Driving assessment

How opportunity came for Texsong Soprano and Joe Yoder

The owner shrewdly plucked the trotting colt with strong dam line from last year’s Northern Indiana Yearling Speed ​​Sale for just $9,000. Texsong Soprano has already earned nearly 10 times that amount.

by James Platz

Joe Yoder hadn’t planned to leave Northern Indiana’s inaugural Yearling Speed ​​Sale last September with a horse. However, as a self-proclaimed bargain hunter, he is used to capitalizing on opportunities when they arise. Today, he is reaping the rewards of such an opportunity. Texsong Soprano, a trotting colt he acquired at the Topeka, IN sale for $9,000, quickly racked up $87,222 in five career starts, most recently a 1:56.3 win in Indiana Sires Stakes action at Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino.

“I wasn’t really in the market to buy any. I already had a couple. I’m still looking for a bargain, and it fetched $9,000 on sale, so I consider it a bargain,” Yoder said. “On the father’s side, he’s a Text Me. He wasn’t very well known yet, but I’ve always been a fan of Kadabra. The jump-off side really got me excited.

Listed as Hip 33 at last fall’s sale, Texsong Soprano is the ninth foal of Muscles mare Yankee Muscling In. She is best known as the dam of Windsong Soprano, the oldest trotting mare in the O’Brien Award winning year in 2010. The colt’s third dam is Armbro Blush, winner of the Dan Patch Award in the trotting freshman fillies division in 1982, who also produced Armbro Leader, two time award winner O’Brien.

“He was probably the best dam line of all the yearlings that went through the public sale in Indiana last year. Her half-sister, Windsong Soprano, earned $1.2 million and she produced a lot of good racehorses. So that caught my eye,” he said.

With only 16 registered foals and five runners, Text Me offers a very small sample of progeny. This may be a factor that caused the foal not to receive more attention. His conformation may have been another factor.

“He turned his foot a bit. It would prevent me from bidding high,” Yoder said. “I did a lot of chiropractic work on him. I have a pretty good chiropractor and I work them in a round pen. I wasn’t too worried about it because I thought I could fix it. If I hadn’t done anything, it would have been a knee knocker.

Raised and sold by Abraham Miller, Texsong Soprano grew up an orphan. Muscling In was lost after foaling the colt. Raised on goat’s milk and milk replacer, Miller’s children played with the developing colt as if he were a pet. The owner believes close interaction has made Texsong Soprano easy to work around the barn.

Yoder, a resident of Howe, IN, owns the colt with his son, Daryl. He formed Texsong Soprano over the winter in northern Indiana. As he developed the young trotter on a straight track, Yoder realized early on that his load was different.

“From the start, I knew he would be a special horse if we could keep him healthy. In March he already showed me a lot of talent,” the owner said. “He was a very intelligent kind of horse. At first he drove like an old horse. He was always easy to get along with, a highlight throughout.

Once he felt Texsong Soprano was ready to qualify, he sent the horse to Joe Essig Jr. and Missy Essig. While he thought the colt was special, he wanted an honest assessment before he geared up for the pari-mutuel action.

“The day I went down there, I said to Joe, ‘I’m going to get you a horse. I want you to be honest with me. When I go down there, if you don’t like the horse , you won’t hurt me. Tell me right now,” Yoder recalled of the exchange with Essig. “We went out with two horses and went on a training trip. We turned around and I asked : ‘What do you think about it ?’ He said, ‘Joe, that makes your hair stand on end.’ It’s just kind of the way the horse is. He’s playful, but when he’s on the track, he’s all horse.

To his credit, Texsong Soprano showed he was on horseback every time he lined up behind the starting gate. After a pair of qualifiers – a win and a second-place finish – he took victory on his pari-mutuel debut, a time of 1:57. Moving straight into the Indiana Sires Stakes competition on his next outing, the rookie beat by seven and a quarter lengths in his $46,500 split for driver Matt Krueger, stopping the clock in 1:55.3. Two weeks later, he was knocked out in 1:55.1 by Jailhouse Dance in the second leg of the bull stakes. Having his first taste of Grand Circuit competition, the trotter finished in a stalemate with Dash Of Luck for second place in the $45,797 Ralph Wilfong Memorial at the Indiana State Fair. His time of 1:57.3 was a tick slower than the Just Show Up winner.

Texsong Soprano returned to the winner’s circle on Wednesday August 17 in the third round of the Indiana Sires Stakes. Shooting the six post in the 11th race of the night, a $67,500 split, John DeLong sat behind the favorite for the first time in competition. Waiting for their time in third through a first half of :58.4, the pair were out and challenged first in the corner, taking control in the stretch and winning by two lengths with a time of 1:56.3 . Yoder shared that he fielded calls from interested parties trying to buy Texsong Soprano.

“I had a few people try to buy it. I’m not saying I wouldn’t sell if the price is right. At this stage, I am not looking to sell. I’m just enjoying the experience,” he said.

Wednesday’s second split was won by Bourbon Courage, a You Know You Do half-brother to Hambletonian champion Captain Corey, who clocked the mile in 1:56. Trained by Erv Miller, the colt fetched $255,000 at last fall’s Hoosier Classic sale, making him the most expensive Indiana colt to be sold at public auction. Texsong Soprano and Bourbon Courage have yet to join the same division together. Yoder knows it’s inevitable and looks forward to the challenge.

“Once they leave that ring, I don’t care if you pay $200,000 or $5,000, they’re all on the same level,” Yoder said. “It’s going to be fun racing against him. We haven’t met yet. John (DeLong) drives our horse now. I think he is the right fit for the horse. It will be interesting.

Joe Yoder was not looking for a yearling at Topeka last September. Nevertheless, by fate or just luck, he found a trotter who is becoming something really special.