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Final Breath has lived up to expectations
Thursday, January 30, 2014 - by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

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Kimberly French
Louisville, KY --- When Duane Lowe transported Final Breath to his new trainer, Hugh ‘Sandy’ Beatty, last February he certainly did not mince any words and his assessment of the recently crowned Ohio Horse of the Year and 3-year-old champion trotter’s ability was spot on.

“I’ve know Hugh for some years,” said the 80-year-old Malta, Ohio, resident, who also bred the now 4-year-old gelding. “Right when I took this horse to him, I told him he was the best horse in the state.”

The son of Victory Sam and First Breath is the product of a family Lowe has owned, bred and raced for four generations. His dam, by Hold Your Breath, earned $102,093 and was an Ohio Sire Stakes champion as a 3-year-old before becoming a prolific producer.

Conrad photo
Ohio Horse of the Year Final Breath won 10 of 13 in 2013 and banked more than $200,000.

Final Breath is a half-brother to Eastern Star Two (Hi Noon Star, 1:57.1, $119,035), BV Victory (Big Victory, 3,1:57.1f, $197,315), JJ’s Message (Carry The Message, 3,1:57.1f, $106,831), B V’s Sister (Big Victory, 1:54.4s, $643,500) and Hezahumer (Master Lavec, 3,1:55.2f, $168,059). First Breath has produced 13 foals and only three of them did not make it to the track.

“The funny thing about it is the family was bred to pace and they are all trotters,” Lowe said. “When I took this horse’s mother out to train her down it was on the pace. I tried them all on the pace, and when I brought her back in, it was like she had tears running down her face, so next time I took her out I let her trot and never put the hopples on her again. They have all been very nice horses because they have brains and they always made my job easy.”

Lowe had high hopes for Final Breath right from the day he hit the ground because of his family history and conditioned the horse himself as a 2-year-old.

The gelding made his career debut a winning one in a $16,500 Ohio Sire Stake at Scioto Downs on July 4, 2012 and followed that up with another victory at the Wellston Fair on July 13. In his next three races, which were in Sire Stakes and at the fairs, Final Breath was third placed fourth, second and sixth, but finished up his campaign with four straight wins, the last coming in a $25,000 Ohio Sire Stake at Northfield Park on Sept. 1.

He was the early favorite for the $100,000 Ohio Sire Stakes final on Sept. 8 at Scioto Downs, but unfortunately he came up sick so Lowe scratched him, stopped on him for the year and brought him to Beatty for his 3-year-old campaign.

He earned $35,097 as a freshman with a record of 9-6-1-0 and a mark of 2:00.1h in his final start of the year.

“I did watch him (as a 2-year-old) and it was unfortunate for Duane that he couldn’t race in the (Sire Stakes) final and at Delaware,” Beatty said. “I thought he was a rather frail colt, but when Duane brought him to me, he had really filled out nicely and was much bigger and stronger than he was at two. Also, right away he acted like a very intelligent horse.”

So Beatty prepared him for his sophomore season and Final Breath was third in his first start of the year, which was on May 4 at Lebanon Raceway in a $30,000 Ohio Sire Stake.

He then reeled off four straight triumphs at Scioto Downs, including a Sire Stakes race on May 27. He was second in a $12,000 non-winners race over the same oval on June 28 and his next contest on July 12 at the same strip was his only off the board finish of the year, as he finished sixth from the nine hole.

The gelding, however, did not lose the rest of the year.

Piloted in every race by his trainer, Final Breath competed entirely in Ohio stakes competition for the balance of the summer, captured the $150,000 Sire Stakes final for his age, sex, and gait and capped off the year by annexing a $38,626 Ohio Breeders Championship race at the Delaware County Fairgrounds on Sept. 18.

His seasonal slate was 13-10-1-1, with a little more than $200,000 in purse money and a new mark of 1:55.3f taken at Scioto Downs on August 9. His accomplishments were more than enough to nail down the championship in his division and to be voted the Buckeye State’s Horse of the Year.

“Duane brought him to me because he could train over the bigger track at Scioto Downs,” Beatty said. “Also, (Duane) is certainly not in bad health, but he is getting a bit older and maybe wanted to slow down some. I had driven and trained for Duane before and I was very fortunate to pick this horse up.

He is really a brilliant horse. He is very intelligent and does not do anything wrong. He is the perfect horse to work with and take care of. He is a good keeper and eats well. I wish they all could be that way. Most good horses usually have the characteristics he possesses.

After Delaware, we thought he didn’t have anything else left to prove so we shut him down for the winter.”

Normally, Lowe sells his horses after their 3-year-old year, because there just have not been very many opportunities in Ohio and the sire stakes are complete, but he is hanging on to this horse. Beatty has him back in training for his 4-year-old season and both he and Lowe are very eager to see how he performs in 2014.

“He looks good and was in nice shape when he came in,” Beatty said. “He is going to step up against some very tough competition. We’ll put him in Opens and conditioned races. Also, Scioto has a late closer for aged trotters in the Fall. We will manage him where it suits him best.

It will be a question mark how the competition will be, but he went some nice miles last year and showed some speed. He will just have to put everything together, but it’s nice to be able to keep these nice horses because now Ohio has some opportunity and we might race him in Indiana too.”

Lowe was disappointed he couldn’t race Final Breath at Delaware or in the Sire Stakes final as a 2-year-old, but was understandably more than pleased with both of his performances in those events this year.

“I’m 80 years old and I don’t mean to sound badly, but if these winters still stay this cold, I don’t know how many more of them I will have,” he said. “It is quite a thrill to see this horse race like I knew he could. He is really a talented individual and an exceptional horse.

You can’t imagine what it is like to have him named Horse of the Year and if someone would have told me 10 years ago I would have a horse that earned $200,000 racing only in Ohio for one year I would have told them they were crazy. It is quite an achievement and I feel so very fortunate I have him.”

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