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Wolfson Takes Fuller On 'Trip' To Winner's Circle
By Ed Gray
Peter Fuller experienced arguably the most devastating disappointment in Thoroughbred history for an owner when his 1967 Kentucky Derby winner Dancer’s Image was controversially disqualified.
So, it’s really not surprising that the Boston owner and breeder would hold no ill feelings for someone for merely claiming one of his homebred fillies five years ago. In fact, even though –and because – Annabill went on to win 15 races and 8 stakes for trainer Milt Wolfson, Fuller decided to send a half-sister to the veteran South Florida trainer a couple years ago.
“It’s really unusual for an owner to take it in stride and not worry about it,” Wolfson said. “When you claim a horse from somebody, most of the time, they hate you for life, especially if you do that well with them.”
It proved to be both a sporting and lucrative move for Fuller and Wolfson, who have enjoyed a winning partnership with Trip for A.J. The homebred half-sister to Annabill has won seven of her 14 races, including the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 29.
The 4-year-old daughter of Trippi will return to action in Saturday’s $100,000 Honey Fox (G3), in which she will take on a pair of stakes winners at the current meeting: Cherokee Queen, the winner of the Suwannee River (G3) at Gulfstream last time out, and Justaroundmidnight, who captured the Marshua’s River (G3) two starts back.
“We’re looking for her to run a big race. She’s feeling good and gained a few pounds since her last race,” said Wolfson, acknowledging the toughness of the competition in the one-mile turf stakes.
His experience with Annabill has certainly helped Wolfson in the training of Trip for A.J., who has earned more than $400,000 in purses.
“They’re almost a mirror image. After I got (Trip for A.J.), I pulled out the old training charts and said, ‘Let’s try the same thing,’” Wolfson said. “When I got them, they were both nervous. You had to be careful around them, because if you make a quick move real quick, you could scare them, and they could hurt you. You just got to baby them and take your time with them and let them get their confidence. They’re both runners.”
Wolfson had his doubts about Annabill’s future shortly after making the $25,000 claim out of a winning effort on Aug. 13, 2006.
“After the race, I watched her walking around and I said, ‘Oh, what a mistake,’ because she was a funny moving horse,” he said. “She had a funny walking stride. I said, ‘Oh, boy,’ but once I got her on the racetrack and watched her move, I felt a lot better. I said, “This filly looks like she’ll go two turns.”
Annabill won going long, going short, on dirt and turf, although the daughter of Outflanker preferred the main track. Trip for A.J. has won on dirt, but the daughter of Trippi is definitely a turf specialist.
Considering the success he’s had with training Annabill and Trip for A.J., Wolfson is anticipating success with their 3-year-old half-sister out of the broodmare A.J.’s Hot Shot. The Fuller-bred A.J.’s Hot Mambo, a daughter of Florida stallion Black Mambo, is expected to start at Gulfstream in the near future.