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Final foal of Anniecrombie keeps on pacing
Thursday, March 29, 2012 - by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

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Kimberly French
Louisville, KY --- When he was a 2-year-old, no one could really ascertain Nob Hill High, the last foal of the former world champion Anniecrombie, was a stud colt, but over the last four years he has grown much wiser and now behaves in a fashion much more akin to a stallion.

“As a 2-year-old you didn’t even know he was a full colt,” explained his co-breeder and co-owner, Don Robinson. “At 3 he still had no idea, but when he was at the Senior Jug as 4-year-old I could see he was finally starting to like some things his own way. Bruce (Saunders, his trainer) says if he doesn’t get on the trailer first, he raises hell all the way to Yonkers. He found his way to the front and he likes it there.”

Nob Hill High, who was also bred and is co-owned by Bob Mondillo, is a son of McArdle and the embryo transfer has earned his connections $588,393 from 116 lifetime starts and boasts a record of 24-19-22. Although he has failed to capture a top level race, the stallion did triumph in his 2009 Matron elimination at Dover Downs and was third in the $500,000 Hoosier Cup. He also competed in many of the other top stakes for sophomore pacing colts that year, including the Little Brown Jug, Confederation Cup and North America Cup.

USTA/Mark Hall photo
Nob Hill High has banked $588,393 in his career.

Of the ten foals Breeders Crown champion Anniecrombie produced, only two, her first foal No Hood (Falcon Seelster, p,1:51.1, $364,717) and Nob Hill High have managed to break the $100,000 barrier although Anson (Cambest, p,1:53.3f, $84,245), her first foal by embryo transfer and for Robinson and Mondillo, came close.

“We went to the Castleton dispersal sale in December of 2001 with the thought of just seeing what was available and when I saw her, I said 'wow, this is certainly what a broodmare should look like,'” remembered Mondillo. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think we could afford her, but she hadn’t had a foal in a couple years (1997, Red Cape, Jate Lobell, p,3,1:54.1s, $16,836) so she was reasonably priced and fit into our budget.

“Certainly we were hopeful we would be able to get a foal, but I loved her so much that if she was just our horse in a paddock, I didn’t mind,” he continued. “It turned out we were fortunate enough to have four with Nobby being the last. Our attachment to the mare is one thing and we certainly have a special attachment to Nobby, because there aren’t going to be anymore; he’s the last. He really has been a wonderful horse to be around.”

“We went through a lot to get him,” Robinson said. “Since she had success with Falcon Seelster and McArdle is a son of Falcon Seelster, we decided to go that route and got Nobby.”

The stallion was broken and trained by Bill Webb for nearly all of the first two years of his career and was turned over to Bruce Saunders shortly before his Matron elimination triumph. Since then Nob Hill High has competed primarily on the East Coast in Opens and Invitationals, but every year he returns to Delaware for Jug Day.

“We would like to stand him as a stallion some day and one win I would like on his resume is the (Winbak Pace at Delaware),” Robinson said. “He finished second (behind Lucky Man) in a world record mile in 2010 and last year he drew the eight hole in a nine horse field. I told Bob at the quarter pole that it looked like he was already 20 lengths behind. Position is important to him since he doesn’t have a lot of gate speed, but you know he will always give his best.”

After finishing second last week behind Atochia in the opening leg of the Levy Series at Yonkers Raceway, Nob Hill High has drawn the one hole for this Saturday’s (March 31) Levy contest in the eighth race and is 5-1 on the morning line.

“He drew very poorly last year, but in five races at Yonkers (this year) he has drawn the rail,” Saunders said. “That will really help a horse get his mojo back because they are always involved and are usually right there at the finish line. The draw is so crucial on a half-mile, which he’s great on, and you are always proud of the effort he gives you, but we are not naive and know we aren’t the best horse in the Levy.

There are certainly horses with more creditability than him and Foiled Again and Real Nice have established themselves historically, but probably there are 15 horses like him and 15 horses he may be better than. Over a five-week period if we draw well and are able to duck the gorillas, there’s no reason why we can’t get lucky because we know he will show up.

“Realistically it is a $5,000 entry fee and that’s not chump change, but you are going for $50,000 over five weeks, then the final will be $400,000 or $450,000 with the consolation going for $100,000,” he continued. “If you can get into the consolation, you can knock down $50,000 or $60,000 for five weeks and that’s commendable and would make everyone happy.

He could have won the other night if Atochia had been shaken up a little bit. It was his first start back and I thought he might have been vulnerable, but he got easy fractions.”

Although he does like his own way, Nob High Hill is a very laid back horse and often has to be pushed to train at any rate of solid speed. Instead of frustrating Saunders, this characteristic earned the stallion an opportunity to perform an important training function.

“Even if I take him out with the hood on him, I can’t get him to go and that’s even if I put him on the race bike,” Saunders said. “He just floats around there and most of the time I work harder than he does. So on Wednesdays I’ve been using him to educate the babies. He cuts the miles for the 2-year-olds now that they are in the (2):20, (2):25, (2):30 range. He’s been doing that for about six weeks because he’s so lazy he’ll never run away from them. When I grab him at the end of the mile to let the babies go by, he kind of swells up a little bit, but I think he likes it and knows what he is doing. That has been the extent of his work.

“He’s the last foal out of Anniecrombie and an embryo transplant, so that gives him some infamy right from the get go, with her being what she was,” he continued. “He’s a pretty nice horse who loves his job and everybody around him loves him. He doesn’t waste a lot of energy during the week but when it’s time to race he gets serious. She saved the best for last.”

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