Day At The Track

Fan Of Terror providing thrills

07:18 AM 31 May 2019 NZST
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Fan Of Terror,Harness racing
Fan Of Terror
Linscott photography

Therl Hensley wakes up every morning expecting to discover the past three months have been a dream. But he pinches himself each day and comes to the same conclusion.

"The dream," he says, "is real."

Hensley is the owner of Fan Of Terror, a 7-year-old male pacer he claimed for $30,000 in mid-February that has gone on to win at the top harness racing level at Harrah's Hoosier Park, knocking off horses such as past Breeders Crown champion Beckhams Z Tam in the process. Fan Of Terror has raced 11 times for Hensley and posted five victories, three seconds, and $71,125 in purses.

"It's been an unbelievable experience," said Hensley, a 61-year-old lifelong dairy farmer from Daleville, Ind., about 50 miles northeast of Indianapolis. "I never thought we would own the kind of horse that would race in these kinds of races. We were looking for something to race in conditions and he's just got better and better. It's just been crazy. Every week is another thrill.

"I literally found the horse I wasn't even looking for."

Fan Of Terror is trained by Pete Redder, whose brother Ricky gets credit with finding the stable's new star.

"He followed him all the way through the claiming ranks," Redder said. "Once we took a look at him, we all were on board. He had such a powerful move against the horses he was racing against.

"I think we caught him on an upswing and he just kept getting better and better. He's getting stronger and stronger every week I train him."

Fan Of Terror began this year with a four-race win streak, capped by a victory in the $32,500 Claim To Fame Series final at Miami Valley. He was claimed by Hensley and Co. in his next start.

The first time the gelding raced for his new connections was nerve-wracking for Hensley. Fan Of Terror responded with a four-length win in the Open II at Miami Valley.

"I was so nervous over this because I never spent this kind of money on a horse," Hensley said. "I said, literally, I'm putting my future in your hands. I about bounced off the walls when he raced.

"I didn't think I could have a horse in the same race with these horses, let alone be competitive. It's been a whirlwind. It's the biggest thing I've ever been involved in."

Hensley was introduced to harness racing by his wife, Sharla, whose father raced a few horses over the years. Hensley later got involved in owning horses with a friend but focused on lower-level claimers before investing in Fan Of Terror.

"My wife is blown away," Hensley said.

He then recounted the story about when Sharla discovered Fan Of Terror's price.

"She said, how much did you spend on that horse? I said, I can't recall," Hensley said, laughing. "My wife said, I can read a program."

Fan Of Terror, a son of Western Terror-Fans Bikini, has won 33 of 112 career races and earned $313,278. He makes his next start Friday (May 31) in the $20,000 Open at Hoosier Park, where he is 9-2 on the morning line. Always A Prince, the winner of 20 of 25 career starts including the May 17 Open, is the 8-5 favorite. The race also includes Beckhams Z Tam and another past Breeders Crown champ, Freaky Feet Pete.

"He couldn't quite go with Always A Prince last time, but there is no shame getting beat by him," said Redder, a 42-year-old (celebrating his birthday today) who followed his father, Richard, into the sport and worked previously for trainer Ron Burke.

"He's got a really good personality, really good to be around in the barn. He just has a real cocky attitude. He thinks he shouldn't lose to anyone. He goes out with all the confidence in the world every time he races."

Hensley gets to spend a good deal of time with Fan Of Terror as he puts in several hours a day helping out at Redder's stable. A day that begins with him pinching himself.

"We enjoyed (the sport) before this happened," Hensley said. "This is just like 10 inches of icing on the cake."


Ken Weingartner

Media Relations Manager

U.S. Trotting Association

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