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Late bloomer turns into top Northfield trotter
Friday, April 04, 2014 - by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

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Kimberly French
Louisville, KY --- In 2001, Jeff Hochstetler decided to take a break from training and driving horses, but in 2010 he got back into the game driving on a very limited basis. After getting his feet wet, he decided to put together a stable the following year and in 2012 his horses made only 25 starts.

That was when he decided to give Martin Yoder a ring. He had conditioned some horses of Yoder’s years before and wanted to see if he had any that Hochstetler could have in his barn. It just so happened that Yoder did, but the horse was a 5-year-old and had never even so much as qualified.

“The first time I drove Rose Run Logan I couldn’t understand why this horse had never raced because he was so good,” said Hochstetler. “The owner had bought the horse as a yearling and had tried him with a number of trainers, but they could never get him to go. At the time I drove him, he was training with a buggy and when I asked him why no one got him to the races, he said, ‘They couldn’t get him to go around the turns,’ which I couldn’t believe because he had no problems and was very sound.”

JJ Zamaiko photo
Rose Run Logan has won six of his seven starts this year, the most recent a 1:55.4 score in Northfield's Open on March 31.

So Hochstetler plunked down some cash for the gelded son of Armbro Laser and the Baltic Speed mare How Miraculous, then began preparing him for a 2013 campaign. Rose Run Logan, a full brother to Hesza Laser 1:53s ($411,368) and a half brother to Rose Run Condo 1:55.4 ($206,235) and Rose Run Mac 3,1:53.3f ($109,271), trotted 31 miles last year with a record of 6-5-8, purse money of $16,298 and a mark of 1:56.1h.

In 2014, Rose Run Logan certainly has not dropped off. From seven trips to the gate, he has compiled a record of 6-1-0, earned $18,900 and lowered his fastest time to 1:55.3 on March 17. His next performance will be Monday (April 7) at Northfield Park in a $10,000 Open Handicap. He is 5-2 on the morning line and will leave from post seven in a field of nine. Josh Sutton has the nod for driving duties and the race is the 10th on the card.

“He came from a very nice family and I drove him myself for most of last year because I wanted him to learn what he was supposed to be doing out there,” Hochstetler said. “I didn’t have to do anything special with him and he goes with just four aluminum shoes.

I couldn’t figure out why no one could get him to go, but my training method is a little different than other trainers. He jogs six miles every day. Half of it is the right way around the track and the other half is the wrong way around the track. I tried to back off of him over the summer, because it was so hot and I didn’t want to be hard on the horse, but he didn’t race as well when I did that.”

Rose Run Logan won his pari-mutuel debut on Feb. 26, 2013 at Northfield Park with Tyler Smith in the bike. It took him nearly four months to post win number two, which came on June 17 at Northfield with his trainer up, but Hochstetler was not pushing him. He wanted to educate the horse, who after all, was facing much more seasoned competitors, but the gelding was still picking up checks.

The horse ended another long winless drought on Oct. 8 in a $2,000 non-winners contest at Northfield Park with Hochstetler still at the helm, but after Rose Run Logan was third and fourth in his next two starts on Oct. 16 and Oct. 23, the gelding’s owner and trainer decided to put Aaron Merriman in the bike.

That start on Oct. 30 was another victory in what would be his mark for the year (1:56.1). Merriman continued to drive him for four more starts where he placed second, fifth, first and third while gradually stepping up in class. Rose Run Logan’s last start of the season was a second place finish on Dec. 16, again at Northfield, with Jason Thompson holding the lines.

“He is such a nice horse and has turned into a pet in this barn,” Hochstetler said. “My daughter was 18 last year and my son who was 13 used to jog him all the time last year. They both just love him. He is very well-mannered and just a great horse to work with, as well as be around. I’ve never had one problem with him.”

Rose Run Logan returned to the pari-mutuel ranks this year on Feb. 12 at Northfield Park. He opened his season with five straight victories while again stepping up in class. The only blemish on his card this season was a second place finish on March 24 in a $10,000 Open Handicap at Northfield and he followed that up with another win under the same conditions on March 31.

“I only gave him a little time off and didn’t change anything with him, except letting out his hobbles a little bit,” Hochstetler said. “As far as this year goes, I’m not sure what I’m going to do with him. I wouldn’t mind trying him out East, but I do have other horses. We’ll just go week-to-week and see what he tells us.

“Trust me, I’m no magician, but I have worked with other trotters. I still can’t figure out why he wouldn’t go, but this is one nice horse.”

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