Maryland-bred Dr. Banting in with big boys

July 13, 1996|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. -- You won't hear him mentioned with the favorites. And you probably won't see him lighting up the toteboard with the winners.

But Dr. Banting, a Maryland-bred with sporting owners, will line up with Cigar in today's $1.05 million Arlington Citation Challenge at Arlington International Racecourse. Dr. Banting is 30-1 in the morning line, but he'll probably be closer to 100-1 by post.

Herbert Keil, 69, and his son-in-law, Michael Solomon, 44, Washington lawyers who live in Potomac, Md., own Huckelberry Creek Stables, which includes Dr. Banting. Keil used to live near Chicago where, in 1948, he saw Citation win the seventh of his eventual 16 straight races: the Stars and Stripes Handicap at the old Arlington Park.

"He's always had a special love for Citation," Solomon said of his father-in-law. "And when he saw the chance to run against the greatest horse in the world, it was too tempting to pass up."

Dr. Banting is a 4-year-old gelding with six wins in 12 starts at Pimlico and Laurel Park. In his other six starts, he finished off the board. His only stakes win was June 15 in Laurel Park's $52,518 Walter Haight Handicap. He paid $28.40.

That was Huckelberry Creek Stables' first stakes win. "It only took us 10 years and a half-million dollars," Keil said.

The horse is named after Sir Frederick Grant Banting, a doctor who helped discover insulin. Solomon, a diabetic, needs insulin. "We don't know how good this horse is," Solomon said. "He's run some hugely fast times. My gut tells me, if I was handicapping and not associated with the horse, that he's an awfully long longshot."

Dr. Banting's trainer, the veteran Charles Hadry Sr., apparently agreed. He declined to travel with the horse, instead sending his son, Charles Hadry Jr., also a trainer.

Reached at home in Westminster, Hadry Sr. didn't want to discuss it. He said of his son: "He's taking over training of the horse. I have nothing to do with [the horse] now."

Solomon and Keil said Hadry Sr. didn't think the horse was good enough to race against Cigar.

"He's probably right," Keil said, laughing. "He understands there's quite a difference in winning the Walter Haight and taking on Cigar.

"I think it's just an honor to be in a race like this. I just hope we don't finish last."

Pub Date: 7/13/96

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