06/03/2009 12:00AM

Hooh Why and Hoffman thrive on the road


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - About 8:15 Wednesday morning, Mark Hoffman took hold of a lead shank and walked Hooh Why from Barn 9A up to Arlington's main track. That was one of the shorter trips the pair has made.

Hoffman, who co-owns Hooh Why with the Derby Daze Farm of breeder Gail Gee, owns a custom horse trailer, and has made the most of it. After Hooh Why won her career debut here last summer (odds: 38-1), Hoffman drove her to Presque Isle Downs in September. In October, Hoffman took Hooh Why to Woodbine, near Toronto. In December, Hooh Why left Woodbine, was vanned to Arlington for a couple days, and then set off for Tampa Bay Downs. A couple of weeks later, after one start at Tampa, Hoffman kept going south with Hooh Why, but only to take her to Miami. Leaving the trusty trailer behind, Hoffman then flew Hooh Why to Santa Anita, where she resided for almost three months. In late March, another flight, this one to Keeneland. A couple weeks later, a van ride to Arlington. And finally, another trip last month to Woodbine and back to Arlington, where Hooh Why breezed five furlongs in a quick 1:00.80 on Wednesday after Hoffman clipped her loose from his lead shank.

Sound exhausting? Hooh Why apparently doesn't think so. She hasn't finished worse than third since that first trip to Presque Isle. At Santa Anita, where she was handled by trainer Carla Gaines, Hooh Why just missed winning both the Sunshine Millions Oaks and the Santa Anita Oaks. And at Keeneland, she scored by a neck in the Grade 1 Ashland, among the most important 3-year-old filly races of the year.

"She brought a tear to my eye once," said the burly, jovial Hoffman, the son of trainer Kenneth Hoffman. "When she got off the plane in Kentucky, she saw me waiting with the trailer, and she looked at me like, 'Where are we going now, Daddy?' "

Hoffman, 51, has no children and isn't married. There's nothing to stop him from traveling, and no reason not to travel with Hooh Why.

"She's a very unusual horse," Hoffman said. "Her recovery time is incredible."

Donna Dupuy, who is officially listed as trainer when Hooh Why bases in Chicago, said Hooh Why, a daughter of the obscure stallion Cloud Hopping, is "high energy."

"When she came back from Woodbine the other day, it looked like she had lost a little weight," Dupuy said. "The next day, she looked great again."

Hoffman, who owns all or pieces of about 20 horses, and clearly is an owner of the hands-on type, is liable to show up anywhere with Hooh Why. Wednesday morning, he said he had just phoned the Belmont racing office to inquire about supplementing to Saturday's Acorn Stakes. No go, said the New York people. That leaves two other potential upcoming spots, the $200,000 Iowa Oaks on June 26 at Prairie Meadows, or the $150,000 Boiling Springs a day later on Monmouth's turf course.

Getting there will be half the fun.

Bennett had Sunday card surrounded

The trainer Dale Bennett hardly could have expected to win with all four of his entrants on the racing program Sunday at Arlington, since two horses were in the same race. But those Bennett-trained horses, Go Bucky Go and Boots Are Walking, ran one-three in race 7, and Bennett's other two starters on the card, Brooks Star and Okefenokee, both won.

"A lot of the time you think you're set up to have a good day like that, and it doesn't work out," Bennett said Wednesday morning.

The three-bagger Sunday gave Bennett an excellent 7-5-6 record from 25 starters this meet, and Bennett is back in action Thursday in the featured ninth race, a high-end turf-sprint allowance race also open to $62,500 claimers, with My Best Pal Red. My Best Pal Red, who runs under the claiming option, was one of eight entered in a race carded for five furlongs on turf.

My Best Pal Red has started nine times since being claimed for $35,000 last summer and never has finished worse than third. He has a 1-2-0 record from four Arlington grass starts, and should be prominent throughout Friday's race. Seaview, Piratesonthelake, and Alone at Last also look like contenders.

* Nine-year-old Coach Jimi Lee, whose 16 victories include several stakes, will make his first Arlington start since 2006 on Thursday. Coach Jimi Lee, who has raced only three times since 2007, goes in race 7, a $35,000 claimer.

* Inez Karlsson was back working horses Wednesday morning after taking eight days off following a spill here May 25. Karlsson was expected to resume riding Thursday.