It didn’t take long for the pacer to prove he was worth the money.
More than six seasons later, the 10-year-old gelding is proving he’s still worth it.
Noble Falcon, owned by Francis Azur, makes his seasonal debut Saturday night at Meadowlands Racetrack. He is 12-1 on the morning line in a field of 10. Scott Zeron will drive for McDermott.
|USTA/Ken Weingartner photo|
|Noble Falcon (pictured with caretaker Nelson Munoz) has banked $1.15 million in his career.|
From ages 4 through 9, Noble Falcon won 46 times and earned $1 million while averaging 40 starts per year.
“The first time I trained him I put him to a race bike and trained him all I could go and he went 2:45,” McDermott said. “I told (driver) Brian Sears in his first start that this might be the worst horse I’ve ever bought in my life. He came home fastest of everyone in the field that night (finishing third) and Brian said not to ever tell him about a horse again.
“To this day, that’s how he is. He won’t train. He just won’t go. But he’ll show up and race in the nighttime.”
As a 2-year-old, Noble Falcon was the Ohio Sire Stakes champion. After joining McDermott’s stable, the son of Nobleland Sam-Falcon Ground worked his way into the open ranks, where he was good enough to beat standouts such as Won The West and Foiled Again.
“We bought him at the end of his 3-year-old year at Harrisburg, I think for around $70,000,” McDermott said. “Me and Fran were walking out of the sale, we never looked at him in the book, and we bought three horses that day and we thought we could find a 4-year-old ($50,000) claimer.
“We saw him in the stall and looked at him and went back and looked at some of his videos. We knew he got around smaller tracks. We took a shot with him. It was more luck, pure luck.”
So far this year, there have been 10 pacers to make starts (counting qualifiers) that are age 9 or older with more than $1 million in career earnings. Golden Receiver tops the list, followed by Silent Swing, Santanna Blue Chip, Blueridge Western (another McDermott trainee), Real Nice, McCedes, Noble Falcon, Blatantly Good (who races against Noble Falcon on Saturday), Domitian Hanover and Lucky Man.
Of that group, only 12-year-old Silent Swing and Noble Falcon have posted six consecutive seasons of at least $100,000 in purses. Foiled Again, the record-setting $6 million man, will join the group when he returns to action later this season.
Yet for all his accomplishments, Noble Falcon might be best remembered for beating Blueridge Western in an exhibition race at the Orleans County Fair in Vermont in 2009. Azur, a Vermont native, brought his two stars to the fair to promote harness racing. Noble Falcon paced the fastest mile in state history, winning by a nose in 1:56.2.
Around McDermott’s barn, Noble Falcon is known for his personality and love of candy orange slices, which he will eat from McDermott’s mouth.
“He’s got the greatest personality in the world and eats any type of food,” McDermott said. “He’s got his attitude, some days he doesn’t want to go on the track, but he’s a pleasure to be around. He has the first stall (by the door) because he’s always got his head out.”
In his first full season with McDermott, Noble Falcon notched 10 of his 12 wins at the Meadowlands. Last year, he got all eight of his victories at Yonkers.
“Early on he didn’t like Yonkers at all; he loved the Meadowlands,” McDermott said. “As he got older, the speed at the Meadowlands seemed to be too much for him and we brought him over to Yonkers and he got a second wind there. He’s made another career over there.”
McDermott says he receives many compliments for keeping Noble Falcon successful, but the horse really manages himself. McDermott also credits caretaker Nelson Munoz, who has been Noble Falcon’s groom since the horse joined McDermott’s stable.
“John Campbell said he’ll race until he’s 15 because he knows how to take care of himself,” McDermott said. “He once won five weeks in a row in sub-1:50 and never jogged one day during the week. He used to go home to the house and race straight off the farm. It’s all attitude.
“He’s our Foiled Again. It’s just a pleasure to have him. He’s just a good horse.”