By Dick Jerardi
By the time Butch Reid emerged from the Delaware Park paddock Saturday after getting Foggy Night ready for the Grade III Delaware Oaks, Fore Harp was just about home in the $100,000 Laurel Dash at Laurel Park.
“I came running out of the paddock to watch my Laurel race, and they were already at the sixteenth pole, and I was 3 in front,” Reid said.
Could the trainer really win two stakes in less than 15 minutes? Could another of the endless supply of full brothers and sisters (by Weigelia out of Katarica Disco) win another stake? Could Reid win the DelOaks for the second time in three years? Could he win his 15th graded stakes? Yes, yes, yes, and yes.
Fore Harp never looked back after his great start under Sheldon Russell. The Pennsylvania bred won the 6-furlong grass race by 2 lengths, with fellow Pa. bred Witty closing for second.
Fore Harp is a full brother to Smooth B, Disco Ebo, Pink Princess, Disco Rose and Fat Kat. Combined, the horses have won nearly $3 million.
“The first horse I bought with Glenn Bennett was Fat Kat,” Reid said. “We’ve bought every foal since, eight in a row or something like that.”
Fore Harp is owned by Bennett’s LC Racing, Dr. Jim Bonner and Reid’s Wellesley Racing. Doc Bonner and Butch’s brother Brian left the Laurel winner’s circle with a few minutes to spare before the start of the DelOaks, 85 miles to the north.
Foggy Night was 14-1 in the race. Given the incredible run Reid and jockey Paco Lopez have been on since Pennsylvania Derby Day 2022, that now looks like a big overlay.
Foggy Night finished second in the Tempted Stakes at Aqueduct last November before finishing sixth in the Grade II Demoiselle. The filly got the winter off, her first start back in April at Parx, a prelude to a summer stakes campaign that was to begin with the Oaks.
Lopez had her in a perfect spot the entire trip, third a few lengths behind the two leaders. When the jockey asked the filly to go on the far turn, she went after the leaders quickly. She eased by in the stretch to win by 1 3/4 lengths. She wasn’t quite the longshot Project Whiskey (38-1) was when she won the 2020 DelOaks for Reid, but the money in the $300,000 race works just the same for owner Pine Brook Farm.
Foggy Night was purchased for just $20,000 last year at the April OBS Sale. When asked for the back story, Reid laughed and explained the owner is Bill “Poppy” Gotwals whose family owns the Brook Ledge van company. Its home office is in Oley, Pa., not far from Reading.
“He’s 94 years old, was sitting at dinner the night before the sale and `asked, how do you buy a horse?” Reid was told. “He felt obligated because they had been making so much money off the horses that they should invest a few dollars. He goes the next day, no trainer, no vet. He saw a chestnut horse with no white hair on it and said: ‘I’ll buy it.’ That was Foggy Night.”
The filly was sent to Barry Eisman whose farm is in Ocala. He recommended Reid. Now, Brook Ledge vans a DelOaks winner that its founder owns.
Reid is thinking maybe Monmouth Oaks, followed by the Cathryn Sophia and Cotillion at Parx for Foggy Night.
The trainer will try for the Delaware Oaks/Delaware Handicap double this Saturday with Morning Matcha.
And, yes, Paco Lopez will be riding.