I always find it a bit interesting to see the famous names of some of the owners of horses entered around the country. Whether it’s Bobby Flay winning the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly Turf with More Than Real, Drew Brees co-owning Holy Candy (ARG) with fitness guru Jenny Craig, Jim Rome’s Mizdirection, Merv Griffin’s Stevie Wonder Boy, or George Steinbrenner’s Kinsman Stables – there are plenty of well-known persons on the ownership side of the sport.
Former Green Bay Packer legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Paul Hornung is a native of Louisville, Kentucky, and, not surprisingly, is a big horse racing fan. On Friday at Saratoga, he and his ownership group will send their colt, Titletown Five, against six other juveniles in the fourth race, a Maiden Special Weight at five furlongs on the main track.
Titletown Five is a two-year-old colt by two-time Breeders' Cup Classic winner and two-time Horse of the Year Tiznow, out of D' Wildcat Speed, a Forest Wildcat mare. D' Wildcat Speed was a multiple Grade 1 winner in Puerto Rico, including six Grade 1 wins in 2003, the year she was named Puerto Rico Horse of the Year. After coming to the United States to race, D' Wildcat Speed won the Grade 2 Rampart Handicap at Gulfstream Park.
Titletown Five was sold for $250,000 at the 2011 Keeneland September sale and he is the second foal from D' Wildcat Speed to race (his half-sister, Distorsionada, banked $77k (9-2-2-1) and won races on both dirt and turf). The colt is trained by D. Wayne Lukas, with whom Hornung became friends with while hanging around the backside of Churchill Downs through the years.
Titletown Five isn't the first horse that Hornung has been involved with; from 2009 through 2011, Hornung was co-owner of a horse named Security Breach, a mare by Southern Image out of Maltese Lovers (Thunder Gulch). Security Breach spent her career in the claiming ranks and notched a couple of wins at Tampa Bay Downs and a score at Churchill Downs in November of 2010.
Prior to the 2011 Kentucky Derby, Hornung spoke with the Louisville Courier-Journal about the thrill of owning a horse, and specifically Security Breach.
"I get more kick out of this one horse, Security Breach, which was a $5,000 claiming horse. Security Breach paid $16 to win last year. You would have thought we had won the Derby. There were 45 or 50 of us hollering and screaming in the Winners Circle. It was the biggest circle that I've ever seen at Churchill Downs except for the Oaks and Derby. ... We've had so much fun with the horse. It was one of the biggest days I've ever had betting on horses in my lifetime. We won a nice score that day."
Titletown Five made his racing debut at Churchill Downs back on June 29th, finishing 3rd after a bit of a wide trip around the turn and some greenness in the stretch. He is the 2/1 favorite on the morning line for Friday's race and should have a big chance at giving Hornung and his co-owners some thrills in the winners circle at Saratoga.
There is a lot to like with this colt as he heads into his second career start. Unfortunately, there are some fairly negative training numbers that are difficult to overlook.
D. Wayne Lukas, once one of the top conditioners in the sport, has slumped to below average rates in recent years, especially with juveniles. Over the last five years, Lukas has sent 507 two-year-old starters into the gate with just 32 winners (6% Win%) and 127 finishes in-the-money (25% ITM%). His overall $2 ROI with juveniles is a uninspiring $1.39. However, if you are looking for a sliver of light, Lukas is better with juveniles making their second career start than all others (11/121, 9% Win%, 27% ITM%, $1.88 $2 ROI). And the numbers look a little better if you isolate all Lukas juveniles at Saratoga over the last five years (135/11, 8% Win%, 21% ITM, $2.31 $2 ROI). The hit rates are roughly the same but the ROI shows a flat bet profit.
Titletown Five should be relatively easy to spot for Packer fans on Friday; his jockey will be wearing green silks with yellow stripes on each sleeve, a yellow circle on the back with "GB" in white on the inside, and a yellow cap.