Harness racing trainer/driver Larry Small will send R Caan postward in the $20,000 opening leg of the Youthful Pacing Series on Monday evening at Woodbine, but the veteran horseman admits that up until a few months ago, he wasn't certain if he would still have the three-year-old in his barn.
The decision to keep the lightly-raced son of-Missy Artsie has certainly been a good one for Small.
R Caan, who was winless at two, has been solid in 2012, sporting a record of 3-0-3 from seven starts with $23,420 in the bank this season.
“He's done better than expected," said Small. "I thought initially I’d probably just want to sell him once he got going and hopefully got a couple good lines on him. But he has turned into a better horse than I thought he would be.”
It happened to be R Caan’s pedigree and good looks that initially caught the eye of the Campbellville resident.
“I was kind of at the right place at the right time,” explained Small, who purchased R Caan in September of last year. “He was at the other end of my barn. He came up from the east coast and they were just looking to sell him.
“He’s got a fairly good family," he continued. "Before I bought him, I checked the family and he is bred by Brittany Farms. He wasn’t a very high purchase because he didn’t show much on the east coast, but I thought he was definitely worth it. He is a gorgeous animal.”
Small notes a decision he made between the bay’s freshman year and the first few months of his sophomore campaign has paid off handsomely.
“He got gelded in December and that made a huge difference,” Small said. “He wasn’t a sour horse, but he wasn’t putting out a full effort. As soon as he won a race, he just seemed to gain confidence and it made him all that much better.”
Small will steer R Caan, who has been assigned post eight in the third and final division on Monday.
“He is probably best from behind where he can get away somewhere in the middle and get a covered up trip,” he said. “He’s always been a strong finisher. I think he is still too green to be right on the front.
“I’m sure the competition is going to be fairly stiff,” he added. “He’s been racing well. I know he is going to keep improving.”
Small, who co-owns the gelding with his wife Wendy, his son Eric and Fred Sykes, is looking to take R Caan south of the border this year.
“We decided to pay him into the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes (which kicks off in May) and a few late closers, so we’ll how it goes.”
The $30,000 second leg, for three-year-old pacers in 2012, who are non-winners of three races or $15,000 in 2011, is slated for Thursday, March 29, with the $50,000 final scheduled for Saturday, April 7.