We welcomed 2011 with a bang winning our first race of the year on the first day of the year. Lady In The Money got the money for N R S Stable, dominating $5,000 claimers on New Year’s Day. Sent off the favorite in the field of seven, the 5-year-old mare stalked the pace, switched out and then sauntered to a nearly 4-length victory.
My man Sheldon Russell guided her to the win and yes, we’ll have bigger wins along the way, but it was rewarding and refreshing to see Sheldon return to the winner’s circle after an extended stay on the sidelines. He’s a good friend and a good rider and he’s back. Now, if I could just convince him to do an Ironman Triathlon ...
Lady In The Money was claimed out of the race by trainer John Hartsell Jr. It’s always tough to see a productive horse leave your barn but you have to play the claiming game and we played it like Miles Davis played a trumpet. We haltered her on August 20 for $5,000 when she finished last of six; she won three races, finished second, third and fourth in six starts for us. We’ll take it.
Lady In The Money continued the stable's recent skein. We've won four races and picked up three seconds from our last 10 starts.
As for New Year’s resolutions. Well, let’s just say we have 49 wins to go.
November started off slowly without a start until the 17th. Sonata Brae would kick off November with a solid third running against $12,500 maiden claimers. Mary Wiley-Wagner had the return mount.
Golden Satin finished her short racing career at Penn National that same evening finishing off the board. Dumbarton Farm’s athletic bay filly has a new home and career as a show horse.
Sylvia Hefts' Our Jaks was next up finishing third against $25,000 maiden claimers at Penn National. Grant Whitacre made the trip to Penn National November 18. It seems the Not For Love filly is finally getting the hang of racing and improving with every start and with added distance.
October closes with new record for TLK Racing Stable. 23 starts, six wins, three seconds, four thirds, and two fourths for the month.
Richard Sanders’ Golden Run Farm started off the winning month for us with a gate-to-wire win with his Not For Love filly, Ann. Sheldon Russell broke her from the gate and quickly took command. By slowing the early fractions, Ann was able to hold off two late charging rivals for the maiden special win.
William and Gretchen Devers’ Lisette proved second best early in the month with a solid maiden effort. I ran the big bay Louis Quatorze filly on the turf next with mixed results. While she handled the turf well the distance was too far. I will shorten her up next start.
NRS Stables’ Lady in the Money rewarded her connections with a win at Laurel Park. Running for the same claiming price we claimed her for, Sheldon was able to get the little bay Not For Love filly to relax off the early pace. Swinging for home she easily went to the front and drew off by several lengths.
Clover Hill Racing LLC had one of their racing dreams realized when their Leading The Parade filly went to post October 14. Buzz Chace purchased the big chestnut filly for us from the Mid Atlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale in Timonium. Sheldon had the return mount and was sent off at 5-1. Settling early, Sheldon was able to save all the ground on the sloppy Laurel track and come up the inside rail to win by 3 or 4 lengths. Sheldon said he could hear “All of the Wives” yelling and screaming as he went under the wire. Congratulations.
Now it was time for Rodger and Donna Boscherts’ Tara Farms’ Theprincess to show some of the talent in the afternoon that she shows in the morning. Having several maiden fillies in the same category I decided to send the 3-year-old Purge filly to Penn National. Joe Farley had the call. Joe was able to settle her in third early running down the backside. Around the turn the pair made their move and grabbed the lead turning for home and never looked back.
Mystical Terp (named for his three University of Maryland graduates owners) had two starts this month. The big laid back Lion Hearted gelding was another purchase by Buzz Chace. This time it was the Mid Atlantic Yearling Sale last October. Terp’s first start on the turf was a good one, finishing a closing third, beaten 1 length for the win. Unfortunately his next start was a bit troublesome finishing seventh. Five lengths behind the winner. A little more distance and a clean trip will help his in his next start.
Allen and Audrey Murrays’ Murmur Farm will definitely miss their consistent old campaigner Celtic Innis. Combining Celtic Innis’ recent retirement with the tragic loss of his little brother, Celtic Fury, the Murrays have been searching for something positive in their stable. Sonata Brae may not be in the same caliber as the Celtic brothers, but she is not lacking in desire. After finishing third in her second start the Yarrow Brae filly then came back to finish second best in a field of 11 other maiden fillies.
Celtic Innis is doing great. He is turned out at my farm with a 2-year-old and my daughter’s 31-year-old pony. Celtic is barefoot, muddy and enjoying being just a horse. Rumsey plans on starting him under tack and popping him over fences in the coming weeks. More to come.
On Wednesday October 27 Arnold and Sylvia Heft had a decision to make. Should they travel to Delaware Park to watch Arnold’s 2-year-old Cuvee filly, Red’s Round Table run in the White Clay Creek Stakes or head over to Laurel to see Sylvia’s Not For Love, Eighttofasttocatch (ETFTC) compete on the dirt for the first time this year in an allowance company.
They were scheduled to run 27 minutes apart so being there for both races was out of the question. Sylvia got her wish and I was off to Delaware. Red was the first to run. I wasn’t thrilled with the inside post again. She had the inside at Monmouth Park last time out when she got banged around and shuffled back finishing sixth. This time would be different.
Jeremy Rose was scheduled to ride but took off all of his mounts because of the flu. Joe Rocco Jr. would fill in. After the gates opened the chestnut filly shot to the front on a sloppy track. I wasn’t sure what to think after early fractions of 21.3 and 44.4 but the filly kept running going on to win by more than 6 lengths. Four starts, three wins. Congratulations Arnold and thanks Linda. My father-in-law spent the day at the races with me and now I think he will have to come more often. Thanks Bill.
Now it was off the find the televisions. ETFTC was set to run soon in Laurel’s feature. Originally scheduled for the turf the three-other-than allowance event was switched to the dirt due to the rain. The stunning, long-striding chestnut gelding was bet down to even money in the four horse event. Sheldon had the call. Just like Joe Rocco Jr. Sheldon sent ‘Catcher” to the front slowing the early pace before drawing off to an easy win. This finished the month for us on a good note. Or so I thought.
Unfortunately during Saturday’s second race, Sheldon was involved in a spill which resulted in eight broken ribs and a punctured right lung. After several days in Baltimore’s Shock Trauma Hospital, he is now home being cared for by two very capable women. His mother and his girlfriend. We wish him a speedy recovery. We have a lot more races to win.
We ran three horses in this year's Maryland Million and all three ran very well. Unfortunately, we couldn't bag a winner, winding up with a second, third and fourth. As a trainer, you want your horses to run well, they did, but it's tough when your horses run well and you don't have a winner. I don't appreciate my friend Sean Clancy calling me, "Tim 2,3,4 Keefe" but that's OK, he's been there for the good and bad, the ups and downs of TLK Racing. It was a fun day, always is, and a good day to compete and hit the board. Someday I'll get over not winning a race on Maryland Million Day 2010.
The big horse, Celtic Innis, provided the toughest beat of, maybe, my training career when getting his head in front in the Maryland Million Sprint before succumbing to a resurgent Jack On The Rocks and my (ex) friend Sheldon Russell. It's hard to see a veteran like Celtic run so well and lose, knowing his cup is more than half empty at the age of 8. He's given owners Allen and Audrey Murray and my crew so many special days and we wanted it for him as much as for us. He's one of the few horses who would probably understand the enormity of winning on Maryland Million Day. He's the toughest, gamest and best I've ever trained.
Eighttofasttocatch ran huge in the Maryland Million Turf, leading the whole way before finally tiring on the soft turf to wind up third. Sylvia Heft's 4-year-old pushed his lifetime earnings to over $100,000 with the placing. I was proud of him.
Recent claim Kosmo's Buddy ran a game race in the Maryland Million Turf Sprint for owner Green Mount Farm. The plan was for the 5-year-old mare to stalk favorite Ben's Cat but she broke so well, she ended up in front on the soft turf and hung tough to finish fourth.
A couple of days after the Maryland Million, we replenished the tank with a couple of purchases at the Fasig-Tipton Yearling Sale at Timonium. As always, the motto is the same – onward and upward.