Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Chugging Along

Ellie checking out the sites at Turfway Park.

March is trying to make it's lion-like entrance in Minnesota but it's first attempt appears to have fizzled out.  Thankfully.

Around the region, thoroughbreds are trying to get ready for the 2015 Canterbury season while, nearby, others are already into their 2015 racing season (Midwest Paddock Report story on Hawthorne ).  We're definitely not quite there yet.

We have learned that Elusive Edition (Ellie) is working well and has definitely increased her lung capacity since starting up her training at Turfway Park under the tutelage of trainer Michelle Allen.  Michelle has sent us videos of Ellie working and it appears as if she really has the desire to run. 

Last year was a year of immaturity and growth for her. In 2014, Ellie was very ADD - especially when heading over to the racetrack.  She likes to take everything in and process.  We always figured that she was very bright which was echoed by her groom last season and confirmed by Michelle in Kentucky.  While I'm glad we have a smart horse who has the ability to learn, sometimes I think I'd be okay with just a dumb jock that can run!

So far I have resisted asking the obvious question: is she going to make a racehorse this season?  I wanted a good 30-days under her belt before I went that route.  Rounding into shape is no time to try and make that kind of determination.  Additionally, while getting ready for her debut season last year, everyone around her felt that while she might not be something special, she should be able to at least break her maiden and win a bit if placed right.  As we know, she didn't so morning observations can only tell you so much. We'll wait and hope to get down there to see for ourselves how she's looking at some point and go from there.

Heather beautifully captures George as a yearling in a rare quiet moment!

The little guy, George (Tabby Dacat - Eastwood Dacat/Tabby Lane/Even the Score) is doing well.  He whacked his head a few weeks back and cut himself pretty good.  He needed stiches so there was an unplanned vet bill, but what can you do?  Yearlings get themselves in trouble. You just have to hope that it's never too bad and they learn from whatever mischief they get into.  He's a big boy and appears to be a bit alpha-ish, which is good to me.  I want a bit of an edge to him.  I want him walking on to that racetrack with the type of confidence that says "I own this place!"

We march on (pun intended) and continue to get Ellie ready; get the Canterbury Racing Club some horses; get the alumni group launched; and look for just a few more partners to round out this year's claiming group.  There is a lot going on and while time seems to be on our side, May 15 will be here before you know it.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Midwest Paddock Report

I had teased a few posts back about a new venture we were working on and now we're ready to unveil it.

The Midwest Paddock Report is a combined effort of my photographer better half, Heather Frisbie, and I to bring a spotlight on racing here in the Heartland.  I can't guarantee a lot of things in life, but one thing I can guarantee is that we will have growing pains.  As painstaking as it was for two non-techies to build this site, I can absolutely guarantee that once we get rolling we're going to find all kinds of things we wished we would have done differently.

Ideally we would launch with comprehensive coverage of the entire Midwest from Ohio to the Dakotas and down to Oklahoma.  Ideally.  However since we are a two-person operation working on a limited (read: "no") budget, we are starting with a still ambitious, but much more doable, agenda of covering Minnesota and Iowa. 

While our focus in owning and breeding has been in Thoroughbreds, we are going to try and include our Standardbred cousins as well.  I don't know if that's going work but we'll see.  My roots in harness racing go back to college and trips to now defunct Lewiston Raceway in Maine which was my first continuous exposure to live horse racing (after an amazing Preakness experience in 1985) with college classmate and lifelong friend Paul Mooney.  I really enjoyed harness racing, have owned small pieces of pacers in the past and have included Scarborough, Dover and Pocono Downs, the Meadowlands and Pompano Park in my travels over the decades.  Admittedly the popularity isn't the same as Thoroughbreds and if the interest isn't there we will pare back to "the Flats", but we're going to give it a go.  Where we have dual meets going we will also cover the major stories in regional Quarter Horse racing with the same caveat.

We have a section that we call "Around the Region" where we will preview and recap stakes races around the Midwest and performances that should be highlighted.  We're hoping to rely on readers to pass along story ideas and horses to watch to help us bring those stories to the people.

Speaking of people, we will be spotlighting folks in racing from time to time in our "In the Paddock" section.  We'll take movers, shakers and all around interesting people and ask them 5 questions.  A quick look at what they do and how they affect the game.

We'll also touch base on the bigger picture in our "National Scene" section.  Admittedly I'm not altogether sure how we're going to do that and it's really not going to be our focus, but it's important to give some regional perspective to the Triple Crown Trail and the Breeders' Cup.

Currently we're relatively advertising free with the exception of a couple of spots for Google AdSense, but that will change - mostly as I get adept at creating advertising and working with the widgets to be able to place the ads where I want to so they look good and deliver value without detracting from the site.  While we may be a labor of love right now, we don't intend on it being that way forever so feel free to inquire since this will get some priority in our development queue.

We're going to be looking to inject personality into our coverage.  We'd like to be a place where you come for your Midwest racing news as if you'd be sitting down with coffee with your neighbor and discussing the last night's race.  We'd like to entertain as well as inform and generate discussion.

Before I wrap, I'd like to thank family and friends that have reviewed and critiqued the birth process.  You've all be indispensable.  Truly indispensable was Frank Vespe, founder of the wonderful Mid-Atlantic on-line magazine, The Racing Biz, who provided us with advice and continues to be an inspiration.

We invite you take a look and let us know what you think.  While you're there, follow the Midwest Paddock Report on Twitter and you'll soon be able to "like" our Facebook page as well. We look forward to hearing from you!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Gearing Up

As we get under the 100 day mark until live racing returns to Canterbury Park, horses are getting ready all over the country.  There are potential Canterbury runners in training from Louisiana to Minnesota and Kentucky to Arizona and many places in between.  Currently we have one horse in training and a yearling spending some time growing up.  As I told you about earlier, we sold Tabby Lane and while we retain the designation of 'breeder' to her Doneraile Court foal-to-be, she's off our books with the exception of the stud fee due when the foal stands and nurses.  Last post I mentioned that you can't do it all and we decided to focus on racing.  I'd love to be the independently wealthy type to race and breed, but I'm not so we roll the dice with Ellie and George and whoever else comes down the road.

Tabby Dacat

Young George (Tabby Dacat, officially) is pictured below.  He is a large roan (well, getting there) colt by Eastwood Dacat.  He appears to be relatively correct and is growing nicely, albeit a bit quickly.  We're very excited about our own homebred Minnesota bred.

Tabby Dacat (Eastwood Dacat-Tabby Lane-Even the Score) - We call him George

George and friend...


George will be part of a partnership group when he heads into training late this year, though it's entirely possible that we would put together a group for him earlier since demand seems to be relatively high even though folks know that nothing exciting is going to happen for about a year until he starts training in earnest.

Elusive Edition

Ellie (Elusive Edition) had a very difficult first year.  We ran her four times and she was a complete disaster in her first three.  Her first race could be considered a throw out - she failed to exit the gate in a timely manner and trailed the entire race.  Though she did beat a single horse in that maiden effort.  That initial effort was at 6 furlongs, much like her next two where she again finished 2nd to last. 

Elusive Edition (Late Edition-Mystical Elusion-Menifee) checking out the new surroundings at Turfway
To say that I was depressed over this would be an understatement.  After hurting her shins as a 2-year old and not racing, that first race was a long time coming.  Her efforts leading up to the season in training were good and we had high hopes heading into her 3-year old season.  This was clearly not the start we envisioned.

Her final start of the season was going a mile and 70 yards.  It was a desperation-ish move based on some sound reasoning.  Her jockey, Dean Butler, had mentioned to us that she just couldn't keep up at 6 furlongs and that, maybe, if we sent her longer he could relax her more and that might give her a chance in the race.

She didn't finish second to last in the maiden claiming effort (7th of 10), she did chase the winner around in 2nd place into the lane before she faded.  She most likely wasn't ready to go long and that last effort gave us - well most of us - some hope that with preparation geared to a router instead of a sprinter she may have a chance.

So with that she is back in training with Michelle Allen at Turfway Park.  We sent her away because the winters here have been very hard and really cut into training.  While she's going to be on a short leash this season - more second to last place finishes and we'll find her a new job - we do want to make sure that she has every opportunity to succeed.

New Group(s)

As I mentioned above, we'll be looking at getting George into a group at some point but right now we also are about halfway to 60% full for a new claiming private purchase group to launch this season.  We're keeping this group to 10 members so hopefully we fill in the next month and start shopping.

The Canterbury Racing Club is filling up nicely this season and while it looks like we won't be as big as this past record breaking season (204 members) we will end up well over 100 members.  We may have set the bar a bit high last season with six wins and twelve in the money finishes in 15 starts but it does give us something to shoot at!

We also started a group specifically for Canterbury Racing Club alumni.  There was quite a bit of pent up demand to get the Club to do more: carry over horses from year to year, maybe get a better quality horse and run in higher level races; but the Club was never designed for that.  It was developed as an educational opportunity for people who want to learn about racing without having to worry about paying the bills to do so.

Out of this the CAC Racing was born.  The CAC standing for Canterbury Alumni Club.  Where the Canterbury Club is a not for profit endeavor, CAC Racing will be for profit - at least we are going to try.  The Racing Club is only a $250 buy in and our regular partnerships are a $2000 buy in.  The CAC Racing group falls in between.  There is a $1000 buy in and the group was capped at 50.  As I mentioned, the only requirement is that member had to have once been a member of the Canterbury Racing Club.  I look at it like an intermediate step on the ownership ladder.