Karelian Serious in Mile
by Lenny Shulman
Date Posted: 11/4/2009 2:10:46 PM
Last Updated: 11/5/2009 12:35:09 PM

Karelian is a serious contender for the TVG Breeders' Cup Mile.
Photo: Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography

Karelian may have been named for a comic book character, but the 7-year-old is a serious contender for the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) Nov. 7.

Lightly raced, the Bertrando gelding has only 17 starts to his credit in five seasons of racing, including just one this year. But that was a game second, by a nose, in the Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. IT) at a soggy Keeneland last month.

“He’s had a lot of minor injuries, but he loves to race,” said Rich Masson, who owns Karelian and bred him in the name of his Green Lantern Stables. “He’s a barn favorite—he’s been in Rusty Arnold’s barn since he was 2. He springs a little leak and comes back to the farm and hangs out, and then he goes back to the track."

A year ago, Karelian scored in the River City Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs, and also took the Sea of Erin Handicap at Arlington. He can run from a tracking position or from further back, and knows how to find the winner’s circle, having won eight times.

Masson, a native of Southern California, is recently retired from his investment management business. He was a horseplayer growing up, and after achieving success in business, he began in horses by claiming a few, and then began breeding. One of the first mares he purchased was Leaning Tower, by Theatrical, who is the dam of Karelian. Masson started Golden Age Farm near Versailles, Ky. and plans to move there from California in the near future.

Golden Age is the name of a comic book, and early on Masson began naming his horses after comic book characters. Karelian technically relates to an ancient Celtic tribe who were fierce warriors, but he was also a character in a Golden Age comic book.

Masson has about 15 mares, as well as 15 horses in training. Green Lantern could double their fun at the Breeders’ Cup, as it will also be represented by Gotta Have Her in the Turf Sprint.

“Winning a Breeders’ Cup race would be a big thrill for us,” said Masson. “People ask if we’ve ever had a Derby horse, and we have to explain that we really want to win a Breeders’ Cup race. And now we’re on the verge of having our first two compete.”

Karelian drew post five in the Mile and will be ridden by Rajiv Maragh. He was made 20-1 on the morning line, and will have to compete against a salty field, including defending champion Goldikova and other European standouts Zacinto and Delegator.

But don’t be too shocked if Karelian turns in a Superman-type performance come Nov. 7. And that’s no joke, even for a comic book character.



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