01/14/2016 11:03AM

Meadowlands: Kingofthejungle tops Capone contingent on Saturday


Trainer Mark Capone has been enjoying a productive meet since the Meadowlands re-opened in November. Capone’s stable may be on the small size of those training at White Birch Farms but there’s ample power. On Saturday, he’ll send out five on the 14-race program and that includes a potential rising star in Kingofthejungle.

“This is a horse with a lot of back class,” Capone said while coming off the track on Tuesday. “You look at his lines at 2 and 3 and there are a few 25 and change quarters.”

While Kingofthejungle, a now 5-year-old, raced in stakes events as a 2-year-old in 2013 and a 3-year-old the following year, he missed time early in his 4-year-old campaign.

“He had knee surgery and he wasn’t coming back that well,” said Capone.

[DRF HARNESS LIVE: Real-time insights from the DRF Harness team this Saturday at 6:35 p.m.]

Trainer Ross Croghan took over the training of the son of Well Said and things started improving.

“Ross did a good job and he was starting to improve when I got him,” said Capone.

Capone got him going in a good direction as he climbed the class ladder, winning his final three races all at the Meadowlands to close out the 2015 campaign. In that streak was a career best 1:49 1/5 win on the front end racing a notch below Open company.

“You can put him on the front occasionally but I think he likes it better chasing,” said Capone.

Last week Kingofthejungle was in fact chasing the competition and was unable to catch either Bushwacker or Doctor Butch, two he’ll be facing in the $25,000 Open on Saturday, the second race on the card.

“He sort of lost touch with Bushwacker on the turn and he just couldn’t make up the ground,” said Capone.

Regardless of last week’s effort, the trainer has not lost faith in Kingofthejungle. Andy Miller will once again be in the bike from post three this week and Capone gives his horse a shot.

“I think if he can stay right on a horse’s back he can kick home,” said Capone, hoping the trip works out.

Back class is something Capone appears to have in numbers in his stable but that hasn’t really helped Some Major Beach break out of a long slump. A third-place finisher in the prestigious Metro Pace in 2013, Some Major Beach has floated from trainer to trainer and has had a less than inspiring career ever since.

“I got him in July. He had breathing issues and we did the surgery,” said Capone.

Judging from the results on the racetrack, the surgery hasn’t helped much.  Some Major Beach has not won for Capone and didn’t see the winner’s circle at all as a 4-year-old, something the trainer hopes will change.

“I think if they could get him to the front end and he could feel a horse on his back he might race better,” said Capone. “He’s a big strong horse and he looks the part. I think the problems for him are mental and we’ve got to figure out how to change that.”

One change on Saturday night will be Tim Tetrick in the bike from post seven in the evening’s third race. “I figured I would give Yannick (Gingras) a break. He’s tried to get him to the front but it hasn’t worked out well,” said Capone.

Cobalt Man has spent a lot of time with Capone. “I claimed him for $25,000 as a 4-year-old,” said Capone. The horse cracked a pastern and was sold by Capone, but the new owners gave him back to the conditioner for another go-round. “Then he cracked a hock last spring.”

Now on the comeback trail once again, Cobalt Man has had two qualifiers and two races under his belt.

“He should be ready to win,” said Capone of the horse that starts from post seven in the eighth race on the card.

Capone liked his chances with Hope For Badlands this week but that was before the draw saddled the horse with post 10 in the ninth race on the program.  According to Capone, the 5-year-old he acquired during the summer had a lot of issues but now seems to be headed in the right direction.

Major War will be making his second start for Capone in the tenth race and he too will have a disadvantage from post nine.

“I was careful with him in the qualifier,” said Capone. “He’d shown lines where he was stopping late and I wanted him to stay interested.”

Major War is a horse that Capone believes should improve on the big track.

Post time for the Saturday Meadowlands card is 6:35 p.m.