A failed medical test and a trainer’s keen eye for potential resulted in a syndicate of owners snapping up Maximan after a claiming race “to just run around at Menangle every week, earn a cheque and win a few races”.
Five months later and the gelding is a TAB Inter Dominion Pacing Championship finalist.
Ben Krahe – along with his parents and several other co-owners – will be cheering on the ID18 surprise packet from the Tabcorp Park Melton stands on Saturday evening.
He explains how the son of US stallion Armbro Operative – who cost $25,000 after the claiming race at Trots HQ on July 7 – was effectively a back-up plan after another deal fell through.
“We were looking at two horses from New Zealand, one is called Kates Carrerra (who ran second at Menangle on Tuesday),” Krahe said. “There was another horse we were going to buy with it – I can’t remember its name now – but it didn’t pass the vet (check).”
He said the failed test left the syndicate with a spare $25,000 or so. Then trainer Shane Tritton noticed Maximan had been entered in the Huntsville @ Empire Pace, a 1720m claiming race at Melton.
“Shane came up with the plan that he’d be a nice horse to just run around at Menangle every week, earn a cheque and win a few races,” Krahe said.
“Apparently there were a couple of claims (but) we got lucky.”
Maximan’s first run for his new owners was an underwhelming ninth at Menangle on August 4.
“(It) was pretty ordinary for us but (Shane) said ‘don’t worry, I’m still working him out’,” Krahe said.
“And he gradually got better.”
By the time ID18’s nominations closed on October 1 the gelding had added a couple of thirds to his record – handy but nowhere near the form that would warrant entering the prestigious series. Then Maximan won twice in successive weeks.
“We started to muck around, saying maybe we should have entered the Inter Dominion,” he said. “Not really serious or anything as they were lower class races. And then he broke the clock running home in his (next two).”
Maximan’s close-up seconds to Majordan (1.50.4) and Joes Star Of Mia (1.49.3) over 1609m at Menangle on October 28 and November 3 were enough to stop the gags and pay the $20,000 late entry fee.
“He ran from near last and almost ran down Majordan, which was a pretty bloody good effort and that’s when we decided ‘let’s have a dig at this, we’re not going to get another chance’,” he said.
“All credit goes to Adam (Sofoulis), who is the major owner and has had to fork out the best part of eight grand to enter – without him we wouldn’t have been able to do it.”
The 10-year-old entered the series as an outsider but has raced like anything but, with a third and two fourths earning him a place in the final.
“He has done fantastic, he was 100-1 going into the series; he was a claimer five months ago and anyone could have bought him, so no-one was really expecting him to go this far,” Krahe said.
“All credit to Shane and Lauren Tritton, they have delivered way above all expectations and now we have a finalist.”
Krahe admits his first Inter Dominion finalist will find it hard after drawing 6 at Federation Square on Monday morning.
“He has drawn badly; you are kind of stuck in a hard place as if you want to go forward you are using a bit of energy in a long race and if you go back you are obviously giving all the best horses a start,” he said.
“We haven’t given up that’s for sure; we have discussed a few different tactics but it will all just depend on the speed of the front row. Obviously we would like to be as forward as possible with a position but we don’t want to get stuck out wide.
“Lauren (Tritton) is a good enough driver to weigh it all up, her drives so far in the series have been just fantastic.”
Krahe said he hoped Maximan ran well “but to be honest we don’t care as we are in the bloody race”.
“I was brought up on the track, my Mum and Dad who are part-owners (and) they used to take me to the track as a kid,” he said.
“I have had probably about 10 horses now (but have) never had a feature runner really. This is just unbelievable; the trots are my life and this is by far and away the biggest thrill.”
Krahe said most of Maximan’s owners would hopefully be at the track on Saturday.
“Mum and Dad are coming down, Dad is just tickled pink, he has loved the trots for 50 years and can’t believe he has got an Inter Dominion runner, he is pestering me every day calling me up and telling me different stats, it is great,” he said.
“There are people in (Maximan) who before this had never even looked at trotters, let alone owned one, so the excitement levels are just fantastic.
“I’m getting emails every day, asking ‘what is the Inter Dominion’, ‘how many heats are there’, ‘where do we have to run tonight’, that sort of thing.
“It is really good to see, it is really good for the sport because you get new owners in, you get people who are going to have a bet on the sport who never have before and that is what it’s all about really.
“I know it is a cliché but it is a dream come true.”