Reaching for Roses: The Beginning of the Journey

October 22, 2012

It’s Time to Have Faith

In September of 2011, I sold Skype (renamed Score Classy) at Keeneland. I wrote a few posts about getting her ready for the sale and what she meant to me. In my final blog post before the sale, I wrote “Having Dreams is What Makes Life Tolerable,” which can be read at https://reachingforroses.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/having-dreams-is-what-makes-life-tolerable/. The story was picked up on Paulick Report, Equidaily.com and Jennie Rees even wrote an article about me for the Courier Journal in Louisville. The whole experience of my first time as a seller was interesting, stressful, educational and, honestly, somewhat disappointing. But I just have one question…

Doesn’t it seem like that just happened!?!?!

It sure does to me, but it’s been more than a year since I sold Skype. She’s gone on to bigger and better things and is one of the best 2-year-old fillies in Puerto Rico. She won her first four starts, including the Clasico Eduardo Cautino Insua Stakes (Grade III). In her fifth start, she ran a good race, but just ran out of ground and finished second in an allowance. In her most recent start, she ran very well, but was just second best in the Clasico Dia de la Raza Stakes (GII). Overall, her career record stands at 4-2-0 from six starts and earnings of $62,698. Not too shabby!

Since Skype’s sale, Sky’s only other foal, Sky Above, has also gotten in on the action. A 3-year-old gelding by Artie Schiller, Sky Above won his career debut in a maiden special weight at Presque Isle Downs by a widening 10 lengths. He followed up that effort with a strong runner-up finish in an allowance race. His first two races were on a synthetic surface, but his third start came on turf and he was off the board. He’s bred to like the turf so maybe he just had an off day.

Anyway, the point is that Sky has two foals of racing age and they are both debut winners and have a combined record of 5-3-0 from nine career starts with earnings of just shy of $100,000.

Sky Above sold at the 2010 Keeneland September sale and, as I wrote previously, Skype went through the ring at the 2011 Keeneland September sale. Well now it’s time for Faith to strut her stuff. It’s unbelievable, but “little Faith” (as I called her when she was a foal, but she’s anything but little now) will sell on Tuesday at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearlings sale.

You can view her catalog page at http://www.fasigtipton.com/catalogs/2012/1022/468.pdf.

I hate to use the “it seems like yesterday” cliche, but when I think about the day Faith was born, it really does seem like yesterday! Heck, I remember the day she was bred to Parading like it was yesterday. She was covered on March 6, 2010 while I was dancing away at UK’s 24 hour dance marathon known as DanceBlue.

Exactly 11 months later, on Super Bowl Sunday, I got a call from Frank Mitchell that Faith was on the ground. I was able to make it out to see her when she was just a couple of hours old and I took the video below…

The next video was taken last week on her final day at Trackside Farm before moving to the sales grounds. She’s grown up just a tad.

I couldn’t be happier with how Faith has grown up and come along. She is a beautiful chestnut filly with great conformation and a fantastic walk. I’m also happy to say that her x-ray report came back perfect.

Faith has all the makings of a great racehorse and I truly believe that is what she will become.

This isn’t an easy game. The last two years have not been all blue skies and rainbows, but there are three things that have gotten me through the hard times: Faith, hope, and love.

The Thoroughbred industry is a game built on HOPE. Every trainer and owner “hope” they have a Derby or Oaks prospect (or if you’re my dad, you hope you have a Travers or Alabama prospect), every breeder and consignor “hopes” to sell a horse someday for six or seven figures, every jockey “hopes” to get a mount that will change their lives…the list goes on. Everyone in this game is hopeful that something great is in one of their stalls in the barn. I’m no different. And the hopes and dreams of breeding a major stakes winner keep me going through the rough patches.

I am also extremely blessed in that I have a ton of LOVE in my life. I have the most wonderful family in the world that has loved and supported me in everything I’ve ever done. I have the best friends that a guy could ask for, seriously. Some people aren’t fortunate enough to have one truly close friend; I have a half-dozen. And I also have the love and grace of God. As 1 Corinthians 13:8 says, “Love never fails.”

That brings me to FAITH.  It took a lot of faith (and some would say stupidity) to get into the Thoroughbred breeding industry as a nearly broke college student almost three years ago. Two years ago, when the first foal that I bred hit the ground, I decided to name her Faith. I published a blog post when I named the new foal and wrote

The new filly will be nicknamed Faith.

After the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl, Packers’ wide receiver Greg Jennings was interviewed on the field. During the interview he repeated the phrase, “To God be the glory.” I remember watching it live and thought it was really cool that Jennings remembered to give praise to God. Many athletes say, “I’m going to Disney World,” after winning a championship, but not Jennings. His words inspired me to go with a name that had a Biblical connection.

I began to think about some of my favorite Bible verses. One that came to mind was 1 Corinthians 13:13. It states, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Faith, hope, and love. They were all finalists for the nickname of the new foal. Then I began to think about each one a little more.

I have a lot of hope in my life. I wrote a blog post a couple of months ago about the entire Thoroughbred industry being built on hope. I have hopes and dreams for my personal life and my career.

I have a ton of love in my life. I have the most supportive family in the entire world that loves me more than I can even understand. I have many close friends that love me. I also have a God that loves me and looks after me.

Now we move on to faith. I am less than three months from graduating and my future is still uncertain. Sometimes I lose sleep at night thinking about where I will be in a year. I have three horses that I have very high hopes for, but I know that this sport is one of the toughest in the world. It has the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I can hope all I want, but that doesn’t mean my hopes will come true. What I need most in my life is faith.

I need faith that I’ll be okay when I graduate. I need faith to remember that God has a plan for my life and He will direct my paths. I need faith that whether Skype and Faith go on to be Grade 1 winners or low-level claimers that I’ll be okay. I need faith that my life is only slightly affected by things that I can control. The rest is up to the Big Guy. By nicknaming the foal Faith, I will constantly remember that I just need to “keep the faith.”

So there you have it. I can tell you that I was right in my thinking that by naming the foal Faith I would constantly be reminded to “keep the faith.”

It’s taken a lot of faith to get through the time of Faith’s foaling to this sale. But she has given me more happiness and joy than I could have ever imagined and, obviously, she has given me a lot of faith. Faith that she’s going to go on to bigger and better things, better than her siblings, better than her mom, and who knows, maybe even better than her dad.

I’ve got Faith. Now it’s time for someone else to have it.

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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.

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.”

March 9, 2011

Faith is a star

I already posted it on my Facebook and Twitter accounts, but I wanted to put my good news on the blog as well. Faith was recently featured in an advertisement for Parading that was printed in the Blood-Horse and the Thoroughbred Times. The same ad also spent some time on the front page of the Claiborne website.

Here is the advertisement

As you can see, Faith is strutting her stuff in the picture on the right. I had a lot of emotions come over me when I saw this advertisement for the first time a couple of days ago. I was excited, happy, and slightly in shock. The journey Sky, Skype, and Faith have taken me on is truly amazing. This time two years ago, owning a horse was only a dream. This time last year, my dream had become a reality, I had been a horse owner for one month, and Sky had just been bred to Parading. Now a horse that I bred is being used in an advertisement for a stallion that stands at one of the most famous Thoroughbred farms in the entire world. It’s simply incredible.

Faith seemed to like getting her picture taken the other day. The picture used in the advertisement was from her first photo shoot. I hope that in a few years Faith will be getting her picture taken all the time…in the winner’s circle!

 

February 13, 2011

I’ve Got Faith

A couple of days ago I asked for suggestions for a nickname for Sky’s new foal. I ended up getting a lot of suggestions. Here are a few of my favorites:

Fergie – suggested by Sean Feld; Fergie is the lead singer of the Black Eyed Peas, the group that performed at halftime of this year’s Super Bowl.

Aurie – suggested by Valerie; Aurie would be short for Aurora, the Latin goddess of the dawn who led the Sun across the Sky each day. The Observer suggested Eos, who is the Greek goddess of the dawn.

Skittle – suggested by JemMox; He came up with the name by combining Sky and little. Personally, I think it’s a great nickname…especially if the “i” was changed to a “y” for Skyttle.

Float – suggested by Chris; A nickname that plays off the foal’s sire, Parading. I bet many of Parading’s registered  names will include the word float.

There were many other name suggestions, but those were just a few of my favorites. All of the name suggestions were great; however, none of the ones suggested will be used as the foal’s nickname. Instead, I will use a name that I came up with. Please don’t be too hard on me for not using a name suggested by one of the readers. I never had more than a goldfish growing up and so I’m taking advantage of being able to name an animal. Perhaps someday I’ll own a big stable of horses and every reader of the blog can name one. Which reminds me…I need to go buy a lottery ticket soon.

Anyway, back to the name of this foal. The filly was born on Super Bowl Sunday and I wanted to try to incorporate that into her name. I also wanted a short name, preferably just one word and only one or two syllables. Finally, I wanted something meaningful to me. I came up with a name that met all of those requirements.

The new filly will be nicknamed Faith.

After the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl, Packers’ wide receiver Greg Jennings was interviewed on the field. During the interview he repeated the phrase, “To God be the glory.” I remember watching it live and thought it was really cool that Jennings remembered to give praise to God. Many athletes say, “I’m going to Disney World,” after winning a championship, but not Jennings. His words inspired me to go with a name that had a Biblical connection.

I began to think about some of my favorite Bible verses. One that came to mind was 1 Corinthians 13:13. It states, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Faith, hope, and love. They were all finalists for the nickname of the new foal. Then I began to think about each one a little more.

I have a lot of hope in my life. I wrote a blog post a couple of months ago about the entire Thoroughbred industry being built on hope. I have hopes and dreams for my personal life and my career.

I have a ton of love in my life. I have the most supportive family in the entire world that loves me more than I can even understand. I have many close friends that love me. I also have a God that loves me and looks after me.

Now we move on to faith. I am less than three months from graduating and my future is still uncertain. Sometimes I lose sleep at night thinking about where I will be in a year. I have three horses that I have very high hopes for, but I know that this sport is one of the toughest in the world. It has the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I can hope all I want, but that doesn’t mean my hopes will come true. What I need most in my life is faith.

I need faith that I’ll be okay when I graduate. I need faith to remember that God has a plan for my life and He will direct my paths. I need faith that whether Skype and Faith go on to be Grade 1 winners or low-level claimers that I’ll be okay. I need faith that my life is only slightly affected by things that I can control. The rest is up to the Big Guy. By nicknaming the foal Faith, I will constantly remember that I just need to “keep the faith.”

So…the nickname of the foal will be Faith. Thank you to everyone for all the support and kind words and a special thank you to the readers that suggested a nickname.

I’ll leave you with a picture of Faith taking a nap. Perhaps someday this little one will have a registered name like “MyFaithsintheSky.”

 

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