08/31/2015 12:17PM

Bergman: Iron Mine Bucky could make some noise in 2015

Curtis Salonick
Iron Mine Bucky won a PASS race at Pocono in 1:54 4/5.

There had to be racing fans looking through the program at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono last Wednesday and wondering what Iron Mine Bucky was doing in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes.

A look at the names on the program in the second race that night made the son of Explosive Matter appear to be an outsider that didn’t fit. In a field supported by leading trainers Jimmy Takter, Ron Burke, Julie Miller, Erv Miller, Ake Svanstedt and trotting expert Charlie Norris, where exactly did Iron Mine Bucky’s trainer Colby Hubble fit in?

So it really wasn’t a surprise when the colt went off at 20-1 odds.

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What was a surprise, however, was how easily Iron Mine Bucky manhandled what appeared to be solid competition and rolled home in a 1:54 4/5 mile. The winning time was the fastest of the four divisions for 2-year-old trotting colts and geldings.

For Hubble, training stakes horses is something new, very new. Over the course of her nearly 25 year career training, her horses have earned $2.3 million. “I’ve trained mostly race horses,” said Hubble from the Carter Farm she trains over in Bridgeville, Delaware.

Hubble was quick to point to the man most responsible for Iron Mine Bucky’s education and advancement. “Greg Haverstick has sat behind this colt from the start,” Hubble said.

Haverstick, 46, is also part-owner of Iron Mine Bucky and his affection for the colt is quite obvious.

“From the first time I sat behind him I knew he was different. I told the owners if you are going to stake just one horse it should be him,” said Haverstick, who indicated he’s been around horses his entire life.

Whether you’re a big guy or a small guy horses can break your heart, but Haverstick said that throughout the training season—from November until May—that wasn’t the case with this colt. “I didn’t want to get ahead of myself, but each time I took him out there he impressed me even more,” Haverstick said.

What makes Iron Mine Bucky’s story more interesting is that the horse began training on the Carter Farms sand track, an oval less than a half-mile in circumference. “We would take him next door (Callahan Farm) to train him over their half-mile track,” said Hubble.

Haverstick was extremely concerned from the outset and didn’t want to get the youngster jammed up on the smaller tracks. “When he got down to around 2:35, I decided to take him to Harrington and train on the back track,” said Haverstick of the seven-eighths mile oval that was about a 15 minute drive from the farm.

“From the first time I started taking him over nothing bothered him. He was like an aged horse,” said Haverstick.

While things went rather smoothly getting Iron Mine Bucky to the races, not everything has been ideal since he set foot on the racetrack. The colt made a break in his first baby race on June 23 at Harrah’s Philadelphia.

According to Haverstick, the problem that day was that dirt was flying off the racetrack and hitting Iron Mine Bucky in the face. “He didn’t like the dirt hitting him in the face so we decided to put a fly mask on him,” said Haverstick.

A week later at Harrah’s Philly the colt started to show the promise that had been expected, coming from 10 lengths off at the quarter to win handily in a 2:01 4/5 mile.

On July 7 he was entered in a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes opening leg at The Meadows but made a break again with David Miller in the bike.

“Dave got off the bike and told me not to get discouraged; that he liked the horse,” said Haverstick about the vote of confidence.

Five days later Iron Mine Bucky captured a Maryland-bred event at Ocean Downs, but that was hardly a true test when the two-horse race turned into a virtual walkover after his rival made a break.

The colt was a solid third in his next Pennsylvania Sire Stakes race on July 23 at Philly, trying to come overland on the speed-favoring surface.

After the Sire Stakes, Haverstick tinkered with equipment in an attempt to improve the colt and tried a set of trotting boots to replace the bandages he had worn.

“He didn’t like the trotting boots at all in the race at Ocean,” said Haverstick about Iron Mine Bucky’s second trip at Ocean Downs, one that saw him gallop again.

A return to bandages and a test were in order. Driver George Dennis, who Haverstick gives enormous credit for helping him with the colt, guided him overland and safely to a 1:58 4/5 career best on August 20.

Still, it was hard to see the 1:54 4/5 victory this past Wednesday coming. Yet visually when you watch the colt move on the backstretch, there was an acceleration that saw him make up ground in an instant and trot off powerfully.

“He’s got a perfect gait,” said Haverstick.

Thus far in six starts Iron Mine Bucky has shown improvement and appears to have a big future. How big remains to be seen. Both Hubble and Haverstick are clear that they don’t want to get too far ahead of themselves and are willing to take it one day, or one week at a time and see where this takes them.

“We’re going to enter him on Monday for the Sire Stakes at The Meadows,” said Hubble. It will be the last qualifying round for the juvenile male trotters on Friday, September 4 and with a sharp effort the colt could qualify for the $260,000 championship a week later.

Also in the cards could be a trip to the Breeders Crown, the Matron and the 2016 Hambletonian payment has been made.

“I’ve never been around a horse like this,” said Haverstick.

Iron Mine Bucky’s dam, My Foolish Dream, died this year while foaling, but her owners William Carter and Nancy Stair-Carter won’t be foolish if they dream big. Just because you live in a small state on a farm with a tiny track there is no limit to how far you can rise in the standardbred sport.

In 2015 this has been a recurring story line.

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