Unbeaten Agent Of Fortune carries momentum into sires stakes opener

by James Platz

Memorial Day signals the start of Indiana Sires Stakes action for sophomore pacers and trotters at Harrah’s Hoosier Park. Agent Of Fortune enters Monday’s first leg undefeated thus far for owners Robert Paddock and Robert Taylor. The Dover Dan—Posterity filly, conditioned and driven by Taylor, was most recently a 2-length winner in the $25,000 Msnaughtybynature series final.

“I think she’s a contender,” Taylor said of his pupil, now four-for-four in 2024. “We’re just hoping for the best and hoping she can stay consistent, healthy and sound and can make some money along the way.”

As a freshman, Agent Of Fortune quickly became a contender at Harrah’s Hoosier Park after making her debut on the Indiana fair circuit. She recorded back-to-back wins for Taylor, who felt she could compete on the big track.

“Early on in her training she showed that she could trot some, but she would make breaks and you kind of had to have kid gloves,” he said. “I started her at the fairs in Converse just to get some experience. She won both of her races and she showed a good last quarter in her last start there.”

Moving to the Anderson, IN oval, the trotter would reach the winner’s circle in her third start, the opening leg of sires stakes. She took her freshman mark that day, stopping the clock in 1:55.1. Agent Of Fortune would register a pair of runner-up finishes in later sires stakes divisions, but in the weeks leading up to the $250,000 Super Final, she struggled to stay healthy.

“She got sick in September and we fought, we battled sickness,” Taylor said. “We didn’t even race her in the last leg of sires stakes trying to get her healthy for the Super Final. She was just no good when we raced her. She just wasn’t healthy yet.”

Agent Of Fortune closed out her freshman campaign with a ninth-place effort in the Super Final. Despite the disappointing conclusion, the trotter banked $78,950 for her connections.

“It’s always frustrating,” the trainer and co-owner said. “When you race horses, it happens. It’s part of the business. Things just didn’t swing her way. You count your blessings as you go. We were thankful that she made right at $80,000 last year and she’s come back good this year.”

According to Taylor, Agent Of Fortune is the third horse on which he has partnered with Paddock. When the two men attended the 2022 Hoosier Classic sale, Paddock had picked out a few horses he liked on the first day. They were unsuccessful in purchasing any of them.

“I think he wanted to spend about $15,000 and everything went above that,” Taylor said. “He told me, ‘Robert, I’m not coming back the second day. You just pick us something out.’ She was kind of my top pick on the second day for us. She’s turned out to be a real blessing.”

Agent Of Fortune is the fourth foal from the Lucky Chucky mare Posterity, a near $100,000 earner. Taylor purchased the Black Creek Farm-bred filly for $12,000. With her most recent win, the sophomore pushed past the six-figure earnings milestone.

Taylor said that the filly wintered well, returning to the barn in early January slightly bigger.

“She’s not a real big, heavy horse,” Taylor said. “But she grew taller and longer and she filled out some. She’s more of a streamlined type horse. She’s longer; long legs and long body. She probably grew three to four inches taller and four or five inches longer than last year. She trained back really good. She never really had any bad training sessions when we started back this year.”

Last season’s lone pari-mutuel victory made Agent Of Fortune eligible to the early closing series this spring. She has made the most of the opportunity. After winning her April 24 debut by nearly 4 lengths in 1:54.3, Taylor dropped the filly into the Msnaughtybynature series. She swept both legs before capturing the May 17 final as the favorite, trotting the mile in a seasonal best 1:53.4.

“She kind of surprised me her first start,” the conditioner said. “I thought she could trot in [1]:54 after a few starts, but I didn’t imagine she would trot a mile like that in her first start coming back. Knock on wood, she’s been very consistent for us.”

Taylor believes one of the keys to the filly’s success is her demeanor and willingness to follow the driver’s lead.

“She’s a professional on the racetrack,” he said. “She wants to race. She’s a racehorse. But she’s smart about it. She lets me do what I want to with her. The start before last we left from the outside a little bit. There weren’t any holes, so I gave her the cue to go on and she went right on to the front. Last week I didn’t want to go to the front with her. I ducked her in the 3-hole and when everything settled, I tipped her out and she went.”

Agent Of Fortune is not the only sophomore trotter in the barn for which Taylor has high hopes. Musclefantastic, winner of last season’s ISS Super Final for freshman trotting colts, makes his debut Monday (May 27). He has two qualifiers to his credit, and like the filly, was not 100 per cent last year. The son of Muscle Massive—Busybeingdreamy finished the year with $187,865 on his card.

“He was another one that had some bumps in the road,” Taylor said. “He was sick and he had a quarter crack in the foot; we were battling for about a month getting him sound. He’s come back really good this year. Just like the filly division, there will be a lot of tough colts out there. I just hope he can be a contender this year.”