Trendi scores upset over Kiss My Hocks in $900,000 Rainbow Futurity

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Trendi, at odds of 44-1, pulled off the upset of the year at Ruidoso Downs by handing number-one-ranked Quarter Horse runner Kiss My Hocks his first defeat, in the Grade 1, $900,000 Rainbow Futurity on Sunday afternoon .

Ridden by Larry Gamez, Trendi covered the 400 yards in :19.525 to defeat Kiss My Hocks by a neck. Eagle On The Fly finished third, one neck behind Kiss My Hocks.

“When I got her, she had already won (a maiden race at Delta Downs),” said trainer Wes Giles, who trains the 2-year-old filly for William Smith, who purchased her for $210,000 at the Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale.

“If she would have run in the top-three I would have been happy, but you always want to win,” Giles added. “She can’t read, so she wasn’t worried (about Kiss My Hocks).”

Trendi won her first two starts, including her Ruidoso Futurity trial, but did not qualify for the Futurity. She next finished second to Logans Zoomin in their Rainbow Futurity trial, which produced the three-fastest qualifiers to the Futurity: Logans Zoomin, Trendi and Tempting Valor.

Kiss My Hocks, the 3-10 odds on Rainbow Futurity favorite, sustained his first setback after five-straight wins, including the G2 Sam Houston Futurity and the G1 $700,000 Ruidoso Futurity.

“He lost his footing (at the start) and stumbled into Jm Miracle,” said Kiss My Hocks’ rider, Cody Jensen, who won the Rainbow Derby with Houdini on Saturday. “Trendi was already gone and we just couldn’t run her down.”

Third-place finisher Eagle On The Fly, a daughter of One Famous Eagle, was trying for her third-straight win. She was a non-qualifying winner of her Ruidoso Futurity trial in her career debut and then won her Rainbow Futurity trial by one length.

Trendi’s full brother, Stolis Winner, won the 2008 Rainbow Futurity and then went on to win the All American Futurity and was named world champion as a two-year-old. Trendi and Stolis Winner are by Stoli and out of Veva Jean, by Runaway Winner.

The order of finish for the Rainbow Futurity: Trendi at 44-1; Kiss My Hocks at 3-10; Eagle On The Fly at 14-1; Bodacious Eagle at 12-1; Boi George at 28-1; Wild Sixes Cartel at 18-1; Tempting Valor at 36-1; Jm Miracle at 5-1; Logans Zoomin at 14-1.

The Ghost Horse

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

A book with the title “The Ghost Horse – A True Story of Love, Death, and Redemption” is one that would not ordinarily interest me. But the author’s name gave me pause, so I picked it up.

Joe Layden, a New York Times best-selling author and award-winning journalist, connects on a gut level in the unvarnished story of 57-year-old, small-time race trainer Tim Snyder and a $4,500 filly Snyder named Lisa’s Booby Trap, in honor of his late wife, who had galloped horses for a living and said before she died of ovarian cancer in 2003 that she wanted to be reincarnated as a horse.

“Horse racing is not so much a business as it is a calling,” notes Layden. “The work requires too much time and energy to pursue it with anything less than utter passion; and even then, the odds against success can seem practically insurmountable. But for those who are drawn into the game, particularly at a young age, success and failure are almost irrelevant. Theirs is an obsession that must be fed, often without regard to the usual societal constraints, or the expectations set forth by family and friends.”

Such was the case of Snyder, a jockey’s son born in the first-aid station at a small Massachusetts racetrack, always on the lookout for a big break, but nevertheless the practical philosopher.

“For most of us it’s a really rough life,” Snyder told Layden. “It doesn’t matter how pretty they are, they’re still horses, and what goes on in the barn in the morning is what really matters. All that other stuff – the braided tail, the colorful silks, the guy wearing a suit in the paddock, in the afternoon, before the race? That’s all window dressing.”

Unlike Snyder’s unceremonious backside birth, Lisa’s Booby Trap was bred and raised at Florida’s prestigious Ocala Stud and nominated at birth to the Breeders’ Cup. But as an early 2-year-old, she showed little promise and Ocala Stud handed her off to horse broker John Shaw.

“She was a good-looking horse, big and strong, with a decent pedigree,” Shaw told Layden. “Not great, but respectable. But when I tried to work her? Jesus Christmas, she was slow. I practically had to time this horse with a sundial. It was ridiculous.”

Shaw, in turn, handed the filly over to another broker, Don Hunt. “My deal with Don was ‘Come and get her, try to do something with her. I gotta tell you though, she’s so slow you have to mark the ground to make sure she’s moving.”

Ultimately, the filly ended up with Snyder, who paid $2,000 down, with a promise to remit the remaining $2,500 from her earnings. In her first start, at Finger Lakes Racetrack, where Snyder camped out in a tack room, Lisa’s Booby Trap won a maiden special weight by 17¾ lengths, After her second start, won by 10½ lengths, Snyder was offered $50,000 for Lisa’s Booby Trap, but turned it down. He did the same when offered $125,000, following her third start, which she won by 8½ lengths.

From Finger Lakes it was on to renowned Saratoga Race Course, where Lisa’s Booby Trap won $42,000, as the six-length winner of the Loudonville Stakes. By now the all but throw-away filly had won four races out of four starts, by a total of 42½ lengths. And her story had just begun.

“Breeding is as much about hope and luck as it is science,” says Layden, a longtime racing fan. “You throw all that DNA into a blender and hit the switch, and then you stand back and let nature take its course.”

Or perhaps, as in the case of Lisa’s Booby Trap, let love takes its course.

“I don’t really believe so much in reincarnation,” Snyder has been quoted as saying. “It’s a big word, you know what I mean? But, there are a lot of things in this horse that resemble my wife.”

Kiss My Hocks kicks tail in Ruidoso Futurity

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Kiss My Hocks

Kiss My Hocks reinforced his lock on the title of leading two-year-old Quarter running horse with a one-half length victory in the $700,000 Ruidoso Futurity, on June 8 at Ruidoso Downs, N.M. JM Miracle finished second, 1½ lengths ahead of third-placed Bodacious Eagle.

Owned by Conda Maze and Tyler Graham, trained by Toby Keeton, and ridden by Cody Jensen, Kiss My Hocks was the fastest qualifier for the 350-yard race, winning his trial by three lengths, in 17.281 seconds. His perfect record of 4 wins in 4 starts includes a 330-yard track record win in his trial to the $564,000 Sam Houston Futurity, which he won by one-half of a length.

Bred by Tyler Graham and John Mayers, Kiss My Hocks is sired by Tempting Dash and the first stakes winner out of stakes-placed Romancing Mary, by Tres Seis.

“I’m trying to be unbiased, but he might be the fastest horse I’ve ever seen,” said legendary horseman Charlie Graham DVM, of Elgin, Texas Veterinary Hospital and Southwest Stallion Station fame, as well as grandfather of Tyler Graham. As a preeminent equine practitioner and racehorse breeder for 53 years, Graham has seen and stood the best, including Rocket Wrangler, sire of the immortal Dash For Cash.

Kiss My Hocks is from the first full crop of 7-year-old Tempting Dash, who on November 1, 2013 was sold at the Heritage Sale Mixed Sale in Oklahoma City for $1.7 million, an auction record for a Quarter race horse. Purchased by Simmons Ranch, Burnet, Tex., the stallion was sold by VSE Consignment on behalf of the Department of Treasury. Thereby hangs an incredible tale, which can be followed via the following links – Texas Observer and AQHA Racing News.

Should his connections choose to enter him in the $900,000 Rainbow Futurity trials, at Ruidoso Downs on July 3 and 4, thanks to his Ruidoso Futurity win, Kiss My Hocks is eligible for the $4 million All American Triple Crown Bonus, reserved for the horse who can sweep all three of the track’s G1 two-year-old events: the Ruidoso Futurity, the Rainbow Futurity, and the $2.6 million All American Futurity on Labor Day.

Special Effort, who won all three races in 1981 and retired with 13 victories from 14 starts, is the only horse to have ever won the All American Triple Crown.

Tonalist tarnishes California Chrome’s bid for crown

Saturday, June 7th, 2014

Tonalist, photo by Adam Coglianese

Heavily favored California Chrome was defeated today at Belmont Park in his bid for the Triple Crown. But the race’s real loser turned out to be the colt’s co-owner Steve Coburn, who held forth in a post race interview about the unfairness of the Triple Crown venue, proving that his Dumb Ass Racing Partnership is well named.

Meanwhile Robert Evans, owner of Tonalist, winner, at 11-1 by a head over Commissioner, recalled, when asked, the reaction of his father, Thomas Mellon Evans, when Pleasant Colony, owned by the elder Evans lost the 1981 Belmont Stakes, after wins in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.

“He was very quiet for a long time,” said Evans.

California Chrome, who seemed a well-positioned fourth on the outside in the stretch, was unable to muster a winning surge and tied for fourth, 1½ lengths back, in a deadheat with Wicked Strong. Medal Count finished third by a length.

“He’s fine,” Espinoza told Donna Brothers, after he the race. “He just didn’t have it in him today.”

Tonalist and Commissioner last raced and finished one-two in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park on May 10. The Belmont was Tonalist’s third win and fourth start in 2014 and broke California Chrome’s six-win streak. The Belmont was California Chrome’s sixth start in 2014.

Tonalist, trained by Christophe Clement and ridden by Joel Rosario, 29, who won the 2013 Kentucky Derby aboard Orb, is out of a daughter of Pleasant Colony and sired by Tapit, who commands a $150,000 stud fee at Gainesway Farm in Lexington, Ky.

Kiss My Hocks lives up to his name in Ruidoso Futurity Trials

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Sam Houston Futurity winner Kiss My Hocks, trained by Toby Keeton, made his Ruidoso Downs debut on Thursday, May 22, with a three-length win, and the fastest qualifying time from 12 trials to the Grade 1, $700,000 Ruidoso Futurity.

The Tempting Dash son, owned by Conda Maze and Tyler Graham and ridden by Cody Jensen, covered 350 yards in :17.281. Horses with the five fastest times from Thursday’s trials will join the five-fastest qualifiers from Friday’s 12 trials in the Ruidoso Futurity on June 8.

“He is the soundest 2-year-old I have ever seen,” said Graham, who bred the colt out of Romancing Mary, by Tres Seis. “He’s a big colt, but very light on his feet.

Kiss My Hocks came into the Ruidoso Futurity trials from two wins at Sam Houston Race Park, in his first two starts, including a 330-yard track record of 16.433 in the trials to the Sam Houston Futurity. He won the $564,000 Sam Houston Futurity by one-half lengths.

“He is just an unbelievable horse,” said Keeton. “You can’t ask for anything more. He’s the real deal – the horse of a lifetime.”

Second-fastest qualifier Jm Famous Master also has stakes experience. The J&M Racing and Farm-owned son of Pyc Paint Your Wagon came off a third-place run in the Grade 2, $267,651 West Texas Futurity and won the eighth trial in :17.348 by 1 3/4 lengths. Alonso Rivera was aboard for trainer Jose Muela.

The remaining three qualifiers were Bodacious Eagle (:17.382), Madmax (:17.448) and Separate Dynasty (:17.461).

California Chrome conquers Kentucky

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

California Chrome became a “made for Hollywood,” dream-come-true for 77-year-old trainer Art Sherman and owners Steve Coburn and Perry Martin, with his 1 3/4-length victory, under Victor Espinoza, in today’s 140th running of the Kentucky Derby.

It was the fifth consecutive win for the 5-2 favorite, who won his four previous starts, including the G1 Santa Anita Derby on April 5, by a total of 25 ¼ lengths. Commanding Curve, a 37-1 longshot, with one win in six starts, finished second; Danza placed third at 9-1 .

Partners Coburn and Martin paid a stud fee of $2,500 to breed their $8,000 mare, Love the Chase, to Lucky Pulpit and get California Chrome, the first California-bred horse to claim the Kentucky Derby since Decidedly, in 1962, and the winner of $2,374,850, including $1.24 million for his Derby win. Earlier this spring, Coburn and Martin turned down a $6 million offer from a party interested in purchasing 51 percent interest in the colt.

“This is a dream come true,” said Coburn, 61, an army veteran and nine-to-five working man from Topaz Lake, Calif. “I was riding him the last 70 yards with Victor.”

It was the second Derby victory for Espinoza, who won the 2002 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes on War Emblem.

“I don’t mess with him that much.” said Espinoza, who has been California Chrome’s sole rider since December, when the pair won the Golden State Juvenile Stakes at Hollywood Park by 6 ¼ lengths. “I just let him run his race and enjoy himself,”

With California Chrome’s win, Art Sherman entered the record books as the oldest trainer of a Kentucky Derby winner. It also marked the first time in 59 years that Sherman had accompanied an entry to the Derby. The first time was in 1955, when Sherman, an 18-year-old stable boy, came to Churchill Downs with the team of California-bred Swaps, but stayed on the backside during the race.

“Words can’t describe how I feel,” said Sherman, who visited the grave of 1955 Derby winner Swaps, at Churchill Downs, the day before the Derby. “He’s my Swaps.”

Market high and wide for Keeneland Yearling Sale

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Thoroughbred racing’s premier auction, the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, concluded its 12-day run on Saturday with double-digit increases over 2012 and the highest average price since 2006.

The cumulative average price of $102,220 on 2,744 yearlings rose 17 percent from $87,330 in 2012, and was the third-highest September Sale average ever. Gross sales of $280,491,300 were up 27.6 percent over 2012, the highest since 2008, and 18 individual horses brought $1 million or more, the most since 2008, from 15 different buyers.

“Buyers are responding to a fair, realistic market,” said Geoffrey, Russell, Keeneland’s director of sales. “Given the smaller size of recent foal crops, supply is more in line with demand, spurring competition for horses.”

M.V. Magnier of Irish-based Coolmore Stud purchased the sale-topper, a War Front colt for $2.5 million. Whisper Hill Farm spent $2.2 million for an Indian Charlie filly, who is half-sister to two G1 winners.

“The depth of buyers is the encouraging factor of the sale,” said Peter O’Callaghan of Woods Edge Farm, consignor of the sale-topping $2.5 million colt. “Just the amount of people bidding on your horses is really great to see. We’ve been waiting for it for a while.”

The high volume of trade also pushed the buy-back rate to a low of 19.9 percent, with active buyers from the U.S. and Europe, as well as Russia, Qatar, Japan, Korea, and Central and South America.

Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Estate Company Ltd. ranked as the leading buyer for the second consecutive year, buying 27 yearlings for $11.6 million. Shadwell’s purchases were led by a $1 million Tapit filly consigned by Woods Edge Farm. Tapit, who stands at Gainesway Farm near Lexington, was the sales leading sire by gross with 38 yearlings for a total of $15,670,000, including four which brought $1 million or more.


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