Hightstown, NJ — The word perfect is the perfect adjective in Perfect Sting’s name at this point in his career. Trainer Joe Holloway believes another adjective might suit the 2-year-old pacing colt as his career continues: Special.
Perfect Sting, a son of two of history’s fastest horses, stallion Always B Miki and mare Shebestingin, is 5-for-5 this season for Holloway and breeders/owners Brittany Farms and Val D’Or Farms. His next start comes in Sunday’s $250,000 Kentucky Sire Stakes championship for 2-year-old male pacers at Lexington’s Red Mile, where he will leave from post five with regular driver David Miller and is the 6-5 morning-line favorite.
Red Mile hosts all eight Kentucky Sire Stakes finals for 2- and 3-year-old pacers and trotters on Sunday. Meadowlands Pace and North America Cup winner Tall Dark Stranger, ranked No. 2 in harness racing’s current Top 10 poll, headlines the championship for 3-year-old male pacers. Reflect With Me, unbeaten in six starts this year and ranked No. 9, leads the group of 3-year-old female pacers.
Perfect Sting debuted July 28 with a dead-heat win at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and followed with a neck victory at The Meadowlands. Since then, he has won three Kentucky Sire Stakes starts at Red Mile, all by a minimum of a length. His 1:49.2 triumph on Aug. 25 is the season’s fastest mile for a 2-year-old pacer. Only 11 freshmen in history have been faster.
“A long time ago, I said I think this is going to be the best horse I ever trained,” Holloway said. “So far, so good. But he’s got to do it. We’ve got five more starts, at the most six, to see. They each get tougher now, but I think he can handle it. He’s never been tired yet.”
During his Hall of Fame career, Holloway has trained a number of standout pacers, including three-time Dan Patch Award winner Jenna’s Beach Boy and millionaire Always A Virgin as well as Hall of Famer Always B Miki (who shares the record for history’s fastest mile, 1:46, with Lather Up) at ages 2 and 3. So his praise for Perfect Sting speaks volumes.
“He’s just far more advanced than Jenna, Miki, Always A Virgin; any of those,” Holloway said. “David trained him (in the spring) and said when he puts it all together, he’s going to be great. Each time out he’s getting a little bit better and he’s learning more. David said in three or four start he’d figure it out. He’s still not quite there, but he’ll get there. He does it effortlessly, so let’s hope he continues that way.
“It’s too early to proclaim him the best, but I think he’s got a real chance to do something special. Maybe he won’t, maybe he will. But if he does, it will be a fun ride.
“I called it early, David called it early, and now we just have to see.”
In addition to training Perfect Sting’s sire during the early part of his career, Holloway trained Shebestingin throughout her career. Shebestingin was the sport’s all-time fastest female pacer until 2019, when Shartin N’s 1:46.4 mile bettered Shebestingin’s mark by one-fifth of a second.
“The mare deserved to have a great horse,” Holloway said. “Hopefully he continues on.”
Following the Kentucky Sire Stakes championship, Perfect Sting is slated to start in the Bluegrass and International Stallion stakes at Red Mile before going to the Breeders Crown at Harrah’s Hoosier Park.
“This was the plan the whole time, we’re shooting for everything at the end,” Holloway said. “Right now, everything seems to be working OK.”
Racing begins at 1 p.m. (EDT) Sunday at Red Mile and the Kentucky Sire Stakes finals are the first eight races. Following are the morning-line favorites in each final, in race order.
Three-year-old male trotters, Beads, 1-1.
Two-year-old filly pacers, Making Waves, 4-5.
Two-year-old male pacers, Perfect Sting, 6-5.
Three-year-old filly trotters, Hypnotic AM, 5-2.
Three-year-old male pacers, Tall Dark Stranger, 4-5.
Two-year-old filly trotters, Darlene Hanover, 5-2.
Three-year-old filly pacers, Reflect With Me, 6-5.
Two-year-old male trotters, Dancinginthedark M, 2-1.
For complete entries, click here.