Archive for July, 2007

Wild Six wins Rainbow Futurity

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

Wild Six, upset winner over Heartswideopen in the West Texas Futurity, added a richer win to her perfect 5 for 5 record with a game victory in the $625,000 Rainbow Futurity at Ruidoso Downs, on Sunday, July 22. She covered the 400 yards in :19.428 and defeated 10-1 long shot Possum Fust by a neck, while Early Morning Bite was another head back for third.

“She was close early in the race and she has that little bit extra,” said winning rider Tony Guymon, who has ridden her to each of her wins.

The goal for Wild Six since she was purchased for $32,000 in the Ruidoso Quarter Horse Yearling Sale has been the All American Futurity and her next start will be in the All American Futurity trials on Aug. 16. The 10 fastest qualifiers from those trials qualify for the $2 million All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs on Labor Day.

“We’ll see how she comes out of the race, but the All American has been the goal,” said trainer Wes Giles. “She was probably the shortest horse in the race, but she is awful good.”

“We love her,” added co-owner John Lee, who publicly kissed the filly’s rear end after the West Texas and Rainbow Futurity wins. “We’ve been offered a lot of money for her, but we’d never sell her.”

“The goal since day one when we bought her has been the All American Futurity,” he added. ” It’s all been a prep to this point, but a damn good prep.”

Lee owns the Tres Seis-sired filly with fellow Arizonans Lincoln Sherwood and Herman Mineer.

The three owners first realized they had a bona fide All American prospect when she used a late run down the outside at Sunland Park to win the 300-yard West Texas Futurity by a half-length in :14.95. She was scratched from the Ruidoso Futurity trials, however, when she was fractious in the gate.

“That was just one of those things,” said Giles. “We schooled her in the gates after that, but I don’t really think we needed to. She’s been the perfect pupil since her first day of training last fall.”

Wild Six won her 400-yard Rainbow Futurity trial by a half-length in :19.478, the third-fastest qualifying time from 18 trials.

“All the credit goes to Wes and his crew,” said Guymon. “I just try to stay out of her way.”

Abelardo Flores’ homebred Possum Fust is also in top form coming into the All American Futurity trials. The Eddie Willis-trained gelding was a close second in the Oklahoma Futurity at Remington Park and won his Rainbow Futurity trial by two lengths.

Marcus Smith’s Early Morning Bite, an $80,000 Ruidoso Quarter Horse yearling Sale purchase, qualified for the finals of the Grade 1, $500,000 Ruidoso Futurity and won his Rainbow Futurity trial by two lengths for trainer James McArthur.

Following Early Morning Bite under the wire were Brighton Beach, Keep Themusicplaying, Jess A Classy Lassy, Pragmatico and Fear This Feature. Shy Ann Jess and Three Past Six were scratched from the field.

Separate Bet scores big in Rainbow Derby

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

Separate Bet claimed the Grade 1 $447,230 Rainbow Derby with a dominating 2 3/4 length win over favored Valiant Hero, on Saturday, July 21 at Ruidoso Downs.

The gelded son of Separatist, trained by Paul Jones for Harrel, Barrett and Adams, covered 440 yards in :20.97 on a muddy track, as the 8-5 second-favorite public choice. Strawkins set the track and stakes record of :20.73, when he won the 2006 Rainbow Derby.

“He stumbled a hair at the start,” said winning rider Freddie Martinez. “By the second jump he got going.”

Separate Bet joined the Jones stable this year after being trained by the now retired Jack Brooks to win the 2006 Rainbow Juvenile and qualifying for the All American Futurity.

In his first start this year, Separate Bet set the Ruidoso Downs 400-yard track record winning an allowance race by more than three lengths with a time of :19.18. He then won his Rainbow Derby trial by more than two lengths. His time of :21.228 was the third-fastest qualifying time.

“We were expecting a lot out of him,” said Jones. “Right now, we’re pointing him to the All American Derby and the Champion Of Champions.”

Valiant Hero, another former Brooks trainee, was the even-money favorite after winning his four previous starts, including two stakes victories, and recording the fastest time to the Rainbow Derby. He started his winning streak with the $1 million Texas Classic Futurity for Brooks and took the Heritage Place Derby for trainer Mike Joiner, before moving to Ruidoso Downs.

The remainder of the field, in order of finish: The Crawfish, Paul Jones; Twoforthedough, Paul Jones; Mr Gordon Shultz, Carl Draper; Already Rude, Paul Jones; Royal Snow, Fred Danley. La Lalique, Okey Dokey Fantasy and Voghts Gold were scratched.

Separate Bet was bred by Vessels Stallion Farm out of graded stakes winner Better Bet On Me by First Down Dash. Second dam Letter Be There is by Timeto Thinkrich, out of a Beduino (TB) daughter.

Water for Elephants

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

Believe me, you’ll love Water for Elephants – with liberty horses, elephants, dogs, the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, and a plot that won’t let you quit.

I read Sara Gruen’s novel last summer when it first appeared in hardback. Today, it is on the New York Times bestseller list, has sold over 5 million copies and is available in paperback. There is also an audio CD that I am in the process of listening to and enjoying just as much as my first read.

The main character is 93-year-old Jacob Jankowski, who slips back in time to 1931, when a family tragedy causes him to leave Cornell Veterinary College just shy of graduation and join the Benzini Brothers as a roustabout. The author draws us into Jacob world with the circus train – and what a ride!

We meet an engaging cast of characters from Rosie the elephant who habitually pulls her stake out of the ground to go and steal lemonade to Barbara who entertains rubes in the cooch tent. But we aren’t spared gruesome details, dark secrets and tragedies along the way.

From the New York Times Book Review: “You’ll get lost in the tatty glamour of Gruen’s meticulously researched world, from spangled equestrian pageantry and the sleazy side show to an ill-fated night at a Chicago speak-easy.”

Genetic findings on canine speed could have implications for equine sports

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Whippets are bred for speed. These dogs have the appearance of a small greyhound and have been clocked sprinting to speeds approaching 40 miles per hour over a 200-yard racing course. Recently, scientists at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), discovered a genetic mutation that helps to explain why some whippets run even faster than others.

In a study published online May 1, 2007 in PLoS Genetics, a research team led by Elaine A. Ostrander, Ph.D., chief of the Cancer Genetics Branch in NHGRI’s Division of Intramural Research, reports that a mutation in a gene that codes for a muscle protein known as myostatin can increase muscle mass and enhance racing performance in whippets.

Like humans, dogs have two copies of every gene — one inherited from their mother and the other from their father. Dr. Ostrander and her colleagues found that whippets with one mutated copy of the myostatin (MTSN) gene and one normal copy to be more muscled than normal and to account for a large share of the breed’s fastest racers. However, their research also showed that whippets with two mutated copies of the MTSN gene have a gross excess of muscle and are rarely found among competitive racers.

Whippets are medium-size dogs that have been bred for centuries for hunting, racing, show and companionship. Sometimes, litters of whippet puppies include heavily muscled offspring referred to as “bully” whippets that are prone to shoulder and thigh cramping. The bully whippet’s muscle structure looks similar to “double muscling” previously observed in mice, cattle, sheep and in one case, a human. Previous research has linked mutations in the MTSN gene to the double muscled trait in these cases. To gain a better understanding of the MTSN gene in whippets and its role in racing performance, the NHGRI-led team undertook an analysis of whippet DNA samples collected through the efforts of breeders and owners.

First, the researchers sequenced the MTSN gene in 22 whippets: four bully whippets, five whippets that had given birth to or sired bully whippets, and 13 normal whippets that had no known relation to a bully.

In the bully whippets, the researchers found that both copies of the MTSN gene had a tiny mutation — a deletion of just two of the gene’s 5,083 DNA bases. The deletion leads to the production of an abnormally shortened version of the myostatin protein.

Of the whippets that had bully whippet offspring, all had one normal and one mutated copy of the MTSN gene, or were “carriers” of the MTSN mutation. No mutations were found in the MTSN genes of the other whippets tested. The findings were confirmed by genetic testing of another 146 whippets.

Dr. Ostrander’s group went on to investigate whether a dog’s MTSN status correlated with its racing performance. Analysis of the racing records of 85 whippets entered in the study revealed a significant association between a dog’s genetic profile and its speed, as assessed by racing grade. There were significantly more carriers of the MTSN mutation among the fastest dogs.

The prevalence of the MTSN mutation among whippets appears to be a relatively recent phenomenon in the evolution of dogs, caused by selective breeding. “We found many more carriers of this mutation among the fastest whippets, since breeders inadvertently selected for this trait,” said NHGRI’s Dana Mosher, who is the study’s first author.

To see if this MTSN mutation plays a role in muscle mass and speed in other types of dogs, the researchers sequenced DNA from multiple dogs from 14 additional breeds, including the greyhound. While the findings did not exclude the possibility that the mutation occurs in other breeds, researchers said it appears that the double muscle structure may be unique to the whippet breed.

“Our work is the first to link athletic performance to a mutation in the myostatin gene and could have implications for competitive sports in dogs, horses and possibly even humans. However, extreme caution should be exercised when acting upon these results because we do not know the consequences for overall health associated with myostatin mutations,” said Dr. Ostrander, who noted that dogs provide an excellent system in which to investigate genes associated with disease, behavior and other traits.

Record 229-point win for Wagner and Quintan Blue

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

Quintan Blue, at six already the youngest horse to gain the ranks of cutting’s all-time Top 15 money-earners, moved into the Top 10 with a record-breaking 229-point win in the National Cutting Horse Association’s Open Classic Challenge on Monday, July 16 in Fort Worth, TX. The win was worth $50,000 to owner Marvine Ranch, Meeker, CO, and increased Quintan Blue’s lifetime total to more than $560,000.

“I didn’t think it was going to happen,” said rider Roger Wagner of his chance for a win on Quintan Blue in her last Triple Crown event. “The odds seemed too much against it with me being last and with the cows being pretty tough. It was something that was hanging over my head – not to win on her in this arena.”

Wagner, who has ridden the Mecom Blue daughter in open competition since her debut as reserve champion of the 2004 NCHA Futurity, drew last to work in the 25-horse NCHA Classic Challenge. At that point, Lynx Of Style held the lead with 226 points under John Mitchell for Slate River Ranch.

“Quintan Blue was meant to win,” said Mitchell (pictured, on right, with Wagner), who held herd for Wagner. “She’s just that calibre. She’s going to go out as one of the best ever.”

Quintan Blue is fluid yet quick, graceful yet gritty, flashy yet elegant, and thoroughly professional. You can see her sizing the cattle up as Wagner rides through the herd. In a fair face off with a cow, she is seldom tricked.

“She stayed everywhere she had to be, thought all the way through the turns and never missed a beat,” said Wagner, who cut three cows for the winning run. “The eye appeal on that mare is outstanding. She can dazzle them.”

Quintan Blue’s score is a record for the Classic Challenge. Alice Walton’s Boon San Kittywon last year’s event with a 228. 

Quintan Blue was owned by Jim Vangilder, Jackson, MO, when she was reserve champion of the 2000 NCHA Futurity. Wagner and Vangilder doubled up on the mare placing in 20 limited age events with five championships through early 2006, when Quintan Blue was purchased by Marvine Ranch owned by Goldman Sachs’ president and co-CEO Jon Winkelried.
The Classic Challenge marks Quintan Blue’s 12th major championship win — her sixth consecutive win in 2007.

Stock options for CEO of Goldman Sachs

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

Picking stock has taken on new meaning for Jon Winkelried, president and co-chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs global investment bank.

Winkelried is in Fort Worth, TX today to compete in the National Cutting Horse Association’s Summer Spectacular. He has qualified two horses for the second go-round of non-pro competition in the 5 and 6-year-old division, most notably Quintan Blue, one of the sport’s all-time leading money earners.

Although he didn’t start riding horses until he was an adult, and he didn’t take up cutting, a sport that demands quick reflexes – both mental and physical – until two years ago, Winkelried has made remarkable progress. Earlier this year, he was a finalist in the amateur division of two major events. Now he is competing in the tougher non-pro ranks in Fort Worth.

Earlier this week I asked Winkelried if and how business skills might relate to cutting competition.

“I think there are certainly some common themes,” said Winkelried, who lives in New York and finds little time to practice between shows. “If you want to be good in anything, I think you have to become a student and be somewhat intense about it.  Learning as much as you can, taking instructions and learning from good people, is always a key. If you really want to get up the learning curve fast, those are the things that are common between doing well in business or doing well in something like this.”

Winkelried owns a ranch in Meeker, CO and grew up playing sports, but admits that cutting is not an easy sport to master and that he had to tackle a steep learning curve to be competitive.

“There is a certain amount of athleticism that helps you in this sport,” he noted. “But what you learn when you compete is really critical. Every time you (show) you learn something else in terms of your position on the cows, for instance. You become much more aware of what’s going on around you.

“I think when you’re a real novice, there’s so much going on and so much stuff coming at you, you don’t know really how to sift through it and what to make of it. But the more you do it, the more the sport slows down a little bit for you, so that you start to become aware of things that will allow you to improve. I’m still going through that.

“Every time I go in (the arena), I’m learning a little bit more about what I’m trying to accomplish. You also get calmer as you do it more. I think everybody probably gets excited about going in there, if you love it. But I think nerves turn to more controlled excitement and that helps you, because you have a clearer head.”

Leading riders of 2007 LAE finalists

Saturday, July 14th, 2007

With the first finals of the National Cutting Horse Association’s Summer Spectacular coming up Monday, here’s a look at the leading riders of NCHA limited age event finalists for the 2007 calendar year. These standings are based on Open, Non-Pro, Amateur, Limited, Novice and Senior classes for major events held January 1 through June 20. A total of 498 individual riders have made the finals in those events. The top 30 riders (plus ties) are listed.

Rider Total Finalists Champions Reserves 3rd +
Rapp, Phil 31 2 4 25
Cox, Lloyd 23 1 1 21
Shepard, Austin 21 4 1 16
Allen, Clint 21 2 1 18
Bushaw, Chad 21 0 3 18
Queen, Skip 20 4 3 13
Hanson, Phil 20 1 0 19
Gaines, Matt 19 1 3 15
Galyean, Wesley 16 4 1 11
Wheatley, Aaron 16 2 2 12
Wagner, Roger 15 3 1 11
McLamb, JB 14 1 1 12
Miller, Matt 14 0 1 13
Adams, Dustin 13 1 2 10
Hansma, Paul 12 1 0 11
Hansma, Julie 12 0 3 9
Rapp, Mary Ann 12 0 2 10
Queen, Elizabeth 12 0 1 11
Mitchell, John 12 0 0 12
Rice, Boyd 12 0 0 12
Galyean, Beau 11 3 0 8
Kratzer, John 11 1 2 8
Smith, Tim 11 1 0 10
Thompson, Craig 11 0 1 10
Rice, Tag 10 5 0 5
Diehl, Curry 10 1 1 8
Adams, Deena 10 1 0 9
Shepard, Stacy 10 1 0 9
Marvin, Tommy 10 0 1 9
Vangilder, Jim 10 0 1 9
Clark, Jason 10 0 0 10
Mitchell, Brad 10 0 0 10