“You don’t know where to start. The highlight has been the year itself. It’s been wonderful.”
Gene Kurzrok cannot pick a single highlight from this year involving racehorses he owns. That’s not a bad thing. It’s because there has been so much to enjoy and savour.
Kurzrok is part of Our Horse Cents Stables, along with Scott Kurzrok, Marcia Gingold, Stephen Springer, and Richard Taylor. The group recently watched Southwind Frank win the Breeders Crown for two-year-old male trotters, and has delighted in numerous other memorable victories with the likes of Mission Brief, Crazy Wow, Habitat, Safe From Terror, Dime A Dance, and Bettor N Better.
The Kurzroks and Gingold also make up Stable 45, which has enjoyed success with stakes-winner Obrigado and is part of the Yankee Bounty Partnership. They also are part of JT45, with Jerry and Theresa Silva, and share ownership of stakes-winners Big Top Hanover and Yankee Moonshine.
Crazy Wow, Bettor N Better, Yankee Bounty, and the recently-sold Habitat are in action Friday at Hoosier Park.
"It’s been a great year, and last year was a good year too,” Kurzrok said. "It’s been exciting, it’s been rewarding, it’s been humbling -- it’s just been terrific."
Kurzrok bought his first horse in the mid-1970s after becoming a fan at Roosevelt Raceway. He spent his early years in the claiming game, but has since found success with stakes-calibre horses. The 79-year-old Long Island resident is a financial consultant and estate planner, as well as a licensed pilot. He participates in Air Lifeline, a charitable organization that flies ill children and their families to hospital facilities across the country to receive necessary medical care.
“It’s taken 35 years to become an overnight success,” Kurzrok said with a laugh about his racing success. “I was a sports fan, loved animals, was hanging around at Roosevelt -- and just put it all together. We kicked around for a while and all of a sudden we got lucky.”
Top open-class trotter Beach Nut Brand was one of the first primetime players, followed by pacers Golden Receiver and Rocklamation, who each earned more than $2.2 million in their careers.
“My family loves it, I love it,” Kurzrok said. “I spend as much time with the horses as possible. I really put in the effort. I’m at the (breeding) farms six weeks before the sales and going through the catalogues. I’m really spending the time necessary to try to make the right decisions.”
Crazy Wow is in Friday’s $270,000 Carl Erskine for three-year-old male trotters, where he is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line. The colt has won seven of 15 races this year, including the Colonial Trot, and earned $770,837. Tim Tetrick will drive Crazy Wow for trainer Ron Burke.
Hambletonian champion Pinkman is the 8-5 favourite for trainer Jimmy Takter and driver Yannick Gingras. Habitat, who was recently sold to Sweden’s Leif Bergvall, is 9-2 on the morning line.
“I think we’re going to get a good performance out of Crazy Wow,” Kurzrok said. “He’s had a little time off, so hopefully the little bit of a rest helped him. I would imagine, although I don’t know because he’s been racing both ways, from in front and behind, that Timmy will leave for position. But whether he goes to the front or not, I don’t know.”
Bettor N Better, also trained by Burke, is 15-1 on the morning line in the $101,000 USS Indianapolis Memorial for three-year-old female pacers. She has won three of 14 races this season and earned $121,204. She will be driven by Brett Miller. Jugette winner Sassa Hanover, another horse from the Burke Stable, is the 5-2 favourite, with Matt Kakaley at the lines.
Yankee Bounty is 30-1 on the morning line in the $285,500 Monument Circle for three-year-old male pacers. Kakaley will drive the gelding, who has won $282,140 this year, for Burke. Little Brown Jug winner Wiggle It Jiggleit, at 3-5, and Breeders Crown champion Freaky Feet Pete, at 7-5, are the favourites.
“He’s in very, very tough,” Kurzrok said about Yankee Bounty, who has won two of 19 starts this season. “He’s a small horse, but he’s got more guts than size. Gutsy horses always show well. I don’t expect him to win, but I think he’ll give a good account of himself.”
To view the entries for Hoosier's stakes packed card of harness racing, click the following link: Friday Entries - Hoosier Park.
This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com.
(Photos, clockwise from top left: Bettor N Better, Mark Hall; Crazy Wow, Curtis Salonick; Yankee Bounty, Chris Gooden; Habitat, Mike Lizzi)