Day At The Track

Captain Morgan seeks spot in Haughton final

03:26 AM 28 Jul 2017 NZST
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Staffan Lind
Staffan Lind
Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications Photo

Trenton, NJ --- As a father of two, Staffan Lind knows about raising kids; which makes him qualified to assess that training a harness racing 2-year-old colt trotter like Captain Morgan is comparable in certain ways.

Captain Morgan is racing in one of two eliminations of the Peter Haughton Memorial Friday night (July 28) at the Meadowlands. The top five finishers from each race advance to the final on Hambletonian Day (Saturday, Aug. 5), at the Big M.

“It’s a challenge with 2-year-olds, but when you come this far, it’s basically like having your own kid at graduation,” Lind said. “You try to make improvements in helping them along. It’s similar with dealing with kids, they need the help and you appreciate the maturation as they get better.

“There’s a lot of unknown, but that’s the beauty of it too. I think most guys that develop young horses, it’s everything from finding them at the sale and developing them, and trying to figure out which is the best way forward with him.”

Lind owns a share of the horse, which was purchased for $47,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale, with Bender Sweden Inc., Roy Holth, and KemppiSuojalampiStable. By Cantab Hall out of Muchness, his original name was Muchadoaboutnothin.

But Staffan and Marie Lind felt that a nice glass of rum is much to do about somethin’ and renamed him Captain Morgan.

“We were actually talking about naming a horse that,” Staffan said. “That’s my wife’s favorite drink. I like it too. We knew we had to have a good horse to give it that name.”

And Lind thinks he has a good one, as this relationship was love at first sight.

“I liked this horse from the moment I saw him at the farm in Kentucky,” the trainer said. “I was doing my homework in Kentucky before the sale, it was one of the horses that really jumped out that I liked. Going into the sale I knew that I would try to get him. He’s a big, good-looking horse that I see a lot of potential in.

“I liked his build and his gait; the way he was moving in the field and on the video. He reminded me a lot of Billy Flynn, another colt that we had some success with in the past.”

Captain Morgan has done little to dismiss those thoughts through his first three starts, where he collected a first and a third with Brett Miller in the sulky. The horse won his debut in a division of the Pennsylvania All-Stars, but made a break in his next race (a PA Sire Stakes event) and finished third in his most recent, also in PASS company.

Lind said of his victory, “He was good, he was up front all the time. He just did what he needed to do to win that day.”

Things were going well in the second start until he broke.

“He left the gate really good and Brett said once he got to the front he kind of relaxed and slowed down by himself; so he kind of lost focus there,” Lind said. “He did that in one of his qualifiers too. You have to keep him on his mind a little bit, but after that he’s usually very fast.

“He’s like most 2-year olds, He’s developing as we go, it’s very hard to know who’s going to jump up more than others. I believe because of his size it should be beneficial to be on the big track (this week at the Meadowlands).”

One thing the horse does not lack is the art of conversation. He’s one of those animals who’s already worldly at age 2.

“He’s a big talker, but he never does anything wrong,” Lind said. “He wants to keep the conversation going with everybody, he’s a very friendly horse and nice to be around. He’s a sweetheart. He never minds his work and he knows everything about life at this point.”

Lind is optimistic heading into the Haughton, noting that the horse has developed well in each start and trotted a solid 1:56.3 in his last start at Harrah's Philadelphia.

“I think we have him set with the way we want him to race,” Lind said. “We have an outside post (six) but he’s good behind the gate. I think we can get into the top five.”

In looking at the big picture, Lind said, “I think he’s a Grand Circuit horse for sure. He’s good sized, I think at this point he hasn’t reached his potential, I think he’s going to improve as we go along.”

And if Captain Morgan does well this weekend, perhaps the Linds will celebrate with a yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum?

“We will, for sure,” Staffan said with a laugh.

For the complete entries for the Peter Haughton Memorial eliminations, click here.

by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

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