LAUREL -- Matty Kane, majority owner of Reputed Testamony, doesn't assume his top-weighted colt will be the favorite in the $60,000 Native Dancer Handicap tomorrow.
"Jet Stream will be in there," Kane said, "and they'll figure we're a come-from-behind horse, so we've got to catch those horses."
Jet Stream was in there last week and was the 6-5 favorite, but Reputed Testamony caught horses like Pulverizing to draw clear and win a $40,000 allowance, the biggest pot of his short career.
Reputed Testamony has earned $124,989 since Matthew Patrick Kane and trainer Rich Hemmings bought him for $8,000 as a 2-year-old at Timonium 21 months ago. So he's had a more successful investment as a rookie owner than his late father had in boxers.
Matthew Joseph Kane, the self-styled "little old saloon keeper" who founded the Bit O' Ireland pub in Washington, sponsored a number of fighters who fought their way onto Eli Hanover's cards at Steelworkers Hall.
One heavyweight even won his way to a sub-feature in the Springfield (Mass.) Coliseum before Matt found out the big item on his hotel bill was Lancer's rose wine from room service.
Matty, as the younger Kane is known, had a feeling something like that as a rookie owner in 1989, after Reputed Testamony's first two races as a 2-year-old.
"Kent Desormeaux asked to ride him," Kane recalled. After the colt finished in the middle of the pack in a sprint, Desormeaux's advice was: "Drop him down and run him long."
"Down" for a maiden is out, through a maiden-claiming race, but Matty and John Lenzini, the trainer at the time, persisted in a maiden-special race, at seven furlongs. After the colt ran evenly again, jockey Joe Rocco counseled: "Drop him down and run him long."
In his first race at 3, Reputed Testamony won by six lengths, going 1 1/16 miles, but he bucked his shins in the process.
Back to a stall at Laurel, the colt was making some progress, given the elixir Lasix, when Murphy's Law struck again. Reputed Testamony "cast" himself in his stall. Lying down with his feet against the wall so he couldn't arise, he thrashed about in panic and lacerated his lower legs. These things happen. Ten more weeks off.
Back to work in September, Reputed Testamony was "no threat" in a 1 1/16-mile allowance, then won clearly in the same kind of race. He was second in the mud in the Northern Dancer.
"And the rest," Matty Kane said historically, "is history." The rest is Andrea Seefeldt, too. She has ridden Reputed Testamony in all his races since September except the Congressional, when an injury sidelined her.
"She's our jockey," Kane said. "We've had calls from a lot of agents, but Andrea is our jockey."
Reputed Testamony is half of Matty Kane's stable. The maiden filly Spring Coed will go in an earlier race Saturday, ridden by apprentice Clinton Potts.
But Matty is hooked. A D.C. police officer for more than 20 years, most of them spent on the midnight tour, he works the Georgetown beat now. Many mornings when he gets off at dawn he becomes, he says, "the carrot man." He drives 25 miles out of his way home to feed carrots to his horse.
Matty, a harness follower for some years, caught the thoroughbred fever when he was briefly co-owner of Coppajac, a steed more suited for West Virginia than Maryland. In May 1989, he went to the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale with his wife, Judy, who liked a number of horses but decided on "this one."
The bidding on that one, a son of Preakness winner Deputed Testamony out of the undistinguished mare, Remnant, quickly skipped to $6,000, then $7,000. "Go, go," counseled Mrs. Kane.
"I've got only $5,000 with me," Matty whispered. A partnership was quickly formed with trainer Rich Hemmings ("the only person there that I knew"), and the rest is history.
"He's got a fine disposition," the carrot man said yesterday. "Likes to train. Well behaved. Everything you like a horse to be."
Judy and the four kids will be there Saturday, of course, and Matty's younger brother, Kevin.
"I wish Mom could be here," he added. Matt Kane's widow is in Florida with daughter Kathy (wife of a Dade County police officer).
"I'd like Mom to get a horse," Matty said. "There's a lot of good ones you could buy."