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North Dakota Derby Recap
News - Misc
Sunday, July 21, 2013

Plan of a Cat

Herman Family's 'Derby Plan' plays out with Tattle Tale Cat

by Ryan Roshau, NDHP Website, photos by Cindy Breyer  

TattleTaleYou don’t have to be Nostradamus to forecast the results of a four horse thoroughbred race.  But when Robert “Butch” Herman and his son Robert, Jr. sat down to map out their racing strategy, the result was some unnatural family planning.

“Simple,” Butch Herman said after the race was run, “send one horse out to win it for the other.” Such was the luxury for the Hermans, who had two horses in the race to go after the 2-5 favorite Dakota Girl.  Hello Scarlet had the speed to collar the favored pace setter Dakota Girl and if they went fast enough, Tattle Tale Cat stood the best chance to pick up the pieces. 

Talk about your cat tale.

But the plan had merit because Tattle Tale Cat was thought of to be the stronger of the two horses with Hello Scarlet the lesser.  “Even though Hello Scarlet won the TOBA Futurity here last year but this other one, we knew this other one was the better horse,” Herman Jr. said. The family faith was confirmed when the son of Category Five broke its maiden at Chippewa Downs on June 15th, winning by nearly five lengths.

Following that effort he ran second behind Dakota Girl in the NDTOBA Stallion Stakes with Hello Scarlet well back in fifth.  Suddenly, there was a new scion in the stable.  This scenario was unthinkable a year ago. ‘Scarlet won three out of four starts as a juvenile, including two stakes at the Horse Park.  Tattle Tale Cat meanwhile, was suffering through a worse fate.  “We had to geld him because he was a ridgling and that was getting in the way when he raced,” Herman Jr. said.  “Geldings mature better and he healed up after the surgery.  It’s good because we thought he’d be the better horse for the distance.” 
SmoothyKidsAnd the best jockey for the distance proved to be Mikhail Carmichael whose thoroughbred prowess, especially in longer races, put him in the saddle over Herman’s sons Shaun and Jeremy who are also jockeys.  “I got on him one time in Belcourt and watched him gallop later and I knew I wanted to ride him,” Carmichael said after the race. “We all hang out and they know me and I knew I was coming to Fargo just so I could ride this horse. I asked if I could get the mount and Shaun Herman helped make that happen.”  “We usually ride relatives but we knew for one mile we needed to have someone lighter,” Herman Jr. said, “and that’s where Carmichael came in.”

With Shaun Herman fully invested in the family plan, the pieces fell into place.  On a day when the 2,100 in attendance wagered a Horse Park record $60,000 plus, Herman sent Hello Scarlet, unlikely to last the entire eight furlongs, directly to the lead past the stands for the first time.  Down the backstretch, Scarlet increased her lead to four lengths with Dakota Girl sitting in second.  Go Socks Go, the lone maiden in the race, sat in third while Tattle Tale Cat, the lone male in the race bided his time, as planned.  You could say he was calling on his inner gentlemen by allowing the three fillies to go first.
By the time they were mid-way down the backstretch, Hello Scarlet shortened strides.  Dakota Girl seized the lead and Carmichael and Tattle Tale Cat went to work. “Right there I knew the plan was going to work,” Butch Herman said. “He broke and wanted to go but we settled back and before we hit the far turn I felt it was my race,” Carmichael added.  But at this juncture, Ralph Buchholz, the owner/trainer of Dakota Girl must have thought the same thing as the duo raced as a team around the far turn, exchanging jabs.  It wasn’t until they were midway through the Horse Park stretch when Tattle Tale Cat put away the favorite, cruise-controlling it home by 1 ½ lengths.  Go Socks Go rallied for third.  The time, a slow 1:49 2/5 for the mile wasn’t mentioned in the throes of a winner’s circle celebration.  It was the second straight year that a son of Category Five won the Derby, with Tattle Tale Cat joining Tuffernhell from 2012.
The winner was barely cooling out in the barn when the talk shifted to the horse’s next race.  “That’ll be tomorrow, in the Open Derby,” Herman Jr. chimed, standing proudly next to his senior. “That’ll be a tougher race but we’re going there with him.”
And now the only question to ask is; what’s the plan for that one?
*Editors Note:  Tattle Tale Cat finished second in the NDTOBA Derby on July 21st