Fogelberg, who starts from post 6 (Charlie Norris driving) in the first division of eliminations for Sunday's $508,000 Kentucky Futurity at the Red Mile shows a patchwork of outstanding harness racing performances mixed with breaks in stride.
With four wins in 16 career starts, Fogelberg, owned by Foge, McKeever LLC, Eldon Thompson and Joseph Hartley, has won every start this year in which he did not make a break. Trainer Todd Rooney thinks the change of geography is key to getting the best from the son of SJ's Caviar, who has raced only on 5/8th mile tracks so far.
"Right from the beginning, we wanted to get him on a mile track," says Rooney. "He's the kind of horse that you just always knew would love a big track. He trained on a big track all winter down in Florida at Spring Garden Ranch. We didn't even think about making stake payments to places like Delaware (Ohio) to the Old Oaken Bucket. We didn't think about putting him on a half mile track anywhere.
"All year long, he just never got a chance to get to a mile track. At Hambletonian time, he hadn't done very well, he was real inconsistent then, so of course, we couldn't take him there. He likes Pocono better (won a Pennsylvania Stallion Series race in 1:55.4 on July 15), won at Chester (another Stallion Series on September 3 in 1:54.1). He pretty much had two stakes left, The Futurity and the Breeders Crown. We couldn't go to the Breeders Crown unless we did some good in the Futurity, so we figured we'd roll the dice.
"I just like this guy. We're taking a shot. So far this year, every time he stayed flat, he didn't get beat. I know this is a step up for him, he hasn't raced against these guys. But so far, every time he stayed trotting, there was no competition for him. He pretty much toyed with his competition. If he stays trotting, I don't think he will embarrass himself here.
"I trained him Wednesday (over the track at the Red Mile). He was good and sound. He was shod for The Meadows and I actually just came from the blacksmith shop. We made some changes. I took any grab off that he had. Now he has aluminum side swedges with almost a half round at the toe. The grabs are totally gone. I'm going to blow him out a slow mile with one good quarter to see how he handles it. I have another (blacksmith appointment) for him if he needs it."
Rooney says some last minute changes might be warranted. "If I warm him up (for the race) and don't like the way he warms up, the shoes might come right off," he said. "He might race barefoot. I got that impression when I was training him. I thought this horse could be great barefoot, but I'm not a big fan of that, especially with heat racing. I'd hate to go out and go two heats and break his feet up. Maybe get through the first heat and he will be sore by the second. I tried to make him like being barefoot without actually being barefoot, so that's why we ground his shoes down to about nothing. There's not much left to them.
"He's a very high speed horse and he just really needs to be hung on to as he's going in to the turns. I think a bigger, wider, sweeping turn will be much better for him. Once you get him through the first turn, he's not too bad. He's a horse that really needs to be hung on to and that's why Charlie's gotten along with him pretty good.
by Ellen Harvey, Harness Racing Communications