02/02/2009 12:00AM

Longtime New York vet breeds a good one


OZONE PARK, N.Y.- As a veterinarian on the New York Racing Association circuit for the past 20 years, Russell Cohen has tended to some pretty special horses - such as Gulch, Manila, Meadow Star, and Memories of Silver.

As a breeder for almost the same period of time, Cohen has had limited success, most notably the New York-bred Double Dee's, who won the Grade 2 Cotillion in 1996 and banked nearly $300,000 in a 20-race career.

In the 3-year-old New York-bred filly What a Pear, Cohen may have bred his best horse to date. What a Pear, a daughter of E Dubai trained by Joe Parker, improved her record to 3 for 3 Sunday with a 1 1/2-length victory in the $66,500 Wistful Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. What a Pear is owned by Cohen's parents, Ira and Bernice Cohen, who race under the name Tri-Bone Stables. Cohen said he and his younger brothers David and Ronnie were fond of calling each other boneheads.

"She still hasn't done in the afternoon what she's done in some of the mornings," Russell Cohen said Monday morning on the Belmont backstretch where his barn visits were interrupted by congratulatory phone calls. "Distance doesn't seem to be any limitation. She's just plain talented; she's a special horse. What separates her from others that I looked after is she loves to be a racehorse."

And she races without the aid of medication. What a Pear was one of just six horses out of 77 that ran at Aqueduct on Sunday without the benefit of Lasix.

"She is the soundest horse probably on the grounds; without a problem, medication unnecessary," Cohen said. "It's a shame in future races I can't challenge everybody to run without medication. I believe horses are over-diagnosed and overmedicated."

But isn't diagnosing and medicating horses part of what Cohen does for a living?

"Absolutely, and I have no problem doing it, but it's overdone and it's hurting the breed," Cohen said. "You can't have 99 percent of 2-year-olds running on Lasix because 99 percent of horses don't bleed. I believe as a veterinarian less is more."

Cohen owns What a Pear's mother, Perfect Pear, who was retired with knee problems after one start and who, on Sunday, dropped a colt by Utopia in upstate New York. Cohen believes What a Pear gets her talent from her grandmother, Best in Show, who was voted the 1982 Broodmare of the Year. Best in Show produced Blush With Pride, who produced Better Than Honour, the dam of Belmont Stakes winners Jazil and Rags to Riches.

"Breeding horses and racing horses pretty much comes down to pedigree, and her grandmother, Best in Show, allows her to be what she is," Cohen said.

Cohen said he has fielded offers for his parents to sell What a Pear, but for the time being the filly is staying put.

"I have a passion for horses; it can't be all about money," Cohen said. "Is there a point where someone could make you an offer that you can't refuse? Especially as a small guy? The answer is yes, but it'd be very difficult. The family wants to race her and then breed her."

Cohen said he would keep What a Pear in New York and point for the $65,000 Busher Stakes here on Feb. 22 and then possibly the Grade 2 Comely on April 11.

Mr. Fantasy heads toward Gotham

It was a pretty good day for New York-bred progeny of E Dubai.

About 30 minutes before What a Pear won the Wistful, Mr. Fantasy, a 3-year-old son of E Dubai, passed his two-turn test by cruising to an 8 1/2-length victory in a first-level allowance for New York-breds. The win earned Mr. Fantasy a shot in the Grade 3, $250,000 Gotham Stakes on March 7.

Despite breaking from post 10 under Richard Migliore, Mr. Fantasy cleared the field in the first sixteenth of a mile and was only asked for run for about a sixteenth of a mile in midstretch. He covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.33 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 93.

"I liked the way he did it," trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said from Florida where he watched the race. "It's a major step from a New York-bred nonwinners-of-one to the Grade 3 Gotham open, but at least we got the question of whether he could handle two turns out of the way."

Mr. Fantasy, a half-brother to the multiple stakes winner Tin Cup Chalice, won his debut sprinting by 10 1/2 lengths on Dec. 28.

E Dubai, by the way, won 5 of 11 starts, including the Dwyer Stakes as a 3-year-old and the Suburban at 4.

Haynesfield tops Whirlaway probables

While Mr. Fantasy is already headed to the Gotham, several other 3-year-olds will look to earn a spot in that race by running well in Saturday's $100,000 Whirlaway Stakes. Haynesfield, a New York-bred son of Speightstown, figures a strong favorite coming off three consecutive victories. He worked four furlongs in 50.24 seconds Monday over the Belmont training track.

Others expected to be entered Wednesday in the Whirlaway are Hehasnosay, a son of Harlan's Holiday who has won two straight at Philadelphia Park; Peace Town, winner of the Maryland Juvenile Championship last out; Zooger, a maiden winner at Philadelphia Park on Jan. 5; Mike from Queens, third to Haynesfield in the Count Fleet; and Cellar Dweller, fourth in a first-level allowance here on Jan. 22.

Two horses that were under consideration but that won't be running are Tranquil Manner and Cliffy's Future. Tranquil Manner injured a foot, according to McLaughlin, while Cliffy's Future has been sold privately and was expected to ship to trainer Darrin Miller at Palm Meadows, Fla., on Tuesday.

* Jonathan Thomas, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher, said Distorted Passion came out of her victory in Saturday's Correction Stakes in good order and would likely be pointed to the Feel the Beat Stakes on Feb. 27.