By JAY BERGMAN for Breeders Crown
Dan Daley has been here before. The trainer-owner-driver who bases his operation at Vernon Downs, has made a solid living developing young trotters for action on the lucrative New York Sire Stakes circuit. Year-in-year-out he cultivates good-gaited colts and fillies that appear as effective on the half-mile ovals as they do on larger tracks. This year has been no exception with Royal Shyster, a colt from the first crop of Daley’s R C Royalty. Plucked for just $14,000 from the 2010 Morrisvile Sale in New York, Royal Shyster has been virtually flawless in the Empire state and now sets his sights on the Breeders Crown.
Royal Shyster was second by three-quarters of a length to Quit Smoking Now in the Simpson at Vernon in his last start. “Hopefully if all goes well we’ll go to Woodbine,” said Daley from his New York base.
The rigors of the NYSS program make it near impossible for a colt to test the Grand Circuit waters in mid-stream and still qualify for the rich final. Royal Shyster remained fixed in New York while some of the more talented freshman trotters campaigned in Kentucky at the Red Mile. “They went some big miles down there,” said Daley obviously aware that from a pure speed standpoint some of his likely foes show up better on paper. “But a lot of horses go faster down there.”
Indeed Daley has seen this before. Back in 1999 he had the dominant New York Sire Stakes two-year-old trotter in Master Lavec. The colt went on to win the Breeders Crown in Ontario (Mohawk) in the fall in a major surprise for some. “He won from post ten,” Daley remembered vividly.
Six years later Daley was back in business with R C Royalty. The son of Credit Winner was as fluid as they come around New York’s tight turns and went to Woodbine following his victory in the NYSS championship, to battle in the Valley Victory. Much like Master Lavec R C Royalty showed the same kind of sure-footedness and instant speed capturing both elimination and final of the Valley Victory over Woodbine’s sometime challenging surface. “You’ve got to be careful, sometimes the track isn’t set that well the first week or so of the meet, but it gets better,” said Daley referring to the Woodbine surface.
Perhaps Daley’s ace-in-the-hole is his uncanny knack for getting his colts and fillies to trot around all sized-tracks and during any conditions. Case in point the final of the New York Sire Stakes this year at Saratoga took place on a night not fit for dogs. The rain-soaked surface proved the demise of some, but Daley’s Royal Shyster methodically made his way to the front and coasted around the four turns as if there wasn’t a speck of water on the track.
“This horse will trot around anything,” Smiled Daley. Daley has been high on Royal Shyster since January. He definitely sees him in the same category as Master Lavec, but he believes he’s the spitting image of his sire. “He looks very much like R C Royalty and his gate is identical to R C Royalty. I think the biggest difference between Royal Shyster and R C Royalty is that Shyster is a much more manageable colt and will relax during a race, at times R C Royalty would get a little excited.”
One of the times R C Royalty was a handful came in the 2005 Breeders Crown. After winning the Valley Victory at Woodbine and then staying sharp in the Matron, Daley brought the colt to the Meadowlands for the last major test of his freshman year. R C Royalty hustled to the front quickly in that race and when eventual-race winner Chocolatier rolled up to challenge Daley grabbed into his colt to let him by. Eventually Daley pulled the pocket before the three quarters. “I’m sure a lot of people thought that was a stupid move,” said Daley some six years later, but with the way he (R C Royalty) was I probably shouldn’t have let Chocolatier go. I was choking him and I just had to get off the rail.”
With an impressive record of 9 wins and 3 seconds in 12 starts this year, Royal Shyster has earned $229,290 heading into Friday’s elims at Woodbine. Daley is extremely pleased that
despite the number of races, Royal Shyster has been easy on himself on and off the track.
“We’ve been fortunate that he hasn’t always had to race against the better colts in the Sire Stakes. I’ve been able to give him a lot of easy miles.”
Owned by Albert Crawford, Ann-Mari Daley, Richard Lombardo and Robert Pergament, Royal Shyster has more than lived up to expectations. Dan had trained a Conway Hall brother to Royal Shyster named Spin Spanky Spin. He was a NYSS finalist in 2008, but Daley recalled “he used to interfere with himself a lot.” Royal Shyster wasn’t as narrow as his half-brother and Daley believes that’s why he’s a cleaner going colt.
The trainer marveled at the success of R C Royalty at stud in just his first year. “You know he only had 14 registered foals. He’s been a great stallion.” Daley not only won one NYSS Final with Royal Shyster but finished second in the filly division with Zanna Royal.
“I bred my Dream Vacation mare to him,” said Daley. Dreamsrmadeofthis, is out of a full sister to Daley’s 1999 Crown winner Master Lavec.
The results of that mating won’t be known for some time. Right now Daley hopes Royal Shyster will become his second NYSS juvenile champ to capture the Breeders Crown.
Photo attached of Royal Shyster's sire RC Royalty and Dan Daley in his 2006 Breeders Crown 3CT at Woodbine. (Mike Burns for Breeders Crown photo)