Like many people during this election year, Phil Dott has a sign in his front yard. However, his doesn’t display the name of his favorite candidate.
Instead, Dott’s sign proudly announces the arrival of the latest member of his family…a four-legged Standardbred member named Clavius.
Dott, 61, is a Standardbred owner and breeder from McMurray, Pennsylvania that first got hooked on harness racing in the 1970s. “I came to The Meadows and heard Roger Huston calling a race. That was it, I was hooked,” he says. “There was no turning back from there.”
He spent most of his life as just a fan, but five years ago decided to take the next step and become an owner. He met trainer Tim Twaddle and claimed a Real Artist mare named Hard Shoe Hannah. A lifetime winner of more than $280,000, Hard Shoe Hannah was a good racehorse, and Dott hoped that she would make a great broodmare prospect as well. “We turned her into a pet,” he says. “She didn’t race as well as we wanted to, so we sent her to Dennis and Gina Hoffman at Lindwood Farms to start a new career.”
Hard Shoe Hannah’s first foal was a Shark Gesture filly that was given an unusual name, Jeffrey Hard Shark. “My wife Adele and I named her after my nephew, who died at 12 of a brain tumor. I had told my brother that I would name the horse after his son. We wanted a colt, but it was a filly, and I still kept the name.”
Jeffrey Hard Shark, co-owned by Dott and John Valdisera, made a handful of appearances on the track last season before spending the winter at Pinehurst. “Gordon Corey trained her down there this winter. He’s a very good trainer. I always liked Pinehurst. I used to play golf there and wanted my horse down there. We just brought her back and Tim (Twaddle) is getting her ready for her three-year-old season. Tim’s a good guy and a good trainer.”
The second foal, Pjonmyshoulder, by Hypnotic Blue Chip, is a two-year-old this season, and the latest arrival is Clavius, by Western Ideal, foaled this month at Lindwood, as the sign in his yard proudly notes. “Everybody stops by my house and sees the sign out there,” he says. “Lindwood Farm also promotes it, and I’ve had nothing but positive comments. I love racing and The Meadows.”
That love is evident to anyone following Dott on the highway as well, where stickers with the names of his horses cover the back windows, just like the stick-family decorations on many minivans on the road.
Dott’s goal in the sport is the same as most other owners, “Hopefully I can make some money and have really good, winning horses.” But for now, he is just happy seeing his Standardbred family grow, and sharing that news with his family and friends. “I’ve tried not to spoil the horses, but I love them all. They’re my babies.”
Jaime Malenky Bergstedt
I think my next horse should be a standardbred.