Day At The Track

Manticore living up to mythology

02:46 AM 28 Sep 2019 NZST
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Manticore, harness racing
Manticore the racehorse
Fred Brown photo

Hightstown, NJ -- In mythology, the manticore was a fearsome creature with the head of a man, the body of a lion and the tail of a scorpion. On the racetrack, Manticore is a 2-year-old harness racing colt pacer. Like his legendary counterpart, he is proving to be formidable.

Manticore, trained by Bruce Saunders for owners M And L of Delaware and M & M Harness Racing, enters Saturday's (Sept. 28) Bluegrass Stakes for 2-year-old male pacers at Red Mile with three wins in eight races and no finishes worse than third. He is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the third of four Bluegrass divisions, starting from post three with driver Brian Sears.

Already a Grand Circuit winner, Manticore heads to the race off a second-place finish in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final.

"He's a very nice colt," said M And L of Delaware's Doug Paul. "He was a late foal, born June 5 (2017), and he's just coming into himself. But he started out early and hasn't missed a beat. He's really consistent. He can leave, he can follow, he can cut the mile; he's just very versatile."

Manticore is a son of Western Ideal out of the McArdle-sired mare Southwind Piaya. He was purchased under the name Keystone Pablo for $20,000 at the 2018 Standardbred Horse Sale.

"What we liked about him is that he was a Western Ideal out of a McArdle mare and he was late in the sale," Paul said. "Our rationale was that (2018 Horse of the Year) McWicked is a McArdle out of a Western Ideal mare, so we reversed it.

"He was a very correct colt. Not the biggest colt but correct and substantially built. We had luck with Western Ideal the year before with (stakes-winner) Mangogh. They've always been nice horses."

The Paul family traditionally incorporates either "man" or "lady" into the names of its horses. In addition to the mythological manticore, the television series "Game of Thrones" referenced insects called manticores, which contributed to the renaming of Keystone Pablo to Manticore.

"It just fit, especially with how popular 'Game of Thrones' was at the time we were naming him," Paul said.

Manticore is eligible to all the major stakes remaining this season, but Paul said the connections are taking a wait-and-see approach to deciding his future.

"We'll see how he is in Lexington," Paul said. "So far he hasn't disappointed us in any race yet."

In the first Bluegrass division, Kentucky Sire Stakes champion Catch The Fire is the 8-5 morning line favorite over undefeated Ohio Sire Stakes champion Elver Hanover at 2-1. Catch The Fire, trained by John Ackley, starts from post four with driver Mike Wilder. Elver Hanover, who is 7-for-7 for trainer Ron Burke, leaves from post two with Yannick Gingras.

Seeyou At Thebeach is the 6-5 favorite in the second division. The Brian Brown-trained colt heads to the race off a fourth-place finish in the Metro Pace and starts from post three with Tim Tetrick. Tony Alagna's Captain Barbossa, with Andy McCarthy in the sulky, is the 3-1 second choice. He enters the race off a victory in the Kindergarten Classic Series.

Kentucky Sire Stakes final runner-up Roll With Jr is the 3-1 choice in the fourth and final Bluegrass division. He is trained by Jeff Cullipher and will be driven by Doug McNair from post two.

In addition to the stakes for 2-year-olds, there is a single 12-horse Bluegrass event for 3-year-old female pacers. Tall Drink Hanover, with McCarthy at the lines for trainer Alagna, is the 9-5 morning-line favorite. She brings a five-race win streak to the race, with her victories including the Shady Daisy and Simcoe.

The race also includes Fan Hanover winner Treacherous Reign and sire stakes champions Zero Tolerance (New York), Queen Of The Pride (Ohio), and Beautyonthebeach (Kentucky).

Racing begins at 1 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at Red Mile. For complete entries, click here.

by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

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