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Home Turf seeks second straight in Super Bowl
Tuesday, January 14, 2014 - by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

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Rich Fisher
Trenton, NJ --- When Noel Daley bought trotter Home Turf for $20,000, he thought he got a steal.

He didn’t foresee the horse getting knee issues, but got them nonetheless. Hopefully those problems are gone as Home Turf won his first race of the year, capturing his first-round division of the Super Bowl Series in 1:56 on Jan. 9 at Meadowlands Racetrack.

The 4-year-old will return this Thursday for the second leg.

“That was good,” said co-owner Daley, who also trains Home Turf. “He had to, like everyone else, deal with weather and all that. But he’s got a bit of talent, that horse.

Lisa photo
Home Turf was a 1:56 winner in the opening round of the Super Bowl series at Meadowlands Racetrack.

“He has not been a very sound horse that’s all. He should improve off that. I was happy. I wasn’t surprised at all. He was 6-5 (odds), and I thought he could do that without any problems. I assumed he’d be one of the better ones there.”

Home Turf’s issues occurred on April 3, 2013, in his first career race. The start came in a division of the Bobby Weiss Series at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

“He finished third and we got off with a lot of money,” Daley said. “But he came off with a broken (right) knee, and that basically wiped out the season. He just raced off the pace and he came out of that with the break.”

Home Turf was out of action until September, but returned with a win in a conditioned race at Pocono Downs. After a second-place finish in another conditioned race, he won a $10,000 late closer at Lexington’s Red Mile. At that point, Daley entered Home Turf in the Kentucky Futurity, although he didn’t have high hopes.

“I knew it was pie in the sky,” he said. “I started him in the Futurity because that was the only thing left at the end of the year that I had him staked for.

“He was overmatched with that. He wasn’t really ready for it. He won the week before, but like I said, it was pie in the sky. We took a shot.”

The horse did finish fifth in the first heat, which was enough for Noel and his crew to get most of their payment back. He was eighth in the final.

For the season, Home Turf won two of eight starts and earned $21,252 for Daley and co-owner Mirva Bogucki.

The trainer still has high hopes for Home Turf, who comes from good breeding. His dad is Yankee Glide and his mom, Soulful Hanover, was second in the 2000 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old filly trotters. Home Turf is a full brother to stakes-placed Sheer Soul, and the family also includes Southern Newton, who won the 1988 Yonkers Trot before racing in Europe.

“I bought him cheap; I really thought I stole him,” Daley said. “From day one he always had talent. He’s just never been a very sound horse, he’s always had to deal with that knee.”

And the trainer has had to deal with a rambunctious horse in the stable.

“He’s always on the muscle, he’s hard on himself,” Daley said. “He’s not the most pleasant horse. He’s not terrible, but you wouldn’t take him as the favorite horse in the barn that’s for sure.

“We ended up gelding him last year.”

On the track, Daley said, “He’s fine. He can be a little grabby at times. He was good the other night. Nice and relaxed. But he can, at times, be a little grabby.”

As for controlling the knee problems, it comes down to maintenance. Home Turf spends a lot of time in the pool and the knee did not seem to be an issue last week. Daley hopes he can keep it up this Thursday.

“For the Super Bowl series, I assume as long as he’s halfway sound, he’ll be one of the better ones there,” Daley said. “If he just improves a little bit from last week, he’ll be right in there, that’s for sure.”

While Daley feels Home Turf is his best chance for Super Bowl success, he also had two other horses do well last week. Corleone Hall finished second and Secret Ingredient was third in their first-round divisions.

“I paid ($50,000) for Corleone, he’s about the 11th or 12th foal out of the mare,” Daley said, referring to Canne Angus, who also is the mother of millionaire Cameron Hall as well as stakes-winners Canland Hall and Courtney Hall. “He’s got plenty of breeding. He’s only a little fellow, I was pleasantly surprised with his start. That was definitely one of his better runs.

“I’m very happy with him. He doesn’t have the talent of the other horses, but he’s got a bit of a trot, this horse.”

Daley says Secret Ingredient has more talent than Corleone Hall, “but he’s a little bit of a handful, not the easiest to control. He’s got a bunch of little issues, racehorse issues. But he’s OK.”

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