W W W. A ME RI CA NRA CEH ORSE. C OM SPRING 2019
THE REAL STORY OF
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:
THE ENCHANTMENT OF SANTA FE DOWNS UPDATE ON THE FUTURE OF AMERICAN RACEHORSE
A Division of Center Hills Farm
(Medaglia d’Oro-Sunshine Song, by War Chant) OKLAHOMA’S #1 STALLION BY MARES BRED IN 2018! A Grade 1-placed and Grade 3 winner by a top international sire 2019 FEE: $2,500
NEW TO OKLAHOMA FOR 2019! A Grade 1 winner at 2 who in just two crops has sired eight stakes horses, including MOONLIGHT ROMANCE ($359,600) and G1-placed Thirteen Squared 2019 FEE: $2,500
(Carson City-Etats Unis, by Dixieland Band)
Progeny earnings of more than $1.5 million in 2018 with THREE graded stakes performers, including G3 winner VISION PERFECT ($792,154) 2019 FEE: $2,500
(Indian Charlie-Galloping Gal, by Victory Gallop)
(Giant’s Causeway-Smokey Mirage, by Holy Bull)
Sire of top sprinter WELDER ($683,151), who won six of eight starts in 2018, including four straight stakes at Remington Park to be named Horse of the Meet 2019 FEE: $1,500
All fees are stands and nurses All stallions are nominated to the Oklahoma Bred Program, Oklahoma Stallion Stakes, Iowa Stallion Stakes and Minnesota Stallion Stakes
675 W. 470 Rd. • Pryor, Oklahoma 74361 Phone: 918-825-4256 • Fax: 918-825-4255 • Randy Blair: 918-271-2266 www.mightyacres.com
Congrat ulat ions!
The Money Dance
2018 Indiana Horse of the Year Photo by Dean Gillette
THE MONEY DANCE: (Jimmy Creed – Whistlin Jean – Pure Prize) Breeder/Owner: Michael and Penny Lauer • Trainer: Michael Lauer 2018 Earnings: $279,453 ($38,486 ITBDP Incentives) Lifetime earnings: $283,025 Multiple Black Type Stakes Winner 2018 Record: 15 3-2-3
2018 Breeders of the Year Michael & Penny Lauer Michael Lauer Racing Stables 2018 Earnings: $1,172,240 ($229,006 in Breeder’s Awards)
2018 Stallion Owner of the Year Richard Rigney Noble’s Promise 2018 Progeny Earnings: $518,020 ($65,140 in Stallion Owner’s Awards) @INThoroughbred
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2 AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019
OUR FAMILY TRADITION OF WINNING CONTINUES!
HH Denis Blake
THANK YOU AND GOOD LUCK TO ALL THE BUYERS AT THE TEXAS 2-YEAR-OLDS IN TRAINING SALE!
Asmussen Horse Center consigned the $150,000 sale-topper at the Texas 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale as well as a $53,000 Texas-bred by INTIMIDATOR! We hope to see our sale grads in the winner’s circle soon!
Hip 21, a filly by Street Boss, sold for $150,000 at Lone Star Park to give Asmussen Horse Center another sale-topper.
CONGRATS TO TRAINER STEVE ASMUSSEN AND HIS TEAM ON AN AMAZING WEEKEND ON APRIL 12-14 AT OAKLAWN WITH THREE GRADED STAKES WINS WITH THREE HORSES WHO ARE UNDEFEATED IN 2019!
MIDNIGHT BISOU won the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap for Bloom Racing Stable LLC, Madaket Stables LLC and Allen Racing LLC
LADY APPLE won the Grade 3 Fantasy Stakes for Phoenix Thoroughbred III and KatieRich Stables
Midnight Bisou highlighted a trifecta of graded stakes winners for Steve Asmussen at Oaklawn.
MITOLE won the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap for Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt
Keith Asmussen, 956-763-8907
Dr. Steve Velasco, veterinarian • Dee Martinez, office manager, 956-763-7594 P.O. Box 1861 • Laredo, TX 78044 • Phone: 956-723-5436 • Fax: 956-723-5845 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org • Website: www.asmussens.com
AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019 3
. . breed race . breed race .win win 2018, Over Million inin 2018, Over $4$4 Million will was paid to to Thoroughbred Thoroughbred be paid Owners Ownersand andBreeders Breeders in inOklahoma Oklahoma
THOROUGHBRED RACING ASSOCIATION OF OKLAHOMA THOROUGHBRED RACING ASSOCIATION OF OKLAHOMA . OKC, OK ONE REMINGTON PLACE 73111 . WWW.TRAORACING.COM ONE REMINGTON PLACE . OKC, OK 73111 405.427.8753 . 405.427.8753 WWW.TRAORACING.COM
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ABOUT AMERICAN RACEHORSE
American Racehorse (formerly Southern Racehorse) covers Thoroughbred racing and breeding in the Southwest, Midwest and Midsouth regions. The magazine is mailed to all members of the following associations: • Alabama Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association • Arkansas Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Horsemen’s Association • Colorado Thoroughbred Breeders Association • Georgia Horse Racing Coalition • Indiana Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association • Iowa Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association • Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association • Minnesota Thoroughbred Association • North Carolina Thoroughbred Association • Ohio Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners • Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma • South Carolina Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association • Texas Thoroughbred Association • Plus hundreds of Louisiana horsemen.
For more information or to inquire about advertising, contact Denis Blake at (512) 695-4541 or visit www.americanracehorse.com.
CONNECT WITH AMERICAN RACEHORSE HHH
Online: www.americanracehorse.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/americanracehorse • Twitter: @AmerRacehorse Email: email@example.com Phone/Text: (512) 695-4541 • Fax: (512) 870-9324 Published by Pangaea Enterprises LLC d/b/a American Racehorse American Racehorse • P.O. Box 8645 Round Rock, TX 78683
Contributors J. Keeler Johnson Jonathan Stettin
Graphic Designer Julie Kennedy • firstname.lastname@example.org
Photographers Jane Bernard/Albuquerque Journal Denis Blake Catherine Burton Coglianese Photos Nik Daum Keeneland Library/Thoroughbred Times Collection Dustin Livesay Daniel O. Montaño Damian Taggart Lea Watson Aaron Wilson/Albuquerque Journal
Copyeditor Judy L. Marchman
Cover Photo Coglianese Photos
Physical Address American Racehorse 1341 Meadowild Drive Round Rock, TX 78664 Editor/Publisher Denis Blake • email@example.com Senior Art Director Amie Rittler • firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2019 American Racehorse All rights reserved. Articles may not be reprinted without permission. American Racehorse reserves the right to refuse any advertising or copy for any reason. American Racehorse makes a reasonable attempt to ensure that advertising claims are truthful but assumes no responsibility for the truth and accuracy of ads. 6 AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019
34 The Enchanting Santa Fe Downs
Departments Editor’s Letter 9 Fast Furlongs 12 State Association News
The Marketplace Classifieds
ME RIC AN
WWW.A MERICA NRACE 8 FAL L 201
All 1s 16 The real story of Ruffian
HORSE .COM WINTER 2019
SUMME R 2018
The Rise and Fall of Santa Fe Downs The New Mexico track left its mark on the Southwest
UE: THIS ISS
IN DNA BISCUIT’S ION FROM SEA E REG LEARNING LLIONS IN TH PTSD NEW STA VETERANS WITH KLESS LP SGT. REC RSES HE HOW HO UINE WAR HERO THE EQ
9 Update on the Future IN THIS ISSUE
ISSUE THE LEGACY OF LEXINGTONCELEB • HOW RACING CAN USE SOCIAL MEDIA RATING CITAT IONFOAL OKLAHOMA HORSEMAN C.R. TROUT • KEEPING YOUR HEALTHY 70 YEARS LATER • ALPHABET UNDE SOUP FIGHTS ON RSTAN BEHIND THE SCENES WITH TRACK SUPERS DING YEARLING SALE RADIOGRAPHS
of American Racehorse AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019 7
Breed for Speed! Breed in Indiana
Lantana Mob – Mutakddims Revenge 2018 Highest money-earning Indiana-sired horse
Top 2018 Indiana Sires
Ready’s Image Fort Prado Notional Victor’s Cry Pass Rush
Why breed to an Indiana stallion? • Indiana-sired horses earned more than $12 million nationwide in 2018. • 8 Indiana Stakes Races dedicated to Indiana-Sired horses only ($100,000 added). • Indiana-Sired horses coming in 1st, 2nd or 3rd in any of the four Signature Stakes earn a 25% additional supplement.
Editor’s Letter I don’t want to say that this is the last issue of American Racehorse, but I will say it is the last issue for now. After nearly seven years of publishing, I have decided to suspend the printed publication after this issue. I have truly enjoyed publishing the magazine, but as it has expanded, so have the time commitments that have cut into the hours I can spend with my family. While the publication has been financially successful from the start, postage and printing costs have increased significantly since 2012, and to be candid, over the past couple of years we’ve had a increase in unpaid advertising bills, which has been both timeconsuming in attempts to collect and frustrating in that some of those advertisers are the same ones who complain that the industry, tracks, associations, etc. do not do enough to promote horse racing. To be clear, these advertisers constitute just a handful, and I am immensely grateful for all of the other advertisers over the years and for the state associations that have supported the magazine. I hope that the magazine has achieved its goal of highlighting the wonderful horses and people involved in this industry. Just for fun—and because I like numbers—I went back and figured out that including this issue, there have been 43 editions of American Racehorse, including when it was originally called Southern Racehorse. With an average circulation of about 5,000 copies per issue and around 80 pages per issue, that comes to a grand total of more than 17 million printed pages over the years covering Thoroughbred racing and breeding in the Midwest, Midsouth and Southwest regions. I like to think that a lot of the stories on those pages never would have otherwise been told, and I’m glad that we were able to bring those stories to you. I want to thank several people who helped make this magazine possible, starting with Tim Boyce, who first encouraged me to launch a magazine to fill the void left by the demise of The Texas Thoroughbred and The Homestretch magazines covering the industry in Texas and Oklahoma,
respectively. Mary Ruyle and the board of the Texas Thoroughbred Association have been great supporters of the magazine from day one, as have been Danielle Barber and the late Justin Cassidy of the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma. The magazine started with just Texas and Oklahoma and later expanded to cover more than a dozen states, so I’d like to also thank the state associations in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio and South Carolina. Thanks again also go to all of the advertisers over the years, especially Mighty Acres, Asmussen Horse Center and Valor Farm, who have all advertised in every issue since the magazine started. Lastly, I sincerely want to thank the small but incredible group of people who worked to produce the magazine. Amie Rohrbach has done an amazing job of designing each issue, with an assist over the last few years from Julie Kennedy. Judy Marchman has been a tremendous asset as a copyeditor, fact-checker and writer. I never could have produced this magazine without the hard work and talents of those three. The number of contributors, both for photography and editorial content, is too long to list, but I am very thankful for all of them as well. As for the future, I do plan to keep the American Racehorse website and social media presence going, and it’s likely that we will do a printed 2020 Stallion Register if there is enough demand. The online archive of past issues will also remain. And, if something were to happen legislatively in one of the states we cover, particularly in Texas, then I am certainly open to bringing back the print magazine at some point down the road. I still plan to remain involved in the industry, so if you have any needs related to marketing/advertising, websites, social media, etc., I’m always available. For any prepaid advertising or paid subscriptions (for those who are not members of a state association), we will of course be providing prorated refunds. Thank you again for your support of American Racehorse. Denis Blake Editor/Publisher
AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019 9
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MR. BESILU A.P. Indy – Balance, by Thunder Gulch By the incomparable racehorse and sire A.P. INDY out of the multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire BALANCE, who is a half sister to the great ZENYATTA.
t His firs B e h S r e start us ro Glamo rst fi t a won at asking ury! rb Cante
2019 Fee: $2,000
THE HUNK Speightstown – Penniless Heiress, by Pentelicus A stakes winner by champion sprinter and leading sire SPEIGHTSTOWN and half brother to successful stallion WILDCAT HEIR. 2019 Fee: $2,000 The Hunk
EXPECT A LOT Awesome Again – Tizamazing, by Cee’s Tizzy A son of Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner AWESOME AGAIN and a full brother to Preakness Stakes (G1) winner OXBOW and G3-placed SW AWESOME PATRIOT. Nearly the same pedigree as Grade 1 winner and Belmont Stakes (G1) runner-up PAYNTER. 2019 Fee: $2,000 Expect A Lot
Vanning a problem? Give us a call and we can help! EUREKA THOROUGHBRED FARM All fees are stands and nurses Inquiries to Bill Tracy 6476 U.S. Highway 290 E. • Fredericksburg, Texas 78624 Phone: (830) 688-1709 • Email: email@example.com Website: www.eurekathoroughbreds.com Accredited Texas Stallions Nominated to the Texas Stallion Stakes Series and Minnesota Stallion Stakes
PROVEN AND PROMISING! Whether you want a proven graded stakes-siring stallion in LATENT HEAT or one of Oklahoma’s most promising young stallions in EXCAPER, we have the right stallion for you! LATENT HEAT
Maria’s Mon – True Flare, by Capote One of the most accomplished sires in Oklahoma with progeny earnings of more than $12 million and 22 stakes horses, including seven graded stakes performers! 2019 Fee: $2,000
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All fees are stands and nurses 3216 U.S. Hwy. 177 North • Sulphur, Oklahoma 73086 Inquiries to Lori or Francisco Bravo Ranch: (580) 622-4412 • Francisco: (940) 367-4457 • Lori: (940) 367-4380 • Fax: (580) 622-4411 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org • Website: www.riveroaksthoroughbreds.com Accredited Oklahoma Stallions Nominated to the Oklahoma Stallion Stakes and Minnesota Stallion Stakes Stallions are property of Eureka Thoroughbred Farm
fastfurlongs Fillies Set Pace at Texas 2-Year-Old Sale
A Kentucky-bred daughter of Street Boss brought a bid of $150,000 to top the auction. Fillies took center stage at the Texas 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale, first at the April 7 under-tack show at Lone Star Park with four fillies tying for the fastest time, and again during the April 10 auction with five going for the highest prices. The sale, sponsored by the Texas Thoroughbred Association and Lone Star Park, was held at the Dallas-area track. From 110 horses going through the ring, 75 head sold for a total of $1,751,400. The median was $14,500, up 10.69 percent from last year’s $13,100, and the average dipped 9.27 percent from $25,737 to $23,352. Buybacks at this year’s sale came in at 31.82 percent compared to 20.75 percent last year when 84 of 106 head sold for a total of $2,161,900. “Overall we were pretty pleased with the results,” said sales director Tim Boyce. “I’m happy to see that the median jumped up. Last year we had four horses break $100,000 compared to two this year, so that affected the average a bit, but there was strong demand in the middle of the market as evidenced by the median going up. I heard from several horsemen today who said they were impressed by the quality of horses brought by our consignors.” Hip 21, a daughter of Street Boss who worked an eighth-mile in 12 AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019
:10 3/5 in the under-tack show, topped the sale with a $150,000 bid from Maui James. Consigned by Asmussen Horse Center, agent, the unnamed Kentucky-bred is the first foal out of the winning Successful Appeal mare I Have a Price. Maui James was the leading buyer with two purchases for $203,000 with Danny Keene ranking second with four bought for $171,000. The second-highest price was for hip 131, All in Harmony. The Kentucky-bred filly by Palace Malice went for $140,000 to Carl R. Moore Management LLC from the consignment of Twin Oaks Training Center LLC, agent. She is out of the Tale of the Cat mare Cativating and worked a furlong in :10 3/5. The highest-priced male, and sixth-highest price overall, was hip 129, an Oklahoma-bred colt named Duffield. Sired by Kennedy, the colt sold for $62,000 from Bryan Ford, agent, to John James. Complete results are posted at ttasales.com. The Texas Summer Yearling and Mixed Sale has been set for August 26 at Lone Star Park. The entry deadline is June 17, and the entry form is available on the TTA Sales website.
Texas Stallion Expect a Lot Scores a Winner with First Starter
The Horse Supply Specialists Lea Watson
Texas stallion Expect a Lot got his stallion career off to a nice start on March 8 as his first starter, Awesome Sunset, scored a 1 ¼-length victory in her career debut in a maiden special weight race at Sam Houston Race Park. Expect a Lot The 3-year-old filly was bred by Eureka Thoroughbred Farm and runs for Mike Grossman, who also owns and stands Expect a Lot at Eureka in Fredericksburg, Texas. Iram Diego rode the Texas-bred to victory for trainer Francisco Bravo in a time of 1:13.13 for six furlongs. Although unraced, Expect a Lot sports a powerful pedigree as a son of Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Awesome Again out of the Cee’s Tizzy mare Tizamazing. Expect a Lot is a full brother to Preakness Stakes (G1) winner and Belmont Stakes (G1) runner-up Oxbow, and his dam is a full sister to two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner and top stallion Tiznow and $2.8 million earner Budroyale. Expect a Lot stands for a $2,000 fee.
Servicing Evangeline Downs each race day. Stemmans Inc. 117 E. Gloria Switch Road P.O. Box 156 Carencro, LA 70520 337-234-2382 337-316- 2694 -Don’s Cell
AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019 13
Graded Stakes Winner One Liner Retired to Whispering Oaks Farm
One Liner, a graded stakes-winning son of top sire Into Mischief, has been retired from racing and will stand the 2019 breeding season at Carrol Castille’s Whispering Oaks Farm in Louisiana. The 5-year-old will stand for a fee of $3,500. One Liner began his racing career in brilliant fashion for trainer Todd Pletcher with three straight wins in a maiden race at Saratoga Race Course, an allowance/optional claimer at Gulfstream Park and the Grade 3, $500,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park. As a 4-year-old, One Liner ran second to millionaire Irish War Cry in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special Stakes. Whispering Oaks purchased One Liner in 2018 at the Fasig-Tipton Summer Selected Horses of Racing Age Sale and sent him to Steve Asmussen’s barn. One Liner retired in March with four wins, a second and a third in nine starts with earnings of $475,250. “I liked how fast he is,” Asmussen told Thoroughbred Daily News after signing the ticket on One Liner. “I have run against him on several occasions. He’s a racehorse.” For more information, go to whisperingoaksla.com. One Liner
San Antonio Horse Sale Company to Host Fall Sale in Austin The San Antonio Horse Sale Company, which earlier had announced a schedule of two sales for 2019, will instead hold a single auction, the Alamo Classic Fall Horse Sale, on September 28 at the Travis County Exposition Center in Austin. The change was made due to consignor requests and bad weather in the region, and the fall date will allow consignors more time to prepare their horses.
The sale is open to Thoroughbred and American Quarter Horse weanlings, yearlings, broodmares and horses of racing age, as well as barrel racing and hunter/jumper prospects. The entry fee is $450 with a $50 early-bird discount by May 30. An additional $50 discount per head is available for consignments of four or more horses. For more information, go to sanantoniohorsesalecompany.com.
Indiana-breds Find Success in South Korea
Two Indiana-bred horses have been in the headlines for South Korean race record of 24 starts with six wins, four seconds and one third, earning racing recently, with both imports finding success at the Seoul Race- the equivalent of $351,690. course Park for their separate owners. Choco Candy (To Honor and Serve—Black Choego Money (Stephen Got Even— Chocolate, by Harlan’s Holiday) was bred by Lady Heroine, by Sea Hero) was bred by Mr. Greg Justice and Justice Farms and sold in the and Mrs. Lawrence Ernst and Red Heart 2017 Keeneland September Yearling Sale for Farm and exported to owner Humchan and $82,000 to Paul Reich. The filly, who was origitrainer Yang Jae Cheol in South Korea. The nally named Sayitagainjustice, was then exportgelding broke his maiden in November ed to South Korea for owner Jeong Young Sik. 2016 racing 1,200 meters in Seoul. After a Breaking her maiden in just her second start in a Class 4 race for trainer Lee Shin Young, the couple of trainer changes, he arrived at Ausdark brown filly has now amassed a record of tralian Simon Foster’s barn and has found success winning two Class 1 races in the year three wins, two seconds and one third in seven Indiana-bred Choego Money has earned more he’s been with Foster. starts with earnings of nearly $140,000. than $350,000 in South Korea. “He’s a lovely horse,” said Foster of his “It’s exciting to hear about horses coming from our breeding program finding success overcharge. “While he stands 16.3, he doesn’t carry a lot of bulk. He moves with a big stride and relaxed action. Off track he seas,” said Jessica Barnes, director of racing and breed development for the Indiana Horse Racing Commission. “It just goes to show that while loves being around people.” Choego Money was purchased at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton October Ken- we might be a relatively small regional breeding program, our horses can tucky Fall Yearling Sale for $30,000 by K.O.I.D. He has since amassed a be successful no matter the track type or the country.” H 14 AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019
•O s $ h
•A y a A
BIG NEWS FOR LOUISIANA! GRADED STAKES WINNER ONE LINER IS HERE! Coady Photography
The only son of INTO MISCHIEF standing in the state!
Into Mischief – Cayala, by Cherokee Run • ONE LINER is a son of one of the world’s leading stallions and emerging sire of sires INTO MISCHIEF, who stands for a $150,000 fee and this year has had 11 two-year-olds in training sell for an average price of more than $516,000, including horses for $1.5 million, $1 million and $800,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Sale to give him three of the top eight prices at the auction! • As a 2-year-old, ONE LINER broke his maiden at first asking at Saratoga and then proved to be one of the top threeyear-olds in his crop with a decisive allowance win at Gulfstream Park and a 102 Beyer Speed Figure while cruising to a 3 ½-length win in the Grade 3, $500,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn, defeating a field that included LOOKIN AT LEE. ONE LINER also finished second in the Grade 3, $300,000 Pimlico Special going 1 3⁄16 miles. • Don’t miss your chance to breed to ONE LINER in his first season at stud!
2019 FEE - $3,500 Inquiries to Phyllis Comeaux at 337-344-9508 3411 Mills St., Carencro, LA 70520 • 337-896-5102 off • 337-896-4555 fax • web: www.whisperingoaksla.com
The real story of Ruffian
16 AMERICAN RACEHORSE â€¢ SPRING 2019
By Jonathan Stettin
his is certainly not the first time the story of Ruffian has been told, and only time will tell if it is the last. It is, however, the real story with her greatness defined and an accurate account of what truly happened that fateful day by the people who were there. Even though her loss is a sad and inescapable part of the story, we also celebrate her brilliance and achievements and recognize the love and dedication she was surrounded with in those final hours, minutes and seconds. We are thankful for the glimpse into what she truly could have become, had fate, in one of its cruelest moments, not stolen her away from us. When finished, you’ll know more about Ruffian than most, and you’ll know what did and did not happen at Belmont Park on Sunday, July 6, 1975. Much was written about the aftermath of that horrible moment in our sport. I feel both honored and privileged to tell it as it was and not as was widely reported over the years. This account comes from those who were there and who loved her and our sport as much as anyone.
A Free Spirit
The hardest part about writing this article was what to call it. While reflecting on a conversation with Mike Bell, a man who probably spent as much time with Ruffian during her racetrack career as anyone, the title came to me. It was something he said as we were discussing her career and how good she actually was. He said it so matter of fact and with such confidence, that it just made sense. Mike said: “Just look at her past performances, all you see are 1s, all 1s.” He was right. It was all 1s, a rarity throughout the history of racing. Ruffian finished 10 races, winning them all, and was never headed at any call in any of them. Five were Grade 1 races. Ruffian was able to go wire-to-wire at 5 ½ furlongs and at 1 ½ miles. She broke her maiden first out by 15 lengths in track record-equaling time, then equaled her own record in her next start. She set a stakes record in seven of her eight stakes victories. Her average winning margin was just over eight lengths. She is squarely at the top of any knowledgeable discussion about the best racehorses of all time and seeing her run ended the conversation for many. I was fortunate enough to see in person nine of the 10 races she completed. I was unfortunate enough to see the one she did not complete, as well. I learned a lot about Ruffian from talking with Mike Bell. Bell was the barn foreman for renowned Hall of Fame trainer Frank Whiteley Jr. when they had Ruffian. He is a knowledgeable horseman and his love of Thoroughbreds, Ruffian in particular, and the game was evident early on in our conversation. He’s a true professional and that came across immediately. Frank Whiteley, Bell’s old boss, personified what I refer to as “racing royalty,” a term reserved for the best of the best breeders, owners, trainers and riders. In addition to Ruffian, he trained such stars as Forego, Damascus and Tom Rolfe, among many others. Barclay Tagg, who would go on to win the 2003 Kentucky Derby (G1) with Funny Cide, was Whiteley’s assistant trainer. The duties in the barn were dispersed evenly. They all shared in the care of the horses, and it was not uncommon for Whiteley to delegate different duties to different people. As such, Bell did just
AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019 17
Frank Whiteley’s Hall of Fame training career included not only Ruffian but also greats like Damascus, Tom Rolfe and Forego.
Keeneland Library/Thoroughbred Times Collection
about everything in the barn at one point or another, just as the rest of the team did. Much of what he did was take care of Ruffian. Bell described Ruffian as an independent, free-spirited filly. She was big and strapping, built more like a muscular stallion than a filly, and did not like being fooled with—and she let you know it. She was not uncooperative, but she was all business. If you had to do something in her stall, you went in, did it and got out. That’s how she wanted it. She was competitive and liked going to the track. She knew what was going to happen when she went to the track, and you could tell she enjoyed her job and wanted to do it—and do it fast. Great horses are that way, as are most great athletes. Prior to that fateful day, Ruffian faced only one potentially serious setback— a hairline fracture of her right hind ankle. She sustained it in September of her 2-yearold year, most likely during a morning gallop prior to the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes, and was sidelined for the rest of the year. As was customary for Whiteley’s horses, she wintered in Camden, South Carolina.
and went on to win easily by more than seven lengths, covering seven furlongs in 1:21 1/5. Racehorse time. The six-furlong split was 1:08 4/5. There was no doubt she was fast, among the fastest, but it’s rare for a horse this fast early to be able to carry that speed a distance. A mile maybe, especially if it’s one turn, but any longer than that and stretching into the two-turn arena becomes iffy. But this wasn’t just another great racehorse. This was Ruffian. Next up was the Grade 1 Acorn at a mile, the first leg of what was then called the Filly Triple Crown. Ruffian won handily in 1:34 2/5. She then took the second leg, the Grade 1 Mother Goose, then run at Aqueduct at 1 1/8 miles, in 1:47 4/5. This was her first endeavor around two turns, and she left no doubt it was well within her scope. She drew off to win by more than 13 lengths, making a strong case that she was getting better as she was maturing and going longer. Ruffian’s Mother Goose stakes and margin of victory records stood until Rachel Alexandra broke both in 2009, winning the race in 1:46.33 by just over 19 lengths. However, the Mother Goose is now contested at Belmont Park and run around one turn in an elongated sprint format, thus speeding up the times. Taking nothing away from Rachel Alexandra, a brilliant filly in her own right, but the races were run under different conditions.
Season of Glory
18 AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019
There was little question Ruffian was fine when she made her 3-year-old debut in April 1975. Off the eight-month layoff, she ran six furlongs in an Aqueduct allowance race— one of only two times in her career she did not compete at stakes level—in an eye-catching 1:09 2/5. Her next start was the Grade 3 Ruffian’s victory in the Coaching Club American Comely Stakes, also at Aqueduct. She broke Oaks gave her the Filly Triple Crown in her last slowly but still was in front by the first call race prior to facing Foolish Pleasure.
To complete the Filly Triple Crown, Ruffian would have to re- The Janneys had agreed to a match race testing Ruffian against turn to Belmont Park and run farther than she ever had before. males provided the timing accommodated Ruffian’s start in the The final leg of the series was the Grade 1 Coaching CCA Oaks. 1 Club American Oaks, run at 1 /2 miles, the same Not everyone was in favor of the match race. grueling distance as the Test of the ChampiWhiteley has since passed so I could not on, the Belmont Stakes. Everyone knows speak with him, but I got the impression a front runner with :21/:44 speed can’t he was not in favor of it and went along go a mile and a half. Or at least they with it due to the popularity and hype, shouldn’t be able to. But Ruffian was and that he thought Ruffian would all heart, and distance was not going to win. In light of the women’s liberation be her undoing. Nor was competition. movement, a lot of people saw this as She loved racing, and her competitive good for racing. That sort of created an spirit made her want to win. unspoken pressure at the racetrack to be As the crowd watched, the near-jetin favor of it. After all, it would be good black filly made a mockery of any speed for the game, and it was mainstream because and distance limitations. Ruffian handled the of the times. Jacinto Vasquez, Ruffian’s Hall of 1 1/2 miles with ease, stopping Fame rider, was never in favor The Great Match between Ruffian 4 the clock at 2:27 /5, equaling of the match race. He felt it and Foolish Pleasure represented the stakes record. I remember was pointless and would prove a highly anticipated equine going down to the rail on the nothing. “Battle of the Sexes.” apron at Belmont that day and Interestingly, Vasquez won just gazing at her. I knew I was seeing something the Kentucky Derby earlier that year aboard Foolish Pleasure. He chose to ride Ruffian in the special. I think everyone did. match race, though, and never thought Foolish Pleasure, a heckuva racehorse During the 1970s the women’s liberahimself, had any chance to beat her. tion movement was making news, and Vasquez would know, too. His Hall of competitions between men and womFame career put him on some of the en made headlines in sports. Just two best horses ever. He won the Kentucky years earlier in 1973, female tennis star Derby twice, aboard Foolish Pleasure Billie Jean King beat male tennis pro and Genuine Risk, the latter being one Bobby Riggs in a highly publicized match of only three fillies to ever win it. He rode dubbed “The Battle of the Sexes.” The proshorses like Forego, Smile, Princess Rooney, pect of seeing Ruffian compete against the Ta Wee, Numbered Account and so many others. He is also the only jockey to beat Secretariat boys, particularly versus that year’s Kentucky Derby two times, on Angle Light in the Wood Memorial and on winner Foolish Pleasure, held mass appeal. The hype leading up to “The Great Match” was tremendous. Pins and T-shirts for Onion in the Whitney, where he had Big Red pinned down on each side were given out. The press coverage was constant, and the the inside. If Jacinto thought Foolish Pleasure, his Derby winning mount, had no chance of beating Ruffian, I’d pay attention. buildup kept intensifying. The momentum, hype and popularity of the match race was Ruffian was owned and bred by Stuart and Barbara Janney’s Locust Hill Farm, which kept most of their horses at Claiborne way too strong. It didn’t matter who was against it, the boulder Farm in Kentucky, including Ruffian’s dam, Shenanigans (by Native was rolling down the mountain, and nothing was going to stop it. Dancer). Mrs. Janney’s brother, Ogden Phipps, owned Reviewer, In all fairness, what was to come could not have been anticipatRuffian’s sire, who stood at Claiborne. Reviewer was a son of ed. Unfortunately, the Sport of Kings inherently brings with it at another Phipps stallion, Bold Ruler, who also sired Secretariat. times both the unexpected and the unimaginable.
Battle of the Sexes
AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019 19
The Match Race
***** Frank Calvarese was the assistant starter in the gate with Ruffian that day. Calvarese was one of the best, and everyone on the track, including most trainers and riders, knew it. He was starter George Cassidy’s go-to guy for the best horses. For instance, after the great Kelso finished second, beaten a neck in a race, his trainer Carl Hanford blamed a poor start and went to Cassidy and asked for Calvarese to handle Kelso going forward. Kelso went on to be Horse of the Year five times while being handled exclusively by Calvarese in New York. Calvarese handled all the Greentree Stable horses for trainer John Gaver and later his son Jack. He handled the Bohemia Stable horses for Allaire Du Pont, and he handled horses for Joan Payson, William Haggin Perry and Mike Freeman, and almost always by request. A lifelong horseman, Calvarese started at age 15 as a hot-walker and groom at Delaware Park near his childhood home. While in
20 AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019
Keeneland Library/Thoroughbred Times Collection
When July 6, the day of The Great Match, arrived, Belmont Park was filled with an electric atmosphere reserved for Super Bowls and the great heavyweight championship fights of the past. The place was packed and the anticipation was intense. Everyone was anxious for the eighth race on the card, the $350,000 Match Race. That was a sizeable purse back in 1975, especially with only two horses sharing in it. The match was never really about money though. Sure, the New York Racing Association wanted to capitalize on the “Battle of the Sexes” and the women’s liberation movement, but this race and everything leading up to it took on a life of its own. If you think the racing community anticipated the Zenyatta vs. Rachel Alexandra face-off that never happened in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park, I assure you it pales in comparison to the excitement and atmosphere leading up to The Great Match. It equaled and even exceeded the excitement leading up to the Belmont Stakes with a Triple Crown on the line. We waited 37 years for another Triple Crown winner after Affirmed, and despite all the failed attempts in between, the only horse and race to even come close to the electric atmosphere of The Great Match was when American Pharoah turned for home in the Belmont and we all knew he was going to finally get the job done. Ruffian normally got a little keyed up in the paddock before races, and she was no different prior to the match race. By the time she was on the racetrack for the post parade, she had settled down. She wore No. 1 on her saddlecloth; Foolish Pleasure had No. 2.
Kentucky Derby winner Foolish Pleasure was all alone at the wire of the match race. Florida, he learned of an opening on the gate crew at Hialeah, then one of the premier tracks in the country. He was granted an audition, as he called it, by Cassidy, also the starter there, and got the job. Calvarese’s work on the gate got him invited to the racing royalty farms of the horses he handled to dine and socialize with their owners and breeders. He sat in box seats for baseball games courtesy of Payson, owner of the New York Mets. Calvarese handled many of the best, and he enjoyed many of the perks and relationships that grew out of it. Calvarese also handled all of Frank “Pancho” Martin’s horses, including Sham. There was one exception. If Secretariat was running, only Calvarese handled him. That was at the request of both Lucien Laurin, Secretariat’s trainer, and his rider, Ron Turcotte. Calvarese also mentored Raymond J. DeStefano during his time on the gate.
Then Everyone Else
Ruffian 6a75- 8Bel 21d75- 8Bel 31b75- 8Aqu 10b75- 8Aqu 30e75- 8Aqu 14e75- 8Aqu 23c74- 8Sar 27a74- 8Mth 10a74- 8Aqu
fst 1Ê :44æ 1:08æ1:35Æ 2:02_ fst 1Á :49 1:13Æ2:03› 2:27_ fst 1Œ :47æ 1:11æ1:35æ 1:47_ fst 1 :23Æ :45æ 1:09æ 1:34Æ fst 7f :22_ :45 1:08_ 1:21› fst 6f :23 :45_ 1:09Æ fst 6f :22› :44_ 1:08æ fst 6f :21æ :44› 1:09 fst 5Áf :21_ :44Æ :56Æ 1:02_ Speed to spare 12d74- 8Bel fst 5Áf :22Æ :45› :57 1:03 22b74- 3Bel fst 5Áf :22› :45 :57 1:03
dkbbr. f. 1972, by Reviewer (Bold Ruler)-Shenanigans, by Native Dancer Own.- Locust Hill Farm Br.- Mr & Mrs Stuart S. Janney Jr (Ky) Tr.- F.Y. Whiteley Jr
Match Race 350k mC C A Oaks-G1 mMother Goose-G1 mAcorn-G1 mComely-G3 mAlw 20000 mSpinaway-G1 mSorority-G1 mAstoria-G3
1 5 6 3 3 2 2 3 2
1 1 1 1 5 3 1 3 2
1_ 1›Ë 1› 1› 1› 1Æ 1Á 1›
1›Á 1Æ 1æ 1›Á 1Á 1æ 1$ 1æ
1æ 1™ 1® 1© 1Æ 1® 1Á 1©
mFashion-G3 mMd Sp Wt
3 4 1›Á 1›Á 1_ 9 8 1æ 1| 1™
Lifetime record: 11 10 0 0 $313,429
1ÆË 1›æÁ 1™Ê 1®Ë 1_Ë 1›ÆË 1ÆÊ 1…
Vasquez J Vasquez J Vasquez J Vasquez J Vasquez J Vasquez J Bracciale V Jr Vasquez J Bracciale V Jr
121 121 121 121 113 122 120 119 118
1.40 1.05 1.10 1.10 1.05 1.10 1.20 1.30 1.10
Vasquez J Vasquez J
1.40 100-12 Ruffian117©ËCopernica117›æJan Verzal117& 4.20 100-15 Ruffian116›|Suzest113|Garden Quad116Á
-81-12 96-07 94-08 95-16 96-17 97-10 95-15 99-15
Foolish Pleasure126 Broke down Ruffn121ÆËEqulChng121…LtMLngr121ÆÊ Confidently ridden Rffian121›æÁSweetOldGirl121ÆSunandSnow121ÆÁ Easy score Ruffian121™ÊSomethingregal121¢GallantTrial121› In hand Ruffian113®ËAuntJin113ÆÁPointnTm113Æ Slow start,handily Ruffian122_ËSirIvor'sSorrow113$Channelette113Æ Easily Ruffian120›ÆËLaughingBridge120›ÁScottshMlody120| Easily Ruffian119ÆÊHot n Nasty119ÆÆStream Across119_ Driving Ruffian118…Laughing Bridge115›ÆOur Dancing Girl115æÊ
2 7 7 7 5 5 4 4 4
Ridden out 6 Ridden out 10
© 2019 Daily Racing Form LLC and Equibase Company. Reprinted with permission of the copyright owner.
In a conversation with legendary Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith a few years ago, we discussed comparing horses from different eras and horses who never raced each other. Mike is one of the best ever and has ridden some of the best. We were in agreement that it is hard to make such “The thing that comparisons. Horses are athletes, and athletes often perform to creates some their competition and react to their adversaries just like human athletes. Unless you put them in the gate, you just don’t know. You can separation with think, form a bias, have an opinion, but unless you race them, you Ruffian from don’t know. Some horses run as fast as they have to; some horses other great runners ease up when in front; some horses relax when they know they’ve got is her record: all 1s.” it won. The thing that creates some separation with Ruffian from other great runners is her record: all 1s. That represents her past performances in a nutshell. She led at every call of every race she finished. She consistently ran fast, early or late, and broke or equaled the track or stakes record in every start she finished. Every one. She did this from 5 ½ furlongs to 1 ½ miles and was just coming into her own. Who else can make that claim? She raced before Thoro-Graph came along, but I’d love to see her sheet had she had one. According to Jerry Brown, the founder of Thoro-Graph and who worked for the Ragozin Sheets at the time, Ruffian ran a lot of 5s on “The Rags.” That was very fast for a 3-year old filly at the time. For a variety of reasons, horses run lower figures in general today. Perhaps Jacinto Vasquez, also one of the best riders ever, said it best: “She was like Marilyn Monroe; there was everyone else, and then there was her, Ruffian. Just like Marilyn Monroe; there was everyone else, then there was Marilyn Monroe.”
Copyright Daily Racing Form LLC and Equibase Company LLC. All rights reserved.
AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019 21
Ruffian (#6) is shown breaking from the gate in the Mother Goose, two starts prior to the match race.
the big filly a few strides to get up to her normal cruising speed and put her head in front where she was used to being. Shortly into the race, Calvarese heard the crowd roar and immediately noticed Ruffian had broken down and Vasquez was trying to pull her up, as Braulio Baeza and Foolish Pleasure continued down the backstretch. Calvarese immediately jumped into the patrol truck with track veterinarian Manuel Gilman and they rushed to get to Ruffian. By the time they arrived, Vasquez had stopped Ruffian and dismounted and was helping keep her calm and standing while waiting for help. Calvarese could see right away the injury was severe. Ruffian was in pain and confused, but she seemed to know they were there to help and was still cooperative despite her obvious distress. He said she was a smart filly. He noticed the wound was a compound fracture and that it was contaminated with dirt from the racetrack. It looked bad, and that kind of injury didn’t have a good prognosis. The horse ambulance arrived, driven by Horace “Blue” Rapleyea, who did many things on the racetrack; driving the horse ambulance was just one of them. In true Damon Runyon form, Horace touted horses, clocked horses and got involved in just about everything on the backstretch and the front side as well. He was probably best known for his racetrack quotes like “you couldn’t find that horse with a flashlight.” Calvarese knew the injury was bad but also knew that they’d try to save Ruffian if at all possible. He had never seen a horse survive such an injury and assumed the horse ambulance would go directly to Dr. William Reed’s hospital, which was a quarter-mile away. That’s not where it went. He held Ruffian and tried to keep her up and calm as Gilman put on a blow-up cast. Ruffian was in pain and becoming more worked up and less cooperative. Calvarese could see it in her eyes. He could see the blood and dirt through the clear cast. He helped load Ruffian onto the ambulance and watched it drive off. That was the last time he saw her.
Calvarese knew Ruffian well. He’d been in the gate with her many times. He also was entrusted with “the book,” as it was called, which contained notes on any horses with gate issues. You did not dare lose the book if you were holding it. It was usually entrusted to the foreman or a key member of the gate crew. Different quirks and habits were in the book—who got nervous or keyed up, who was timid, who needed to be held, just about any type of gate handling instructions. You’d find things like who needed a blindfold, who needed to be backed in, and so on. Improvements were also noted and sometimes horses were removed from the book altogether. Ruffian was in the book. She was not known as a bad gate horse but as anxious. She wanted to run, and if you let her, she’d charge the gate before it opened. If she saw racetrack, she wanted at it. Calvarese says Ruffian was built like a bull and looked like a stallion, not a filly. He would handle the powerful filly’s head in the gate and sometimes keep it slightly turned so she would not focus on the racetrack in front of her. There was always the concern of her charging the gate, but Calvarese, a true professional and master at his craft, knew how to avoid it and simultaneously make sure she had a fair start. ***** Because this was a match race, even though Ruffian was No. 1, the first two stalls were left vacant. Calvarese loaded Ruffian into the third stall inside of Foolish Pleasure in the fourth. He could hear the crowd noise from the backstretch. It was time. As soon as the gate sprang open, Ruffian ducked in and brushed her left side against the gate. It only slightly affected the start, and she was off in good order but not in her customary spot on the lead. Calvarese had seen horses come out of the gate that way countless times before, and reflecting later, he did not think it was severe enough to cause any type of injury. Vasquez straightened Ruffian out immediately, but it took
22 AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019
***** My conversation with Jacinto Vasquez about the race was so poignant, yet compelling. Poignant for obvious reasons, but compelling because I do not believe the story has ever been told this way before. Vasquez was very confident going into the race because he
didn’t think Foolish Pleasure could beat her. He didn’t think anyone could. She had too much speed, too much class and even too much stamina. Although she’d usually run on the lead, Vasquez felt if anyone wanted or even could outgun her early, she’d sit off them and eat them up when it counted. She was just that good. Vasquez told me Ruffian did break inwardly just a bit and brush the gate as it opened. This is clearly visible in the head-on view of the race. He immediately straightened her out and she felt fine. There was absolutely nothing that felt even a tad off with her. The break did allow Foolish Pleasure and Baeza to be in front for a
Vasquez heard and felt it simultaneously. There was a loud pop and the filly was off stride. Foolish Pleasure raced away, and Vasquez used every ounce of his strength to get Ruffian to the outside and stopped. He stopped her in an incredibly short time given how fast she was going and the momentum she had. He jumped off, tried to keep her up, which he was able to do, and tried to comfort her, which was all but impossible, and waited for help. Vasquez was heartbroken and disgusted at the same time. He never wanted the match race and felt it was pointless. He knew Ruffian could fill the stands anytime and the so-called Great Match served no purpose. He knew it was bad. He could see bone, blood and dirt. Of course, while life still exists, we instinctively hope for the best, but Vasquez knew Ruffian was in big trouble. He still hoped. Everyone did.
Keeneland Library/Thoroughbred Times Collection
Jacinto Vasquez (pictured) rode Ruffian in all but two of her 11 races; Vince Bracciale Jr. rode in the other two. second or two. Baeza, being a very heady rider, saw the advantage right away and immediately started to lay all over the filly with the colt. Vasquez knew Ruffian was bigger and stronger, and neither she nor he was going to be intimidated. He got Ruffian a neck in front quickly, and the two horses and riders were in an all-out duel going at each other. Vasquez felt that, once in front, Ruffian would never let anyone pass her so he laid right back onto the colt and they both were going at it. “Hey, it was a match race, it’s him or me, and I knew my filly wouldn’t be intimated. He started leaning on me so I leaned right back out on him,” he said. Ruffian was starting to inch ahead, and Baeza was urging Foolish Pleasure to keep up. The first quarter-mile went in a blazing :22 1/5. Shortly after that it happened. The unthinkable.
Frank Whiteley Jr. was watching in the stands. He knew it was bad and immediately starting running toward the track to get to his filly. He was stopped by security as Foolish Pleasure was still running. Mike Bell was desperate to get to the filly and managed to avoid track security and run to her. As opposed to euthanizing her right on the track, because of who she was, and maybe in part because they just could not bear to see things end this way, Gilman and Whiteley had the ambulance take Ruffian back to Whiteley’s barn and her stall to see if she could be saved and further assess the situation. Bell and Whiteley rode with her. So did Ruffian’s groom, Dan Williams, who had made his way to the scene. Bell describes the scene back at the barn as chaotic and desperate. Dr. Jim Prendergast, Ruffian’s regular veterinarian, was there, as was Dr. Alex Harthill, who was an equine surgeon from Kentucky attending the race as a guest of the Janneys and Whiteley. Dr. Edward Keefer was also called. He was not a veterinarian but a cardiovascular surgeon who had experience with horses and was somewhat of a pioneer in the field of medicine. He was responsible for devising the first artificial leg for the fast New York sprinter Spanish Riddle. He was also on the surgical team that saved the life of Hoist the Flag. Stuart Janney, looking for any help he could get, asked Keefer to assist. Keefer agreed to head to Reed’s hospital. The inside of the blow-up cast ruptured from the pressure of the blood inside. Another one was ordered by Gilman and put on while waiting for Prendergast’s radiographs. They successfully got Ruffian’s leg into ice water to stop the bleeding and also gave her sedatives and coagulants. She was going deeper into shock, dehydrating and getting more and more worked up. She kept trying to lie down, which is not what they wanted at that point. Harthill, Continued on page 28 AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019 23
z rode Although Jacinto Va sque ry in the Foolish Ple asure to vic to to ride Ruffian Kentucky Derby, he opted lio Baeza in the match race, so Br au on the colt. (pictured) took the reins
Keeneland Library/Thoroughbred Times
Ruffian broke her maiden by 15 lengths at odds of 4-1, but after that she was favored every time at odds of 2-5 or less.
Ruffian captured the Acorn Stakes by daylight and clocked a mile in 1:34 2/5. 24 AMERICAN RACEHORSE â€˘ SPRING 2019
Although she made one start at Monmouth Park in New Jersey, Ruffian’s other 10 starts all came at Aqueduct (pictured), Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course.
Keeneland Library/Thoroughbred Times
From left, Frank Whiteley, Ogden Phipps, Stuart Janney, Jacinto Vasquez, Mrs. Whiteley and Mrs. Janney after the Coaching Club American Oaks.
Foolish Ple asure, pic tured winning the 1975 Kentucky Derby, won 16 of 26 career starts with four seconds and th ree thirds.
AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019 25
A Dedicated Racetracker
Courtesy Ray DeStefano
Raymond DeStefano, whom I’ll refer to as Ray and too young to officially work there. He went on to develop whom I count among my dear friends, is a remarkable a similar friendship with Dr. Fager, one of the fastest horshuman being and racetracker. He could have been es ever, and his great trainer and horseman, John Nerud. anything on the racetrack he wanted, Of the friendships of both the equine with perhaps the only exception being a and human nature that sneaking into the jockey, and he would have been among Belmont backstretch afforded Ray, one the best at whatever it was he chose. His connection in particular would become love of horses at a young age brought influential and helpful to his career. Ray him into the sport, and he has never left. caught the eye of legendary trainer Frank One of the more interesting things I find “Pancho” Martin. While Ray was a high about Ray is, despite his love, knowledge school student on summer vacation, and respect of this great game, he has he asked Martin if he needed any help never bet on a horse. Not even once. All around the barn, and the trainer handed that he’s done, he’s done out of his love him a shank, gave him a little test and for the Thoroughbred and the sport. ultimately a job. Martin was a kind and Ray has had one of the most interestgenerous man who helped a lot of people Ray DeStefano ing, successful and diversified careers on around the racetrack with very little fanthe racetrack as anyone. As with his gate mentor, Frank fare made of it. He was a gentleman and was portrayed so Calvarese, he couldn’t have imagined his love of horses inaccurately in the movie Secretariat, I personally could would make him a part of racing history and place him in not watch it. Ray felt the same and relayed to me that the unenviable position of spending Ruffian’s final hours Martin was hurt, offended and even angry about it himself. I could see why he would be. and even seconds with her. Martin was great with both claiming horses and stakes But for fate, Ray’s passion and love for horses may never have been realized. Ray was born in Brooklyn, New York, horses, and Ray learned a lot from him. Ray became but moved to Floral Park at a young age. The family home known as Pancho’s guy, and he continued working for the was several hundred feet from the fence to the Belmont trainer part-time when he could. Ray went to college at Park training track. Ray could hear the Belmont crowd Cornell University, where he earned a degree in quantitaroar from his home and was fascinated. He could hear and tive genetics. Ray was able to spend a summer working at even smell the horses on the training track, and all of this historic Claiborne Farm for a college requirement and got drew him into racing. Nothing was handed to Ray, and as to know the great Damascus, who was standing there. His successful as he became at every level of the industry he studies opened a whole new door of understanding breeding and the genetic make-up of the horse for Ray. When participated in, he had to work for it. His love of the racehorse started with one of the all- I have a breeding question even today, I’ll call Ray before time greats, Buckpasser. When Buckpasser was a 2-year- just about any bloodstock agent I know. When Ray graduated from Cornell, he returned to his old, Ray would sneak into the Belmont backside. Eddie Neloy, Buckpasser’s trainer, became familiar with Ray and love and passion, the racetrack. He was offered an assisallowed him to pet and get to know the horse. Ray became tant trainer position by Jimmy Picou but turned it down. a recognized face on the backstretch, although he was still He ultimately accepted a job with Murty Brothers Horse
26 AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019
Keeneland Library/Thoroughbred Times Collection
Transportation, moving horses all over the country and even Brothers in July 1975; when things were quiet at Murty Broththe world. Ray traveled to Japan and all over Europe, South ers, Ray would assist at Reed’s, so he was able to be on hand America and the United States, transporting horses like the in- that fateful day. ternational star Dahlia. In February 1976 Ray learned there was a much-coveted After Secretariat’s last race, a romping victory at Wood- opening on the gate crew at the New York Racing Association, bine in October 1973, his which consists of Aqueduct, groom Eddie Sweat walked Belmont and Saratoga racetracks. Martin told Ray to the champion off the plane tell starter George Cassidy and handed him off to Ray, that he sent and recomwho loaded him onto a van mended him. Ray was givthat was bound for Belmont en the job on the gate grew Park. Ray pulled on Secretariat’s mane and a piece and mentored by Frank of it came off that he still Calvarese. Ray stayed there has today. Ray has amassed through 1984, handling quite the collection of racing many of the top horses and memorabilia. top riders in the gate during He could open his own DeStefano lived in the shadow of Belmont that golden era of racing. museum and it would have Park, allowing him to witness first-hand One of my favorite pictures some of the Thoroughbred legends who few rivals. Jean Cruguet gave of Ray is the one where he is 1 Ray the goggles he was wear- ran over the 1 /2-mile oval. seen in the infield right near ing when Seattle Slew won the wire as Affirmed and the Belmont and the Triple Crown after Ray and Slew’s reg- Alydar battled it out head to head in the 1978 Belmont Stakes. ular gate handler, Bob Duncan, placed the famous carnations Ray has been there for historic horses and moments in the sport around Slew’s neck. his whole career. While working for Murty Brothers, Ray continued to After Ray left the gate crew, he was offered and turned down enhance his reputation on the backside. He also started the position of field representative for the New York Breeders’ working for one of the best veterinary surgeons in the country, Association. He started doing bloodstock work on his own, Dr. William O. Reed, whose hospital was maybe a quarter of which he still does today. When the inaugural Breeders’ Cup a mile from the Belmont backstretch and right next to Murty rolled around in 1984, Ray was asked by Slew o’ Gold’s conBrothers. Penn Feed was also on the block and down on the nections to accompany the horse, the favorite going into that first Breeders’ Cup Classic, to California. Ray did and spent corner was the well-known racetrack tavern Esposito’s. While at Cornell, Ray considered becoming a veterinarian the days leading up to the race with the big horse, who had a but opted against it. Ironically, Cornell University now operates quarter crack that was being nursed along. Ray walked Slew o’ Gold and jockey Angel Cordero to and the Ruffian Equine Hospital, which sits where Reed’s hospital, Penn Feed and Murty Brothers used to be. Ray, who helped from the track for training leading up to the race and was treatprep horses for surgery and assisted in the operating room ed like a full-fledged member of the team by all of the horse’s and recovery, was present and assisted when Hoist the Flag connections. After Slew o’ Gold was beaten in a controverwas operated on, and some of the bone chips removed from sial finish involving a lengthy inquiry, Ray was invited to the the colt’s leg are part of Ray’s collection of memorabilia. Most after-party in Beverly Hills. He remembers meeting part-owner of Ray’s things are pictures, racing forms and programs, and and actor Albert Finney outside and sharing champagne right it was his love of horses and racing and his being a student from the bottle as if they had won. This despite a bitter defeat and historian of the sport that prompted him to collect these due to a steward’s decision that didn’t go their way. Imagine items. Ray was working at both the equine hospital and Murty had they won!
AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019 27
Whiteley and Bell worked to keep her up. They gave her antibiot- her legs to the operating table after she was anesthetized, with her ics and more sedatives but she continued on a downhill path and right leg, the injured one, propped up. Reed and Harthill led at no point did things look good or even improve. the surgical team, assisted by Prendergast and Allen. Dr. Thomas Prendergast’s radiographs confirmed what all just about knew— Gorman, who was also a veterinarian for Whiteley, worked the the sesamoids, both of them, in Ruffian’s right front leg were shat- anesthesia gauges. Keefer built a special type of shoe with a brace tered. Reed was a premier equine surgeon, and his hospital was attached to it and the actual cast was affixed to that. It’s important state of the art for the time. With his hospital so close and a dream for a horse to be able to get up and bear some weight following team ready to try everything, Ruffian’s connections decided to surgery, so it was hoped the shoe and brace would provide that. attempt to save the filly’s life. The surgery took several hours. Everyone knew it was a longIt was not an easy ordeal for this shot, 99-1, but she was worth it. champion racehorse even anesthetized. She flatlined twice on Although the situation looked so the table and had to be brought bleak and it would take a near miracle or actual miracle to succeed, back. It was about 1:00 a.m. nobody wanted to accept this endwhen the surgery ended. They ing. Almost instinctively everyone were able to repair the shattered wanted to know that all that could sesamoids but Ruffian was far have been done was done, and the from out of the woods. There team to get it done, if any could, was the possibility of infection, was in place. But fate had already she might not be able to bear made its decision. weight to get up, and she might Ruffian, pictured early in her Ray DeStefano, who was watchreinjure the ankle getting up or 3-year-old season, had little ing the race from home, could during recovery. They were a chance to survive after breaking hear the crowd roar from the nearlong way from home and likely down in the match race, yet the by track and immediately figured all involved were mentally and filly and her human connections Ruffian would wind up at Reed’s physically exhausted. fought to save her life. hospital, so he raced there. DeSteDuring the surgery no upfano worked at the hospital, doing prep work for surgeries, assist- dates were given to the press. The focus was on Ruffian. Nobody ing in the operating room and working in the recovery room. other than who was discussed here was allowed in. He was waiting with Reed and his associate Dr. Charles “Chuck” After the surgery, Ruffian was carefully moved into the recovery Allen at the hospital on Plainfield Avenue when Ruffian arrived. It room by Prendergast, DeStefano and others. The operating table was about an hour and a half post-accident. Ruffian looked scared tilted, and Ruffian was slid in a very controlled manner on her left coming off the van and was shaky on her feet. DeStefano could see side to where the operating table met the oven-like door of the redirt mixed with blood through the clear cast, the third that had covery room as designed. The wall separating the operating room been applied. Usually DeStefano would prep the horses for sur- and the recovery room was closed, and DeStefano and Prendergast gery, which would include cleaning the wound, but Ruffian was were left to care for Ruffian. Nobody else; just the two of them, not prepped. She was taken directly into surgery. The operating as both recounted to me. Harthill went to update the Janneys and room at the hospital was maybe 35 feet by 35 feet. The recovery Reed was standing by to monitor the filly’s progress. room, which was separated from the operating room by a hinged Ruffian, alone with DeStefano and Prendergast, began to wake door that operated similar to an oven door, was smaller than that. up. She appeared to DeStefano to be confused and did not like her Neither had windows where people could have gathered to watch surroundings. She tried to get up but couldn’t and quickly became what was going on. There were some doors in the hospital with agitated and kept trying. Initially they hoped and wanted her to small windows, but generally these areas were off limits and the be able to get up but it looked as though she’d never be able to. windows would not provide a view for the surgery. Once they saw she couldn’t and that her continued efforts seemed Ruffian was put on the table on her left side. DeStefano strapped to be aggravating her and getting her worked into almost a panic
28 AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019
state, concern set in. They tried to calm and sedate her. The drugs available back then were limited and didn’t work. Ruffian became more and more agitated and kept trying to get up. Eventually she started kicking and thrashing and things became very violent. She was not running, or trying to run, as has been reported. She was kicking and thrashing and struggling with her predicament. Primarily she was trying to instinctively get up. She didn’t think she was still racing as has been said. She was panicking and in shock. Reed and Harthill kept coming in, no doubt hearing the commotion, and did not like what they were seeing. DeStefano and Prendergast were trying to hold Ruffian down at this point and keep her calm. It was fruitless. The more they tried, the worse she got. She never did get up. Things got so violently bad that Ruffian was doing pinwheels on the floor trying to rise. She was kicking her front leg so hard the cast was hitting the elbow on that same leg and doing visible damage. The cast was also sliding down the leg and starting to come off. Her eyes looked wild and frightened. Nobody but Reed and Harthill came into the recovery room and saw what DeStefano and Prendergast were dealing with. Again, there were no windows where anyone could see what was going on. Nobody was bouncing off the walls. If everyone who claimed to stop in the operating room or recovery room actually did, they would have had to have the operation at a much bigger hospital. It just didn’t happen that way. By the time Reed made his final check on Ruffian’s progress, the situation was grave. The cast was kicked down far enough to expose the wound, and it was obvious she had damaged all the repairs that were made. The elbow on the leg was also damaged. Reed stated something to the effect that the Janneys had to be called. DeStefano didn’t know whether Harthill or Reed would make that call, but he knew what it meant. He sat on Ruffian’s head and neck with Prendergast and tried to keep her as still and calm as possible. Reed returned with a large syringe, already filled. As DeStefano and Prendergast sat lovingly on the filly, Reed did what he had to and gave her the injection. Within five to 10 seconds, she was gone, and so was an irreplaceable part of the Sport of Kings.
Many theories have been proposed about what caused this blackest of days for horse racing. It’s likely none of them caused the accident. It was a bad step, it just happened, it’s the saddest part of our game. Some people have speculated she hurt herself coming out of the gate. One of the best gate people ever disagrees, and he was in the gate with her and has seen what happened to her happen
to literally hundreds of other horses. It rarely causes an injury, especially a severe one. It happens every race day. Jacinto Vasquez also disagrees. She felt fine after he straightened her out. She was able to run a :22 and change quarter; he felt absolutely nothing amiss and knew the filly well. Some blame birds on the track. This is another common occurrence and watching the head-on view gives no credence I can see to this theory. Ruffian saw plenty of birds, and the one that flew across the track in front of her didn’t seem to spook her at all. I’ve heard and read people talk about the configuration of the Belmont chute and how it causes horses to cross over three different sets of dirt going a mile and a quarter, the match race distance. That sounds like nonsense. Just watch a 6 ½-furlong race down the hill at Santa Anita. Horses cross from turf to dirt and back to turf while turning for home. They are usually running around :44 half miles when they do it. They lose their footing at times, but few break down because of it. The Belmont configuration is much less severe. Some people think Native Dancer bred weak-boned horses. I discussed this with Prendergast. We are in agreement that Native Dancer bred his share of sound horses with good bones. One thing I personally find interesting that has not been discussed much, if at all, is that Ruffian’s sire Reviewer, and her dam, Shenanigans, both died while anesthetized during operations. Prendergast brought this to my attention. While he agrees it is odd, Ruffian did not really suffer a reaction to anesthesia. If anything, attempts to sedate her and calm her with drugs failed. Is there a connection? Possibly, but only remotely. DeStefano and Prendergast described in detail and with consistency what happened and how she seemed to work herself up and become more and more agitated. Being headstrong and independent and strongwilled probably hurt her as much as anything. I don’t think it was a drug reaction, and Prendergast told me he wished they had had more drugs at their disposal back then. Unfortunately, they didn’t, and what they had wasn’t working. It may not have made a difference in the long run, but she may have had a better chance. Some point out the track was hard and fast that day in anticipation of the race. While it is difficult if not impossible to argue against that being contributory, we’ll just never know. It could have been, but on the flip side horses run over hard, fast tracks on big days all the time. A bad step can occur over any surface at any time. Some have said she awoke thinking she was racing as that was the last thing she remembered and started running. Well, we know the running never happened, and plenty did happen after the race. The race is probably not the last thing she remembered. She was smart, and Frank Calvarese, one of the first to get to her, told me
AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019 29
she knew they were there to help. I’d like to think that’s the last thing she remembered, people trying to help her. Match races are stressful. Horses are naturally herd animals, and a race scenario is different than a workout scenario. Was Ruffian more keyed up than usual? Maybe, but would that cause what happened? Likely not. I discussed this theory in depth with Bruno De Julio, a clocker, handicapper, owner, breeder
When Ruffian was buried in the infield at Belmont Park, her nose was pointed toward the finish line.
and avid watcher of horses and their body language. He agrees they are indeed herd animals by nature and that a match race scenario can get a horse more keyed up than perhaps they’d get in a regular race, but is that enough to theorize it was contributory? No, it just isn’t. Sometimes we look for answers when there are none. All 1s went to 99-1 as soon as she took that misstep and shattered her sesamoids. The best veterinarians and team of horsemen and even a brilliant and innovative cardiovascular surgeon couldn’t change fate’s mind, and they sure tried. As sad a day as it was for our game, the attempt to save her was also a display of love and dedication to this magnificent horse. And make no mistake, it was love of the breed, game and her that prompted the efforts. You’ll hear organizations like PETA and others criticize our sport and accuse us of not loving our horses. I’m an animal lover and rescuer and also a fan and student of this great game, and I know many of us take exception to insinuations we don’t love our racehorses. There are bad people and uncaring people in every business and every walk of life, and horse racing is no exception. But that certainly was not the case with Ruffian’s team.
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Ruffian was buried in the Belmont infield the next day. Frank Whiteley and Jacinto Vasquez were there; Mike Bell was there and actually helped get her down into the grave and made sure the Janneys’ Locust Hill Farm blanket was straight. Mike doesn’t remember who else was there, but it was a small and select and somber crowd, most of which were her people. Horse racing offers the highest highs and the lowest lows. Ruffian was an example of both in one. All 1s. H Jonathan Stettin is a handicapper, broadcaster and writer who operates PasttheWire.com. In addition to writing his weekly Past the Wire column and appearing on numerous radio broadcasts, Stettin also writes independently for several publications. He absorbed a lot in his early years at Saratoga, and it brought him up close and personal with some great horses, notably Coglianese Photos Ruffian, Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Slew o’ Gold, Forego and many others. Stettin has developed Past the Wire into a highly respected column and his Tracking Tips are a useful tool in the arsenal of many handicappers and horseplayers.
I’d like to thank Raymond DeStefano for choosing me for the honor and privilege of writing this accurate account of what happened and what didn’t happen. He was also instrumental in gathering information and providing me with pictures of items he has saved since that fateful day. I’d also like to thank Dr. Jim Prendergast, a great veterinarian and an animal lover, for his time and graciousness and help with this article. I’d like to thank Mike Bell for his time and courtesy and for making himself available every step of the way. I’d like to thank Frank Calvarese for spending as much time talking with me as he did and offering all the help he could. I’d like to thank Hall of Famer Jacinto Vasquez for providing me an open, honest analysis and play-by-play account of what happened. I’ve never read or heard such a detailed account from him anywhere else. I’m very appreciative. Last but not least, I’d like to thank Ruffian, for the memories she gave me. I hope I did her justice.
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The Rise and Fall of Santa Fe Downs The New Mexico track left its mark on the Southwest
Daniel O. Montaño
By J. Keeler Johnson
ine horses, nine jockeys. All of them vying for supremacy, pushing themselves to the limit, seeking the winner’s share of a purse that would be considered small even by the standards of the day. Attendance was slim— that had been the case for years—with about 2,600 fans and bettors on hand to watch a 7-year-old mare named Forsythe’s Tune unleash a strong rally from off the pace in the day’s feature, the one-mile Chapparal Handicap. Capitalizing on a fast pace set by the leaders, Forsythe’s Tune surged into the lead just before the eighth pole and drew off with authority in the final furlong to win by 2 ½ lengths, earning $7,307 from the purse of $12,175. The date was September 1, 1997, and the event was the final race of the three-month summer meet at Santa Fe Downs, also known as The Downs at Santa Fe, one of New Mexico’s most important racetracks at the time.
34 AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019
The farewell to racing at Santa Fe was supposed to be temporary, the annual respite from racing until the following summer. It wasn’t until November—when the Albuquerque Journal ran the headline “Tribe to Close Santa Fe Downs Because of Financial Losses”—that horsemen and racing fans alike came to the sad realization that Forsythe’s Tune’s runaway victory had been the show-stopping finale to 27 years of racing at Santa Fe Downs.
Half a century ago, the racing circuit in New Mexico bore little resemblance to the present scene in the Land of Enchantment. Nowadays, the state supports five racetracks— Albuquerque Downs (or in keeping with the dual names of some New Mexico tracks, The Downs at Albuquerque), SunRay Park, Sunland Park, Ruidoso Downs and Zia Park— with a potential sixth looming on the horizon.
In contrast, the racing landscape at the beginning of the 1970s consisted of just three tracks: Ruidoso Downs and La Mesa Park, which ran during the summer, and Sunland Park, which carried the action through the remaining three seasons. No one was mistaking the New Mexico racing scene for the high-profile Thoroughbred big leagues, but then again, there was no reason to seek such lofty aspirations. In the days before interstate simulcasting and widespread alternative forms of gambling, the New Mexico circuit was performing just fine, particularly as a center of high-class American Quarter Horse racing. But then an ambitious plan emerged to build a new racetrack just south of Santa Fe—a showcase facility with a multimillion-dollar price tag. If the notion seemed farfetched, perhaps that’s why New Mexico’s other principal racing players were caught by surprise when the state racing commission
approved plans for Santa Fe Downs in December 1969. “Considering Gov. David G. Cargo’s opposition to ‘any more horse racing in New Mexico,’ the 4-1 decision by his commission in December was surprising,” proclaimed Associated Press writer Larry Calloway in the April 23, 1970, edition of The Santa Fe New Mexican. “But surprise gave way to wonder April 12 when the commission approved 75 days of racing for Santa Fe Downs between May and September 1971.” The decision was not without controversy. Eric N. Culver, the “chief stockholder and board chairman” of Ruidoso Downs and La Mesa, was among those concerned by the addition of another track to the state. “I feel like it’s going to hurt La Mesa real bad,” he said at the time. “I’m astounded that the racing commission has given dates to possibly three tracks at the same time in a state that has such a small population.” AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019 35
But with official approval bestowed, construction of Santa Fe Downs progressed at a rapid pace. Still, with barely more than a year between the assignment of racing dates and the track’s scheduled opening on May 29, 1971, workers faced an uphill battle to complete their tasks, and cost overruns became another issue. Two weeks before the scheduled opening, Frank Maestas opined in the Albuquerque Journal that the track appeared to be at least two months away from completion. He was right in a sense—Santa Fe Downs’ opening was ultimately delayed by one week to June 5. Even so, the track was just barely ready. There weren’t yet enough stalls to accommodate the full extent of the expected horse population, and in the rush to finish the necessities, the amenities were neglected. Bob Ingram, writing in the July 20, 1971, edition of the El Paso Herald-Post, described the grandstand as “a massive pile of cement” and noted, “There’s not a tree on the place. Not even a sapling. No shrubs, no flowers, no infield lake nor pretty landscaping. It just sits flat out there on the prairie …” Perhaps as a result of the lack of greenery, Santa Fe Downs was one windy racetrack. Mike Reeves, who groomed and trained horses at the track for years, recalls that weather conditions during the race meets at Santa Fe Downs were generally pleasant, except when the wind picked up. “Cool nights, mid-fifties and mid-eighties days made summers very pleasant, other than the gale force winds that blew at least once a week or more often,” Reeves said. “As a testament to the wind’s severity, we used jockey goggles during the frequent dust storms to take horses to the paddock when they were racing.”
36 AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019
The wind wasn’t the only brush with death that Reeves had to contend with at Santa Fe Downs. There was also the issue of unattended vehicles. If Reeves had slept in on the morning of July 22, 1973—if he’d rolled over for just a few more minutes of shut-eye—he might not have lived to tell the tale. Reeves, then working as a groom for his dad, trainer Ozzie Reeves, had spent the night on a cot in their barn, guarding the stall of “the big horse,” La Villita Kid, who was scheduled to contest the $30,000 New Mexico Achievement Stakes that afternoon. “I awoke at 4:55 a.m., immediately arose, pulled on my Levi’s, socks and boots, and walked down to the feed room three stalls down from La Villita Kid’s stall,” Reeves recalled. Nik Daum
Courtesy Mike Reeves
La Villita Kid was a frequent visitor to the Santa Fe Downs winner’s circle in the 1970s, including after setting a seven-furlong track record in the New Mexico Achievement Stakes.
No amount of water sprayed on the three-eighths-mile path to the paddock could keep it from sending up dust on blustery days. The wind caused other problems, too. Once, when a 17-year-old Reeves was leading Miss Petty (“a quite flighty filly with Usain Bolt speed”) around the saddling paddock, a 55-gallon metal trash can blew off a steep hill, crashed down a staircase and dispersed a collection of empty beer cans through the paddock. “All the contents came flying directly into [our] faces,” Reeves recalled. “Needless to say, [Miss Petty] completely freaked, reared up and reversed direction in a split second. I held on to the shank and rope tightly, but I fell over. She reversed direction again and was dragging me around the saddling paddock.” In true horseman style, Reeves’ main concern was for Miss Petty. “People were screaming ‘turn her loose!’ but I wouldn’t dare, as she was the type that would run right through a fence and severely injure herself. The other horses in the paddock were also disturbed by the commotion and wind and were acting up … After getting drug [sic] around for 10 or so seconds, I somehow miraculously managed to get to my feet and get Miss Petty calmed enough to get her slowed to a walk.” The one consolation? Miss Petty won the race.
Although racing has long ceased at Santa Fe Downs, the weed-covered track remains.
Jane Bernard/Albuquerque Journal
elevated 50 feet from base ground “I filled a five-gallon bucket with oats level, and a giant sign constructed and headed to the first stall to begin of rocks painted white with ‘The giving the horses their breakfast.” Downs,’ at least 20 feet top to bottom, Reeves hadn’t gotten very far when sat on the dirt slope of the chute, a his morning routine was spectacularly marketing marvel that is still there to interrupted by a runaway vehicle this day.” crashing through the shedrow. It made Despite its rushed completion and contact with a metal pole supporting its shortcomings from an aesthetics the roof, careened toward Reeves’ perspective, the inaugural race meet at empty cot and smashed the cot into Santa Fe Downs was a success. As the the door of La Villita Kid’s stall. track settled into a rhythm and found “Had I slept a minute and a half its place in the local market, wagering more, I likely wouldn’t have survived rose steadily to peak at just under $9 getting smashed,” Reeves marveled. million for the meet; the following And suffice to say, “La Villita Kid was year was even better, rising to more shaken. It took a cutting torch to get than $11.5 million. his bent, heavy-duty stall door open.” Early on, “[Santa Fe Downs] was the Incredibly, this was not an isolated only major entertainment venue in the incident. Runaway vehicles careening Santa Fe and the central northern New uncontrollably through the stable Mexico area,” Reeves said. “Events such grounds were, for a time, part of life at as Fiesta de Santa Fe or the burning of Santa Fe Downs. According to Reeves, Zozobra or Rodeo de Santa Fe drew the parking lot for the backside track This 1997 photo shows the logo for the Indian large crowds, but they only lasted either kitchen was slanted just enough that Nations Futurity Cup, the track’s signature race in a single day or several days.” vehicles left in neutral could quietly its final year. The success of the first two meets roll toward the west end of the parking lot, where the mild slope turned into a steep incline leading even allowed Santa Fe Downs to start paying off its debts earlier than expected. In The Santa Fe New Mexican of July 30, 1972, down toward the stable area. On one occasion, a runaway car crashed into a restroom, Santa Fe Downs board member J.W. Eaves remarked, “Right trapping a man inside until the door could be pried off its now we are, financially, where we had projected we would be hinges by the combined force of three people with a digging in 1974. We may even reach our end of 1974 goals this year. “This is a horseman’s track,” he added. “It is locally owned bar. A week after that, a car with kids inside made a similar break for freedom but crisis was averted when the car managed and we like it just that way.” But it wouldn’t remain locally owned for long. to avoid hitting anything significant and no one was hurt. Following the incident in the shedrow, Reeves’ father decided to step in. He pulled some strings and found someone FINANCIAL DIFFICULTIES with a front-end loader to arrange a row of large boulders along When Santa Fe Downs first opened for business, it sold the edge of the parking lot, presenting a formidable barrier that stock as a publicly traded company to raise funds to pay off would block any future wayward vehicles from reaching the the costs from construction, which had ballooned well beyond incline down to the stables. expectations, sinking the company into an unanticipated debt. It was a perfectly logical safety barrier that should have been Outlining the issues that resulted, J.W. Eaves’ son, Mel in place already, but just represented another aspect of the lack Eaves—an attorney for Santa Fe Downs—explained in the of landscaping. The track was utilitarian in nature, and funds May 4, 1975, edition of The Santa Fe New Mexican that the of any kind were hard to come by. financial difficulties were greater than many people realized: “Probably the most serious [issue] was huge cost overruns on construction of track facilities. The track ended up costing approximately 2 ½ times the amount originally estimated … The second problem was that the public stock offering of the Sitting essentially by itself, just off of U.S. Highway 85, corporation, which was done in 1970, had been relied upon by Santa Fe Downs would have been hard to miss even without a management to retire all mortgage indebtedness so that at the conclusion of the construction of the track improvements, the large and creative sign proclaiming its presence. “At the time it opened in 1971, there weren’t any other proceeds from the public stock sale would have been sufficient to structures within five miles other than the New Mexico State pay the indebtedness and the track would have been virtually free Penitentiary,” Reeves recalled. “The seven-furlong chute was of any mortgage indebtedness.” AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019 37
Courtesy Jill Byers
But the stock sale failed to meet expectations, so the track started off with a debt that was difficult to pay off. The success of the first two meets offered promise, but going public wound up having an unforeseen pitfall—it was possible for the original shareholders to lose control of the track. That’s what happened when Ohio businessman and millionaire Leonard Fruchtman arrived on the scene. As vice president of the Donovan Wire and Iron Company—which he described to writer Alan Wilson in The Santa Fe New Mexican of June 1, 1975, as a “family corporation in which we’re all generally equal partners”—Fruchtman spent much of his time “traveling an average of about 5,000 miles weekly” on company business. But in his spare time, Fruchtman was an avid participant in the sport of horse racing. His passion for the industry was obvious; on one memorable day at Santa Fe Downs when Fruchtman was picking winners left and right, Wilson noted that “Fruchtman constantly flashes an infectious smile and comes off as a robust, happy-go-lucky fellow.” Already Fruchtman had conquered the sport from an ownership perspective, reaching glorious heights with the 1960 Florida Derby winner and Kentucky Derby runner-up Bally Ache, who raced in the name of his Edgehill Farm. When Fruchtman and some of his Ohio business associates approached Santa Fe Downs’ primary stockholders with an offer to purchase a controlling interest in the track, they were initially rebuffed. However, Fruchtman persisted, and on October 29, 1973, at a stockholders meeting, Fruchtman’s group managed to win enough support to secure control of the track.
Jockey Jill West (now Byers), who currently operates Winning Touches Equestrian Gifts at Arapahoe Park in Colorado, is pictured aboard Bar Depth’s Last (outside).
Fruchtman immediately set about making changes and improvements to Santa Fe Downs. He brought in a new general manager, Phil Baker, who could boast decades of experience at racetracks in the eastern United States, where the sport was thriving at the highest level. And, for 1974, a new 21day fall race meet was scheduled to follow the regular summer meet. Bruce Daniels noted in The Santa Fe New Mexican of September 22 that the summer meet was well-attended by 38 AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019
celebrities, including folk singer Burl Ives and world light heavyweight champion boxer Bob Foster, and that Appaloosa races—as many as one per day—would be introduced during the fall meet. But a variety of events conspired to doom these best-laid plans. Alan Wilson reported in The Santa Fe New Mexican of May 4, 1975, that shortly after Fruchtman gained control of the track, “official inquiries by the state into Fruchtman’s background” threw planning for 1974 into disarray. Fruchtman was soon cleared—the investigation “failed to uncover any shred of evidence” against him—but an unfortunate side effect was that the state racing commission delayed the assignment of 1974 racing dates to Santa Fe Downs, which caused horsemen to make other plans and resulted in a horse shortage for the summer meet. This, in turn, triggered a rise in purse money partway through the meet to encourage horsemen to send horses, but the results were disappointing. The track failed to attract many more horses, so the increase in outlay was essentially a loss. Then came the fall meet, which was another letdown; Wilson noted that “the daily average of wagering at the track was $92,723,” down from $218,199 during the summer. “Bad weather and a poorer showing among Quarter Horsemen than anticipated” further contributed to the financial difficulties, which saw Santa Fe Downs sustain a loss of nearly $500,000 for the year.
BANKRUPTCY AND REBIRTH
As handle began to stagnate, debts continued to mount and the future of Santa Fe Downs became increasingly uncertain. Throughout 1975, efforts were made to restructure and refinance the track’s debt, but these plans ultimately fell through, and wagering handle—while up slightly for the year—was insufficient even to pay out all promised purse money, adding yet another debt to the mix. Finally, on December 7, 1975, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that Santa Fe Downs had defaulted on two mortgages totaling $2.53 million and was up for sale and that a number of directors and officers had personally guaranteed bank loans in amounts totaling nearly $300,000. The previous years of financial drama paled in comparison to the woes of 1976. Seemingly every month—or every week at times—large headlines topped the New Mexico newspapers outlining the latest developments in the track’s struggle to survive. Mortgages changed hands. Former shareholders, having guaranteed large loans, pondered foreclosure of the track as banks came looking for payment. A potential sale of the track for more than $3 million fell through. Santa Fe Downs entered bankruptcy court, leading to a significant delay in the approval of race dates for 1976. According to The Santa Fe New Mexican of April 4, 1976, the latter issue was only resolved after Santa Fe Downs borrowed another $100,000 “to help the track pay off its debts to horsemen and the State Racing commission.”
Courtesy Mike Reeves
Of course, the meet was overshadowed by Santa Fe Downs’ ongoing struggle to survive, and for the first time in the track’s brief history, daily average handle dropped for the season, falling to $209,827. Robert E. Storey wrote in The Santa Fe New Mexican of August 10, 1976, that a promising new offer to purchase majority control of the track’s stock had emerged from a group of New Mexicans that included Ken Newton, owner of Lincoln Management (the concessionaire for Santa Fe Downs since 1971), and Willard C. Kruger, “one of the track’s original organizers” and the designer of the track’s grandstand. Working out the details proved troublesome and timeconsuming. The first deal soon fell through, but Newton didn’t give up. Over the next seven months, negotiations of all sorts bounced back and forth as Newton became part of a new team of investors under the name of LNT Partnership, which arranged a complex new deal to purchase Santa Fe Downs from the bankruptcy court. Finally, on March 12, 1977—“after some 28 hours of hearings during five days,” wrote Robert V. Beier in the following day’s Albuquerque Journal—the New Mexico Racing Commission unanimously voted to approve the necessary licenses for LNT to operate the track, the final step needed to close the deal. Although just two months remained until the 1977 meet was scheduled to begin, Newton and his associates quickly went to work upgrading the facilities and making plans for the future. Howard Houghton of The Santa Fe New Mexican wrote on March 30 that “there will be some remodeling of the food and drink vending areas,” but more significantly, “the 15 black-and-white television monitors that showed instant replays of races in the grandstand are being replaced with 28 new color monitors.” In addition, the racing surface would be reworked to improve its quality—a few years prior, horsemen had called a one-day strike from the entry box to protest the conditions of the track—and plans called for “extensive landscaping of the track’s infield and paddock,” which had been considered a necessary enhancement almost as soon as Santa Fe Downs had opened. Purse money would also be increased, and Newton told Houghton that they would be working on the track’s
public image to make it more appealing to visitors. “What we want to sell out here is fun.” Against the odds, they made it work.
THE GLORY DAYS
Courtesy Jill Byers
Santa Fe Downs had more female jockeys than most tracks at the time (or even now), however, this newspaper photo referred to the riders as “jockettes” in the caption.
Standing on truly solid financial footing for the first time in its existence, Santa Fe Downs was able to settle into a rhythm during the late 1970s and early 1980s that triggered impressive growth in wagering handle and an improvement to the quality of racing. “As with almost all tracks conducting race meets during the 1970s, the Downs was the only [local] place to gamble,” Reeves explained. “Las Vegas is more than 600 miles away, and Atlantic City is thousands of miles away. As such, the Downs’ monopoly on gambling was strong during the 1970s and into the early part of the 1980s.”
Quite a Day had many big days at Santa Fe Downs and was a fan favorite at the track, in part due to this 14-length victory in the 1975 La Fiesta Handicap with a 1 1⁄ 16-mile track-record time of 1:42 2⁄ 5.
AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019 39
Aaron Wilson/ Albuquerque Journal
More than 20 years after its last race, the grandstand at Santa Fe Downs is still intact.
The monopoly certainly had a positive impact for the track. Under Newton’s management, wagering at Santa Fe Downs increased sharply in a short amount of time. In the June 13, 1997, edition of the Albuquerque Journal, Ed Johnson wrote, “Between 1976 and ’84, The Downs’ average daily handle went from $209,827 to $458,031—the largest percentage increase of any track in the nation during that time.” Indeed, both attendance and handle peaked on June 17, 1984, when 9,046 eager racing fans wagered $764,737 and were treated to a late-running victory from Curribot in the Santa Fean Handicap. That race marked the ninth stakes win for the seemingly ageless gelding, who was 7 at the time but nowhere near the completion of his career. The gutsy son of Little Current had a couple more memorable moments at Santa Fe Downs in store and would eventually retire at the age of 14 with 22 stakes wins under his belt (the last two earned at age 11), a record that stamped him as a New Mexican legend. Sunland Park still honors him by running the Curribot Handicap each year. And whenever Curribot settled in at Santa Fe Downs, he was greeted by well-constructed barns that were among the highlights of the track. “Another wonderful feature [of Santa Fe Downs] was the barns housing the horses,” Reeves remembered. “Brand new, state-of-the-art, fireproof barns made by Port A Stall were, in a word, perfect. They were green trim with white walls—the track’s color theme.” The jockey colony at Santa Fe Downs was also a positive. During the 1980s, Santa Fe Downs proved to be something of a testing ground for young jockeys on their way to stardom. The Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith, who reached the culmination of his career when sweeping the 2018 Triple Crown aboard the undefeated Justify, began his career at Santa Fe Downs in 1982 when he was just 16 years old. Success was slow in coming— 40 AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019
Smith lost on his first 40 mounts—but on June 12, he picked up the first win of his career aboard a 4-year-old colt fittingly named Forever Man. “I just remember standing up and saying: ‘Wow, what a feeling. I can’t wait to do that again,’ ” Smith told Ross Peddicord in The Baltimore Sun of May 7, 1994. “But, as soon as I got off, I had to feed 12 head and muck their stalls.” On the bright side, Smith’s business picked up following his maiden victory, and by the end of the meet he had ridden 10 winners. The late Garrett Gomez, another Hall of Fame inductee and the winner of 13 Breeders’ Cup races, likewise began his career at Santa Fe Downs, where he won two races during the summer of 1988 before moving on to enjoy prolonged success at the highest levels of the sport. Nancy Nichols Summers, an accomplished rider of both Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses during her three decades in the saddle, scored her first career victory at Santa Fe Downs in 1983 and went on to win 1,300 races in North America, including the Grade 1 Rainbow, Ruidoso and Sun Country futurities aboard the talented Quarter Horse Treacherously in 1993. In addition to Summers, the track featured more female riders than most during that time period—and even today. A 1977 newspaper photo showed no less than six female jockeys from the track, although in a sign of the times it referred to them as “jockettes” and noted they visited with the governor’s wife for a “spot of tea and cake.” Also finding Santa Fe Downs to be an ideal starting place was trainer Carl Nafzger, who scored his first career victory and then his first stakes victory in 1971 at the New Mexico track. Over the next four decades, Nafzger won two Kentucky Derbies with Unbridled and Street Sense, earned an Eclipse Award as outstanding trainer and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame.
Maybe Santa Fe Downs wasn’t attracting champion racehorses, but the local stars were beloved for their own talents and quirks. During his years at Santa Fe Downs, Reeves had the good fortune to be involved in the training of one of the track’s most legendary local stars, a tough-as-nails gelding by the name of Quite a Day. Bred in California by Mr. and Mrs. John C. Mabee, Quite a Day showed flashes of potential during three races as a 2-year-old in Southern California in 1970, but he missed his 3-year-old season entirely and was subsequently sold to Clyde Martinez for $2,500. “Physically, Quite a Day was an imposing horse,” Reeves recalled. “His unique features included an offset eye socket, a head that tilted slightly to one side—and X-rays taken as a 4-year-old revealed the sesamoid bone in his right front leg had cracked and healed. The way he got all those quirky features
was never known by us, but some kind of accident was likely. It never bothered his running.” Indeed, Quite a Day was wildly versatile and a local sensation, as he demonstrated in the 1973 Liberty Handicap at Santa Fe Downs. On that occasion, the young gelding was trying six furlongs just 2 ½ weeks after finishing third in a 1 3⁄ 8-mile turf race, so he hardly seemed like a prime candidate to upset a quality field of dirt sprinters. But with jockey Frank “Paycheck” Pacheco in the saddle, Quite a Day took advantage of a fast pace to rally up the rail and win by seven lengths in the track-record time of 1:09 flat. “Through the stretch Quite a Day widened his lead with every stride, never being encouraged with the whip; he drew away under restraint,” Reeves fondly recalled. This was an impressive performance, but it paled in comparison to Quite a Day’s exploits two years later, when the
WHEN SANTA FE DOWNS WAS FROZEN (LITERALLY) IN TIME
“Some events at the Downs are frozen in time,” stated Mike Reeves, who formerly trained at Santa Fe Downs. He then delved into a story of seemingly unrelated events that conspired to bring about what he described as a “mega-sized mess” at the New Mexican racetrack. “Long after the hooves pounding around the oval at the Downs had last been heard, simulcast wagering was still conducted,” Reeves explained. “What had been the third floor Turf Club during the times when live racing was being conducted was converted to a betting parlor of sorts. There were a half-dozen or so tellers, a concession stand, a bar and several banks of televisions. Nothing fancy, but horseplayers in Santa Fe could still bet on the horses. The parlor was open Wednesdays through Sundays. “On Sunday evenings the parlor was closed down. Since it was a rather large room, turning down the heating system thermostat to 50 degrees Fahrenheit substantially reduced costs during the winter months. The concession stand in the parlor had a large grill, and it had a large exhaust fan. This unit was shut off at the conclusion of the day’s work, as were all the unnecessary powerconsuming devices. Minimal utilities costs were the goal. “On one Sunday, the concession’s crew left the grill exhaust on when they departed the parlor. This is noted because what greeted the simulcast parlor staff on Wednesday when they went back to work was nothing short of amazingly bizarre.” In an unforeseen turn of events, the exhaust fan on the grill was able to pull air from the parlor faster than the reduced heating system could warm the incoming air to its proper temperature. And unfortunately, this error coincided with cold weather that saw temperatures fall below 0 degrees. Without the heaters working at full power, “the air temperature in the building fell below freezing,” Reeves recalled. “In a short period of time, the water pipes in the concession stand froze and burst. This wouldn’t have been a major problem except that the whole facility’s water pressure was created from a huge 100,000-gallon water tank which was gravity powered.” With the bursting of the water pipes, the water tank proceeded to disperse its entire contents throughout the facility. Since no one was at the track on Monday or Tuesday, no one was there to witness (or attempt to halt) the everspreading runaway water flow. “It flowed in a southerly direction underneath the main glass entrance doors of the betting parlor, out into a foyer leading to the large concrete spiral staircase, down to the first floor main entrance and out onto the apron of the track,” Reeves said. “A thick layer of ice—eight to 10 inches—covered many sections of the grandstand. “One hundred thousand gallons of water The history of Santa Fe Downs is peppered with great racing stories, as well as other makes lots of ice.” unique tales unrelated to the action on the track. AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019 41
gelding was a 7-year-old veteran with multiple stakes victories under his belt. Quite a Day’s greatest effort at Santa Fe Downs, in Reeves’ opinion, came in the 1975 La Fiesta Handicap, in large part because the gelding’s training schedule was nothing like what Reeves had planned or envisioned. “Quite a Day’s legend was partly built on racing performance, but much of his legend among backsiders came from him being a horse that loved to train,” Reeves explained. “He could, and would, make exercise riders look silly; many of the very best attempted to keep him under sufficient restraint, but very few were able to keep A surprising number of top racehorses graced the paddock at Santa Fe him at the desired speed on a day in, day out Downs, including eventual Kentucky Derby winner Real Quiet. basis. I watched otherwise strong men seemingly melt off him after exercising him … Quite a Day Close, but not quite. loved going fast and he savored every second “Quite a Day repeated exactly what he had done the day during morning exercise as a chance to run regardless of the before, except he got to the three-quarter pole before Frankie restraint being exercised. “On the Sunday morning a week before the race, his was able to get him geared down to normal gallop speed,” normal exercise rider didn’t show up to work,” Reeves said. Reeves said. “Same scenario on Tuesday, except he got to the Then “Paycheck” Pacheco happened to stop by the barn “to ask five-eighths pole before slowing down.” Every day, Quite a Day managed to travel a little farther if we needed any help exercising horses.” With no other exercise riders available, and with the end before Frankie could gain control, until finally on Saturday— of training hours rapidly approaching, Reeves agreed to let the day before the race—he managed to make a complete lap of the track. Pacheco try his hand at exercising the challenging gelding. “Quite a Day was weathering this training storm just fine, “I legged Frankie up and we made the three-minute walk up the hill to the track gap at the eighth pole. Frank backtracked cold legs, cleaning his feed tub and exercising like an avalanche,” Quite a Day to the quarter pole, turned and saluted and off he Reeves marveled. “I was worried he had exerted too much energy went. By the time Quite a Day passed me at the eighth pole during the week, but he offered no bad signs. As I was waiting he was in a full run, way faster than desired. I knew at some by the gap, an elderly trainer I sometimes exchanged pleasantries point Frank would be able to wrangle him back or he would with surprised me when he said, ‘Paycheck has been teasing your tire out. By the time they got to the seven-eighths pole, Frank ol’ horse all week, I’ve been watching. I’m betting Frankie comes had Quite a Day going at the desired rate of speed. He finished out of the gate, reaches up and tries to take the ol’ bugger back like he’s gonna try and gallop him and he’ll just run off with him the gallop in good order.” But while training for the day was completed without like he’s been doing all week. Good luck!’ ” The elderly trainer couldn’t have handicapped the race any (much) incident, Reeves’ troubles were only beginning. On Monday, Quite a Day’s exercise rider failed to show up again— better. As Reeves recalled, “Quite a Day broke alertly, took the “we later learned he had left town,” said Reeves—so “Paycheck” lead and opened up at least a length or more at each eighth was called into action again with the hope that Quite a Day around the oval. He ultimately won by 14 lengths and in the “wouldn’t blast off like a runaway train for any farther than he process broke the track record for a mile and one-sixteenth that stood until the track was shuttered 20 years later. had done the day before.” “That old trainer darn sure knew horses.” Quite a Day raced for several more years, winning the 1978 Pomona Handicap in At times the grandstand signage read Santa Fe Downs, but California at the age of 10 and finally hanging up when the track closed it was called The Downs at Santa Fe. his running shoes at the age of 13. His longevity on the track was exceeded only by his longevity in life itself; according to Reeves, the gelding lived out the rest of his days on a farm in Illinois and passed away at the remarkable age of 32. Ironically, he outlived the racetrack that made him famous. 42 AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019
On the surface, all was well with Santa Fe Downs as the 1997 summer meet kicked off on June 13. Less than two years prior, the track had been sold to Pojoaque Pueblo and the facilities had been renovated. Furthermore, a new race for 2-year-olds— the Indian Nations Futurity Cup, boasting a purse of more than half a million dollars—was attracting plenty of attention and promised to be among the most nationally significant races ever held at Santa Fe Downs. Indeed, as events would play out, the Indian Nations Futurity Cup attracted arguably the most famous horse to ever race at Santa Fe Downs, though the horse in question failed to win. In preparation for the big race, the up-and-coming trainer Bob Baffert—fresh off of winning the 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes with Silver Charm—sent a 2-yearold maiden colt named Real Quiet to try his hand at Santa Fe Downs. The colt finished a distant third in his trial race and then a much stronger third in the $571,647 Indian Nations Futurity Cup itself. No one could have guessed at the time that Real Quiet would eventually emulate Silver Charm by winning the 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. (Note that the rich purse in the Indian Nations Futurity Cup was boosted by the Quarter Horse-style futurity system of requiring a series of payments and advancement through trial races.) Who knows, maybe racing at Santa Fe Downs played a role in developing Real Quiet’s talent. With the track being located more than a mile above sea level, Mike Reeves speculates that perhaps Real Quiet’s success was “partly due to the time he spent there as a 2-year-old doing ‘high-altitude training.’ ”
Aaron Wilson/ Albuquerque Journal
THE END OF THE JOURNEY
Grady (#5) won the 1997 Indian Nations Futurity Cup and went on to earn nearly $800,000, and runner-up General Gem also had a productive career, though neither matched third-place finisher Real Quiet’s accomplishments.
The top two finishers in the Indian Nations Futurity Cup also turned out to be decent runners. The victorious Grady, who rallied gamely to win by a neck in the final strides, won the 2000 Albany Handicap at Golden Gate and retired with nearly $800,000 in earnings, while runner-up General Gem placed in five more stakes races over the next year. Yes, with a brand-new signature race attracting attention and quality competition, the future seemed bright enough at Santa Fe Downs. But after digging a little deeper, challenges could be found brewing just beneath the surface. To put it simply, Santa Fe Downs was no longer the only gambling game in town; competition had arrived and spread rapidly. “Two particular events in the gambling landscape of the southwestern United States took place in the mid-1980s that had a profound effect on the Downs,” Reeves explained. “First was the beginning of bingo parlors being opened with cash prizes on Native American lands in New Mexico. … This significantly and negatively impacted the Downs’ business.” Santa Fe Downs also faced competition within the sport of horse racing. The arrival of pari-mutuel wagering in Oklahoma brought a new racetrack—Remington Park— to the region in 1988, and this had a troublesome impact on the racing at Santa Fe Downs. “The decline in [participation from] Oklahoma owners and Real Quiet, winner of the 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes who missed the Triple Crown their horses lowered the quantity by a nose in the Belmont Stakes, finished third in his trial for the Indian Nations Futurity Cup at and quality of the Downs’ horse Santa Fe and took the same spot in the $571,647 final.
AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019 43
population,” Reeves continued. “Texas followed suit in legalizing pari-mutuel wagering shortly after that, further depleting the available owner and horse population.” Maybe, just maybe, Santa Fe Downs could have withstood these blows, but two more developments seemingly sealed the track’s fate. As Reeves tells it, “the advent of the New Mexico lottery in 1995 and full-blown casinos on Native American reservations doomed the Downs.” When the news broke about the track’s closure, Joe Little, an attorney for Pojoaque Pueblo, told the Albuquerque Journal that continuing racing at Santa Fe Downs “just does not make any sense financially. We can’t keep losing money.” Reportedly, Pojoaque Pueblo had lost nearly a million dollars in their two years of running the track. At first, it seemed possible that the closure would only be temporary. There appeared to be several possible paths for racing to continue. Adding slot machines at the track could have potentially made the continuation of racing profitable, and there were also multiple offers from other groups to purchase Santa Fe Downs. Indeed, throughout the early 2000s, Pojoaque Pueblo expressed serious interest in resuming racing at Santa Fe Downs with a renovated facility plus the addition of slot machines, a night club and other activities on the track grounds. But progress was stalled by a major sticking point: a federal lawsuit regarding revenue sharing from one of Pojoaque Pueblo’s existing casinos. In the May 20, 2004, edition of the Albuquerque Journal, Jeff Jones detailed how reopening the track would require approvals from the state’s racing commission and gaming control board. “That would almost surely not take place until Pojoaque makes a deal to pay the state a cut of its casino slot-machine profits,” he wrote. Also delaying progress was the presence of a “gigantic, smoldering manure pile” at Santa Fe Downs that Pojoaque Pueblo still needed to remove. The lawsuit was resolved in 2005, but by then a new obstacle had emerged. The construction of Zia Park, a new racetrack in Hobbs, New Mexico, that opened for business that September, promised to significantly alter the landscape of racing in the state, and as Steve Terrell reported in The Santa Fe New Mexican of July 13, 2005, Gov. Bill Richardson wanted to analyze Zia Park’s impact before moving forward with reopening Santa Fe Downs. “That’s probably the prudent thing to do, to analyze and see the results of the impact of [Zia Park] on the existing racetracks in the state,” Julian Luna of the state racing commission told The Santa Fe New Mexican. “We need to look at the purses and the amount of horses available.” 44 AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019
In addition to most of the track structures and the racing surface, this rock sign remains.
Tentative plans still called for racing at Santa Fe Downs to resume in 2007, but those plans were delayed as Zia Park successfully took its place in New Mexico’s hierarchy of racetracks. The final nail in the coffin came in 2008, when Pojoaque Pueblo made a big push to secure the last available license for running a racetrack casino in the state. It came down to a bidding war with two other groups, and when Pojoaque Pueblo lost the bid, Santa Fe Downs’ fate was sealed. Through the years, Santa Fe Downs occasionally hosted other public events, such as concerts and soccer games, but never again did the hoofbeats of racehorses echo across the prairie. The history of racing is filled with stories of horses and horsemen defying the odds to achieve success in the face of great adversity. And while Santa Fe Downs ultimately failed to survive, the fact that it came to fruition at all—and stayed in business for 27 years—could be considered a victory in and of itself.
Although horse racing is done at Santa Fe Downs, a sport of another kind is now played in the infield.
The Santa Fe Downs grandstand still sits out on the prairie, teasing the possibility of a return to racing that is unlikely to ever occur. Current plans call for the grandstand and track to be demolished and redeveloped, which would certainly put an end to some two decades of speculation about the future of the property. In the meantime, the dusty winds still blow and the plants of the prairie are slowly reclaiming the unattended, unadorned dirt oval that once held pride of place in the annals of New Mexico horse racing. H J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, videographer and horse racing enthusiast who regularly contributes to the industry websites Bloodhorse.com, AmericasBestRacing.net and BetAmerica Extra. A passionate fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in North America but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite.
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STATE ASSOCIATION NEWS ALABAMA HORSEMEN’S BENEVOLENT AND PROTECTIVE ASSOCIATION NEWS Kenneth Cotton Classic The fourth running of the Kenneth Cotton Classic for Alabamabreds has been set for May 11 at Evangeline Downs. The six-furlong race offers a $25,000 purse for 3-year-olds and up that are maidens or non-winners of two that broke their maiden for a claiming price of $25,000 or less. Entries are through the Evangeline Downs race office. The Alabama HBPA will cover shipping expenses up to $500 for horses running fourth and out. A bill or receipt for expenses must be submitted to Nancy Delony, 3221 Ridgely Drive, Vestavia, AL 35243 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, don’t forget to submit your Alabama-bred horses placing first through fourth in any open company races for the Alabama HBPA supplemental purse distribution with $800 for first, $600 for second, $400 for third and $200 for fourth. Contact Nancy at (205) 969-7048 or email@example.com with your horse’s name, track, date of race and race number.
New Stallions in Alabama Chamois, a multiple graded-placed stakes winner of $355,994, has been retired and will stand the 2019 breeding season at Flying P Ranch near Hope Hull, Alabama. A son of two-time leading sire Smart Strike, Chamois will stand for $2,000, with special consideration to approved mares. The deal to sell Chamois to Flying P was brokered by New Jersey-based bloodstock agent Michael Slezak. A second-out winner as a 2-year-old, Chamois went on to win Aqueduct’s Duluth Stakes and Delaware Park’s Stanton Stakes as a 3-year-old, earning 111 Equibase Speed Figures in each of those 1 1⁄16mile turf events. Chamois ended his career with a 5-6-6 record from 43 starts. His top performances include third-place finishes in the Longines Dixie Stakes (G2) at Pimlico and the Hill Prince Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park. Chamois is out of German-bred Meridiana, who captured the 2003 Oaks d’Italia (G1) at Milan, the Orchid Handicap (G2) at Gulfstream Park and the Bewitch Stakes (G3) at Keeneland. Among her nine foals to race, Meridiana has produced black-type winner Infinite Wisdom ($304,778), Grade 1-placed and multiple stakes-placed winner Center Divider ($341,446) and Grade 3-placed winner Pine Needles ($136,780). “Not only was Chamois a tremendously classy racehorse who broke his maiden and was competitive at the stakes level over several seasons on the world-class New York circuit, he sports a pedigree that I’d hold up against any horse who’s ever stood in the state of Alabama,” said Flying P owner Bobby Pruitt. “Given the success of Smart Strike sons at stud—especially with Curlin’s ascent to world-class commercial status and Lookin At Lucky’s breakout year in 2018 via Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) champ Accelerate—we couldn’t be more optimistic about Chamois’ chances.” For more information, contact Pruitt at firstname.lastname@example.org. Another new stallion standing in Alabama is Mosquito, by multiple graded stakes winner Yes It’s True out of Fleuron, by Distant View. Mosquito is standing at H and H Thoroughbreds in Andalusia.
Mosquito has already been represented by his first starter, Foolish Steve, who broke his maiden last November at Delta Downs for owner-breeder Jerry Hughes. A dark bay 3-year-old colt out of Shirley’s Brittney, by Sea of Secrets, Foolish Steve has two wins and a third in four starts with earnings of $38,840. For more information, contact Rhett Harrelson at (205) 563-5473.
ARKANSAS THOROUGHBRED BREEDERS’ AND HORSEMEN’S ASSOCIATION NEWS Congrats to the 2018 Arkansas Award Winners The ATBHA Annual Awards Banquet was held Friday, April 5, at Hotel Hot Springs. The speaker was Lanny Beavers, a Hot Springs native and co-owner of Hot Springs Memorabilia, a local museum with a vast amount of information and items on display from the Hot Springs gambling era prior to the 1960s, as well as information and pictures of Thoroughbred horse racing in Hot Springs, including at Essex Park and McCoombs Track prior to Oaklawn Park. Horse racing has been in Hot Springs dating back as far as 1894. Congratulations to the following award winners for 2018: Breeder of the Year—McDowell Farm Horse of the Year—Dutch Parrot (by Eskendereya, bred by Shortleaf Stable) Stallion of the Year—Primary Suspect (by Hennessy, owned by Bill McDowell) Broodmare of the Year—Turtledove (by Strong Hope, owned by Shortleaf Stable) Congratulations also go to the following registered Arkansas-bred stakes winners in 2018: Georgia’s Reward (by Warrior’s Reward, bred by Robby and Treissa Robinson), Hoonani Road (by Jonesboro, bred by Bobby Lee Hall), J. E.’s Handmedown (by Storm and a Half, bred and owned by David E. Whited), Ministry (by Ordained, bred by Arthur Hall and C. Frank Newman), Glacken’s Ghost (by Smoke Glacken, bred by McDowell Farm), Bye Bye J (by Uncaptured, bred by McDowell Farm), Court Adjoured (by Closing Argument, bred by Jay Goodwin and Dr. Rodney Vaughn), Dutch Parrot (by Eskendereya, bred by Shortleaf Stable), Midnight Ruler (by Sonny Dom’s Day, bred by Sunny Elaine Carson), Poetic Poser (by Primary Suspect, bred by James Tilley) and Zack Ridge Road (by Brahms, bred by Sanders Brothers).
INDIANA THOROUGHBRED OWNER’S AND BREEDER’S ASSOCIATION NEWS Indiana Champions for 2018 In conjunction with the Indiana Thoroughbred Breed Development Program, ITOBA held its annual awards banquet on April 14 at Indiana Grand Racing and Casino. Congratulations go out to all the winners: Indiana-bred 2-Year-Old Colt/Gelding—Fortin Hill • Mucho Macho Man—Dusty Rose, by Cherokee Run • Breeder: Robert L. Losey • Owner: OXO Equine LLC • Trainer: Chad C. Brown AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019 49
STATE ASSOCIATION NEWS Indiana-bred 2-Year-Old Filly—Discreet Beauty • Discreetly Mine— Bella Durmiente, by Pico Central (Brz) • Breeder/Owner: Bruce Murphy • Trainer: Genaro Garcia Indiana-sired 2-Year-Old Colt/Gelding—Ace of Aces • Unbridled Express—Miss Carmelite, by Mutakddim • Breeder/Owner: LTB Inc. and Hillerich Racing LLC • Trainer: Bernard S. Flint Indiana-sired 2-Year-Old Filly—Fireball Baby • Noble’s Promise— Bubbles and Babies, by A.P. Indy • Breeder/Owner: Rigney Racing LLC • Trainer: Philip A. Bauer Indiana-bred 3-Year-Old Colt/Gelding—The Money Dance • Jimmy Creed—Whistlin’ Jean, by Pure Prize • Breeder: Michael E. and Penny S. Lauer • Owner: Penny S. Lauer and Falcon Racing Stable Trainer: Michael E. Lauer Indiana-bred 3-Year-Old Filly—Flurry • Old Fashioned—Dreamin Big, by Pure Prize • Breeder: Michael E. and Penny S. Lauer • Owner: Penny S. Lauer • Trainer: Michael E. Lauer Indiana-sired 3-Year-Old Colt/Gelding—It’s Just Fate • Skylord— She’s a Pioneer, by Pioneering • Breeder: Patrick D. Donahoe Owner: Patrick D. and Donald Donahoe • Trainer: Wayne D. Mogge Indiana-sired 3-Year-Old Filly—Entrusted • Noble’s Promise—Mor Trust, by Trust N Luck • Breeder: Michael E. and Penny S. Lauer • Owner: Christine and Vince Cagle and Penny S. Lauer • Trainer: Michael E. Lauer Indiana-bred Older Horse—Bucchero • Kantharos—Meetmeontime, by General Meeting • Breeder: Southern Chase Farm Inc. and Karen Dodd • Owner: Ironhorse Racing Stable LLC • Trainer: Tim Glyshaw Indiana-bred Older Mare—Marina’s Legacy • Divine Park—Marina, by Theatrical (Ire) • Breeder/Owner: Bone Doctors Stable • Trainer: Aaron M. West Indiana-sired Older Horse—Operation Stevie • Lantana Mob— Mutakddims Revenge, by Mutakddim • Breeder: Larry Smallwood Owner: Earl J. Trostrud Jr. and Cipriano Contreras • Trainer: Cipriano Contreras Indiana-sired Older Mare—Expect Indy • Mr. Mabee—Jet n’ Expectation, by Valid Expectations • Breeder: Lake Shore Farm • Owner: Gumpster Stable LLC • Trainer: Cipriano Contreras Broodmare of the Year—Whistlin’ Jean • Pure Prize—Just A Broad, by Broad Brush • Dam of The Money Dance, Sights and Sounds and Whistle Stop Stallion of the Year—Noble’s Promise • Cuvee—The Devil’s Trick, by Clever Trick • Owner: Richard Rigney ITOBA Horse of the Year—Bucchero ITOBA Hall of Distinction—State Representative Bob Cherry The ITBDP also presented awards at the banquet with the winners chosen solely based on money earned in 2018. ITBDP Horse of the Year—The Money Dance ITBDP Breeder of the Year—Michael E. and Penny S. Lauer ITBDP Stallion Owner of the Year—Richard Rigney
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IOWA THOROUGHBRED BREEDERS AND OWNERS ASSOCIATION NEWS President’s Message from Steve Renftle I’m getting more excited every day because we are in the final countdown to opening day of the 2019 race meet on May 3. After a very long winter, the backside opened on March 31 with the training and main tracks opening shortly thereafter. I would like to remind members that the ITBOA and IA HBPA awards presentations are Preakness Saturday, May 18. We have a new format for 2019. Free hors d’oeuvres will be served in the pavilion throughout the races and a cash bar will be available. Each ITBOA and IA HBPA member will receive two free drink tickets at the door. Awards will be presented in the winner’s circle between each race. We will have the award videos played on the infield big screen as well as throughout Prairie Meadows. We thought this would be a great way to showcase our champions not only here but via simulcast nationwide. We hope to see you at the races Preakness Saturday. Contract negotiations with the IA HBPA and Prairie Meadows were to begin soon, as this is the last year of their five-year contract. A mixed meet is one of the topics to be discussed. I will stay in close contact with the IA HBPA during their talks and let you know when they finalize anything. Iowa Classic Night is on Labor Day, September 2, and post time has been changed to 4 p.m. instead of the 6 p.m. shown on the ITBOA calendar you were sent. The ITBOA board thought an earlier post time would be best. I contacted Prairie Meadows and asked them to consider 1 p.m. They did not think 1 p.m. would work because of simulcast issues, so I suggested 4 p.m. and they agreed. I’m very happy Prairie Meadows worked with us and agreed to the change. Best wishes to all of our members that have horses racing during the 2019 Prairie Meadows meet. I hope to see our great ITBOA members at the track to enjoy our wonderful sport of horse racing. Be sure to stop me and say hello. I love to hear from our members.
MINNESOTA THOROUGHBRED ASSOCIATION NEWS MTA Yearling Sale The Minnesota Thoroughbred Association will be holding its annual yearling sale on Sunday, September 8, at Canterbury Park. This Minnesota-preferred yearling sale will showcase the best of Minnesota’s Thoroughbred breeding industry. Horses will arrive at Canterbury Park on Saturday, September 7, with the sale beginning at 5:00 p.m. the following day. The MTA is excited to have Phillip Pierceall of Swing City Auction Company with us for what is sure to be an exciting sale. Consigning to and buying at the MTA Yearling Sale provides incentives for our breeders and nomination options for our buyers. All Minnesota-bred yearlings passing through the sale ring will be eligible for nomination to the Minnesota Yearling Sale Graduate Futurity as 2-year-olds.
OHIO THOROUGHBRED BREEDERS AND OWNERS NEWS 3-Year-Old Filly Is “Totally Obsessed” with Winning Ron Paolucci Racing LLC and trainer Gary Johnson are off to a quick start in the 2019 Ohio Fund Program as they captured the first stakes of the season with a dominant win by Totally Obsessed in the $75,000 Southern Park Stakes at Mahoning Valley on March 23. Ohio-based Johnson has trained Totally Obsessed in all of her starts, except for two out-of-state and off-the-board outings against open company at Churchill Downs and Gulfstream Park. “To be honest, I kind of rushed her for her 2-year-old first-out maiden win, but you got to go with the condition book or you may be
Eligibility requirements are as follows: • Any Minnesota-bred yearling that passes through the sale ring during the 2019 MTA Yearling Sale and is purchased during the auction by a new owner will be eligible to be nominated. • A consignor who consigns any Thoroughbred yearling to the 2019 MTA Yearling Sale, and that yearling sells, will receive the right to nominate one other Minnesota-bred to the race. • A consignor may transfer the nomination to another 2018 Minnesota-bred owner by completing the proper paperwork and submitting a $50 transfer fee to the MTA. • If a yearling goes through the ring but does not sell, the owner may only nominate that yearling. The nomination right cannot be transferred if the yearling sells after the sale. • A nomination fee of $200 will be payable on or before April 1, 2020. • Should the race overfill, sale graduates will have priority. • The nomination fee is nonrefundable. The MTA is also proud to offer our breeders a MTA yearling sale incentive. A breeder who consigns a Minnesota-bred yearling to the 2019 MTA Yearling Sale and sells it to a new owner during the auction will receive a Yearling Sale Graduate Breeder’s Bonus when the MTA sale grad breaks its maiden at Canterbury Park in a maiden special weight or allowance race. The bonus will be paid to the breeder within 30 days of the race. The bonus will be paid as follows: • For Minnesota-conceived and -foaled MTA sale grads, the breeder will receive a $2,000 bonus and the stallion owner when the foal was conceived will receive a $1,000 bonus. • For Minnesota-bred MTA sale grads, the breeder will receive a $1,000 bonus. The MTA board is offering this bonus to breeders as an added incentive to bring top-quality, competitive Minnesota-conceived and foaled, as well as Minnesota-bred, yearlings to the September 8 sale. The yearling must sell to a new owner during the auction. Buybacks— horses that do not meet a written reserve, do not receive a bid or do not sell to a new owner during the auction for whatever reason— will not be eligible for this incentive. Consignment paperwork will be available on the MTA website at minnesotabred.com or by contacting the MTA office at (952) 233-4802 or email@example.com. Consignment deadline is Friday, June 28.
Totally Obsessed winning the Southern Park Stakes
waiting for a month,” Johnson said. “She was still green, but her sheer talent took her to an easy 6 ¾-length win.” Her second start came against her nemesis Drillit in the Kevin Goemmer Tah Dah Stakes at Belterra Park. “We finished second by a length but should have won it,” Johnson said. “She stumbled out of the gate, gathered herself up and then about the quarter pole, she dropped down from about the eight path to the rail and ran erratic through the lane.” Paolucci and Johnson had their eye on the year-end big prize, the $150,000 John W. Galbreath on the Best of Ohio card. To get Totally Obsessed experience around two turns, they found an open allowance race at a mile versus males at Thistledown three weeks prior to the Galbreath. She kept within a length of the leader for six panels and faded to fourth. “We put blinkers on her for the Galbreath, but let’s face it—it was Drillit’s day and she romped over 12 other fillies by 16 ½ lengths, while we finished a solid second,” Johnson said. That win stamped Drillit as the state’s champion 2-year-old filly. Totally Obsessed left Johnson’s barn a few days later for her two uneventful starts against open company out of state. In the first outing she caught a sloppy track and was squeezed at the start, and she tried the turf for the first time in the second. “Oddly enough, it may have been a blessing and a big advantage as she returned more mature. I just freshened her up and now I think she has really got it together,” Johnson said. Totally Obsessed was much the best in her 2019 debut in a $31,300 allowance at six furlongs and followed that by getting up in the final strides in a 5 ½-furlong, $38,000 allowance over stakes-placed Candy Lane and her juvenile rival champion Drillit. “She was so fit from those two starts, all I did was jog her one time leading up to the Southern Park,” said Johnson, the six-time leading trainer at Thistledown. “She walks into the paddock now and she is gorgeous. She is the real deal and a standout, very professional, no longer a 2-year-old learning the game.” Her major adversary, Drillit, was also parading in the paddock and the betting public made Totally Obsessed the slight choice. AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019 51
STATE ASSOCIATION NEWS When the gates flew open at Mahoning Valley, Totally Obsessed flew out. Jockey Luis Quinones got her into a fluid and controlled stride before being briefly challenged by Candy Lane. But Totally Obsessed increased her lead in cruise control at every point of call while drawing off under a hand ride by 3 ¼ lengths. Pearls in Charge was a clear second by 3 ¼ lengths as Dolly Dear caught Drillit by a nose for the third spot. “I’m blessed to be training for Ron; he gives me good horses and leaves the rest up to me,” said Johnson, who returned to training two years ago after several years of success in national handicapping competitions. He doesn’t take all the credit, though. “Without a doubt I have the best help on this circuit. I couldn’t do it without them,” he said. Totally Obsessed is a daughter of Tale of Ekati out of Dark Obsession, by Grand Slam. Bred by Schleprock Racing LLC, she was purchased as a 2-year-old at Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s 2-Year-Olds and Horses of Racing Age Sale for $50,000. Her win in the Southern Park pushed her record to 9-4-2-0 for earnings of $153,517.
OTBO Celebrates Its 60th Year The Ohio Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners is experiencing a banner year as we recognize our 60 years of promoting the Thoroughbred breed in the state. Much has happened over the decades. Old-fashioned grandstands have tumbled to the ground and been rebuilt, with some in new locations and with different names. And the state has produced some outstanding horsemen and horses. We will be revisiting the leaders of the industry and the Ohio-breds that have made headlines. We were blessed to have Charles Koch, a superb turf writer and historian, as a contributing writer for the OTBO. In addition to his regular columns, he took on the task of writing the tributes for horses inducted into the Ohio Racing Hall of Fame. Here is a well-researched story about Imp, a humble Ohio-bred filly that became a local hero. ___________________________________ Kentucky can boast its Man o’ War, Canada had its Northern Dancer, California its Swaps. But it was from Ohio that there emanated the disarmingly named Imp, the most formidable race mare of the Gay Nineties and one of the greatest female runners of all times. Owned by Daniel R. Harness, the black filly by Wagner out of Fondling, by Fonso, was bred by that gentleman and foaled at his High Bank Farm near Chillicothe, Ohio, in the spring of 1894. Imp came to the races as a 2-year-old in 1896 in the charge of trainer Charles E. Brossman. That year and the next she ran against mediocre company, starting at times with a tag of as little as $1,500. Further, she spent little time in her stall. At 3, she made 50 starts. At 4, she campaigned in the East as well as the Midwest and included stakes among her 35 starts and 21 wins. Her biggest year was 1899 when she was 5. On June 23 of that year at Sheepshead Bay she became the first mare (and only one of five in the 104-year history of the race) to win the 1 ¼-mile Suburban Handicap, clipping two-fifths of a second off the stakes record as she did so. And she did it the hard way. The field was at the post for 45 minutes before 52 AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019
the starter got them away; then as the horses turned into the stretch, the press of the crowd carried the rail away and deposited on the track hundreds of the 25,000 in attendance. Jockey Nash Turner, however, clearly got Imp past the surge and first to the wire by two lengths. That same year Imp gave weight to champion Ethelbert and beat him in the Brighton Handicap. When she returned to Chillicothe that fall the city declared a holiday and Imp was the centerpiece of a triumphal procession during which the main feature of the band was “My Coal Black Lady,” one of the most popular tunes of the day and the sobriquet applied to the mare throughout her career. At 6, Imp set an American record for 1 ¾-miles when she won the Advance Stakes by 30 lengths. She raced also at age 7 and was retired after her 13th start that year. Her lifetime record: 171 starts in six seasons of racing, 62 wins, 35 seconds, 29 thirds and $70,069 in money won. In open competition she met the best horses of both sexes and of all ages and beat them carrying the highest weights. She was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1988.
THOROUGHBRED RACING ASSOCIATION OF OKLAHOMA NEWS Welder Adds to His Win Total at Will Rogers Downs Oklahoma-bred Welder likes to win races as his 16 victories in 25 starts proves, but he seems to have a special affinity for the winner’s circle at Will Rogers Downs. In nine trips to the post in Claremore, the gray gelding has recorded eight wins, with his latest coming on April 2 in the $55,000 Highland Ice Stakes at six furlongs. With David Cabrera up for trainer Theresa Luneack and owner Ra-Max Farms LLC, the 6-year-old gelding won under a hand ride in 1:09.81. Prior to that effort, he ran a solid third behind Whitmore in the $150,000 Hot Springs Stakes at Oaklawn. Whitmore, a Grade 1-winning earner of more than $2.5 million, came into that race after a 2018 campaign that ended with a runner-up finish in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). All told, Welder has banked $683,151 while successfully compet-
ing against both Oklahoma-bred and open company. He was bred by Center Hills Farms, which owns Welder’s sire The Visualiser and stands him at their Mighty Acres in Pryor.
Oklahoma’s Horse and Hound Awarded Toro Mower for 2019 Season The Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma has designated the Horse and Hound Rescue Foundation in Guthrie, Oklahoma, for the use of a Toro commercial mower for the 2019 mowing season. This donation from Equine Equipment and Toro marks one of many this year designed to benefit Thoroughbred aftercare facilities across the country as a way to show appreciation for the industry and its horses. “With the great work Nelda and Larry Kettles do, we wanted to help them with a mower donation” said Steve Andersen, founder of Equine Equipment.
Horse and Hound Rescue Foundation will get the use of a Toro mower at no cost.
Danielle Barber, executive director of the TRAO, knows Horse and Hound to be a well-run and devoted organization, so helping them made sense. “We urge the Oklahoma horse industry to support facilities like Horse and Hound,” Barber said. “They repurpose our industry’s athletes and provide care for every resident at Horse and Hound. Getting this worthy facility a premium mower from Toro is the least we can do.” “I am still amazed at the giving spirit people show to Horse and Hound, and when Dani Barber told us about the use of this mower, especially a Toro mower, we were amazed that such a big company could care so much to help a facility like ours,” said Nelda Kettles, who with her husband, Larry, helps find new homes for off-track Thoroughbreds, as well as dogs. “We are touched and thank everyone involved. The local dealer will help us with some service appointments, and Equine Equipment is donating things like filters and oil we need for routine maintenance. This is amazing, and we are so delighted. Larry knows his equipment and is excited as well.” Horse and Hound operates on property owned by the Kettles, who have been breeding and raising Thoroughbreds for more than 30
years. The couple’s love for animals really shows as you pull through their gate, and they donate their time, land, barn, facilities and even house to the rescue of these animals. Go to horseandhoundrescue.com to learn more about the organization.
SOUTH CAROLINA THOROUGHBRED OWNERS AND BREEDERS ASSOCIATION NEWS Aiken Trials Are a Memorable Event Under a clear sky and a temperature just north of chilly, the 77th running of the Aiken Trials was held on March 16. The day began with the dedication of the refurbished clocker’s stand in the memory of Cot Campbell, a Pillars of the Turf member in racing’s Hall of Fame and a resident of Aiken since 1987. The day consisted of six Thoroughbred trials and five pony races. In the trials, 2-year-olds covered a quarter-mile while the older horses went 4 1⁄2 furlongs. Winners during the day included Gustav Schickedanz’s homebred Roansmoke, trained by Mike Keogh and ridden by Tim McKinsey. Schickedanz’s and Don Howard’s Silver Sheriff won the feature, the City of Aiken Trophy. He also is trained by Keogh and was ridden by Kaitlan Montgomery. Trial winners from trainer Cary Frommer’s stable included Gnarly Mo, owned by Hillwood Stables and ridden by Alex Thomas, and a 2-year-old Bourbon Courage colt, owned by Becky Davis and ridden by Sarah Cundith. The first 2-year-old heat was captured by Dancer’s Ghost, a colt by Giant’s Gizmo owned by Eileen Gilbert and Larry Butler. Trained by Legacy Stable (Brad Stauffer and Ron Stevens), Dancer’s Ghost was ridden by Matti Burns. Travis Durr came over from the Webb Carroll Training Center in St. Matthews with Maribeth Sandford’s 2-year-old filly Eloquent Lady, who proved best in her heat. She was ridden by Alfredo Ignacio.
57th Elloree Trials Bring Sunshine, Huge Crowd and Lots of Fun A beautiful, sunny day, great tailgating and 11 exciting horse races brought visitors from as far away as Murfreesboro, Tennessee; Auburn, Alabama; and Hayesville and Raleigh, North Carolina, to the 57th running of the Elloree Trials. The event is conducted each year at Franklin “Goree” Smith’s Elloree Training Center. Travis Durr won the first race with That’s My Jess and the fourth race with Whiskey Glasses, and trainer Jason McCutchen won the third race with Tote Board and the eighth with Big Bruiser. The feature race of the day, the Elloree Cup, was won by Black Steel out of the Robbie Shuler barn. Black Steel outdueled She Got It in an exciting stretch run to get the win in a time of :50.96 for the half-mile. The crowd left saying what a great time was had by all so let’s start planning for the 58th running next year.
AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019 53
STATE ASSOCIATION NEWS 2-Year-Old Sale Season Begins The 2-year-old sale season began March 12-13 in Ocala, Florida, on the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company grounds. South Carolinians Cary Frommer, Travis Durr and Kip Elser presented several colts and fillies that spent the fall and winter months at their training facilities. Frommer, based in Aiken, sold three horses for $377,000, highlighted by a Street Boss filly who brought $170,000. Durr, from the Webb Carroll Training Center in St. Matthews, sold two for $312,500, including a Malibu Moon colt knocked down for $220,000. Kip Elser, owner of Kirkwood Stables in Camden, sent three through the ring for a total of $152,000. His Bodemeister colt sold for $125,000. Frommer and Elser also had consignments at the Fasig-Tipton sale at Gulfstream on March 27. Frommer sold a Carpe Diem colt named Understood for $650,000. All of Elser’s colts and fillies galloped during the preview day. He sold four colts and one filly for a total of $685,000, with a Ghostzapper colt bringing $200,000.
TEXAS THOROUGHBRED ASSOCIATION NEWS Texas Stallion Stakes and Accreditation Reminders Horsemen are reminded of some upcoming dates and deadlines for the Clarence Scharbauer Jr. Texas Stallion Stakes Series and Texasbred accreditation. Two editions of the Texas Stallion Stakes will be run at Lone Star Park in 2019. The final races for foals of 2016 will be run on June 1 at a distance of one mile. The first races in the series for foals of 2017 will be run on June 23 at five furlongs. Entries will be taken one week prior, with a $250 entry fee and a $500 start fee to be deducted from your horseman’s account at Lone Star Park. The deadline to accredit foals of 2018 at the member rate of $75
(or non-member rate of $125) is May 31. After that date, the fee increases to a member rate of $200 (or non-member rate of $250) through December 31, 2019.
We Have Your Money … You Have Our Information! Is your name on this list of breeders and owners who have earned money through the Accredited Texas-Bred Program for 2017 racing? For various reasons, the TTA has been unable to pay the individuals listed below. Usually the problem is very simple to correct. Perhaps a transfer form was never completed when you purchased your money-earning Texas Thoroughbred, or maybe you have moved and forgotten to tell us. Please call the TTA’s Accreditation Department at (512) 458-6133 so we can complete your paperwork—and so you can collect your ATB earnings. Courtney Barousse ......................................................... $1,096.87 Candy Courtemanche ........................................................ $471.24 Richard E. Craig .................................................................. $184.30 Teodoro Delgado-Muriel.................................................... $378.84 Bob Glasgow and Ray Shannon ......................................... $302.85 Reggie Hickerson ............................................................... $220.98 Raymundo Juarez............................................................... $930.47 Shadowlands Farms LLC....................................................... $71.42 Thomas D. Tiller ................................................................. $153.47
Correction from Last Issue In last issue’s Texas Thoroughbred Association news, American Racehorse incorrectly listed the sire of 2018 Texas Horse of the Year Direct Dial. The correct sire is Too Much Bling of Valor Farm. We apologize for the error and will give Texas’ leading sire some extra carrots next time we see him.
facebook.com/americanracehorse 54 AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019
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Pyranha®On. Pests Gone.
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Do You STILL NEED to BOOK YOUR MARE? Consider breeding to one of the following stallions that sold in the December 2018 Iowa Stallion Auction and making your foal eligible for TWO Stakes races, the 2022 Stallion Futurity & 2023 Stallion Stakes, regardless of what state you foal in.
STALLION Entourage Formidable Kirkendahl Native Ruler Newport Sing Baby Sing Spaniard Stroll Tiznow R J Woke Up Dreamin
STANDING FARM Hillside Ranch Iowa State University P & S Thoroughbreds Abraham’s Equine Clinic Iowa State University Madison County TBs Bryant Thoroughbreds Iowa State University Hidden Acres Farm Madison County TBs
CITY Cedar Rapids Ames Fayette Cedar Rapids Ames Macksburg Moulton Ames Swan Macksburg
ST IA IA IA IA IA IA IA IA IA IA
PHONE # 319-241-8264 515-290-7669 563-357-9390 515-249-2636 515-290-7669 515-554-1615 641-895-9306 515-290-7669 515-371-0704 515-554-1615
Newport EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Iowa Stallions Pedigree Pages at: iowathoroughbred.com/iowa-bred-info/iowa-stallions/
Tiznow R J Stallion Gentlemen's Bet Moonshine Mullin Street Strategy EZ Effort Jersey Town Bahamian Squall Drill First Dude Csaba Elnaawi Notional Pass Rush Prayer for Relief Santiva Shagaf Taprize Rock Star Status Afleet Alex Aikenite Algorithms Alternation
Sing Baby Sing State AR AR AR AZ CA FL FL FL IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN KS KY KY KY KY
Stallion Anchor Down Army Mule Atreides Bee Jersey Brody's Cause Cinco Charlie Daddy Long Legs Dialed In Dominus Fast Anna Fed Biz Flat Out Flintshire Free Drop Billy Gio Ponti Justin Phillip Klimt Midnight Storm Midshipman Not This Time Optimizer
You can still bring your mare to Iowa to foal in ’19 and that foal be an Iowa bred, you would just need to breed back to an Iowa Stallion.
Spaniard State KY KY KY KY KY KY KY KY KY KY KY KY KY KY KY KY KY KY KY KY KY
Palace Palace Malice Paynter Poseidon's Warrior Protonico Run Away and Hide Secret Circle Sharp Azteca Sky Kingdom Strong Mandate Tale of Ekati Tapiture Tourist War Correspondent Bourban Courage Holy Boss Imagining Long River Matt's Broken Vow El Caballo I Will Score
KY KY KY KY KY KY KY KY KY KY KY KY KY KY MD MD MD MD MN NE NE
Stallion Shadow Hawk Sports Talk Diabolical Marking A Shin Forward Alpha Boys At Tosconova Frank Conversation Golden Ticket Honorable Dillon Majestic City Micromanage Louie Villain Twinspired Blueskiesnrainbows Caleb's Posse Chitoz Code West Da Stoops Den's Legacy Doctor Chit
Woke Up Dreamin State NE NE NM NM NY NY NY NY NY NY NY NY OH OH OK OK OK OK OK OK OK
Stallion Dramedy Excaper Foreign Policy Latent Heat Liaison Maimonides Pollard's Vision Sebastian County Special Rate The Visualiser Wilburn Smarty Jones Uptowncharlybrown Gray Meteor Bradester My Golden Song Too Much Bling Atta Boy Roy Trojan Nation
State OK OK OK OK OK OK OK OK OK OK OK PA PA SD TX TX TX WA WY
IOWA THOROUGHBRED BREEDERS AND OWNERS ASSOCIATION For More Information Contact Our ITBOA Office at 800-577-1097 or e-mail ITBOA@msn.com Iowa Stallion Pedigree Pages available at www.iowathoroughbred.com
IOWA NEW MARE BONUS For Mares that have never foaled in the State of Iowa or Maiden Mares for 2019 Foaling Season
RECEIVE UP TO $20,000 BONUS BY FOALING YOUR NEW OR MAIDEN MARE IN IOWA By nominating your mare, you are eligible for a $10,000 Bonus if that foal is the leading money earner (from mares nominated) at Prairie Meadows for any season, starting in 2022. That foal is only eligible to win the Bonus one year. • $5,000 Bonus if that foal went through the sales ring as a weanling or yearling during the ITBOA Fall Sale.
DID YOU KNOW?
that when you purchase a mare and bring her to Iowa, you can make her foal an Iowa-bred. Here’s how:
Register the mare with the Iowa Department of Agriculture. Call (515) 281-4103 The mare must be registered prior to foaling and must remain in the state until she foals. If you brought the mare to Iowa and registered her before December 31, 2018, you may breed her back to any stallion.
• $5,000 Bonus if the foal is by a stallion that sold in the Dec. 2017 ITBOA Stallion Season Auction.
If you bring the mare to Iowa after December 31, 2018, and registered her prior to foaling, you must breed her back to an Iowa-registered stallion if not in foal to an Iowa-registered stallion
NOMINATION SCHEDULE: July 1, 2019: $200.00 (ITBOA MEMBERS) $300 (NON-MEMBERS) Late entries by September 2, 2019 $500.00
The mare is required to be in the state of Iowa for a minimum of 30 days during the foaling period. After foaling, the Department of Agriculture must inspect your foal before it leaves the state.
TOTAL OF $20,000 IN BONUSES AVAILABLE This is non-transferrable. Bonus will only be paid to the Breeder of the foal, as long as it is the same entity that nominates the mare.
The foal must also be registered with the Iowa Department of Agriculture prior to racing.
IOWA THOROUGHBRED BREEDERS AND OWNERS ASSOCIATION
For More Information Contact Our ITBOA Office at 800-577-1097 or e-mail ITBOA@msn.com
the marketpl ace Cl a s sified s Dee Martinez Office Manager 956-763-7594
Henry Hadley Manager 956-763-7004
KC HORSE TRANSPORTATION Division of Asmussen Horse Center
Over 50 Years of Quality Service in The Horse Business
Keith Asmussen firstname.lastname@example.org
956-723-5436 • 956-763-8907 P.O. Box 1861 Laredo, Texas 78044
4707 E. Saunders Laredo, Texas 78045
the marketpl ace Cl assifieds PROFESSIONAL SALE FITTING •
Thoroughbred and AQHA Race Prospects TOP REFERENCES • EXPERIENCED REASONABLE RATES Fasig-Tipton, Keeneland, Heritage Place, OBS Use the Consignor of Your Choice Your horse will look its very best! Call for more information about my program Heidi Bailey • Valley View, TX • 940-372-5804
PROCELL THOROUGHBRED FARM
BREAKING & TRAINING
5 ½ FURLONG ALL-SEASON SAND TRACK BREEDING • BOARDING • FOALING SPECIALIZING IN STARTING RACE PROSPECTS
Larry and Sammie Procell Owner/Operators
ACCESS TO ALL TX, LA, AR, OK TRACKS
LAYUPS, FARRIER SERVICE, & BOARDING AVAILABLE OVER 20 YEARS EXPERIENCE 500 Joe Bill Adcock Rd. 903.477.5661 CLIFF DODSON coushAttA , lA 71019 ATHENS, TX932-3728 75752 (318) • (318) 220-6748
Stephenson Thoroughbred Farms Quality Care for Thoroughbreds • Professional Hands-On Mare Care Provided Year Round • Excellent Prospects For Sale at All Times • Horse Transportation
• Limited RV/Camper Hookups now available! • Conveniently located less than one mile from Evangeline Downs Racetrack in a private, quiet setting • Washer/Dryer-Bath available at facility Pam Stephenson Office: (337) 826-0628 • Cell: (337) 515-5555 P.O. Box 1133, Washington, LA 70589 58 AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019
CHANNON FARM LLC
• Quality Care for Thoroughbreds
the marketpl ace Cl a s sified s
American Racehorse Advertisers Index AmeriJet.....................................................................................58
The Art of Horse Racing..........................................................58
One Liner................................................................................... 15
Asmussen Horse Center.............................................................3
Brandon Jenkins Racing Stable................................................58
Carter Sales Co..................................................................... IBC
Dodson Training Stable............................................................58
San Antonio Horse Sale Company.......................................... 48
Santa Fe Horse Transport........................................................58
Equine Sales Company............................................................ 45
Southwest Shavings LLC......................................................... 33
Eureka Thoroughbred Farm............................................... 10, 11
Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma..................... 4
Indiana Thoroughbred Breed Development Program......... 1, 8
John Deere................................................................................. 31
Valor Farm.............................................................................. BC
KC Horse Transportation........................................................58
Winning Touches Equestrian Gifts.......................................... 55
Knorpp Bloodstock Insurance Agency LC...............................2
Iowa Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association.................................................. 56, 57
facebook.com/americanracehorse AMERICAN RACEHORSE â€˘ SPRING 2019 59
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Even though this is the end of the American Racehorse print publication, at least for now, the website and social media will remain active. You can visit us online at www.AmericanRacehorse.com, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/AmericanRacehorse or on Twitter at @AmerRacehorse.
American Racehorse will continue to offer marketing, advertising and design services to the industry, including ad design, social media promotion, online advertising, website design, press releases and more. Contact us at email@example.com or (512) 695-4541.
60 AMERICAN RACEHORSE • SPRING 2019
JOIN US LABOR DAY WEEKEND! OUR SALE CONSISTENTLY PRODUCES OKLAHOMA CHAMPIONS YEAR AFTER YEAR!
GRA E L I G I BD S L FOR E $25,0 B O N U0 0 S!
NOW G IN ACCEPTM ENTS N CONSIG
SALE DATE: S unday , S eptember 1 W eekend
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LOCATION: O klahoma C ity F airgrounds S ales A rena H orses can be viewed F riday and S aturday 8 a . m . – 6 p . m . A light lunch will be served and a live band will play before the sale !
CARTER SALES COMPANY
2652 Reece Lake Road, Washington, OK 73093 Tel. (405) 288-6460 • Fax (405) 288-6865 Terri Carter, sales manager (405) 640-8567 firstname.lastname@example.org • www.cartersalesco.com
OUR THANKS GO OUT TO DENIS BLAKE AND THE STAFF AT AMERICAN RACEHORSE FOR THEIR TIME AND DEVOTION IN THE PUBLISHING OF THE MAGAZINE AND ESPECIALLY FOR THEIR DEDICATION TO THE TEXAS HORSE INDUSTRY. WE APPRECIATE ALL THAT YOU’VE DONE FOR US OVER THE YEARS AND WISH YOU SOME RELAXING TIME OFF AND THE VERY BEST IN YOUR FUTURE ENDEAVORS! From all of us at Valor Farm
We recently welcomed this Texas-bred Too Much Bling filly out of Dixie Darling for owner Ruth Brightbill, and we wish everyone the best of luck this breeding and foaling season!
2019 VALOR FARM STALLION ROSTER
Offering the most dynamic stallion lineup in the region BRADESTER • CONGAREE • CROSSBOW • EAGLE EARLY FLYER • GRASSHOPPER • MY GOLDEN SONG STONESIDER • TOO MUCH BLING Douglas Scharbauer Ken Carson, General Manager Donny Denton, Farm Manager • David Unnerstall, Attending Veterinarian Post Office Box 966 • Pilot Point, Texas 76258 (940) 686-5552 • Fax (940) 686-2179 www.valorfarm.com • www.facebook.com/valor.farm
This issue of American Racehorse magazine features long-form articles about the real story of Ruffian and the ups and downs of Santa Fe Down...
Published on Apr 29, 2019
This issue of American Racehorse magazine features long-form articles about the real story of Ruffian and the ups and downs of Santa Fe Down...