‘Passionate’ About Racing

Presious Passion, who starts in Saturday’s $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic, is far from typical.

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Published: Fri 26 Mar 2010, 12:15 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 5:25 AM

Carrying the tradition of such well-known American geldings as John Henry or The Tin Man, Presious Passion has developed his own niche in recent years. Few horses have his style - go, go, go.

Trainer Mary Hartmann didn’t intend for the Florida-bred to runaway early in his races, a style which left his backers gasping in the Group 1 United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park last July. Presious Passion led the field by 20 lengths early, and held on by two.

“I don’t know where that came from,” she said, earlier this week at Meydan. “At three, he showed speed and we tried to settle him and make a regular turf horse out of him. And for a while he did come from off the pace. He’d be last and he’d win. And then a couple of years ago he started doing this and he was doing it successfully so we leave him alone.”

With such a distinct style, it could be assumed that the 7-year-old, by Royal Anthem, would be difficult to contain in the mornings, but Hartmann said the opposite is true. “He stands more than he trains,” she said. “He’s very relaxed galloping. Usually the reins are loose, and he’s a very calm guy. He’s a looker. He loves to look.”

He also loves to travel. According to Hartmann, the chestnut picked up on the signs that an adventure was in store before departing for Dubai. “We breezed him at Gulfstream and he knew something was up because he can almost count the days till it’s time to run,” she said. “Then the van comes up and he was like, ‘Road trip, ok.’ He saw his bags getting packed. He was so happy, he pranced to the van. He didn’t know where he was going but he was good to go.”

Presious Passion was purchased out of a field in Florida by owner Patricia Generazio in a package deal for a mere $20,000. In 44 starts, he has earned $2,666,293 for his owner, and was named 2009 Florida-bred Horse of the Year. He was also a finalist for the Eclipse Award as outstanding turf male of 2009 in the United States.

Presious Passion holds a special place for Hartmann. “I have had a lot of nice horses personality wise,” she said. “He’s one of the top of all the horses I can remember for thirty years or so. He’s just got a great personality.” Like a young boy, Presious Passion won’t tolerate coddling when his friends are nearby. “If nobody is around he will give you a little snug,” Hartmann said. “But if people are around he won’t snug with me. He’s very laid back. He’ll look in your pocket for a carrot, you know.”

Hartmann has a connection with her horse that made it more difficult to see him beaten, but the veteran trainer is realistic. “I was a little upset in the Breeders’ Cup that it wasn’t a fuller field because I figured if it was a 12-horse field Conduit coming from behind might have some traffic problems,” she said. “I was thrilled to run second. He got beat a half of a length. He went out there, he ran his race, he put himself on the line. What else can you ask for?”

What else? Perhaps the accolade of the only American horse to win the Dubai Sheema Classic? Mary Hartmann is aware of Saturday’s challenges. “There’s a long stretch here,” she said. “That concerns me. I didn’t look but I don’t think anybody has his speed. Mile and a half turf horses aren’t supposed to do what he does. I feel he’ll take people out of their game. You have to adjust a little bit or he’s gone.”

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