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Like mother, like son, for Enthusiastic Gal

Like mother, like son, for Enthusiastic Gal

Mare gave birth during 28-month injury layoff; she and her 2-year-old son were both entered to race Wednesday at Saratoga
Like mother, like son, for Enthusiastic Gal
Steve Klesaris, right, saddles Enthusiastic Gal for the ninth race. Her son was entered in the sixth, but was scratched.
Photographer: Erica Miller

SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Take Your Kid to Work Day was also supposed to be Put Your Kid to Work Day.

But when the sixth race at Saratoga Race Course was moved off a soft-ish Mellon Turf Course and onto the main track, it was ready, Get Set ... no go, for the kid.

Mom still went to the office Wednesday, though, as the 7-year-old Enthusiastic Gal finished fourth in the ninth race, while her 2-year-old son Get Set stayed back at the barn, scratched by trainer Steve Klesaris.

In thoroughbred racing, it's a highly unusual for a mare to resume her racing career after having given birth, but the Enthusiastic Gal-Get Set scenario took it an improbable step further, when they both made it onto the same card to race.

Alas, Get Set never got to run, although Klesaris is optimistic about finding a spot for him later in the Saratoga meet.

"Just to have them both in on the same day, it was unfortunate we couldn't race," Klesaris said. "It's a big-time racing oddity. You know, you don't see this. I'd never heard of it. [Or] seen it. Mother-son ... what? Really? Same day? Same owner, trainer, jockey? Saratoga?

"But, hey, it's unfortunate it didn't happen."

Enthusiastic Gal began her racing career in September of 2015 while trained by Ben Perkins made four starts in less than four months before suffering a bowed tendon.

Facing a long layoff -- which turned into 28 months -- with a horse that owner/breeder Joseph Imbesi believed had some racing ability, Imbesi applied studies he had seen about stem cell transfer between a mother and fetus, and how it could help heal the injury, Klesaris said.

"I had never heard of that before, and credit to the owner," he said. "And he showed me the research that impregnated mares, as they swap blood cells through the bloodstream, that creates stem cells to accelerate the healing to any damaged tissue. Pretty neat. I had read a couple articles that he had sent me, and the horse today, you wouldn't ever know that she had a tendon [injury].

"He had sent me this mare two years ago, I didn't even know she had a foal on the ground. It wasn't until this year that he mentioned, 'By the way, I've got her 2-year-old son.' 'What?! What do you mean 2-year-old son? You mean brother, right?'"

Nope. Son.

By Awesome of Course, Get Set made his racing debut at Parx in Philadelphia on June 25, finishing fourth.

Klesaris had seen Wednesday's race that suited Enthusiastic Gal pretty well when the Saratoga condition book came out, but Get Set's race didn't materialize until the New York Racing Association wrote an extra last week that looked like a good spot for Get Set.

"Because of his pedigree and his mother, we wanted to try him on the grass," Klesaris said. "So we saw this as a great opportunity to try and found it very unique that the two of them would be entered on the same day, never mind getting in on the same day.

"I'd only seen it one other time. In New Orleans I saw a mare, a trainer I knew pointed her out, she was walking around the paddock and he said, 'You know, this one had a foal?' And I said, 'Really, how'd that happen?' He said, 'By accident.'"

Occasionally a mare will race while in foal, as long as its early enough in the pregnancy.

As recently as 2016, the Bill Mott-trained Lady Lara won the De La Rose Stakes at Saratoga with a confirmed pregnancy, the last race of her career.

"Years ago, they used to do it all the time," said Klesaris, who grew up on the backstretch as the son of trainer Peter Klesais. "They used to put mares in foal and race them into the fall. I saw it a lot when I was a kid. I never did it. I'd be afraid to. But I've seen it, and the old-timers used to do it all the time."

Enthusiastic Gal went to work in the ninth race, and came with her characteristic late run, but ran out of racetrack and finished fourth.

Although her son should enjoy shorter distances on the turf, like mom does, Klesaris doesn't see much resemblance between the two, especially since, as a bay, Get Set has a brown coat with black mane and tail, and Enthusiastic Gal is a gray.

"Just some little facial features," he said. "I can look at him and see some of her, but other than that, no. Body type, maybe a little bit, with the lighter frame."

And around the barn, he hasn't spotted any behavior to suggest that the youngster and mother maintain any connection other than that they reside in the same house.

"All opinion would say no, but I always instinctively think that a mother would recognize her son no matter where he is," he said with a laugh. "Honestly, I'd have to agree with no."

Although male horses have come back to racing after a (failed) career as a stallion, Get Set will never face that prospect.

Rambunctious early after having been brought into this world by Enthusiastic Gal, he's been gelded.

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Mike MacAdam at 518-395-3146 or [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @Mike_MacAdam.

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