01/09/2014 11:22AM

Meadowlands: Speedy Hurrikane Kingcole returns on Saturday

Derick Giwner
Trainer John McDermott takes Hurrikane Kingcole out to the track.

At first glance a look at Saturday’s Meadowlands program shows a horse classified as B-1 that has won at the Meadowlands in each of the past two years in 1:47 3/5. At first glance you could wonder what the race office must be smoking to allow a horse with such incredible speed the opportunity to race far below the top rung of horses.

After talking with trainer John McDermott about Hurrikane Kingcole, you sense that he doesn’t believe his horse is ready, even for this level of competition.

“I really wasn’t that happy with his qualifier,” said McDermott of the 1:54 1/5 effort on December 28. McDermott was only a bit relieved following the mile when the horse scoped poorly.

But the B-1 class?

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“He had throat surgery back in late September and I was looking to get him qualified and hopefully race him in the TVG final,” said McDermott. “We were getting close and then he spiked a really bad fever that set him back and forced our hand.”

For McDermott, that’s probably one story too many for a horse many believed to be as fast as any that have ever raced at the Meadowlands.

“A lot of people think that he doesn’t like to pass horses or that he’s not a brave horse. That’s just not the case with him. He’s had a white blood cell problem his entire racing career and when it’s low he just can’t perform. It’s not that he doesn’t try it’s that he can’t physically. I would compare him to Lou Gehrig because at the end of Gehrig’s career it was his body that was failing him and there was nothing he could do about it,” said McDermott.

As intriguing a horse as had come along in quite some time, Hurrikane Kingcole has had moments of brilliance but all too often he’s led others to incredible speed marks while coming up short in significant races. A look at his 2013 season and outside of it being only 13 starts, the horse earned but $62,550 despite that 1:47 3/5 mark.

“It’s ridiculous that he only made that much last year but we couldn’t get him physically right and things just didn’t work out,” said McDermott.

As for Saturday night, Hurrikane Kingcole drew post six in the 11th race, a B-1 event with a purse of $16,000. Make no mistake it may not be the level Hurrikane Kingcole should be racing at but the field has some talent including, the 1:48 4/5 winner Dovuto Hanover, who closed out his three-year-old campaign winning at the Meadowlands with something to spare.

“They’ve been going some wicked miles this year,” said McDermott. “If they go in 1:49 or 1:48 and change I can tell you that Hurrikane Kingcole won’t be there. It’s been unbelievable this year the kind of miles they are going in chilling weather. Can you believe they trotted in 1:51 1/5 in 10-degree weather?

Now a five-year-old with $566,777 earned lifetime, Hurrikane Kingcole will be a week-to-week proposition, with McDermott hoping to do the best he can to deal with a problem that simply won’t go away. Despite his enormous speed the trainer admits that he never knows what to expect.

“He trains well sometimes and then he trains poorly other times. It’s hard to explain,” McDermott said.

Almost as difficult for the trainer to figure out is the recent winning streak of Stormin Rustler. The now ten-year-old gelding has been with McDermott for the last five years.

“He’s been claimed a few times but I’ve gotten him back each time,” said McDermott. “It’s amazing, he really doesn’t like to win that much.” Ironically Stormin Rustler had won just one time going into December of 2013 and following his victory last Saturday looks for his third straight from post eight versus $20,000 claimers in race five.

“He wasn’t getting in and I told the owners not to worry, that whenever he got in he would be sharp,” said McDermott of Stormin Rustler, who won at 27-1 last Saturday after missing some 28 days of racing.

Adding some sugar to the victory was the fact that Stormin Rustler ran down Sonic Dancer on the wire giving John bragging rights over his brother Kevin, the trainer of Sonic Dancer.

“Yea, it’s a thrill any time I can beat my brother,” said McDermott.

McDermott has 14 horses in his stable with seven of them being two-year-olds. He wasn’t shy to give a shout out to three promising colts most notably a Cams Card Shark (sire of Hurrikane Kingcole) brother to Cheyenne Miriam. “He acts like an aged horse on the racetrack,” said McDermott of the colt known as Hurrikane Warning.

He’s So Great, a Rocknroll Hanover colt that’s a half-brother to Driven To Win, has the trainer excited as well. He was a $63,000 purchase at the Lexington Selected sale last fall.