09/03/2010 3:10PM

Passley's impulse buy proves just grand


MIAMI – Lisa’s Booby Trap has been one of the feel-good stories of the summer up at Saratoga, but she’s not the only bargain purchase to have come out of Ocala, Fla., this year.

Owner-trainer Mark Passley found himself with an afternoon to kill after attending to his horses stabled at Tampa Bay Downs one day this spring when he decided to take a ride up to the Ocala sales. As he walked in the door, a 2-year-old by Drewman was walking into the sales ring. When nary a single bid was made at the starting price of $1,000, Passley wandered closer to the stage, made a quick inspection of the colt’s legs, and told the auctioneer he’d take him for a grand.

The colt, who Passley ultimately named Too Experience, has since gone on to win all three of his starts, including Saturday’s $100,000 Seacliff Stakes at Calder.

“I never went to the sale with the intention of buying a horse,” said Passley, 46, who got his first taste of racing by walking hots at Calder while still in high school. “But I liked the looks of this horse, so I peeked over a guy’s shoulder at the catalog, saw he was by Drewman, which I liked, and when there were no other bidders I took him.”

Passley said what impressed him the most about his new acquisition was the youngster’s demeanor when he first came to him at the track from off the farm.

“He did everything professionally right off the bat,” said Passley. “He acted like an older horse. That’s why I named him Too Experience. He wasn’t breaking the clock in the morning, and I won’t say I thought he was going to turn out to be a nice horse from the get go, but he did do everything so easily it impressed me.”

In light of the horse’s purchase price, Passley put Too Experience in for a $16,000 claiming price for his career debut on July 9 and was rewarded with a come-from-behind, 1 3/4-length victory. Four weeks later, Too Experience ran even better when rallying to a 3 3/4-length decision over $25,000 conditioned claimers. Both those races were at six furlongs.

“He won those two races effortlessly, never did more than he had to, and the only time he ever felt the stick was when my rider cracked him once because he felt he wasn’t paying attention,” said Passley, referring to jockey Roimes Chirinos.

Passley nominated his $1,000 bargain to the $100,000 Seacliff at a mile on the theory that his horse would handle the distance while most of the others might not.

“I didn’t think any big hitters would ship down for $100,000, the better horses eligible for the Stallion Stakes were going to run in those races the same day, and most of the 2-year-olds I’ve seen here this summer want to go four and a half or five furlongs,” reasoned Passley. “I knew mine would get the mile without a problem.”

Passley’s theory proved correct when Too Experience stalked the pace of Andersonstate before wearing the leader down to post a three-quarter-length decision. The victory was only the second career stakes win for Passley, who has had his trainer’s license since 1990.

“This was the biggest win of my career,” said Passley who learned the ropes from trainer Mike McDonald. “I won an overnight stakes once back in 2002. That was the biggest win I’d had until now.”

Passley, who said he’s received some inquiries but no solid offers to purchase Too Experience, will run his new found star back in the $85,000 Foolish Pleasure Stakes on Sept. 25.

“I know I was lucky to get this horse,” said Passley. “It was just a matter of being in the right place at the right time.”