07/14/2017 4:57PM

Bergman: Trainer is riding high with Springsteen in Sheppard final


Trainer Chris Ryder is hoping for a renaissance of sorts in his freshman class this year. Ryder went to the yearling sales in 2000 and came away with an astonishing pair of colts in McArdle and Art Major. Last year Ryder went shopping again and the results in 2017 could find him hitting the mark once again.

The pari-mutuel debut of Springsteen, an $18,000 purchase from the Brittany Farms consignment at last year’s Lexington auction, in one of three Sheppard eliminations at Yonkers Raceway was as impressive as a colt could be. Though finishing second, the Rock N Roll Heaven-sired colt showed instant acceleration at the start, managed to get shuffled to third and somehow took the lead in the stretch only to be caught late in a 1:54 4/5 mile by Kwik Talkin.

“He’s got some go to him,” said Ryder on Tuesday as he prepared for this Saturday’s $110,500 final.

“I spoke with Jason (Bartlett) last night and he’s definitely going with him,” Ryder said, with Yonkers’ leading pilot having a choice of three in the eight-horse field.

For Ryder, like many conditioners, there’s a need to spend a lot of time looking at yearling sales without purchasing. Budget has its constraints but preferences for certain bloodlines tend to point in the right direction.

In the case of Springsteen, his dam American Charm just happens to be a half-sister to the aforementioned Art Major, a superstar racehorse first for Ryder as a juvenile and then later on for the Bill Robinson stable. That Ryder was able to bring him home at the price he did could have had something to do with Springsteen being a late foal and a bit undersized.

“Art Major was a bit small too but he grew into a very big horse by the time he was 5,” said Ryder.

Though inexpensive at the sale, Ryder liked what he had from the first time he sat behind the yearling in 2016. “He’s been good from the start. I’ve staked him up pretty good,” said Ryder. In additions to the Sheppard and New York Sire Stakes, Springsteen is also eligible to the lucrative Metro and the stakes in Lexington later this fall.

First on the agenda is the Sheppard and while Springsteen’s efforts surprised some, Ryder was not among those. That’s because Springsteen had showed incredibly high speed in his first qualifier, a 1:56 mile with a 55 1/5 back half at Harrah’s Philadelphia on June 13. Two weeks later he didn’t seem to have the same firepower, finishing fourth in a 1:55 2/5 mile.

“That was my fault,” said Ryder. “He tied up on me, it’s something that runs in the family and I should have known it.”

Indeed Ryder should know it very well since it was the same issue that held back Art Major in 2002 as a 3-year-old and still residing in Ryder’s stable.

“I couldn’t get Art Major to go early in his 3-year-old season,” said Ryder. “It turned out that he was tying up. I guess Robinson figured that part out.”

In last week’s trial Ryder drove the colt again and said that he had a bit of trouble on the final turn. “When I popped the earplugs I had a little trouble with him but he straightened out and paced home,” Ryder said. That he finished his mile in 27 3/5 after racing hard without cover through the final turn, suggests there is substantial talent in a colt that is obviously still learning.

It’s still early to say it’s déjà vu all over again for Ryder, but he also has a freshman with a close relationship to McArdle named I’m A Big Deal that could be making some noise later this season. The Somebeachsomewhere colt was a $300,000 purchase last year and made his baby race debut at The Meadowlands last Saturday.

“He’s been a little slower coming around,” said Ryder, “But I like the way he’s progressing. He’s staked to everything.”

I’m A Big Deal is the first foal from Big McDeal, the richest filly McArdle has produced as a stallion, with $818K in lifetime earnings.

I’m A Big Deal finished third closing well and pacing in 1:54 4/5 in his first trip behind the starting gate. That once stood for something, but in today’s advanced age it’s just the beginning for what Ryder hopes will be a steady advance towards stakes-horse speed.

Selecting the right yearling plays an integral role in this sport and in 2000 Ryder was fortunate enough to pluck McArdle for $32,000 and Art Major for $65,000. The two combined for over $5.1 million in career earnings and both have gone on to solid stud careers.

“I would say I was 100 percent behind the selection of McArdle and probably 50/50 with Art Major,” said Ryder, recalling the sales. “With Art Major the owners had his full brother and wanted me to look at him.”

Owners didn’t flock to Ryder years later when he tagged Springsteen in Lexington last fall. Interest could rise considerably with a quality effort in Saturday’s Sheppard Finale.

JAYWALKING: Great families sometimes go dormant for a long time before resurfacing. It was uncanny the way the immediate family of 1995 Horse of the Year C R Kay Suzie came to life with three impressive miles this past weekend. First on Friday Julie Miller’s imported Tuonoblu Rex took a career best 1:51 mark winning the feature at The Meadowlands with her husband Andy in the bike. The Cantab Hall-sired 5-year-old is out of the Lindy Lane mare Eternity Rex, she the second foal from C R Kay Suzie. On Saturday Rod Allen, current owner and the driver behind C R Kay Suzie during her brilliant career, returned to the Meadowlands winner’s circle with the improving Dream Baby Dream, a Muscle Hill-sired sophomore filly from I Believe, she too a daughter of C R Kay Suzie. Dream Baby Dream captured the Mary Reynolds Stake in 1:52 3/5 equaling her granddams mark taken some 21 years ago. The trifecta was completed on Sunday night when Dover Dan, C R Kay Suzie’s 3-year-old of 2017, captured a division of the Pennsylvania All Stars at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.