One of the neatest things about horse racing is that you never really know for sure what’s around the next corner. Sometimes racing’s highway can even take a run-of-the-mill bottom claimer into a superstar which is pretty much the story of Iwontdothatagain.
Claimed for just $4,000 on Jan. 21 of this year, Iwontdothatagain is now humiliating the top horses in Alberta to such an extent that, after trouncing his opponents one more time last Saturday, nobody even wants to race against him. “He’s been quite a story,” said Edmonton’s Ed Keryliuk, who didn’t need to have his arm twisted when trainer and now co-owner Kelly Hoerdt suggested he claim the horse.
“Kelly said he had been looking at a horse for quite a while that he thought I should maybe put in a claim for. I said ‘Sure.’ That’s exactly how it went. Kelly has never steered me wrong before. He talks; I listen. He deserves all the credit for picking him out.” Iwontdothatagain hadn’t shown very much - finishing sixth against $8,000 claimers - when Hoerdt and Keryliuk decided to roll the dice on the six-year-old.
“Kelly said Iwontdothatagain had all kinds of heart,” said Keryliuk. “He said he had raced against him a few times and had trouble getting around him.” But even Hoerdt had no idea just how much heart and try Iwontdothatagain possessed.
“I thought maybe I could improve on him a bit but I never saw this coming,” said Hoerdt of the horse who has now won seven of his last 10 starts - all against open invitational horses. “I just thought he might make a good claiming horse. “When we claimed him his recent lines weren’t anything spectacular. But, I didn’t claim him off that; I claimed him off what I had seen before.”
The first thing Hoerdt did was take Iwontdothatagain to the Bedrock Training Centre - southeast of Beaumont - which he owns with Blair Corbel. There, Hoerdt rested Iwontdothatagain for almost two months and put him in the equine swimming pool which is just one of the many amenities of Bedrock, the equine version of Club Med.
“The horse had some chronic foot problems so the swimming was ideal. He got his cardio without concussing his feet. “The time off and the swimming helped him a lot - especially his attitude.”
The first time Hoerdt and Keryliuk raced Iwontdothatagain was against $9,000 claimers on April 2 at Balzac’s Century Downs. Coming from second-last place - and ahead of just two horses at the top of the stretch in the seven-horse field - Iwontdothatagain charged past them all to win by half a length.
Off that performance, Hoerdt upped the ante and put him in against $20,000 claimers. After two solid second-place efforts - first pacing his last half mile in :56 3/5 seconds and the second time coming home in :56 2/5 in a mile that went in 1:54 3/5 which was by far the fastest he had ever paced - Iwontdothatagain easily turned in his best effort to that point in time. Again far back during the early going, Iwontdothatagain tipped three wide at the three-quarter pole and won going away - the mile again going in 1:54 3/5.
“He gives you butterflies every time he races,” said Keryliuk. It was only the beginning. Moved up into open company - the highest bracket in harness racing - Iwontdothatagain kept on winning.
On May 29 he won in 1:53 2/5. On June 25 he set his lifetime mark when he won in 1:52 3/5. “He’s just a special horse. If he’s anywhere near the front you know he’s going to be right there,” said Keryliuk. “I’ve yet to see a horse around here that can out finish him.”
Iwontdothatagain’s last two wins have been like watching Usain Bolt defeat a group of nuns in full habit garb. On Sept. 9 at Century Downs, Iwontdothatagain moved three wide at the three-quarter pole and won by five and three-quarter lengths in 1:53 3/5. Last Saturday, at Northlands, he made his move earlier than usual taking the lead down the backstretch and then drawing away by six and three-quarter lengths in 1:54 3/5 under total restrataint.
“It’s Iwontdothatagain by five, six, seven-lengths; it doesn’t really matter,” called Northlands race announcer Matt Jukich as Iwontdothatagain won as he pleased over B.C. invader Sterling Cooper, who had been the boss at Fraser Downs, and Cool Cowboy, who had been the boss in Alberta until Iwontdothatagain came along.
Interestingly, Cool Cowboy is also trained by Hoerdt. “Iwontdothatagain is not only winning, he’s winning so easily,” said Keryliuk. “He’s got such a huge heart. It’s try, try, try all the time with that horse.”
One of the most amazing things about Iwontdothatagain is also the least amazing: he doesn’t look like a champion racehorse at all. “He certainly doesn’t have a presence about him. He’s not at all the kind of horse that if you walked by his stall would make you stop and say ‘Wow, look at this horse,’” said Hoerdt.
“I remember one day we had the vet come and look at him,” said Keryiuk. “I showed him Iwontdothatagain and he said ‘That’s him?’ and I said ‘Yup, that’s him alright. “He just doesn’t look anything special. Meagan Kelly is his groom; she just loves him and does an amazing job.”
“He’s proportioned perfectly but he doesn’t have an aura about him,” continued Hoerdt. “There’s really not that much to him. He’s actually on the small side. He’s just a phenomenal little horse. “And he’ll do whatever you ask of him; he does nothing wrong. He never gets in a mood. He’s an absolute pleasure to be around.”
With 13 wins in 22 starts this year, Iwontdothatagain is having a phenomenal season especially considering the way he has gone from the basement to the penthouse. But Iwontdothatagain, and also another harness horse, Senseless Beauty, aren't the only race horses Keryliuk owns that are having a banner year. Keryliuk also owns six thoroughbreds - one of which is Habida, a mare which started the year off running for $8,000.
Before Iwontdothatagain won Saturday night at Northlands, Keryliuk went to Century Downs to watch Habida run second to stakes winner Tara’s Way in a $30,000 allowance race. “Habida won for $25,000 earlier this year so she’s another pretty good story,” said Keryliuk, a project manager for an oil-field construction company.
“Because of my job I’m out of town a lot sometimes working 18 straight days and then getting 10 days off so I can usually only watch live about half of the races I have horses running.” That, however, doesn’t mean Keryliuk misses the other half. “I watch them all. When I can’t be there myself I watch them on my computer or on my phone.
“It’s quite amazing to have two horses that have improved so much. And that one is a thoroughbred and the other is a harness horses.”
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