Though Old Man Buck came from humble beginnings, the juvenile has proven himself capable of fighting his way to the top.
After winning the Sept. 3 Miller Lite Cradle Stakes on the grass at River Downs and running third in the Oct. 6 Lane's End Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) on Polytrack at Keeneland trainer Kenny McPeek decided to try the son of Hold that Tiger in either the Oct. 26 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf or the Oct. 27 Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Monmouth Park.
Old Man Buck has now earned $187,050 from five starts for McPeek and owner Larry Carroll, who purchased the colt for $13,000 at the 2006 Keeneland September yearling sale from Eaton Sales, agent.
"He was by a first-crop sire that no one knew anything about out of a Jeblar mare who nobody cares about," said McPeek, who picked out the colt. "I don't get enamored in big money sires and dams. I just try to find the first good horse out of a young family."
McPeek thought Old Man Buck, who was one of the last horses through the ring at the sale, was one of the best physical specimens he had seen that day. The fact he didn't have any X-rays in the repository, however, was the reason McPeek believed he had found such a bargain.
Old Man Buck was unplaced in his career debut, a May 26 maiden sprint contest at Churchill Downs, but since being switched to longer distances on the turf and Polytrack, he hasn't finished off the board.
"He was OK early on--we knew he wanted to go further," McPeek said. "His first race was average, and his second race was much better. He has really improved with distances. Physically, he's got a great hip on him, shoulder, and he's very smooth across the ground. He has also worked very well on the dirt."
Carroll, a native of Virginia, found his first stakes winner in Old Man Buck. Starting with a claimer at Charles Town Races & Slots about five years ago, he now has four horses in training alone or in partnership, including grade II-placed Bold Start.
Bred by David Koia's Stonehaven Farm from the winning mare Victorian Woman, Old Man Buck was raised at Barry Butzer's Sun Valley Farm near Versailles, Ky.
"(Victorian Woman) was a mare that had had problems conceiving," Butzer said. "Koia sent us the mare and asked if we could do anything with her. We found out her fallopian tubes were grown together--that's the reason she couldn't get in foal."
Butzer sent the mare to a veterinarian to fix the problem, and 30 days later, Victorian Woman was bred to Hold That Tiger and was checked in foal for the first time in three years.
"She was painfully close to being euthanized," Butzer said. "When (Old Man Buck) was born, we really liked him from the get-go, and we thought he was a very nice horse."
Kept at Sun Valley, Victorian Woman has had two more foals since producing Old Man Buck.