07/30/2013 10:59PM

Meadowlands: Bargain buy Nuncio has a big shot in $280k Haughton Memorial

Lisa Photo
Nuncio has shown maturity and speed at a young age.

To some, when a $7,000 yearling becomes one of the favorites for the prestigious $280,500 Peter Haughton Memorial at the Meadowlands there is surprise. It may be even more shocking that a breeder would have enough faith in a family with a huge generation gap to even elect to mate the “non-descript” Nicole Isabelle to the top stallion Andover Hall.

Well, Russell Williams dared to cross those two and on Saturday we’ll get to find out whether Nuncio has what it takes to capture the first major stakes event for two-year-old trotting colts of the season.

For Williams, the Vice-President of Hanover Shoe Farms, breeding is a sidelight he cares about but can’t seem to make much money at.

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“I was expecting more than $7,000 for that colt,” Williams said half joking, yet obviously proud of what has materialized on the racetrack.

Nuncio, for those who have yet to witness the Jim Oscarsson-trained colt, is an incredibly sure-gaited speedy colt. After some impressive baby races he knocked off the highly regarded Father Patrick in an overnight event at the Meadowlands on July 12 in 1:56.

In last week’s Haughton Memorial trials, the tables were reversed with Nuncio on the front and Father Patrick (a six-figure yearling) on his back. This time it was a thriller with Father Patrick edging clear at the wire. The mile, a phenomenal 1:53 4/5 with a final sprint of :27 1/5.

It’s hard to believe that it was just the second competitive start for the colt.

Talk about generation lapse. Here is a family that you have to track back six dams to find a serious pulse. As Williams pointed out, 2006 Triple Crown winner Glidemaster does come from the same line, but outside of him, you have to reach back to the late 50’s and early 60’s to find Speedster and Speedy Rodney. The former is responsible for the stallion line that includes Valley Victory and his offspring. The latter was one of the best trotters in the mid-60’s.

While Williams owns 17 broodmares, mostly trotters, he tries to buck current fashion.

“It’s a family that you don’t get a top horse all of the time but when you get one there’s dynamite,” said Williams.

Williams bought Nuncio’s second dam, Cynara Hanover, at the sales and she was a $100,000 earner on the racetrack.

“She was a pet. A very nice mare about 17 hands,” said Williams. “She developed laminitis and died prematurely.”

Nicole Isabelle is a Lindy Lane-sired filly from Cynara Hanover. Nuncio is her first foal.

“She’s an average looking filly. Andover Hall (Nuncio’s sire) is a big imposing stallion,” Williams said.

Thus far the pairing appears to have produced the dynamite Williams was looking for. However, as happy as he is for the owner (Stefan Melander’s Stall Tz Inc.) he’s looking ahead to the Harrisburg yearling sale this fall.

“[Nuncio] has got a Donato Hanover three-quarter brother that looks very similar to the one that’s racing now,” said Williams.

Ironically Williams was listed as the owner when Nuncio baby-raced impressively.

“I got a few calls after that 1:57 1/5 mile with people offering to buy him,” said Williams. “It was a clerical error, the horse had been paid for but the papers hadn’t been issued for some reason.”

For owner Melander, it’s been 12 years since his Hambletonian victory behind Scarlet Knight.

For breeder Williams, the ghosts of generations past appear to have given life to a very scary-fast two-year-old by the name of Nuncio.

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$280,500 Peter Haughton Memorial Final - Race 5

1 Nuncio J.Campbell 7-5
2 Derby R.Schnittker 15-1
3 Father Patrick Y.Gingras 1-1
4 Southwind Spirit B.Sears 10-1
5 Kapow Hanover R.Pierce 40-1
6 Great Society M.Lachance 30-1
7 Well Built R.Pierce 20-1
8 Song In My Heart D.Miller 20-1
9 Quikwit T.Tetrick 25-1
10 Donatos Wish G.Brennan 75-1