By Keith McCalmont/NYRA
USA: Trainer Harry Wyner, who in a former life plied his trade as a rider in the British jumps sphere, is dreaming of the Kentucky Derby after saddling Capo Kane to win the first New York prep of 2021 on Friday at Aqueduct.
The son of Street Sense earned ten Kentucky Derby qualifying points with his front-running victory under jockey Dylan Davis in the Jerome Stakes for Manchester-born Wyner, who first went to the States when his boss Michael Dickinson crossed the Atlantic in 1987.
Based at Parx in Philadelphia, he has 211 victories to his name since taking out a training licence in 2004. Capo Kane, however, represented a notable landmark as he was providing the first stakes triumph of his trainer’s career – by the not insignificant margin of 6¼ lengths.
“I knew Capo would run real well, but I didn’t expect him to win by the margin he did,” said Wyner, who is eyeing the G3 Withers Stakes, the next step on the New York route to Churchill Downs.
“It was a very impressive win for him. Things are going great, let’s hope they keep up. But it’s a long road to the Derby and anything can happen. Hopefully, we keep moving forward.”
Runner-up on his Parx debut in October, Capo Kane has won the two most recent of his three starts, despite showing a tendency to drift in both victories.
“We’ll work on it,” said Wyner. “It’s just green stuff. He’s just learning and I don’t think we’ve seen the full potential of this horse yet.”
Wyner, who gallops many of his own horses in the morning, will continue to do so with Capo Kane. “I try and get on all of my horses two or three times a week, but I get on him about four times a week,” he said.
“When he was a two-year-old he was very playful and laidback to gallop. When he came off his maiden victory he got to be very tough to gallop and he wanted to find his own speed to gallop in the morning. When a horse came up alongside him, it was game on for him. He just wanted to be in front of that horse.
“He has a high rate of speed when he gallops and a big, long stride. I usually take a long hold and let him dictate to me how he wants to do it. In the morning, the further we gallop the stronger he gets. He just doesn’t know when to stop. He wants to run.”
Wyner started off with legendary jumps trainer Arthur Stephenson in England before joining Dickinson, the record-breaking trainer renowned as the ‘Mad Genius’ who he followed to the States to work as groom and exercise rider.
“I won a couple of races over jumps and then moved over here with Michael and worked for him at Fair Hill,” recalled Wyner. “I got my weight down to become a Flat jockey and I rode on the flats.”
According to Equibase statistics, Wyner won 14 of his 462 mounts from 1990-92. “I rode at Delaware and I actually rode in a couple races at Belmont against Angel Cordero Jr – that’s my claim to fame,” he said. “He beat me obviously, but I did get to ride against him.”
Wyner eventually became an assistant trainer for Mark Hennig in New York and also worked with conditioner Jimmy Bond before hanging his shingle at Parx, where he now oversees a 24-strong barn.
Wyner has demonstrated a good eye for selecting potential Derby prospects, having picked out Capo Kane for $26,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale.
“I liked the size of him – he was a big-boned horse,” said Wyner. “He had size and substance to him and that’s what I look for in a two-year-old. He was very well-built.”
Wyner was also the initial conditioner of Ny Traffic, who finished eighth in last year’s Kentucky Derby for trainer Saffie Joseph.
Ny Traffic made his first for four starts for Wyner in 2019, including a second-out maiden score at Parx ahead of a fourth in the Parx Juvenile and a fifth in the Notebook at the Big A.
Wyner said he spotted Ny Traffic at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale where the horse didn’t meet his reserve and arranged a private purchase for $22,000. Ny Traffic, who shipped to Joseph’s care in Florida on the cusp of the Covid-19 pandemic, has now banked $565,470.
“He was a little lighter-framed than this horse,” said Wyner. “Capo Kane is a lot bigger boned and heavier than what Ny Traffic was, but he was still a nice horse. I got lucky. You need a little bit of luck in this game.”