03/16/2016 12:46PM

Always Sunshine, Abiding Star light up Allard barn

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Always Sunshine, trained by Ned Allard, wins the Dave's Friend at Laurel in December.

Since moving his stable to the Mid-Atlantic from New England in 1990, trainer Ned Allard has won 85 stakes. He won a similar number in two decades up north after taking out his trainer’s license in 1970.

But in recent years, the flow of stakes horses to Allard’s barn has slowed, and when Always Sunshine won the Dave’s Friend at Laurel in December, it was Allard’s first stakes victory in five years.

Always Sunshine returned last Saturday to finish a sharp second in the Grade 2 Tom Fool at Aqueduct, just more than an hour after Allard won the $75,000 Private Terms Stakes at Laurel with Abiding Star.

“They both ran real well, just super,” said Allard, who has been based at Parx Racing since the late 1990s, when it was named Philadelphia Park.

Always Sunshine is being considered for the Grade 1 Carter, a seven-furlong race at Aqueduct. Abiding Star could test deeper waters in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial or go to the Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel. All three races are April 9.

Always Sunshine, now 4, won his career debut at Parx in July, but it took him six starts before he would score again, in a Parx allowance. Twelve days later, he defeated older rivals in the Dave’s Friend.

“He’s a big, good-looking horse,” Allard said. “He was just a little awkward at the beginning. He could turn out to be a serious racehorse.”

Always Sunshine didn’t have the cleanest of trips in the Tom Fool and was beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Salutos Amigos.

“I’m not saying he would have won, but he broke just awkwardly enough that he ended up behind horses, and then he had to look for room in the stretch,” Allard said. “If he would have been clear, it would have been a closer horse race.”

Abiding Star, a son of Uncle Mo, made his first four starts for trainer Kevin Rice before coming to Allard’s barn last fall. After two tries against straight maidens, Allard dropped him into a $40,000 claimer, and Abiding Star won by two lengths. Abiding Star has since won an allowance by 4 3/4 lengths and scored a front-running 18-1 upset in the 1 1/16-mile Private Terms.

“We gave him a little confidence boost,” Allard said. “Now he just keeps getting better.”

Allard, a winner of 2,657 races, will forever be linked in racing history to his best horse, Mom’s Command, the 3-year-old filly champion of 1985.

Owned and bred by the colorful New Englander Peter Fuller, Mom’s Command went 11 for 16 over two seasons of competition and was ridden by Fuller’s daughter Abigail in all but two of her races. Allard was in his late 30s at the time.

It was through Fuller that Allard met Gilbert Campbell, the owner and breeder of Always Sunshine and Abiding Star. Allard helped Campbell buy his first horse in the early 1980s.

“Fuller and John Costello, who ran the Lowell Sun newspaper, were friends, and John and Gil were friends,” Allard said. “One morning, John brought Gil by the barn. He came back one day and told me he was interested in getting a horse. We bought Ski Resort, who we won some races with.”

A real-estate developer in Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, Campbell bought historic Waldemar Farm in Williston, Fla., in 1988 and renamed it Stonehedge Farm South. What a Pleasure, the leading sire in North America in 1975 and 1976, had stood at Waldemar, and his two best sons, 1975 Kentucky Derby winner Foolish Pleasure and 1976 Derby runner-up Honest Pleasure, were bred there.

“Gil doesn’t do anything halfway,” Allard said. “Peter Fuller had mares at Waldemar. I was down in Ocala with Gil one time and took him out to the farm. Two years later, he owned the place.”

Campbell, a leading breeder in Florida and a former president of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association, has had many good horses, but two of his best were Blazing Sword and Ivanavinalot, who were based in Florida with Kathleen O’Connell.

Blazing Sword earned just under $1.2 million. Ivanavinalot won the Grade 2 Bonnie Miss at Gulfstream Park. While her early foals weren’t overly successful, she produced the still-undefeated Songbird for breeder John Antonelli.

One of the better horses Allard has trained for Campbell is Friel’s for Real, who raced from 2002 to 2006 and won 13 races and $674,000.

“Gil is a very successful businessman and a lover of the game,” Allard said. “He tries different things – racing in different places, using different trainers. Thank God he’s always sent me some.”

minor_daria More than 1 year ago
Good article! I like Always Sunshine to be competitive this year.