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Wachtel hopes he's found a Kentucky Derby horse in My Name Is Michael
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Since August, owner Adam Wachtel has been scouring charts, watching videos, and interpreting speed figures in an effort to find an under-the-radar 2-year-old he could attempt to buy and point to next year’s Kentucky Derby.
Wachtel hopes he landed on one in My Name Is Michael, a son of Macho Uno who ran a solid second in last Saturday’s Display Stakes at Woodbine.
Wachtel, who purchased a 75 percent interest in the horse from Barry Butzer and Dominion Bloodstock, said Monday that My Name Is Michael would be transferred to Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott later this week and would be given an opportunity on dirt in late January or early February. One option is the Withers Stakes, presumably scheduled at Aqueduct on Feb. 2.
My Name Is Michael had been trained by David Cotey, who was the original trainer of 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird before the horse was sold privately late in his 2-year-old year.
Wachtel, who bought into My Name Is Michael following a third-place finish in an allowance race Nov. 3, liked My Name Is Michael from many perspectives, including his pedigree. He is by Macho Uno, a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner who sired graded stakes winners Mucho Macho Man and Macho Again, out of an unraced dam who is a half-sister to Spoken Fur, winner of the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks and Grade 1 Mother Goose as a 3-year-old.
“I think he has all the attributes,” Wachtel said Monday. “The other day, he showed me he can go two turns. I think he’s talented enough. Will he handle the dirt? I’d be surprised if he didn’t.
“He’s going to go to Bill, that can’t be a bad move,” Wachtel added. “The good horses I’ve given him – Ron the Greek and Al Khali – he’s found a way to get the most out of them.”
In the Display, My Name is Michael’s first start around two turns, the colt finished within 1 1/4 lengths of Avie’s Quality despite being fanned six wide around the turn and into the stretch.
“I was hopeful he’d run a good race, I didn’t expect to see him run like that and come with a move like that,” Wachtel said. “Bill called me 10 seconds after he crossed the finish line and said ‘You know, with a better trip, he might have won.’ He was pretty excited about him.”
Ron the Greek targets Millions
Wachtel was rebuffed in his attempts to buy Ron the Greek as a 3-year-old but was eventually able to buy into him midway through his 4-year-old season.
He was rewarded for his persistence when Ron the Greek won two Grade 1 races in 2012, including the Santa Anita and Stephen Foster handicaps.
Ron the Greek completed his 5-year-old season with a fourth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic last month at Santa Anita. He was recently put back into training by Mott at Payson Park, according to Wachtel, with the goal of making his 6-year-old debut in the $400,000 Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream on Jan. 19. This year, Ron the Greek finished second to Mucho Macho Man in the Sunshine Millions Classic.
Wachtel said he hopes Ron the Greek can again use the Sunshine Millions as a stepping-stone to the Santa Anita Handicap.
Given how speed-favoring the Santa Anita main track was on Breeders’ Cup Day, Wachtel said he wasn’t overly disappointed with Ron the Greek’s fourth-place finish.
“Every single horse that had the lead turning for home won,” Wachtel said.” What kind of chance did Ron the Greek or Flat Out have? The best I could have hoped for was third, which we didn’t get, but he ran well. I’d like to have another big year with him.”
Gyarmati has youth on her side
Trainer Leah Gyarmati appears to have several promising young horses in her barn who she hopes can make this a productive winter for her and owner Jeffrey Treadway.
Things got off on a mixed note Saturday when Well Heeled won her debut by 1 1/2 lengths at Aqueduct. However, the Unbridled’s Song filly had to be vanned off due to a physical issue, the extent of which is still being determined.
“She came back a little ouchy,” said Gyarmati, who shipped the filly to noted equine veterinarian Patty Hogan for further evaluation.
Gyarmati said that Well Heeled has chronic foot issues, which explained why she debuted wearing bar shoes on both front feet.
While Well Heeled gets checked out, Gyarmati hopes to get lucky with some other unraced colts purchased at auction by Treadway. Gyarmati expects to run Privatize, a son of Corinthian; Goldcraft, a son of Henny Hughes; and Payasito, a son of Indian Charlie; during the winter season.
“I haven’t been able to get lucky for him,” Gyarmati said of Treadway. “Stupid things have happened left and right.”
Gyarmati did win a $50,000 maiden claimer for Treadway with Copper Bluff, who is nominated but not expected to run in Sunday’s East View Stakes for New York-bred juvenile fillies.
Gyarmati does expect to run Smooth Bert in Sunday’s $80,000 Damon Runyon for New York-bred juvenile males. Smooth Bert, a son of Smooth Jazz owned by Bona Venture Stables, won a maiden special race Oct. 4 going a mile – the distance of the Damon Runyon – before finishing fifth in the Bertram Bongard going seven furlongs 16 days later.
Smooth Bert hit the side of the gate in the Bertram Bongard, a race in which he broke from post 14.
New owners seminar Dec. 16
Aqueduct will host a new owners luncheon on Dec. 16 for those interested in getting involved in owning racehorses.
The all-day event, hosted by former jockey Richard Migliore, offers a comprehensive introduction and overview of Thoroughbred ownership. The seminar begins at 8:30 a.m. and includes a question-and-answer session with trainers Mike Hushion and Gary Contessa, owner Marty Cunningham, and representatives from racing partnerships Drawing Away Stable and West Point Thoroughbreds.
Registration fee is $50, which includes a continental breakfast and lunch in Aqueduct’s Equestris Restaurant. For more information, or to register, call (718) 659-2206 or go to www.nyra.com/newowners.
Best of luck this year to Leah Gyarmati with all of her charges. Hope she has a Derby horse.
Miucho Macho Man still has not won a Grade 1.
The Wachtel jinx lives on.