Stroller, bay colt, '92, by Sutter's Prospect out of Nightlong(GB), was bred in Kentucky by Crescent Farm. The first son of a poor ($27,135) unmarried mother, Stroller had trouble adjusting to his poor early life in the shadow of so many more privileged colts at his farm.
Speaking through a translator, his mother recalls her first son: "He wasn't really a bad boy. He just hung out with the other colts from the wrong side of the barn. Some liniment sniffing, a few cigarettes, and some petty oat theft, but nothing every young boy wasn't doing back then. Without a strong father figure in the family, he just kind of ran wild."
Wild indeed. This reporter has since discovered that Stroller spent his entire allowance on Ministry and Skinny Puppy CD's during that time.
In October of of 1992 an event occurred that was to scar Stroller forever. Jim Bob Thornton, head weaner at the farm, describes it thusly: "Yeah, he didn't like that."
Forcibly wrenched away from the only horse he'd ever loved, Stroller was sent off to be broke and trained at a farm far from his birthplace. This year is hazy in the records, but when the trail picks up again, we find Stroller once again undergoing a psychological nightmare: Only bringing $8,000 at the Keeneland Sept. '93 sale, and that to a pinhooker, who turned around and resold him in April '94 for a whopping $20,000. Stroller was devastated and started hitting the liniment harder than ever.
About that time we find recorded works for Stroller at Keeneland, but not real great ones, maybe the ones for the 2yo sale, which probably accounts for the fact that he next turned up at Woodbine, working for trainer Huntley, who ran him in his first race for a degrading $20000 maiden claiming price, and got him claimed in the process.
Over the course of the next year, Stroller ran nine races for new trainer Attard, picking up a legitimate win plus one by DQ in the process, and learning along the way the joys of Adequan, Bute, Lasix, other drugs too terrible to name, and front wraps to hide the needle tracks. It was the best of times for a carefree young colt: a relatively healthy young body, no responsibilities, and all the potential in the world as he ran in the upper claiming ranks.
But in late April or early May 1995, an event occurred that was to change Stroller's life forever: somehow he was transferred to the care of trainer Rene Araya, who immediately hatched a long term plan to run Stroller nearly non-stop through 1995 and 1996 and 1997 in a series of 32 high level claiming and allowance races in order to set up the ultimate betting coup de grace, 3 wins in a row in mid-1997 at the lowest claiming levels Stroller had ever run at ... with the help of "the juice".
Initially, Stroller opposed this evil plan of trainer Araya. He thought he should try to win races on ability alone, and indeed he managed to clear his N1X and N2X conditions in 1996 with only the additional help of the "hot pepper sauce" so popular at the time. But the hot pepper sauce proved detrimental to Stroller's delicate tissues, and he found himself in severe physical discomfort on the eve of his biggest lifetime test, a $52k handicap on 18 Oct., 1996.
That night he woke from a sound sleep to find strange hands on him in the dark. And even though the Bugsy and Mugsy crime ring had not yet figured out that sponging the _front_ end of the horse worked best, the goal was accomplished as more damage was inflicted on the delicate pepper inflamed tissues. Stroller lost the handicap. After the loss, his pride totally gone and his body wracked with pain, he agreed to trainer Araya's regimen of "the juice".
The rest, of course, is history. Stroller and Araya connived to darken his form throughout the rest of 1996 and early 1997 until it was safe to drop into the cheap claiming ranks, until suddenly the time was ripe: bud-a-bing-bud-a-bang, big drop, three wins, and Stroller's name suddenly became the household word he'd been shooting for since his days as a liniment-sniffing colt: a notorious winner.
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