What does it take to win?

Saturday’s Preakness really showed what it takes to win a horse race.  Of course you have to start out with a really good horse, but there is so much more to winning a race.  The old Irish saying is “The best horse doesn’t always win.”  How true this is.

Track conditions are essential to any race.  Some horses do well on dry fast tracks.  Others like deeper tracks.  Some horses like the synthetic tracks.  Of course we know that some horses are bred for Turf.  And, finally not all horses do well on a wet sloppy track.

Given the track conditions of Saturday’s race it is obvious that there might have been a slight advantage for some of the horses.  But positioning was far greater of a challenge. The winner of the race, Exaggerator was placed just where he needed to be.  Off the pace was essential for saving enough horse to close.  Unfortunately, in my opinion, Nyquist was pushed too hard in the front end of the race and just ran out of energy.  It doesn’t make him any less of a great horse, he just didn’t get the ride he deserved.  The horses that ran so hard with him in the lead finished sixth and eighth.  They too were exhausted. Exaggerator was positioned to save ground which also meant saving that extra energy to finish strong.  Then, when the time was right Exaggerator was moved outside where he could see the light of day and came on strong.

I think the Preakness was a really good schooling opportunity for jockeys and trainers, as well as owners and betters of the importance of the role of the jockey and the instructions from the trainer.  The trainers know their horses and can usually give the best advise.  The jockey is in control in the end and must try to follow the trainer’s instructions, but must be free to make adjustments as needed.

From the follow-up interviews after the Preakness, it is obvious that the jockey of Exaggerator did not follow all the instructions that his brother the trainer might have given him. However he knows that track and he used his professional judgement to make the necessary adjustments.  I hope that some of our jockeys will learn from Saturday’s race and try to follow directions, but in the end rely on their own experience and professionalism to make any necessary adjustments.

Congratulations to the Desormeaux brothers on the job well done.  Of course, I bet on Exaggerator so that made for a small profit for me.  It was a great race to watch!

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Good News & Not So Good

Our mare Yuma Thurman ran on Friday.  She was in the lead most of the way but got caught at the wire.  That was actually the good news — she ran well and pulled up good.  Coming in second also gave our partnership Pony Express Racing, LLC some needed funds.  Yuma Thurman has been paying for herself and that’s great.

Now for the Not So Good News — she obviously was admired by another trainer.  Yes, our girl Yuma Thurman was claimed so she’s gone from our barn.  She was doing so well and I was afraid she might get claimed but that’s part of the game.  It is a tough business and these beautiful horses as much as we love them are not pets — they are professional athletes and subject to trade offs.

The not so bad news is that it’s the beginning of the meet at Turf Paradise which goes until the first week of May so Yuma Thurman should continue to race at Turf Paradise so we might be able to claim her back.  That’s a decision that will have to be made in the future.  We will watch her progress and see if she stays in good condition.  Unfortunately, not all trainers are the same and in the past we claimed a horse that we lost and he was not well taken care of and it took us almost a year to get him back to 100%.  We will continue to watch her and hope for the best for her.  Keeping a horse healthy is a skill that is developed over time and patience.  Our trainer, Drew Fulmer is one of the best in maintaining the health of our horses.  He knows them top to bottom and never slacks off — it is a 24/7 job for him and he is very diligent.

The other good news is that we have the claiming price and I have already been scouting out horses that I like.  I asked our trainer Drew Fulmer to look at a 3 year old gelding that looks impressive to me.  It is always Drew’s call if we are going to make the claim.  He knows horses and I can only make suggestions.  My suggestions are purely based on past performance and stats.  Drew knows what to look for in the physical characteristics of the horse to see if the horses is a viable candidate.  With over 25 years of experience working with horses, I will always bow to his judgement.

Even with all the considerations, there is never a guarantee that a claim will be good.  It is not just science, claiming is an art.  And of course the ultimate outcome is tainted by luck.  In any case, the gelding that I like is racing on December 1st and I am keeping my fingers crossed that he will be joining our barn.  I am like a kid on Christmas morning when it comes to claiming a horse — always looking for the surprise.  As a horseman, I am always excited about making a new equine friend.









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Just pictures

I promised to post pictures of Yuma Thurman after she won her race, so here goes:


She is clearly in the lead all the way!


Here’s our girl in full stride!


This is a winning smile!


In the Winner’s Circle with our trainer Drew C. Fulmer and our groom Eloy!  It was a cold day for Arizona so there weren’t many fans outside.

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It seemed like forever, but we finally got our win.  Yuma Thurman went wire to wire — gone good bye!

We had an apprentice rider named Katelin Willey on her.  This young jockey is just doing so well and we hope she will continue to ride for us. She is enthusiastic and earnest.  I believe she will be a great jockey and we are happy to have her as part of our racing team.  She has already won 11 races since the start of the season at Turf Paradise.

Our girl Yuma Thurman of course is a wonderful mare.  I think she will make us proud.  When we took her to New Mexico, she did not assimilate well but I knew that once we got her home, she would be a winner.

I will post a picture of Yuman Thurman with Katelin on board as soon as I get the photo from the track photographer.  So be sure to check out my next post.


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A few curve balls

Life seems to have thrown me a few curve balls lately and I have had to put everything aside to deal with these problematic situations.  It’s time to shake the blues and think positive and enjoy life.  So here I go.

I went to the barn last Sunday to see my horses.  I took my sister and her husband with me.  They were visiting from Chicago and being city folks had never had the opportunity of seeing Thoroughbred close up.  I love my visits to the barn and I was happy to see that they enjoyed the experience as well.  We fed the horses carrots as I introduced all my equine children to them.  They were amazed at the number of horses that I lay claim to.

Our barn, Fulmer Racing Team has two horses racing this weekend.  I am excited about the outcome.  Woodlandsway is racing on Sunday.  We lowered her in class because she tired after the last race and I think this is a more appropriate level for her.  We have an excellent rider and anticipate a good outing.  My only concern of course is that she might get claimed, but I realize that it is part of the racing world.  So I will be betting on Woodlandsway and hoping she’ll still be ours after the race.  Let the best man win!

On Monday, we have Yuma Thurman racing.  She is the favorite in the race.  Her last race, she was in the lead and I think the jockey thought she had the race won but was passed in the final length.  Our jockey is an apprentice and she rode Yuma Thurman perfectly, but didn’t anticipate the final strides.  After the race, I congratulated her for a good ride and told her I was confident that we would win the next time out.  The apprentice is riding her again and I feel good about the outcome of the race.  This is another horse that might get claimed.  I hope we win the race, but more than that I hope we will still have this one in our barn.

Watch us race at Turf Paradise on Sunday and Monday.  I will be betting on both of these horses, even though I am not much of a gambler.

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4th Place Recap

Opening day at Turf Paradise was definitely a welcomed day.  We are finally home and ready to race.  All our equine kids made it home safely from New Mexico and are settled in.

The first day of racing for us featured one of our favorites, Tonight at Eleven.  Tonight at Eleven is really a turf horse, but we decided to start him out at a lower class to see how he would adjust back home.  He is not a sprinter and the race was too short for him.  He ran a good race, but the weather also caused problems — it was rain, rain and more rain. Finishing 4th wasn’t great, but it was good for him to get a good workout.  I think we will probably try him back on the turf the next time out.

Day two for us featured Sun Catcher.  He has been nothing but a challenge for us since we claimed him.  He was a colt when we got him and needed to be cut.  Unfortunately, he did not respond well to that and stopped eating.  He became a health risk to himself.  It was only the diligent care from our trainer Drew Fulmer that finally got him back in shape.  He ran well in New Mexico so we look forward to some success here.  He was doing so well in this race until it seems he got spooked and hung.   But, he didn’t quit and finished 4th.  I am sure with the right rider, he will succeed.  Part of the trick with him is getting him out quick and staying near the rail.  For some reason, he seems to hesitate when a horse passes him on the left and that’s what happened this race.  It was like watching him stop in mid-air.  I noticed at the barn in the past that he would spook on the left if that’s how I approached him and it seems to carry through in his racing.  All we can do is keep trying.  He can run fast enough, but still needs more for the win.

Day three of racing at Turf Paradise for us featured another favorite of ours.  Pursuxit is a wonderful horse.  We managed to get him at a very low price and he has won a number of races for us.  He is now 7 years old, but can still go with the best of them.  The main issue with Pursuxit is to get him out.  Unfortunately, that just didn’t happen in this race.  Why the jockey hesitated with him is beyond my understanding and he started dead last.  Pursuxit ran his heart out and went from last to fourth in this mile race.  If he didn’t have to make up the lost distance, he definitely would have finished better.  It is like giving someone a head start in a race and then trying to make up for it.  It usually just doesn’t work.  Our trainer has decided to use a different jockey the next go round and I think that will be the ticket.

So although we were not very successful, we made a little progress.  All the horses pulled up good after the race so they are all ready to go again in the next three weeks or so.  They all proved to be worthy of being part of our team and showed that they are truly good race horses.

The first week at Turf Paradise was a short one with only three days of racing.  The next race day is Saturday October 24th.  We have no entries that day.  On Sunday, we have two fillies in the same race,  Berry Valid and Yuma Thurman.  Berry Valid has been inconsistent in her racing and is a girly girl so it all depends on her mood.  Yuma Thurman is relatively new to our barn.  We claimed her last season and she won one race for us.  We are going to try an apprentice rider on her.  I am hoping the 5 pound allowance will help. Unfortunately she got the 9 post in a 9 horse field.  Getting out quickly will definitely be the ticket here.  I am happy that we are going to try an apprentice on this filly because I believe this rider has a lot of potential and is determined to prove herself.  I sure hope that I am right about that because it was my call, not the trainer’s to use her in this race.  I got my fingers crossed on this one.  Watch for us and wish us luck!

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No Place Like Home

Chase those flying moneys away, click your heels and repeat after me: “There’s no place like home!”

We are down to our last week of racing in New Mexico and then all the horses will be heading home to Turf Paradise in Phoenix, AZ.  I have missed the horses so much.  Because of health concerns, I was unable to travel to New Mexico this year so its been a while since I’ve seen my equine kids.

There are a wonderful group.  We are a team and I have been the absentee member for too long.  There will be carrots all around and maybe a little merriment such as balloons, streamers and a welcome home sign.  It might sound a little crazy, but the horses seem to enjoy seeing the colorful balloons waving in the breeze.

Life is good and can only get better as soon as we are reunited.  We have four more races in New Mexico and are still hoping for the best.  Yesterday, Pursuxit ran a good race, coming in second.  We will compete on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday this week and then its time for the task of hauling.  Our trainer has a lot of work ahead getting them hauled back and settling them back in at Turf Paradise.  He is lucky to have a wonderful groom we call “E” to help him.  The stalls are already prepared for the return of the horses, so we’re halfway home.

All we need now is for the horses to travel well and  to have a safe ride home.  Say a prayer that all goes well.

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Still trying

Well Albuquerque has still proven to be a heart breaker.  The track has been so fast and our horses start so well but seem to weaken in the stretch.

Our trainer, Drew Fulmer is a die-hard so he has been great.  He decidedly has true grit and keeps the faith.  I often wonder how he can keep going in the face of disappointment but he is a real competitor and usually succeeds in the end.  It definitely is a testament to his wonderful enduring personality.  A true competitor, he is persistent and determined.

Our horses take their lead from him and do their very best almost every race.   I can’t ask for more than that.  Our trainer is doing a great job keeping everything together and working.  Drew and the horses will soon be back home in Phoenix and I am confident that we will be able to see the wins we have been waiting for once we start again at Turf Paradise.  In the meantime, Drew will continue to make an effort in New Mexico to win at least another before the end of that meet.

Determination and courage keeps us going.  We can all smile at the end of the day because we know that our horses are healthy and we live to race another day.

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One More Time — Keeping the Faith

We managed to make it so far during the long summer of racing in New Mexico.  Our home base is Turf Paradise in Phoenix, AZ.  It’s been a tough summer trying to win a few races here and there.

We had some really promising entries at the end of the meet at Sunray Park in Farmington, NM but it rained so intensely that the track was flooded and the last four days of racing were cancelled.

Fortunately, Albuquerque Downs has a short meet that starts on September 11th.  Our trainer Drew Fulmer did a fabulous job finding races for some of our horses and he has five entries.  On Saturday, Inclined to Win and Pursuxit are running.  Sun Catcher is scheduled to run on Sunday.  Yuma Thurman and Elusive Moment are entered in races on Septmber 16th and 17th.

We got our fingers crossed that this will prove to be a profitable venture.  We are keeping the faith and hoping for the best.  Our horses are healthy and ready to run so here we go.

After that, my equine kids will all be coming home.  I live less than a mile from Turf Paradise so I will be visiting my horses as soon and as often as I can.  Having the horses near brings me the greatest joy.  They are professional athletes, but they are my sweethearts.

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Long Hot Summer — How many ways can you lose?

Every summer it’s time for our thoroughbred horses to leave home (Phoenix, AZ) and race in a more temperate climate.  The 100 degree temperatures of Phoenix are too stressful for our equine family.

For the last few years, we have traveled to Farmington and Albuquerque New Mexico for racing at Sunray Park and Albuquerque Downs.  Racing in New Mexico is extremely challenging.  Being away from home is hard enough, but competing in an environment that favors local trainers and horses adds to the mix.  It’s not that it’s unfair, it’s just that the number of races available to horses that are not New Mexico bred are often limited.  This is then compounded by the difference in the geography.

New Mexico is at a much higher altitude and so our horses first must become accustomed to that change.  The soil conditions are different as well.  It is more mountainous in the NM area than in urban Phoenix.  There are more rocks and stones that the horses are not used to running on.

This led to our first trial in attempting to win in New Mexico.  At least two of our dozen horses that we took to New Mexico suffered from foot problems.  One of our fillies was unable to race the entire summer because she was so “tender” footed.  An older gelding had some foot problems which were solved about half way through the summer.

Another consideration is the configuration and the depth of the tracks.  The tracks in New Mexico are called “Bull Ring” tracks which means they are smaller, more round than oval and as a result have much sharper turns.  The depth of the tracks also effects the horses.  It’s almost like running on the beach rather than on solid ground.  As a result, many of our horses tired early.  Some of our horses actually like the tracks for the configuration as well as the depth.  Unfortunately, not many races were available for them this year.

We have one horse who is very big and he has great difficulty with the sharp turns.  So as fast as he is, Sunray Park was not a good fit for him.  We had one horse that we were sure would be a winner this summer because he likes the smaller track.  In his first race for us at Sunray Park he took a bad step which proved to be fatal and had to be put down.  This was a heartbreaker for sure.

We finally got near the end of the meet and our horse Elusive Moment won a race, only to be disqualified.  This was definitely a game changer.  After reviewing the race several times I was convinced that the stewards made a terrible mistake and our horse should be awarded the win.  After a few discussions with the trainer, it was decided that because it was just a claiming race, we had little or no chance of winning and the cost of fighting the decision not worth it.  If it had been an allowance or stake race, there is no doubt that we would have fought that decision, but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet.

Down to our last four races of the meet and we were ready to go.  We had two races on Sunday and two races on the last day of the meet, Tuesday.  The horses in the two races on Sunday were picked to come in second or third by the handicapper.  We were feeling confident that these two races would make the summer.

Mother Nature decided to work against us.  Farmington got a great deal of rain and the track was flooded.  Racing was cancelled for Friday and Saturday.  We were hoping the track would be fit by Sunday.  I followed the weather reports for Farmington and the chance of additional rain on Sunday was at 15%.  I was confident that we had dodged the bullet.  No such luck.

Early this morning, I received a text message from our trainer.  The last two days of racing at Sunray Park had officially been cancelled.

How many ways can you lose?  We lost a horse, we were disqualified and finally the weather did us in.

I am hoping that bad luck comes in threes so that we have finished our bad streak.  There are some races back at Albuquerque during the month of September, so I think we will try there again.

October 17th is opening day at Turf Paradise and I can hardly wait.  There is no place like home.

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Off and running at Sunray Park

So the meet at Sunray Park in Albuquerque started on July 3rd.  It was a grand start for our trainer Drew Fulmer.  He entered his oldest horse Canard.  Canard is a wonder horse.  He is sweet and gentle.  He’ll eat just about anything offered to him and he is a big strong horse.  He started out a gray, but with age, he looks almost white.  Canard is 11 years old which is surprising for a thoroughbred still racing.  Canard had a wonderful race and beat out the kids in the field.  Even the announcer called him an old-timer.  It was a grand start for the beginning of the meet.

The next day turned out to be a disaster, when we lost Cut to the Front.  As I previously posted, one bad step and it was all over.  The veterinarian made the call.  The horse could not survive and was in pain so he was put down.  It was heart breaking for me and the trainer.

The next racing day did not prove to help our moods.  Inclined to Win made a gallant start, but the pace was too fast for the distance and he tired.  Inclined to Win did so well at Albuquerque, but he really likes a deeper track with a slower pace up front.  He pulled up good so we were happy with that and went on to the next race.  Pursuxit ran in the last race of the day.  He got off well and looked ready to go.  Suddenly the jockey checked him really hard.  The horse took the lead from the jockey and immediately slowed his pace.  The sudden jerk of the jockey seemed obvious to me that something frightened the jockey and there is not much we could do once the jockey put the brakes on.  It is difficult to judge what caused this sudden reaction by the jockey, but it had to be instinct on the part of the rider.  The races go at such speed that it is unfair to be upset with the rider whose responsibility to not only to protect himself, but also the horse he is riding.  So the day ended on a low note.

Today is our next chance to try to get back into the swing of things.  My favorite horse Tonight at Eleven is running.  I know he is getting old but he has a lot of heart and I am hoping he will help out Drew today and perform at his best.  I am also hoping that we will get a good ride which is essential to a win.

I have my fingers crossed and wish for the best.  It’s horse racing, a fast dangerous, but most exciting game.  Wish us luck.

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Broken Hearted

Yesterday was a real heart breaker for me.  We had our horse Cut to the Front running at Sunray Park.  He was training so good and looked ready to win.  We had claimed him with the intent that he would do so well at Sunray because he was a short distance runner.

He broke well and was in 2nd when suddenly one misstep and it was all over.  The jockey pulled him up as soon as he could but he was vanned off.  The Veterinarian gave us the bad news and said Cut to the Front would not survive this injury and he was in terrible pain.  We had to have Cut to the Front put down.

We have lost horses in the past, but for some reason this one has been the hardest for me.  I just knew it was one of those day when Fate would take its course.  There was nothing we could do to change destiny, but we are still very sad to have lost this wonderful horse.

cut to the frontSleep well Baby — We will miss you!

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We can all be winners.  I was thinking about how lucky some of us are.  Is everyone lucky?  My guess is no.  Some of us appear to be more lucky than others.  Is it really luck or is it persistence.

Everyone, no matter of social or economic class has been given some talents.  It is what we do with those talents that really matters.  Realistically, there are several boundaries that might cause us to limit our success, but we should all experience some degree of success in our lives.

I am of course an eternal optimist but I think we are responsible for our own decisions.  Being able to accept responsibility for our actions is key to success.  If we fail or fall on “bad times” who is responsible?  There are outside influences no doubt that limit our success, but that is no reason to stop trying.

Some people just seem to be in the right place at the right time.  Some have family influences that aid to their success, and likewise some are limited by their family’s economic or social backgrounds.

Perhaps we need to define success in a different light.  Some consider wealth as a sign of success.  If that were the case, I guess all rich people would be happy with their lives and consider themselves successful.  I think someone who makes the best cookies in the neighborhood to be a big success.  All the kids in the neighborhood surely think of that person as special and that is a success in itself.

We need to be comfortable in our own skin to be successful.  We are who we are and have certain talents.  We need to use those talents to make ourselves and those around us happy.  Then are we successful.

With success comes thankfulness.  Each day we should be thankful for our successes and work at minimizing our failures.  Being happy and healthy are by far the greatest part of success.  Take care of yourself physically and try to be happy.  A good laugh can always make the troubles go away.  Have a fun day and be grateful for what your have.  Then you will be happy and that’s real success.

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Back home in Phoenix, AZ

Our horses have all been settled for the new meet at Sunray in Farmington, NM.  Our trainer, Drew Fulmer did a wonderful job of getting all my equine kids moved and ready to go.

It is time to reflect on just how fortunate I have been.  My husband Bill has been an inspiration and he is really a dreamer.  If it had not been for him, I never would have owned a thoroughbred horse.  That was his dream, but I really have gotten more involved in the day to day activities of the thoroughbreds.  It has been an exciting time for me, especially as I get older and can not do all the physical activities that I have done in the past.  I am more of a spectator now and what better game to watch than the racing game.  The horses are splendid and leave my heart beating fast whenever they race.  The horses are my buddies when it comes to having an ear or two to listen to my joys and tribulations.  Horses are great listeners especially when it comes with a few carrots for them.

But, I am more than just a horse owner.  I have five children.  They are all grown.  My oldest son is a minister, so I got my direct connection to Heaven taken care of.  He and his family live in Virginia, so I don’t see them often.  I have two grandchildren, a boy and a girl.

I also have three daughters who live in Arizona.  My oldest daughter is a professional caregiver for patients with physical limitations and/or dimentia.  She is my health care backup when needed.  She has proven to be the most attentive and helpful, along with her fiancee who is a sweetheart of a guy.

My middle daughter is the hardest working of all.  She works more hours than any of the children, but seems to sometimes struggle.  She reminds me more of my mother than any of the other children.  I think that is because of her kind and generous nature, as well as the fact that she physically resembles my maternal grandmother.

The youngest daughter has always been the most troublesome and the rebel of the family.  She is a beautiful child with the most amazing voice.  She has sung semi-professionally and has perfect pitch.

My youngest son is a graduate of Georgetown Law School and also studied at Oxford.  He is the baby of the family and he recently got married.  He found himself a beautiful bride who is also a very sweet girl.  Everyone in the family like our new addition to the family.  Here is a picture of the new bride and my son admiring her.

weddingI am sure that you can see why I think I am one of the luckiest people alive.  I love my family dearly and I also have my equine family for extra comfort and support.

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Happy Father’s Day

Today is Father’s Day. Our trainer Drew Fulmer is a father and a grandfather, but he is even more.  He is a “DAD” to our horses. Here is a silly poem which I sent to him as a Happy Dad’s Day from his equine kids.

Our trainer, more than a Dad to us all
Your life with horses is your call
We’re never alone as long as your near
With you by our side, we have nothing to fear

Each day we wait to hear your sound
A laugh, a sigh we know your around
We long for your touch so tender
With loving care you daily render

Care and love you share from your heart
We pray each day that we’ll never part.

Happy Dad’s Day from your Equine Kids

I know that all horse lovers realize the love between horse and owner or caretaker. Our trainer is exceptional and I can see and feel the respect, love and trust that the horses have for him. There is no one who has taken better care of our horses and we are forever grateful.

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