Barn notes 1/19 | Sports & Recreation
Haran Out to Build Strong Winter at Oaklawn
Owner/trainer John Haran has made a good living for himself multitasking and keeping his options open. With a construction business, two farms and a racing operation at Oaklawn, weighing choices comes with the territory, and he is doing that with Darland, a mare he may send into Saturday’s $75,000 Pippin Stakes.
“I’ve tried three times to find a race for her, but it hasn’t worked out,” said Haran, 50, with an Irish brogue tipping where the owner of Eagle Valley Farm in Kentucky is originally from. “Depending on the size of the field I may have to go into the stakes. It’s a little bit over her head, but there just doesn’t seem to be many fillies ready to go long yet to make an easier race go.”
Darland has been off since finishing third in an allowance race Dec. 18 at Hawthorne where Haran is based nearly full-time. She began her career in modest maiden claiming races, but improved her form last fall in Chicago, prompting Haran to keep the Pippin’s 1 1/16th-mile distance as an option.
“She’s ready to do something,” said Haran. “There might be a race Sunday, but I have to be careful as ready as she is that we get her out there.”
Haran is similar to his charge. He needs to be out there. His farm in Kentucky is 600 acres northwest of Lexington, but it’s up for sale since he also keeps a farm in Illinois where he keeps more than 40 broodmares geared toward that state’s breeding program.
“I got started about 20 years ago with one filly, and of course she turned out to be a good broodmare,” he said. “Next thing you know I’ve got 80 broodmares and I’m running back and forth from Kentucky and Illinois. I had to put the Kentucky farm on the market because the travel became too much.”
Haran also downsized when the economy put a serious dent in his residential construction business. With homes springing up and foals dropping at two farms, he could never dream of actually training his racing horses, but the slowdown changed things. For most, racehorse training isn’t a road to riches, but for Haran it was something to do while riding out the economic storm.
“I was sitting on tons of property and it’s just impossible to move it at this point,” he said. “You’re sitting there in the sales office and no one is coming through the door and you’ve got staff sitting around that can’t make any money. I just rented the places and started using my trainer’s license, waitingt for the economy to recover.”
In addition to Darland, Haran is looking forward to starting Bowman’s Castle in some of the better allowance races coming up.
“It’s very competitive here and I’m still looking for the ‘Big Horse,’ said Haran.
Gleaming Seeking to Redeem Herself in American Beauty
A wet track for last year’s $50,000 American Beauty stakes led to a glaring blemish on the record of Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch’s Gleaming. She’s expected to make amends this Sunday for trainer Bret Calhoun.
The now 5-year-old mare entered last year’s American Beauty on a two-race winning streak, but a deep, damp track left the Oklahoma-bred struggling and she faded to last. Five weeks later she bounced right back to win an optional allowance and later finished second in the Carousel Stakes.
This year Gleaming has been on the shelf since a narrow loss in the Silver Goblin Stakes against males at Remington Park in November after winning the Oklahoma Classics Distaff Sprint against her fellow Sooner State breds.
“She’s doing so good right now,” said assistant trainer Kristen Crawford.
Crawford added that Oaklawn stakes star Taptam has been shipped to the breeding shed. An 11-time winner of more than a half-million dollars, Taptam won the 2010 Pippin Stakes and finished second in the 2010 Apple Blossom behind eventual Horse of the Year Zenyatta.