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With a victory in the Grade 3 Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct on Nov. 14, Mr Maybe became the latest stakes winner and graded winner for Horse of the Year Ghostzapper, the most successful stallion son of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Awesome Again.

Journalist and racing scribe Red Smith, for whom the handicap was named, would be proud of the winner because there is a story to go with the gelding’s victory by four and a quarter lengths.

Bred in Kentucky, the gray went through the sales ring for the first time as a weanling in the 2011 edition of the Keeneland November sale. The youngster sold for $3,000, but that is only a snip of the story.

Gainesway Farm’s Michael Hernon recalled that he had seen the colt in the back ring at Keeneland, liked him, and followed him to the ring. He said that Mr Maybe “was a gray; so he threw to the dam and to her sire With Approval. Then the second dam was by the gray Caro.”

Caro was also the sire of Gainesway’s grand old stallion Cozzene and of the farm’s famous broodmare Winning Colors, winner of the 1988 Kentucky Derby.

Hernon also noticed that “he was a foal-share between breeders Stonestreet and our friend Rob Whiteley. This was a strong colt, was unlikely to be reserved because of the foal share. Also, I thought he was possibly a little advanced in placement at the sale, and he was medium-sized, at best. So when I went to the ring, I had a reasonable budget, and I remember the bidding opened at a thousand, and I made one bid, expecting there would be continued bidding. And it never materialized.”

Instead, Hernon picked up a future graded stakes winner for $3,000.

The lucky buyer “signed the ticket ‘Forty Coats,’ after a character from an Irish television series back in the day. He traveled around, wore several coats, though not 40, and was a bit wild-looking, and yet went around doing good deeds.”

Hernon’s good deed earned its reward the next year. The future stakes winner improved with maturity, as might be expected from his pedigree, and Mr Maybe “certainly grew up a lot and continued to grow,” Hernon said. “Trainer Chad Brown calls him a big teddy bear.”

Mr Maybe as a yearling at Gainesway Farm

Mr Maybe as a yearling at Gainesway Farm

The colt’s two first dams were both stakes winners, and the pedigree has a strong tint of turf and stamina, which Mr Maybe’s physique suggested would be his trump cards, as well.

Reading the colt’s physical type and need to progress, Hernon did not push to put the well-pedigreed young animal in a sale too early in the year.

“I nominated him to the October sale at Fasig-Tipton,” Hernon said, “because I wanted to give him every opportunity to strengthen and to stand out for perceptive buyers to see.”

The little gray weanling became a notably bigger gray yearling, and Hernon said that Mr Maybe began with “a strong body, good bone, and I put him in the Fasig October sale to give him a chance to stand out a little. Then my friend and go-to guy Chuck Zacney bought him. I had already bought Chuck One Smokin’ Lady (by Smoke Glacken), who went on to win stakes and placed in graded stakes. So Chuck was looking for a few more nice racehorses, and he sent me five names for the October sale, and of those, one name jumped off the page. So I called him up and told him that the Ghostzapper colt was mine, and he said that as long as I could recommend him, that was fine with him.”

Zacney proved the most tenacious bidder for the Ghostzapper colt, getting him for $85,000, and Mr Maybe won his second start, then went through a series of close efforts, always earning a check in his subsequent starts. When his form seemed improving this fall, Zacney sold Mr Maybe privately to Michael Dubb, Head of Plains Partners LLC, and Highclere America.

Winner of his last three starts, Mr Maybe won the Red Smith for those partners, and they are the latest beneficiaries of the “Forty Coats” trail of good deeds.

Mr. Smith would surely approve.

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