by Danny Brewer, Sports Editor
In the business world we often spend time looking for some real Money. In the business of Thoroughbred racing, one conditioner knew he has some real Money and after the Ack-Ack Stakes, everyone else knows it too.
Mr Money is a powerfully running son of Goldencents out of the mare Plenty O’Toole. A brilliantly managed three-year old campaign saw him ascend in the division during 2019. Some slight mishaps took him off the Kentucky Derby trail early and trainer Bret Calhoun decided to take a bit of a different route. After collecting himself, Money cashed in with four straight grade 3 wins (Pat Day Mile, Matt Winn Stakes, Indiana Derby, West Virginia Derby) with two of those coming at his home track, Churchill Downs (Pat Day, Matt Win). He finished the year with a narrow loss in the Pennsylvania Derby and a hard luck seventh place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
The calendar turned to 2020 and most looked for even more Money. With a bigger, stronger Money that had matured, expectations were high in the Calhoun barn. Then things happened and with the entire world turned upside down, Mr. Money’s handler was trying to find good places to spend. Race cancellations and meet alterations made it challenging for sure.
As the year has played out Calhoun found races because his horse needed to run, but it was just one hard-luck event after another. Four starts at four different tracks had yielded two fourth place finishes, a sixth, and a tenth. Continuing to invest in his charge, Calhoun knew we had not seen any real Money this year. He just needed the right spot and a little luck for a big return.
Along came the 28th running of the Ack-Ack Stakes at Churchill Downs on September 26. With three wins in five previous starts out of his own stall, this looked like a great place to cash. This looked like a great time to see some real Money, but with 12 worthy opponents, there were no guaranteed returns.
When the gates opened it was time to see just how real the Money was. Record setting early race fractions (22.61 opening quarter mile, 44.85 half mile) saw Calhoun’s investment stalking under jockey Gabriel Saez. As front-running race favorite Warrior’s Charge began to fade, Mr. Money cashed in on an opening along the rail and shot to the lead at the eighth pole. Digging in with determination under Saez, he finished a length and a quarter ahead of every one else and covered the one mile distance in 1:34.85.
“We are really happy to see him get back on track and prove himself again,” says Calhoun. “It’s been a tough year for him, but we know what kind of a talent he really is.”
Mr. Money returned $14.80 to his backers on a $2 win investment in picking up his sixth win in seventeen lifetime starts. Perhaps a return to the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile may be his next start, but for now, his team is just happy they saw some real Money.