It’s no joke – 7-year-old Joking is in the best form of his career, when many Thoroughbreds have hung up their racing plates. The son of Distorted Humor has four consecutive wins and a second in five starts this year, and is racing at the sport’s highest level for the first time in his career.
The former claimer, who was haltered for a mere $20,000 by current owner and trainer Charlton Baker late in 2014, was running in allowance company as recently as April. He won the listed Diablo Stakes in May, and then the G2 True North in June at Belmont in his first graded stakes attempt.
After four months away from the races with a bruised sprint bone, Joking came back ready to roll. He made a bold mid-stretch move to capture the G1 Vosburgh at Belmont Oct. 1, earning a berth in the starting gate for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in the process.
The Vosburg also marked the first Grade 1 score for his regular rider, Manny Franco. “I rode him like I always do," said Franco. "I just let him go on his own, sit in the back and make one move when I think it's the right time. When he got in the clear, he gave me a big kick like always. When he gets clear, he just wants to run."
Owner/trainer Baker said age has made a big difference with Joking. "He's gotten a lot calmer," he said. "He's definitely matured with age. He used to a horse that was always jittery. He would get all sweaty but he's gotten calmer as he's gotten older."