Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tough Summer, Tough Love, New Attitude


There are all kinds of excuses I can use for not keeping up on the blog this summer: new job, work travel, busy with DRF writing and the Canterbury Club but the reality is that I’ve been depressed. 

This summer, as far as racing goes, has been a disaster.  It all started when our broodmare, Tabby Lane, in foal to graded stakes winner Doneraile Court (an A++ True Nick if you were wondering), nearly died from a bout with colic.  Of course we weren’t home for her, we were trekking halfway across the country to my oldest son’s high school graduation.  Thanks to the expertise and quick thinking of Lisa Duoos at Dove Hill Farm and the folks at Weitz Equine, Tabby made it through and made it through with her foal safe and sound.  Without them, she surely would have died.  The bills were, of course, enormous, and contributed to Tabby being put on the sales block.

Elusive Edition, our 3YO Minn bred filly, had beaten but a single horse this summer in her first 3 career starts – NOT the start we envisioned – until she actually seemed to make an effort in her last race.  She was 2nd most of the way before tiring to 7th in the stretch in her first route effort.   I’m still not sure what her future holds.  Maybe we’ll find her another career over the winter.  Maybe she’ll grow and mature a bit; she’s always been a bit on the small side and maybe she really wasn’t ready at three?  If that’s the case we’ll start her up a bit further south after the first of the year and have her ready for the start of the2015 meet.

Bourbonology has been a mere shadow of her former self.  Breaking her maiden in late running fashion last summer I think may have given us a false sense of how she was capable of running.  That turned out to be an aberration as she was content to lope around mid-pack for most of the rest of her races.  We really thought a nice extended vacation and a slow crank up was what she needed to recharge the batteries.  Turns out that there was nothing really there in the way of heart and she’d just given up on racing.  We found her a nice second career teaching kids to ride in southeastern Minnesota so the rest of her life she should be loved on constantly.

Even the Canterbury Club has faltered a bit this season.  Granted, last year winning four races may have been too much to emulate and winning with Maryjean right off the claim this year may have set up some impossible expectations, but we haven’t won since.  We’ve been hitting the board and paying our way, which is really what you hope for, but it’s till disappointing.  I love winning for the people.  They get so excited and it gives them a thrill that I know they really enjoy.  I feel badly having only brought that to them once this season.

So I’ve been wallowing in a season long stew of self-pity.  It’s been very hard to climb out of and, to give her all the credit in the world, Heather has been right there every step of the way.  She’s offered encouragement, backed off when that would be best, listened, consoled and offered advice.  She’s even kicked me in the ass when necessary.  I’ve been ready to pitch the whole racing thing on several occasions.  It’s tough to lose and it’s especially tough to lose when you represent other people.

For the partners that were in on Bobo (Bourbonology) from back in the E Sveikata (Kat) days, it’s a disappointing ending to a long and, what I would think, a successful ride.  We won with Kat and had her claimed for twice what we bought her.  Got a win with Bobo, hit the board with both a few times, and no one had to put in another dime.  That’s a good two and a half year run.  Those that bought into her heading into this season though, a completely different experience and I feel horribly about that.

I’m shaking it all off now, though.  We’re going to get through this lull and get back on form again.  This year was an aberration and it’ll be treated as such.  We’ll reform, regroup and get back on the attack: either starting at Hawthorne, Tampa or both.  Not only will we win again, but we’ll do so with a renewed humbleness that only this game can provide for you.

Thanks to Jeff Maday and Michelle Benson for having me on Chalk Pub Talk this week and help reinvigorate my attitude.  Great friends, great family and a great partner can get you through anything.  So to help kick off the relaunch of the blog (and my attitude), here is the edition of Chalk Pub Talk, courtesy of Canterbury Park.



ICYMI: MInnesota Festival of Champions Day

While I'll be re-launching my posting activity shortly, I had to share the below from the Canterbury Park YouTube page - a video recap of Minnesota Festival of Champions Day.  There were some seriously exciting races with MN Breds running for the highest purses ever on their showcase day.

Congratulations to Randy Sampson, Eric Halstrom and the entire team at Canterbury for putting on a great show on Sunday and also to all the champions of the day!

Monday, June 30, 2014

"...walked out of the gate..."

That is the way Elusive Edition's comment line begins after her first race at Canterbury Sunday.  There were only a couple of things I didn't want to have happen: I didn't want her to be awful and I didn't want her to be one of those horses that couldn't earn a speed figure.  She managed both.

When things are going a bit sideways, never think they can't get worse.  They can.



Ellie had two official works from the gate.  She'd been over there several times otherwise, including the day before the race.  Still, in the heat of her first race, she locked up.  Froze.  From the second she hesitated I knew all was lost and I was livid.  It was brutally difficult to watch the entire race.  She spotted the field seven to start and was able to hustle up and get in touch with the field but it took something out of her and she flattened out in the lane. 

It was horribly depressing and frustrating.

Eighteen months we waited.  Suffered through her sore shins at 2; the cost of her layup over the winter; getting her back into training in the late winter; losing valuable conditioning days due to weather; missing possible start dates.  All the while partners pouring in money and patiently waiting for her first start.

And this is what we got.

Back to the gate she will go until she can get it right.  It's hard to take anything from this effort.  The winning effort was a 27 Beyer - we need to be able to beat horses that run a 27 - but who the hell can tell how good (or not) Ellie is when she just waltzed out of the gate and exhausted herself catching up?  Can she close?  Should she be in front?  We have no idea and this start told us nothing.

On tap is more waiting; more waiting; and more money.  If patience is a virtue, Ellie's partnership group is the most virtuous group on Earth.