Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2007 10:44 PM
Posted: Tuesday, October 23, 2007 8:11 PM
Clifford Sise, Jr. says that a normal trainer, without the consistent backing of big-money owners, will only get a superstar horse about ever 20 years.
The California-based conditioner, who has been in horse racing as a jockey and trainer for more than 35 years, had his last star horse in 1996 with Paying Dues, who won a pair of grades stakes and ran second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I). It was Sise’s first and only trip to the World Championships.
Now, only 11 years later – nine less than he expected – the 56-year-old trainer is going back to the World Championships for a second time. On Oct. 27, Sise will take another sprinter, Idiot Proof, to Monmouth Park for the TVG Breeders’ Cup Sprint. He is grateful for the opportunity.
“It’s a tough game,” said Sise, who left racing for 10 years beginning in the late 1970s. “If you don’t have big money behind you, it takes a lot of luck. Even this horse wasn’t really meant to be this good.
“If I win, it’s 10% skill and 90% luck.”
Idiot Proof is a 3-year-old homebred of Pam and Martin Wygod. Bred in California, he is a son of Benchmark out of Perfectly Pretty (by Bertrando). On Oct. 27 he will be one of the favorites to take home top prize, based on his performances this year.
Idiot Proof raced only once as a 2-year-old because of a couple of minor injuries. In that effort he broke his maiden by 7 3/4 lengths. It was a sign of things to come.
In 2007, the bay colt has been remarkably consistent, winning four of seven races, while finishing off the board just once. Racing primarily in California, he has captured a pair of graded stakes, including his most recent score, a three-quarters length triumph in the Ancient Title Stakes (gr. I). It was Sise’s first ever Grade I win. Idiot Proof ran the six furlongs in a sparkling 1:07.57 on Cushion Track, breaking the Oak Tree at Santa Anita track record. It was the second track record for the speedster this year, as he also set the six-furlong Monmouth Park mark in July, when he took the Jersey Shore Breeders’ Cup (gr. III) in 1:07.47.
“He’s done it twice year, so he’s pretty consistent,” Sise said. “He’s an aggressive horse. I wish we had more than 20 days between the Ancient Title and the Breeders’ Cup, but he’s still acting good. He’s breezing nicely and is perfect right now.”
Sise, who also has about a handful horses with his son, Robert, at Philadelphia Park, trains a dozen horses for the Wygods, who have also never won a Breeders’ Cup race.
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