04/15/2013 11:29AM

Jay Bergman: Captaintreacherous looks to back up championship 2-year-old season

Derick Giwner
Captaintreacherous, with driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Tony Alagna in the Red Mile winner’s circle, was the 2012 Pacer of the Year.

There’s no doubt 2012 Pacer of the Year Captaintreacherous will have a target on his back. The sport’s pre-season favorite to stand out in the prestigious 3-year-old male pacing ranks was nearly flawless during a well-managed 2-year-old season. But those looking to catch or catch up with Captaintreacherous this year won’t be done any favors by his trainer.

“We don’t have a schedule for him,” said Tony Alagna, trainer of the Somebeachsomewhere-sired sensation. “We’ve made him eligible to the big races, but we’re going to listen to him and go what’s in his best interest.”

For Alagna, training a potential stallion is how he looks at Captaintreacherous.

“He did enough last year that you know he’s going to be a stallion at some point. My job is to take care of him and help him to reach his potential,” Alagna said.

Alagna noted that the colt, who captured the Woodrow Wilson and Metro as a freshman, has trained a mile in 2:00 and will be qualifying either the first or second week of May.

Why so cagey?

“It’s not like I’m trying to avoid stating where he’s going to race, it’s just that I want the freedom to decide based on how he feels going forward,” Alagna said. “I’m very fortunate to train for people like Brittany Farm and Marvin Katz. They always want to do what’s best for the horse, and if that means skipping a big race, then they will be okay with that.”

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The star was essentially born last year on Hambletonian Day (Aug. 4). That is when Captaintreacherous paced away from his rivals in the $309,050 Woodrow Wilson in a 1:49 3/5 mile. He completed the season with 8 wins in 10 starts, good for $918,253 in earnings. What was remarkable was that four of those eight victories came in 1:50 or better.

It’s natural in this business to call every horse that starts his career this way a freak. But Captaintreacherous certainly had the look and bloodlines to expect the kind of speed and power he exhibited as a 2-year-old. For Alagna, who like many modern trainers understands that how fast a 2-year-old pacer is training in April means little until they hit the racetrack, Captaintreacherous was something different.

“I could tell back last February while I was training him that there was something special about him. We’d be finishing a mile, and I would ask him for a little extra and every time I did he gave it,” said Alagna, recognizing that a horse that doesn’t tire easily is a good one to have in the barn.

It’s clearly too early to tell who Captaintreacherous will need to beat in this 3-year-old season ahead. Alagna thought it was a good group he faced a year ago, but it may not have the same depth of talent we saw in last year’s 3-year-old rankings.

In his own stable, Alagna has what he hopes to be another top stakes performer in Wake Up Peter. The son of the late Rocknroll Hanover earned $290,230 with just two victories in nine races last year.

“He’s coming back on the same schedule as Captaintreacherous,” Alagna said.

Wake Up Peter’s best performance came in last year’s Breeders Crown, where he finished ahead of his more famous stablemate but behind race-winner Rockin Amadeus. The colt clearly came on late in the year, capturing a Breeders Crown elimination as well while pacing a stunning 25 4/5-second final quarter.

Thinking a little outside the box but knowing who his friends are, Alagna singled out Source Of Pride from the Jimmy Takter stable as a 3-year-old we might wish to look out for.

“He’s a brother to American Jewel that could be a top horse,” Alagna said of the Brittany Farm-co-owned colt, a owner he trains for regularly. Source Of Pride captured a division of the Reynolds in an abbreviated 2-year-old campaign.

Last year, Alagna’s My MVP came within a neck of capturing the Hambletonian while finishing third. If there’s a sleeper in the stable this year that could find his way into this year’s Hambo, it’s Ergo Hanover. The son of Donato Hanover spent last year in the Jimmy Takter stable but has since moved to Alagna.

“He’s trained in 2:00 and he’s looking more advanced than My MVP was at this time last year,” Alagna said. My MVP went on to earn $721,999 during a memorable 3-year-old season.

The Alagna stable numbers 90 head at this juncture, with 40 of those freshmen. He’s excited about a pair of American Ideal colts, including Journeyman, among the group that have trained miles between 2:18 and 2:20. Journeyman is the first foal from a mare who hails from the family of two significant Brittany Farms foundation mares, Enroute and Take Flight. Enroute was a $750,000 winner in the early 80s, while her daughter Take Flight made more than $600,000 on the racetrack in the mid 90s.

That’s My Opinion, the $350,000 yearling purchased in partnership by Brittany Farms, Joe Sbrocco, Marvin Katz, and Jeff Gural’s Little E LLC, is among the better training colts as well.

On the trotting side, Alagna had high praise for a pair from the first crop of the magnificent Muscle Hill.

“They are very athletic horses that have great gaits and great attitudes,” Alagna said in describing Propulsion, the $250,000 yearling colt from the top mare Danae as well as Great Society, a less expensive colt from the immediate family of $1.1 million winner Davidia Hanover.

Sombodythatiustono, a $3,000 yearling purchase in 2011 that Alagna brought to the races last year and won three of her first four starts, will not be returning in 2013.

“She cut a ligament in a tendon,” Alagna said. “Fortunately, I own her with a close friend Jodi Siamis and, we decided to breed her. They just pronounced her in foal to Somebeachsomewhere.”

A pacing filly that will return in 2013 is Nikki Beach. She earned more than $250,000, with her biggest triumph coming in the Kentuckiana Farms at Indiana Downs last year.

While it’s too early to tell where the “Captain” is heading, Tony Alagna seems to be in complete control of the ship that includes an arsenal of top-flight stakes performers.