Horse racing can have an interesting dynamic that is often not thought about (and really why should it be) by fans who come out to watch horses compete. As handicappers or bettors, you see the horse’s name in the program, look at his stats, consider his post position and perhaps analyze what kind of trip he will get in a particular race. What we don’t see is what the horse’s connections see from them on a daily basis back at the barn. Maybe just like pets at home, horses certainly have different personalities and subsequently, their connections can develop favorites. Naturally, if a horse is performing well on the track for a trainer/owner, they are bound to like them. Other horses may not be having much success on race night but may be darlings back in their stable. When both qualities come together, it serves as the dream situation and for the connections of Crazycat, that dream has become a reality this season.
Bruce Aldrich Jr. used to run a top-flight stable at Monticello with his ex-wife April and in 2010, they trained a mare that won more races than any other horse in North America that year. Sophisticat scored an incredible eighteen wins while competing mostly at Monticello Raceway for the Aldrichs. After experiencing soundness issues, Sophistocat was turned into a broodmare and was in foal to the sire named Crazed. Out of that record-setting mare came a trotter that would be named Crazycat. After giving up training to focus solely on driving, Aldrich decided to offer conditioner Jose Godinez half of the horse if he broke him as a baby and got him to the races. Crazycat didn’t make it to the track at age two and in fact had to survive a scare on the farm after an incident that wound up turning out much better than it could have.
In 2016, Crazycat made his lifetime debut in March at Saratoga at the age of three. It took only until his second career start for the young trotter to break his maiden for Aldrich. Crazycat soon went to Yonkers and quickly rattled off back to back jacks in the $14,000 condition for young trotters before debuting in the New York Sire Stakes in June of ’16. The three year old had shown flashes of brilliance which included a second place finish in a $60,000+ stakes try before his season came to an abrupt end in July with earnings of just shy of $55,000 in just sixteen starts. Would soundness issues hamper what would have otherwise been a powerful career? Would a horse that both Aldrich and Godinez tell me is a “total sweetheart” in the stable ever reach the potential that his connections believed he had?
The following season began much like the three year old campaign did for Crazycat who won his second start of 2017 at Saratoga in the spring. Competing at numerous tracks in New York at the age of four, Crazycat had a decent season. Was it a success? Well, perhaps. The Godinez trainee earned almost $40,000 in 22 starts last year in what was by all accounts a solid, if not dazzling, campaign. It was starting to seem like Crazycat would be the kind of horse who enjoyed success but maybe would never quite reach the ceiling that his connections had hoped he would.
After kicking off this season at Yonkers, Crazycat raced in a low-level condition on opening weekend at Saratoga in February. He won that start in what would serve as a foreshadowing of what was to come in what has become his breakout season. Fast forward just a month and Crazycat had risen through the ranks all the way to the top when in March, the Godinez trainee competed in his first Open Trot. In his third start in the local feature, Crazycat prevailed. The rising star came from nearly last before trotting past his rivals to prevail in 1:55.1, a time that served as a new lifetime mark for the five year old. Crazycat proved that the Open victory was no fluke when he came out and repeated in the-then $12,000 Sunday feature at Saratoga. Back to back Open wins for a trotter who Aldrich tells me has a history of being very skittish. “He’s always been a very finicky horse,” Aldrich told me. “When he was young, he would break for seemingly no reason but this year he’s really grown up a lot. While he’s always been the same lovable horse in the barn, he’s a different horse on the track this year and we’re seeing that in his results.” Following his feature scores, Crazycat finished second in his following try in the Open and then was again the runner-up in a $20,000 race at Yonkers in April before taking a crack at their Open.
After a couple of starts in which he didn’t fare very well, Crazycat dropped in class at the Spa to make his first start in the month of June. One of only two horses to win the local Open Trot multiple times in ’18, Crazycat rediscovered his winning ways when he toughed out a first-over trip to score in 1:55.2 in a $9,500 conditional race at the Spa on June 3rd. Last Sunday afternoon, Crazycat drew the rail and was the public’s 3-5 betting favorite as he looked to repeat while seeking his sixth win of 2018. And win he did, in fact Crazycat cruised to a rare for him wire-to-wire victory and set a new lifetime mark of 1:54.4 in the process. The local trotting star will no doubt find himself back in the Open as the young trotter Aldrich bred is finally fulfilling that potential that he knew he had. When I asked Bruce about the grinding nature of Crazycat and whether or not a horse that rarely shows early speed can really survive the test of time at the highest level when competing on a half mile track, he told me “he can leave as fast as any trotter out there. The problem is that when he leaves, he sometimes puts in steps and can make breaks. We use tactical speed with him here and there but to this point, he’s more of a grinder. He can really smoke the car though so I’m hoping as he gets older and becomes even more confident, leaving will become a much bigger part of his game.” When I asked Godinez about Crazycat he simply gushed. “He’s perfect. He’s does nothing wrong in the barn. I don’t ever train him. He’s a little afraid of the gate so I tried him on a walker once and he loved it so that’s his exercise program. Of the close to 30 horses in our stable, probably six or seven are trotters but he’s the best one. We always thought he had it in him to be a star and he’s starting to prove us right,” Godinez, who is second in the trainer standings, told me. Crazycat may be a pet but boy, is he a talented pet. And he’s one that his connections hope is a solid Open trotter for them for years to come. And at the rate he’s improving, that desire seems to be more than attainable.
Live racing takes place at Saratoga every Thursday and Sunday afternoon starting at 12:15pm and on Friday and Saturday evenings beginning at 6:45pm. Until next week, I’m Mike Sardella wishing you the best of luck and we’ll see YOU at the finish line!