Reaching for Roses: The Beginning of the Journey

March 17, 2013

Just 48 Days from the First Saturday in May…

Filed under: Uncategorized — traversman @ 10:11 pm
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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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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 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.”

August 23, 2011

Skype Sells in One Month…

Well it’s hard to believe, but just one month from today Skype will sell at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. It’s been such an amazing ride since I bought her and Sky in February of 2010 when Skype was just one week old. Time has flown by since then and it’s crazy to think Skype will have a new owner on September 23rd.

I went to see Skype a couple of weeks ago at Trackside Farm in Versailles, where she is being prepped by Tom Evans. She looked absolutely amazing and is really starting to take the shape of a racehorse. I forgot to take my camera with me, but I did snap this picture with my iPhone.

She’s grown up a bit from when I first bought her . . .

It’s amazing how attached I am to Skype. I know that’s not the “professional” thing to do, but it was impossible to avoid. I don’t know how many horses that I’ll own in my life…maybe hundreds….maybe just a handful, but regardless, Sky and Skype will always have a piece of my heart. I can’t look at a horse without thinking of them. They were my first ones and they will always be my girls, no matter whose name is on their Jockey Club papers.

I honestly don’t know how I am going to feel when Skype sells. I will say that I cried the day that I bought her and I wouldn’t be surprised if I cry the day I sell her. In fact, even writing this post has me choked up. I can’t help but think of the day that I became a horse owner and all the ups and downs that have come since then. But even with the occasional downs, Skype has brought me and my family more joy than I ever could have imagined.

http://apps.keeneland.com/sales/Sep11/pdfs/3694.pdf

The above link will take you to Skype’s catalog page and you will see that she is hip 3694. My roommate was looking at the page earlier and said, “Hip 3694? That’s not her name!”

Well, that’s true that her name is not hip 3694, but that is what she will be referred to at the Keeneland sale. However, as I have said before, she will always be Skype to me.

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.”

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.

February 1, 2011

Happy Birthday, Skype!

Filed under: Sky,Skype — traversman @ 3:12 pm
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Today, February 1st, is Skype’s one-year birthday! I know that she has technically been a yearling for a month, but today is her official birthday. It has been an absolute privilege getting to watch her grow up over the past year. It really is amazing how much she has developed. The first picture below is a picture of Skype and me about 6 weeks ago. The second picture is of me with Sky and Skype when Skype was just 2 weeks old. It seems like that picture was just taken yesterday, but it’s been almost a year.

It is clear to see how much Skype has changed. The one thing that hasn’t changed is my pure joy to be her owner. The smile on my face that is seen in both pictures has been there since the day I bought Sky and Skype. Anytime that I get down or stressed, all I have to do is look at a picture of Sky or Skype and I can’t help but smile.

I won’t be able to make it out to the farm to see Sky and Skype today; however, I will be out there later this week. I’ll be sure to post new pictures of me with my two girls in the next few days and you better believe that I’ll be smiling in all of them. When I’m with them…I couldn’t frown even if I tried.

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