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Northern Companion has blossomed into top pacer
Thursday, January 31, 2013 - by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

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Kimberly French
Louisville, KY --- When Rita Polesi brought him to the barn after the 2011 Delaware Sale, Howard Klohr, Northern Companion’s latest conditioner, very nearly forced her to walk the gelding right back to the van.

“Rita always looks over all the horses I buy to make sure they stand correct,” explained the 72-year-old Delray Beach, Fla., resident. “She always tells me which ones are okay or which ones aren’t and she does the shipping. She said this horse was okay and so was his size, but when I saw her walking him I asked her if this was really my horse, because he was huge. He looked like an elephant.”

When Klohr decided to purchase Northern Companion, who at this stage of his career had paced 22 miles with three wins, a little more than $8,000 in the bank and a mark of 1:58.2h, on behalf of his client Dorothy Zarza, it was for two main reasons.

“I have Maxine’s Menace that I bred who’s by Cambest and he’s been a one in a million horse for me,” he said. “It popped out at me from the catalogue that this horse was also by Cambest, as I have a fondness for him and the mare (Smoke It Out by Albert, Albert) was old but had some nice production.

Skip Smith photo
Northern Companion won 17 times in 2012 and banked $90,498.

“But his racelines are truly what attracted me to him,” Klohr continued. “From July 29 to September 2 of his 3-year-old year he raced every four days over terrible Ohio fair tracks in 2:02 or 2:03. Then just before the sale he won a division of the Parshall Futurity at the Greenville Fair in 1:58.2. I told Dotty I thought we could get him for $4,400 and she was a little disgruntled because she wondered what kind of horse she would get for that, so I told her she would get her wish. I said we would keep our hand up on this horse until no one else’s was even if we had to spend $20,000 on him and we wound up getting him for $8,500.”

Klohr wondered how this giant horse, who he naturally assumed was much smaller than 16 hands, could have done all of his work successfully around half-mile tracks on short rest. He did have some soreness in his ankles, knees and hocks, but nothing significant before Klohr turned over his day-to-day training to Robert Hoffman.

“He only had one horse at the time and wanted to keep busy,” Klohr said. “He has done an absolutely terrific job with him and done everything for the horse. He drives him in his races, is his own blacksmith and jogs him in the mornings. He deserves all the credit for this horse.”

After traveling to Florida, Northern Companion made nine starts, all at Pompano Park, before ringing in 2012. He did have one second and two thirds and earned $2,680.

It was last year, however, that the gelding finally showed the world what he was capable of. In 2012, he went 37 miles with 17 triumphs, 10 second place finishes and three thirds. Northern Companion lowered his lifetime mark to 1:50.4f and collected $90,498 in purse money with Hoffman holding the reins.

He’s only been in action twice since the New Year after a holiday vacation, but one of his efforts was a victory on Jan. 26 in 1:51.2f on the front end.

“When he finished seventh in a ($12,000 Open Handicap on Jan. 19), everybody said, ‘Oh boy, what happened there,’” Klohr said. “But he hadn’t been out in a couple weeks and I wondered what he would do the next week if he wasn’t out chasing horses. He went right there and was never asked for pace. He’s definitely a special horse, really takes care of himself and we have had a lot of fun with him. We nicknamed him Buddy.”

Northern Companion will remain at his work over the Pompano Park oval for the remainder of his 5-year-old season and probably in future years if he still enjoys his job.

“We stop racing in July here and then we’ll get him ready to race down here again in October,” Klohr said. “Everybody asks me why we aren’t racing at the Meadowlands for $35,000 or $40,000, but Dotty is lucky she is in a position where she doesn’t need the money and she likes to watch her horse race. She turned down serious money for him last year when he was pacing in 1:52 and even more when he went in 1:50, but I told them they can offer all they want and she will never sell the horse. Dotty has had 77 horses and she said to me, ‘Howard, this is the best horse I’ve ever owned. Thank you.’”


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