We've all heard that one man's trash can be another man's treasure. While it might not be that extreme in Gary White's case, the Maryland harness racing trainer has had success with some horses that others have called it quits with for one reason or another.
Two-thirds of his current stable of three is made up of Standardbreds that White -- who is known for buying and selling horses -- has bought to resell. When that didn't happen, White put the horses in training. Although the younger of the two mares, Mcgarden Mceden, has just begun racing, the elder, 4-year-old JK Saphire, has banked nearly $22,000 in 18 starts, taking a new lifetime mark of 1:57.1h in the process. White, who had no intention of keeping either one of them, is pleased.
"They've done well," he said. "They're not setting the world on fire but they've done better than I thought."
White bought JK Saphire (-Northern Heartbeat) last winter when the previous owner decided she didn't fit his program. When he failed to resell her, White began jogging the mare.
"She started getting better and better," said White, who's been training horses for decades.
JK Saphire qualified at Harrington Raceway on April 15 in 2:01.4, finishing third, but followed that up two weeks later with a much more impressive 2:00.2, 6-3/4 length qualifying win. She was then deemed ready to race by White, who dropped her in a conditioned event on May 16. She didn't disappoint, pacing in 1:58.4 to finish second.
From there the mare has continued to earn her keep, racking up two wins, three seconds and six thirds from 18 starts this year. She took her new 1:57.1 record with a 2-1/4 length win in June at Harrington's half-mile oval. She has not missed a check in the last three months, most recently finishing third against conditioned company at Dover Downs.
While there's nothing unusual about the bay mare on the track, she does have something of a quirk in the barn. White says that although she acts completely normal sometimes, there are days when she refuses to walk -- or even back -- into her stall.
"She just won't go," said White, who after trying all the normal strategies has developed a rope contraption that helps coax the mare into her stall.
Unlike JK Saphire, stablemates Mcgarden Mceden and Whitesville Liz don't have any odd habits even though they too are what some would call misfits.
White, who breeds a handful of mares every year, raised Whitesville Liz, campaigning her briefly as a 2-year-old in 2007. She earned close to $30,000 in just seven starts, competing mostly in stakes races, but White said she was sore the entire year. When veterinarians failed to figure out just why the filly was lame, White decided to quit with her. In the spring of 2008, he bred her to HT's Baltic, and just about a year later she had her first colt.
In the spring of 2010, White, who could see the mare was now sound, put Whitesville Liz back in training.
"I had too many broodmares," he said.
The mare, showing no sign of the lameness that plagued her during her freshman year, qualified in June at Harrington Raceway. She won her very first race the following week, breaking her maiden as a 5-year-old who hadn't raced in three years.
Since then, Whitesville Liz has earned $9,825, hitting the board in five of 10 starts and taking a mark of 2:00.2h at Harrington. White is just pleased that the mare -- who is a half sister to his all-time favorite trotter Whitesville Tara -- was able to find some success after such a frustrating start to her racing career.
"I know she's got a big heart because every step she made (back then) she was lame," he said.
Whether he picked his current roster or not, White is enjoying watching his trio make progress and plans to continue to race them on the Delaware circuit.
by Charlene SHARPE, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent