Skiing, sledding, sliding, training, racing . . . horses and humans have been doing all those and more this winter and maybe – just maybe – there’s relief in sight as temperatures will get into the 40s and perhaps even the 50s by the end of the week.
Catching up and digging out in any number of areas, we found the following bits and pieces for another edition of Here and There:
“I put in eight hours. I worked. It wasn’t easy. Mimi requested a few minutes and I could have been there a half-hour. I came up with 44 names of people to mention, the cast of characters that went through there. Then I started over.” – Trainer J.B. Secor, on how he came up with his eulogy for longtime friend Tom Voss
“I was worried it was here for one of you guys.” – Joe Clancy Sr., to his son and grandson who saw a helicopter circling the sledding hill (the chopper was doing something else; everybody walked away)
“Somebody else has to make room.” – Trainer King Leatherbury, on the return of stable star Ben’s Cat to his stall (third one from the end) at Laurel Park every winter; the Maryland-bred star is aiming for his fourth consective win in Pimlico’s Mister Diz Stakes
“It’s too late now. I blew it when I had the chance to nominate for a hundred-grand and get him eligible for the rest of his life. You’ve got to make the decision at the time. I think I made the right decision, but looking back on it if I had known he was going to maintain his form I might have done differently.” – Leatherbury, on nominating Ben’s Cat for the Breeders’ Cup years ago
“It’s hard on the people, but not the horses.” – Leatherbury, on training in the cold
“Nobody else could ride him. He’s got way too much engine for me and didn’t have enough brain to be a steeplechaser. But he’s got a home, he’s doing something for somebody.” – Trainer Bruce Fenwick, on 2005 Illinois Derby third-place finisher Monarch Lane; the son of Maria’s Mon (once part of Todd Pletcher’s string) is a foxhunter in Maryland with Fenwick’s brother Charlie
“I have a pair. I never give silks back. I figure maybe one of these days you’ll have a horse and at least I have your silks.” – Trainer Jack Fisher, when asked by a returning owner if he needed to send a pair of silks
“I have somebody in mind.” – Trainer Janet Elliot, when asked if she had a rider in mind for Colonial Cup winner Alajmal
“I’ve got to keep my statues painted. Or try to keep them painted.” – Elliot, after reporting that Alburj was pointing for the Carolina Cup. The Elliot-trained Alajmal won the Carolina Cup and the Colonial Cup last year, his silks are painted on the jockey statues at the steeplechase museum in Camden
“No. Thank God.” – Trainer Richard Valentine, when asked if he had a Maryland Hunt Cup horse, Valentine won the pressure-packed classic last year with Professor Maxwell
“Brilliant. But he’s always better with a lead.” – Valentine, when asked what it was like to take the retired Professor Maxwell foxhunting
“I gave some away but I do have Parker’s Project, One Giant Step and Total Command, who could still resuscitate their careers.” – Trainer Jonathan Sheppard, when asked if he had any returning veterans for 2014
“Did you bring your sticks or is this a stick-free trip?” – Assistant trainer Buzz Tenney to non-golf stick toting Tom Law on the Gulfstream Park backstretch
“When one door closes another one opens, right Ralph?” – Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens to fellow trainer Ralph Nicks
“I just hope one opens at all.” – Nicks back to Jerkens
“I was second.” – Trainer Bob Ribaudo when fellow horsemen complimented the performance of his Hallowed in maiden race Saturday at Gulfstream
“Never too early to think about Saratoga.” – Trainer Nick Zito to TIHR’s Tom Law at Gulfstream
Names of the Week
Bandbox, Laurel Park. The General George winner, a New York-bred who runs for Hillwood Stable and Rodney Jenkins, is out of Empty The Bases. A bandbox is classy slang for a small baseball stadium. Nice to see him return to the winner’s circle for first time in almost three years.
Ilikecandy, Laurel Park. It’s not real creative (she’s out of Real Candy) but owner Bob LaPenta could have some fun with the Virginia-bred’s handle when it comes to merchandizing. Imagine the Ilikecandy T-shirts you could sell. The 4-year-old filly made light work of Monday’s Maryland Racing Media Stakes.
What A Party, Gulfstream Park. An allowance winner Monday, the 5-year-old mare is by Congrats out of Christmas Lights. The Florida-bred races for Bridle Path Racing Stable and trainer Eddie Plesa Jr.
Winter Racing Schedule
With the cancelation of Saturday cards at Laurel Park and Aqueduct, and a few others, the winter racing schedule got shuffled a bit. Laurel rescheduled the $300,000 Barbara Fritchie to this Saturday, Feb. 22. Other action this weekend includes the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth for Kentucky Derby hopefuls. The big field includes Top Billing and Commissioner. Others in that day at Gulfstream Park are Mr. Online, Rydilluc, Fredericksburg and Reload in the 1-mile Canadian Turf Stakes, plus 3-year-old Mexikoma in an allowance race and the returning Normandy Invasion in another allowance.
With the season opener at Aiken, S.C. 31 days away, it’s probably time to start cranking on at least a few of the jumpers. With most still dealing with winter in the Mid-Atlantic, we found a some photos of a snow-bound Winterthur steeplechase course in Delaware. Special thanks to 12-year-old photographer Mikki Abbott, whose mother is the race meet’s director. Mikki “basically grew up” at Winterthur so has a sharp eye. When she’s not planning the race meet’s details, her mother uses the course for inspiration. “I do my best thinking out there, always.” That’s her photo at the top of this page.
We put together a look at the 2014 season for Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred’s March edition. Make sure you get yours and watch this space for more.
To help you get cranked up for the steeplechase season, check out the AT&T Uverse feature on the end of the 2013 season, produced by the Hennegan Brothers. We don’t want to spoil it, but the last minute is the best part.