Throughout the spring, the USTA Web site will provide occasional glimpses at some of harness racing’s stars as they get ready for action on the track. This week, they take a look at 4-year-old trotting gelding Before He Cheats.
BEFORE HE CHEATS
alley Victor – Nina Yorktown – Pride N Pleasure
wner: Sam Bowie
rainer: Dirk Simpson
rivers: Brandon Simpson, Tim Tetrick, Jason Dillander
2008 Record: 1-1-0-0; $7,840; 1:54.3
007 Record: 28-21-5-0; $320,189; 1:53.3
areer Totals: 29-22-5-0; $328,029; 1:53.3
wards: 2007 Illinois Horse of the Year
Number nine: Trotter Before He Cheats, now 4, began the year with a 1:54.3 win April 13 in the Open at Balmoral Park in Chicago. It was his ninth consecutive victory dating back to October 2007, when he won the Galt at Maywood Park. He also swept the Chester Late Closing Series at Harrah’s Chester in Pennsylvania -- his only trip outside Illinois -- during his streak.
“I was very impressed with it,” trainer Dirk Simpson said about Before He Cheats’ first victory of 2008. “I was hoping we wouldn’t have to go 1:54 to win the first time out, but I knew he would certainly be up to it. He did it all on his own, pretty much. Brandon said he would pass a horse and get a little lazy and he had to get after him; he was waiting on horses. He did that last year. When he passes somebody, he thinks he’s done until they come back on him a little bit.”
Blackjack: Before He Cheats hit 21 last year -- as in 21 victories. The total tied him with Swanee, a 9-year-old trotter, for the most wins for any horse in North America in 2007.
Unraced at 2:York, who bred and trained Before He Cheats early in his career, became ill before the horse had a chance to race and turned out his stock rather than send it to another trainer. York died soon after Simpson bought Before He Cheats in October 2006.
The road back: For two months following Before He Cheats’ final race of 2007 (December 20), Simpson mixed training miles of 2:25 with turn-out time of a week to 10 days.
“He never got let all the way down,” Simpson said. “He’s kind of filled out, gotten a little thicker, and maybe a little taller. Mentally, he’s a super smart horse. He trained down so-so, but when it gets time to race he gets more playful on the track. The week we qualified him he was just rearing up, like he was telling me ‘I’m ready to go.’ He likes to race. He came back real good and seems to be really fresh.”
The road ahead: Before He Cheats will race Friday in the second leg of the Su Mac Lad Series at the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey. World champion Enough Talk won the first leg in 1:52.2 last week. The field also included Giant Diablo, who shares the world record for the fastest mile in history, 2007 Yonkers Trot winner Green Day, 2007 Armbro Flight winner Lavec Dream, and defending series champion CR Dream Catcher.
He also has the Classic Series, Maxie Lee Memorial, Dygert, American-National, and Allerage on his schedule.
“We’ve got to try them sometime,” Simpson said about entering the Su Mac Lad. “He feels fresh and he trained sharp, so we’ll give it a try.
“We didn’t overstake him this year because he’s a 4-year-old. A few people advised us not to beat him up too much this year. He travels pretty well and he’s very sound. He’s easy on himself. He’s a good all-around horse for those purposes, and he’s fast. He acts like one of the top horses should be. He doesn’t have any bad quirks about him. I can’t say enough about his manners.”
Sing a song: Before He Cheats was named after the multiple-award winning Carrie Underwood single of the same title.
Driving the lane: Owner Sam Bowie was an All-American basketball player at the University of Kentucky. The 7-foot-1 center was the No. 2 selection in the 1984 NBA draft and played for the Portland Trailblazers, New Jersey Nets, and Los Angeles Lakers. He averaged 10.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game during his pro career.
The last word: “It’s hard to have expectations,” Simpson said. “He gives 110 percent every times he races. We’re just going to take care of him and race him where he’s ready to race. When he’s not, we’ll look for something a little bit softer. I think he’ll trot 1:53 or a little bit better this year, if the conditions are right. For me, that’s probably high expectations. He’s as fit now as he’s ever been.”
by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications
ourtesy of The US Trotting Association Web Newsroom