This is just fantastic. It’s absolutely fantastic,” Iles said of the experience. “Do you know how many horses are born each year? And from all the big farms. To think that a little farm in Delaware bred what is right now one of the top horses in the country. I wish I could describe it. I know the chances of ever getting a horse like this again is mind-boggling. It has just been spectacular. A blessing.”
Francis said the next stop on Lather Up’s speed show has not been determined. He could race next week in the Roll With Joe at Tioga or take a break in preparation for the Canadian Pacing Derby, slated for Aug. 31.