In September of 2008, I went to Suffolk Downs to see Commentator run in the MassCap. Earlier on the card, in a $16,000 allowance optional claimer, a name in the program caught my eye. Cool N Collective? I knew that name…why was it familiar?
It was familiar because for much of his then-nine-year racing career, Cool N Collective had raced in and around New York; four months before this Suffolk start, he’d been claimed from Bruce Levine in a race at Belmont, and prior to that he’d done a good deal of his racing at Aqueduct, the Meadowlands, and Monmouth, frequently changing hands, getting claimed, moving from trainer to trainer.
Cool N Collective finished sixth that day at Suffolk, and while a twinge of uneasiness at this old hard knocker’s finish up the track lingered for some time after the race, the glow of Commentator’s victory eliminated any memories of it, and Cool N Collective, like so many horses, slipped out of my consciousness.
Until last fall, when a tweet by Suffolk Down handicapper Jessica Paquette brought him back.
Paquette has worked at Suffolk for four years, and when the track is open she tweets regularly about her picks and about horses with interesting stories or angles; last September 19th, she tweeted that the 12-year-old Cool N Collective had won a $4,000 claimer. A subsequent conversation with her revealed that Paquette did more than assess this horse’s chances out of the starting gate.
“Every Friday I make my peppermint rounds,” she said, and Cool N Collective was a regular stop. The bay is, she says, “the coolest horse. He’s a classic Ruhlmann, looks exactly like his sire, and he’s a big sweetheart. He’s a big goof, tilting his head side to side until he gets a peppermint.
“He is such a neat old horse, all class. If you didn’t know how old he was, you’d never guess because he’s so well kept and he’s held his weight well. He just looks so comfortable.”
Cool N Collective was claimed out of that September race by Lynn Scace, from whom New York owner Mike Repole purchased Cool N Collective privately. It’s the fifth time that Repole has owned him; the gelding first raced for him in late 2006, with Bruce Levine training, and after only two races Cool N Collective was claimed away. Over the next year and a half, he was claimed no fewer than seven times, four by Levine and Repole.
Early in his career, this Canadian-bred son of Ruhlmann did not labor in the claiming ranks. He was trained by Reade Baker and Steve Asmussen, and he ran in a number of stakes races, winning the Elgin at Woodbine in 2000 and placing in the Prince of Wales at Fort Erie and the Lexington Park at Laurel. In his first 18 starts, he hit the board 16 times.
If there were ever an equine warrior, Cool N Collective is it: he’s raced for nine trainers at 12 tracks. He’s compiled a record of 15 – 26 – 13 from 78 starts: 64 times on the board, and only 14 off it. Shortly after the most recent purchase, Repole characterized him as an “underdog, but ultra competitive.” As an 11-year-old, Cool N Collective earned $48,440; at 12, he earned $13,070, hitting the board in five of eight starts. Lifetime, he’s earned $675, 096.**
“He’s like a grandfather competing with his grandsons,” says Repole of the 13-year-old. “He loves going out there, going to work with his hard hat.”
Repole is a well known owner in New York racing, with plenty of stakes caliber horses like Go Go Shoot and Nonna Mia in his barn. Nonetheless, his attention last fall was on getting Cool N Collective back. “I was as focused on buying Cool N Collective as I was on buying expensive yearlings,” he said.
Cool N Collective will get a chance to add to his earnings on Sunday, when he races for a $7,500 claiming tag in Aqueduct’s first race, his first race as a 13-year-old and first for Repole this time around. He’s believes that if Cool N Collective wins, he’ll be the first 13-year-old to win a race at a New York track. And as excited as he is to have this horse back in his barn, as excited as he is to see him race again, he does have one reservation: “I really hope that no one takes him away from me.”
Past performance information provided by Trackmaster.
Stall photo of Cool N Collective by Jessica Paquette
**Thanks to the reader who wrote to point out that my original stats here were incorrect; I’d overlooked a late 2009 start.