Monday, June 30, 2014

"...walked out of the gate..."

That is the way Elusive Edition's comment line begins after her first race at Canterbury Sunday.  There were only a couple of things I didn't want to have happen: I didn't want her to be awful and I didn't want her to be one of those horses that couldn't earn a speed figure.  She managed both.

When things are going a bit sideways, never think they can't get worse.  They can.

Ellie had two official works from the gate.  She'd been over there several times otherwise, including the day before the race.  Still, in the heat of her first race, she locked up.  Froze.  From the second she hesitated I knew all was lost and I was livid.  It was brutally difficult to watch the entire race.  She spotted the field seven to start and was able to hustle up and get in touch with the field but it took something out of her and she flattened out in the lane. 

It was horribly depressing and frustrating.

Eighteen months we waited.  Suffered through her sore shins at 2; the cost of her layup over the winter; getting her back into training in the late winter; losing valuable conditioning days due to weather; missing possible start dates.  All the while partners pouring in money and patiently waiting for her first start.

And this is what we got.

Back to the gate she will go until she can get it right.  It's hard to take anything from this effort.  The winning effort was a 27 Beyer - we need to be able to beat horses that run a 27 - but who the hell can tell how good (or not) Ellie is when she just waltzed out of the gate and exhausted herself catching up?  Can she close?  Should she be in front?  We have no idea and this start told us nothing.

On tap is more waiting; more waiting; and more money.  If patience is a virtue, Ellie's partnership group is the most virtuous group on Earth.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Ellie Heads Postward

This is where I usually post my analysis of a race in which we’ve been entered.  I really can’t do that today because, well, I’m not really sure why.

She’s a first time starter, but she’s not the first first timer I’ve ever had: we had E Sveikata go in Florida a couple of years back as a two-year old and I was able to break that one down just fine.  Elusive Edition is different.

Ellie's activity this morning on the Rhone barn white board - 'walk and a race'; haven't seen THAT one before!
“Ellie”, as we call her, has taken a very long road to this first start.  We bought into her as she was coming two.  She was a bit small and narrow, but correct and had a great attitude.  She loved to run which is something you simply can’t train into a horse.  With the agreement between the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community just hitting full stride it made sense to invest in a Minnesota bred again, we knew that she would grow and develop so we bought 75% and got her started.  
All was well until we got to the track.  Once she started training more regularly, her shins started bothering her.  This isn’t unusual for 2-year olds so we watched her closely for a few days.  Bernell backed off her a bit and she just walked the barn for a bit.  One evening we went to go see her and she didn’t get up to greet us – well, she didn’t get up to greet Heather, me she could care less about! Heather got in the stall and lay with her, just petting and talking to her softly for an hour.
The next day we moved her off the track.  We could have gone on with her but I have seen too many young horses ruined by bad shins – physically and mentally.  I did not want the track to be the place she related to pain, so she was turned out and we decided we’d bring her back as a 3-year old.
The partners were great about it.  They understood that we needed to do what is best for the horse so, in the long run, the horse can do her best for us. I wanted to have her ready for opening weekend but the Minnesota weather did not cooperate and we were delayed again and again.  We got her over to the track and then we didn’t get her gate qualified the first time so we had to try again!  We missed a shot at a start then as well.
Now we’re finally racing and I’m a wreck.  I think she has potential but we haven’t asked her for a ton so I really don’t know what we have in her.  I don’t want her to be a disaster: for her and for her partners.  I would feel awful and also be a bit surprised. It’s hard to break down a race when we don’t know what we have in our own filly.

We’ve all dumped money into her for 18 months.  You’d like to think that it’s time to get some of that back; for the money to start flowing the other way, but in this business that’s never a certainty.  I’ve hardly slept for three days and the anxiety isn’t going to get any better the next 9 – 10 hours.

Years of development and waiting come down to a little more than a minute over a possibly sloppy racetrack (though the morning has dawned gorgeous) and we’re flipping a two headed coin: patience could be rewarded or we could be reminded again how tough the racing game can be.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Bourbology is Back and Racing

Bobo’s first trip back to the races after taking some R&R time isn’t a particularly tough spot, but the rain and possibility of her running over the main track, a sloppy main track at that, has considerably dampened her chances and my spirits.

The race is very much void of any pace.  The Minnesota, Noami Ridge Esq. may not be the best horse in the race, but she seems to be the only one with any kind of speed.  She’s never been over the turf but it’s increasingly likely this morning that we’ll be running over an off main track which may allow her to steal this thing up front.
On to the field:

BOURBONOLOGY  (Rhone/Butler)

Royal Bluff (Pfiefer/Diegez) – Minn bred was uncomfortable early on before settling in her last, a state bred allowance.  Moving into an open group at this level offers little in the way of class relief.
A Thousand Talents (Kirby/N Goodwin) – Has tried this level twice, both on and off the turf, with little success.

Flaxen Maiden (Brinson/Canchari) – Probably should have won last start but was checked badly and lost momentum.  A clear run here and she can be a winner.  Off the turf may get her scratched.
Liar Liar Liar (Diodoro/Carreno) – First Canterbury turf start was rough but Phoenix form solid, though the turf courses are very dissimilar in makeup.  Those Turf Paradise speed figures win this one with ease.

Correspondence (McFadden/C Goodwin) – Beaten 20+ lengths last out and beaten badly at $6250 last year over the main course.
Top Vow (Van Winkle/Martinez) – Seems to have had a hard time finding his footing for the new barn. Steps out against non-state bred winners for the first time.

Noami Ridge Esq. (Scherer/Rivera) – If Rivera can get to the lead and control the pace, it could be upset city for what appears to be the lone speed in the field.
Ladies’ Last Trick (Lund/Lopez) – Switched to turf last year and was able to step up in class and be competitive.
Reasonable Effects (Silva/Ordaz) – This will be her first turf effort and is taking a big jump in class to do it.  She’s been racing at or near the bottom here and in Phoenix.  Seems unlikely, though you never know with a first turf start (if it ends up being a turf start).
Sheparoux (Chambers/Stevens) – Broke maiden in 9th try and then was off for over a year but came back gamely this level in a washed off the turf race while closing steadily.
The Grans (Lund/Eikleberry) – Vanquished by Bobo last summer, this one always seems to have had more potential than it has shown.  Could be that the light switch finally switched on.
A lot of variables in the contest today.  As I write this the skies are clearing but a nice downpour has already hit an already soggy turf course in Shakopee so it’s still up in the air as to over which surface the race will be run.  Either way I think we’ll go.  Bobo needs to run and though she hates the dirt – and soggy dirt especially, she needs the fitness tightening that only racing can bring.  Over the turf she has a chance; over the dirt…I’m not so sure.