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Vacation Days Over for George (05/14/13)
Posted Tuesday May 14, 2013
By Mike Paradise
At an age when most horses are finished racing or are nearing the end of their careers and are competing at lower levels, the 10-year-old trotter George’s Vacation has gone in the opposition direction.
A third place finish or higher in Wednesday’s $12,500 feature “Winner’s Over” trot at Balmoral Park would push George’s Vacation’s 2013 earnings to a single season highest with less than a half-season of racing.
This year the veteran trotter has lowered his previous lifetime mark going into this season of 1:58 flat to 1:54.2 since joining the Keith Hough Stable in early March.
And since Hough put Mike Oosting at the lines of George’s Vacation, the trotter has been first or second in seven Balmoral starts, winning 5 of them to earn the role as the 5-2 morning line favorite in the fourth race feature.
The obvious question to Keith was “what turned George’s Vacation around?
“Mostly the way I changed his training and is shoeing,” replied the 58-year-old Michigan native.
“His owner who brought him over to me said: ‘just jog him three miles a day and if the track isn’t any good, just turn him out.’ So basically that’s how the horse was trained all his life.
“I told him if that’s the way you want me to train him just take him back with you because I work my horses. And that’s what I did with George’s Vacation. Also, the horse’s shoeing was poorer than what it should be.
“His owner had him shod the day before he made his first start for me when the horse won in :58.1 on a bad track with a headwind.
“I use aluminum shoe on my trotters so ripped his old shoes out and put new ones on myself. The next time the horse raced he won in 1:54.4.
“I also had some vet work done and changed his feeding so it’s been a combination of things that has turned him around.
“And of course having Mike Oosting driving him also is big. I think Mike is the best driver here in Chicago. This horse’s owner used to drive himself and he’s about 6-5 and 225 pounds or so, a heck of a lot bigger and heavier than Mike.”
George’s Vacation has a lot of career victories but he didn’t make a lot of money.
“When I got him he had around 140 lifetime starts and around 30 wins but only had about $110,000 in lifetime earrings,” continued Keith. “He raced all over the place, including the fairs in Ohio, and usually not for a lot of money.
“The horse has already made over $35,000 in 8 starts for me and it’s only the middle of May so obviously I’m very pleased with him.”
. George’s Vacation leaves from the outside seven-slot as the 5-2 programmed choice when he takes on a solid field that includes Clever Upstart, Melt In Your Mouth, Super Sonic Flash, Hitithard, Celebrity Hercules and Benn’s Score Keeper.
The post farthest outside doesn’t bother Hough. In fact, he believes it may even end up for the best for his horse.
“I believe the horse performs best when he doesn’t get an easy trip,” said Hough. “The tougher the trip, the better he races. He’s had some of his best quarters racing parked-out.”
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