Last year, Bolt The Duer was part a bumper crop of three-year-old pacers, and the millionaire is among several embarking on the challenging transition into a resulting deep sea of four-year-olds this season.
Trainer Peter Foley sounds confident the son of Ponder is ready to face several of those rivals in Saturday’s inaugural $100,000 Meadowlands Maturity.
Bolt The Duer has drawn post two alongside Meadowlands Pace champ A Rocknroll Dance [post one], who is also making his seasonal debut in race ten.
Saturday’s 13-race program also features the $180,000 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial [race six], and three divisions of New Jersey Sires Stakes for three-year-old pacers.
Last year, Bolt The Duer became the fastest horse in history on a five-eighths-mile track with a 1:47.4 world record in the $500,000 Adios Final at The Meadows. He also won the $250,000 Kentucky Sires Stakes Final at The Red Mile in 1:48.2, the $415,820 Messenger Stakes at Yonkers in 1:51.2, capped his sophomore season with a 1:51 triumph in the $130,000 Cleveland Classic at Northfield Park.
In 2012, Bolt The Duer posted nine wins and four seconds in 19 starts, and earned $902,610 for All Star Racing of Towaco, NJ. His career bankroll stands at $1,116,668.
Foley’s journey with Bolt The Duer began at the Harrisburg Yearling Sale.“We picked him out [for $70,000] mainly because we had Shanghai Lil [1:51.2, $1,070,251] and Blue Claw [1:49.4, $547,007] from the same mare [Wonderbolt],” explained the 63-year-old from Portland, Australia.
“I call Bolt The Duer one of those freaks of nature. He’s a once in a lifetime horse with the desire and the whole package. We raced him lightly as a two-year-old [winning six of eight starts and $214,058], and as soon as we qualified him we knew he had the extra will to go forward. He later won a Kentucky Sire Stakes at The Red Mile in 1:51 off a half of :53.4. Then we were sure he was special.”
Bolt The Duer went on to beat eventual freshman champion Sweet Lou in the Kentucky Sires Stakes Final in 1:52.1, but his connections have carefully managed his racing schedule.
“We decided not to send him to the Breeders Crown,” recalled Foley. “Even last year we passed up millions in purses. He missed the North America Cup and Battle of Brandywine.”
Bolt the Duer was aimed at the 2012 Meadowlands Pace, and unfortunately the result was disappointing.
“In his Pace elimination he left for position, and if he had found room he might’ve won, and finished fourth,” noted Foley. “We had high hopes in that final, but when he was taken back I thought that was a mistake, and the rest was history. He couldn’t get involved and finished tenth.”
It didn’t take long for Bolt The Duer to bounce back in the Adios, yet there were some pitfalls to endure while racing at a high level.
“Winning the Adios [two weeks later] in a world record was vindication,” admitted Foley. “He swept through the Kentucky Sires Stakes at The Red Mile, but then he was bleeding after finishing a close second in his heat of the Jug. Thank God I didn’t go two heats with him there. After that he put in two subpar efforts back in Lexington. We put him on the treadmill at Rood and Riddle [Equine Hospital], and it wasn’t until they flushed his lungs that they found blood, so we put him on Lasix. We also put him in the hyperbaric chamber for a week and he turned the corner right away.
“Again, it was decided to skip the Breeders Crown, but we won the Messenger. Then, he got roughed up in his Matron elimination at Dover Downs, and had a lot pace finishing in that final [timed in 1:48.3]. He followed upcoming first over with a big late move to win the Cleveland Classic.”
Bolt the Duer has won all three qualifiers he has entered this Spring, his latest in 1:52.4 at the Big M with a final quarter of :25.3.
“He’s got the foundation and definitely on track to come back on Saturday,” Foley noted confidently. “I think he’s ready to go a big mile. It’s not going to be an easy transition year with all of those good ones coming back. The great thing is he can leave. He’s not a front-runner, but he likes to be up close to the pace. I’m hoping sometime we can get a three quarters in about 1:19, we’re right behind it and come home in :27 and change. That’s my dream mile.
“I’m based in Kentucky in the Winter, and for seven years I’ve shipped up to Pocono Downs for their racing season. I have about 13 stabled here right now, including seven two-year-olds.
“I came to America with Bob Farrington and 24 head of horses for Lloyd Arnold back in 1971. I was 21 years old and now I’m 63. I stayed in California for 20 years. In 1992, Alan Leavitt offered me the job of Farm Manager at Walnut Hall. I was there for seven years. Then, I bought my own farm [in Salvisa, Kentucky], Ross Croghan gave me some babies and I went back to training horses. My wife, Lynne has a degree in Biology and works at the Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.
“John Como, Jr. and Sr. [All Star Racing] had a horse called Street Sign they had bought for big money and wanted to race him in Kentucky back in 2002. I knew Ron Pierce from California and he recommended me. John Como, Sr. passed away last year. I train their younger horses and Mark Ford has the racehorses. I hooked up with Mark MacDonald through Mark Ford.”