Day At The Track

Butenschoen to double his pleasure in Currier & Ives

09:11 AM 05 Jun 2015 NZST
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John Butenschoen
John Butenschoen

Louisville, KY --- When harness racing trainer John Butenschoen selected Boots N Chains and Suit And Tie from the 2013 Lexington Selected Sale, obviously each yearling possessed their individual appeal, but both colts also satisfied another essential criteria: they were Pennsylvania Sire Stakes eligible.

“We focus on the Pennsylvania program and anything else is an additional perk,” said the 52-year-old Illinois native. “Suit And Tie was the first surviving foal out of a Yankee Glide mare (and he is) by Andover Hall. Of course we go with a budget and a list of things we are looking for. He fit perfectly ($30,000 sales price).

“Boots N Chains, however, was a bit of a different story. We gave $75,000 for him, which is quite high for us and he was on the smallish side, but we were familiar with the family. The Pinskes had his full older brother (Leave Your Mark 4,1:55.4f, $123,360) down in Florida a couple years ago and we trained him. He was a very nice horse and I really like this family.”

Each colt will look to improve upon their career and seasonal records when they leave the gate side-by-side in the $119,565 Currier and Ives Trot for 3-year-old males at The Meadows on Saturday (June 6). In what is carded as the 10th race, Suit And Tie commences his mile from post position four, while his stablemate starts trotting from post position five. Boots N Chains is the 3-1 morning line choice and Suit And Tie is 5-1.

“It may not be the biggest of stages, but I’m happy with the opportunity to go for a purse of more than $100,000 if other people decide to take their horses elsewhere,” Butenschoen said. “It’s not like it used to be where if you had a nice horse you knew where to race them. Now it is about managing them correctly and placing them in the right spots so the owners can make some money with them.

“It may not sound as exciting as being in some of the big stake races, but if you can stay right in Pennsylvania and race for money like this, why wouldn’t you? I did that with Allstar Partner a couple years back and he made over $200,000 just racing in the sire stakes by winning the final.”

As 2-year-olds, Suit And Tie, co-owned by William Wiswell and M and L of Delaware, and Boots N Chains, co-owned by Wiswell, Jean Goehlen and Eugene Schick, earned what was proffered for them and more. Suit And Tie collected just shy of $50,000 from 17 performances. He was third in his Breeders Crown elimination, but ninth in the $500,000 final and set his 2-year-old mark of 1.58.1f in his sole victory at Harrah’s Philadelphia on Aug. 13, 2014.

“The only thing that held this horse back was his mentality,” Butenschoen said. “He finished out the year very nicely as he was trotting home very strongly in the Kindergarten and I was very pleased with him in the Breeders Crown. He really lost all chance in the final, but still did his best.”

Boots N Chains also gave a good account of himself in his first year of competition as he trotted in 1:54.4 and amassed just under $120,000 in purse money with only one triumph from 12 starts. He was, however, second to French Laundry in the $240,500 Kindergarten final and to Muscle Diamond in a $77,120 division of the International Stallion Stakes at The Red Mile with a last panel in :27.4.

Although their year has just begun, both colts have been promising. Boots N Chains has compiled a record of 4-2-0-1 and $35,767. Suit And Tie has collected $20,080 and possesses a resume of 4-1-1-0.

Despite the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes circuit being the primary focus, if either colt should prove they are prepared for another stage, Butenschoen has them staked in order to do so.

“They are both Hambletonian eligible,” he said. “They are paid into other races, too and I wouldn’t say they are heavily staked, but they have the opportunity to compete in those races should the case arise.

“How I look at it is if they have the ability to go to the Hambo, great, it’s what we all dream of in this business, but if not, I just hope I can spot them correctly in these stakes with good purses to do the right thing by my owners. All of us horsemen are always perpetually reaching for that ring, but we also have to make the appropriate decisions for our businesses so we can afford to continue to do that.”

By Kimberly French 

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