Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Last Condition Book

It's hard to believe after the long cold winter that the last condition book of the Canterbury season came out yesterday. Only 13 more racing days and then the Park goes into it's long winter slumber and just the simulcast facility and card club are humming along. If you want to get your fix of Minnesota racing you have to switch on the Vikings game and hear play by play man and Canterbury announcer Paul Allen call a game. It's not the same, but it's at least something.

We won't be turning out for the winter. Far from it. Fizzy Pop will be heading out to Remington Park with the rest of the Rhone barn until the warmth of a Tampa Bay winter calls them south in December. Somerset Sam and Somerset Wish's futures will be more defined after this coming weekend (see tomorrow's post - when it's ready - "A Somerset Saturday") while I Am Woman has been turned out for a few months to mature and become more competitive with her peers on the East Coast Standardbred circuit. We'll also be sending out a call to all the good folks that have inquired about partnerships over the season and see if we can get together another group or two and claim some horses out of Remington and Tampa for the winter and next summer. These new groups will also be based in the Rhone barn, but I am toying with the idea of basing one group in Chicago for the winter. That really depends upon where Tammy Domenosky is wintering this year. I like the idea of Chicago because of it's proximity to the Twin Cities, the purse structure isn't bad and as Hoosier Park and Indiana Downs purses increase with slot money, it's only a short trip down the highway to take a shot at that. Outside of Bernell and Tammy I don't have a strong enough relationship with another trainer, except maybe Larry Donlin and I don't want to go to Nebraska in the spring, to trust with our money and assets. All these things, plus Oklahoma licensing, are going to keep me busy over the next couple of months.

Of more immediate concern is what Fizzy's last race at Canterbury is going to be. An interesting issue that we've run up against is his rise up the ladder. Remember, we claimed Fiz for $10,000 at Tampa back in March. Before he left there he was competitive at $16,000. Now he's won at $16,000 and $25,000 and the races for $25,000 horses and up here going a mile or longer are not exactly a dime a dozen. In fact, with the Claiming Crown last weekend and Minnesota Festival of Champions Day on the 17th, many of the upper level horses here have been spoken for. In addition, some barns have already moved on to Remington and other locales. With rumblings that Justin Evans and his large, high-quality barn will be leaving before meet's end to head back to Arizona, horses in Fizzy's peer group are disappearing.

There are three races in the Book that are possible. On August 14th there is a $25,000 Optional Claiming/non-winners of 3 other than claiming, starter or maiden going a mile over the turf course for $18,000. This is basically the next step up from the race we just won. On August 24th there is a $35,000 Optional Claiming/non-winners of 3 races other than claiming, starter or maiden going 1 1/16th over the turf for $20,000. More of a solid step up from our last and probably the level he will start out in Oklahoma. Finally, the most ambitious and intriguing possibility, the $50,000 Shakopee Stakes contested over 1 mile 70 yards on the dirt on September 1, closing day. Quite a leap up, I know.

Here is how I look at the possibility of running in the Shakopee: it's run on the last day of the meet and given that there has already been an exodus of higher quality stock, this may not be the toughest field of the summer; Fizzy's last race showed he can be competitive on the dirt; $25,000 Optional Claimers/Allowance horses do tend to run competitively in these types of Stakes events; there's a good chance that the first two races won't fill and this'll be our only opportunity to run; and man, I would dearly love to win a stakes race - no matter the size. All that being said, I'll discuss all this with Bernell this weekend and we'll chart his course. I am NOT going to run him where he doesn't belong just because of my own ego. He needs to be competitive each and every time out. I owe it to him and I certainly owe it to the partners who invested their money. I would be more encouraged for the Shakopee if he earned a Beyer over 80 in that last dirt race. Instead, he earned a 76 which definitely curbs my enthusiasm over option 'C'. Stay tuned and we'll see what the Fates have in store for us.


Steve Zorn said...


Just based on my own experience, I think you should give the stakes race a serious look. It's just a great thrill for a small partnership to have a horse in a stakes race at all! Of course, you don't want him to finish last or be eased (but, then, you don't have to worry about having Kent Desormeaux ride for you), but if he's at all in the mix,give him a shot! And hey, you never know. We claimed Flippy Diane for $20,000 and two races later she won the Maryland Million Distaff for us.

Ted G said...

Thanks, Steve. The group is pretty intrigued by the possibility. Just before I saw this I got off the phone with Bernell. He's going to do some poking around and see what we can find out about the possible contenders. It's only a $250 nomination, so we may nominate and see how things turn up. I remember going to one of the first Maryland Million Day. My lasting memory of it was a filly named Ms. Rutledge winning the Distaff for King Leatherbury at something like 8-1 and cashing what seemed like the biggest bet of my life at the time. Thanks!