Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable and Terp Racing’s Still Having Fun came charging down the stretch along the inside to snatch the lead from favored Wentz and go on to record his first stakes victory in Laurel Park’s $100,000 Frank Whiteley Jr. on Saturday, Jan. 27.
Making only his third career start, the bay son of Old Fashioned completed the seven furlongs in 1:23.05 over a fast main track to kick off Laurel’s series of sophomore stakes that continues with the one-mile Miracle Wood Feb. 17, mile and a sixteenth Private Terms March 17 and nine-furlong Federico Tesio April 21, a “Win and You’re In” event to the May 19 Preakness Stakes-G1 for Triple Crown-nominated horses.
“I’m very proud of him,” said winning trainer and co-breeder Tim Keefe. “This horse has what you can’t teach a horse. He has the desire to win, and I don’t care what you do to a horse. If they don’t want to win like this horse does. . . He’s got talent, he’s got ability and he’s learning with every race.”
Still Having Fun was purchased by Terp Racing at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Fall Yearling sale for $12,000 out of the Thornmar consignment of co-breeders Cynthia and Charles McGinnes. After a dominating three and a quarter-length debut victory at Laurel Park on Nov. 17, Terp Racing sold a part-interest in the colt to Gary Barber and Wachtel Stable. His next start was his stakes debut, the Maryland Juvenile Futurity Dec. 9 at Laurel, which he lost by a neck in a stirring stretch duel with Whirlin Curlin.
Unlike his previous effort, where he raced closer to the lead, regular rider Feargal Lynch settled Still Having Fun off a pace of :22.84 and :46.37 set by Wentz before driving past and opening up to win by four and a half lengths.
Still Having Fun is out of Casual Kiss, a daughter of champion Dehere bred by the McGinneses. His family traces back generations with the McGinneses and the horses owned by the late Dr. Philip J. Torsney through stakes winner and sensational broodmare Foolish Kisses, the dam of four stakes winners and 10 winners from 13 foals.
Casual Kiss, out of one of Foolish Kisses’ two foals not to race, the Numerous mare Bushel and a Peck, was sold by the McGinneses as a yearling for $20,000 in 2009. Buzz Chace signed the ticket, and the filly joined the Keefe stable for owner Arnold Heft. Cynthia McGinnes noted the filly had shown tremendous promise, but “was injured behind coming out of the gate in training,” before she ever started. Attempts to bring her back after lengthy layoffs failed, and Heft, in his 90s and in failing health, sought to find a home for his unraced filly. Keefe turned to the McGinneses. “We told Tim we’d make him a co-breeder on her foals, and split the breeder bonuses,” said McGinnes.
The injury the filly suffered in training, thought to be in her pelvis, never hampered her from delivering foals, and Casual Kiss has had a foal each year since producing a filly by Scipion, named Honey Bun, in 2014. The McGinnes, in partnership with Francis Clemens, still own Honey Bun, who has won or placed in five of her 10 starts, all at Maryland tracks. In addition to her on-track earnings of $33,366, the filly has earned another $10,000-plus in breeder bonuses. “It shows how great the Maryland-bred program is,” said McGinnes, who added the two foals of racing age for Casual Kiss have earned nearly $40,000 in breeder bonuses to date. “Breeders should be encouraged to race a horse they’ve bred,” noted McGinnes. “You don’t need a stakes horse to get breeder awards.”
Casual Kiss’s 2016 colt by Buffum, named Stranger Danger, was sold at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Fall Yearling sale for $7,000 to top Jamaican trainer Wayne Dacosta. The mare has a “gorgeous” yearling colt by Jump Start who will also go to the Maryland Fall sale, and is due this April to Golden Lad. She has already been booked to Murmur Farm’s first-year stallion Blofeld, a A+++ pedigree nick.
When Still Having Fun went through the sales ring, the catalog page showed his first two dams were unraced, and between them had produced one winner. “You can’t give up on a good family,” said McGinnes.
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