Day At The Track

No mistake: Lather Up wows connections

05:32 AM 31 May 2018 NZST
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Lather Up, harness racing
Lather Up and driver Montrell Teague
New Image Media photo

Ask owner Gary Iles about his 3-year-old male pacer Lather Up and he will tell you, "He's got quite a story, no doubt about it." The story, which includes a tricky birth and near-fatal illness, begins with a mistake. How it ends is anyone's guess, but the tale has taken another compelling turn with Lather Up a perfect 3-for-3 in 2018 as he prepares for Saturday's Somebeachsomewhere Stakes at Woodbine Mohawk Park and a trip to the North America Cup.

Iles and his wife Barbara are longtime horse owners from Delaware. The couple is known for their homebred horses, which usually feature a name referencing Iles' former career as a barber.

Lather Up is a son of stallion I'm Gorgeous out of the Iles' homebred mare Pocket Comb. But the Iles intended to breed Pocket Comb to stallion Delmarvalous. A mix up when ordering semen resulted in the now-seemingly serendipitous change of plans, which hinged on Iles' admiration for I'm Gorgeous' sire Bettor's Delight.

"I really always liked Bettor's Delight and always wanted to breed to him, I just didn't do it," the 79-year-old Iles said. "So that's how we ended up with I'm Gorgeous."

When it came time for Lather Up's birth, there was a complication. Lather Up was in the breech position, which required action from local horsemen Kevin Switzer and Brenda Teague. The two worked together while receiving phoned-in instructions from Switzer's wife, veterinarian Denise McNitt, to prevent a breech birth.

Once on the racetrack last year at age 2, Lather Up won three times on the Ohio Sire Stakes circuit, but got sick as he was preparing for the series championship. He suffered a near-fatal reaction to antibiotics, which landed the horse in the New Bolton Center.

"He really got off to a rocky start," Iles said. "We came very close to losing him. We got lucky; very, very lucky."

Now, though, Lather Up's story involves winning races. The colt, from the Team Teague training stable of George Teague Jr., Brenda Teague and Clyde Francis, made his seasonal debut by beating older horses at Harrah's Philadelphia before a track-record 1:50 win in a division of the Ohio Sire Stakes at Miami Valley Raceway. The win at Miami Valley came on a sloppy track following a lengthy delay because of thunderstorms.

Last weekend at Woodbine Mohawk Park, Lather Up prepped for his upcoming stakes engagements by winning in 1:49.1 against older foes. Leaving from post nine, the colt and driver Montrell Teague reached the lead in a :26.1 opening quarter-mile and never looked back, winning by 7-3/4 lengths with a :26.2 final quarter-mile.

"He put in a heck of a mile," Iles said.

"He wowed me," George Teague Jr. said. "I was a little bit surprised, I'm not going to lie to you, with how he did it. Montrell never popped the ear plugs."

Lather Up always showed promise, but steering issues sometimes prevented the colt from peak performance. Teague thinks those issues have been resolved.

"He's much better now," Teague said. "I'm happy with that part. He seems to be controllable and very steerable. We made a couple equipment changes and got lucky and hit the target.

"We always thought he could be this kind of horse if everything went right, but it hasn't always gone right for him. He's a very smart horse, very good gaited. He's got the tools to do some damage in the 3-year-old ranks. He just needs a little luck and to stay sound and healthy."

On Saturday, Lather Up competes in the second of three Somebeachsomewhere Stakes divisions at Woodbine Mohawk Park. If all goes well, a trip to the Pepsi North America Cup eliminations will follow on June 9 at Mohawk. The C$1 million final is June 16.

"We're excited," said Iles, who lost his broodmare Pocket Comb -- the producer of eight six-figure earners in 10 foals -- last year at the age of 23. Lather Up was her final offspring.

"I'm anxious to see how he does. He's shown a lot of guts and I hope he can continue."

And so the story continues.

"To say the least," Teague said with a laugh, "it's been very interesting."

by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA 

 


 

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