Economy Terror as a yearling was a rare splurge for Philadelphia attorney Harold Taylor who co-owns the filly with fellow Pennsylvanians Chuck Pompey and Edwin Gold. As a two year old she grossed $926,520 and finished the year with an 11-8-3-0 record.
He loved how she looked and her family tree. But when partner Chris Oakes contacted him about purchasing Economy Terror privately as a yearling, Howard Taylor was not a fan of her name and certainly was not thrilled about her price tag.
“I used to race against Yellow Diamond (her full sister) with Ginger and Fred,” the Philadelphia attorney explained. “She just couldn’t beat her. Chris saw her out in the field and she was a big, impressive looking horse, like Yellow Diamond. He asked what they wanted for her and when he called me he told me Chuck Pompey was going to buy half and would I buy the other half, but even half was more money than I was willing to pay for a yearling. I’m just not into high-priced yearlings and I told him I would see if Ed (Gold) would go into quarters into me and he did, so that’s how we got the team.
“I always hated her name and meant to change it,” he continued. “First of all, it doesn’t sound like a female and what does Economy Terror mean? I had a busy winter and didn’t remember I hadn’t changed it until a week before she was supposed to start racing. Then I said to heck with it.”
Although she cost Chuck Pompey of Archbald, Pa., Edwin Gold of Phoenixville and Taylor quite a stack of cash, the daughter of Western Terror and Mattatonic has definitely returned and even exceeded the expectations of their original investment when she was recently named Dan Patch Award winner and world champion.
Selected on December 27, 2011, by the United States Harness Writers Association as the sport’s best 2-year-old filly pacer, Economy Terror has compiled a 11-8-3-0 record, grossed $926,520, is the swiftest filly of her age and gait on a five-eighths of a mile track with a mark of 1:50.3 (her lifetime record), and earned more money than Sweet Lou, ($686,647) her male award-winning colleague.
Her 2011 triumphs include the $58,750 Countess Adios at the Meadowlands on August 5, 2011, in only her second pari-mutual engagement; the $200,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Final at Pocono Downs on September 10; a $85,200 division of the International Stallion Stake at The Red Mile on October 7: the $600,000 Breeders Crown Final on October 29 at Woodbine Racetrack; and in her season finale, the $380,000 Three Diamonds at Harrah’s Chester on November 13, in a time that tied her world record.
“Her talent was very, very obvious right from the get-go, but at first, she was nearly impossible to deal with,” Chris Oakes, the filly’s trainer, said. “As time as has gone on, she’s gotten better, but she is not a kid’s horse and is a real handful. She’s not mean and I don’t want to say she’s stubborn, because she will do a lot of things for you, but everything has to be on her terms. She is very opinionated and if you do something with her or to her that she doesn’t want to be done, she will let you know about it and in a big way. She’s just very mature, big, strong, and athletic; especially for a two-year-old.
“Honestly, that is one of the things I liked about her even though it was very frustrating at times,” the Wilkes Barre resident said. “She was so tough to be around and hard to handle, but those are things that make great horses. Instead of being merely good, they become great with that sort of disposition. She carries that with her on the racetrack and she’s a fighter. That’s the bottom line with her.”
To illustrate just how ornery Economy Terror can be, Oakes was more than willing to describe her first experience being hitched to a jog cart.
“The way I explain it to people is it is like going down the road in a car with no brakes and no steering,” the 47-year-old said with a laugh. “It is not fun and you just don’t know what is going happen.
“When we first started her out, it took three people and was always a constant struggle,” Oakes continued. “If something would set her off, it was game on. I don’t even know what to say other than patience, patience, patience and more patience after that. Gradually she got comfortable. I don’t think she liked the idea of being a racehorse at first, but then she was okay with it and actually decided to sign on with the team.”
Tough to Deal With
Even after 11 trips postward for purse events, Economy Terror remains, at times, difficult to deal with.
“She can get fired up if something sets her off, so now we have a real specific routine with her that we keep very tight and never go too far out of the circle,” Oakes said. “I know what to look for and what to stay away from now so it’s more of a management thing, but believe me, it can always be a source of entertainment.
“We try to keep her quiet and happy,” he continued. “I put an ear hood on her when I ship or paddock her, just to keep the noise down and lessen other aggravations to keep those things out of the equation. She is also jogged twice a day. She’ll go out early in the morning for a couple of miles and then I bring her back, let her sit for a while and take her back out. She seems to really like that. It takes the edge off her and keeps her busy. She also swims. I have my own training facility here and I swam her a lot this year. I think it was very helpful keeping her sound and to last so long as a two-year-old. I do think that contributed to her longevity.”
Although she wasn’t the best mannered filly, Oakes always expressed extreme confidence in her ability and rather shocked Taylor when he pitted her against Pirouette Hanover in the Countess Adios.
“I thought how can you put a horse in that race against Pirouette Hanover, who at that time was a star and is still a very nice horse?” he said. “I think she was 1-9 or 1-5 and had just went :51 and a piece in a Sire Stakes. Our filly had just one start and that was in :55 and a piece at Pocono Downs, but she just mowed them down like they were standing still. That’s when she showed that kind of talent and when I realized what we had.”
The only two horses the filly finished behind were American Jewel, a fellow world record holder albeit on a mile track (1:50.2), who fractured a sesamoid after suffering her first loss at The Red Mile in October, and Destiny’s Chance, who hit the wire first in a $134,700 division of the Bluegrass Stake at The Red Mile on September 30.
Taylor felt her losses to American Jewel in the She’s A Great Lady Elimination and Final at Mohawk Raceway were justified, but the defeat at Lexington could have easily turned out with the filly in the winners’ circle.
“When she first lost to American Jewel she had been sick and was off a couple weeks,” he remembered. “Chris told me he couldn’t get her tight in time for the elimination, but he wasn’t worried about that because she would tight for the final. We really expected to win that, but American Jewel was the better horse that day and beat us fair and square. That’s when Brian (Sears, her regular pilot) said American Jewel got her today, but it’s a long year, we’ll get her and we’ll be real good by the Breeders Crown. He told me would win that way back.
“In Lexington she had every excuse, even though Chris played it down after the race, but I was there and saw it,” Taylor continued. “When Brian was leaving the track, he had to pick up and carry part of the bike, because at the top of the stretch somebody stepped on her wheel. The innertube of the tire was flapping around and actually wrapped itself around the axle, so it wouldn’t spin. That acted like a brake on the bike and I’m not one to make excuses, nor do I like them, but she definitely had one that day.”
Even with the campaign she enjoyed, Taylor still was not sure until after the Three Diamonds that Economy Terror would be the sport’s next 2-year-pacing filly champ.
“From a selfish standpoint, with everything she has done, she should have been the top 2-year-old in the country,” he said. “I was talking to Gerry Connors before the Three Diamonds and I told him I thought if she won this race, she should be the champion, because of what she has done, but that I didn’t think she would. I had seen where she had moved up in the writers’ poll to be seventh and that gave me hope, because before that I didn’t think she had a chance.
“It’s a shame what happened to American Jewel,” Taylor continued. “Maybe she won against us when we were both in, but we won the Breeders Crown and the Three Diamonds. She’s a nice horse and deserves credit and honestly, I wish they would have been in both those races together. I hope we get to do that next year and it will be interesting to see them against each other.”
Economy Terror was headed back to Oakes’ stable in late January to prepare for her second season, after vacationing in North Carolina.
“When she comes back from her well-deserved rest, we will get her ready for next year,” he said. “We are looking forward to a big year with her and she is staked to everything. There’s no reason not to, as she’s sound as can be and there’s no question she’s the best out there. She even acts like she is a 4 or 5 year-old and not two.”
Buck I Retires
On the same day, Economy Terror captured the Three Diamonds, Harrah’s Chester held a retirement ceremony for multiple Dan Patch Award winner and world champion, Buck I St Pat, who Gold and Taylor also co-owned.
“I was saying goodbye to Buck I, even though it’s not like I won’t see her again, I just won’t see her on the racetrack, and Economy Terror was walking by on her way back from the spitbox,” Taylor recalled. “I asked the second trainer to stop with her because I had a camera and I wanted to take a picture. Buck I looked out of her stall at her like, ‘I want to check you out.’ Ken Weingartner saw it too and put his picture of it on the USTA website with the article about her retirement.
“It was kind of like out with the old and in with the new, but you are never going to replace Buck I,” he continued. “There are a lot of great horses, but there’s only a few twenty years from now, people will say they remember and she is one of them. We never dreamed we had a horse like her because there are so few. She meant more to me than anything. Believe me Economy Terror has a long way to go to ever fill those shoes. There is a possibility, but like I said there’s a long way in between to do what she’s done. I think she could make more money than Buck I, but I don’t know if she’ll ever be the horse nationally Buck I was.”