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Maywood: Big weekend for mother/son duo of Ozment, Alagna
By Neil Milbert
Like mother, like son.
Both Donna Lee Ozment and her son, Tony Alagna, train 3-year-old pacers cast in starring roles in marquee races on the Chicago circuit and in Canada this weekend.
On Friday night, Ozment will send out Auniqueacquisition in Maywood Park’s top race for Illinois-bred 3-year-old fillies, the $122,000 Maywood Filly Pace.
The stakes will be considerably higher at Mohawk Raceway on Saturday night, when Alagna will send out a standardbred racing superstar, 2012 Pacer of the Year Captaintreacherous, in the $1 million North America Cup.
Alagna, who celebrated his 41st birthday last Saturday night at Mohawk by watching Captaintreacherous win his North America Cup elimination race by a half-length in 1:48 4/5, didn’t start training on his own until October, 2009. Less than four years later he has a 90-horse stable populated by several outstanding pacers and trotters.
“Tony jogged his first horse when he was 8 years old,” said Ozment, who raised the trainer of Captaintreacherous and his 40-year-old brother, Peter, as a single mother. “He has worked very hard and he deserves everything he gets.”
Before going on his own, Alagna worked for the late Brian Pinske for several years, then for Doc and Pat Walker’s Fox Valley Standardbreds and most recently for Erv Miller.
His mother grew up in Urbana, Illinois where she started jogging horses at age 12 at the Champaign County Fairgrounds. She bought her first standardbred for $200 when she was 16 and has been in the horse business ever since.
Ozment’s stable is based at Balmoral Park and there are 14 horses in her barn. In 2010 she had another state-bred standout, Doubletrouble, winner of the Tony Maurello for older pacers, one of the eight championship races on Balmoral’s annual Super Night card that showcases the best of the Illinois-breds.
Last September, Auniqueacquisition went off the 19-10 favorite in her Super Night race, the $189,000 Orange and Blue for 2-year-old fillies, but lost by a head to Thank You Doc.
In November, she took on Open company adversaries in the $113,000 American-National 2-year-old filly pace at Balmoral and finished second behind Always About Katey to conclude her eight-race freshman campaign with four wins and three places.
After being turned out at Hunterton Farm in Kentucky during the winter, Auniqueacquisition went to Alagna in New Jersey for a few months before being sent back to his mother at Balmoral.
She made her 2013 debut in May and in her first two starts was second as the favorite in both the Violet elimination and the final. She then won her next two at Balmoral before moving to Maywood and taking her elimination for the Maywood Filly Pace by 5 ½ lengths in 1:55 1/5.
According to Ozment, “She’s bigger and stronger than she was last year and she doesn’t need all the equipment she had last year when she had some issues and wore a tie down.”
Auniqueacquision is a daughter of Cole Muffler and the mare Shessoluvabull, making her a full baby sister to Iam Bonasera, who won last year’s $127,000 Tony Maurello on Super Night en route to being selected the 2012 Illinois-bred champion aged pacer.
“They look nothing alike,” Ozment said. “He is extremely tall and long; a huge horse. She is medium-sized and slightly built. But on the racetrack they act alike and you can see the similarities. They both have that great attitude.”
Auniqueacquisition’s owner, John Carver of Bettendorf, Ia., also is the part-owner of Iam Bonasera, and Ozment has added the gelding to her stable this year.
Carver got into racing with harness horses in the mid-1980s and has been a major investor at yearling sales ever since. The best of his standardbreds has been Anniecrombie. She won the 1988 Breeders Crown aged pace and retired as the third richest pacing mare of all time with earnings of $1,414,477.
In the early 1990s, Carver started adding thoroughbreds to his horse collection. He was the co-owner of Dakota Phone, winner of the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, and Blind Luck, winner of three Grade I races in 2010. Last year he had the distinction of being both the breeder and owner of Chatfield Road, the champion Illinois-bred 2-year-old male thoroughbred.
Ozment also is involved in another breed of horses. She rides Arab endurance horses competitively and for pleasure. But last weekend she used a retired standardbred she once trained, Enny Youngman, as her mount in a 50-mile race in Wisconsin.
“My long-term goal with Enny Youngman is to compete in a 100-mile race in Wisconsin in October,” Ozment said.
In the short term, Ozment wants to take Auniqueacquisition to the winner’s circle Friday night at Maywood and then watch the Saturday night simulcast of the North America Cup from Mohawk and see another superlative performance by her son’s horse, Captaintreacherous.
Auniqueacquisition will have seven opponents in the Maywood Filly Pace. The most dangerous appear to be Big Zipper and Feel Like Dancing, who dead-heated for first in the other division of the eliminations.
Also on Friday’s card at Balmoral are the two $10,000 elimination races for the June 21 Maywood Pace for 3-year-old males.
Fancy Creek Elusiv, winner of the $250,000 Orange and Blue for colts and geldings on Super Night in 2012 and the victor in the Cardinal final and elimination race in his two starts this spring at Balmoral, heads the field for the first elimination. Fox Valley Action, who lost by a head as the 9-10 favorite in the Orange and Blue, is competing in the second elimination as is Big Brad, the third finisher in the same race.
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