Saturday, July 19, 2008

Glad I'm Not the Only One

I received a comforting e-mail this morning from a friend of mine in California. Jeff said that he missed two of his horse's wins as well and that the trainer was going to ban him if he won the next time Jeff didn't make the race. Fortunately (or unfortunately) Classie lost, Jeff couldn't make the race and he's still welcome in the paddock.

It all started with a note sent out about Somerset Sam. Sammy, you may recall, is a lightly raced 3-year old gelding that I own part of under the Star of the North Racing umbrella. Sammy has been my wife's favorite from the beginning. Every time he see her entering the barn or in front of the stall, he strains to be near her. She loves to be around him and they appear to have made a connection.

In any event, we were unable to ask Sammy for any speed at two because his joints were slow to develop. I liken it to asking a 10-year old pitcher to throw a curve ball in Little League - you can do it, but you're bound to cause damage. So we held off and turned him out over the winter, bringing him back slowly at Keeneland with trainer Kellyn Gorder. Sammy came back to Bernell's barn looking fit and like a runner. It was time to ply his trade and we ran Sammy in a a few state-bred Maiden Special Weight races where, while looking good, he promptly showed us very little.

Thursday night we dropped Sammy down to a Maiden Claiming race. My wife, Theri, wouldn't go. She couldn't bear the thought of watching him get hooked up to someone else's shank and get led away from her forever. I couldn't be there because I was making the 2600 mile overnight round trip to Las Vegas to pick up my youngest son Forrest for the summer. It was only the third Star of the North race I would miss this year, but really, I didn't have a choice.

Wouldn't you know it? Sammy decides tonight he's going to show the world that he's a racehorse! Dean Butler had him in second a length or two off the pacesetter, started to threaten around the turn for home in the six furlong dash, and came alongside momentarily and then went on by to score by 3 1/4! I landed to a chorus of text messages from my wife (who watched it on the computer) that Sammy had one, had done it beautifully and that Sammy wasn't claimed (she called poor David directly that night to make sure!).

It was very exciting moment and a very happy time as we have all always thought highly of Sammy, but Thursday night it all seemed to click for him. The class drop certainly helped, but the entire race was different. His attitude, bearing and running style were all different this time. He had confidence and acted like he had a knowledge of what was expected. Hope was renewed and faith was rewarded. And I missed it live. Again.

Somerset Wish, Sammy's full sister and also a Star of the North managed horse (in fact, the two are bundled in one partnership) broke her maiden a few weeks back and I was away for the weekend (also visiting the boys in Nevada as it so happens). Of course I caught the race in between where Wish was caught wide, drifted in the stretch and finished a flat 5th. Now I am a little paranoid. I'd feel worse if I was at the race where Sam faded to last after a half in his first route test. But still, two wins on the season and I missed them both.

Congratulations go out to Brian Nodolf, Tony Miller, Jack Gresser and, of course, David Miller, proprietor of Star of the North Bloodstock and managing partner extraordinaire on a wonderful finish. I look forward to seeing you all in the photo and I hope you all don't cringe when I walk into the paddock next time!


Brooklyn Backstretch said...

I hate to say it, Ted, but NO WAY can you go next time. Anybody who loves you will tell you the same, and take lots of photos to show you afterwards.

Congratulations on the win...

David M. Miller said...


You know very well you aren't the jinx. This partnership started with your e-mail to me way back in the winter of 2007. I look forward to seeing you and your family in the paddock when Wish and Sam run next.