Reaching for Roses: The Beginning of the Journey

July 15, 2012

Skype Wins Her First Stakes Race

Video Courtesy of Hipodromo Camarero

Skype (aka Score Classy) improved her record to a perfect 3 for 3 with a win in the Grade III Clasico Eduardo Cautino Insua at Hipodromo Camarero on Sunday. Watching her cross the finish line first in a stakes race in a final time of 1:11.85 for six furlongs was one of the happiest moments of my life. I am so proud of her and so happy for everyone that played a part in her making it to this point: Sam Penn, Frank Mitchell, Tom Evans and the Trackside Farm team my parents and countless other friends.

Hopefully this is just the first stakes win for Skype and she is just the first of many stakes winners out of Sky. Remember, Sky has a yearling by Parading (named Faith) at Frank Mitchell’s farm outside of Lexington and a 3-year-old gelding by Artie Schiller named Sky Above, who has been working consistently at Woodbine and could be nearing a start.

Go Skype! Go Sky Above! Go Faith! And Go Sky!

June 20, 2012

Update: Twitter Style

All right, everyone. It’s been two months since my last update…which wasn’t a happy one. Unfortunately, the last post informed everyone that the Stevie Wonderboy – Sky foal died just hours after being born. It was a difficult birth and he just didn’t make it. It’s very sad, but it happens. Life goes on. Thank you to the countless number of people that either called or wrote me to apologize for my loss. It meant a whole lot.

Since then, A LOT has happened. Rather than write pages and pages on what has been going on in my life in the last couple of months, I’m going to give lots of updates in Twitter fashion, 140 characters or less.

Derby week: incredible and rewarding experience. So proud to be a part of the CD team. Great win by I’ll Have Another. I picked Gemologist

I was very disappointed IHA didn’t have a chance to go for the TC. But congrats to the connections on their Derby and Preakness wins.

Triple Crown Fantasy: Bodemeister helped Team Manley tie for 1st in the annual TC Fantasy League. Great pick by my dad. Ready for next year

Skype had her first race: She won a MdSpWt in Puerto Rico in her first career start on May 26. Couldn’t be more proud of her.

Sky Above, Skype’s older brother, is back on the worktab after recovering from minor injury. Worked 1/2 mile in :49 at Delaware on Monday.

Skype (Score Classy) will try to improve her record to 2-for-2 in Sat.’s 1st race @ Camarero. She is the 8/5 ML favorite in the field of 5.

Faith is doing really well and is growing like a weed. Looks great! Might try to keep her and race her. Prob. will enter FT Oct. as well.

Sky recovered from her tough delivery and is fine. She was leased out for the season and was bred to Nobiz Like Shobiz. In foal!

It’s been a great Spring Meet at CD. Hopefully some have of you have read the barn notes I write daily. You can read at ChurchillDowns.com

I’ll do some meet highlights later, but top horse performances so far are IHA, Groupie Doll, Successful Dan, Rothko and Royal Delta.

Only two weeks left in the Spring Meet. Don’t miss the Debutante (GIII) this weekend and Downs After Dark and Bashford Manor (GIII) June 30

Summer plans: Looking forward to weddings, my 1st visit to AP for Arlington Million, and a vacation to Saratoga for Travers weekend.

That’s all the updates for now. Check back after the Meet for more. Thanks for the continued support! I’ll end with some pictures.

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Kentucky Derby Day with my fraternity brother, James, and his girlfriend, Melanie. Glad they were able to make it.

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Derby Day with my fraternity brothers, James and Matt.

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Ran into NCAA champ, player of the year, and future #1 pick, Anthony Davis. I’m clearly more excited. GO CATS!

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Post-Derby picture with Gary Yunt (left, who has been on the Derby notes team since the 1970s and is a great friend and mentor) and Darren Rogers (senior director of communications and media services at CD, also known as my boss)

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With the Kentucky Derby trophy the day it arrived at Churchill Downs.

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Doug O’Neill with I’ll Have Another the morning after he won Kentucky Derby 138

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Calvin Borel’s agent Jerry Hissam let me try on a couple of his Kentucky Derby rings. Maybe I’ll get one of my own someday.

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A beautiful picture of Skype (Score Classy) winning her career debut. Thanks to Joe Bruno for the picture. Hope to have another winning picture of her this weekend.

December 28, 2011

Back Again

Well to say that it’s been awhile since my last post would be an understatement. After posting consistently for the past year and a half, I haven’t posted in more than three months. So before we start 2012, I wanted to update everyone on what’s been going on in my life.

Let’s start with Skype. Most of you know that Skype was purchased at the 2011 Keeneland September Yearling Sale for $7,000. You might not know that she was purchased by connections from Puerto Rico and has been sent there to begin training. It’s not the best thing in the world and I would have much rather her gone to anAmerican outfit, but that’s the way it goes in a public auction. I can only control her reserve, but not who purchases her once the price goes beyond it. It took awhile for me to “make peace” with the situation, but I’m fine with it now. Hopefully she’ll be a big fish in a fairly small pond and can get herself some black type.

Puerto Rico’s racing falls under the jurisdiction of the Jockey Club so I’ll be able to follow her races. She has been named Score Classy by her new owners and has begun some light training. I found a man on Facebook who works with her in Puerto Rico and he sent me this picture of her. Technology is pretty cool, huh?

Now moving on to Faith…

I went to see Faith last week and she’s doing really well. She’s gotten big since I saw her last and has a striking resemblance to her older sister. I guess Sky really “stamps her foals.”

After taking a look at Faith, I went to the other side of the farm to see her mom, Sky. Sky is currently in foal to Stevie Wonderboy and is due to drop around the beginning of April. Stevie Wonderboy has had a pretty decent year as a freshman sire. He’s had a handful of winners and a couple of stakes winners with a crop smaller than many of the other sires at the top of the freshman list. Hopefully he will have continued success as his first crop of 2-year-olds turn three and begin running longer distances.

One more update on my animals…I added another chestnut filly to my life a couple of weeks ago. She’s just a tad smaller than the first two (and previously three) that I have in my life.

Her name is Lilly and she is a six-month-old dachshund. My girlfriend Amanda and I rescued her from an animal shelter in Louisville. She loves dogs and finally convinced me to get a pet that I wouldn’t ever have to sell haha. If you ask me why she is named Lilly, I would tell you that she is named after the flowers given to the winner of the Kentucky Oaks (yes, I know the flower is spelled lily). My girlfriend would tell you that she is named after Lilly Pulitzer, the designer. Oh well…it was a name we could both agree upon. She turned down Sara (for Saratoga), which I didn’t think was too bad. I didn’t even suggest Personal Ensign…didn’t think that would go over too well.

Moving on to my work at Churchill Downs…

I made it through the Fall Meet and it was a ton of fun. It really flew by, though, because it was non-stop action from start to finish. We began the meet with Stars of Tomorrow I and the Breeders’ Cup and ended things with a Thanksgiving weekend packed with stakes action. Hopefully some of you were able to read the Barn Notes I wrote at ChurchillDowns.com. If not, look for them in the Spring. My meet highlights included Royal Delta’s win in the Ladies’ Classic, St Nicholas Abbey’s dominating performance in the Turf and Gemologist’s win in the Kentucky Jockey Club.

I took last week and this week off for the holidays and start back after the New Year. I’m told that the craziness preparing for the Derby will begin as soon as I step in the office. I probably don’t have any idea what’s in store for me and maybe that’s a good thing. It’ll be a lot of early mornings and late nights, but it’ll be all worth it on May 5.

I apologize for not posting in a while and I promise to keep this blog more updated throughout 2012. Thanks for reading and have a fantastic New Year.

September 22, 2011

Having Dreams is What Makes Life Tolerable

Well the day is almost here. Skype arrived at Barn 40 at Keeneland on Wednesday afternoon, she will be shown to prospective buyers today (Thursday) and will sell on Friday morning as Hip 3694. Jennie Rees, the turf writer for the Courier-Journal in Louisville, wrote a lovely piece on Skype today. You can read it by clicking on the following link – http://blogs.courier-journal.com/racing/2011/09/21/college-kid-needs-money-buy-his-filly/. To clarify…the words “college kid” should probably be replaced with “recent college grad.” But oh well…I could still pass for a freshman and I guess I could still be considered a college kid considering I’ve only been out in the real world for four months.

Anyway you can find a lot of good information at the link and read a few of my thoughts on the sale. You can even see the advertisement I made for Skype and have been distributing to prospective buyers.

Now…I will get a little more personal and try to tell you about my feelings going into the sale that you won’t find in Jennie’s article.

The purpose of this blog was to give readers a look into my life in the horse industry and my experiences as a first time owner/breeder. I have done my best to get as personal as possible and my hope was that readers could enjoy this fabulous ride with me. A lot of times I have a pretty good idea about what I’m going to see when I click the “New Post” button on my blog; however, today the words just won’t come to me.

Why?

Because I couldn’t describe to someone how I am feeling right now if I tried. I’ve never felt so many emotions at one time. I’m nervous, excited, anxious, proud, happy and sad all at once. Since February of 2010, all I’ve talked about has been Sky and Skype and then the next February it became Sky, Skype and Faith. On Friday afternoon, I won’t be Skype’s owner anymore and when people ask me the names of my horses, I’m going to reply with “Sky and Faith.” No more Skype. It’s just a weird thing to think about.

Now some of you might be thinking, “Come on, kid. She’s a sales horse and you knew you were going to sell her at some point from the day you bought her.” Well, that’s true. I knew this day would come eventually. But parents also know they’re kids will someday leave home, but that day still comes with a whirlwind of emotions. Because things simply aren’t going to be the same.

Speaking of kids…I think I now know how my mom and dad felt about me when I would compete in sports. Sometimes I would think, “My parents probably wish I was bigger, stronger and faster. They would probably rather have that kid or that kid. I’m not as good as those other players.” Now I realize that none of that mattered. They were proud of me because I was their kid. They didn’t want anyone else. And whether I went 5-5 or 0-5, they were still going to love me. That’s how I feel going into this sale with Skype. I don’t have 500 horses like some people…I don’t have 50 horses…I have three and because of that I have grown extra attached to each of them. Sure it would be nice if Skype was by Bernardini instead of Even the Score or if Sky had won a Grade I race. But that’s not how things are and I’m fine with that. I love Skype and I couldn’t be more proud of her or more happy that I had the privilege of being her owner these last couple years.

People who consistently read this blog are not reading anything new. But maybe this is your first time to my blog and you’re just now understanding how much these horses mean to me. Maybe some of you are thinking…”Wow, he sure cares a lot about a horse in Book 6.”

Damn right I do.

And I hope people realize that every horse in the Keeneland sale means a lot to someone somewhere. Sure the amount of press that horses get decreases as the sale continues and some people don’t even pay attention to the Keeneland sale after the first few books. But the horses in Book 6 matter just as much as those in Book 1. While they do not carry equal monetary values, horses in Book 6 are cared for just as much and have affected just as many lives. For example, in less than two years, Skype has impacted the lives of Sam Penn (breeder), Frank Mitchell and his family who boarded her at their farm in Salvisa, Ky, Tom Evans and his team at Trackside Farm, my entire family and numerous friends that have come to see her throughout her life. And things have only just begun. Imagine how many people will be affected by Skype in her lifetime.

Skype has touched a lot of hearts and will continue to do so; however, I would be surprised if she will ever steal anyone’s heart like she has stolen mine. Skype will get a new owner on Friday, but she’ll always be my girl and will always have a place in my heart. I am excited to see where her life takes her and I can’t wait to update the blog on her first published workout and her first career win (and hopefully many wins).

So go get ’em, Skype! You’ll do great at the sale. Strut your stuff and if a few people likes you 1/100th as much as I do then you could be the session topper. And finally, I hope you know that “Whatever road you may be on, know you’re never too far gone; my love is there wherever you may be; Just remember, that you’ll always be my baby.”

July 6, 2011

My First Meet at Churchill Downs is in the Books

The Spring Meet at Churchill Downs came to a close on July 4 and it was a meet I will never forget. I accepted a job at Churchill in April, began work on May 12 and now my first meet is officially in the books.

Here are my top ten highlights from the meet (in no particular order).

1. “Shadowing” the communications and media services team during Kentucky Derby weekend and having the best seat in the house for the big race

2. Trainer Garry Simms, who has become a good friend of mine this meet, winning the Debutante with Flashy Lassie. The Debutante was also my first recap of a graded stakes race.

3. Trainer Ken McPeek winning five graded stakes races in a row (the Dogwood, the Aristides, the Mint Julep, the Matt Winn and the Regret)

4. My first story in the barn notes: exercise rider Tara Murty and her horse Cherry Included

5. The tornado that tore through the backstretch at Churchill Downs. It’s not exactly a “happy” highlight, but thankfully no people or horses were hurt and obviously it will be something that I’ll always associate with my first meet.

6. My daily conversations with trainer Tom Proctor at the clocker’s stand

7. Getting my picture taken with Brass Hat on his final day at Churchill Downs

8. My first breakfast at Wagner’s

9. The race of the meet: Keertana winning the Louisville Handicap in a three-horse photo over Bearpath and Guys Reward

10. Speaking to the connections of Wise Dan after his win in the Firecracker Handicap on closing day. Trainer Charlie Lopresti was so excited he couldn’t stand still during the interview and owner Mort Fink told me, “This is one of the greatest things to happen to me.” It was great to see that kind of pure joy following such a big win.

The team took a couple of days off to take a breath after the meet, but it’s back to work tomorrow. I’m sure before I know it my first off-season at Churchill will be in the books as well and I’ll begin my first fall meet. Time flies when you’re having fun and I’m having an amazing time.

June 8, 2011

One Month After Graduation

One month ago today, I graduated from the University of Kentucky. It really seems as though it was just yesterday. The older I get, the faster time seems to fly. It’s been a really exciting month and hopefully things continue to go well.

Working at Churchill Downs has been great. I’ve really enjoyed meeting lots of interesting people and working at one of the most historic racetracks in the world. Things have been more challenging the last couple of weeks because I am sort of out on my own now. Prior to Preakness weekend, I was accompanied by Gary Yunt while working in the press box and on the backside. Gary was loaded with information and had been writing about news on the Churchill Downs backside since before I was born. He decided to move home to Denver and “watch the deer and the antelope play” after the Preakness and since then I have had a lot more responsibility. It’s been a great experience and I’m learning more than I ever thought was possible. If you are interested in reading the Churchill Downs Barn Notes that I have been working on with John Asher and Darren Rogers, then you can click on the following link: http://www.churchilldowns.com/news/archive/barn-notes.

One of the best parts of my job is being around the stars of our sport on a daily basis. I stood just a few feet away from Animal Kingdom the day before he won the Kentucky Derby, I watched Shackleford get a bath shortly after returning to Churchill Downs following his Preakness victory, and last week I got my picture taken with the recently retired Brass Hat, a Grade I winner of more than $2 million. The picture I took with Brass Hat is below. Trainer Buff Bradley took the picture for me after handing me the shank. It was so cool!

The goal from the age of 15 was to be employed in the Thoroughbred industry because I wanted to have a job I would enjoy. I can honestly say that I love waking up for work in the morning.

Thank you to all the readers of this blog for the continued support. I apologize for the blog not being updated as often as usual. I’m sure I will have more time to update the blog at the end of the Churchill Downs Spring Meet, which is July 4. But if you’re interested in what I’ve been writing about at work then you can read the Barn Notes on the Churchill Downs website.

One last thing…

In tomorrow’s fifth race at Churchill Downs, Dullahan will make his career debut for trainer Dale Romans and owner Donegal Racing. Dullahan is a 2-year-old half-brother to Mine That Bird by Skype’s sire, Even The Score. Jerry Crawford of Donegal Racing bought the colt at last year’s Keeneland September Sale for $250,000 and Romans told me he is “definitely one to watch.” I’d love for Dullahan to do really well and get some good press for Even The Score before Skype enters the Keeneland sale this September.

May 16, 2011

Update Time – Twitter Edition

Well it’s been almost two weeks since my last post and so it’s time for lots of updates. There is a lot to tell, so I’ve decided to put a sort of Twitter spin on this post. For those of you that are unfamiliar, the website Twitter allows users to post messages; however, the messages are limited to 140 characters. This ensures the messages are short and sweet. I won’t limit myself to 140 characters, but I’ll be keeping things brief.

Sky

Sky was bred to Stevie Wonderboy on April 7 and was pronounced to be in-foal on April 25. Unfortunately, Sky pulled a Zenyatta and it was discovered the she had lost the pregnancy when she was rechecked at the beginning of May. Sky is completely healthy, but these things sometimes happen. She was sent back to Stevie Wonderboy on May 6, Kentucky Oaks Day. I was working at Churchill Downs at the time and was unable to accompany Sky to the breeding shed, but I’m told everything went smoothly. She will be checked for pregnancy at the beginning of next week.

Skype

Back in January, I listed several reasons as to why Skype would not be sold at a public auction. I also wrote that plans could always change and one can never say never in this business. Well, plans did change and Skype is entered in the 2011 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. She has matured nicely over the past several months and I believe she could do well at the sale. This is a new development and I will give more details as I know them.

Faith  

I went out to see the horses on May 10 and Faith looked great. She was quite the shy filly at the beginning, but has definitely gained her independence and has no problem wandering off from her mom. Faith is happy, healthy, and growing like a weed.

Sky Above

Sky Above is the registered name of Sky’s first foal, a colt by Artie Schiller. I was able to contact the owner of Sky Above last week and found out that he is training at the Webb Carroll Training Center in South Carolina and is progressing nicely. He will want to go two-turns and could make his debut this fall.

137th Kentucky Derby

I was asked to help out in the press box during the Kentucky Derby and it was a great day. I had to run a few errands, but for the most part I just enjoyed the races. Unfortunately, I did not pick the winner of the Derby for the fourth consecutive year (Street Sense was my last winner), but my view of the race from the press box made everything okay. Even though I did not play Animal Kingdom, I was still screaming and cheering as the horses crossed the wire. Also, I was able to catch some footage of one of my favorite parts of the Derby: the singing of my “Old Kentucky Home.” Watch the video below, and please excuse my terrible singing.

First Day of Work

I started my job at Churchill Downs last Wednesday and it has been nothing short of awesome. I have already had the opportunity to meet several stars of horse racing and have also enjoyed getting to know all the people on the backside that are so important to this game. If you would like to read Churchill Downs’ barn notes that I have been co-writing then you can follow this link: http://www.churchilldowns.com/category/news-category/barn-notes. The notes titled, “Routine Day for Preakness Hopefuls,” gave me my first ever “by line.” It was pretty cool to see “By Gary Yunt and Travers Manley” on Churchill Downs’ website.

Life

My grandpa always used to tell me, “Travers, life is good.” Well, life is better than ever. I told my dad the other night about how much fun I’m having at work and he said, “That was the plan all along. To get a job that you love.”

I am so blessed to have the love and support of God and my family because without them I would not be where I am today. My mom and dad always tell me that I am responsible for my achievements and they didn’t have anything to do with it. “You went out and accomplished all this on your own,” they say. Well the truth is, I would not have achieved anything without them. I am the young man I am today because of their love and support. They will say they had nothing to do with it, but they had everything to do with it. I appreciate all of the compliments that I get on this blog, but the people you really need to congratulate are my parents. They’re the impressive ones, not me.

Well…that’s all for now. Have a great week!

May 1, 2011

Looking Forward to Firsts

Last Friday was an absolutely gorgeous day in Lexington and I was fortunate enough to spend the day at Keeneland. It was so nice to finally have good weather for a weekend day of racing. There was a wonderful crowd on hand to celebrate the closing day of the 2011 Keeneland Spring Meet. I was happy to see that there were thousands of 20-somethings in the crowd and several of my close friends were also able to make it out to the races.

The highlight of the day came when I got to speak to Mr. Ted Bassett. He was sitting outside of the Keeneland gift shop doing a book signing with Nick Nicholson and Bill Greely. I waited until the end of the signing and then walked over to the table he was at and approached him. When he saw me walking his way, he got a big smile on his face, jumped up from his chair, and greeted me. For those that do not know, I met with Mr. Bassett back in March to seek his advice about what I should do with my life when I graduate. I had not seen Mr. Bassett since then and so I went up to tell him about my new job at Churchill Downs. He was so excited for me and thought it was wonderful. He even introduced me to Mr. Greely and I spoke with him for a few minutes. Before saying goodbye, Mr. Bassett said, “Travers, I’m very proud of you.” I will remember that moment forever.

On a quick side note…On March 31, Mr. Bassett came to speak at the University of Kentucky as part of the Equine Initiative’s Distinguished Lecture Series. He spoke for over an hour about his early days in Kentucky, college life at Yale, time in the Marine Corps, and experiences in the Thoroughbred industry. If you have some extra time, I strongly encourage you watch the video of Mr. Bassett’s speech. You can watch it at http://video.ca.uky.edu/videos/video/136/.

Moving on…

After speaking with Mr. Bassett, I had to get a few notes for Keeneland. I spoke with Ken Ramsey about winning the owner’s title, Ken McPeek about winning the trainer’s title, and Rosie Napravnik after the G2 Elkhorn. Getting quotes from these people was my final task as a Keeneland employee. I began working for Keeneland in August of 2009 and have steadily worked as a member of the Keeneland team since then. It has been an amazing experience working for such a wonderful company. My experiences were so great that Keeneland was recently awarded the “Most Influential Internship Site” by the University of Kentucky’s Equine Initiative Program. The award is well deserved and I will forever be grateful to Keeneland and, more specifically, Julie Balog (Director of Communications) for teaching me so much.

As I just stated, Friday was my last day as a Keeneland employee. Friday was also my last day of classes in college. On Wednesday, I will take my last final exam and Saturday will be my last day as an undergrad. Senior year has been an amazing year and by far the best year that I have had in college. Unfortunately, senior year is full of “lasts.”

I am now ready for some “firsts.” I am ready for my first (and only) college graduation. I am ready for my first Kentucky Derby as a Churchill Downs’ employee. I am ready for my first “real” day of work at Churchill Downs on May 12th. I am looking forward to seeing Skype and Faith run in a race for the first time. I am looking forward to Skype and Faith’s first wins. There are countless other things I am looking forward to in the next few years, so that is only a few.

The point is that I have had a good share of lasts this year and, rather than being sad about these “lasts,” I will choose to look forward to the firsts.

April 21, 2011

The Job Search is Over

At the end of January, I received a Facebook message from a friend that heard there may be a potential job opening at Churchill Downs in the Media/Communications Department. She told me that I should contact Darren Rogers, who is the Senior Director of Communications & Media Services at Churchill Downs. I immediately sent Mr. Rogers an e-mail with some information about myself and to inform him that I would be very interested in any job openings in his department. He informed me that there may be a job opening soon, but that currently there were no available positions. I assumed that I had struck out.

Over the next several months, I spent a large majority of my time trying to find a job. I e-mailed a dozen Thoroughbred farms in Lexington, applied for positions at various racetracks around the country, and searched daily for “horse jobs” on websites like Monster.com. I didn’t have any luck.

My job search continued into the month of March and frustration was beginning to set in. I can recall lying in my bed on the night of March 8th and thinking, “I graduate in two months and have no idea what I’m going to do.” Needless to say, I didn’t get very much sleep that night. In fact, I wasn’t sleeping very much on any night.

A few days later it was suggested to me that I should try to meet with Mr. Ted Bassett to get some guidance. Julie Balog, the Keeneland Director of Communications, my former boss, and dear friend, was able to set up a meeting with me and Mr. Bassett. I met him at the cottage on Keeneland’s property and I can remember trying to steady my hand enough to turn the handle and open the door. If I knew how the conversation was going to go then I never would have been so nervous. Mr. Bassett is a wonderful person; a true gentleman. We talked for hours, but the one thing that I took away from our meeting was that I needed to market myself better. I needed to begin telling possible employers what I would bring to their company that they don’t already have and also what sets me apart from other people applying for the job. Before leaving his office, he gave me a short “pep talk” of sorts. The last thing he said to me was, “Travers, you have found something that you are passionate about. If you want to be in this business, then nothing is going to hold you back as long as you don’t give up. Promise me you won’t quit.” I promised him, we shook hands, and I was out the door.

The next day I had a meeting with Keith Kleine of the American Association of Equine Practitioners. The graduate advisor of my fraternity works for the AAEP and recommended that I speak with Mr. Kleine for some additional guidance. I had a great talk with Mr. Kleine and found out that he knew Darren Rogers from Churchill Downs. I told Mr. Kleine that there were no openings at Churchill Downs, but he encouraged me to contact Mr. Rogers again to see if the situation had changed and if there were any positions available.

After meeting with Mr. Kleine, I got really busy with school and it seemed like I had a test or paper due every day. Eventually, things calmed down and I had the time to send Mr. Rogers an e-mail to check in on the situation at Churchill Downs. He responded to my e-mail rather quickly and asked if I could meet with him. We worked out a date and time and I went to meet with him on April 3rd.

We talked for a couple of hours about all sorts of things. I talked a lot about myself, obviously, but we also talked a lot about horse racing in general. It was a good discussion and, before I left his office, Mr. Rogers informed me that a position in the Media/Communications Department was available. He told me that he would speak with John Asher, Vice President of Racing Communications, and then contact me in a few days about whether or not I would be invited back for a second interview.

About a week and a half later, I received an e-mail from Mr. Rogers asking if I could come meet with him and Mr. Asher on April 17th. Of course, I said that I could meet with them. I traveled back to Churchill Downs and my meeting with Mr. Asher and Mr. Rogers was very similar to my meeting with Mr. Rogers a couple of weeks earlier. Basically, I talked a lot about myself: how I got interested in horse racing, my educational background, work history, etc. We also talked about some Kentucky Derby history and the Triple Crown trail.

During the meeting last Sunday, Mr. Rogers casually mentioned that he would like to hire me. Unfortunately, before any specifics could be discussed, he had a personal matter to attend to and our meeting was cut short. I had a dentist appointment scheduled in Louisville on Tuesday and so we arranged for our meeting to be continued on Tuesday afternoon after my appointment. When I arrived at Mr. Rogers’ office, he was on his way out to the backstretch to watch the arrival of a couple of horses pointing towards the Kentucky Derby. He invited me to join him and said we could discuss the job specifics along the way.

On our journey to the Churchill Downs’ backstretch, Mr. Rogers offered me a job as a Media Coordinator and Staff Writer. I would be working closely with him on Media and Communications’ matters, as well as doing a lot of writing of feature stories, stakes wrap-ups, and barn notes.

And…

I accepted the position! I graduate on May 8th and I am scheduled to work my first day on May 12th. I am so excited to have a job when I graduate and relieved that the job search is over. I am thrilled to begin this next chapter of my life and look forward to being a member of the Churchill Downs team.

A very special thank you to all that helped me during my job search; especially, my family, Julie Balog and the rest of the Keeneland team, Dr. Bob Coleman, Dr. Mary Rossano, Meg Levy, Keith Kleine, Ted Bassett, and Alicia Wincze Hughes. I also want to thank God for continuing to bless me so much. He has blessed me with a great opportunity and I am so thankful. I wouldn’t be where I am today without His love and guidance.

Moving on…

To conclude today’s post, I have included a few pictures that I took on Tuesday. I hope you enjoy them and that everyone has a fantastic Easter weekend!

Multiple Graded Stakes winner, The Factor, arriving at Churchill Downs

Nehro on his way to his stall upon arrival at Churchill Downs

The view from my future office in the Joe Hirsch Media Center

April 12, 2011

Sky, Keeneland, and the 2YO Sale

Sky Bred Last Thursday

Sky was scheduled to be bred last Monday on April 4th; however, I was informed by my veterinarian the night before that she would not be ready. So I woke up extra early the next day and called Airdrie to cancel Sky’s appointment. I rescheduled for Thursday afternoon and was told on Wednesday that she would be ready to go.

After my morning classes on Thursday, I headed out to Airdrie to be there for the 2 o’clock breeding. At about 1:50 I got a call that the van with Sky was running a little late. Sky is incredibly protective of her foals, which is usually a good thing until you try to get her on a van and leave Faith behind. Needless to say, Sky was not the easiest horse in the world to load and so the van ran a little behind schedule. While I waited on the van to arrive, I took a couple of pictures with my phone. One of Stevie Wonderboy and one of the big man on campus at Airdrie, Indian Charlie.

The van made it to Airdrie around 2:15 and Sky was bred just a few minutes after that. Stevie was a professional and everything went smoothly. Sky then got back on the trailer without a problem and headed back to her home at The Croft, where she was happily reunited with Faith.

On Friday, I received word that Sky ovulated after the breeding. Now the waiting  begins. Sky will be checked 15 days post-cover for pregnancy. I should know if she is in foal by Easter weekend. Everyone keep their fingers crossed!

My Final College Scholarship Day

Last Friday was my last college scholarship day at Keeneland. College scholarship days are held once every meet and I attended all eight that were held during my time at UK. Unfortunately, while I went 8 for 8 in attendance, I went 0 for 8 in winning a scholarship. Although I didn’t win a scholarship, I still had a great time as always. I began my final college scholarship day by handing out flyers for TVG’s “The Late Double” show that will be filmed at Keeneland this Friday. Some people hate handing out flyers, but I had fun with it and distributed about 1,000 flyers in three hours.

After I finished working for TVG, I teamed up with the Keeneland “notes team” to get quotes from the connections after the Transylvania Stakes. My job was to interview the jockey of the 2nd place finisher, which happened to be Julien Leparoux. I always interview the connections of the losers, while Mike Battaglia interviews the winning connections. I actually joked with Julien the day before that he should hope that he doesn’t have to talk to me much this meet. It was very funny that my first interview of the meet was with Julien. He was not thrilled to see me, but he laughed it off.

Keeneland’s April 2YO in Training Sale

This afternoon I decided to head out to Keeneland for the April 2YO in training sale. I always enjoy the excitement of Thoroughbred auctions and I was also curious to take a look at the lone horse by Stevie Wonderboy in the sale, hip #48. The dark bay or brown filly out of Quanah County was consigned by Kirkwood Stables, agent, and sold for $70,000 to Side Management Ltd. Hopefully she turns out to be a nice runner and I wish all of her new connections the best of luck with her.

I stuck around for another couple of hours after the Stevie Wonderboy filly sold and wandered around the sales pavilion. It was a lot of fun to simply enjoy the excitement of the sale. I also got to speak with some of my friends in the industry that I do not get to see very often. After socializing a bit, I went to the dining area to eat a chicken salad sandwich from Turf Catering. I decided after eating the sandwich in about five minutes that Turf Catering will be catering my wedding. To my future wife: this is non-negotiable.

While trying to decide if I could eat another whole sandwich, I noticed trainer Mike Stidham sitting a few tables away. I needed to get some information from him about Willcox Inn for the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes post position draw on Wednesday, and so I approached him. Mr. Stidham was one of the trainers that I wrote a short biography on for the Breeders’ Cup website and so we had spoken many times before. I got the information that I needed and then we began talking about other things. He was curious about how I got involved in horse racing, how crazy my parents are for naming me after a horse race, and what I wanted to do with my life. We even talked about the future of horse racing, breeder awards programs, and race day medications.

He probably had a lot more important things to attend to; however, he took some time to talk with me and I really appreciate it. I have had to talk to a lot of people in the Thoroughbred business over the last two years through working on the Breeders’ Cup Bio Book team and the Keeneland notes team. Very few, if any, have been as enjoyable to talk to as Mike Stidham. He’s never treated me with anything but great respect and kindness and has always made time to answer all of my questions. Cheers to you, Mike Stidham.

 

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