BORN: 01/05/47, Louisville, Kentucky
RESIDES: Louisville, Kentucky
FAMILY: Jennifer, daughter
Hartlage, the veteran Kentucky horseman, has bedded down his stable at Oaklawn for the 2010 meeting. “I’m excited to see the upcoming season get underway,” he said on a recent morning.
Gary’s barn is headed by the 5-year-old French Kiss.
“I am pointing French Kiss for the Pippin Stakes here January 23. She won the Pippin last year,” idly commented the trainer.
The $75,000-added Pippin, introduced at Oaklawn in 1982 when the late Bobby Frankel sent out Home Last to victory, is at one and a sixteenth miles.
“I gave French Kiss some off in late last season, just to have her sharp for Oaklawn. I didn’t ever run her at Churchill and that’s my home town track,” said Hartlage.
Gary went on to observe that his mare “runs well fresh and she loves Oaklawn Park.”
Hartlage insists that pound for pound, French Kiss is a genuine runner.
“Only thing, French Kiss is very small. She isn’t even 15 hands high. Judge T C was the best horse I've trained."
For several seasons, Judge T C headed Gary’s stable. Judge T C was a winner of more than $800,000 including Oaklawn's 1994 Rebel Stakes and the 1996 Crabapple. Sea Trek was a Hartlage trainee as were Savings, Packet, Nice Serve and High Heels
Veteran fans will also recall Tip’s Lad.
“That was my first stakes winner. I claimed Tip’s Lad for $8,000, or maybe it was $10,000. Anyway, he improved to win a stakes at Canterbury Downs,” remembered Hartlage.
Around the track, Hartlage is known as “Red Dog”, due partly to his red hair.
“Mostly, though, when I started training, my first horse was a dog, meaning he couldn’t run much. A couple of fellows in Kentucky put ‘red’ and ‘dog’ together. Suddenly, I had a nick-name,” he remembers.
What racing enthusiastic will soon forget how Hartlage got off to such a fantastic start at Oaklawn’s 1997 meeting with six of his first seven starters winning? Gary, or "Red Dog" maintained that momentum and wound up dead-locked with Kenny Smith for the training crown. Each man finished with 26.
Hartlage put a lot of drama in that training race, coming right down to the wire. He sent out Krigeorj's Gold to take the next-to-last race on the final day's program, the $100,000 Fifth Season Breeders' Cup.
Gary excels with horses coming off layoffs. In recent years, he's had repeated Oaklawn winners, who had been away more than 90 days. When Judge T C won the Rebel Stakes, the horse hadn't raced in five months because of a bad foot.