The Outside Rail

Hill Parker ran into some traffic around Rochester, worried about how hot his filly was getting and contemplated the electrical options available for putting a box fan in a horse trailer.  

Behind the wheel, navigating a 13 1/2-hour drive in 90-degree heat on a Friday, he also smiled proudly. Thursday, the Lexington, Ky. resident won a Saratoga hurdle stakes with Get Ready Set Goes - a 4-year-old filly bred by his mother Frances Hill "Snowie" Myers, who died in September 2014. A lifelong horsewoman, Myers was 74 and imparted plenty of horsemanship to her son.

 

"She was everything - my trainer, my coach, my mentor, fill in the blank and my mother," said Parker. "This filly is the last homebred Mom had - Mom's last hurrah even though she's not here to enjoy it. Something tells me she was assisting her at the top of the lane."

Myers worked for the National Geographic Society for 27 years and was a senior member of the cartographic and editorial divisions. She also bred, owned, trained and rode horses - racehorses, foxhunters, show jumpers, all kinds of horses. The scale was small, but the dedication was huge.

Get Ready Set Goes represents three generations of Myers breeding. In 1993, she bought broodmare Fool's Best at the OBS winter mixed sale for $15,500. Mated with Northern Baby, known for producing steeplechasers, Fool's Best produced Best Auntie in 1994 and a full sister named On My Toes in 1995. On My Toes made 15 flat starts for Myers and Parker, winning three, placing in a stakes and collecting $114,091. Just good enough, she never did run over jumps and joined the small broodmare band. Bred to Lord Avie, On My Toes produced one foal - Ready To Goes in 2002. Like her dam, she stuck to the flat - winning twice and earning $77,511 before heading to the breeding shed. 

By Run Away And Hide, Get Ready Set Goes is On My Toes' second foal and made her career debut in Ohio-bred company last May at Belterra Park. She finished second the first time, won the second and then finished third in open company at the Cincinnati track.

Then Parker went jumping and - after Thursday - she's won two of three with a second and a Saratoga stakes win in the $75,000 Mrs. Ogden Phipps. The 4-year-old filly has earned $80,360 in six starts.

Myers would be overjoyed.

"She'd have been screaming and jumping up and down and would have invited everyone she could see or find to the winner's circle," said Parker. "I did the best I could to be like Mom, but I just didn't know that many people in Saratoga."

Parker, who walked over with the filly and took her back to the test barn afterward, grabbed Chris McCarron because the Hall of Fame jockey is a friend from home. The trainer's wife Regan and daughters Caroline (13) and Marybeth (9) were there too.

"That was the best," said Parker, who spent a week in Saratoga fretting over his filly and checking off the myriad details - like workers' compensation insurance even though he has zero employees - needed to run a horse at a NYRA track for the first time.

The Parkers run a real-estate business in Kentucky, and train a few horses off a farm in Lexington. Get Ready Set Goes does most of her work at the farm, but Parker also utilizes the nearby Thoroughbred Center on Paris Pike a few days a week. When it came time to think about coming Saratoga, Parker tried to find a farm but struck out. Get Ready Set Goes bedded down at the Oklahoma Annex with Jonathan Sheppard's string, and handled the new surroundings even if Parker worried about how much she was (or wasn't) eating.

"She does more than just farm stuff, but she trains on the farm, lives on the farm and just does better at the farm," Parker said. "She's never been stabled at a racetrack and had never seen anything like Saratoga. She survived."

The out-of-towners got some help from Sheppard's groom Carl Cook on raceday, but otherwise Parker did the work.

"I probably wouldn't have found the (assembly) barn or the paddock or anything else without Carl," Parker said. "There was a lot to it."

And now, the trainer with the perfect win percentage in 2016 (2-for-2 as Get Ready Set Goes' first start was for Parker's friend Lilith Boucher) is an expert. He thought about leaving the chestnut in Saratoga to prep for the $75,000 Mrs. Walter Jeffords scheduled for Sept. 1. 

Instead, he got in the truck Friday morning and took her home.

"She's in the middle of a 10-acre field with grass up to her knees and her own personal pony," he said via text Saturday afternoon. 

Just like Mom would have wanted.