Reaching for Roses: The Beginning of the Journey

September 27, 2010

“Usain Again Wins Again!”

“Usain Again wins again!” These words came from Calder’s track announcer Bobby Neuman last Friday at the conclusion of the fifth race when Charlie (now named Usain Again) crossed the wire first for the fourth time in five races. He simply loves the game and tries as hard as he can every time. He put his talents to the test outside of the claiming ranks for the first time and wasn’t given much love at the windows (going off at 8-1), but he beat the odds and recorded win #4. As he entered the winner’s circle at Calder on Friday, Neuman congratulated the connections and it was great to hear, “Usain Again was bred in Kentucky by the University of Kentucky.” I will make sure to let everyone know the next time Charlie is entered to race. Thankfully, I was able to inform the blog’s readers of Charlie’s last race several days in advance and I am hopeful that a few readers were able to cash in on his latest victory, where he paid $18.60 to win. I know one of the blog’s most faithful readers, “Observer,” put a few bucks on Charlie and I hope you did too.


September 20, 2010

Updates from the Library

Tomorrow I have a test in Plant and Animal Biology that will determine 33% of my grade in the class. I haven’t had much time to study because I’ve spent so much time at the Keeneland yearling sale, so now I’m at UK’s library and studying for the next several hours.

Right now I am taking a quick break from studying to give a couple of updates.

On September 6th I posted a story about a horse that I groomed for a class at UK when he was a yearling. “Charlie,” now named Usain Again, won his 3rd race on the 6th and improved his record to 3 wins from 3 starts. The full story can be read at ´╗┐ Well Charlie had his 4th career race on Thursday and he ran a very respectable 2nd to a horse that got loose on the lead. He is already entered in another race and will make start number five in the fifth race at Calder on Friday. This will be the first time that Charlie will test his talents outside of the claiming ranks. Good luck to Charlie and all of the connections on Friday. Go get win #4!

Also, a quick update on my time with Bluewater during the September sale. It has been an amazing experience. I have been doing a little bit of everything; including, turning in information to the repository, running cards, entering reserves, putting in updates, dealing with our clients, and working with potential buyers. Bluewater Sales has currently sold 28 yearlings for a gross of $3,245,500. The sales topper for the consignment sold on the opening night of the sale. Hip 73, a colt by Smart Strike out of Minister’s Mom, by Deputy Minister, sold to Ben Glass, agent for $475,000.

Well back to studying for me. I will post again this week with pictures from the sale. Until then, everyone have a great week!

September 15, 2010

Results for my Hips to Watch

Here are the results for the Reaching for Roses’ Hips to Watch. The list includes lots of big numbers, a few fireworks, and a couple of disappointments. Let’s take a look.

#3: $340,000 RNA

#8: $525,000 to Chiefswood Stable

#9: $350,000 to C. Gordon-Watson

#13: $475,000 to Jimmy & Becky Winemiller

#14: $4,200,000 to Besilu Stables

#19: $190,000 RNA

#53: $190,000 RNA

#62: $325,000 to Shadwell

#81: $250,000 to David Redvers Bloodstock

#86: $800,000 to Shadwell

#98: $150,000 to Starlight Partners

#114: $70,000 RNA

#116: $2,050,000 to Flag Lake #2

#130: $90,000 to Jerry Hollendorfer

#131: $300,000 to Katsumi Yoshizawa

#134: $300,000 to W.S. Farish

#140: $135,000 RNA

#155: $30,000 to J.M. Greathouse

#161: $475,000 RNA

#169: $900,000 to Bruce Lunsford

#198: $120,000 RNA

#205: $140,000 RNA

#210: $90,000 RNA

September 11, 2010

Taking a Look at the 2010 Keeneland September Yearling Sale

Tomorrow night will mark the beginning of the 2010 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Although the auction does not begin until tomorrow night, Keeneland was booming today; packed full of owners, breeders, consignors, potential buyers, and, of course, gorgeous Thoroughbred yearlings. During the September sale I will be employed by Bluewater Sales. Over the next couple of weeks I will be assisting Bluewater in their sales office with paperwork, research, and client relations. It is a great opportunity for me to make more connections in the industry and also get more sales experience. It will be an exciting and challenging few weeks and I am very much looking forward to it.

Now for the preview of Book 1. Here are my hips to watch for Book 1 of the sale. These horses will be selling at Keeneland on Sunday and Monday night.

Sunday Night, Session 1:

3: Tiznow – Well Dressed, by Notebook
8: First Samurai – Aldebaran Light, by Seattle Slew
9: Giant’s Causeway – Alidiva (IRE), by Chief Singer
13: Ghostzapper – Azeri, by Jade Hunter
14: A.P. Indy – Balance, by Thunder Gulch
19: A.P. Indy – Bless, by Mr. Prospector
53: Bernardini – Kapsiki, by Danzig
62: Distorted Humor – Last Song, by Unbridled’s Song
81: Proud Citizen – Pacific Spell, by Langfuhr
86: Bernardini – Private Status, by Alydar
98: Giant’s Causeway – Takesmybreathaway, by Gone West

Monday Night, Session 2:

114: Rock Hard Ten – Abundance, by Anabaa
116: Distorted Humor – Angel’s Nest, by Storm Cat
130: Street Sense – Cat Fair, by Sir Cat
131: Distorted Humor – Checkered Flag, by A.P. Indy
134: A.P. Indy – Class on Class, by Jolie’s Halo
140: Giant’s Causeway – Diamond Necklace, by Unbridled’s Song
155: Giant’s Causeway – Honey Ryder, by Lasting Approval
161: Unbridled’s Song – Kamarinskaya, by Storm Cat
169: A.P. Indy – Madcap Escapade, by Hennessy
198: Arch – Spice Island, by Tabasco Cat
205: Pulpit – Summer Raven, by Summer Squall
210: Lemon Drop Kid – Tinaca, by Manila

I’ll post again in a few days with results for these hips. Until then, let’s all keep our fingers crossed for a great beginning to the sale.

September 6, 2010

My Boy Charlie

When I came to the University of Kentucky in the fall of 2007 as an Equine Management major, I loved horse racing, was a decent handicapper, and had read many books about Thoroughbred breeding and training theories; however, my hands-on horse handling experience was almost non-existent. I did not get a chance to work with the horses my first semester, but finally got my chance in the spring when I enrolled in “Horse Handling 101.”

The class took place at UK’s Maine Chance Farm and it’s purpose was to take someone with little or no horse handling experience (like myself) and make them comfortable working with horses. The class was required to be taken by all Equine Management majors and I remember hearing the moans and groans from several students in the class as our instructor gave a lecture on the proper way to groom a horse. “Why am I taking this class? I’ve been grooming horses since I was eight,” they would say. In fact, just to fit in, I recall myself throwing out a quiet, “This is so stupid,” to a few classmates. I tried to act like I already knew how to properly groom a horse, bathe a horse, and walk a horse, but in reality, I knew none of it.

It was during the third week of class that our instructor gave us our semester-long assignment. Each student would be assigned one horse for the semester. The student would be responsible for grooming the horse regularly and training the horse to perform specific tasks. The horses being used for the class were a variety of ages and sexes, but I happened to get assigned a yearling colt. “A yearling colt?!?!?” I remember thinking. I even went to my instructor and asked if she made a mistake, reminding her that I had no horse handling experience. She smiled and said, “You’ll be fine, Travers. He’s a sweetheart.”

I was skeptical, but the instructor was not joking. He was a sweetheart. A yearling colt by Seattle Fitz (ARG), he was out of an Assault Landing mare named Charlmar, and so we nicknamed him “Charlie.” Over the next few months, I spent a lot of time with Charlie. We bonded because we were both new to everything. I was training him, but he was also training me. The relationship continued to grow throughout the semester and, in my mind, he became my horse. On the final class of the semester we had a final exam to evaluate the progress of our horses. Charlie performed beautifully and together we got an A in the class.

The day of our final exam would be the last time I would see Charlie for a few months. The school year was over and I went home to Louisville for the summer. Upon returning to Lexington the following August, one of the first things I did was go see my boy. It was like we’d never left each other and I remember talking to him in his stall for close to an hour that day. Also on that day I found out that the plans for Charlie were finalized. He would be sold in the Fasig-Tipton October Yearling Sale in a couple of months.

I visited Charlie at the farm frequently over the next couple of months and then October came and it was time for the sale. I went to Fasig-Tipton on the day Charlie was to be sold and, upon walking up to the Maine Chance consignment barn, the farm manager smiled and said, “He’s in the third stall on the right.” He knew why I was there. I quickly walked over to his stall and went inside to see him. He was really shined up and it was amazing that he was the same horse that I started with in the previous January. We were in the back of his stall together for a half-hour or so, and then I kissed him on the nose good-bye and headed to the stall door. I reached for the door and then felt a strong push on my back. He was pushing his nose up against my back, just like he would do everyday when I left his stall at the farm. Well at that point, the tears started to fall. Charlie was my horse, he was my first horse, and I was surprised at how difficult it was to let him go. I talked to him for a few more minutes and then finally had to leave his stall.

Charlie would sell a few hours later for $5,200 to Jose Pinchin, making him the highest priced yearling offered by Maine Chance for the sale. It was just under one year later that Charlie (now named Usain Again) would make his debut at Calder in a one-mile $16,000 maiden claimer on the dirt. He was in seventh place at the eighth-pole, but flew home late to get up and win by a half-length. I watched the race with my family at home and we were all screaming for Charlie as he crossed the wire first. The race can be viewed on YouTube by clicking here.

Charlie would make his second start on November 7th and would improve his record to two-for-two! His second race can also be viewed on YouTube here.

Charlie would then be put on the shelf for a while. After his second win, I did not see a published workout for him in several months. I was very concerned that something had happened to him, but thankfully a few months ago I received a DRF Watch alert that Charlie had put in a three furlong workout. He had been working once every few weeks for the last couple of months and today Charlie made his third lifetime start.

He raced in the second race at Calder today and would go off the $1.80 to 1 favorite in a $6,250 claimer over a mile and a sixteenth. He took them gate to wire and now has a lifetime record of 3 wins from 3 starts! He also got claimed today by Fred G. Warren for Breakin Wind Farm. I’m sure that he will return in another claiming race and that this will not be the last time he is claimed. I do know that he may have many more owners over his lifetime and right now he is the property of Breakin Wind Farm, but in my mind, he will always be mine. He will always be my boy, Charlie.

September 1, 2010

Update Time!

Happy September, everyone! I am up a little bit early today and so I’m getting a post in before I head off to my 8 AM class. I’ve had 8 AM classes every semester since I’ve been in college and sometimes I’ve had trouble making it to class; however, this summer changed all that. During the summer I was waking up at 5:30 AM, six days a week. Now that I am back in school, I get to sleep in till 7 AM and get a weekend! I no longer have a problem getting up early. I definitely learned to be an early riser this summer.

Also, thank you to everyone that congratulated me on correctly selecting the exacta for the Travers Stakes. What an amazing race it was and congratulations to all of the connections of Afleet Express. To quote Allen Jerkens, “The epitome. A Travers. There’s nothing better than a Travers.”

A few quick updates.

  • I may have another part-time job for the month of October! I did some volunteer landscaping with a few fraternity brothers at the UK Senior Center last Monday and apparently poison ivy was all over the place (six out of the eight people in my group have been affected). So, yesterday I went to the UK Clinic to be treated. I waited in the patient room for a few minutes and then the doctor came in and the first thing she said was, “I like your shirt!” I was wearing a Travers Stakes shirt and was slightly surprised that she commented on it. Unfortunately, unless a person is involved in the Thoroughbred breeding and racing industry, very few people in Kentucky have ever heard of the Travers Stakes. We then started talking about horses and she told me that she knows the woman who owns and operates a horse farm tour company and they are looking for help. They are booked solid in the month of October due to the World Equestrian Games being in town and need people to assist in giving tours of Lexington horse farms and Keeneland. I got the woman’s contact information from the doctor (as well as some medicine) and called her later that day. I have an interview with the owner of the company on Thursday and I’m looking forward to it. I think it would be a lot of fun to be a tour guide of Keeneland and major Lexington horse farms. I love to talk and I love horses. What could be better than a job where I talk about horses?
  • Sky is doing very well and beginning to show her pregnancy. She has definitely put on some weight in the last few weeks. She also is taking extremely well to the weaning of Skype and is happy in her new paddock.
  • As some of you may know, I am assisting in the writing of the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Bio Book. The book consists of trainers, jockeys, owners, and breeders with horses pointing towards the 2010 Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Recently I spoke to a few of the trainers on my list and I am now working on putting together their biographies. The BC Bio book is due to release at the end of October, so make sure to keep a look out for that.
  • I met with my adviser on Monday and everything is in order for me to graduate in May. After this semester, only 15 hours of credit will separate me from my B.S. degree in Equine Management with a minor in Agricultural Economics.

Well, I need to start getting ready for class so I will leave everyone with that. Quick note; however, now that school is back in session I will be unable to post as often as I did over the summer. My goal is to post at least twice a week and maybe even get a third post in at the end of the week. We’ll see how it goes.

Take care!

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