TORONTO, June 26 – Rackman, an imposing dark bay son of 2004 Queen’s Plate champ Niigon, is hoping to follow in his famous father’s footsteps in the $1-million Gallop for the Guineas, to be held Sunday, July 7, at Woodbine.
A homebred gelding of the father-son combo of Mike and Nick Nosowenko, Rackman only recently cleared his maiden status with a roller coaster trip on June 1 when he dead-heated with Dragon Puff in a maiden allowance route.
"He got bottled up on the first turn, and steadied back to fifth," noted 51-year-old Nick, who also trains the horse. "He had to make another run and ended up boxed in on the turn for home with a wall of horses in front of him. Gary (Boulanger) threw him into the rail and he came determined up the inside and ended up dead heating for the win, five lengths in front of the rest of the field. He galloped out well in front."
Although it was a first win from nine lifetime starts, Nosowenko believes the gelding will relish the added distance in the 1 1/4-mile Plate.
"I think the mile and a quarter will suit him and that’s what we’re going (into the race) on," said Nosowenko. "We’re going against a lot of stakes horses, that have raced in big stakes in the U.S., but the big question is, in that last eighth of a mile, what’s going to happen?"
Rackman, out of the Bold Executive mare Executive Affair, compiled a record of 0-1-1 through six juvenile starts, saving his best effort for last when he rallied from 10th, and last, in an open allowance to be second at odds of 51-1.
"He was on seven days rest and he almost won that race, coming from dead last going against ‘A other than’ (allowance race for non-winners of a race other than maiden or claiming) company. So, we knew we had something," he said.
Rackman wintered in Ontario and made his seasonal debut on April 27 in a seven furlong maiden allowance, finishing sixth. The gelding followed that effort up with a strong rally in a route to be fourth on May 17, before his maiden breakthrough.
"Woodbine opened a little later this year, so he had extra time off and we’ve only got three races into him," noted Nosowenko. "He went seven-eighths (on debut) and made a nice close. Then we ran a mile and a sixteenth and he was dead last, 18 lengths behind where we wanted him to be, and he ended up fourth, just four lengths behind, closing on the outside. Plus, he got into trouble on the turn for home."
Nosowenko, now in his eighth season as a conditioner, has yet to notch a stakes win though he has placed in several including a third-place effort in last year’s Mt. Sassafras Stakes from Run to the Bank.
"This is our first opportunity at a big race like this, but we did win a couple stakes with One For Bert," recalled Nosowenko of a family-owned filly trained by John Cardella. "She won the Tattling and Maple Leaf Stakes back-to-back at Greenwood, back in 1989."
Rackman, though improving, is currently on the bubble to make the Plate field after suffering a minor setback earlier in the week. His Plate status rests on his performance in a five-panel breeze slated for Sunday morning over the Woodbine main.
"He went off his feed but he’s back to himself and hopefully this weekend he puts in a big work and we can go," says Nosowenko.
Nosowenko, once a franchise owner in the restaurant business having owned both a Casey’s and an East Side Mario’s, is hopeful his horse will be able to dish out a big result on Plate day.
"Against these horses, I’m sure he’s going to be the longest shot on the board and sitting dead last turning for home," said Nosowenko. "But, when he comes running, we’ll see what happens that last quarter mile."
The Queen’s Plate, set for its 154th consecutive edition on Sunday, July 7, 2013 at Woodbine, will be aired live in HD on CBC from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
For more on the historic race, visit http://www.queensplate.com