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Older horses still at the top of their game at Buffalo
Monday, March 10, 2014 - by Michael Carter, for Buffalo Raceway

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Hamburg, NY --- When you think of aging wine, it is some of the best you could ever have/drink, but when it comes to horse racing a lot of times the older a horse gets they will fall off of their game.

Since coming to Buffalo Raceway I have seen three horses that are what I consider “war horses” -- all with a ton of class.

In 2005 there was an unsuspecting trotter that no one would have ever expected to do well. His name was Self Professed and he did not always have it as easy as he does right now. When he was a yearling the connections found out that he had OCD (oesteochondrosis dissecans, which can produce cartilage or bone fragments) and they took care of that, putting him behind about six weeks.

Self Professed was once trained by Don Swick, and is now trained by Ashley Holliday and owned by Resilient Racing. He was fourth in a great race last out and two back won a race in an absolutely gutsy performance.

Holliday says, “Self is one of those horse that you don’t really have to train, you can just tell by his personality and demeanor that he knows his job and he knows how to do it.

“He loves his treats, apples are his absolute favorite, and right now it’s about keeping him happy and sound.”

Self Professed was a valiant third in his Hambletonian elimination and faded in the final, but he was a lot more than anyone expected. Age may have hit him, but his resilience is still around and at more than $1 million he is still doing well.

Steve Roth photo
Running Book has banked $652,825 in his career.

In 2007 there was a gutsy 3-year-old named Running Book who took the harness racing world by surprise. He was a 40-1 winner in a Meadowlands Pace elimination and was perfect that night. When he returned to the final he faded badly to sixth after leading most of the way. He comes to Buffalo Raceway now 10 years old and is returning to his winning ways.

Trainer JD Perrin just got this horse and has taken him from a $10,000 claimer to an Open winner (on March 8) in less than a month.

Perrin says, “He is very nice to work with in the barn and on the track. Being a stud, when other horses are around he is very vocal, likes to let everyone know who the alpha is. Good news for him is he is still an alpha on the track.”

You would think that a horse like this would just give in after a while and be ready for retirement at this age, but Perrin says, “Training a class horse is nice, but you just have to focus on keeping them sound and healthy, they know how to win.”

He is right about one thing this horse really does know how to win. He dominated Saturday night in what should have been a very intense race.

Think Gold started his career in the Ontario Sire Stakes before sort of dropping down. In 2006, he was trotting for some very good money and succeeding here and there. Think Gold at the time was being trained by Carl Jamieson in Canada. He raced against horses such as Flirtin Man, who wound up going to the Hambletonian.

In 2013, he was owned by Isabelle Beaudoin and trained by her father Jacques. Isabelle said, “He is the type of horse that needs to be in charge. He didn’t like head poles, tongue ties, and his mouth getting touched and was very tough to warm up. He was a sweetheart though and a horse that rarely required any maintenance and always gave his all, fighting every week.”

Since coming to Buffalo Raceway he has really proved that, finishing second last out and having some decent performances.

These three are just some of the few “war horses” still around, but they all have something in common. Just because the stakes races are over for them doesn’t mean they are through.

People love a good racing story; here is one with three horses who truly love what they do.

Racing at the Hamburg oval continues throughout the month of March on Wednesday and Thursday with a first post of 5 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday 6:40 p.m. Racing in April will take place Wednesday at 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 6:40 p.m.

Located on The Fairgrounds in Hamburg, N.Y., Buffalo Raceway hosts harness racing January through July. Simulcast wagering is available Wednesday through Monday from the top harness and Thoroughbred tracks year round.

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