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From Claim To Fame: Greeley and Ben

The nine-year-old Greeley and Ben has won 23 of 39 starts and earned over $880k in his lifetime, including stakes for two different owners that claimed him for $10,000 and $40,000. He’s the kind of horse anyone would like to have in their barn, hitting the board in 82% of his lifetime starts and earning an average of $22,633 per start.

The bay gelding by Greeley’s Conquest and out of the Langfuhr mare Traci’s Wild - a homebred for Millard R. Seldin Revocable Trust, who also raced Traci’s Wild - began his career on October 15th, 2016 with a promising runner-up effort at nearly 95-1 in a Keeneland maiden special weight, coming with a wide rally from twelve lengths back to miss by just a head to future stakes winner Rockshaw.

Trainer Gary Thomas stretched the colt out for his next start, winning a Churchill Downs maiden special weight at a mile. In a completely different fashion from his debut, Greeley and Ben dueled throughout and eventually prevailed by a neck over Hence, who would break his maiden in his next start and win the Sunland Derby the following March. It was at this point one might suspect there were some nagging issues with Greeley and Ben, as he was off for four months.

The same month Hence became a graded stakes winner, Greeley and Ben was in his first start against winners, where he was bothered at the start and finished fifth. Interestingly, the chart notes that he worked out an extra sixteenth of a mile past the finish. He was off for another four months after that race, but returned with a wire-to-wire score by 4 ¼ lengths in an Ellis Park allowance on July 29th, 2017. He went to the shelf again off that effort, returning as a gelding in a Churchill allowance optional claiming event at the end of November, where he was beaten four lengths by C Z Rocket - who would try the Malibu off that win and eventually become a multiple graded stakes winner - and two lengths by runner-up J Boys Echo, who had won the Gotham earlier that year and was making his first start since the Belmont Stakes.

Greeley and Ben didn’t race at all in 2018, and returned in February of 2019 to run sixth in an Oaklawn Park non-winners of three allowance optional claiming event at six furlongs. He rebounded off that effort with a win the following month in a non-winners of two “other than” at Oaklawn going a mile, where he set the pace and prevailed by a length. In mid-May he was seventh in an allowance optional claimer on the turf at Churchill Downs (although his 84 Beyer was on par with his efforts to date), then was off until August 2nd, finishing second by a neck to graded stakes winner Colonelsdarktemper in an Ellis Park allowance.

Off for over a year, he returned for a $25,000 tag in an allowance optional claiming event at Horseshoe Indianapolis on September 22nd, 2020 with new trainer John Ortiz. He pressed the pace and went on to win the six furlong race by a length. He was protected in his next race on October 6th at the same track and distance, putting in a decent rally but finishing third as the favorite. A month later, he won for a $32,000 tag at Churchill Downs, trailing a four-horse field before driving up to win by 2 ¼ lengths.

Returning in January of 2021, he was second as the favorite for a $10,000 tag in a 5 ½ furlong sprint at Oaklawn Park, then won for $10,000 at the same track going 6 furlongs two weeks later in the shortest turnaround of his career to that point. He was off for a month and returned on March 7th to finish second in a six furlong sprint at the $12,500 claiming level at Oaklawn, where he ran for the lower tag of $10,000.

Claimed by Karl Broberg for End Zone Athletics out of that spot, he raced twice more in March, winning at the same level and distance on March 20th - earning back his claiming tag and then some with the winner’s purse of $17,400. He finished a lackluster 6th in a starter allowance going a mile and a sixteenth eight days later. Given a month off, he rewarded his new connections with another victory in starter allowance company at Oaklawn on April 24th, dueling throughout with the runner-up and prevailing by a neck.

It was the first of eight straight wins for the 7-year-old, who began to dominate the starter and allowance races at Prairie Meadows, with six straight wins at six furlongs at that track from May 8th to August 20th. He was the odds-on favorite in each of those starts, and banked $89,250 in total for those Prairie Meadows wins. Following a 4 ½ length win on August 20th, he was shipped to Remington Park for an allowance, which he won handily by a length.

Three weeks later, he was given his first try in a stakes race and passed the test with flying colors, winning the David M. Vance Stakes as the favorite over a field that included the likes of multiple stakes winner Mr. Money Bags, Empire of Gold - who had finished fourth in the previous year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Welder - the all-time winningest horse at Remington, and the hard-trying Long Range Toddy. He was named Remington Park’s Champion Horse of the Meeting for his two wins, ending Welder’s three-year streak of receiving the title.

After the race, Broberg commented to BloodHorse that he’d worked hard to keep Greeley and Ben out of these types of spots, and hadn’t claimed him with the intention of getting a stakes horse. “I just thought he was a horse who looked like he was worth $10,000. If I said there was anything genius to it, I’d be making up a story. I’ll still be looking for a $10,000 starter allowance for him.” Greeley and Ben earned nine times his claiming tag - $90,000 - for his David M. Vance Stakes win alone.

The gelding was given two months’ rest off that effort, and resurfaced for the Thanksgiving Classic Stakes at Fair Grounds, where he finished second as the third wagering choice.

He reeled off three more wins for Broberg and End Zone Athletics to start off 2022, taking Delta Downs’ Sam’s Town Stakes on January 8th by three lengths, then returning at the end of the month to win Sam Houston’s Stonerside Sprint Stakes. He won a $16,000 starter allowance at Oaklawn on February 21st, and was then given his first try in graded stakes company in Oaklawn’s G3 Whitmore Stakes, where he finished third.

Having already earned $128,600 for his connections in 2022 alone, and with his starter eligibility expiring at the end of March, Greeley and Ben was entered for a $62,500 claiming tag at Oaklawn on April 24th. He won handily and was claimed by Melton Wilson for Thaddeus A. Wier, Jr. He’d earned over $464,000 while racing for Brobberg and End Zone Athletics.

On June 4th, Greeley and Ben ran second in Monmouth Park’s Mr. Prospector stakes for new connections, BellaBlue Racing Stable and trainer Bonnie Lucas. He was a lackluster fourth in Delaware Park’s Alapocas Run Stakes on July 2nd, and sold in Fasig Tipton’s July Horses of Racing Age sale nine days later for $80,000 to Francis Chiumiento. Including the sale price, he earned $106,000 for BellaBlue off a $62,500 tag.

Greeley and Ben was next seen two months later for a $40,000 tag on September 4th at Saratoga under the care of David Jacobson. He won that race gamely over the odds-on favorite Happy Farm, and was claimed by Jeffrey Englehart for owner Darryl E. Abramowitz.

He was eligible to be protected in a Laurel Park optional claimer on October 8th on account of not having won a race other than a claiming race since April 7th, and he finished second behind the favorite - graded stakes winner Morello - in that spot. The effort was enough for his connections to try him in the G3 Bold Ruler Stakes at Aqueduct, where the 2022 Belmont meet was held.

Sent off at 20-1, Greeley and Ben chased the pace and fought on valiantly to finish fourth, beaten just ¾ of a length. Twelve days later, he won an Aqueduct starter allowance, then got his graded stakes score in the G3 Fall Highweight Handicap, closing ground to prevail by a neck over Runninsonofagun and Factor It In, two of the horses who had outfinished him in the Bold Ruler. The $96,250 purse he earned in that race brought his total earnings for Abramowitz to $139,900. He was one of seven horses scratched out of the Gravesend Stakes, and returned to the work tab at Belmont on February 19th.

Greeley and Ben is the epitome of consistency, from his early promise facing future stakes-quality competition as a two-year-old to his breakout seasons at seven and eight. He’s shown a versatile running style, winning races on the lead and from a few lengths off the pace. He’s also shown that he has the will to win in a stretch duel, with eight wins by less than a length compared to five losses by less than a length; the chart notes “gamely” and “held sway” have come up in five of his races. He’s won at distances from five and a half to eight furlongs (though hasn’t been tried past six furlongs in nearly two years) on tracks rated fast, sloppy, and muddy, and despite his worst career finish coming in his one turf effort, he equaled that same 84 Beyer in his following race when finishing second to a graded stakes winner. Overall, this is exactly the kind of horse any claiming barn should aspire to have in their stable.

- Jessica Tugwell, Content Manager - LBB Stables

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