By Adam Dobbin
The career of once in a lifetime sprinter Hooked On Scotch has drawn to a close with a fresh injury curtailing the son of Barcia Bale’s much-hyped comeback to racing.
The Jason Thompson-trained megastar retires to stud as the winner at 16 of his 27 race starts, with five of those victories at Group race level, including two at Group 1.
“I said to Jason that if he injured himself again we’d pull the pin, and that’s what happened at his last start at Sandown,” said part-owners Darren and Michael Puleio recently.
“He hurt his stopper again and we always said that we wouldn’t race the guts out of him so it’s just the right time. He’ll stand at stud now for $2,200. He’s given us some fantastic memories – the dog is one in a million.”
It was only July last year when a wet behind the ears Hooked On Scotch, a regally bred son of Barcia Bale and Nicki Fields, began his racing career.
And it didn’t take long for the blueblood to show the racing world what he was capable of – running a spectacular 29.09 at Sandown Park at just his fifth race start.
“In pre-training he was running times faster than his older half-brothers Poke The Bear and Out Of Range at the same stage so we knew we had something pretty special,” Puleio added.
After just eight racetrack appearances, the fashionably bred sprinter downed the likes of Sennachie and Feral Franky to claim the Group 3 Speed Star at Sandown in 29.11, a performance that paved the way for a tilt at the Group 1 Adelaide Cup at Angle Park last October.
“For me it was his win in the Adelaide Cup Final that will always stand out the most,” Puleio said.
“To give champion greyhounds like Sennachie and Whiskey Riot a start and a beating the way he did was just unbelievable. It still makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.”
Following Hooked On Scotch’s remarkable Adelaide Cup triumph, the boom chaser went on to claim wins in the Group 2 Geelong Cup, Group 3 Shootout and Group 1 Hobart Thousand, rubber-stamping his standing as one of the fastest greyhounds to grace a racetrack.
And this was all before he turned two years-of-age.
But in early January things went amiss for the prodigious talent after pulling up injured following a near record heat win of the Group 2 Warragul Cup – the final seemingly at his mercy.
“I could count on one hand the number of dogs that have come back to race after injuring the stopper tendon the way he did,” offered Thompson.
“We were always up against it getting him back to the track, and to spend five months on the sidelines and still return to run the times he did just shows what kind of dog he is.”
Returning to the track in May on Warrnambool on Cup night, Hooked On Scotch carved out a slick 24.94 for victory before going on to race another seven times for three wins, including a sizzling 33.81 at his Sandown Park 595-metre debut.
Wedged in between those efforts was a sizzling 29.55 heat win of the Group 1 Brisbane Cup at Albion Park.
“Even though he was winning you could just tell the injury was limiting his ability to really let go like we came to expect,” Puleio said.
“But to even come back and race the way he did shows the type of dog he is. Things went pear shaped in January at Warragul and it’s easy to stop and think what might have been had he not been injured but that’s racing.”
A son of undisputed king of the siring ranks Barcia Bale out of Nicki Fields whose progeny is responsible for almost 200 race wins and $1.5 million in earnings, Hooked On Scotch has all the ingredients to be a huge hit at stud.
Boasting the Sandown track record at a rampaging 28.94, other times beside the star galloper’s name include a 29.19 romp at Angle Park, a 25.34 run at Warragul, and a 25.49 performance at Hobart.
“It didn’t matter where you took him or over what distance he’d just run time and break records,” Thompson said.
“Had it not been for the injury in January his record could have been just about anything.
“The dog is an absolute freak and I’ve got no doubt he’ll go on to throw just as successfully.”
This article first appeared on thegreyhoundrecorder.com.au and has been republished with permission.