Q-Racing Blog: Best Boy

BH Lisas Boy is ready for the Vessels test.

BH Lisas Boy is ready for the Vessels test.

“If it says there’s a $100,000 race in the condition book, then I’m leading him over,” said Bill Hoburg, breeder, owner and trainer of BH Lisas Boy.

There is the $170,500 Vessels Maturity (G1) at Los Alamitos on July 8 and BH Lisas Boy will be making the trip from the Hoburg barn to the saddling paddock to defend his 2017 win in the 400-yard test. He will be attempting to become the fifth horse to take back-to-back wins in the Vessels Maturity since the race began in 1972. A Ransom won the race three consecutive years (2000-2002).

An amazing story followed BH Lisas Boy’s nose win in last year’s Vessels Maturity. The gelding chipped a knee in the July 2 Vessels Maturity, but was able to come back and win his Z. Wayne Griffin Trial on November 19.

“Time was of the essence and I set up four target points for his recovery,” Hoburg said. “He hit them all. If he had missed any of them, he would have been sitting on the bench.”

Then Hoburg messed up. BH Lisas Boy had never had any cortisone injected into any joint. He decided to cortisone him for the Champion of Champions. “I knew in the saddling paddock that he wasn’t my horse,” Hoburg said. The son of Mighty Invictus had a reaction to the cortisone and flattened out in the race.

BH Lisas Boy finished fifth in the 2017 Champion of Champions at 3-1 odds.

The lack of cortisone injections before his surgery probably aided his recovery.

“Dr. (C. Wayne) McIlwraith said that the surgery was much easier because he had not been cortisoned,” Hoburg said.

McIlwraith is an internationally decorated pioneer in arthroscopic surgery at Colorado State University and is director of the CSU Musculoskeletal Research Program. To further the recent escalation of the program in research translatable to humans, a 130,000-square-foot building is currently under construction at CSU and will be named the C. Wayne McIlwraith Translational Medicine Institute. Rightfully, he has been inducted into the Equine Research Hall of Fame. If McIlwraith is operating on your horse, you don’t have to fret.

After the Champion of Champions cortisone misstep, BH Lisas Boy was back on his old program of no cortisone. The gelding responded.

In the trials to this year’s $157,250 Brad McKinzie Winter Championship (G1) (aka “The Brad,” because Brad would have liked that), BH Lisas Boy won by a neck with the second-fastest time of :19.731. He won the 400-yard finals by a neck and earned a return ticket to the Champion of Champions.

Hoburg then elected to run BH Lisas Boy in the $27,000 Moonist Handicap. On the surface, this appears to be a race below BH Lisa Boy’s class level; it isn’t $100,000.

The reasoning is in the details. When Hoburg needed to return to his home base of Kennewick, Washington, during the first part of 2017, he sent BH Lisas Boy to friend and Los Alamitos icon John Cooper, who trained the late Moonist. Cooper went three-for-three with BH Lisas Boy, including The Brad. BH Lisas Boy, the 6-5 favorite, finished second in this race.

“It was sentimental because John trained Moonist,” Hoburg said.

“The only time I felt pressure,” he continued, “was when I was taking him back from John (in the summer of 2017).”

Not to worry. BH Lisas Boy won three consecutive races, including the 2017 Vessels Maturity, before his flat run in the Champion of Champions.

This year, BH Lisas Boy is in form. He has two wins, the second in the Moonist and a qualifying third in his trial to The Brad. In the Vessels Maturity trials, BH Lisas Boy raced to the second-fastest qualifying time of :19.731.

“He’s doing as good as ever,” Hoburg said. “I like my horse, but it’s a really strong field. You could run third and get beat a head.”

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