Their individual paths to ownership are all pretty different but the partnership that owns Talking Tom has seen everything come together leading to a sensational summer run at the Spa. Bob Trossbach has owned horses with trainer Perry Simser for about fifteen years and together they have enjoyed their fair share of success. Trossbach reached out to his friend Dennis Nye several years ago and inquired about becoming partners in ownership. They bought their first horse together soon thereafter and that trotter named Winter Mint is still competing at the Saratoga Casino Hotel. Though Nye currently owns Winter Mint by himself, he is still in partnership with Trossbach as that ownership team added another member when another friend of Trossbach’s Pete Relyea, jumped onboard to purchase a horse. The horse that that trio owns, along with Simser, has put together a special summer at the Spa, one that local owners dream about.
Talking Tom was bought as a yearling from the Harrisburg, PA sale by Simser in partnership with Trossbach, Nye and Relyea back in 2018 and the veteran trainer who was inducted into the Saratoga Harness Hall of Fame that summer had high hopes for the young pacer. “He was fairly inexpensive but we really liked him a lot right away,” Simser told me. “As a two year old, he showed that he had plenty of speed and was great gaited and we had thoughts of going to the Sheppard Pace at Yonkers. We raced him a bit at two but he just wasn’t fully developed yet. He needed more time to physically mature.” And mature he did.
2020 was a year unlike any other and it certainly had an effect on horses. For Talking Tom, like so many horses, the year got off to a slow start and after the spring pandemic shutdown was concluded, the then three year old kicked off his sophomore season in June. Talking Tom didn’t exactly thrive at the start of his campaign but it didn’t take long for him to show signs of being the horse his trainer initially thought he could be. In his final start of August last year, Talking Tom broke his maiden with Jimmy Devaux in the sulky, a win that would break the seal for the improved pacer. He went on to rattle off three consecutive victories and win four times in five starts. The latter three scores came with reinsman Larry Stalbaum piloting. All told, Talking Tom enjoyed a three year old campaign in which he hit the board in ten of his eighteen starts, winning four times, and finishing second and third three times each. While he had a strong season, Simser said that Talking Tom still raced a bit green, that is to say he was inexperienced and still learning. That would all change though once we turned the calendar to this year.
Though the ’20 season certainly saw Talking Tom display some ability, it has been the 2021 campaign that has seen him break out. After once again getting his season off to a bit of a slow start, Talking Tom heated up as the weather got warmer and on June 8th won for the first time of the year. A few weeks later, the four year old won out of the non-winners of two race lifetime class following a wire-to-wire score. The step up in class that Talking Tom had to take in the weeks that followed is a steep one and often separates the “men from the boys” among colts and geldings that compete at that level. Displaying speed in each of his first two starts against elevated company, Talking Tom showed well finishing second in back-to-back tries in the $9,500 races. One second came with Stalbaum in the bike and the latter with leading driver Jimmy Devaux in the sulky. “Both Larry and Jimmy did an amazing job with the horse. Larry seemed to really get him going and Jimmy has really taken it from there and thrived,” Simser explained. And thrive is the perfect word to explain what occurred this summer for Talking Tom.
Not only has Talking Tom adjusted well to his step up in company but the pacer has become a star. One of the winningest horses of the summer at the Spa, the Simser trainee headed into Saturday night in the midst of a stretch that saw him finish first or second in an amazing eight consecutive races. Yes, the horse has consistently drawn very good post positions but that’s only part of it. He has really come into his own and become the horse his connections always thought he could be. Utilizing his terrific early speed almost every week, Talking Tom has become a force on the engine and winning on the front-end has been his method for each and every one of his wins this summer. “He leaves hard, he races hard,” Talking Tom’s HOF trainer acknowledged. “But he’s a good mannered horse and has been very under control this year, especially here recently. He’s feeling really good and got the hang of winning and now he caught fire and doesn’t want to get beat. It’s great to see.” On Saturday, as the betting public’s 1-2 favorite in pursuit of yet another victory, Talking Tom lived up to the hype once again. The summer star went coast-to-coast in 1:53.3 to continue a stint in which he has now finished first or second in nine consecutive starts. The locally owned pacer will be sad to see the Saturday night lights turn off as five of his six races that he won this summer occurred during nighttime racing.
For Talking Tom’s owners, the super Saturday stretch came at the right time too. After all, when racing takes place exclusively during the daytime, it is sometimes difficult for owners to come watch their horses’ race. For locally based owners Trossbach, Nye and Relyea, they have made it a habit of being at the track during the summer bonanza of Talking Tom. There’s nothing better for a horse owner to come to the track when their horse is racing, to bring family and friends when they think/hope they have a chance to win and then making that walk to the winner’s circle when they do in fact see their horse hit the wire first. For “veteran” owners Bob Trossbach and Dennis Nye, they’ve done it before- but it never gets old. For Pete Relyea, it has been a start for the ages and whether he never owns another horse or winds up with a hundred more in his life, he has no doubt had a phenomenal experience this summer celebrating their numerous victories. On Saturday night, Talking Tom won for the seventh time of the year and sixth time in just over two months. When he didn’t hit the line first this summer, he finished second. It was quite a turnout and celebration in the winner’s circle on Saturday night after the most recent of the Talking Tom summer scores. What an exciting and memorable summer for the local group of owners who have thrived in their first partnership together. As for Talking Tom, Saturday’s win means that he graduates out of the class where he did all of the damage this summer. But his trainer Perry Simser is still confident. “I think he’ll do just fine. His gate speed certainly works to his advantage. He’s learning a lot and has really transformed recently,” Simser noted. “His streak is bound to come to an end here soon but he’s just been great. It’s been a special summer for us with him.” And while there is likely plenty more good to come for the partnership of Simser, Trossbach, Nye and Relyea, one thing that they’ll never forget is the super summer at the Spa they had with Talking Tom.
Live racing takes place this week on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon as we transition from our summer schedule. Sunday matinees are added to the calendar starting next weekend (Sept 12) as we begin the Sunday, Monday, Tuesday afternoon schedule that will remain for the remainder of the 2021 campaign. Until next week, I’m Mike Sardella wishing you the best of luck and we’ll see YOU at the finish line!