Anyone in racing will tell you there are ups and downs. Try to minimize and not get too down on the lows and enjoy the highs, trying not to get too high. It can be a long fall. We had a few of those this week. We had three entries Friday. Two at Laurel Park and one at Penn National. Louisa Laglass was making her first start for Nancy Lee Farms. Any time you have a first-time starter in the barn, there is always the unknown. Always hope. Will they work to the potential they have shown in the morning? Will they surprise you in the afternoon with unseen ability? The 3-year-old Louis Quatorze filly did everything the right way – almost. She came into the paddock looking around at her new surroundings, walked right into the saddling enclosure and stood like a rock while I saddled her. Andria Terrill had been working the filly all along so she knew Louisa could be a little unpredictable. She was confident, however, that the big bay filly would behave just fine. She was almost correct. They left the paddock with the pony and all seemed fine until just before post time. Louisa saw something on the track and propped dropping her rider. She was so quick, Steve Hamilton wouldn't have been able hang on. While temporally loose, she was quickly caught and rejoined with her rider. She raced a little green trailing the field early. Turning for home she made a little run finishing fifth. Now that she has a race under her belt, I'm sure her next start will be more promising.
Rodger and Donna, of Tara Farms, don't have a lot running right now so when I told them Singingtothecrowd was back in on Friday, they were thrilled. Rodger and Donna take the long way to the races. Breeders! For those of you who haven't experienced that route, it is a long, expensive, and laborious road to the races. And sometimes, the winner's circle. By far the most rewarding and by far the most trying. Malcolm Franklin got the return call on the pretty gray filly. He's ridden her in her two previous starts. In the paddock we talked about where we thought she would be sitting – off the early pace, when to make the run, and the importance of a strong finish. As usual it is good to have a back-up plan. I guess Malcolm did because when the gates opened Singer shot out of the gate and was all alone on the front end. To say I was surprised was an understatement. I didn't watch much of the early race. I was focused on the splits; 24:53, 49:73, 1:15:32, and she was coasting. Now I was watching. She had slowed the pace and now turning for home I hoped she had saved enough to turn back the charge of the horses coming inside, outside and directly behind. She did. Singingtothecrowd won by 2 1/2 lengths. How does a trainer not jump up and down after a win, high five and show emotion, hug and kiss the owner? Easy. I saw it coming. Unfortunately, Malcolm didn't. Pick Up The Pieces was trying to come through a hole. Malcolm switched sticks and hit Singer left-handed and drifted just enough to go from a $5,700 payday to a $600 disappointment. We smiled for the picture but I warned Tara Farms, that this might not go on her record. After a brief inquiry, reality hit us. This was going to be one of those lows.
Next we go 100 miles up Route 81 to Penn National. Awe So Beautiful would make her first start for us. Owned by Bill and Vicki Poston Racing, Inc. the gray filly was sent to me by racing genius, Buzz Chace. She had been racing in New York and needed a little softer competition. Buzz told me to change things up on her. I put blinkers on her, ran her around two turns, went a little cheaper in claiming price, and ran her under the lights. It was 9:58 p.m. and the temperature was about 17 degrees (not including a wind factor of 35 mph). The gray Even The Score filly shot to the front under Craig Gibbs and settled around the first turn letting 31-1 shot Jersey Partner make the early fractions. The big filly just loped around in second for the first half of the race. Craig smooched and they were 'off to the races' so to speak. Actually the winner's circle. In a hand ride the pair finished 9 1/2 lengths in front of the rest of the still maidens. There was no inquiry sign. We were back up on a high.
Saturday's races were cancelled – back to the low – so we'll have to wait to see how Stent Double will fare against a weak field of maidens. His race has been written back for Thursday. More later.
Sunday is supposed to be a rest day. Unless you work at the racetrack. Piney Point has been ready to run for last three weeks. It has been hard to find a race for the 3-year-old filly by D'Wildcat. Things always seem to work out for this filly. Purchased as a weanling for $20,000 by a Florida consignment, it seemed no one wanted the filly at the OBS April Sale last year as I was able to purchase the plain bay for $12,500 on behalf of long time horseman, Arnold Heft. She was finally in. Piney made an unimpressive first start at Philadelphia Park, finishing 5th. That was sprinting. She has proven she likes two turns. Sheldon Russell must have gone to mass Saturday night as he had to leave too early this morning to make the jocks' room at Philadelphia Park. It's a good thing he did. After a brief conversation with me, the Louisiana-born jockey was up on Piney and out on the track for Sunday's eighth race. Piney Point broke sharply, was taken back to third, eased to the outside, asked for run at the half-mile pole, circled the front runner and drew off by 3 3/4 lengths.
A good way to end a very productive week. That makes six wins for the month, on target to reach our goal of 50 for the year. Now, it's onto February – a short month, better get cracking.