Saturday, Oct. 3, the world will be focused on Pimlico Race Course and the eleven Preakness contenders, in particular Kentucky Derby champ Authentic. But half way across the country in Stickney, Illinois, a 4-year-old filly is entered in Race 1 at Hawthorne to make her 11th start.
With no workouts since Sept. 7 at Monmouth, Kentucky-bred Trans Mississippi will be competing in a field of nine in a six furlongs claiming race for a purse of $9,000 and a tag of $6,250. While this is far from notable news, her trainer of record may raise a few eyebrows. The daughter of Verrazano out of Tapit mare Pooh Corner will be running for trainer Marcus Vitali.
A graded stakes winning trainer who has had various issues over the years, Vitali was recently in the news associated with trainer Wayne Potts who was found to be a paper trainer for Vitali according to an article in the Paulick Report. In August, Potts was banned from tracks in Maryland, and MJC president and general manager Sal Sinatra, said Potts’s name is on a list at Charles Town, Parx, and Delaware Park where he will also not be permitted to enter horses.
What is also notable about Trans Mississippi is that she ran her last race at Laurel Park on August 8, 2020 (after an August 3 work at Rising Sun Farm in New Jersey). Finishing third under the same conditions for a purse of $16,890 and a tag of $5,000, the dark bay filly ran that day for trainer Wayne Potts. This was a few weeks before his Maryland ban while under investigation.
Still more fascinating was Trans Mississippi’s start prior to August. June 30 at Gulfstream Park in a claiming race at seven furlongs for a purse of $24,000 and a tag of $16,000 the filly ran for trainer Monica McGoey, finishing fourth by 13 3/4 lengths. It was also noted in the Paulick Report that some fellow horsemen suspected that McGoey had been paper training for Vitali after inheriting a number of horses from his clients.
Trans Mississippi also had two other starts for McGoey at Gulfstream. June 12, six and a half furlongs, $17,000 purse, $6,250 tag where she would place second. May 30, six furlongs, $19,000 purse, $12,500 tag with a fourth place finish.
May was the dark bay’s first start since March 8 when she ran in an $70,000 Allowance race at Aqueduct for trainer Robert Vetter. Trans Mississippi finished seventh of seven 24 1/2 lengths back. Jan. 6 she also had a last place finish for Vetter in a $55,000 Allowance at Aqueduct.
In her previous start, Nov. 19, 2019, also at Aqueduct, Trans Mississippi would get her lone win in a $30,000 claimer ($20,000 tag) for trainer Robert Falcone, Jr.
August 25 she ran at Saratoga in a $48,000 maiden claimer ($40,000 tag) finishing an uncompetitive ninth of ten by 34 3/4 lengths for trainer John Hertler. She had had another profoundly bad start July 27 at Saratoga for Hertler in a $90,000 MSW finishing seventh of seven by 28 1/2 lengths.
Trans Mississippi made her debut at Belmont on June 23, 2019 with a flat performance in an $80,000 MSW for Hertler finishing fourth by 11 3/4. Unraced at age two and starting extremely late as a 3-years-old, she is bred and owned by Carolyn Vogel’s Crossed Sabres Farm.
Crossed Sabres Farm’s Valid, Monmouth Cup winner, and Lochte, Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) winner, both successful in 2014, were trained by Marcus Vitali.
To review, in career that began a little over a year ago, with a record of 10 starts, one win, one second, one third and $33,683 in earnings, Trans Mississippi has had six trainers of record*. In those starts she has earned Equibase Speed Figures from a low of 22 to a high of 67 with an average of 49. She has lost nine of ten races by a combined 143 3/4 lengths.
Apparently, horse racing still has issues to address. Permanently getting questionable trainers out of the sport is one. Transitioning questionable horses off of the track to a better future is another.
*Note: Trans Mississippi’s three early trainers have not been connected to any investigation.
Photo: Marcus Vitali. Credit: Gulfstream Park/Twitter