Time is now for Still Having Fun
Still Having Fun was by himself at the end of the Frank Whiteley, Jr. Stakes. Photo by Laurie Asseo.
by Frank Vespe
“If there’s a time to try him up there, it’s now,” says Laurel Park-based trainer Tim Keefe.
“Him” is his talented three-year-old trainee Still Having Fun. “Up there” is Belmont Park, and “now” is going to be Saturday, when Keefe sends the Maryland-bred son of Old Fashioned postward in the Grade 2, $400,000 Woody Stephens Stakes. Still Having Fun is 15-1 on the morning line.
Still Having Fun rallied nicely to be second in his last race, the six-furlong Chick Lang Stakes on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico. While he was beaten six lengths that day, the winner, Mitole, is one of the fastest three-year-olds in the country; in fact, he and Kentucky Derby-Preakness winner Justify are tied for the year’s top Beyer speed figure by a three-year-old (107) and the second-highest three-year-old Beyer, 104.
There’s no question the seven-furlong Stephens it’s a heavy lift for Still Having Fun. It has drawn a wide-open field of 12; the morning line favorite is Kanthaka (3-1), the Jerry Hollendorfer trainee who has won a pair of graded races at the seven-furlong distance.
The good news is that, while this figures to be the toughest top-to-bottom field that Still Having Fun has seen, Mitole won’t be here.
In the Chick Lang, Still Having Fun, off at 9-1 odds, was in eighth place after a half-mile before angling out and making a solid run under jockey Sheldon Russell to be a clear second.
“We were thrilled with the way he ran in the Chick Lang,” said Keefe. “He handled everything fine, the noise, the commotion. He kind of jumped a lot of hurdles and came out of the race great.”
The added furlong of the Woody Stephens figures to benefit Still Having Fun, whose best performance probably came in the Frank Whiteley, Jr. Stakes at the same distance. Notably, Still Having Fun, out of the Dehere mare Casual Kiss, sports a gaudy record of 5-3-2-0 in one-turn races; his only two out-of-the-money finishes came in the 1 1/16 mile Private Terms Stakes and the 1 1/8 mile Federico Tesio. Overall, he has earned $211,703 from seven starts.
Keefe co-bred Still Having Fun, along with Mr. and Mrs. Charles McGinnes. He trained Still Having Fun’s dam, Casual Kiss, for his longtime, now-deceased owner Arnold Heft. Though Casual Kiss never did make the races, Keefe said she showed talent in the mornings.
When it became clear that Casual Kiss was going to retire unraced, the McGinneses, who bred her, offered to take her back as a broodmare. They have named Keefe as co-breeder of her offspring, though he said that when he bought Still Having Fun, “I don’t even think I knew I was co-breeder at the time.”
Keefe bought Still Having Fun for $12,000 for Terp Racing out of the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic fall yearling sale in 2016. He made his debut in November of his two-year-old season, winning easily against waiver-maiden claiming company, after which Terp sold two-thirds of him to Gary Barber and Wachtel Stable. Since then he’s won the Frank Whiteley, Jr. Stakes and the Miracle Wood Stakes and has runner-up efforts in both the Lang and the Maryland Juvenile Futurity.
Still Having Fun shipped to New York Thursday morning following training and will be staying in Bill Mott’s Belmont Park barn. Keefe said, the colt will jog or have an easy gallop — “to stretch his legs” — over Big Sandy’s main track on Friday.
And on Saturday, Keefe will leg up Joel Rosario to head postward in the biggest race of Still Having Fun’s brief career.
“This horse has proven he’s got some talent,” the trainer said. “We want to take every advantage of that.”