Pa-bred Army Mule an impressive winner of the G1 Carter Handicap
April 9, 2018
By SARA CAVANAGH
Army Mule, bred by James McGreevy's Hope Hill Farm in Oxford, Pa., a 4-year-old, has only started three times, but he's won all three impressively, with his latest victory coming in the G1 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack on April 7.
Ridden by Joe Bravo, Army Mule drafted behind the leaders in the 11 horse field, angled out three wide into the stretch and put on a burst of speed to move well clear of the field and finish driving, but not fully extended, to win the 7 furlong race by 6 1/4 lengths in 1:20.94.
By Friesian Fire out of Crafty toast, by Crafty Propector, Army Mule was sold to Scanlon Training & Sales for $85,000 as a yearling, was sold by Scanlon Training & Sales to Crupi's New Casstle Farm for $825,000 as a 2-year-old and is now owned by Vincent Viola's St. Elias Stable.
Viola has an electronic trading firm, Virtu Financial, and he is a former chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Viola graduated from West Point Academy and served in the U.S. Army Reserves.
Viola also owns the NHL's Florida Panthers.
Army Mule was sent to trainer Todd Pletcher last year as a 3-year-old.
His first win was an 8 1/2 length win in a Belmont Park maiden race at 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.79 on April 30, 2017.
But then Army Mule's knee had a problem, and he did not return to the races until this year, when he registered an even more impressive 7 1/2-length score in a Gulfstream Park allowance optional-claiming race on Jan. 31.
"He had a flare-up in his knee. It wasn't a surgical issue. We just had to give him time," Pletcher said in The Bloodhorse after his third win in the Carter. "When you have a horse break his maiden like he did, and with Saratoga around the corner, you starting thinking (about the future), but it's a tribute to Vinnie's patience as an owner that we gave him the time he needed. I told him he's a very talented horse, and we have to stop and give him a break, and the patience paid off today."
Army Mule returned to racing on Jan. 31, winning an 6 furlong Allowance, Optional Claiming race at Gulfstream by 7 1/2 lengths, finishing in hand in 1:08.87.
Despite his limited career, it has been a very successful one, and he's one to watch in the future.