Leap of Faith Pays Off for Warrendale Graduate Hog Creek Hustle
RSS Feeds Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Stepping onto the Santa Anita Park track for the first time Oct. 28, Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) hopeful Hog Creek Hustle was one cool customer. The Overanalyze colt was taking it in from his vantage point at the top of the stretch as a bevy of photographers snapped away on the sidelines, surprised at just how nonplussed he seemed to be. Making his first pass around the dirt oval at a leisurely pace, Hog Creek Hustle stopped every few feet to watch as another set of horses breezed past on the rail.

But when it was time to work, a simple nudge was all it took and the 3-year-old set off at a gallop, ready to pick up the pace when called upon.

"Did you see him? He went fantastic—he went beautifully," said trainer Vickie Foley. "The rider thought he went fantastic and we were so pleased. He was full of himself and the trip didn't take anything out of him. He's acclimated to the area quickly."

If you ask his connections, the ability to adapt to any situation has been a hallmark of the colt's personality from day one. Plucked from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale for $150,000 in the name of Stewart Smith, Hog Creek Hustle arrived in the hands of his connections on a bit of a whim back in 2017.

"We were all together at the ballpark at a concert and I said, 'Hey guys, we've all been in this business at different levels of success over the years. The sale is next week so let's put some money together to buy a horse and have some fun,'" said Patty Tipton, one of the majority partners of Something Special Racing. "They all said OK, so I went out to the sale to pick up the books.

"I thought on Monday morning they would say, 'I agreed to what?' But no one did. They were all in. It was just something that happened on a fun night and we are having more fun that we could possibly imagine. It's been amazing."

Working with Foley and her brother, Greg, it was Tipton and Smith who attended the Keeneland sale with the intent to pick up a horse for their budding partnership. Smith, who is also a member of Fort Springs Racing, had some experience with colts by Overanalyze heading into the auction and was interested in the process of acquiring another.

"We (Fort Springs Racing) had a very successful horse by Overnalyze called Psychoanalyze," said Smith. "He did very well but then he got injured and never got back. So at the time we really, really liked the sire."

Bred in Kentucky by Hargus Sexton, Nancy Sexton, and Silver Fern Farm, the colt that would become Hog Creek Hustle was only the second foal born to the Candy Ride mare Candy Fortune, whose first foal, Majestic Dunhill, was a stakes winner. Tipton, who has been involved in the racing industry for more than 20 years, saw promise in the dark bay consigned as Hip 3554 by Warrendale Sales, and the pair became determined to buy.

"We picked him out and we went to the sale to get him. We didn't look at any other horses or vet any other horses—he was the one," said Tipton. "We had to step up to the plate to get him because he was a little outside our budget, but we made it work."

"We took a chance, but of course the horse business is always a chance," said Smith, who works primarily as a certified public accountant. "He looked phenomenal at the horse sales. We paid a little more than we anticipated, therefore I turned to Patty and said, 'I think we need more partners.'"

"After, I realized I hadn't looked at the book that close to see that he wasn't Breeders' Cup nominated, so we had to come up with an additional $12,000 to fix that," continued Tipton. "Basically, we had to bite the bullet and do it and aren't we glad now that we did."

Something Special Racing, which campaigns Hog Creek Hustle, consists of seven partners: Tipton, Smith, Beth Martin, Rex McClanahan, Candy Minnich, Melissa Murphy, and Haley Lucas. While it was Hog Creek Hustle who brought the group together, the partnership's name, Something Special, was also inspired by their joint purchase.

"Beth Martin and Patty, they went out to Margaux Farm where we had the horse originally before we shipped him down to South Carolina," said Smith. "He looked phenomenal and when they came back to Patty's house, I think Beth and her husband Mickey said, 'Boy, that horse is something special.' So that's how we got the name."

The name Hog Creek Hustle was also born from the mind of Tipton, who grew up in a small town in Mt. Sterling, Ky., in an area named Hog Creek. 

"Her story is they had to 'hustle' to get out of there," joked Stewart. "So that's how we came up with that."

Trained by Foley, Hog Creek Hustle impressed early, breaking his maiden on debut at 2. While he finished off the board next out in the Iroquois Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs, he bounced back to win at the allowance level before closing out his freshman season with a third in the Sugar Bowl Stakes. 

Returning to the track at 3, Hog Creek Hustle took second in the Lecomte Stakes (G3) behind Preakness (G1) winner War of Will, followed by fourth in the Risen Star Stakes presented by Lamarque Ford (G2). Two starts later he was second in the Pat Day Mile presented by LG and E and KU (G3), and next out the colt finally earned his first graded win in the Woody Stephens Stakes (G1) after waiting out a stewards' inquiry looking into interference down the Belmont Park stretch. Hog Creek Hustle's connections celebrate after his win in the Woody Stephens at Belmont Park

"Every trip we've made has not been easy," said Tipton. "We've had to really work for it, and I think that speaks to his ability and determination." 

While the Woody Stephens has been Hog Creek Hustle's only win this season, he has continued to perform admirably in every start. In the two races leading up to the $2 million Sprint Nov. 2 at Santa Anita, he racked up another runner-up effort in the H. Allen Jerkens (G1) at Saratoga Race Course—defeating fellow Sprint runner Shancelot by a nose—and a fifth-place finish in the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes (G2) at Keeneland.

"He has really matured. He's still a 3-year-old but at this time of year, he's running with older horses and the boy has become a man so to speak," said Foley, who said her main concern going into Saturday's Sprint is that the race might not be enough distance for Hog Creek Hustle.

But with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith set to take the mount for the first time in the horse's 11-start career, the trainer has every confidence that her protégé will be able to seize the moment.

"He knows his job and he goes out there and does it," said Foley. "I just hope for a good honest pace up front because he will come running. I just hope we have enough ground to get there."

Win or lose, the partners of Something Special have never allowed Hog Creek Hustle's success to cloud the original intention behind the formation of their partnership: to have fun at the races.

"He is so much fun. He's special—he really is," said Tipton. "He's full of life and he's smart. He knows what is getting ready to go down and he's ready for it. Mike is excited about him and that make us more excited, but we know what we have. 

"We haven't gotten much good love on the tote board or from the handicappers but we don't need that. He knows he wins and I think on Saturday he will prove that he really is something special."

 

Courtesy of the Bloodhorse

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