By Ken Weingartner
Harness Racing Communications/USTA
Greg Martin wasn’t thinking about a broodmare when he bought Benear at the 2008 Standardbred Horse Sale’s Mixed Sale. He really wasn’t even looking for Benear. But when the Calgary resident saw the then 5-year-old mare, he felt an emotional response. When she entered the auction ring, he purchased her for $37,000.
“It’s just one of those silly things,” Martin said. “You pick up a horse on impulse and it turns out.”
Benear, who was a world champion on a five-eighths-mile track, failed to live up to Martin’s hopes as a racehorse the following season, but she has more than made up for it as a broodmare. She is the mother of 2014 Little Brown Jug winner Limelight Beach as well as 2015 Jugette hopeful Momas Got A Gun. No mare has ever produced a winner of each the Little Brown Jug and Jugette, much less had the winners in consecutive years.
“Her being a broodmare wasn’t even in my thinking because I wanted a racehorse,” Martin said about Benear, whose most recent foal to reach racing age, 2-year-old Manhattan Beach, finished third in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. “I guess when you have a mare that’s gone some pretty big miles you’re going to look at them as a broodmare. But it was kind of a crapshoot.”
Martin has a picture of Limelight Beach winning the Little Brown Jug hanging in his living room.
“It was over the top,” Martin said about the victory. “It was unbelievable. I was at the local off-track betting bar and everyone was looking at me while I’m hooting and hollering. There are no words to describe it.”
Martin sold Limelight Beach, then named Marblehead Johnson, as a yearling at the 2012 Standardbred Horse Sale. The colt went for $25,000. A year later, he considered selling Momas Got A Gun, but changed his mind because she was attracting little interest and he really liked the filly.
Momas Got A Gun, now owned by Martin’s son Geoff, is the 5-2 morning line favorite in the second of two eliminations for today’s $252,250 Jugette at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. She will start from post No. 2 with David Miller driving for trainer Virgil Morgan Jr.
She was one of 12 fillies entered in the Jugette, which is for 3-year-old female pacers and is the companion race to the Little Brown Jug for 3-year-old male pacers. The field was split into two $50,450 eliminations, with Brian Brown-trained Triple V Hanover being the 3-1 morning line favorite in the opening group. The top four finishers from each division return later in the day for the $151,350 final. A horse must only win the final to be declared the Jugette champion.
Post time is noon for today’s first race at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. The Jugette eliminations are races 12 and 13. The final is race 17.
A daughter of stallion Somebeachsomewhere, Momas Got A Gun has won three of 14 races this year and earned $313,368. In her most recent eight starts, she has posted two wins, three seconds and two thirds. She is coming off back-to-back second-place finishes in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship, where she missed by a head, and the Valley Forge Stakes.
“She’s been right there,” Martin said. “No one has been consistently as competitive as Moma. The way she races, because she has such early good gate speed, it almost creates a problem. I personally think she’s better off a helmet, and so does Virgil. But if you look at all her races, I don’t think she’s ever been second-over. That’s one of the problems when you have a horse with such early good gate speed.”
Her early speed, though, might be a blessing on the half-mile oval at the Delaware County Fairgrounds.
“No one is going to beat her off the gate and that’s half the battle,” Martin said. “If you look at Limelight Beach last year, he won the Jug in the first 50 yards because no one challenged him. This filly can’t leave quite as fast, but she can leave. I think she’s going to win. I don’t want to come across being that arrogant, but I know she can do it.”
Martin began thinking about this year’s Jugette as Momas Got A Gun ended her 2014 campaign. She won four of eight races last season, with three of the victories coming in her final four starts. She never finished worse than third during the year, earning $46,711.
“(The Jugette) was on our radar,” Martin said. “I told Virgil last year when she was finishing up her campaign that this filly was going to win the Jugette. Virgil is a wonderful trainer. He is the ultimate professional. He goes out with every set of horses that trains and he’s a hard worker. I really respect that about him. He’s been so meticulous with this filly. He treats them like an athlete. He’s straight up. I love dealing with him.”
As for Momas Got A Gun’s name, it originated from Martin coming up with the name for another horse.
“I named another horse I’d bred Mad Bad Girlfriend,” Martin said. “I did name it after a girlfriend, and she thought it was quite funny. Then I said, just think if moma had a gun. It was just kind of a silly thing we had going. If momas got a gun, you better pay attention because they mean business.
“I love when you name horses. That’s part of the fun of the whole thing.”
Martin, who started his career with horses in the show world, used to train and drive Standardbreds, but last sat in the sulky in 2010. But there is no doubt he still loves harness racing.
“The best thing about Standardbred racing, unlike Thoroughbred, is that I think everyone pulls for each other,” Martin said. “I think people are happy when others do well. It’s a different feel.
“I wish everyone the best of luck. I just hope we’re a little luckier.”
Following are the Jugette elimination fields in post order with drivers, trainers and morning line odds.
$50,450 First Elimination
1. Triple V Hanover-David Miller-Brian Brown-3-1
2. Southwind Roulette-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-7-2
3. Bettor N Better-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-6-1
4. Moremercy Bluechip-Andy Miller-Julie Miller-10-1
5. Wicked Little Minx-Brett Miller-Nancy Johansson-12-1
6. Mosquito Blue Chip-Jim Morrill Jr.-Paul Jessop-7-2
$50,450 Second Elimination
1. Serious Filly-Scott Zeron-Brian Brown-6-1
2. Momas Got A Gun-David Miller-Virgil Morgan Jr.-5-2
3. Band Of Angels-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-3-1
4. Bedroomconfessions-Tim Tetrick-Tony Alagna-12-1
5. Somewhere Sweet-Jim Morrill Jr.-Brian Brown-8-1
6. Sassa Hanover-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-4-1