Racing for the first time out of Canada, Fool Me Once captured his division of the Bluegrass Stakes by a half-length over Sir Richard Z Tam in 1:51.3 on Sept. 29 and then won his division of the International Stallion Stakes by a half-length over Twilight Bonfire in 1:51.3 on Oct. 6.
A son of Art Major-Fool That I Am, Fool Me Once has won four of eight starts this season and earned $125,983. He is owned by Austin and Daniel Smith, both from Ontario.
|USTA/Mark Hall photo|
|Fool Me Once won a pair of Grand Circuit stakes races at The Red Mile, in identical clockings of 1:51.3.|
“He raced tough both weeks,” Austin said. “Front-end speed usually doesn’t hold up down there, but both weeks he fought tough through the lane and gave a good account of himself. He can race from off the pace, too; it’s just the way both weeks set up for him. He ended up on the front and kind of used hard getting to the front.
“He drew a couple little easier divisions at The Red Mile. It helps when you draw away from Captaintreacherous and Odds On Equuleus. It worked out good. I think it will help him. Any horse that starts winning gets a little more confidence.”
Fool Me Once is a full-brother to multiple-stakes-winner Feel Like A Fool and was purchased under the name Foolish Fishman for $70,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale. He did not sell originally during the auction and Austin worked out a deal privately at the sale. His family also includes millionaire I Am A Fool, who won the 2003 Breeders Crown for 2-year-old male pacers.
“It worked out,” Austin said. “I really liked the colt when I was at the sale. He was an impressive looking colt, at least in my eyes. When we made the deal on him, I was happy to get him.
“He was kind of high strung when I first got him, but he was always on the bit and ready to go and had a great attitude. If anything, he was a little bit hot so we were careful training him down and he finally got to where he would relax. He’s turned into a very nice horse. He’s got a nice big gait. He’s got a good way of going.”
Fool Me Once began his career with back-to-back wins in conditioned races before battling illness and finishing sixth in a division of the Nassagaweya Stakes. He then was third in his elimination for the million-dollar Metro Pace and seventh in the final after starting from post eight.
“He’s been a very nice horse all along,” Austin said. “In the Metro he raced good both weeks, he just drew poorly for the final and when you get away eighth or ninth you’re not going to beat too many coming home in that class of field.”
Austin, 52, typically trains a stable of 15 to 18 horses. He was introduced to harness racing by his uncle, Bud, and got into the sport full time after high school. He has averaged $586,000 in purses over the last seven seasons, including $599,656 this year.
“My uncle had one horse; he was a fireman and I used to go out and help him on the weekends,” Austin said. “That’s how I caught the horse bug. I finished high school and went to work for a couple guys. I struck out on my own when I was 21 and I’ve been on my own ever since.”
Two-year-old male pacers eligible to the Breeders Crown include division leader Captaintreacherous, who has won seven of eight races and earned $833,753.
“(Fool Me Once) is going to have a week’s rest and if everything is in good shape we’ll throw him in there,” Austin said. “Hopefully, we’ll draw away from the tough ones and get a little bit of racing luck.”