Reaching for Roses: The Beginning of the Journey

March 17, 2013

Just 48 Days from the First Saturday in May…

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Just 48 days from now, 20 horses will line up at Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby will be run for the 139th time. Things are pretty hectic in all the departments at Churchill Downs as we continue to prepare to host more than 250,000 people over one weekend. I was at The Downs for the Derby in 2011 and assisted in the press box, but last year was my first time going through a full year of Derby preparations. I didn’t know what I was in for and I worked harder than I ever had in my life. But in the end, I felt like I was a small part of Derby 138 and I felt an amazing sense of accomplishment as I watched I’ll Have Another cross the line first in front of a record crowd.

This year, I know what I’m in for and I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I know that I can do it, but I also know how hard these next seven weeks are going to be. However, there also will be much excitement and anticipation and I’m looking forward to seeing another 3-year-old put it all together on the First Saturday in May and make history. I couldn’t tell you who’s going to win Derby 139, but if you’d like my early picks, I currently like Tiz the Truth, Verrazano and Orb.

Obviously, I’ve done a bad job of updating the blog on a regular basis since I took the job at Churchill Downs. I think there are three reasons for this…1) I’m more busy than I was in college. 2) After a day of reading copy and writing press releases, I don’t have much interest in doing more of it when I get home. 3) Twitter and Facebook.

I think I saw someone on Twitter say that fewer blogs are updating on a regular basis because it’s easier to update people through social media. When news comes along in my life that I think would be interesting to others, I usually post it on Facebook and Twitter. So…if you’d like more regular updates on my horses and career, then follow me on Twitter @TraversMan or send me a friend request on Facebook.

Also, you should check out KentuckyDerby.com and ChurchillDown.com regularly for the most up-to-date information on the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks. Barn notes and Derby notes will be starting in April and there’s no better place to find information on the Kentucky Derby.

One thing I’ve been doing lately is a weekend preview of the prep races on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” and “Road to the Kentucky Oaks.” They are posted each Thursday afternoon on the Churchill Downs and Kentucky Derby websites. You can read the most recent one at http://tinyurl.com/cmkwb6x.

As you will read, each weekend preview contains “10 Things to Watch.” So, in thinking along those lines, I thought I’d give five updates to the readers before the Derby storm comes on in full force. I’d give 10, but…hey…it’s late.

1. I signed a contract a few weeks ago to send Sky to 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver on a mare share with WinStar Farm. Obviously, I will post more about this as we get closer to the date, but yes, I plan to sell Sky at the 2013 Keeneland November Breeding Stock sale in foal to Super Saver.

2. Sky currently is in foal to Nobiz Like Shobiz and everything seems to be going well. She should foal in mid-to-late April. My next post hopefully will be full of pictures of the healthy foal. Reminder…I leased Sky out this breeding season to another gentleman and so I will not own the foal; however, I think I’ll consider myself an uncle.

3. Sky’s first foal, Sky Above, breezed four furlongs in :48.30 at Palm Beach Downs on March 13 in his first published workout since finishing third in an allowance at Keeneland in October.

4. As far as I know, Skype (Score Classy) is still in Puerto Rico. She hasn’t raced since Jan. 1 and, unfortunately, they don’t publish workouts. Her record stands at 5-4-0 from 10 starts and earnings of $90,314. She is a Grade III winner and Grade I placed at 2 and 3. I’m hopeful she’s getting some much deserved R & R.

5. Faith, as most of you know, was sold at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearlings Sale for $20,000. I’m told she was bought by Puerto Rican owners who have been impressed with her half-sister, Skype. Word on the street is she has been named Stephania My Love. I’m not a fan. She’ll always be Faith to me.

That’s all, folks! Thanks for stopping by and remember to check out my Twitter and Facebook for more regular updates and go to ChurchillDowns.com and KentuckyDerby.com for all the latest news on the “Run for the Roses.”

Oh…one last thing…can anyone believe this photo was taken more than three years ago? What an amazing ride it has been.

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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.

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!

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 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.”

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.

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