Anthony’s no fool when it comes to claiming horses

from the Meadowlands Publicity Department

East Rutherford, NJ — You can hear it in the sound of his booming voice.

Veteran trainer and track announcer George Anthony is excited about his recent acquisition, Don’t Fool Me Now.

“This is one of my best claims in at least 10 years,” Anthony said. “It ranks right up there with Feathery Fame (a $55,000 claim who went on to bank more than $275,000).”

The 4-year-old pacer will race in the opening round of the Complex Series on Friday night (Jan. 11) at the Meadowlands. A total of 17 pacers (4- and 5-year-olds) have been split for round one, carded as races three and five. The Complex shares billing with four divisions of the Clyde Hirt Series.

“We claimed this one at Woodbine (October 21, 2007) for $37,500, which is a bargain price in this market,” Anthony explained. “It was the first time he was in a claimer. My wife, Jade, spotted him here in the past performances. She brought him to my attention and we saw he had consistent efforts. We examined all of his lines and decided to watch some of his replays. He had nice size, won a lot of races and showed miles in 1:52 and change. There were a lot of positive factors like being by Camotion, which meant he could get better with age. We decided to fly up to Canada and take him.

“He hadn’t raced for three weeks prior to the night we claimed him,” he continued. “We thought they were using the claiming allowance to their advantage, but we were willing to spend the extra money. We thought he was worth it. That night he closed really well, but finished sixth and scoped sick.”

Anthony left his newest acquisition to finish the year at Woodbine under the care of trainers John and Nikolas Drennan.

“A couple of weeks later, he won in 1:52,” Anthony noted. “He sat a two hole trip, got backed into really bad, had to swing wide and when (driver) Rick Zeron pulled him out, he exploded. The next week he wired the field in 1:51.1, and Zeron got off the bike raving about him. In his last two starts at Woodbine, He caught a lot of pressure on the lead and finished a brave second both times.”

Although the gelding’s Meadowlands debut on December 22, 2007 was not as sharp as those efforts, he rebounded with a strong rally to finish a close second in a conditioned event last week.

“(In his first Meadowlands start) there was a recall, he got parked from post nine and scoped sick after the race,” Anthony said. “We treated him with antibiotics and cleaned him up. Last week, he was back to his old self. I told (driver) Brian Sears you could race him any way you want. He’s very versatile, which is a huge asset. Plus, he has a lethal brush you can use anywhere in the mile. I think he’s a little better from off the pace and he’s made for the big track.

“Initially, we made some adjustments to his bridle and shoeing, and this horse really took to our approach to training him lightly,” he added.

“He’s almost like a Thoroughbred and doesn’t need a lot of work.

“There’s no question he’s a prime candidate for a series like the Complex and we took that into account when we claimed him. He’s also in the Exit 16W (series at the Meadowlands).”

Anthony, 58, is a former New York City police officer who started in the racing business as a track announcer at Ocean Downs in Maryland. Except for a couple of years prior to 2002, when he indulged in his passion for world travel, Anthony has spent three decades in the sport. Nicknamed “The King” and dubbing his stable “The Kingdom” for his dominance of New York tracks in the early 1990s, Anthony is a colorful presence on the Meadowlands backstretch.

“I’m 58 and this is my 32nd year in the business,” he said. “If it ever comes to a point where I’m not having any fun, then I’ll just announce the races. I’m elated to be going back to Ocean Downs this summer. I worked there last year and that’s where I first started back in 1977.

“Thirty years later, their general manager, Pete Syzmanski, gave me a wonderful opportunity and treated me very well. I’m looking forward to many more years there.”

Anthony and his wife, Jade, are partners in Don’t Fool Me Now with Darryl Gombert, who owns a commercial and residential drafting business and resides in Rutherford, N.J. The Anthonys, who live in Fort Lee, N.J., race as Hankook Stable. George credits Jade as a quick study who has been instrumental in both helping them search out horses to claim and recruiting new horse owners from their surrounding community.

“My wife, Jade, is Korean,” he said. “The stable name means Korean, and we did it to appeal to Korean people. We are advertising and in the process of getting Korean people interested in this great sport and owning horses. It is a vast, untapped market that surrounds the Meadowlands.

“Our trotter, Close Encounter, has made us almost $80,000,” he noted.

“My wife picked him out of a $20,000 claimer. She loves this racing business and keeps a database of horses on her computer. She also likes to come to the barn every morning. A few years ago, she had never been to a racetrack in her life.”

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