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ITHA News

Holsapple / Four Left Feet / Million Day

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Illinois – Hutch Holsapple works as a blacksmith at Hawthorne and Arlington, but when things quiet down on that front over the winter he heads to Kentucky to attend the Keeneland sale in January and the Fasig-Tipton sale in September. Holsapple’s budget lives in a shoe box. He tries to buy two horses a year and see what he can make of them. Last year he bought a horse with a paralyzed arytenoid that inhibited her breathing for $1,000, named her Espressa, and saw her finish third in the Arlington-Washington Lassie in September racing for trainer Justin Johns.
Holsapple got good wood on that one. One bounce and over the outfield wall. A ground-rule double. This year – a grand slam. In January at Keeneland a 2-year-old filly by More Than Ready caught Holsapple’s eye and he decided to disregard the fact she was being sold as a broodmare prospect, not a racehorse. 
“She was supposed to have a stifle issue. I liked her so much I just took a shot on her,” Holsapple said.
Whatever had troubled the horse, named Winning Envelope, subsided with age and maturity. The filly started breezing in early June and caught the eye of anyone watching morning training at Arlington. Holsapple and his wife Krystal, listed as owner of the filly, had people chasing Winning Envelope before she ever raced.
Holsapple, 48, hails from an Illinois village called Toledo (population 1,238 as of the 2010 census) that sits about 200 miles nearly due south of Chicago. His family trucked in the horse business, racing at the fairs and the bush tracks. Holsapple got a trainer’s license in 1992 and a year later bought a horse on the cheap named Coyote del Sol. She set a track record at one of the fairs in her career debut and cracked a knee the second time she raced. 
“She was a freak, just like this filly is a freak,” said Holsapple. “That’s what I told my dad. I called him up and said I got another Coyote. He said, ‘No, you don’t.’”
Holsapple came to Chicago in 1998 with designs on a training career. “I trained for a couple years and it didn’t work out. I’ve got five kids now and the roller coaster is not for me. Too many ups and downs,” he said. 
But between shoeing jobs Holsapple has time to dabble with the horses he currently has with trainer Justin Johns, and it sure seemed to him this summer that Winning Envelope was the one. Holsapple counts trainer Chris Block among his clients and during work as a farrier in the Block barn this summer he extolled the virtues of Winning Envelope to the point Block got permission to have Carlos Marquez Jr. work the filly and bring Block a report. Marquez breezed the filly and what he told Block was enough for Block’s father, the owner and breeder Dave Block, to make a serious offer. 
“My dad took a run at her first, but it wasn’t enough for Hutch,” Block said. “He had one more run at it right before she ran, but he decided to let her race and see what happened.”
What happened was Winning Envelope debuting on the Arlington Million card, showing the brilliant speed that had stamped her in the morning, and running off to the easiest kind of six-length win in a 5 ½ furlong maiden race. A lot of Arlington insiders bet the filly to win, but Holsapple made the biggest bet of all turning down the pre-race offer in hopes of a greater payday. That he got when Block’s owner Robert Lothenbach came with what people with firsthand knowledge of the deal believe to be in the mid-six figures. 
The week wasn’t over when all that went down. On Friday, the second horse Holsapple bought this winter, a filly named Thunderous Gem purchased for a grand total of a thousand bucks, debuted for Johns in race 2, another maiden-special-weight Polytrack sprint. She went to the lead and won by 7 ¾ lengths. And here we go again. 

Four Left Feet steps on the gas

It’s widely known that horses lose their early speed as they age. It’s just that 10-year-old Four Left Feet hasn’t realized that yet. 
Four Left Feet’s 80th start came in race 2 on Thursday at Arlington. The race, a $12,500 claiming sprint, scratched down to four horses and Larry Rivelli trained two of them. Rivzinthehouse, one of the Rivellis, was the 2-5 favorite based on the fact he was likely to control the pace since the only other speed left in the race, Dom the Bomb, also was trained by Rivelli.
At least that was the way things looked on paper. The gate clanged and sprang open and Rivzinthehouse went to the front, but there came the 10-year-old, nipping at his heels before a furlong had been run. 
“I figured that was the only way we were going to have a chance,” said trainer Terry Young.
Young claimed Four Left Feet for $40,000 in March – March 2013, that is. Four Left Feet made 41 starts for Young before he was claimed away nearly four years later. Last December, Young took him again, this time for just $7,500 out of a claiming race at Hawthorne. Joel Perez, Young’s assistant trainer, gallops Four Left Feet in the morning, and Marissa Torres grooms him now, just like she did during all the starts Four Left Meet made in the Young barn during his heyday. 
“The exercise rider knows the horse like the back of his hand, and the groom is fabulous with him. They’ve both worked for me for more than 20 years,” said Young.
Four Left Feet kept turning up the pressure until Rivzinthehouse caved. The 10-year-old went on to win by five.
“He’s pretty amazing – he really is. That was not easy. I’m proud of him,” said Young. 
Four Left Feet gets as many walk days in the Young barn as he needs to get his feet back under him. He’s earned the right to dictate his own training.

Million Day handle up two million

Sure, all the purse money left town – most of it with trainer Chad Brown, who won the Arlington Million, ran one-two-three in the Beverly D., and finished second in the Secretariat – on Arlington Million Day, but at least handle on the 12-race card was strong. Arlington handled $16,445,558 on this Million card, which was almost $2 million more than on the 12-race Million card of 2017. Betting on the Million itself actually declined marginally but handle got a bump at the very start of this year’s card and stayed strong throughout the day, with a particular gain seen in the late pick four. No bettor hit the late pick five on the Million card, triggering a massive carryover into the Aug. 12 program, which alone generated nearly $1.7 million in Sunday handle. The betting over the weekend, in fact, was strong enough that Arlington has added 14 additional races to the remainder of the 2018 race meeting.