04/23/2011 12:55AM

There's Something About Harry


His story could inspire a children’s book. His dam didn’t seem to care whether he was born or not. Not long after his birth his sire died in a horrifying accident, and he is named in tribute. His cute nickname comes from a popular book character. As a youngster, he was difficult enough that he was gelded. He didn’t reach the races until he was 3 and, when he did, he didn’t initially set the world on fire.  

Inherit the Gold (“Harry”) was born in Fort Edward, NY, at Haven Oaks Farm – a farm where they not only breed and raise Thoroughbreds but also once helped troubled young adults with rehabilitation. Yet, when the economy slowed, the farm - like so many others - headed into a downward spiral. The rehab program was discontinued. Farm owners Sue and Jim Hooper had to cull their horses and start selling off the farm. And by late summer 2010, they were no longer able to afford to pay trainers’ rates. Jim took out a license and began training their horses - including a handsome 4-year-old grey gelding named Inherit the Gold. Up till then, 'Harry' had just one win in seven starts.

But you know how children's books go:  Harry won his first race under Jim’s care (Jim’s first win as a trainer) and, after a third-place finish, Harry ripped off five straight. The flashy light grey moved his way up from state-bred allowances to an open graded stakes race  - winning everything along the way. As a result, he’s gained a legion of devoted fans.

So, it seems Harry is saving the farm - and giving the Hoopers many reasons to hope for a winning future.


Inherit the Gold was born March 25, 2006. His sire, Gold Token, died the following month when he ran head-on into a tree while fighting fellow stallion A.P Jet. (interestingly, Inherit the Gold’s dam was bred to A. P Jet just three days before the stallion fight. Her now 4-year-old A. P Jet filly is named I'm a Personal Jet).

Inherit the Gold’s dam, Melissa's Sunshine, wasn't the most maternal gal in the barn.

“She had a lot of babies,” Sue Hooper remembers, chuckling about the memory. “Her water would break, she’d go into labor, and she wouldn’t want to push. She’d be eating her hay, walking around..… So, that night, she was laying down, not pushing – and then she got up and looks around, and she’s nickering, like, 'Where’s the baby?'

"We said, 'Dude, you’ve got to push, it’s not just gonna pop out.' So she lay down but still would not push. We basically had to pull (Harry) out because, otherwise, she’d be walking around today with those feet sticking out of her,” she laughed again at the absurdity of the thought.

Above:  Inherit the Gold, then a 4-year-old allowance winner, Filiberto Leon up, at the Oklahoma Training Track in November 2010

Inherit the Gold was born bay but, as often happens with grey foals, he had grey rings around his eyes. Partner Mary Murray thought they should call him “Specs” or “Harry Potter" in honor of his ‘glasses.’   Knowing the baby coat would shed to grey, Sue suggested they go with Harry. Harry it was!

They registered Harry as Inherit the Gold, both out of respect for Gold Token and because “Inherit” is similar to “Harry."

It seems every time I photographed Harry, he is unusually bouncy. He tried to rear up when leaving the Belmont training track, he spooked while jogging on the Oklahoma track, he crow-hopped while being hand-walked at Haven Oaks. But it is absolutely positive energy. Harry is one happy boy.

“He’s a lover-and-a-half,” said Rebecca Spofford, as she rubbed his dappled coat with Cowboy Magic. She helps tend to Harry when he’s at the farm. “He’s just the sweetest boy. He wants to know what you’re doing, wants to know what’s in your pocket…he just wants a little loving.”

“He doesn’t bite you, he doesn’t try to kick you,” said racetrack groom Adam Reese as he wound Harry's leg wraps. “He’s got class.”

Yet when asked what Harry is like to ride, exercise rider Marco Acosta said, “He’s tough. Tough.” He means it. Harry wants to run.

Jim Hooper has learned that Harry doesn’t enjoy the regular 4- or 5-furlong drills so many trainers use as a matter of course.  Harry prefers good, solid gallops and, like the energizer bunny, he keeps on running.  Jim thinks the horse could just go :12s forever. Only one workout shows up in the DRF workout search for Inherit the Gold – a 3-furlong work on March 5th at the Belmont training track.

Haven Oaks Farm’s phone is ringing again with people interested in their services.  They provide everything from foaling to training to sales prep, and they are known for their care and attention to detail. Perhaps, some day, the farm could even host a youth program again.

Reading the Facebook posts of alumni of the earlier, discontinued program is both heart-warming and bittersweet. The alumni started the page, and its title is Haven Oaks Farm Saved My Life.  www.facebook.com/group.php

And speaking of Facebook, Inherit the Gold has his own page, too. At the time of this writing, 52 Facebook members ‘Like’ him – but he deserves so many more! If you get a chance, click “Like,” and visit often. Harry enjoys sharing his adventures!  www.facebook.com/pages/Inherit-the-Gold/118222001586664

Way more than 52 people at the track already ‘like’ Harry!

“He just keeps stepping up every time,” Sue says of his races. “He’s the center of our world, but, you know how that is…. When he came back after winning the Excelsior, they were cheering like it was Zenyatta! It was a small crowd, but Mary and I were going, “Is that for him?!”

Harry is owned in partnership by Sue Hooper and Glas-Tipp Stable, which consists of the brother-sister team of Ed and Mary Murray. Mary, a retired math teacher, is a numbers woman - studying pedigrees and niches and numbers.  It was Mary who picked the Gold Token (Mr. Prospector) – Personal Flag (Private Account) cross.  The Murrays haven’t always been so fortunate.

“If it wasn’t for bad luck, they would have no luck at all when it came to the racing business,” Sue says. “Injuries, and twins, and just freak stuff….and they’re just the nicest people you ever want to meet. Sharing our success with this horse with the Murrays just makes it that much better.”

Harry's most recent adventure is returning to the place of his birth – Haven Oaks in Fort Edward, NY – for a short break. There, he is being hand-walked, and grazed, by Sue Hooper.  Harry is enjoying the change of scenery.

Curly’s Hope came along for the ride. Another homebred, she keeps Harry company – including on a recent venture to Charles Town. They reside in adjacent stalls and, although Curly’s Hope hasn’t done much on the track yet, Harry doesn't mind.  He likes her.

She’s a thick-bodied dark bay with huge ears.

“During the postpartum exam, when the vet looked at her, he said, ‘At least she’ll hear them coming,'” Susan chuckles.

When Inherit the Gold left the Oklahoma Training Track last autumn, he was an allowance winner and Jim was a newbie trainer.  They'll return, on Monday, April 25, as three-time stakes winners.

Above and below:  Yahoo!  Harry lives it up at the Oklahoma track, Filiberto Leon up, on November 9, 2010

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Above and below:  Inherit the Gold heads to the Belmont training track, April 7, 2011.  Jim Hooper walks alongside, Marco Acosta rides.

Above:  Yahoo!  Harry heads back to the barn.

Above:  Inherit the Gold's long-eared companion Curly's Hope with Marco.  Below: Inherit the Gold heads out for his bath, with Areceli Espinoza.

Above:  Marco visits with Harry.  Below, Jim takes a turn.

Above:  Meet Team Inherit the Gold: Marco Acosta (rider), Jim Hooper (trainer), Areceli Espinoza (hotwalker), Adam Reese (groom), Mitch Mathis (groom). Below, Adam wraps Harry's legs. There's no need to tie Harry to the back wall.

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Above:  Haven Oaks Farm is understandably proud to have their multiple stakes winner back home for a short while.

Above:  Rebecca Spofford makes Harry smell and look extra-pretty with a little Cowboy Magic.

Above:  Inherit the Gold is good-sized, 16.1 hands, but he looks even taller due to his proud stance.  Sue Hooper holds the leadshank.

Above:  Yahoo!  Harry says, 'Hoppy Easter!'

To read more about Inherit the Gold and his connections, please visit this link:


To visit the Haven Oaks Farm website, please visit this link:


To visit Haven Oaks' Farm's Facebook page, please visit this link: