Barn Notes

Hop Skip And Away Contests Open Company Friday

Posted Thursday, Aug 16, 2012


            Friday’s $46,000 allowance optional claiming race at six furlongs on the main track came up mighty salty and the New Jersey-bred Hop Skip and Away will also have to vie against open company. The 7-year-old gelded son of Gold Fever will give it his optimum effort nonetheless.

            “He’s one of the most honest horses I have ever ridden,” said Pedro Cotto, Jr., his regular jockey. “There are a lot of good horses in the race and plenty of speed, but I am confident he’s going to make some noise at the end.”

            There will be no argument from the barn of Joe Pierce, Jr., who owns Hop Skip and Away with H.C.B. Lindh and has trained him all along.

            “If you beat him, it will be just because you out run him. He gives his all every time,” said assistant trainer Edward Johnson, who has worked for Pierce and his late father, trainer Joe Pierce, Sr., continuously for 50 years. “He’ll be digging in.”

            Johnson was 16 when he came on the track and went to work for the family.

            “The old man was one of the top trainers in the country and I went all over with him. We raced in Chicago, Kentucky and New Orleans as well as in the east. We had real good horses in the barn. In 1958, we were third in the Kentucky Derby with Noureddin,” he recalled.

            Hop Skip and Away will race for a tag of $60,000 on Friday, as will JJ’s Lucky Train, who was fourth in the 2011 Grade 1 Haskell Invitational and has competed in stakes company in all of his last dozen races.

            “He’s a nice horse, but quite honestly, this race came up a lot tougher than I thought it would. It’s like a stakes,” said JJ Lucky Train’s conditioner Jane Cibelli.         

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