10/15/2015 3:07PM

Woodbine Harness: Freaky Feet Pete ready to leave Indiana


There is only one reason Freaky Feet Pete has stayed home in the Hoosier State for the first two years of his career. It is certainly not because the Rheinheimers have an aversion to travel, abhor signing the checks for stakes payments or panic over the depth of competition. There is simply just no place like home.

“I go out for my cup of coffee on Wednesdays,” said Larry Rheinheimer, the colt’s conditioner. “The first thing everyone asks is how Pete did that weekend. Not only does everyone ask about him, they come to the track to see him and cheer him on. He’s a hometown hero.”

He may not be Andrew Luck or Peyton Manning, but the 3-year-old son of Rockin Image and the Pilgrims Punch mare Skyway Lori has captured the hearts and attention of the entire population of Anderson, Ind., by how swiftly and smartly he has paced over the Hoosier Park surface.

During his two years of racing, the colt, who is owned by Rheinheimer’s wife Mary Jo and son Marty and regularly reined by Trace Tetrick, has amassed a record of 23-20-2-0, with a bankroll of $616,849 and a lifetime mark of 1:48 2/5.

His next engagement via a supplemental payment of $62,500 will be on Saturday (Oct. 17) at Woodbine Racetrack when he and Tetrick face six rivals in his $25,000 elimination for the $531,250 Breeders Crown final for his age, gender and gait.

After handing Wiggle It Jiggleit, the Meadowlands Pace and Little Brown Jug winner, the third loss of his sterling career, Freaky Feet Pete was made the slight morning line choice at 9-5 ahead of Reverend Hanover (2-1) and Yankee Bounty (9-2).

The only time Freaky Feet Pete has finished off the board was in the third race of his career when there was a veritable scrum at the finish line between four horses and his nose just ended up fourth on the wire. Even then Freaky Feet Pete still paced his last quarter in 28 2/5 after leading most off the mile.

This year only Wiggle It Jiggleit and North America Cup winner Wakizashi Hanover have denied him his customary position in the winner’s circle.

“We would have still supplemented him to the Breeders Crown even if he had not beaten Wiggle It Jiggleit,” Rheinheimer said. “He showed us he belonged with those type of horses and there is no shame in being second to a horse like that or Wakizashi Hanover. They have shown all year long how good they are. But I did want a rematch with Wiggle It Jiggleit after that first race and now maybe we will meet Wakizashi Hanover again in the Breeders Crown.”

Rheinheimer is referring to a May 30 showdown between the sport’s budding superstar Wiggle It Jiggleit and the Indiana sensation Freaky Feet Pete in the $75,000 Indiana Sire Stake final at Hoosier Park.

Wiggle It Jiggleit, the top-ranked horse in the sport, had been pacing since January while it was only Freak Feet Pete’s second start of the season.

Montrell Teague placed Wiggle It Jiggleit on the lead and Freaky Feet Pete put in a swifter final panel than his rival but simply could not overtake him.

When the colt was defeated by Wakizashi Hanover in the $110,250 Jenna’s Beach Boy on Sept. 26 at the Anderson oval he was sent to the lead from post position nine and after an opening quarter in :26.2, did not have enough gas left in the tank in the stretch to hold off the North America Cup winner, who simply followed him around the course for the entire mile.

“Tim (Tetrick--driver of Wakizashi Hanover) even said after the race the results could have been switched if his horse would have drawn our spot instead of the six,” Rheinheimer said. “But as I said earlier there is nothing wrong finishing second to a horse that wins the North America Cup and beat Wiggle It Jiggleit.”

Even after Freaky Feet Pete decimated his competition as a freshman, the Rheinheimers still did not know exactly how talented this horse was.

“He was so dominant it was difficult to tell,” Rheinheimer said. “But I think what moved him up in my mind as a really talented horse was when he went a couple of last quarters in 25 4/5 and 25 3/5 without Trace ever pulling the plugs. He did it all on his own.”

Despite the fact Freaky Feet Pete has not competed over any other track and his legions of adoring fans will not be braving the bracing air at Woodbine to witness his mile, the transition to a new location should not impact how he paces.

“He is a very relaxed, laid-back horse, especially for a colt,” Rheinheimer said. “Nothing bothers him at all. Not a thing. In fact, there have been some nights in the paddock where I thought he was no good or sick because he did not even act like he wanted to race. But the minute he steps on the track the switch goes on and his ears prick forward.”

Although Freaky Feet Pete is a champion and one of the elite members of harness racing’s glamour division, he does not normally partake in special treats or snacks, like many of his colleagues do.

“My wife (Mary Jo) only recently started giving him carrots,” Rheinheimer said. “I told her it was her job to keep him happy, so she started feeding them to him. Believe it or not, he would never take them before but he sure seems to like them now.”

Freaky Feet Pete's race is one of six Breeders Crown eliminations on Saturday as Woodbine will host a pair of eliminations for the Open Pace, 3-year-old colt pace, and 3-year-old filly pace. The top five finishers from each elimination return for their respective final. Saturday's post time is 7:25 p.m. and the elimination winners draw for inside post positions 1-5 for the finals.

On Friday, Woodbine hosts Breeders Crown eliminations for all four 2-year-old divisions, with post time of 7:25 p.m. for the night’s first race. Elimination winners also draw for inside post positions 1-5 for the finals. All 2-year-old finals will go for $600,000.