Day At The Track

Greek-American seeks third straight

03:27 AM 14 Dec 2018 NZDT
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Jeremy Indof, harness racing Mykonos, harness racing
Jeremy Indof in action
Chris Gooden Photo
Mykonos winning Dec. 3 at The Meadows
Chris Gooden Photo

WASHINGTON, PA, Dec. 13, 2018 -- In the nearly 40 years they've been breeding and campaigning harness racing standardbreds, Jim Kezios and John Krillies -- racing as Tripoli Stable of Norridge, IL -- have followed a consistent theme in naming their horses.

"Both of us are Greek, so we like to honor Greek traditions," Kezios says. "We name most of our horses for Greek islands, mythical characters or war heroes."

The latest in the Tripoli line, the 3-year-old Mykonos, is extending that tradition. He'll try for his third straight victory in Saturday's first race, leaving from post 7 with Jeremy Indof piloting. His full brother, Zone Blitz, also will race Saturday (race 4, post 4, Indof). First post is 1:05 PM.

Of all the horses who've borne Tripoli's Greek-influenced names, probably the most successful was Kanaris, who was named for Constantine Kanaris, a freedom fighter in the Greek War of Independence who eventually became the country's prime minister. Kanaris the pacer banked $361,649 lifetime and took a mark of 1:48.3. He was second at 25-1 in the 2014 $250,000 Jim Ewart Memorial Invitational at Scioto Downs, defeating the likes of Foiled Again, Sweet Lou and 2012 Adios winner Bolt The Duer.

"That definitely was the highlight for us," Kezios says.

Tripoli named its son of Corner Blitz-She's So Keen after the Greek island Mykonos, which Kezios, his wife and their daughters visited about 10 years ago. The island has an important place in Greek mythology. It was there that Zeus was said to have battled the Titans, there that Hercules slew giants considered invincible. Not only killed them, the myth goes, but also dismembered them and scattered their body parts that now exist, in petrified form, as large rocks that dot the island.

For all the violence of those myths, Mykonos seems idyllic, cooled by gentle sea breezes that allow year-round tourism to flourish. The island is known for its family-oriented activities as well as all-night bars and what Kezios discreetly describes as "adult beaches." He did not experience those beaches.

"I was very happy doing things with my family," he says. "What I remember most are the windmills and the breezes coming off the Mediterranean. It's one of the most beautiful islands you'd ever want to go to."

Mykonos is not yet in Kanaris' class. Both recent wins have come in conditioned claimers, and he's stepping up Saturday to a much tougher $11,100 event for winners of two races but not more than four. Dirk Simpson, who trains the brothers, believes Mykonos is ready for the challenge.

"His potential is good," Simpson says. "I like him a little better than Zone Blitz; he's a little more aggressive. Getting away from that long stretch at Hoosier Park didn't hurt him."

Kezios agrees with that assessment.

"He raced at Illinois fair tracks at 2, and he was able to zip around those. We thought a five-eighths-mile track would be better for him than mile tracks or Hoosier."

To date, Mykonos has banked $48,807. If his earnings swell, would Kezios consider allocating his share of the profit to a return trip to the island?

"If I can find the time, I'm planning on going back there whether or not the horse does well," he says. "Time is sometimes harder to find than money."

Saturday's card includes a $1,436.13 Pick 5 carryover and a $778.50 carried-over jackpot in the final-race Super Hi-5. In addition, the track and the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) will host their annual holiday party featuring handicapping contests, giveaways, games and a visit from everyone's favorite reinsman, Santa Claus. For more information or to register for any activities, stop by the MSOA table in the Racebook.

The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

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