02/08/2017 8:32AM

Bergman: Patience could pay off big with Muscle Massive

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Muscle Massive won the 2010 Hambletonian.

Those who work with trotters on a daily basis understand the value of patience. We find that no matter how well bred or how potentially talented a trotter is at face value, time and luck play an incredible part in producing a star.

The same could be said of trotting stallions.

Muscle Massive, one of the best values on the Hanover Shoe Farms stallion roster, has had just three crops of racing age hit the racetrack and the returns are a bit slow coming in, but they are in fact coming in. The Hambletonian winner, with a rich pedigree on both sides of the ledger, was a solid campaigner as a freshman and then returned with a vengeance to put in a spectacular sophomore season against one of the better crops of the last generation.

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A son of Muscles Yankee, Muscle Massive hails from the top stakes filly and eventual broodmare Graceful Touch.  Her first foal was Muscle Mass and his rich pedigree infused nicely into the Ontario sires program with a long list of solid performers. He moved to New York for a few years and then got a solid homecoming welcome, returning to a large book in 2016 back in Ontario.

Muscle Massive was Graceful Touch’s third foal and he captured the 2010 Hambletonian earning a 1:51 mark and over $1.2 million racing for trainer Jimmy Takter.

Act Of Grace, the dam of Graceful Touch, had but two foals but both proved to be stakes winners. She is the fastest and richest foal from Keystone Profile, herself a half-sister to the phenomenal Hambletonian winner Green Speed.

Trainer Ron Burke has continued to amaze those who follow this game closely. From a conditioner that did his best picking up horses from other trainers and improving them, Burke’s success in the yearling business is beginning to be nearly as spectacular, especially when you consider trotters in the equation.

Burke routinely looks over the Hanover Shoe Farms yearling consignment and hopes to come away with a sleeper.

In 2012 he found a filly from the first crop of Muscle Massive by the name of Gatka Hanover. The $40,000 yearling purchase would take a back seat to Burke’s own Mission Brief throughout her freshman campaign in 2014, but ended the year a multiple stakes winner. At 3 she took a mark of 1:53 1/5 and would earn over $260K in just two years of work. Gatka Hanover was just a $40,000 yearling.

In 2015 Burke went back to the Hanover path and found another sleeper in the $23,000 purchase Snowstorm Hanover.

“I liked the way he looked and we had success with Gatka Hanover,” said Burke.

Snowstorm Hanover had a brilliant juvenile campaign and has to be among those looking ahead to this year’s Hambletonian.

“I think the best thing about him (Snowstorm Hanover) is that he got better every time he went on the racetrack,” said Burke.

Most juveniles don’t make 14 starts. Snowstorm Hanover not only did but he went out in style, capturing the Matron Stakes at Dover and then the Valley Victory at Woodbine in his last three starts.
“He’s back in training now,” said Burke. “He’s definitely with the horses I’m pointing for the Hambletonian. Now we have to hope Linda’s horse (Walner) comes back to us.”

The $466K winner Speak To Me was another that had the misfortune to be born in the same year as Mission Brief and Wild Honey. Nevertheless the daughter of Muscle Massive showed 1:53 4/5 speed as a freshman.

Timing is everything in the breeding business and for just $4,000, Muscle Massive can get you into the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and beyond. Right now he’s just one top colt or filly away from proving himself on the grandest scale. With a proven pedigree and performance to match, those with patience are sure to see it pay off on the racetrack.