ELMONT, NY – When Jump Sucker Stable co-owner Steven Duncker heads to Del Mar for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, he will do so with a redemption chance as Slipstream seeks a decisive Category 1 victory , $ 1 Million Cuttings Juvenile Grass Cuts.
Coached by Christophe Clement, Slipstream will try to stretch a mile from a victory in the two-meter Futurity Grade 3 on October 10 at Belmont Park.
Duncker, former NYRA president and current NYRA board member, arrived at the 1999 Breeders’ Cup as a free-standing owner of Middlesex Drive, who went to post in the Mile as a third pick 6- 1 in an area of 14.
Unfortunately, the three-time ranked winner suffered a rough trip throughout the race, finishing tenth, beaten five lengths.
“He was a speed horse that broke last and that was it for him,” Duncker recalls.
Duncker will not be flying solo this time around as he will be joined at the Breeders’ Cup by his Jump Sucker team co-owners, George Walker, George Loening and Kevin Warsh.
Duncker’s introduction to running began in St. Louis with trips across the Mississippi River to Fairmount Park in eastern Illinois with his childhood friend Ted Levis, sparking a long-lasting love affair. date with sport.
Duncker bought his first racehorse with Levis, a filly named Informal Affair, which they acquired privately during their senior year of high school with money earned from tarring the fairways.
Informal Affair broke up his young daughter in Fairmount by first asking for Duncker and Levis in May 1976.
“She had run unsuccessfully at Keeneland and we thought she would be very competitive at Fairmount,” said Duncker. “Ted and I went to Cahokia Downs and got the third head coach [Michael Fingerhut, Jr.] beep to come to the races office. When he arrived we reached out and asked if he wanted to train for us. We were 17 and he thought it was a joke.
With the money earned through Informal Affair, Duncker bought Cordial Affair, which at Cahokia Downs won the first pari-mutuel event called out by legendary track announcer Tom Durkin – the longtime former voice of the NYRA circuit.
“The next day the newspaper said:” The energetic young Irishman Tom Durkin has made a strong impression on the fans. We think he’ll be here to stay, “and they were right about that,” Duncker recalls. “When Tom was inducted into the Red Jacket Ceremony at Saratoga, I was honored to present him.”
Duncker has been very successful as the owner. In addition to Middlesex Drive, he campaigned for Cloak of Vagueness, winning stakes and placing on multiple stake levels.
But with his inventory dwindling, Duncker was considering leaving the property game before he was finally convinced to partner with Walker, whom he had met years earlier when working at Goldman Sachs. Both were partners in the business and linked by their roots in St. Louis and their memories of going to Fairmount Park to cheer on future Hall of Fame runner Dave Gall.
“Of all the kids who grew up in St. Louis, Steve and I are among the few who, as young as 16, would find a way to make the 30-minute drive to Fairmount Park in the Illinois, ”Walker said. “He and I grew up watching Dave Gall win races. “
Thanks to Walker, Duncker met Loening and Warsh, and in 2006, Jump Sucker Stable was born.
“He said, ‘I’ll buy horses, but only if you come with me.’ Then we wooed our two other friends, ”Walker said.
Several years before forming Jump Sucker Stable, Duncker met Clement through NYRA Co-Chair Peter Karches, who owned horses with the veteran conditioner at the time.
“The questions Christophe was asking about the race were so educated that I was like, ‘He’s a really smart guy,’” said Duncker. “I said if I ever come back to the game in a bigger way, it would be my guy.”
The Jump Sucker team made their first trip to an American Classic when Governor Malibu finished fourth at the 2016 Belmont Stakes. A month later, they claimed their first graded stakes victory when Blacktype captured the Grade 3 Oceanport at Monmouth Park.
“He’s the best communicator I’ve ever seen as a coach,” Duncker said of Clement. “He realizes that a lot of the fun of owning a horse doesn’t just happen on race day. His whole operation is geared towards victory. The second most important thing is that their owners get full ownership experience. I appreciate the extra effort his team put into making this a great experience. “
Duncker and company indeed have a lot of experience with Slipstream, who won the third time sprinting seven stages at Belmont Park.
Although the son of veteran stallion More Than Ready earned a “Win and You’re In” entry in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint via his Futurity score, Slipstream will instead compete in the one-mile Juvenile Turf. .
“Going from the deeper grasslands from east to west it is much easier to pick up speed and Christophe would rather have a horse that stretches in the mile run rather than cut back,” said Duncker. “I don’t know if Slipstream is a classic stayer, but Christophe thinks a mile should hit him between the eyes. Christophe has always loved Slipstream. He didn’t run very well in his first two races, but Christophe kept saying he was such a good horse.
Duncker said he credits his experience with Jump Sucker Stable for rejuvenating his enthusiasm for Thoroughbred ownership.
“This group has given me energy again,” said Duncker. “The amount of fun I’ve had with these guys is ten times more fun than I’ve ever had on my own. They are passionate, they are good sportsmen and it is so much fun to have good partners. I wouldn’t own any horses right now if it weren’t for these three. It’s so much fun, more fun than owning it myself.
“It’s incredibly special. It’s magical that you can share this with people you love to spend time with, ”Walker added.
Duncker said he hopes Slipstream has a much cleaner trip than Middlesex Drive.
“The way I see it, if the racing gods are up there, they may owe us one,” Duncker said. “It shows how important it is to cover a kilometer. Hopefully Joel Rosario will get him out of there in good shape and we can run our race with great luck. “
Clement said Slipstream enters the Breeders’ Cup with a chance to win.
“It’s a fun group and it’s a good group of owners to train for,” said Clement. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had a really good horse so I’m delighted with this one. The horse is doing well at the moment, so it’s exciting.
As Jump Sucker Stable makes his maiden Breeders’ Cup trip, Clement has recorded 40 Breeders’ Cup starters and is still on the hunt for a Breeders’ Cup victory – a statistic Duncker has said he would like. help a lot to change.
“It’s going to happen someday, and I would love it to be with us,” Duncker said. “Christophe is at the top of his profession from all points of view. I loved owning horses that he trains. His whole team is sensational. His son and assistant Miguel also played an important role in the team. He’s the chef, but the exercise riders, the grooms and everything is first class.
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Ryan Martin / NYRA Press Office
Photo Slipstream winning the Futurity Stakes at Belmont under the direction of Joel Rosario on October 10, 2021 (Chelsea Durand)