07/16/2012 9:15AM

Bergman: Sir Richard Z Tam has look of juvenile star

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There is something unique about this time of year in the sport of harness racing. It’s a moment where followers of the breed can get a first glimpse of the next generation. The wheels of the two-year-old stakes season have gotten in motion and with it have given us the opportunity to see the trends that will shape the future.

At Harrah’s Philadelphia this past week trainer-driver Patrick Lachance sent out a horse that has the pedigree and look of a potential champion. Let us not put the hex on Sir Richard Z Tam as yet, but there is certainly reason to believe the colt has a bright future.

The fact that the colt won in 1:51 4/5 is a reason many would say he has high-class potential. Yet to those who have studied the speeds at which today’s juveniles travel, time is perhaps the least important quality in analyzing victory. To 99 percent of gamblers who bet on two-year-olds speed is the number one, two and three angle they look for. Yet in watching Sir Richard Z Tam, what I noticed was not only the fact that he could go fast, but the way he responded when challenged.

Watch some two-year-old races and take note of the horses that go on when challenged. Take a close look and see if a horse digs in for more than an eighth of a mile. In evaluating two-year-old talent make a mental note that most of these horses have speed. It’s the horses that have courage that separate themselves from the rest.

As for Sir Richard Z Tam, what caught my attention was the way Lachance drove the colt. The trainer, who is the son of Hall of Famer Mike Lachance, has been very careful throughout his career in bringing horses to the racetrack. He has perennially raced two-year-olds conservatively and generally from off the pace. With Sir Richard Z Tam he sent him to an opening quarter in 27 flat in just the second start of his career.

“We were going for good money and I figured that if I didn’t get around (Johns Polyview) and control the pace he would do it to me,” said Patrick Lachance.

What the young driver wanted was to control the pace, and once he landed in front in the $70,795 first leg of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes last Thursday, he was able to rate the pace and easily hold off his rival through a 27 1/5 final quarter.

Sir Richard Z Tam was a $35,000 Harrisburg yearling purchase last November, a price that seemed more than reasonable to Lachance, who owns 10 percent, as well as partners Z Tam Stables LLC and Ira Rosenblum.

“A friend of mine alerted me to the colt,” said Lachance. From the first crop of Somebeachsomewhere, Sir Richard Z Tam is the second foal and first colt from World Of Her Own. The dam is by Western Ideal from Patrick’s champion race filly Worldly Beauty.

With that pedigree the colt figured to sell for significantly more, but if he had, Lachance wouldn’t be the owner.
Those in the yearling business tend to look for brothers and sister to champions they have raced and in this case Lachance may have found another star from this very prolific family. Sir Richard Z Tam, according to the trainer, has shown the very same demeanor that Worldly Beauty was famous for.

“He’s just a professional on and off the racetrack. The first time we line drove him he picked it up as if he was doing it his entire life,” said Lachance. “Worldly Beauty was the same exact way.”

Worldly Beauty earned over $1.5 million during her two and three-year-old seasons in 2001-2 winning 18 of 22 starts during the period of her career.

Sir Richard Z Tam’s had won two baby races before winning his parimutuel debut in an eye-catching 1:52 2/5 mile on July 5 at Harrah’s Philadelphia. The time suggested Lachance was doing anything but babying his colt.

“I raced him from off the pace. To tell you the truth when I moved him he just did it so easily, I never asked him,” Lachance said.

Indeed the 54 4/5 final half indicated the colt had speed to spare.

The next stop down the road for Sir Richard Z Tam will be Saturday at The Meadows in another Pennsylvania Sire Stakes division. The trainer, who purchased only five yearlings last year and has seen four make the races, has a very conservative game plan for the colt.

“He’s eligible to everything in Pennsylvania, and if he races well we go to Lexington in the fall and have the Breeders Crown,” said Lachance.

While it is way too early to make predictions about any colt, it’s clear from the early returns that the stallion Somebeachsomewhere will be a player in Pennsylvania and on the Grand Circuit. Interestingly enough two of his fastest colts to hit the racetrack thus far, Sir Richard Z Tam and Captaintreacherous, have almost identical pedigrees. The latter is out of Worldly Treasure, a full sister to Worldly Beauty. Captaintreacherous, who hails from the Tony Alagna stable, has won a qualifier in 1:52 4/5 at the Meadowlands.

There is a theory in breeding circles that quite often champions don’t come directly from champion fillies, but instead from daughters or sisters to champions. Double The Dragon, also a winner for the second straight time in a $70,795 division of the Sire Stakes at Harrah’s Philadelphia on Thursday, is by Dragon Again from Town Pro Miss. The dam is by The Panderosa and out of the world champion $1.2 million-winning Town Pro. Sam DePinto trains the colt, who overcame post eight and won racing without cover for the second time in two weeks. The 1:52 mile was a tick slower than Sir Richard Z Tam, but clearly there is very little separating these two at this point.

It’s still early but this looks like it’s going to be a great year for two-year-olds.