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|Hawthorne Racecourse (4/17/08)
Contact: Mitch Demick (708) 222-4542
Mister Triester Returns to Scene of Greatest Moment
Stickney, IL – Saturday April 8, 2006 was a good day for Mister Triester, that is, if finishing second in a Grade 2 $500,000 stakes race means a heck of a lot to the horse itself. That was the case at Hawthorne Race Course, when Mister Triester was runner-up in the Illinois Derby to the dominating Sweetnorthernsaint, albeit, beaten 9 ¼ lengths…but who’s counting.
“That’s why we’re coming,” trainer Steve Asmussen said, referring to the Grade 3 $200,000 Bill Hartack Memorial Handicap. “He’s a fast horse, and we know that he likes the racetrack, so we’ll see what he gets done.”
Mister Triester wasn’t getting a whole lot done since finishing a respectable third to the talented Grasshopper in a second-level allowance/optional claiming race at Saratoga in July of ’07. Since then he was a non-factor in two similar spots, both at Saratoga and the Fair Grounds before being dangled for a $25,000 tag on January 10, in a one-mile and one- sixteenths event at Fair Grounds. One of the nation’s leading owners took the bait.
“I really thought that he could regain his old form,” Mister Triester’s new owner Maggie Moss said. “I look for horses that have that kind of back class and my thought with him was that he could certainly be a stakes horse again.”
So what exactly had gone wrong with Mister Triester? After all, the gelded son of Old Trieste had been sidelined twice for extended periods; once for nearly 11 months after running fourth in the 2006 Derby Trial, and then again from August 23, 2007-December 15, 2007. Surely there was an injury of some magnitude, yes?
“I don’t think there was any injury,” Moss said. “I talked to the woman who bred and owned this horse and she called me after I claimed him. She told me everything from the time this horse was born on the farm to now, and she said he had no physical problems, at least nothing to explain the layoff. If there’s something wrong we’re not finding it.”
Since being claimed from Al Stall’s barn and transferred to arguably the hottest trainer in the nation, Steve Asmussen, Mister Triester has won two out of three starts, both at a mile, although his latest effort was a no-shot fourth after rearing at the break. In the Bill Hartack Memorial, Mister Triester will once again be asked to negotiate the one-mile and one-eighths distance, but his trainer seems unconcerned.
“I think the mile and one-eighth is what he’s been wanting to do,” Asmussen said. “It’s also a good financial opportunity for someone who likes the surface.”
Never one to miss an edge, Asmussen has enlisted Kentucky jockey John McKee to ride Mister Triester, and not because regular ride Shaun Bridgmohan is unavailable. The simple fact is Mister Triester was assigned 111 lbs in the handicapped race, and McKee can make the weight.
“I never question his expertise,” Moss said about Asmussen. “Anything he decides to do is well planned out. His mind never ceases to amaze me. A week ago I didn’t even know about the race, but I was looking for a race like this, and Steve found it.”
On Saturday, at age five, Mister Triester will try to duplicate or surpass his greatest moment in racing, at the same track and distance he nearly conquered two years ago…and he has the connections to give it credence.
Hawthorne Race Course’s Spring Thoroughbred meet featuring the Illinois Derby begins on Friday, March 7 and will continue through Monday, April 28. Live racing will be conducted Thursday through Monday, regular first post 1:35 pm central time. Hawthorne Race Course is located at 3501 Laramie Avenue, Cicero, IL 60804, gates open daily at 7 am. Call (708) 780-3700 or visit the Web site at www.hawthorneracecourse.com.
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