One of four sophomores in a deep contentious field of 14 lined up for the $1.5 million XpressBet Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita Racecourse – but also one of six Grade 1 winners – The Lumber Guy ran a strong and confident race from the bell under jockey John Velazquez, only to come up less than a length short at the finish behind South Florida-based 3-year-old winner Trinniberg
Drawn midpack in post seven and heavily supported as second choice at odds of 3.90-1, the handsome grey emerged from the initial scrum to gain good field position in the early stages – fourth in the three path – moving up a spot into third after the first quarter mile (21.41). From the outset pacesetter Sum of the Parts was tracked intently by Trinniberg in second.
As Trinniberg moved up in the two path to challenge the leader approaching the quarter pole, The Lumber Guy moved with him on the outside and, when he straightened out for the drive, was in the clear three wide.
Trinniberg took over just outside the furlong marker and The Lumber Guy chased on bravely in second, but ultimately could not make up all the needed ground in the final sixteenth, finishing second, three-quarters of a length behind the winner. After a half mile in 43.73, the final time for the six furlongs was 1:07.98 over a fast track.
The fifth New York-bred to compete in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, The Lumber Guy’s runner-up finish was the best since current New York sire Friendly Island finished second to Thor’s Echo at odds of 58-1 under Ramon Dominguez in 2006.
Both jockey and trainer deferred to the impressive performance of the winner for the tough beat.
John Velazquez said, “We had a good trip. Second-best I guess. But he ran very good. I was watching the eventual winner (Trinniberg) and he was going well. I was just hoping I would get to him. I did at the quarter pole, but then he opened up another length on me. I thought ‘wow, it’s going to be tough to beat him,’ and it was.”
Trainer Mike Hushion added, “I thought he was going to get it done at the eighth pole; that he would reel him (Trinniberg) in from there, but he kept going. Second-best.”
The Lumber Guy is Hushion’s third Breeders’ Cup starter and first to finish in the money. Earlier in the week Hushion said, “The other two times that I went, it was a ‘we’ll take a shot’ type of thing, but here I think I’ve got a loaded gun. If we get a little luck in the trip, it’s going to be very interesting.”
This was also the best Breeders’ Cup outcome for owner/breeder Barry Schwartz, co-founder of Calvin Klein and former head of the New York Racing Association. In five starts in the Breeders’ Cup with horses owned either solely or in partnership, his previous best finish was third by Three Ring in the 1998 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
Winner of his January career debut at Aqueduct by 9 1/4 lengths, The Lumber Guy went on to win the seven-furlong Miracle Wood at Laurel Park in February and one-mile Grade 2 Jerome at Aqueduct on short rest in April.
The Lumber Guy returned from a four-month freshening at Schwartz’s Stonewall Farm to take the Grade 1 Vosburgh Invitational in thrilling fashion at Belmont Park on September 29. His only two off the-board efforts in seven careers starts came at nine furlongs. His career records now stands at 4-1-0 with $735,800 in earnings.
Named after thoroughbred owner and lumber magnate Aaron Jones, The Lumber Guy is the third stakes winner and fourth winner of four foals to start – all New York-breds bred by Schwartz – produced by Boltono, an unraced daughter of Unbridled’s Song purchased by Schwartz at the 2003 Keeneland November sale for $77,000.
The Lumber Guy’s siblings include stakes winners Bold Deed, by Anasheed ($161,000), and Magical Solution, by Stormin Fever ($75,712). Boltono unfortunately died from complications the day after foaling The Lumber Guy, leaving him to be raised by a nurse mare.