01/26/2017 10:36AM

Bergman: Fastest ever at Yonkers gears up for 2017

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Chris Brokate
The Real One sat a perfect trip to post his 1:50 record breaking mile at Yonkers Raceway.

All horses possess certain natural abilities. Speed is the most necessary aspect to success in the racing business. Yet as we’ve seen throughout time, speed is not necessarily enough to guarantee a long and prosperous racing career. Attitude, intelligence and demeanor often play a larger role in setting apart the naturally talented from the champions.

A few years ago not many would recognize The Real One as being in the category of potential champions. Raced in Quebec through his 2 and 3-year-old seasons, he earned just a shade better than $66,000 through a span that most of the sport’s premier performers usually prosper. As a 4-year-old the altered son of the late Mach Three arrived at Yonkers and moved into the Patrick Lachance stable. This past winter The Real One became the first horse in the storied history of Yonkers Raceway to pace (or trot) a mile in 1:50, setting the all-age track mark in the process.

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“It’s something I’m proud of,” said Lachance. “I’m not sure it’s going to last very long. The race did set up perfectly for him and they were going big fractions. But he likes to close and he finished it off.”

Known as a speed track throughout its long existence, Yonkers Raceway’s fastest-ever performer may be a fast horse but he’s not a speed horse.

“He definitely likes to chase horses and is better doing that,” said Lachance. “But you can take him to the front with an early move. He’s just not the kind of horse you want to start up week after week.”

At times racing fans wonder why horses with the incredible talent of The Real One may not get involved in the early stages of a race in spite of the fact that they are capable of leaving the gate. Those voices would likely get an argument in the lofty statistics that The Real One has put up since arriving at Yonkers three years ago. With a scorecard of 96-24-17-17, it’s pretty hard to argue with the consistency and efficiency of The Real One on the racetrack.

“He’s a horse that can go on any sized track,” said Lachance. “But at Yonkers he really gets around the turns perfectly. He’s got very high speed and is extremely quick.”

The combination has translated into a moneymaker for owner Helene Filion. Over the last three years The Real One has earned about $660,000, some 10 times his earnings from his first two campaigns in Quebec.

“We like to give him some time off at the end of the year and get him ready for next year,” said Lachance, who indicated that The Real One is back in Quebec preparing for the coming battles in 2017.

“They’ll have him ready for the Levy series and send him down to me,” said Lachance.

Last year The Real One looked to have a chance to become one of the main players in the annual test of toughness known as the George Morton Levy Memorial, but that didn’t quite pan out. In four Levy leg starts, the best The Real One was able to do was a second-place finish in the opening leg.

“He needs to get the breaks,” Lachance said, somewhat confessing that there was really no benefit to the horse or him to change tactics that have worked so well for The Real One over time. In The Real One’s case the breaks may very well need to be in post position draw and reasonable closing trips.

While Lachance isn’t overly optimistic that the Levy will be ideal for his horse, the news last week that 2015 Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit will likely pass on this year’s edition had to bode well for The Real One or for that matter any other confirmed half-mile track specialist.

As good as Bit Of A Legend N was at the beginning of 2016 sweeping the Levy series, by year end he finished third some four lengths behind The Real One in the record-setting 1:50 mile in November.

There probably aren’t four lengths separating any of the top horses that routinely campaign at Yonkers at the elite level. That’s the good news for fans of The Real One.

JAYWALKING: It was a sad week for the sport as we saw the untimely passing of Mach Three in the stallion ranks and the ultimate departure at age 102 of Aime Choquette, the long-time second trainer to Hall of Famer Del Miller.

Mach Three was far from a dominant sire in the sport but he was consistent and produced arguably the greatest horse of the last 25 years in Somebeachsomewhere. Mach Three single-handedly extended the blood of Matts Scooter into the next generation, something that appeared all too necessary for the breed with so many Meadow Skipper-lined entities cross-matching.

Aime Choquette was already an institution at the Pompano training center when I first met him in the late 70’s. Choquette always had the time to talk but at the same time could focus on a large stable. He was a champion of bachelorhood and as I recall was consistently trying to persuade a fellow Miller employee from leaving the ranks.

I knew Aime at a time when Tyler B was Miller’s big horse and had to go up against Niatross. Despite the enormous odds, I never got the feeling that Choquette went into a race with any of his horses without the firm belief they could win. His long life defied long odds as well but was not a surprise.

Thursday (January 26) marks the first of seven one-hour live broadcasts of racing from The Meadowlands on SNY. The program is slated to air from 9:30 p.m.to 10:30 p.m. on Thursdays through March 9.

It’s great to see that there will be live racing broadcast not just locally but throughout the country at this time of year. With pro football essentially out of the picture the timing couldn’t be more perfect to give sports fans something new to view.

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