AT THE RAIL WITH CAROL HODES

07:24 PM 22 Apr 2007 NZST
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The Quiet Mon
The Quiet Mon
Photo by Michael Lisa - Lisa Photo, Inc.

I wanna play my guitar in the Caribbean sun
Hang with the locals at the Quiet Mon
Where you can be a tourist, a beach bum, or a star
And be as you are (April 22, 2007)

If The Quiet Mon fulfills his equine destiny in the premier three-year-old pacing stakes of 2007, they will be hoisting many cold pints of ale at The Quiet Mon, an Irish pub located on St. John in the US Virgin Islands.

The pub has provided the inspiration for both Kenny Chesney’s lyrics and the name of the horse who is being pointed toward next Saturday’s eliminations for the $225,000 estimated Berry’s Creek Pace on May 5 at the Meadowlands.

The Illinois-bred is also eligible to the $1 million Meadowlands Pace on July 14.

“They said they’ll use any excuse for a party so they’ll have The Quiet Mon race nights down there,” said John Butenschoen, trainer and co-owner of the pacer who was named for the pub. “We’re going to have a little cheering section in the Caribbean.”

Last Saturday night, The Quiet Mon made his Meadowlands debut, battling to a head victory in a $30,000 three-year-old pace in a lifetime mark of 1:51.1. It followed on a season’s opening victory on April 14 at Balmoral Park. He now has nine wins in 11 career starts.

“Everything is going according to plan,” said Butenschoen from his 80-acre Harmony Oaks Farm in the Northern Illinois community of Marengo. “Obviously there are 21 other people who like their horses -- that’s what is left eligible to the Berry’s Creek, and there are 70 some eligible to the Meadowlands Pace.

“We’re not the only ones out there with high expectations,” he added. “The horse did everything we asked him to do last year.”

At two, The Quiet Mon posted seven wins and two seconds from nine starts, earning $215,100 while remaining within the comfortable confines of Chicago’s Balmoral Park and Maywood Park.

His stakes tallies included the $135,000 American National on November 11 and $105,000 Abe Lincoln on November 17. His only losses were to Home Bed Advantage.

“He’s done well against the Illinois competition,” he noted. “Hopefully he’ll be able to make that next jump up and be competitive for us out of state.

“His strength is that he doesn’t know he’s ever raced yet,” added Butenschoen. “He sleeps all the time. In the paddock, you’d swear the horse was sick. He hangs his head down in the crossties, eyes are half shut. He just takes care of himself. You go out on the racetrack, he does what you ask him to do. If you ask him to go forward, he goes forward. If you want to take a little bit of a hold and duck him, you can do whatever you want with him.

“He’s just a big goof,” he said. “For whatever reason, it seems to come easy to him. He’s never really had to race hard against somebody and we don’t know what will happen when he gets in amongst three, four, five, six, seven of them that all can go the same.

“Hopefully, he’ll be able to step up and be competitive and have that extra desire you need to be a top horse,” Butenschoen said. “He acts like he’s that type of horse. Until you race them, you don’t really know.”

The Quiet Mon has already exceeded expectations. He was a yearling sale leftover, acquired in a trade of horses.

“He didn’t get his reserve at Walker’s,” Butenschoen explained, referring to the Illinois sale. “He sold at Fox Valley Standardbreds under the name of Fox Valley Panzer. I think they wanted like $5,000 for him. I looked at him myself. He was a big, overgrown, growthy colt, nothing spectacular about him -- nothing right, nothing wrong.

“He sold early in the sale, and I had other horses that I liked a lot more and never paid any attention to him when he went into the sale ring,” he added.”

“In the beginning of January last year, Dr. Pat Walker called me up and said they still had quite a few colts that were left over from the sale,” he said.

“Their boy Jim had gone with them, training them, and he wanted to know if I was interested in anything. I said, sure I’ll come down. Me and my wife went down on a weekend. In the meantime I had an Artsplace mare [Armbro Dexterous] that cracked a knee and decided we were not going to wait on her and I didn’t really want a broodmare. So I asked them if they’d want take a look at her and see if we could trade for something.

“I had a four-horse trailer and loaded up four horses, and we ended up trading the Artsplace mare for The Quiet Mon because he was the one that had the least reserve price,” Butenschoen noted. “Up to the middle of January last year, anyone could have gone and probably could have bought that colt for $5,000.”

The son of Richess Hanover, out of the Cam Fella mare Camela Anderson, went home with the Butenschoens in partnership with Edward Bardowski of Royersford, Pennsylvania.

The name, of course, was inspired by the Chesney country-western song about hanging out with the locals at the Caribbean pub of that title [www.quietmon.com].

“Ed Bardowski had been there, liked the place and kind of named it after that and named another filly Cinnamon Bay, for one of the nice beaches there,” recalled Butenschoen. “Then he ended up taking us there for a vacation. So we have pictures of ourselves in front of The Quiet Mon. We got talking to the owner of it, and she grew up and graduated from high school maybe 25 miles from where I live.

“We sent win pictures down,” he noted. “They’re all excited about it. They’re going to probably be watching TVG.”

The pub confirmed by email that they have posted the photos on the walls and would be following the pacer’s efforts. “We’ll cheer a cold pint of ale and hope for the best,” owner Kelly Krall said.

“It worked out well [the trade for the bay gelding],” conceded Butenschoen, who turned 44 on April 16. “Doc Walker keeps kidding me that the price on that first foal out of Armbro Dexterous keeps going up, and I’m required to buy him. I guess I could do that if this horse keeps doing well.

“Within a week after I had him, I really liked the horse,” he noted. “When stake payment time rolled around, the 15th of March, I liked him enough to pay him in. Being an Illinois-bred, I paid him into the American National and the Abe Lincoln, which were the stakes he won at the end of the year. I had the idea he could be a good horse, but you never know.

“Last year I trained down three Richess Hanover colts,” he explained. “Saratoga John was one of them, Richess King was one and The Quiet Mon. They all trained together in the same group. Until I got down to 2:08 here on my farm, I really couldn’t separate them out. They all had an equal amount of speed. The Quiet Mon just wasn’t that tired and could keep going further at that speed than the other two.

“The other two turned out really good,” he added. “Saratoga John ended up pacing in 1:51 last year and we sold him to Buzzy Sholty. He won the Hopeful Series at Yonkers a month or so ago. And Richess King, he was the fastest two-year-old colt in the country on a half mile track; he went in 1:53.

“They all seemed like real nice colts, but if you had asked me a month before they were to qualify which one was going to be the best, I couldn’t have told you,” he said. “The other two were quicker to their speed, they’d come quarters in 25 and change. Quiet Mon, being a bit bigger and more awkward, I thought he had a lot of talent and didn’t want to race him too hard. We waited about an extra month, putting a lot of foundation miles on him to get him qualified.”

After winning his qualifier on August 2, 2006, The Quiet Mon began his pari-mutuel career with four straight wins at Balmoral Park. After finishing second to Home Bed Advantage in the $285,000 Orange & Blue on September 16 and the $50,000 Sarah Myers on October 21, he returned to the winner’s circle two weeks later in his elimination for the American National and defeated Home Bed Advantage by more than two lengths in the final on November 11.

He wrapped up his freshman season with a wire-to-wire tally in the Abe Lincoln on November 17.

“I always said I could never afford to own a good one,” mused Butenschoen, who apprenticed under the late Hall of Famer Delvin Miller. “I didn’t realize how true that was until I looked at what the stakes payments are to be [this year].

“I owned a little bit more than 50 percent of him going into this year,” he explained. “I had to sell out some of my percentage in order to cover the stakes fees. Anything can happen with a colt. I didn’t want to break myself putting everything he made last year back into him.”

The current ownership is Butenschoen, Bardowski, Sandra Zilli of Delafield, Wisconsin and Larry Baron of Horsham, Pennsylvania.

Zilli, who has had horses with Butenschoen for 15 years, bought into the pacer last September along with Lorelie Knar of Atlanta, Georgia.

“Lorelie Knar is a girl who grew up a half mile from me,” Butenschoen explained. “I hadn’t seen her in quite some time. They came by the farm last year and were talking that they’d like to get a horse and bought in part of him, did real well and then this spring I kind of explained things to them, what was ahead with the stakes payments, and that I could probably cash [them] out.

“Jim and Sandra Zilli were interested in acquiring a larger percentage,” he said. “They [the Knars] decided to take the money and cash out, and I got the Zillis a larger percentage.

“I needed some money, and it ended up that Larry Baron, who sent me some horses last year, expressed some interest in the colt,” he added. “So I sold some portion of what I owned to him in order to cover my stakes payments.” The ownership changes were completed on March 12.

Butenschoen has nearly 40 horses in training at Harmony Oaks, the farm he was born and raised on. He works in partnership with his wife of 20 years, Jackie.

It was Butenschoen who campaigned Falcon’s Scooter before that colt shipped to the Remmen Stable at the Meadowlands for his three-year-old season in 1996. Another of his top protégés was the trotter Plesac.

“A horse like Falcon’s Scooter earned over a half a million, won the New Jersey Classic, and, with a little bit of racing luck, he could have earned over a million,” the trainer noted. “He got sick before the Meadowlands Pace.

Plesac was a fabulous horse,” he added. “He made more than $2.5 million. He was durable, raced year in and year out. Until he popped a quarter crack as a five-year-old, the horse never missed a race that he was scheduled to race in.

“The Quiet Mon hasn’t done that yet,” Butenschoen said. “He’s raced in every race he was scheduled to race in last year as a two-year-old. Is he going to come back this year and have that sort of durability and be able to step up to the plate and be a quality horse against the open horses? That remains to be seen.

“Right now we’re hopeful enough to put him in the North America Cup and Meadowlands Pace, entered him into the Breeders Crown plus a bunch of other races,” he added. “So we’re hopeful he’s that type of horse, and he’s given us indications that he could be.”

While Charles Jason Dillander has handled the driving assignment behind The Quiet Mon in Illinois, the lines were turned over to Andy Miller at the Meadowlands.

“This is a nice horse, we already know that,” Butenschoen said. “Could he be a super star? They don’t come along that often, but it’s what keeps everybody going.”

And hoping.

LIS MARA IS READY TO RUMBLE

With a record-setting qualifying mile in 1:49.1 last Thursday morning in the Meadowlands, expect to find Lis Mara in the entry box on Tuesday.

Owner Mike Gulotta of the MJG Racing Stable reported that the five-year-old son of Cambest will make his 2007 debut next Saturday night in the open class at the Meadowlands. Gulotta owns the 2006 Dan Patch Award winning Older Pacer of the Year in partnership with Andy Willinger. Erv Miller trains the pacer while Brian Sears is his regular driver.

Lis Mara turned in fractions of 28.1, 55.3 and 1:23, with a 26.1 final panel to draw clear by 10 and three-quarter lengths ahead of 2006 Pacer of the Year Total Truth in the qualifying mile.

BRENNAN’S BIRTHDAY WIN

It was not pretty but Art Star got it done, winning the $70,000 Suslow Final on Friday night at the Meadowlands, a nice 40th birthday present for driver George Brennan.

As rough as Art Star looked on the turn for home, it was never a sure thing he would finish the race on the pace.

“I know he’s a little bumpy-gaited, and he’s not real quick,” Brennan said. “You’ve got to keep his mind on business all the time.” Art Star is trained by John Marshall who owns the three-year-old with his wife, Susan.

By Carol Hodes

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