Mark Hennig is closing in on a milestone, and the trainer wouldn’t mind reaching it in grand style Oct. 26 at Monmouth Park.
Hennig, who will saddle Jazzy in the first running of the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, has sent out 999 winners.
"I had no idea I was getting close until someone told me," Hennig said the morning of Oct. 25 while watching horses from the far gap on the backstretch.
The 42-year-old trainer has previously started nine horses in Breeders’ Cup races, his best finish a fifth with Demaloot Demashoot in the 1993 Sprint (gr. I).
In Jazzy, he has a 5-year-old who was bred in Argentina, began her career in South Africa, and has made only 10 lifetime starts.
"She had some issues with bleeding," Hennig said. "Barry (Irwin of Team Valor) told me she was a quality filly and had run with good horses (in South Africa). "She’s not real tall, but she’s wide. She’s build like a pit bull."
Jazzy won three of seven starts in South Africa and ran third in the South African Fillies Sprint (SaF-I) in May 2006. She was then sent to Ocala, Fla., to acclimate for an American campaign.
Some 14 months later, with the addition of Lasix, she reappeared July 21 at Monmouth and lost a turf sprint at Monmouth by a nose, after which she won the Capades Stakes, another turf sprint, at Saratoga. On Sept. 22, the daughter of Mutakddimwon the Gallant Bloom Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont in her first start on dirt.
So when did Hennig think about the new Breeders’ Cup race?
"Right after the Gallant Bloom," he said with a grin.
"There is plenty of speed in the race and she’s quite versatile, which should help in this race," Hennig said. "She gutsy -- always gives 110%. Turf, dirt, mud, whatever; she will try. She will always give a good effort."
Perhaps that effort will be good enough to get the former D. Wayne Lukas assistant win number 1,000.