07/23/2015 7:42PM

Saratoga Harness: Gerrity win would make Doctor Butch a millionaire

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Doctor Butch is the type of horse that dislikes wearing a blanket, even on the coldest days of winter. A blanket in the winner’s circle, though, is another story.

“No problem with that,” Brad McNinch said with a laugh after detailing how Doctor Butch destroyed two winter blankets this year. “He loves standing in the winner’s circle with a blanket.”

McNinch assists wife Linda Toscano with her New Jersey-based training stable and spends a lot of time with Doctor Butch. The 5-year-old pacer will have the chance to pick up a blanket Saturday at Saratoga Casino and Raceway when he faces seven rivals in the $260,000 Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial.

Doctor Butch, who needs $41,963 to reach $1 million in career earnings, is the longest shot on the morning line at 12-1, but he will neither know nor care about the odds. He will start from post six on the half-mile oval, with Patrick Lachance driving.

[SARATOGA HARNESS: Video analysis for the Gerrity + Pick Four ticket]

“He feels good; he looks good,” McNinch said about Doctor Butch. “He looks like he can beat anybody and he thinks he can beat anybody. He’s just that kind. He’s just a good horse. It’s mostly attitude. He just wants to beat everybody.”

Dancin Yankee, the 2014 Gerrity winner, is the 5-2 morning line favorite in Saturday’s race. He will start from post two with Jim Morrill Jr. driving for trainer Gary Green. Luck Be Withyou, P H Supercam and All Bets Off are next on the morning line, with odds of 3-1 to 9-2.

“I see Dancin Yankee going down the road, but I don’t think he’ll be left alone; there’s enough speed,” Toscano said about the race. “Fortunately for us, (Doctor Butch) can race both ways. He’ll race just as well from the back as he will on or close to the lead. Hopefully with a trip we’ll be OK.”

Doctor Butch, a son of Art Major out of the mare Classical Yankee, is owned by Ken Jacobs and has won 25 of 87 career races, including the 2013 Art Rooney Pace and 2012 New York Sire Stakes championship for 2-year-old male pacers. He was purchased as a yearling for $55,000 under the name Recent Vintage and his family includes millionaire Yankee Cruiser and stakes-winner JK Majorette.

He heads to the Gerrity off a third-place finish in the Open Handicap on July 18 at the Meadowlands. Over his most recent 14 starts, Doctor Butch has six wins and a total of 10 on-the-board efforts. His finishes outside the top three came in two starts from outside posts at Yonkers, a troubled trip in the Gold Cup Invitational at Mohawk, and when he tied up in the Jerry Taylor Invitational at Harrah’s Philadelphia.

“He’s probably a half-step below the top ones, but I wouldn’t have any problem putting him in with them,” McNinch said. “He’s got a great attitude and he’s got lots of go. He’s on his game right now. It’s just the routine he’s in now. He loves it.”

Doctor Butch has raced throughout this year, making at least two starts in every month of 2015, and won eight of 21 appearances. He has been a member of Toscano’s stable from the start of his career.

“I love that as much as anything,” said Toscano, who also credits caretaker Sanne Hansen for her work with Doctor Butch during the past two years. “We put the first harness on him and we broke him. Normally (Jacobs’) horses go south and get broken in North Carolina. That year for some reason the colts stayed north. I think that’s the best part, to get to keep one you broke yourself and then watched them turn into a good horse.

“He’s a pleasure to have. He’s a very sound horse, and a very, very pretty horse. He’s been paying the way. I kind of was instrumental in him not being sold (after his 3-year-old season) because I really believe in the horse. A formula for a really successful operation is having those winter racehorses that can help pay the bills. Ken loves the babies, but he loves to watch the racing too. It’s been fun. Doctor Butch has kind of ticked all the boxes.”

-Courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, please visit www.ustrotting.com