Joking has last laugh in True North

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

June 10th, 2016

Joking was one of the longer shots in Friday's $240,000 True North (G2) at Belmont Park, but the seven-year-old gelding had done his best work over the oval finishing first or second in all seven previous tries on the surface.

That fondness for the track perhaps help propel the 9-1 chance to an upset score over Dads Caps, the 15-1 longest shot, in the six-furlong dash for older horses.

Trailing most of the way against four rivals as Dads Caps led through fractions of :22.44 and :44.71, Joking responded late from the right-handed encouragement by Manny Franco to score by a neck in a time of 1:08.04 on a track playing very quick.

Owned and trained by Charlie Baker, Joking returned $21.80. Dads Caps held second by a half-length over Holy Boss, while recent graded winners Catalina Red and Always Sunshine rounded out the order of finish following the scratch of Private Zone.

"I'm very impressed. He's doing great, but today was [a] step up," Baker said. "I didn't know how he'd handle it. I know he's doing super and then again the track was fast all day. It seemed like speed was dominating."

A former claimer and starter allowance type, Joking was claimed by Baker for $20,000 in January 2014. He passed his first two allowance conditions last year at age six, and entered the True North off back-to-back wins. The first, an optional claimer at Aqueduct where he ran for a $100,000 tag, occurred April 13, and he followed up with a 16-1 upset of the $100,000 Diablo at Belmont May 8.

"Saratoga might be the logical spot but he's a very tough shipper," Baker said. He likes his home; he likes it here. We might run him one more time between now and Saratoga and then wait for Belmont."

Bred in Kentucky by Darley, Joking is by Distorted Humor and out of the A.P. Indy mare Spun Silk, a half-sister to multiple Grade 2 winner Fed Biz. Juvenile champion Johannesburg, English and Irish highweight Minardi, and notable sires Pulpit and Tale of the Cat also hail from this family, as does Charles Town Classic (G2) winner Stanford, a contender in Saturday's Metropolitan H. (G1).

(Ronnie Betor/