Army Mule heads latest Top Midlantic-bred Poll

by | Apr 13, 2018 | Breaking, Breeding, Racing, Regionwide, Top Stories

Army Mule was much the best in the Carter at Aqueduct. Photo by NYRA.

Staff report

Army Mule dazzled in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap April 7 at Aqueduct, and that effort enabled the Pennsylvania-bred to rocket to the top of the latest Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred/The Racing Biz Top Midlantic-bred Poll, which was released April 13.

With the win, Army Mule, a newcomer to the list, takes over the top spot among older horses from another runner bred in the Keystone State, Unique Bella, who remains in second place. She has been idle since her February win in Grade 2 Santa Maria Stakes but is expected to run in this afternoon’s Grade 1 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park.

Army Mule has been a long-term project for trainer Todd Pletcher. The four-year-old has made just three starts to date, spread out over the last year. But all three have been impressive victories, capped off by his six-length triumph – in 1:20.94 – in the seven-furlong, $400,000 Carter.

Army Mule, a son of Friesan Fire out of the stakes-winning Crafty Prospector mare Crafty Toast, cost $825,000 as a two-year-old in training at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale in 2016. He was bred by Hope Hill Farm and is owned by St. Elias Stable.

There is one newcomer to the list of older horses in the form of Maryland-bred Lewisfield, who is fourth. The four-year-old Great Notion gelding won the state-bred Not for Love Stakes impressively March 17 to run his record this year to two-for-two; it was the first career stakes victory for the Jeff Runco trainee, who overall has won five of seven career starts.

Also among the top five are Virginia-bred One Go All Go, who is third, and New Jersey-bred Rainbow Heir, who is fifth.

The three-year-old version of the Top Midlantic-bred Poll saw some shuffling – including a new leader. That leader is Blamed, the Maryland-bred daughter of Blame who was second on the list last month.

Blamed, bred by Sagamore Farm, won the Sunland Park Oaks by a half-dozen lengths for her third stakes win of the season and her fifth victory in six starts overall. She is out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Salsa Star. She’s trained by Joel Marr for owner Cleber J. Massey.

She supplants Still Having Fun at the top of the list. The Tim Keefe-trained son of Old Fashioned was a disappointing fourth as the favorite after a tough trip in the Private Terms Stakes March 17 at Laurel Park and drops to third in the poll.

New to the top five three-year-olds this month is Cosmic Burst, who is second in the latest poll. A Pennsylvania-bred Violence filly, Cosmic Burst scored a mild upset in the Grade 3 Honeybee at Oaklawn Park March 10 and is the 7-2 third choice in the same track’s Grade 3 Fantasy April 13. She was bred by Pewter Stable and is trained by Donnie Von Hemel for Norma Lee Stockseth and Todd Dunn.

Also new to the three-yearold Top Midlantic-bred Poll is Maryland-bred V. I. P. Code. The Phil Schoenthal-trained City Zip colt scored a 36-1 upset in the Private Terms Stakes at Laurel Park for his first stakes win and third career win overall. V. I. P. Code is a homebred for Everest Stables.

Maryland-bred Limited View remains in fourth in the latest poll among three-year-olds.

Of the 10 horses in the twin polls, five were bred in Maryland – including four of five three-year-olds —  three were bred in Pennsylvania, and Virginia and New Jersey were the home states for one each. Six of the 10 were males, and four were females.

The monthly Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred is the only publication devoted to Thoroughbred breeding and racing in the Mid-Atlantic region. The Racing Biz, an online publication, is the independent voice for mid-Atlantic racing and breeding.

The poll was restricted to horses that have run in 2018 and were bred in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware, and the Carolinas.


  1. Blamed (MD) — filly by Blame-Salsa Star, by Giant’s Causeway; bred by Sagamore Farm; trained by Joel Marr for Cleber J. Massey; won El Paso Times S., Island Fashion S., Sunland Park Oaks. Last month: 2nd
  2. Cosmic Burst (PA) — filly by Violence-Peggy Ring, by Ghostzapper; bred by Pewter Stable; trained by Donnie Von Hemel for Norma Lee Stockseth and Todd Dunn; won G3 Honeybee Stakes. Last month: NA
  3. Still Having Fun (MD) — colt by Old Fashioned-Casual Kiss, by Dehere; bred by Tim Keefe and Mr. and Mrs. Charles McGinnes; owned by Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable, and Terp Racing LLC; won Miracle Wood S., Whiteley S. Last month: 1st.
  4. Limited View (MD) — filly by Freedom Child-Loves to Glance, by Not for Love; bred by Barbara G. Smith; trained by John Salzman, Jr. for himself, Fred Wasserloos, and George Greenwalt; won Marshua S., second Beyond the Wire S. Last month: 4th.
  5. V. I. P. Code (MD) — colt by City Zip-Oro Blanco, by Hold for Gold; bred and owned by Everest Stables Inc. and trained by Phil Schoenthal; won Private Terms S. Last month: NA

Also receiving votes: Smokinpaddylassie, Forest Fire, Ferdinanda, Cordmaker





  1. Army Mule (PA) — 4yo ridgling by Friesan Fire-Crafty Toast, by Crafty Prospector; bred by Hope Hill Farm; trained by Todd Pletcher for St. Elias Stable; won G1 Carter H. Last month: NA.
  2. Unique Bella (PA) — 4yo filly by Tapit-Unrivaled Belle, by Unbridled’s Song; bred by Brushwood Stable; trained by Jerry Hollendorfer for Don Alberto Stable; won G2 Santa Maria. Last month: 1st.
  3. One Go All Go (VA) — 6yo horse by Fairbanks-See Ashleigh Run, by Marquetry; bred by Albert P. Coppola; trained by Charles Dickey for Rodney Paden; 2nd G2 Mac Diarmida S., 2nd G2 Ft. Lauderdale S., 2nd G2 Pan American S. Last month: 2nd.
  4. Lewisfield (MD) — 4yo gelding by Great Notion-Smart Crowd, by Crowd Pleaser; bred and owned by Linda Zang; trained by Jeff Runco; won Not for Love S. Last month: NA
  5. Rainbow Heir (NJ) — by Wildcat Heir-Rainbow Pride, by Prospectors Gamble; bred by New Farm; trained by Jason Servis for New Farm; won Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint S. Last month: 3rd.

Also receiving votes: Page McKenney, Irish War Cry, It’s the Journey, Anna’s Bandit, Favorite Tale, Moonlit Song



  • Unique Bella, 2-5 in G1 Apple Blossom H. at Oaklawn Park
  • Cosmic Burst, 7-2 in G3 Fantasy S. at Oaklawn Park

Participating Voters: Ted Black (freelance writer), Michael Campbell (Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association of New Jersey), Joe Clancy (Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred), Cindy Deubler (Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred), Linda Dougherty (freelance), Debbie Easter (Virginia Thoroughbred Association), Paul Espinosa (Charles Town Races), Anne Frederick (Maryland Horse Breeders Association), Rich Glazier (Delaware Park), Cricket Goodall (Maryland Horse Breeders Association), Jim Hague (freelance), Nick Hahn (freelance), Carol Holden (West Virginia Breeders Classics), Tom LaMarra (The Blood-Horse), Jeff Nations (freelance), Kate Painter (West Virginia Thoroughbred Breeders Association), Vinnie Perrone (freelance), Frank Petramalo (Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association), Gary Quill (The Racing Biz), David Richardson (Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association), Brian Sanfratello (Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association), Sal Sinatra (Maryland Jockey Club), Chris Sobocinski (Delaware Park), Dan Tordjman (freelance), Frank Vespe (The Racing Biz), Bill Watson (freelance), Lydia Williams (freelance), Bobby Zen (freelance).

Note — Not all participating voters will vote in every poll.