Don't look now, but there's a Peeping Tom on the prowl.
An erstwhile claimer and the pride of Louis Milazzo's Flatbird Stable, Peeping Tom has adjusted quite nicely to his new digs in Dubai, and on the night of March 23, he'll take a whack at the world's best in the $1-million Godolphin Mile (UAE-II).
"He didn't miss a beat," said trainer Patrick Reynolds on Mar. 19, alluding to Peeping Tom's trip overseas. "He was tired for a day, but his appetite picked up shortly thereafter. He likes it here. I mean, what's not to like?"
Indeed. For a horse averse to hot weather, having an air-conditioned stall at humid Nad Al Sheba Racecourse certainly has Peeping Tom feeling good. Then again, the son of Eagle Eyed has always been a rather cool customer - - in one way or another.
An idiosyncratic sort who early on refused to even train, Peeping Tom was plucked from his second start for just $40,000. Expectations initially remained at ground-level, but with measured care and a dash of luck, Milazzo's very first horse eventually morphed into an unlikely star.
"When we claimed him, there was a real horse in there," explained Reynolds. "He used to play around so much, he never gave himself the opportunity to develop. That's why he was cast off so cheap. As he started to go through the allowance ranks and get his act together, I think he started to feel better about himself and he kind of liked the game."
It was a surprise second to El Corredor in the 2000 Cigar Mile (gr. I) that proved to be a turning point for Peeping Tom, according to Reynolds, and less than six months after that, he became a grade I winner, taking the Carter Handicap at Aqueduct.
Now 5, Peeping Tom will face a packed field in the Godolphin Mile that is likely to include top locals China Visit and Express Tour as well as past Mile winners Festival of Light and Conflict. Though the gelding has yet to return to his excellence of last spring, a sharp six-furlong allowance win over Aqueduct's inner track last time out sent the bay to Dubai on a high note.
"He's hitting a good cycle now," Reynolds said. "He looks like he wants to get good and stay good for a while. We're very optimistic about it. All things considered, for a horse of humble beginnings to bring us to the Breeders' Cup and over here to Dubai, it's like a dream."
Either way, Reynolds doesn't plan on leaving empty-handed.
"We'll find out if they'll let us take one of these air conditioners home with us with Peeping Tom," he grinned.