Hinsdale, IL — Rivalries in any sport make matchups more enticing to watch and we’ve got one currently going on the Illinois racetracks that’s a dandy.
It’s in the 3-year-old Illinois bred male trot division between Goomster and Niko Man, two talented horses in their second season of racing.
Dennis Gardner’s Goomster got the better of his rival in most of their 2-year-old events, including their Night of Champions showdown, and went on to capture the division honors.
This season it looked like the Erv Miller stable’s Niko Man was going to be the best in the division after winning seven consecutive races and beating Goomster in the Pronto Don at Du Quoin and the Illinois State Fair Colt Stakes, contested this year at Hawthorne.
Then the month of October came about, and the rivalry did an about-face with Goomster beating his adversary in the last leg of the Erwin F. Dygert stake series and again last week in the $90,000 championship with Travis Seekman at his lines. The winning margin was a diminishing half-length at the end of the 1:54.3 mile for the front stepping Goomster, trained by Travis and his wife Desirae.
“I got a little nervous in the last sixteenth when I saw Niko Man gaining on us, but my horse heard him and dug in, and then Niko Man kind of petered-out,” said Travis.
“Goomster is a nice horse to be around but when it’ race time, the horse is all business,” continued the 33-year-old Michigan native.
The gelded son of Cassis joined the Seekman stable last month after being in his owner’s barn all his life and for his first 11 starts as a 3-year-old.
“The Night of Champion series came about later this year and with Dennis having about 1,000 acres of land to harvest, he called us about a month ago and asked if we would take over Goomster’s training because he had his hands full at this time. We said we would love to have him, and he’s been with us for a few weeks now.”
Stablemates Deenbo and Tankmetodennyland also moved to the Seekmans.
Goomster has nicely adapted to his new surroundings quite comfortably, winning all three of his starts with the Seekmans, including the Dygert championship.
As a 2-year-old Goomster won five of 12 season’s starts to go along with four second place finishes and made $120,125 and took a mark of 1:54.3.
This year he’s put up even better numbers, capturing 11 of 14 starts and has been no worse than second. The good-looking trotter has lowered his mark to 1:52.4 and already has added another $115,864 on his card this season with more opportunities on the horizon.
Niko Man, another son of the late Illinois stallion Cassis. also has some impressive figures. He’s seven for 11 this year with a pair of seconds with over $94,000 in earnings for owners Doug Overhiser and Another Lombardi. In less than two full seasons of racing Niko Man has won 11 of 20 outings and hauled in almost $175,000 in purse earnings.