When John Fanelli claimed Math Wizard for $25,000 at the end of January at Gulfstream Park, he never imagined he was acquiring a 3-year-old that would ultimately be bound for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. But that is the way this season has unfolded.
Math Wizard, upset winner of the Sept. 21 Pennsylvania Derby (G1) at Parx Racing, will run in the Nov. 2 Classic at Santa Anita as part of an expanded partnership, Fanelli said Friday. Chuck Zacney’s Cash Is King and LC Racing have purchased an interest in the son of Algorithms. Another new partner is expected to be announced before the Classic, too.
Math Wizard went off at 31-1 when he edged Mr. Money by a neck in the Pennsylvania Derby to give his trainer, 32-year-old Saffie Joseph Jr., his first Grade 1 victory. He will again face long odds in the Classic.
“I don’t really look at odds. How often does the favorite win in this industry?” Fanelli said. “That’s why it’s horse racing.”
Fanelli added, “I wouldn’t go if I didn’t think we had a shot. It’s too much money to go just to go.” Despite its Grade 1 status, the Pennsylvania Derby was not part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series offering a “Win and You’re In” free trip west.
Fanelli briefly played professional poker. He works as a general manager at a car dealership in Turnersville, N.J., and has dealt with inexpensive claiming horses at Parx since he purchased his first horse 12 years ago.
Zacney also is a familiar figure at Parx. In bringing him into the partnership, Fanelli adds someone accustomed to managing high-caliber horses. Zacney campaigned Afleet Alex, the Preakness and Belmont winner in 2005. Only last year he had Jaywalk, winner of the Juvenile Fillies and the champion 2-year-old filly, race in his colors.
“Chuck is a lot of fun to have and he’s had a lot of good horses in his time,” Fanelli said. “He really wanted to be involved with this horse. He thought it would be a fun ride.”
Plans call for Math Wizard to ship from his Gulfstream Park base in Hallandale Beach, Fla., to Santa Anita on Oct. 29. A direct flight was unavailable, so he will be forced to make one stop.
Fanelli described the colt’s condition as “excellent.”
“We’ve kind of eased off him a little bit,” he said. “We’re going to use the same schedule we used going into the Pennsylvania Derby with three breezes leading up to the race.”
Irad Ortiz Jr. guided Math Wizard to the Pennsylvania Derby upset. Fanelli is eager to retain his services, but Ortiz has yet to commit to the horse. Irad’s brother, Jose, is likely the second choice if he is available. Mike Smith and Javier Castellano also are considered possibilities.
Math Wizard has made nine starts this season, producing three wins, two second-place finishes and one third-place showing for earnings of $856,810. Fanelli claimed him out of a one-mile race on Jan. 31 at Gulfstream because he thought the sophomore would benefit from added ground and might be a good fit for starter allowance races offered at Parx.
He won a seven-way shake for Math Wizard, who dominated the race in which he was claimed by 18 ½ lengths, and quickly realized he had a sophomore capable of holding his own in graded stakes. Math Wizard ran fourth in the Wood Memorial (G2), second in the Ohio Derby (G3) and third in the Indiana Derby (G3), among other results.
Math Wizard, a May foal, entered the Pennsylvania Derby only because Fanelli persuaded Joseph Jr. to do so. The trainer recognized that the May foal was doing better than he ever had before. Fanelli is keeping the faith now as his 3-year-old prepares to face older horses for the first time in the Classic.
“I would have the horse where he is now if I didn’t believe in him,” he said. “We wouldn’t have even run in some of these races. We have 100 percent confidence in the horse and the trainer.”
Original Source Credited to: Horse Racing Nation