Davis and Matt Shipley, under the name Dandy Farms Inc., purchased Celebrity Hercules for $24,000 at the Tattersalls January Select Mixed Sale at the Meadowlands. Since then, the 7-year-old trotter has won three of four races and earned $21,875 while competing at Balmoral Park in Chicago.
For his career, Celebrity Hercules has won 17 of 91 starts and banked $325,896. He races Wednesday night in the “winners over” class at Balmoral.
|Balmoral Park photo|
|Celebrity Hercules has three wins and a second for his new connections.|
“We looked at a ton of different horses,” said Davis, who lives in Glenview, Ill., and runs a marketing, advertising and public relations firm. “He was a supplemental addition in the sale and he might have slipped through the cracks. We looked him over and didn’t see anything too alarming.
“The bidding stalled and we made one bid at 24 (thousand dollars) and got him. We had a price in mind for him and that was right in our wheelhouse.”
Celebrity Hercules won his two starts prior to the January sale and continued his winning ways in the “winners over” class at Balmoral. Trained by Erin Elliott, he won his first three starts by no fewer than 1-1/2 lengths with Marcus Miller handling the driving.
“Marcus loves the horse,” Davis said. “He told us he was a professional and knows what he’s doing and takes care of himself on the racetrack. He’s a nice big horse; great looking. Erin and her team have done a great job with him.”
Miller is racing on the East Coast now, so John DeLong has taken over the driving assignment. On March 13, Celebrity Hercules suffered his first setback for his new connections when he lost by a neck following a three-week layoff. On Wednesday night, the trotter faces eight rivals and starts from the outside post, No. 9.
“They didn’t write his class and we had nowhere to go,” Davis said about the horse’s time off. “He came home pretty good last week (with a :27.1 final quarter-mile, making up nearly five lengths) considering he was off three weeks. John DeLong did a heck of a job. We weren’t disappointed at all.”
Davis and Shipley, who lives in Chicago, want to continue to race in Illinois, but would consider sending Celebrity Hercules to Indiana if necessary.
“He gets around any size track, so we have that option,” Davis said. “But we like to go to the track. If they’re writing (his class) and we can make money, we’ll stay in Illinois.”
Davis has enjoyed harness racing since he was a teenager, but is a relative newcomer to the sport as an owner.
“A few years ago, some friends talked to me about owning some horses,” Davis said. “I have a love of horses first and foremost, so I decided to jump in.”
Last year, Davis attended the U.S. Trotting Association’s Driving School in Goshen, N.Y., and further fueled his passion for racing.
“It was fantastic,” Davis said. “I recommend going to the school whether or not you want to be a driver or trainer. You meet so many good people; it’s good for networking, it’s good for the industry. I still talk every week with people I met at the school. Being around so many people who love the sport is good for everyone.”
Editor's Note: For more information on the 2013 USTA Driving School, click here.