For Opinion, click here for View from the Racetrack Grandstand

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Schnittker Still Has Plenty to “Laugh” About

For Breeders Crown
Perhaps lost in the incredible level of stakes success the Ray Schnittker stable has had in recent years, is the fact that he originally was and still is a “racehorse trainer.” That’s easy to see in the roots of an operation on an everyday basis. Schnittker’s large operation sees horses entered at all eastern tracks in any given week.
“I tell you the biggest problem I have is what to do when one of the trucks breaks down. And there’s always one breaking down,” he said quite seriously.
One thing that isn’t breaking down is the pace at which Schnittker operates. Better still is the incredible consistency his entire stable has shown week-in-week out. His success on the trotting side with young and old has brought him fame, fortune and a very loyal and large group of backers. Thus, with the Breeders Crown rapidly approaching Schnittker was pressed for time to take a look at yearlings at Hanover Shoe Farm in preparation for next month’s key auction.
One More Laugh with Ray Schnittker
For all his trotting glory Schnittker achieved the apex in pacing a year ago when One More Laugh came from out of the clouds to thunder past Horse of the Year Rock N Roll Heaven and win the Meadowlands Pace in a career best 1:47.4 mile. The altered son of McArdle is an obvious favorite of Schnittkers and for good reason. Through his first two years on the racetrack he earned over $2 million and won 18 times in 32 trips to the track. His victory in the Governor’s Cup at Harrah’s Chester at two may go down as the greatest single effort by a two-year-old in the sports history.
With all of One More Laugh’s success at two and three Schnittker always seemed happiest with the fact that he would have One More Laugh around to race for a long time. So while he was spending his time inspecting yearling sons and daughters of his champion trotter Deweycheatmnhowe this week, he was also preparing One More Laugh for the $500,000 Breeders Crown final on October 29 at Woodbine.
“I wish I had 10 more like him,” said Ray fervently, using an oft-stated horseman’s prayer.
And who could blame him? Despite winning just two times in 23 starts this season there’s still roughly $200,000 in the bank for six months work. With total stable earnings above $4 million, One More Laugh is still one of the bigger breadwinners in a very large barn.
But the question remains - what happened to the One More Laugh we saw at two and three?
Last year One More Laugh paced in 1:50 or better in half of his 20 starts. That included six races in 1:49 or better and didn’t include a victory in the Cane Pace at Freehold in 1:50.3.
At two he won 9 of 12 races including that vintage 1:49.2 mile in the Governor’s Cup at Chester.
“The transition from two and three to four isn’t easy,” said Ray. “I know We Will See has had a big year, but generally it’s not easy to move into that company. As far as One More Laugh’s physical condition he said “he’s a very sound horse.”
What One More Laugh may be dealing with this year is the fact that he is not by nature a “speed” horse. He has  high speed but for most of his career it’s been the speed of  a closer. The open ranks are not as forgiving as the two and three-year-old ranks to this style of racing. So while his contemporary We Will See has been at the top of the class due to his tactical speed and gritty demeanor, One More Laugh has been compromised by post and pace on numerous occasions.
Maybe that’s why Schnittker  is looking forward to next year and the year after with One More Laugh. With years of racing experience behind him, the trainer doesn’t get too down just because the wins aren’t coming as frequently as they did. The horse is still competing and still pacing as fast as he did a year ago. Schnittker, who shares ownership with Creative Racing Stable and Jerry Silva, has an abundance of confidence and belief that One More Laugh will shine again.
“I thought he raced real well in his last start (a winner’s over at Chester), continued Schnittker. “He finished with a lot of pace.”
With so many top horses entered in this year’s Breeders Crown One More Laugh may have to wait until next year to earn his first Crown title. And there’s a good chance we’ll see him in many more Crowns before his racing days are over.