Hightstown, NJ — Don Tiger knows where Charlie May’s 3-year-old season will begin. Where the pacer goes from there will be decided as his campaign unfolds, but the owner knows where he would like to see his horse.
All around the Grand Circuit.
Charlie May, who was voted Ohio’s best 2-year-old male pacer in 2020, makes his seasonal debut Saturday in a $15,000 elimination of the James K. Hackett Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers at Miami Valley Raceway. Charlie May, trained by Steve Carter, will start from post seven in a seven-horse field with driver Brett Miller.
Last year, Tiger’s homebred gelding won seven of nine starts and finished second in both defeats. Charlie May earned $328,627 to rank sixth among all 2-year-old male pacers in North America and his best win time of 1:50.2, established in a track-record Ohio Sire Stakes championship performance at Scioto Downs, tied for fifth.
Charlie May will be pointed toward events for Ohio-sired horses to begin the season, but Tiger has paid the horse into numerous open stakes for 3-year-old male pacers including the North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace, and Breeders Crown. He is not eligible to the Little Brown Jug but can be supplemented if he wins one of the following races: North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace, Messenger Stakes, or Cane Pace.
“We’ve got four weeks here (in Ohio) to find out where we’re at,” Tiger said. “The goal is to get better each week, and then at the beginning of May we’ll have decisions to make as far as where we’re going. I paid the money for everywhere. He’s staked until the end of November. I did my part. Now it’s going to be up to the horse.
“I’m real excited. You never know what is going to happen between (ages) 2 and 3, but I think the good thing for me is I’ve been playing with house money, so I’m calm and relaxed and excited and happy. I wouldn’t trade places with anybody.”
Charlie May is by McArdle out of Stipple Hanover. He is the first horse Tiger ever bred.
“I just took a leap of faith,” Tiger said. “This is for the little guys. This isn’t supposed to happen to Steve Carter and Don Tiger. It’s a feel-good story. I own the horse, but he’s not my horse. It’s those guys at the barn — Steve Carter and his staff. They’ve told me he’s a one-in-a-million horse.
“I’d love for those local guys to get the chance (on the Grand Circuit). It would be great for them and great for Ohio racing.”
Tiger plans to bring a realistic approach to determining Charlie May’s stakes schedule.
“I want to make a stamp on the national scene, but I’m not going to go through it just to do it,” he said. “I’m not going to go to the Meadowlands Pace to be 30-1 and hope I’m fifth. If we’re going to those kinds of races we’re going to go because we’re bringing a howitzer. We’re not going with a squirt gun.
“We’ll see how it shakes out. I just want him to be healthy. If he’s healthy and gets beat, I’m great with that. I just don’t ever want to play the ‘what if’ game. If he’s healthy, then it’s just up to the racing gods and whatever is supposed to happen is going to happen.”
Charlie May’s opening assignment will not be easy. Among his Hackett rivals is Heart Of Chewbacca, who handed Charlie May a setback in a preliminary round of the Ohio Sire Stakes last year and was second in the final.
Heart Of Chewbacca, trained by Ron Burke and driven by Dan Noble, also is staked to numerous Grand Circuit races. He was one of last season’s fastest 2-year-olds on both a five-eighths and half-mile track.
“Ohio has gotten tougher,” Burke said. “I think you’ll see that maybe those colts can step and go with the other ones. They’re breeding a lot of horses; they’re breeding way more quality. Things are heading in the right direction there.”
Laughagain Hanover, who was third in the Ohio Sire Stakes championship, leads the first Hackett elimination. He is trained by Christi Noble and driven by Dan Noble.
The first-four finishers from each elimination will advance to the $40,000 final April 17. They will be joined by the fifth-place horse with the fastest time.
Racing begins at 4:05 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at Miami Valley. For complete entries, click here.