Day At The Track

Poillucci brings Shartin N home to Massachusetts

03:44 AM 23 Jul 2019 NZST
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Shartin N
Shartin N seen here setting a 1:49.3 track record winning last year’s Chip Noble Memorial

Plainville, MA --- Rich Poillucci lives a short distance from Plainridge Park in North Easton, Massachusetts and raced his first horses at Foxboro Park in 1986. Now 33 years later, after completing a dream harness racing season with his Dan Patch Award winning mare Shartin N, he will bring his prized pacer back to where it all started for him for a homecoming as she makes a start in the innaugural $100,000 Clara Barton Distaff Pace at Plainridge on Sunday (July 28).

Poillucci got into the business by walking into Steve Mancini's barn and telling him he wanted to buy a horse. It wasn't long after that he started winning races at Foxboro and tracks in Maine with cheaper claimers before improving his stock over the years and winning races at the Meadowlands with horses like Bold Hope (1:51.1, $178,090), Natchez Gambler (1:52.2, $566,363), Modern Family (1:51, $575,925) and Maestro Blue Chip (1:51.3, $366,538).

In 2016 Poillucci started importing horses from Australia and New Zealand and routinely spends about 40 hours a week researching them. His entire stable is currently made up solely of horses from Down-under.

The time and effort he puts in has paid fast dividends with buys like Nike Franco N (1:48, $839,454), Barimah A (1:49.1, $415,920), Christen Me N (1:49.2, $2,274,204), Duplicated N (1:49.2, $213,199) and Bettor Joy N (1:50.4, $456,330).

But despite the great performances put in by many of his horses over the years, they all take a back seat to the Queen of his stable.

"When I first came across Shartin N I liked her immediately because of her breeding. No one knew who Tintin In America was as a stallion but he was by Mcardle, and he was super fast. I have always been a fan of Mcardle mares and Timmy (Tetrick) has been as well. So we talked about it and went back and forth and it took me a whole year to buy her because she wasn't fully developed yet," said Poillucci.

"Then she raced against a top horse down there and won in 1:52. So I sent my trainer in Australia Emmett Bronson to go a trip with her and when he called me after he said "Rich, she has more gears than a Porsche".

So Poillucci purchased Shartin N in December of 2017 and shipped her to the states. She made her first start at Dover Downs a month later and went on to become the 2018 Dan Patch Award aged pacing mare of the year on the strength of 19 victories in 24 starts and earnings of $1.053 million.

Jim King Jr. has trained Shartin N since she stepped off the plane in New York. But how did a New England owner get hooked up with a Delaware conditioner that has never raced anywhere in New England?

"I bought a horse named Dapper Dude about four years ago and he was having some trouble beating the upper echelon Opens he was racing in and I thought Dover might be a good fit for him. Kelvin Harrison who was training him for me suggested I call Jim (King) to see if he would take him for me," Poillucci explained. All of a sudden Dapper Dude was doing fantastic! And I got to know Jim well and Jo Ann was very friendly to my wife and our families really clicked. So I continued to buy horses with him."

Poillucci praises King's ability and patience for Shartin N's North American acclimation and development and is never surprised with the efforts she puts forth, enjoying her career one start at a time. He is also quick to point out that it's a total team effort at every step to find and develop high end stock.

"My driver (Tim Tetrick) looks after my horses like gold. He's extremely intelligent and takes care of my horses and I can't thank him enough for what he's done for my stable. And I give a lot of credit to my agent John Curtin in New Zealand because without him, I wouldn't have the success I have right now," said Poillucci.

"Shartin N is a once in a lifetime horse and next Sunday she'll be racing in my home state. If she's got it in her and she's close to it, I would love to see her re-write the track record at Plainridge."

Jim King Jr. shares Poillucci's admiration for their amazing mare, saying sometimes it feels surreal.

"She is a trainers dream for sure, she's amazing to me. Sometimes I wake up at night and think about it. Her longevity is as impressive as her ability. She comes out of a race and recovers so fast that the next morning you wonder if she even raced. Even after long ships, when she gets home she just wants to go in the field and the next morning she's ready to go to work. It's hard to take the smile off her face; she's different I'll tell you," said King.

"She's always right up on her toes and it's no picnic out there until she gets settled in behind the gate. She requires someone that knows what they're doing. But once she gets going it's all business. It's almost like in a race when someone comes along side her, she sticks her arm out and says "That's as far as you can go!" She just won't let anyone by her."

King explained they've been lucky with Shartin N staying healthy and sound since coming to their stable and despite sometimes being over exuberant, she's a perfect mare. However there is one downside to Shartin N.

"We have a really tough job shoeing her; she just doesn't like the blacksmith. She has to be medicated and it's just not a fun day," laughed King.

King holds his partner in high esteem as well and noting their time spent both on and off the track has been very meaningful to his family.

"Our relationship with Rich has been great over the past several years. He's all about the horses and keeping them racing well. And he's a great guy to deal with too. We've imported several horses over the years, mostly mares, and if we want we can buy into them at any point of their development. He's been so generous it's been unreal," said King.

Shartin N will be joined by stablemate Bettor Joy N in the Barton. Another selection of Poillucci's, Bettor Joy N joined their operation in January of 2019 and has been developing well ever since. After winning three legs of the Blue Chip at Yonkers and finishing second to Shartin N in the final, Bettor Joy N has now won a total of five races and $240,876 in purses this year.

The $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts Trot and $100,000 Clara Barton Distaff Pace are both sponsored by Plainridge Park and the Harness Horseman's Association of New England (HHANE) and will be held on Sunday (July 28) at Plainridge with an early post time of 2 p.m.

By Tim Bojarski, for Plainridge Park and the HHANE

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