A 3-year-old colt trotter, Boffin was limited to two starts last season because of a joint infection in a knee. He won both races, though; the first in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stallion Series at The Meadows Racetrack and Casino and the second in a division of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes at Tioga Downs.
This season, the son of stallionis staked to all the major races on the schedule, including the Hambletonian and Breeders Crown, and enters the campaign rated No. 100 in the Hoof Beats/TrackMaster Predictive Rankings. The ratings, which attempt to predict the fastest 3-year-old trotters of the year, appear in the April issue of Hoof Beats magazine.
One-hundred horses appeared on the magazine's list, so Boffin just made the cut. Norris, though, is hopefully his horse can exceed expectations.
"He's a pretty nice colt," said Norris, who trains Boffin for owners Jason Allen and Douglas Allen. "He's coming back good right now. I really liked him last year and, knock on wood, he's sound so far this year. He's real nice to drive; he's push-button. He can trot a quarter-mile in 27 (seconds) and the next in 37. He's very handy."
Boffin, named by breeder Russell Williams after the British term for a scientist or engineer, was purchased for $20,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale. He is out of the dam Trance Anthem and his family includes stakes-winners Astraea Hanover, Spill The Wine, and All Star Hanover, as well as 1950s star Kimberly Kid (who received divisional honors at ages 3, 4 and 5).
"He had long legs and looked very athletic," Norris said about Boffin as a yearling. "He had a great head on him; he really looks like an intelligent horse."
Norris, who also drove Boffin in all his races last year, gave the horse his first start in the Stallion Series in early July after the colt battled a bit of illness. Boffin won by four lengths over Waikiki Hanover in 1:59.3.
"I threw him in the stallion stakes just to get started," Norris said. "But he was pretty well seasoned from the get-go."
Nine days later, he won the Tompkins-Geers from post nine by 1-3/4 lengths over Its Complicated in 1:57.4. (Its Complicated, by the way, was rated No. 40 in the Predictive Rankings.) After the race, Boffin's infection was discovered and he was shut down. Norris trained the colt at Lexington's Red Mile later in the season and contemplated sending the horse back to the races, but decided against it.
"I thought it was stupid to throw him to the wolves at that point," Norris said.
Norris expects Boffin to qualify in about three weeks and is targeting the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes, which begin May 24 at The Meadows, as the colt's first test.
"He was kind of small when we got him and he's still not a great big horse, but he's got a lot of go," Norris said. "And his manners are good, which makes him twice as good."
What that adds up to for Boffin, time will tell.
NIGHT SCHOOL: Meadowlands Director of Racing and Racing Secretary Peter Koch, who will discuss the use of the "ABC" system of writing race conditions at the Meadowlands that has revitalized the way their harness program is assembled and resulted in considerable increases in wagering handle, will join Matt Carothers, one of the original TVG on-air analysts who is making his Night School debut this Tuesday, in the racing industry's national online fan education program.
Tuesday's 90-minute online lesson focuses on "Class Handicapping" and will help handicappers decipher the various levels of competition in the racing game, as well as help define what it means to be a "classy" racehorse.Night School's weekly Tuesday online course continues from 8:30 to 10 p.m. (EDT) and will be co-hosted by Joe Kristufek and Jeremy Plonk, co-founders of the program. For more, click here.
by Ken WEINGARTNER