Wayne Kellogg has always been a fan of harness racing. As is the case with many harness fans, he has never been particularly enamored with thoroughbred racing. Though he certainly has nothing against the “flats”, when he decided to get into the game of horse race owning, it was a no-brainer that harness was his game of choice. Kellogg first owned a standardbred back in the 1980’s. After getting out of the business for fifteen years, Kellogg came to the track with friends over a decade ago and was introduced to trainer John Podres. Kellogg was ready to “get back in” and at that point claimed a $20,000 pacer named Hard Hitter and went on to acquire another seven horses soon thereafter. A few years later, the Queensbury resident went on to build a farm with a track where his horses would be trained by Jackie Greene. Kellogg has since been a big time investor in the business, allocating a lot of money and time into the sport that he has always had a passion for.
Kellogg admits that his learning curve as an owner was a bit of a slow one. It took him awhile to come up with the system that has certainly gone on to work for him. That system is essentially to avoid the claiming game and purchase young horses with upside. Greene came to Saratoga from Canada well over a decade ago and oftentimes Kellogg’s new acquisitions come from her Canadian ties. That was the case with pacer Artful Way who Kellogg purchased late in 2015. Part of Kellogg’s “system” is to acquire a three year old pacer and trotter at the end of every year that could each have the potential to be his stable’s next young star. Artful Way rattled off five wins in his first seven starts at Saratoga after his acquisition late in ’15, his final victory on the campaign coming in the local Open Pace. That win would certainly serve as a sign of things to come for a horse that would become the track’s top pacer the following year.
In 2016, Kellogg’s stable had it first winner of a major award at the Spa as Artful Way fulfilled the potential that his connections had hoped he possessed. He won the Saratoga Open Pace eight times last year and was named the Pacer of the Year at the Spa. Artful Way picked up right where he left off in ‘17 as he once again has been the Saturday night force in the Open Pace. Last weekend, Artful Way was at it again. The superstar cruised to a wire-to-wire victory in the $19,500 Open Pace, giving Kellogg his incredible fourteenth Open Pace win on the season. While he has also recorded victories at Plainridge, Vernon Downs and the Meadowlands this season, there is no doubt that Artful Way is a Saratoga star, the exact kind that Kellogg hopes for when he acquires young horses late in a year. Artful Way has all but sealed the deal as a rare repeat winner of the Pacer of the Year award at the Spa while enjoying his third consecutive season of six-figure earnings and one in which he has actually bested his results from the award-winning ’16 campaign.
While Artful Way has checked pretty much all of the boxes for Kellogg in his time at Saratoga, Stirling Cadet has checked every single one. The only check that Artful Way has yet to mark is Horse of the Year and that is one achievement Stirling Cadet reached for Kellogg in 2016. Another young horse that Kellogg and Greene acquired late in the season a few years back, Stirling Cadet enjoyed a simply sensational campaign in ’16. Stirling Cadet won the Open Trot nine times last season including four in a row during one stretch in the middle of the summer and was the landslide winner for Horse of the Year. The trotter, who was acquired while following the same blueprint for Kellogg as Artful Way was the following season, Stirling Cadet suffered an injury in the latter stages of his award-winning ’16 campaign. That injury was so significant that he did not make his 2017 debut until October. The five year old highstepper prevailed in his third start of the year and has since gone on to rattle off two wins in the Open Trot. On Sunday, Stirling Cadet finished third in the feature but continues to look more and more like himself every week.
The record setting nature of the 2017 season for Kellogg, though, isn’t just because of Artful Way and Stirling Cadet’s accomplishments this year. There have been an incredible four different Kellogg-owned horses to win the Open Pace in ’17. Artful Way’s eight victories in the Open Pace lead the way for Kellogg and Greene whose Titus Seelster has recorded a win four times in the Saturday feature himself. Their St Lads Moonwalk won the Open Pace on a cold Sunday afternoon back in February and when Kellogg’s Some Attitude scored in his first try against the track’s top pacers just a few weeks ago, it marked the fourth different Open Pacer to prevail for Kellogg in 2017. Some Attitude seems to be the next in succession for Kellogg as the youngster fits the same mold- a pacer in the late stages of his three year old season who comes from Canada and instantly displays star qualities upon coming to town. Some Attitude may just be the next star in the making for Kellogg and Greene as he moved his local record to six-for-six on Saturday when he overcame the outside post to prevail in the ‘Winners Over’, one step below the Open. Kellogg also has two Open Trot wins this year (with Stirling Cadet) and a pair of victories in the Fillies and Mares Open in ’17 with Stylish Beachwhere, another Canadian invader who made an immediate impact upon coming to the Spa this summer.
For Kellogg, this record-breaking season, in which he has had six different horses win Opens, will certainly end with some more hardware at the end-of-the-year awards banquet as Artful Way is a near cinch to repeat as Pacer of the Year and is one of the top candidates to be Horse of the Year. For Kellogg, he enjoys coming to the races and watching his horses compete. After all, he has put a lot of money and passion into the sport that he loves and has found the blueprint for what works for him. Kellogg, in addition to crediting Greene for the success of his top-flight stable, acknowledges the incredible contributions he has gotten from Saratoga’s top driver Frank Coppola Jr, who has piloted not only each of Kellogg’s EIGHTEEN wins in the Open this year but all of his stable’s victories in 2017.
With no racing on Thanksgiving Day, live action takes place on Friday and Saturday nights this week with 6:45pm first posts while Sunday’s matinee will begin at 12:15pm. Until next week, I’m Mike Sardella wishing you the best of luck and we’ll see YOU at the finish line!