Hightstown, NJ — When trainer John McDermott approached the owners of star-crossed male pacer Hurrikane Kingcole and mare Hurrikane Schmumma to float the idea of breeding them, Jonathan Klee was unsure what to think.
“I remember telling John, I’m not a breeder, I’m a lawyer,” said Klee, who was among the owners of both horses. “However, we all believed in Kingcole and John can be convincing, so all the owners discussed it and we gave it a go.”
It turned out to be a wise choice.
The first mating of Hurrikane Kingcole to Hurrikane Schmumma in 2014 resulted in a filly, Hurrikane Empress, who won a New Jersey Sire Stakes championship and finished her career with $219,902 in purses. She is now in foal to Sweet Lou.
The second mating resulted in a colt, Hurrikane Emperor, who last year at age 2 captured sire stakes titles in New Jersey and Kentucky and was named New Jersey’s Standardbred of the Year. He won seven of nine races and earned $226,900 under the tutelage of McDermott and his son John Jr.
“Last year was a dream come true,” Klee said. “Unlike buying a horse at a sale or claiming a horse, when you own the sire, dam and foal it’s a different type of feeling. Emperor is like a child to all of us. We have known everything about him since birth.”
Hurrikane Emperor begins his 2019 season Friday (May 17) in the first round of the New Jersey Sire Stakes at The Meadowlands. His connections are hoping for not only success in state-bred stakes action this year but on the Grand Circuit as well.
“If everything goes perfectly, we’ll go through the New Jersey Sire Stakes and use it as kind of a stepping-stone to the North America Cup,” said Jeff Kuhen, another of Hurrikane Emperor’s breeders/owners. “It’s been pretty great to see that Emperor is as good as Kingcole was, if not hopefully better.
“He hasn’t done anything yet, knock on wood, to show us that he can’t go on any track and race any kind of style. That’s why I’m pretty excited to see what he can do this year.”
Driven primarily by Dan Dube, the colt won from off the pace and from the front last year and impressed with his ability to relax at any point during a race. His fastest win time, 1:49.3 in his half-length triumph over Blood Money in the Kentucky Sire Stakes final at Red Mile, was tied for the fifth best of the season by a 2-year-old pacer.
“He impresses me more every day I’m with him,” said McDermott, who also trained Hurrikane Kingcole and Hurrikane Schmumma. “His potential is endless. He’s got wicked speed like his father, but he’s the most intelligent and manageable horse I’ve ever been around. He’s so cool about things.
“He didn’t get that from dad,” the trainer added with a laugh. “The thing people don’t know about his father was that his father was relaxed. The problem was that once you started him, you couldn’t stop him. Emperor can leave, sit, come back, do anything you want. That’s the beautiful thing about him.”
Hurrikane Kingcole, speedy but rarely healthy, won 14 of 49 career races and equaled a world record in 2012 with a 1:48.1 mile at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. His career mark of 1:47.3 came in the consolation division of the Meadowlands Pace. He now performs stud duty in Australia.
In addition to Klee and Kuhen, Hurrikane Emperor is owned by the third of the three breeders, Pegasis Investment Group, as well as William Garofalo. The colt is eligible to most of the major open stakes for 3-year-old male pacers including the North America Cup, Max C. Hempt Memorial, Meadowlands Pace, Adios, and Cane Pace. He is not eligible to the Breeders Crown.
“We will give him every chance to prove how good he can be,” Klee said. “It will be a tribute to all of the little owners, breeders and farms who dream of breeding and racing a champion if Emperor can go out, compete, and win at the highest level.”