Mick Plummer’s not a baseball fan but he’ll dust off a Los Angeles Angels cap and play catch with his stable hand if temperamental gelding Pujols finds the line in Bathurst on Friday.
One of the newest additions to Plummer’s Towac Park stable, the five-year-old by Magic Albert is aptly named after legendary Major League Baseball pinch-hitter Albert Pujols.
The big-hitting first basemen from the Dominican Republic made history earlier this decade when he signed a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Angels after becoming a star with the St Louis Cardinals, where he was drafted in 1999.
Pujols the horse, though, hasn’t enjoyed anywhere near that much success.
He’s had just the two runs for Plummer – a fourth at Gosford and then a fifth-place finish at The Hotham at Ballarat – and boasts a record of no wins from 27 starts.
There’s five seconds in there, though, and that’s enough to keep Plummer optimistic ahead of Pujols’ debut run in the Central West on Friday in the $22,000 TLE Electrical Maiden Handicap (1100 metres).
“He’ll win a couple of races,” Plummer said.
“The form he’s been up against has been good. He’s run a couple of seconds in town at Adelaide and he works well enough to suggest he’s capable of winning a few.
“His biggest problem though … I thought they called him Pujols because of his attitude. I say he would have been a handful early on.”
Pujols is a Spanish name and as a result it’s pronounced poo-holes.
“When we first got him he was a handful, but he’s settled down a lot,” Plummer added.
“We’ve had him for nine months now … he still does the odd silly thing around the stables but he’s just starting to mature.”
It wasn’t until a conversation with a mate that Plummer realised his big chestnut gelding was named after a future MLB hall of famer.
“When we got the horse we didn’t know. Pujols, we watched a couple of races and had a bit of a giggle at the call,” Plummer laughed.
“But then a friend of mine is a mad baseball fan and he told us the story of Albert Pujols, who’s a bit of a legend.
“He’s by Magic Albert, so together with his temperament it’s easy to see where the name came from. But he’s a nice horse.”
Apprentice Katie Jenkinson has the ride on Pujols, with Plummer’s chance jumping from barrier nine in the 1100m maiden at 2.53pm.
Plummer concedes the 1100m distance might be a bit short for his runner at Tyers Park but the race is being viewed as a solid lead-up run ahead of his first home meeting at Towac Park after Melbourne Cup day.
The first, the Kennards Hire F&M Maiden Plate (1400m) jumps at 1.43pm on Friday.