Day At The Track

Pollack has a way with the ladies

11:46 PM 01 Apr 2016 NZDT
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Montenegro
Montenegro has 38 lifetime wins and a career bankroll of $661,314.
Linscott Photography

When it comes to purchasing quality mares it appears that harness racing owner Tom Pollack hit the jackpot when signing the checks for Hoosier Park stalwarts Montenegro and White Metro.

“I have about 65 horses right now and would like to get up to 100,” said Pollack. “I can’t say enough about the luck we have had with these mares. We are so fortunate to have them in our barn and really cannot wait to get them both started this year.

“We were trying to get White Metro in the Invitational this week and Montenegro in the non-winners of $15,000, but the track decided not to go with those races so we are on the sidelines for opening night (April 1). All systems are go for both of them so we will have them racing again as soon as possible.”

Montenegro, who is co-owned by Randy Bendis and conditioned by Jeff Cullipher, is an 8-year-old daughter of Camluck and the Fighting Major mare Cyber Wave. She is a half sibling to Mach Pride (Mach Three, $595,665) while her dam earned more than $700,000 with one of her stakes triumphs being the prestigious Orange and Blue final.

Montenegro has emulated the success of her mother by compiling a record of 169-38-30-22 and banking $661,314. She set her lifetime mark of 1:50.2s at age five and she seems to relish any trip over the Hoosier Park oval where she competes frequently in Invitational events. In the 2-1/2 years she has belonged to Bendis and Pollack, the mare has collected nearly $300,000 and is a formidable foe over the Anderson surface on every occasion her name is dropped in the box.

“Not only is she consistent and sound other than some small maintenance issues, but she is a sweetheart,” Pollack said. “She really is the perfect horse as you know every time you take her over she is going to give it her all. Randy and I try to concentrate on horses in the $40,000 to $80,000 range that will do well for us in Open events. We watched her for quite some time and thought she would be an excellent fit for our program. She has not only exceeded our expectations with all the money she has made, but has been a joy for us. When you have a horse that finishes first or second nearly every time she races, how can you ever say a bad thing about her? Actually we think she is a gem and wish they all could be that way.”

White Metro is a 4-year-old daughter of Metropolitan and the Threefold mare Bye Bye Peachy Pie. While not as prolific as her older stablemate, the mare is an Indiana Sire Stakes victress and is a half sibling to Peachy’s Noble Sam (Nobleland Sam, $216,651), Noble’s Grand Slam (Nobleland Sam, $682,720) and All Got In (Allamerican Ingot, $112,013).

Jell Cullipher, who co-owns the horse with Pollack, is the trainer of record and has been responsible for guiding her career. After just one victory from nine starts at age two, White Metro took 28 trips to the gate in 2015 with nine wins, two seconds and five third place finishes. Her lifetime earnings stand at $148,192 and her total record at 37-10-5-5.

Pollack feels she will only continue to improve this year and is excited to witness her perform after a powerful qualifying effort at Hoosier Park on March 26.

“Jeff has done such a terrific job with this horse,” he said. “She has been such a pleasant surprise with the way she came on last year and her qualifying races were outstanding. She finished up in the last one in 1:53.1 and came home her last quarter in :27.2 so you can’t get much better than that. It looks like she did it quite easily too. We are anxious to getting her rolling this year to see what she can do, but are already more than satisfied with what she has accomplished so far.”

While seemingly blessed with a plethora of riches, Pollack is quick to point out how blessed he feels and how fortunate he is that Lady Luck dealt him such a strong hand.

“I got hooked on this business in the late 1980s,” he said. “I was working at a golf course and was very into golf, when I kept being asked to go to the racetrack. I said no several times and really knew nothing about horse racing. Finally I gave in and after winning on some bets that evening I was hooked on the sport.

“I have been ever since and I always say it is Doug Snyder’s fault because he just dominated the Meadows that night. He won like six races and one of them from the nine hole. I did not know him or anything about betting, but my friend told me whenever I saw his name on the program to put some money on him. I did and here we are years later. Doug and I are friends now and laugh about that night all time.

“We have other mares that are doing extremely well besides Montenegro and White Metro. We realize how tough this business can be and not many people experience this kind of success. It is so sweet to be in this position with all these mares.

“The reason we don’t have more male horses, is these ladies just seemed to fit the bill and we haven’t seen many of the other gender that we felt would work out this way. I can’t wait to see these two mares get into their 2016 season. We think it is going to be another outstanding year and we look forward to competing in the Indiana program. Hoosier Park is the right fit for both horses and trust me, I never imagined I would ever be in this kind of position two decades ago.”

by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

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