Unraced as a 2-year-old, Bandolito has put his nose on the gate nine times this year and debuted on May 14 at Pocono Downs with a third place finish, but the son of the Matt’s Scooter mare, Sody’s Home Brew, has entered the winner’s circle in all eight of his contests over the last three months and will be seeking to keep his win streak alive this holiday weekend when he leaves from post two in the 10th race on Sunday (Sept. 1).
“We bought him from Warren Harp in May,” said co-owner, trainer and driver Daryl Bier. “Gary Brown, an agent from Las Vegas, let me know about the horse and he had two lines from Spring Garden Ranch. He qualified in (1):58 and then back in (1):56.
“It was Warren Harp’s decision not to race him last year. Usually it’s because they are sore or just small, but I never asked. I just heard he was for sale and he was a Ponder. I was aware of Thinking Out Loud and Bolt The Duer and I thought he could be a really nice horse for my brother to get his feet in the door on. They told me he was Kentucky eligible, but it didn’t matter. I was just trying to get something for my brother Tommy to race up in Pennsylvania.”
|Nigel Soult photo|
|Bandolito lowered his mark to 1:49.3 in Kentucky Sire Stakes action on Aug. 24 at The Red Mile.|
Initially purchased by David Bier, who goes by his middle name Tommy, Bandolito’s third place effort in his debut included a :27.2 final quarter, which was the swiftest of all seven contestants.
“He was a very green colt, it was his first start under the lights, and we drew bad (the seven hole),” Bier said. “I had a hard time steering him and although he was pretty good when we got him, I ended up training him, then putting a headpole on him. He’s been good ever since and just keeps getting better and better.”
Bandolito, who is now co-owned by Bier, his brother, and Charles Dombeck, then traveled to Harrah’s Philadelphia for his next two races on May 26 and June 6, which were both overnight victories, before returning to Pocono Downs on June 14 for another non-winners contest that produced the same result. He returned to Harrah’s Philadelphia for three more triumphs within the same class.
Bier, who has reined him in all but one of his starts, feels the colt really came into himself prior to placing his hooves on the red clay for the first leg of the Sire Stakes on Aug. 15.
“In his last start at Chester, he beat some pretty good horses,” he said. “Before that he wasn’t really racing anybody. We raced him in the mud there, but that’s when he actually started to pop a splint, so when we got to The Red Mile it was really bothering him. We went back home and worked on it and then he was just phenomenal the following week after we got the pain away from him.”
On Aug. 15, the colt led from every call in the $15,000 first leg and came home in 1:51.3 with a last quarter in :26.3, defeating Duel In The Sun handily, but the racing gods decided to toss a little bit of adversity in his way for the $30,000 second leg on Aug. 24.
The colt was blessed with the eight hole and had to contend with the classy Blatantly Best, who led at the three-quarter pole. Although he was three wide to the quarter pole, Bandolito still came home in 1:49.3 with a last quarter of :26.4, and Bier felt he could have stopped the timer sooner.
“If that kid (Lewayne Miller on Blatantly Best) would have went around the last turn a little quicker he would have a very serious mark,” Bier said. “I had a terrible time trying to stay in the hole with him, because he just wanted to go. He did it so easy and wasn’t even blowing afterwards. Like it was no big deal. That was a vicious mile.”
After the final on Sunday, in which he will be piloted by Tim Tetrick, Bandolito will take an extended vacation.
“I spoke to Timmy about driving him at Chester and told him I didn’t know if he (Bandolito) was good enough,” Bier said. “But he watched his races and said if I got him in the final he would come down to drive him.
“If he gets this done, he deserves a break and I will put him out in the field. I don’t have him in anything and I’d like to freeze-fire that splint anyway. Then I think I’m going to put him in whatever they have at the Meadowlands for 4-year-olds and maybe the Levy, because I think he will get around good on a half-mile because he’s a small horse.
“I’m kind of shocked by how good he is doing. We didn’t pay a lot for him and he’s not a very big horse, but he just wants to win. Who would have thought? It’s a good thing Mr. Harp had him staked in Kentucky or else he would have been in a non-winners of five. He’s just a nice, little colt that might be really special.”