It was late in the 2017 season when trainer George Anthrop’s name first appeared in the program at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Though unfamiliar to the locals at the Spa, Anthrop is a veteran conditioner and one that has had plenty of success out of town. Anthrop was a horseman based in the Midwest, one whose driving career started in the mid 1970’s and whose training career really launched in the early 90’s. Doing little to no driving these days (he does have 152 career victories in the sulky), Anthrop has focused on his stable and it seems to have been the right move. His barn, which has thrived in the past decade-plus, made an immediate impact at Saratoga when he came to town last season.
George Anthrop has done the majority of his training in Michigan throughout his career. Thriving at tracks such as Northville and Sports Creek, Anthrop has put up consistent numbers. Year after year, Anthrop’s stable produces. In the early portion of this decade, Anthrop became a bit of a nomad and the branching out to race at a host of different tracks certainly paid dividends. The 62 year old began racing at multiple seasonal tracks in 2013 and 2014 and had career years competing at tracks such as Lexington, Colonial Downs and Cal Expo. Anthrop trainees raced at such places as Three Rivers, Northville, Hawthorne and Monticello last year before a few month stint at Lexington. At the conclusion of the meet at Red Mile, Anthrop once again shipped north but this time not back to Michigan. Instead, he brought his formidable stable to Saratoga at the end of September and raced exclusively at the Spa from that point until the end of the ’17 season.
Anthrop had 36 starts at Saratoga in the final few months of the meet and really made the most of them, winning seven times and adding another seven second-place finishes. His stable star was Rocknroll Wildcats, a young pacer whom he acquired as a two year old just two starts into his career. Making his Spa debut as a four year old last year, Rocknroll Wildcats quickly made an impression. The rising star had two wins and three seconds in just seven local tries but what made him standout was the fact that he did most of his damage while competing in the Open Pace. Rocknroll Wildcats acclimated himself very well to Saratoga and had a stretch in the fall when he had a win and three runner-up tries in four starts in the $18,000 Saturday feature. His victory was all the more impressive when considering the horses that he beat included eventual Horse of the Year Artful Way as well as track record holder Dancin Yankee. Rocknroll Wildcats has since moved on from the Anthrop barn which is search of its next stable standout.
Following the conclusion of the Saratoga meet in December, Anthrop did was Anthrop does and took his show on the road. His stable relocated to Hawthorne in Illinois for the winter. By the time the ’18 campaign kicked off at Spa last month, though, Anthrop was back in town and ready to prove that his success at the end of last year was no fluke. On the President’s Day matinee, Anthrop had five horses in and recorded a hat trick. Three winners right out of the gate for Anthrop whose fourth victory came in just his sixth Spa start of the season. Last Saturday night, the “Saratoga sophomore” had two horses in. Both pacers were in claimers and both were seeking their second local scores on the young season after making up two-thirds of the President’s Day hat trick.
Doc’s Zippy is another horse that has spent a long time under the guidance of Anthrop, competing in over 200 starts since 2011 almost all while trained by Anthrop. The claiming pacer was winless in his handful of local tries in ’17 but wasted no time getting into the win column in ’18 when he prevailed in wire-to-wire fashion on opening weekend with Jimmy Devaux in the sulky. Devaux was back in the bike on Saturday when Doc’s Zippy again tried his luck on the front end and passed the test with flying colors, prevailing in 1:55.3 in the $6,000 claiming event. Later on in the card, Doc’s stablemate Fast N Victorious tried to become the second Anthrop trainee to record as many as two wins in the meet thus far. The five year old pacer scored from well off the pace to upset at odds of 13-1 on opening weekend. Like his barn buddy, Fast N Victorious drew the rail on Saturday and was moved out to the front end in the early going. With Billy Dobson piloting, Fast N Victorious cruised to his second local score on the campaign, prevailing in 1:54.1 to earn the win among $12,500 claimers.
In just thirteen starts in the early going in ’18, Anthrop already has six wins. That total is enough to place him in a tie atop the trainer standings with Joe De Carlo and defending leading conditioner Melissa Beckwith. Though the size of his stable likely won’t allow him to stay at the top for very long, there is no denying the start Anthrop has gotten off to as he is quickly making his name a familiar one. Who knows how much success he’ll have moving forward this year. In fact, given his history of having a nomadic nature, it is hard to even be certain how long Anthrop will remain based here at Saratoga. But regardless of the fact that he is just putting himself on the map locally, Anthrop is no rookie and no stranger to success. In his career, he has compiled 885 training victories and is likely just a few weeks away from reaching the $3 million plateau in lifetime earnings. Remember the name George Anthrop, for if he can continue at anything close to the rate he’s been going, it is one that you will likely keep hearing during winner’s circle introductions as we move forward in the 2018 racing season at the Spa.
Live racing is now in full swing with two matinees per week, on Thursdays and Sundays beginning at 12:15pm, to go with two weekly evening cards, on Fridays and Saturdays starting 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!