Stonestreet Stables doesn’t require their horse, Telekinesis, to bend spoons or fetch a moka latte from a coffee house without lifting a finger.
It’s enough that he’s this budding star that after only one start was made the Winterbook favourite for the 159th running of the $1-million Queen’s Plate on Saturday.
He’s still a bit of a mystery, having run only four times, all of them this season. But people familiar with him have been known to call him a bit of a “monster.” And he’s a grand-looking horse that didn’t go unnoticed at the 2015 Kentucky November breeding stock sale.
Of course, 10-time Sovereign Award winning trainer Mark Casse was there and spotted this bay son of the brilliantly fast Ghostzapper, which by the by, has produced two of the past three winners of the Queen’s Plate in Holy Helena (last year) and Shaman Ghost (in 2015).
Telekinesis eventually was purchased for $470,000 (U.S.) at that Kentucky sale, and Casse found himself the underbidder. But when he found out that Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables had bought him – and he’s trained horses for them – he went up to them and said simply: “I would really like to train that horse.”
It was a heckuva price for a weanling, meaning that he wasn’t even a year old yet. But when Casse looked him over, he saw enough. “I liked his pedigree and he’s a beautiful horse,” Casse said. “To me, when you look at him, he’s the ultimate to look at. When I look for horses, he’s everything I look for.”
Ironically at the time, Casse was trying to buy the horse for Conquest Stables. And had he done that, he would have lost the horse. Shortly afterward, Conquest Stables decided to get out of the business. Telekinesis would have been sold to somebody else.
But this turn of events meant that Telekinesis landed in Casse’s hands. He lost. But he won.
“They say in life, you have to have luck,” Casse said. “And he’s a good case.”
Casse’s stable was packed with talent: Flameaway played with the big boys in the United States, winning the Sam F. Davis over Catholic Boy and Vino Rosso, and finished second to Good Magic in the Bluegrass Sakes, all good enough to earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby, finishing 13th.
Then there was Wonder Gadot, which had finished second by only half a length to the top filly Monomoy Girl in the Kentucky Oaks. Explosively promising, Wonder Gadot hasn’t found a winner’s circle this year in six starts. She’s playing the bridesmaid, with four seconds and two thirds. She has a tendency to hang in the stretch. “She can cause some of her own bad luck,” Casse said. She hopped at the start of the Woodbine Oaks and was pinched back. She will get blinkers to focus her efforts for the Plate.
Telekinesis’s career didn’t get off the ground (so to speak) as a 2-year-old because he suffered some setbacks, none caused by injury. Casse sent him home to Stonestreet, which gave him lots of time. Casse got the horse back over the winter in New Orleans, where he won that first start. He was third in his next start against older horses.
And then he just missed winning the Lexington Stakes in Kentucky by a head in the rain to My Boy Jack, a stretch kicker that had finished third in the Louisiana Derby. That win in the Lexington gave My Boy Jack enough points to make it to the Kentucky Derby, where he finished fifth.
Telekinesis hadn’t run in more than seven weeks when he contested the Plate Trial at Woodbine – and he won, but found himself in a duel during the stretch run. He found more. But that effort didn’t elicit goosebumps and he didn’t scare away 15 other horses that will run in the Plate.
Casse thought the Plate Trial was a good effort. But “I thought that there’s more there,” he said. “I think it was his first time running at Woodbine and maybe he was a little confused. It looked like at about the half-mile pole that he thought: ‘Well, oh that’s it. It’s over.”
“Then when [jockey Patrick Husbands] asked him to go, he took off again. I think you’ll see an improvement in this race coming up.”
He says he’s most worried about the filly Dixie Moon. Telekinesis will start from post 10, alongside stablemate Wonder Gadot in post 11. His other entry, Neepawa will leave from post 14.
Casse came home for the Queen’s Plate breakfast/draw on Wednesday. He’s rarely seen at Woodbine anymore as he plies his trade at several U.S. tracks.
“It’s just gotten to where I travel a lot and move, so I don’t get back as much as I’d like,” he said. “And we have such a great group of people that are associated with our operation here that allows me not to have to be here as much.
“I usually go where the problems are. And that isn’t here.”
If it’s magic that he’s looking for, perhaps Telekinesis can move mountains for him.