Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Collection of Horses

For years, I have had an Equibase Virtual Stable, which is abounding with a wide variety of horses. Every type of horse from a low-level claimer to a multiple grade one-winning champion can be found in my virtual stable. Why don’t I remove those claimers from my stable? Because they have their own unique stories and reasons for residing in my stable, which make them incredibly fun and interesting to follow.

Here’s a look at several lesser-known horses that are in my Equibase Virtual Stable:

Autumn Eyes: This daughter of Stormy Atlantic caught my eye with an easy debut win at Churchill Downs in November of 2009, which landed her a spot in my stable. The beautiful chestnut never contested in a stakes race, but did manage to impressively win an allowance at Gulfstream Park in February of 2010. She last ran in September of 2012 and has not recorded any recent works, but remains in my stable. She has been one of my favorite horses to follow.

Bill of Rights: A full brother to Colonel John, I met this gelding while visiting Bill Casner’s ranch. Standing outside the gate to a pasture, I watched as Mr. Casner himself rode the gelding – nicknamed Captain Chaos – around prior to watching the gelding stand on a vibration plate in the Casners’ barn. The next day, Bill of Rights shipped to Oaklawn Park. The bay has steadily recorded works at the Arkansas track and is preparing to return to the races. He has not raced since December of 2011, having only raced four times, never finishing better than third. Hopefully, he will improve and find the winner’s circle.

Bill of Rights on a vibration plate
Photo by Mary Cage (iPhone photo)
Cherry Pink: Cherry Pink found herself in my stable after I saw her in the saddling paddock at Lone Star Park, when the blaze-faced chestnut locked eyes with me. Being the unashamedly horse crazy girl I was (and still am), Cherry Pink became a horse I loyally follow. The daughter of Pure Prize has competed at the stakes level on three occasions, but has never finished better than sixth. Cherry Pink is surely one of the hardest-knocking horses in my stable, having raced since 2008, making 58 starts.

Cherry Pink
Photo by Mary Cage
Dover Heights: Capturing my attention while schooling in the Lone Star Park paddock in the spring of 2012, I later attended the colt’s first race in anticipation of the commencement of his career. Much to my delight, Dover Heights won his debut. The beautiful gray son of The Cliff’s Edge has made two starts since then, including a good second-place finish in an allowance. But since finishing seventh in his third start, which came last July, Dover Heights has yet to record a work. Nonetheless, I will keep my eye out for this stunning Thoroughbred. Read more about Dover Heights in my article “Dover Heights: Love at First Sight.”

Dover Heights
Photos by Terri and Mary Cage
D’ Wildcard: Yet another incredibly hard-knocking horse, D’ Wildcard caught my attention as a trainee of Lon Wiggins, former trainer of Miss Fifty. The son of Forest Wildcat has proven to be a model of consistency at Churchill Downs, finishing in-the-money in six of nine starts there, four of which resulted in wins. The chestnut has never raced in a stakes event, but has managed to earn more than $175,000. A horse who began his career in 2007, D’ Wildcard made his most recent start on February 28 of this year.

Explosive Argument: A beautiful bay filly, I added Explosive Argument to my stable after meeting her at Lone Star Park last summer. Impressed by her conformation and enchanted by her beauty and personality, Explosive Argument has been an exciting horse to follow. Just three years old, Explosive Argument has made five starts, three of which have come this year. Her first two starts as a sophomore resulted in easy victories, which ensued in a fourth-place finish in her first stakes try on March 16.

Explosive Argument
Photo by Mary Cage (iPhone photo)
Fast Eydie: When visiting Claiborne Farm for the first time in 2007, I became a big fan of Eddington, who I hoped would prove himself as a valuable sire. This daughter of Eddington was born in 2007 and caught my attention with a dominant win in her second start, a maiden special weight at Golden Gate Fields. Fast Eydie has spent most of her racing career on the Northern California racing circuit, making 22 of her 30 starts at Golden Gate. Her most recent race – and perhaps her final career start, as she hasn’t posted any current works – was a win over Miss Oops in a claiming race at Del Mar.

Fleeter: Another horse that is in my stable due to affiliation with Miss Fifty, Fleeter was purchased alongside Fifty out of the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Texas Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale. While visiting Fifty at Churchill Downs in 2010, I was able to meet Fleeter and watch him train. Since then, the son of Northern Afleet has become a fun horse to keep track of. Though he did not break his maiden until his seventh start, Fleeter has proven to be rather consistent, finishing in the top three in twelve of his twenty starts. Although the bay gelding has never competed at stakes level, he has had many good allowance-level performances. The five-year-old recently made his twentieth start on March 9, finishing third in an allowance optional claiming at Tampa Bay Downs.

Photo by Terri Cage
Gold Star Alert: This horse is undoubtedly one of my favorites in my virtual stable. A six-year-old gelding, he has raced 50 times without ever winning a race. But Gold Star Alert – or 99 as those who know him personally call him – is the first racehorse I’ve known personally. I’ve gone to watch him train, I visited him at the barn prior to his first race, and I’ve watched him race in person on several occasions. 99 has finished in-the-money ten times, even coming within a head of winning, but has never crossed the wire first. The six-year-old – who I have known since he was a two-year-old – is still racing, having made his most recent start on March 8, a sixth-place finish at Sam Houston Race Park. He may be halfway to Zippy Chippy’s record, but 99 is a horse I’ll never forget.

Gold Star Alert (99)
Photo by Terri Cage
Hy Danger: This son of Forest Danger immediately caught my eye when I first met him, for he greatly resembled Zenyatta. But he quickly became more than a Zenyatta look-alike, as he captivated me with his incredibly kind personality. I have eagerly followed Hy Danger’s journey, having watched him being saddled and ridden for the first time as a yearling and having seen him train amongst the top racehorses in the world at Santa Anita as a two-year-old. Now three, Hy Danger recently acquired his first victory, easily winning a maiden claiming race at Sam Houston Race Park on March 9. I will continue to eagerly follow this sweetheart!

Hy Danger
Photos by Terri Cage
Lusterdust: A stunning gray, I met Lusterdust on the backside of Lone Star Park in the summer of 2011. Not only was the son of Unbridled Energy very handsome, but he had a very kind personality, thus landing him a place in my virtual stable. After being claimed at Del Mar, Lusterdust surfaced on the eastern side of the country, competing at lower-level tracks there, most frequently Penn National. Though he was successful there at first, Lusterdust began turning in poor performances in cheap claiming races. He last raced on December 4, 2012, finishing last in a $5,000 claiming race at Penn National. Where he is now is a mystery, leaving me to hope that this sweet, beautiful horse is safe and happy.

Photo by Terri Cage
Miss Oops: A mare who spent a good part of her career on the Northern California circuit, Miss Oops got her name from her crooked legs after being purchased for the low price of $3,000 at the 2008 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. But the daughter of Olmodavor has proven to be a very productive racehorse and also very popular at the claim box, as she has won thirteen times and has been claimed out of four consecutive races and five races total. Miss Oops has found her best stride with trainer Dallas Keen, having acquired three victories while in his barn. I met this sweet mare at Santa Anita during the 2012 Breeders’ Cup and was able to lead her to the paddock on race day prior to her second-place finish in an allowance on the Breeders’ Cup undercard. Miss Oops is unquestionably one of my favorite racehorses and I will continue to keep track of her. You can read more about her in my article “Miss Oops: She’s No Mistake.”

Miss Oops
Photos by Terri Cage
Night Tide: One of the most accomplished horses on this list, Night Tide was graded stakes-placed as a two-year-old when in the barn of Bob Baffert. Claimed by Dallas Keen at Del Mar in 2012, I met Night Tide while at the 2012 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita. A handsome bay son of Malibu Moon, I was able to watch Night Tide be scoped by a veterinarian and was allowed to view the scope. Due to his good looks and laid-back personality, I soon added Night Tide to my stable. The striking four-year-old has not run incredibly well as of late, but I will hold onto the hope that he will improve.

Pryce’s Posse: This son of Posse was one of my selections at the 2011 Fasig-Tipton Texas Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale. I enjoy following my auction picks and Pryce’s Posse has certainly been one of my favorite selections to keep track of. He was a rather successful juvenile, placing in a pair of black-type races. Most recently, the gelding has been competing in allowance and claiming races on the East Coast. But what is most special about this four-year-old is the story behind his name, which I stumbled across on BloodHorse. You can read it here.

Red Sandy: While attending the 2008 Rebel Stakes, this son of Yes It’s True jumped into my heart with an impressive maiden score. Not only was he a son of one of my favorite stallions, but he greatly reminded me of a horse I owned at the time named Randy – who I had nicknamed Sandy Randy due to his affinity for rolling in the sand. Thus, my twelve-year-old self fell in love with Red Sandy, who I eagerly continued to follow throughout his career. A tenth-place finish in the grade two Lexington Stakes and a fourth-place performance in the Barbaro Stakes was the best he could muster at stakes level and he spent the rest of his career primarily in the claiming ranks. Red Sandy has not raced since September of 2011, but he remains in my stable in case he surfaces again, as I sometimes worry about his whereabouts.

Rys Alley Cat: Rys Alley Cat has resided in my stable since a photograph I took of him prior to his try in the 2011 Lone Star Derby, which is one of my favorite photos I have ever taken. A photogenic son of Tale of the Cat, I have tracked Rys Alley Cat’s progress since that day. He has steadily competed at the allowance level, most recently winning an allowance optional claiming at Sam Houston Race Park on March 15.

Rys Alley Cat
Photo by Mary Cage
Smoke’n Al: His name will not be associated with the greatest racehorses of all-time, but this son of Albert the Great has had an effect on Thoroughbred racing history. In 2011, Robby Albarado had been slated to ride Animal Kingdom in the Kentucky Derby, but on the Wednesday prior to the Derby, Albarado was bucked off a first-time starter that proceeded to kick him once the jockey was on the ground, thus leaving Animal Kingdom’s connections to find a new rider. The first-time starter that had injured Albarado was none other than Smoke’n Al. Needless to say, Smoke’n Al did not make his first start that day. I have known of the dark-colored gelding since he landed in the barn of Dallas Keen and even though he once narrowly defeated Dover Heights, I have remained a devoted fan of him. Though I lightly kept track of Smoke’n Al before then, he did not secure himself a place in my stable until I spent several minutes with him at the 2012 Breeders’ Cup, standing outside of his stall and playing with him as I waited to lead Miss Oops to the paddock. He had a fun personality, throwing a fit and becoming angry any time I took attention off of him but being very kind and affectionate whenever I pet him. Smoke’n Al won his most recent start, romping in a claiming race at Sam Houston on a night when he, Hy Danger, and Miss Oops all visited the Sam Houston winner’s circle.

Smoke'n Al
Photo by Donna Keen
These horses have been unbelievably fun to follow and are certainly some of my favorite racehorses. Their names aren’t distributed over pages of The Blood-Horse, their races are often only available to watch online, the tracks they race at aren’t always glamorous, and the purses they compete for aren’t always lavish, but their personalities and their stories make them more than worth following. These horses aren’t the underbelly of the racing industry; they are the heart and soul of it.


  1. I love Ry's Alley Cat and always wonder why he is not appreciated. Glad to see these horses in your stable I have some unknown ones in mine as well. Talk to you later!

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting! They are fun horses to follow!

    2. Hi Mary! We loved reading your earlier blog about our horse, Dover Heights. Unfortunately, he's been on lay-up due to a small tear on a tendon - hence, the lack of works! But, good news, he is back in training now with the wonderful Cash Asmussen, so we'll hopefully see you at his next race! Best wishes, Lydia

    3. Thank you so much! I guessed that he had been injured and am so glad to hear that he is back in training! I hope to see him again!

  2. Hi Mary!
    Just wanted to give you an update that Lusterdust is alive and well. He is retired on the farm where I work, and I am working on retraining him to be a hunter :) He's a wonderful guy, and I'm fortunate his owner Katie is letting me work with him. I found your website googling his name :)

    1. Thank you so much for updating me about him! It is so great to hear that he is doing well in his second career. Enjoy him! I told one of his previous trainers about this update; she was thrilled to hear how he's doing. Thanks again!