The following is the initial posting of a series in which Horse Racing Nation will follow an unraced, but promising youngster, from morning works through the hope of bigger and better things.
by Donald Harris
Forecasting the future… Unless you are Nostradamus, even the most seasoned professional, of any industry, will tell you the most efficient lessons are learned through mistakes. I have now been a student of clocking for 10 years, so I assume with another 8 years under my belt, I will graduate the equivalent of high school for the profession. Until then, I heed the words of Brad Pitt in the movie Moneyball in regards to his great exchange with scout Grady Fuson. For those that have not seen that film, I would strongly suggest giving it a watch. Trust me, these ramblings will make a touch more sense. With that helpful disclaimer out of the way, I would like to share my thoughts on a John Shirreffs’ gray by the name of Mentor Cane. The most important tool I have is my gut. It is a tool that can only be sharpened with time. My gut first rumbled about Mentor on October 9th when he showed a legit burst in a team drill where he big-brothered older runner Odeon. In his very next drill on October 18th, my gut said, “this dude is a runner”. He humiliated Odeon. His subsequent drills have not diminished my crush.
What are my expectations? Anything short of a stakes winner and I would be disappointed. The fact that he is an unraced two year old about to turn the Kentucky Derby age of three gets my mind racing. I always have to take note of possible foibles. He does seem fond of leaning in while running on the wrong lead. Thus far that has not slowed him down, but I have found that that could lead to issues on race day. He also seems a bit hot blooded. He will work up a little lather during his routine morning gallops. Nevertheless, I am hoping Shirreffs keeps Mentor happy and sound, so that we can see how his career unfolds from this point. This great game is about athletes. Only racing will prove what kind of athlete Mentor Cane will become because purse money and black type is not awarded for bullet drills. Right now, he sure looks good on the practice field.