Trenton, NJ --- If Sweet Rock were a businessman instead of a harness racing horse, he would probably be Warren Buffett or Bill Gates. He sure doesn’t take long to turn a profit.
“You have a horse less than a week and it pays for itself,” said the horse’s new trainer, Wayne Givens. “That’s unbelievable.”
This past Saturday, it was time to believe.
Purchased by Vicki Givens' Legacy Racing of DE Inc., Reginald Hazzard II and Gary Calloway for $63,000 at the Tattersalls Summer Mixed Sale on July 27, the 3-year-old male pacer was thrown right into the fray on Hambletonian Day.
With just one win in 20 lifetime starts, Sweet Rock went off at 92-1 odds and promptly won the $225,000 Anthony Abbatiello SBOA New Jersey Classic at the Meadowlands.
Not a bad return on the $63,000 purchase just six days earlier. He had been trained by Larry Remmen, one of the top trainers at the Big M.
“At the sale was the first time I saw him,” Wayne Givens said. “I went and looked at him, he seemed like a good solid horse. I went over and talked to Larry, and he said there was nothing wrong.
“He was a good bred horse. He looked good in his last start at the Meadowlands and paced at (1:)50 and a piece. He’s only 3 years old and pacing in (1:)50 and he’s a (gelded) son of Rocknroll Hanover.”
The fact Remmen had worked with Sweet Rock also made Givens feel pretty secure with the purchase.
“They’re good trainers,” he said. “I knew the horse would be in shape and health wise he was probably good. When you buy good horses off good trainers, sometimes all you have to do is get lucky, and that’s kind of what happened.
“There were no issues at all when I started to work with him. He was racing fine at the Meadowlands. Hooking up with his harness I already knew what the horse wore. He’s perfect; a nice horse on the track and a nice horse to go out and train. With him it’s all in the trip.”
Despite going off as the second biggest longshot in the NJ Classic (Card Shock was 102-1), Givens had faith in the horse.
“I can tell you the truth, I was hoping he’d get a check,” the trainer said. “I told my partners it’s not every day you’re in a race for $200,000.
“I think the odds were so long because he had just changed hands. The Remmens had him until a few days ago. Plus there were a couple horses in there that people didn’t think anybody could beat. But it worked out perfect.”
Givens handed the reins to Brett Miller, who admitted after the race he knew nothing about Sweet Rock. But he managed to take him from behind and worked his way through a crowded stretch as Sweet Rock won by a nose over Beat The Drum in 1:49.4.
“Miller did an outstanding job driving him,” Givens said. “I think that’s what the horse needed, was a trip. He needed a real good trip and luck went our way. Things opened up right before the wall and he came on.”
Although Givens has no solid plans for the horse, he said his next race will probably be the Tompkins-Geers at Tioga Downs on Aug. 17. He is also eligible for several other races but the trainer said, “I’m not sure about any of them right now. But we’ll show up at Tioga.”
By then, Givens will have had more time to work with the horse, although he obviously didn’t need much time to turn a profit.
by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent