An entry paired together as a “1” and “1A” often share plenty of things in common – usually an owner and a trainer – but when Custom Pete and Halo Carlos leave the gates for Friday's opener at Delta Downs, the 3-year-olds will also be running for the same parents.
The geldings by Custom For Carlos, out of the placed Halo's Image mare Hide the Halo, will each be making their debut starts on Friday in a five-furlong maiden claiming race, and it's fitting that their status as a two-horse entry means they'll go off at the same odds. Trainer Thomas W. Nixon said the two horses are remarkably similar in terms of looks, personality, and training style.
“They're both chestnuts with just a star,” the trainer said. “Custom Pete's got a half-a-pastern white on his right rear [ankle], and Halo Carlos doesn't have any white except just the star.”
Twin pregnancies are far from a novelty in Thoroughbreds, with roughly 30 percent of pregnancies resulting in a split embryo, but one of the embryos is typically terminated or “pinched” early on for the safety of both the mare and foal. Less than one in 100 twin pregnancies in horses produce two viable foals, due to the size of the equine uterus being built to support just one fetus at a time. Producing two foals with enough ability to reach the racetrack is especially rare.
In many situations of viable twins, the development is not shared equally. This was seen with another recent set of racing twins, West Virginia-bred Mr. Ping and Mr. Pong. The first-born Mr. Ping was born weighing about 25 pounds and faced serious health issues for much of his young life which led to him being smaller in adulthood than his brother, who weighed about 75 pounds at birth and developed at a relatively normal pace.
However, when they hit the racetrack, Mr. Ping was the better-conformed of the two and had one more start than his brother, who toed out and struggled with injury. They combined to go unplaced in five starts in the West Virginia maiden claiming ranks.
Where Mr. Ping and Mr. Pong were a yin-and-yang in terms of trajectory, Custom Pete and Halo Carlos have been mirror images of each other. They were born in Louisiana at Brent Marti's Majestic Farm, and Nixon said he didn't know which one came first, though Custom Pete was the bigger of the two by a slim margin. Nixon trains the twins for his own brother, owner Larry D. Nixon.
“I went and picked them up at Thanksgiving a year ago (2018), broke them, turned them out for about eight months, and got them back up,” Thomas Nixon said. “They weren't great big yearlings when I picked them up, so I let them mature the best I could before I started trying to get them ready to race.
“They've both got about the same personality,” he continued. “Custom Pete's a little bit hotter than Halo Carlos, but other than that, they're about equal, personality-wise. Neither one of them has any bad habits. They look alike and train pretty much alike.”
The trainer said he expected the geldings will want a little more distance than the five furlongs they'll face on Friday. Based on the past success of runners by sire Custom For Carlos, he expected their wheelhouse to be around seven furlongs.
Even the training schedules of the two geldings has been remarkably similar, each going under the stopwatch on the same day in their last four timed workouts. They clocked the same times in three of the four efforts, with the only difference coming in a three-furlong work on Jan. 26 at Louisiana Downs.
On that day, Halo Carlos stopped the clock in :50 2/5 seconds to finish fifth-best of nine at the distance, while Custom Pete was the slowest of the bunch at :51 4/5.
Check this out! In tomorrow's first race at Delta Downs we have a pair of TWINS racing as an entry. They even workout together. Check out the workouts lines. I've never seen this in my many years of racing. Pretty cool! pic.twitter.com/SppP17Y2kb
— Don Stevens (@horsemandon) February 13, 2020
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