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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