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!

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September 26, 2011

Skype’s Photo Album

Filed under: Skype — traversman @ 10:31 pm
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The first couple of pictures are of Skype during February 2010 when she was just a couple weeks old.

Skype at the end of April and 2 1/2 months old

Skype’s Jockey Club registration photos at four months old

In December 2010, ten months old

In February 2011…one year old

In August 2011, 1 1/2 years old and about two months from the September sale

Beginning of September; three weeks before the sale

And finally…this photo was taken on Sept. 22, the day before the sale

For anyone that did not see the results, Skype sold for $7,000 to Jose Garcia Ronzino, agent for Luis Morales. Thank you to everyone for all the support. I was overwhelmed with all the kind words that were sent to me throughout the week. I’ll post in a few days some thoughts about my first sales experience. So stay tuned.

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 24, 2011

Pictures of Faith, Sky’s First Foal with a Bullet, Skype at Trackside Farm

On Saturday I had the chance to visit Sky and Faith for the first time since the beginning of May. Faith was just about three months old at the time and it was amazing to see how much she has grown. It won’t be very long till she’s weaned from Sky, which is just crazy to think about because I feel like just yesterday I posted about Skype being weaned.

Here are a few pictures of Faith and Sky that I took yesterday. Faith is about 5 1/2 months old here.

For those of you that have forgotten what Faith looked like when she was first born, here is a picture of her and Sky that was taken when she was only a week old.

Shortly after returning from the farm on Saturday, I received some very good news. Sky Above, who is a 2-year-old colt by Artie Schiller and the first foal out of Sky, breezed four furlongs in 48 seconds flat on the all-weather training surface at Fair Hill on Saturday morning. It was the fastest of 20 workers on the all-weather surface that morning. The next fastest work was :48.40. Sky Above has a steady work tab and hopefully he will make his career debut very soon. It would be excellent to see him take a maiden special somewhere before Skype sells in the Keeneland September sale. Actually, “excellent” is probably not strong enough of a word. Perhaps “game changer” would be a more appropriate phrase.

Speaking of Skype…I recently received an update from Tom Evans of Trackside Farm and she is doing very well. Skype was moved to Trackside Farm in Versailles in the middle of June to be prepped for the September sale. Trackside Farm will also consign Skype. Mr. Evans said he is happy with the way she is developing. Hopefully she will keep getting bigger and stronger and she will have all the looks of a racehorse in September. As always, all there is to do is be patient and keep my fingers crossed.

That’s all for now. Hope everyone had a great weekend and has a fantastic week.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Australian poet, Pam Brown, that I read the other day.

“A horse is the projection of people’s dreams about themselves – strong, powerful, beautiful – and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence.”

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.

March 27, 2011

A Closer Look at Stevie Wonderboy. Part 3

Part three of the “Closer Look at Stevie Wonderboy” series is going to be pretty short because his stallion career has only just begun. Hopefully some of you will still find some of the provided statistics interesting.

On June 28, 2007, after being unable to recover from an injury, it was announced that Stevie Wonderboy would be retired from racing for stallion duty at Airdrie Stud. His initial stud fee was $17,500; however, his fee would drop to $15,000 in 2009 and $10,000 for the 2010 and 2011 seasons. He would stand his first season in 2008, covering 107 mares that would result in 73 live foals. The following year, Stevie Wonderboy covered 53 mares that resulted in 38 live foals of 2010. This past year he covered 59 mares. Obviously the number of live foals of 2011 by Stevie Wonderboy is not yet known. Based on his prior live foal percentages, one can expect around 40 live foals to be born this year. I honestly do not know how large his book is this year, but I would assume that it will once again be in the 50-60 range.

Although he has yet to have starters (his first foals are two-year-olds of 2011 and will race this year), Stevie Wonderboy’s progeny have had some decent success in the sales ring. Below are the sales statistics for Stevie Wonderboy for 2009, 2010, and 2011. All information was provided by The Blood-Horse‘s Stallion Register.

2009

Weanlings – 8 offered, 4 sold; $53,000 average, including a filly out of Road to the Ball that sold for $72,000 at the Keeneland November Sale.

2010

Weanlings – 2 offered, 1 sold for $35,000
Yearlings – 65 offered, 40 sold; $28,845 average, including a $170,000 colt out of Harlan Honey and a $90,000 colt out of Beloved by All. Both horses were sold at the Keeneland September Sale.

2011

Yearlings – 2 offered, 1 sold for $34,000
Two-year-olds – 7 offered, 3 sold; $20,000 average.

The sales numbers are decent for a horse whose foals have yet to hit the track, but there is definitely room for improvement. Buyers are willing to pay more for horses by a stallion that has a proven record of producing high-class performers on the racetrack. Hopefully, dozens of two-year-olds from Stevie Wonderboy’s first crop will break their maidens in 2011 and a handful will be stakes performers and stakes winners.

I know one thing for sure is that I’ll be rooting for every Stevie Wonderboy as if it were my own; just like I cheer for every Even the Score and just like I’ll someday cheer for every foal by Parading.

Go Stevie Wonderboy! Go Parading! Go Even the Score!

And of course…

Go Kentucky Wildcats!

March 6, 2011

Sky will be bred to…

Last year when I bought Sky at the Fasig February sale, I was pretty sure that she would be bred to Parading. He has one of the best pedigrees in the stud book and he won on all three surfaces (just like Sky). Also, his stud fee was in my budget; standing for $3,500 LFSN. Just a few days after purchasing Sky, I reserved my season to Parading. It was a very simple and non-stressful decision.

This year I decided that I wanted to go another direction. Sky now has three foals on the ground; one by Artie Schiller, one by Even the Score, and one by Parading. Artie Schiller was best going a mile or longer on the turf, Even the Score was most successful at age 6, and Parading did not make a start until age 4. They all had very nice racing careers, but experienced most of their success at ages 4 and above. This year I wanted to breed Sky to someone who experienced success at age 2; someone more precocious than the other three stallions. I also wanted to breed Sky to someone who she nicked well with and matched physically.

So…the search began. I attended a number of stallion open houses, spoke with farm representatives, and frequented the Blood-Horse’s online stallion register. I made a list of stallions that I thought would be a good fit for Sky. Then I proceeded to constantly bug my good friend Frank Mitchell about which stallions on my list matched Sky from a physical standpoint. Some of the stallions on my list did not match Sky well, and so the list got shorter.

My final list had six stallions on it. I contacted the farm where each of the stallions stood to see if I could get a season to them. I was accepted for a few and turned down for a few. This brought the list down to about three stallions and then this past Thursday I made my decision.

Sky will be bred to…

Stevie Wonderboy

Stevie Wonderboy is the champion two-year old colt of 2005, comes from the A.P. Indy sire line being by Stephen Got Even, matches Sky well physically, and nicks well with her as well. I am very excited about the Stevie Wonderboy – Sky foal that will be born in 2012.

Thank you to all that assisted me in making my decision and a special thank you to Frank Mitchell for putting up with my constant e-mails and phone calls. Thank you to Airdrie Stud, the farm that stands Stevie Wonderboy, for all the help and for believing in my mare. Finally, thank you to all of the representatives of stallions that I did not select, but inquired about. Your assistance was much appreciated.

So…there ya go. Sky will be bred to Stevie Wonderboy in 2011. Maybe we’ll see that foal at the Spa in 2014.

February 8, 2011

One Year as a Horse Owner

It was one year ago today that I became a horse owner at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Winter Mixed sale. February 8, 2010 is so fresh in my memory that it is not like it happened yesterday, but as if it happened ten minutes ago. If I close my eyes I can picture sitting in my seat in the sales pavilion and shaking as Walt Robertson pointed at me and exclaimed, “Sold!” Then I remember my dad and I rushing over to see the results on one of the computers. We both teared up a little when the following picture came on the screen.

To commemorate the anniversary of me becoming a horse owner, I would like to re-post three blog articles that were written about that special day.

The first is titled “The Scoop at Fasig February” and was written by Frank Mitchell. This is his recap of my journey to buy my first horse. Last year, this article was the highest viewed post on Frank’s blog, Bloodstock in the Bluegrass. Give it a read at http://fmitchell07.wordpress.com/2010/02/08/the-scoop-at-fasig-february/

The second article was written by me back when I started this blog in early June. This is my recap of the day I bought Sky and Skype. It is titled “The Day I Became a Horse Owner” and can be read at https://reachingforroses.wordpress.com/2010/06/02/the-day-i-became-a-horse-owner/

There is also a second part to the first article that I wrote and can be read at https://reachingforroses.wordpress.com/2010/06/03/therollercoastercontinues/

February 8, 2010 will go down as one of the best days of my life. Hopefully by reading the above articles you can share in some of my excitement from that day.

Have a great day and stay tuned for some pictures and videos of Sky’s new foal that was born on Sunday.

January 12, 2011

Why you won’t find Skype at Keeneland January

In less than a month I will have been a Thoroughbred owner for one year. In my short time as an owner/breeder I have found out that things don’t always work out as planned and, in fact, they rarely do. When I originally bought Sky and Skype I had planned to enter Skype in the Keeneland November Sale as a weanling. However, I was advised by many of my friends in the industry that I should wait for the Keeneland January Sale. The November sale was too big for a weanling by a non-commerical stallion and out of a non-stakes performing mare with a blank first dam. It made sense and I took their advice.

So my plans changed and I set my sights on Keeneland January.

I was fortunate enough to work the entire Keeneland September Yearling Sale for Bluewater Sales. It was an amazing experience and I’ve never learned more in a two-week period of time. It was while working this sale that I realized just how rough the market is right now. I watched hundreds of horses go through the ring for one or two thousand dollars and then would look down at my catalogue and have to pick my jaw up from the floor. Horses with fantastic pedigrees were going for nothing. What was wrong with them? Was the scope grade not perfect? Did the vet find something in the x-rays? It could have been a million things. I discovered that a horse that doesn’t have all the pieces of the puzzle will bring little to no money at auction. It has to be by the right stallion, out of the right female family, have winning siblings, look the part of a potential athlete, and have a perfect vet report. Just one missing piece and it all comes tumbling down. To say it was scary for me to watch horses go through the ring on the final days of the sale would be an understatement. Larger breeders and pinhookers can make up for several horses selling for close to nothing by hitting big with a couple of others. Unfortunately, like so many other breeders, I don’t have that many shots. In fact in my case, I have just one.

After the September sale I began to question my decision to put Skype into the Keeneland January sale. I had several consignors come out to look at her and their opinions varied on what Skype would bring at the January sale. The optimistic consignors told me that if she had a clean vet report that she could bring the stud fee (Even the Score stood for $15,000 at the time he was bred to Sky). In order to put Skype through the ring at the January sale, it would cost me close to $4,000 (entry fee, minimum consignment fee, transportation to the sale, x-rays, board at the sales grounds, and sales prep). So, if Skype vetted cleanly, looked good at the sale, and had a few people on her, then she had the potential to bring around $15,000. If she went for $15,000 then I would be paying over 25% of her sales price to put her through the ring! And what if she didn’t bring $15,000? What if enough people didn’t get a look at her or someone found something on the x-rays? What then? Would she even bring the $4,000 to cover the expenses? It’s possible that she wouldn’t and I would lose money and lose my horse. I decided that I couldn’t take this risk. Like I wrote earlier, I just have one shot and so I have to make it count.

Plans changed again.

I decided to not enter Skype in either the Keeneland January or Fasig-Tipton February sales. The risk-reward of putting her in a public auction just didn’t add up. Instead, I will be looking to sell Skype privately. This will save me money on commission and entry fees and will allow me to protect my interests a lot more than I would have been able to at a public auction. I have some ideas about how to market Skype and I already have a few people interested in her. I am hopeful that there will be more to come and I believe there will be. Skype has good size and scope and has the potential to develop into an attractive racing prospect. If I can find someone who believes in her one-tenth as much as I do, then I’ll find a buyer.

So that is the plan for now, but I don’t know what curveball this game will throw me next. Maybe this time the plans will work out and maybe I’ll be writing another post in the future about another plan. I have heard the quote, “If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plan.” I do not know the original origin of this quote, but I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to find out this person owned Thoroughbreds. I know God has a plan for me…I’m just hopeful that plan includes selling Skype for six figures ;-).

August 26, 2010

Horse racing is built on Hope

Yesterday I had my last first day of school. It’s amazing for me to think that I am going to graduate from college in May. It seems like it was yesterday that I was on the bus for the first day of high school; however, it’s been over seven years ago. It also seems like I was just saying good-bye to my parents after they helped me move into my freshman dorm, and yet, that was over three years ago. Time really does fly by and the older I get the more I realize it.

I had classes yesterday that started at 8 AM, 9 AM, and 11 AM. My 9 o’clock class ended around 9:30 and so I needed to kill some time before my next class. I ended up going to the College of Agriculture Library and got on a computer to read the day’s edition of the “Thoroughbred Daily News.” The top story for the day was about trainer Tony Dutrow and his attempt to win Saturday’s Travers Stakes with A Little Warm. The article brings attention to the fact that the Dutrow barn has had a couple of tough breaks this year, most notably the season-ending injury to stakes winner and Travers hopeful Winslow Homer. Later in the article, Dutrow is quoted as having said, “Horse racing is built on disappointment, and we have certainly had our share of it.”

The quote definitely caught my attention and so I texted it to my dad to get his thoughts. He responded by saying, “He’s wrong. Horse racing is not built on disappointment; it’s built on hope.” I couldn’t agree with my father more. I know that the game of horse racing and breeding is full of disappointment and we all know that it has “the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.” However, the sport is built on the hope that things are going to work out; that there is a horse in the barn that is going to be a champion, or that the little foal raised on a small farm could someday be a Grade one winner.

I can personally say that I am a member of the Thoroughbred breeding industry because of hope. I have great hopes that Skype will turn into a nice runner. I have hopes that I’ll someday breed a stakes winner. I have hopes that I’ll get to stand in the winner’s circle at Saratoga with a horse that I own and/or bred. People can tell me all they want that I’m crazy for owning horses so young and I’m just going to get my heart broken and have my wallet emptied. People can say that Even the Score has only had six stakes winners from his hundred and hundreds of foals and so Skype has only a small chance of being a stakes winner. They can say that Parading won’t make it as a stallion and I never should have bred to him. Friends, co-workers, family members, etc. can tell me anything they want, and believe me, they have. But regardless of what some people tell me or how high the chips are stacked against me, it’s not going to take away my hope. It is that hope that keeps me going. It is that hope that gives me something to look forward to in the future. There are thousands of people in the horse racing industry with those same feelings. It keeps the industry going. Without hope, this game wouldn’t exist, and that is why horse racing is built on hope.

Well said, Dad.

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