It's a long way from sitting in the grandstand at Longacres to saddling one of the favorites in Goodonehoney for the prestigious $250,000 Xpressbet Black-Eyed Susan (G2) at legendary Pimlico Race Course, but 36-year-old trainer Jason Egan couldn't feel more at home.
Ever since the days when his father took him to the now-defunct track south of Seattle to watch the legendary Captain Condo – who won 30 of 70 starts from 1986 to 1992 – Egan knew he wanted to be involved with Thoroughbred racing.
His desire to pursue a career that he describes as “fun” and “entertaining” – albeit somewhat stressful – led him to enroll in the University of Arizona's Racetrack Industry Program, where he had his first hands-on experience with Thoroughbreds.
“Back in Seattle, as I had gotten older, I shifted focus to being more interested in the horses than handicapping,” said Egan from his barn at Laurel Park, where he has 10 horses in training. “My first summer I had an internship with Michael Dickinson at his farm [in North East, Md.] which was an amazing experience. I learned a lot, and had a lot of fun as well.”
After graduation, Egan worked for a time at a farm in Florida before joining seven-time Eclipse Award winner Todd Pletcher's vast outfit for a year, and from there became an assistant to well-known Maryland trainer Mike Trombetta.
“I will always be grateful for the opportunity he gave me,” said Egan of Trombetta, whose horses have won multiple graded stakes and more than $52 million in purses. “To this day, he's only a phone call away if I need anything.”
“I remember he flew all the way up from Florida to meet me one afternoon at Pimlico,” said Trombetta. “He wanted to jump into the assistant's role, and with an outfit like Todd's, there can be a long waiting list. He's very diligent and he pays attention; [he] looked after a barn for me and did a fine job.”
Three years into that relationship, one of Trombetta's clients offered Egan the chance to go out on his own, an opportunity he took with his former employer's blessing.
From winning four claiming races and just under $70,000 in 2011, Egan's stable has grown steadily in subsequent years, with his horses compiling an 11-23-15 record in 2017 from 96 starts with earnings of $458,530. Among his best horses through that span were the multiple stakes-placed Any Court Inastorm, winner of $242,016; He's Achance, who won $190,119; and She's Achance Too, runner-up in the 2016 Maryland Million Lassie.
Everything changed with the arrival of Goodonehoney, a homebred daughter of Great Notion owned by Kasey K Racing Stable LLC, Michael R. Day and Final Turn Racing Stable LLC.
“Her dam, Diva's Gold [by Tenpins], had been claimed for $15,000 by Bob Krangel, and they became attached to her,” said Egan, whose wife, Jordyn, is Director of Development for the Maryland Horse Industry Foundation. “After Diva's Gold retired [with a record of 9-10-6 and earnings of $389,790] they decided to breed her, Goodonehoney was her second foal.”
A rangy bay filly, Goodonehoney gave little indication of her talents in morning workouts until she worked out of the gate prior to her first start in a six-furlong optional claimer on March 24 at Laurel.
“She had never wowed you in the morning, but that morning she worked out of the gate with three other horses, and we looked at each other and said, ‘What do we have here?'” Egan said.
Sent off at a little more than 8-1 under Steve Hamilton, Goodonehoney broke badly but regrouped to split rivals in the stretch and win by 4 3/4 lengths. Sent into stakes company for her subsequent start, Goodonehoney was keen on the rail early, going a half-mile in 46.76 seconds, but took control with a visually impressive move on the turn and drew off to win Laurel's Weber City Miss by seven lengths, earning an automatic berth in the Black-Eyed Susan and giving Egan his first stakes win.
“It was sort of surreal,” said Egan. “We'd had a lot of seconds and thirds, so in a way it was like getting a monkey off my back. The Black-Eyed Susan was sort of an afterthought, but she's earned it. It's a mile and an eighth against some of the better fillies in the country, and not many horses can do what we are asking of her. We'll see what she's made of.
“It's exciting for all of us,” he added. “The Black-Eyed Susan is one of the biggest races in Maryland and to be there with a Maryland-bred just adds to it.”
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