In honor of the final edition of The Special for 2016, we bring you the "Little Guy" Stable Tour. We scoured the grounds, searching Horse Haven, Oklahoma, the main track, the stakes barn, Clark's Cottages, Gridley Street and even discovered barns inside the training track on the harness side to bring you the trainers and horses who might not have made headlines this summer, but plied their trade and earned respect. (Editor's note: Originally published in Sept. 4 issue of The Saratoga Special.)
This is an annual tradition - OK, second time - we stepped out of the well-worn path of following Saturday afternoon trainers and went searching for the guys who make the game tick.
Stopping at Glenn DiSanto's barn off Gridley Street Saturday morning, we explained the mission of the little guy. An owner laughed, "Glenn is the epitome of the little guy. We send him horses who aren't very fast and ask him to teach them to run."
Unfortunately, we couldn't find Desmond Farrell at his polished barn on the harness side, Artie Magnusson was on the farm and Bill Heffner had already gone home, but here is the Little Guy Stable Tour of 2016.
Troy Wismer (Malibu Stella): "I really like her, she's in Sunday. She's a nice horse, I broke her, she's come around nice, she's got a solid chance. We had a couple of nice seconds, got beat by a nose. She finished second, broke slow and made a strong move and got beat. It's tough here. It would be great to win one in our first year at Saratoga."
Glenn DiSanto (Quick On The Draw): "She's a nice 2-year-old filly, all ready to run and of course she got sick. I've hardly run anything at the meet. We have a lot of young horses. She's a Posse filly, she's a half to R Betty Graybull and a bunch of other winners. We really like her, she got sick and she's coming back. She works well."
Glenn DiSanto (Adirondack Dream): "He's by Posse, too. We ran him here, he finished seventh, he got beat 9 lengths, he didn't know what he was doing. We put blinkers on him and he worked well the other day, 1:14 for 6 furlongs, he really wanted to go in the blinkers."
Ray Handal (Gentrify, winner of the second race Saturday): "He's been a good dude to me. We claimed him for 16, he had some feet issues, hind-end stuff going on but we got him happy and healthy. He goes out there and runs every time."
Ray Handal (Winter Springs): "Claimed him off Chad Brown, ran him back in three and half weeks and he won for us for $32,000. Really neat horse, a lot of personality. Watch him, he'll play with the Jolly Ball all day. He's a good dude, and has a special spot with me since he's my first Saratoga winner. He's going to run Opening Day at Belmont for $25,000, going a mile and a quarter again."
Ray Handal (Viserion): "She's a 2-year-old Mizzen Mast filly who was a work away from running and got sick, spiked a 103 temp. If you look up the clocker reports, I put her 10 lengths behind Winter Springs when they went 1:01 when he won that race and she caught him and passed him galloping out. Could be any kind of horse. I've worked around Grade 1 2-year-olds when I was with Tony Dutrow and some other people and you never know what they're going to be until they go out there but she's passed every test so far. She's wicked fast from the gate. Joel Rosario breezed her and he really liked her. I'm expecting good things from her."
Bill Allyn (Jaime's Angel): "I'm really high on this Mission Impazible colt. That's the owner there, Ed Young. The Mission Impazibles have done well and we're pointing for an October race, I'm pretty high on him. He breezed a half here in 49 and 4, in company. I told the kid I want to go in 50, that doesn't happen very often."
Robbie Davis (Ribbonite): "She's a 2-year-old filly I bought, she ran second in a maiden special first time out, we only paid $25,000 for her, then she came back and got beat 2 lengths, finished fourth. She's nominated to the Lady Fingers at Finger Lakes next Saturday, I don't know how tough it's going to be, but hopefully she'll break the ice for me in a little stake race, that would be awesome. I got (son) Dylan on her, I got a lot of hell for that, but I've only got so many horses, he's doing a good job on her."
Marialice Coffey (Flora Dora): Third behind Songbird and Carina Mia in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks, she finished fifth in the Grade 1 Alabama Aug. 20. "The last race I don't know, she must have been having a bad-hair day. She's been super coming out of that race. We're going to try the grass, maybe in a month. We put that off for a while and we're hoping to give her another breeze on it. I breezed her once on it, couldn't tell if she really liked it or not and she worked a bullet. She likes the distance and next year there won't be any long dirt races. I have a filly Legally Bay that runs long on the dirt and her condition doesn't go. I'm hoping Flora likes the grass because that gives us more options."
Eddie Barker (Yorkiepoo Princess): "She's on the AE's Sunday, not going to get in, and she was on the AE's Friday and didn't get in. This is an unbelievable story. I started training these horses in April, this one and another one (Kissin Cassie). From the time we started breezing, the other one could not keep up with her. She's got a lot of ability. He only paid $8,000 for her and $5,000 for the other one. I took a chance and put them in for maiden 50, there was no doubt in my mind that she would win the race, she reared up in the gate and they scratched her, so we ran for purse-money-only, the one she beats every time won. We had pick fives, all this stuff, and we got the post-time favorite. You can't make it up. So I ran her back in a maiden special weight on the grass, she had the 8 hole and got beat 3 lengths, we ran 34 feet further than the winner, a $400,000 yearling. She's a nice filly, we're going to have some fun with her. We had a couple of seconds and thirds, one win, all in all it was a good meet. I expected to do a little better, but we held our own, with a small stable, it's hard to compete with these guys."
Oscar Barrera III (Mahabodhi Tree): "She didn't run here, probably next year. She's a 3-year-old filly, she broke her maiden at Aqueduct, she finished fourth in a stake at Philadelphia and I gave her time off. She's a nice, fast, little filly. I bought her at the Fasig-Tipton May Sale for $5,000. She was a steal. We came up with her name because her mother's name is Siddhartha, it's like a Chinese Buddha, we looked up similar things and came up with Mahobodhi Tree for money tree. I gave her two months off after the stake, she's been breezing, I'll bring her back at Belmont the first week. She's quick, fast, sound, a tail swisher, she's got a lot of attitude. I have four in on Monday, we'll see if we can come away with a winner. I like one named Pussy Willow, she's got a shot, and another one I claimed from Todd (Pletcher), Saratoga Sight, he's got a shot, too."
Joe Parker (Mister Popsicle): "He's a beautiful horse, a beautiful horse. He's got a little bit of an issue, but he could win. He's just got to catch the right batch."
Joe Parker (Kate Is A Ten): "Of course, she's the star of the stable. Everybody knows her, she's the horse who jumped the shadow (in a 2014 win at Belmont Park). She's honest and she tries hard. She won for us here last year and she was second (and fourth) this year. I could never say anything bad about her."
Joe Parker (Blue Pigeon): "I claimed him from Linda Rice ($10,000 in January). He's a turf horse and I've been running him for $25,000 and those races are very tough. But he's OK. I just have to find the right spot for him. Maybe I will find the right spot at Belmont."
Mike Shevy (Colonel Jessup): "This is the colonel. He's in on Sunday. You'll have to say a prayer for me, he's in a distance race and he's a sprinter, it's the only race I can get him in, he's a character horse. He'll be the longest shot of the meet. I've been in a slump, but you just try to remember when things were good, when I won a race here and The Saratoga Special interviewed me, your whole life turns around in two minutes. All of a sudden, this dream is real. I've got a nice 2-year-old filly by Frost Giant, we'll be back. The whole game is a gamble but you've got to keep chipping."
Arch Kingsley (Top Striker and Cash Crop): "Top Striker ran two winning races, finished second both times (over hurdles), if you're not much the best up here and things don't go just right, that's how you get beat. We weren't much the best and we got beat both times, that's the way it goes but I was really happy with the way he performed. It's nice to have a horse like that in the barn, who's so consistent and tries so hard. Cash Crop has been a fun horse too, he broke his maiden right there in Camden for George and Sue Sensor. He had a fall at Queen's Cup and he broke three ribs, I didn't know how he would come back from that, he won at Suffolk and then finished fourth over jumps here. I would love to have some flat horses to run up here, but between the two of them, it was a worthwhile foray."
Kerry Metivier (Bold Illusion): "He won here three weeks ago, broke his maiden. He's doing great. We bumped him up a bit, he won for maiden 40 New York and now he's in an a-other-than New York-bred dirt race going 6 furlongs. It came up like a mini stake. There's six other horses in there and they're all really good. He's really come around this meet and I think he'll do alright."
Kerry Metivier (Harbor King): "He's been one of the barn favorites forever, a really hard-trying horse. He really loves New York but we've run him in Saratoga a few times and he's run third. This summer we've been on a schedule where we either get excluded or it rains off. So it's been a little bit of a difficult schedule, not physically just getting to the races. We're looking forward to that. He was going to run on Saratoga Showcase day and got a little quarter crack, so we fixed that up and we've had a couple weeks."