Manhardt allergic to everything except winningJanuary 22, 2008,
from Harness Racing Communications, a division of the USTA
Freehold, NJ — Manhardt, a 5-year-old pacer with a come-from-behind win in the first leg of the Presidential Series at the Meadowlands, has a tough time being a horse.
“He’s allergic to alfalfa, straw, dust and mold,” said his trainer James Eaton.
Those items, ubiquitous in any horse stable, give him problems pretty much year round.
“He’s been very consistent (17 on-the-board finishes in 27 starts, $157,965 last year),” Eaton said. “The biggest problem I have with him is that he seems to get sick a lot, nothing serious, just typical respiratory ailments. You’ll scope him (look down his throat with an endoscope) after a race; generally he doesn’t scope clean. He’s got some allergy problems and we treat him for that and he’s gotten better with that.”
The allergies and a respiratory ailment seemed to be Manhardt’s undoing in a stint of racing at the Meadowlands in 2007, when he won three times in six overnight races.
“That’s what happened to him last year,” Eaton said. “He raced good five starts, but then he scoped a seven, with a 10 being the worst. We just kept training him and he never did get better.”
Eaton returned Manhardt to his base in Illinois in mid-March last year, where he got a month off and has since been a regular in the most competitive classes at Balmoral, Maywood and Hawthorne racetracks. While Manhardt closed from seventh at the top of the stretch to win the first leg of the Presidential in 1:51.3, that has not always been his strong suit.
“When we first started racing him, we’d actually leave with him a lot, but he has turned into being a pretty good closer,” Eaton said. “He didn’t really have any chance to do anything (in the January 12 Presidential leg). There were some horses in there that had gotten parked and Brian (driver Sears) never had a chance to get out with him.”
Manhardt finished sixth in the second leg of the Presidential on January 19, though his final quarter of :27.4 was the fastest of the field, tying him with the race winner, Jilliby Generator.
Eaton bought Manhardt for owner Robert Silberberg at the completion of his 3-year-old racing season. Eaton has trained for Silberberg, a CPA, and his brother Mike, a salesman for a steel business, for about 20 years. Manhardt’s looks were less of a factor than his price.
“He was in our price range, is what he amounted to; $40,000,” Eaton said. “No way we figured he’d be the horse he’s turned out to be. In fact, with his breeding and the fact that he’d raced pretty good as a 3-year-old (17-2-2-1, $63,975, 1:53.2), when he sold for $40,000, we kind of looked at each other and said, ‘Uh oh, what did we do?’
“He filled out and got more muscular between his 3- and 4-year-old year. I guess he wasn’t a very good-gaited horse when he was a 3-year-old. The one time Cat Manzi (who had driven him at 3 for trainer Larry Rathbone) drove him for me at the Meadowlands, he said, ‘What did you guys do to this horse?’ He was not good-gaited before. We treated him for EPM (equine protozoal myelitis, an infection of the neurological system). Whether he had it or not, I don’t know; whether that is what turned him around, I don’t know that either. He didn’t have a lot of muscle on his rump, he looked a little like an EPM horse, so we treated him for a month.”
Eaton said the winter footing at the Meadowlands also seems to agree with Manhardt.
“Here in Chicago, we have to use a lot of borium (shoes that give a better grip on the track) and he doesn’t seem to be a horse that enjoys that; it sticks him,” Eaton said. “I trained him on Tuesday (at the Meadowlands) before I left and I told the guy that takes care of him, ‘That’s the best he’s trained in six weeks,’ and it was six weeks ago I took the borium off.”
Eaton has left Manhardt and three other horses from his stable in the Meadowlands’ backstretch in the care of Scott Henning, who’s worked for Eaton for over 15 years.
“It takes a load off my mind having him out there,” Eaton said. “He knows just what has to be done and how it’s supposed to be done and I never have to worry about anything.”