Category Archives: Horse Racing

Race Day Playlist

As on every night before a race day,  last night I set my sound system to wake me up with my Race Day playlist.  Comprised of songs that I could find from the Secretariat soundtrack, it included

Call to Post by Metal Patriots
It’s Who You Are by AJ Michalka
I’ll Take You There by The Staples Singers
Oh Happy Day by Edwin Hawkins

With Rikki Tikki Taxi’s racing debut today at Remington Park, I woke up a little sad that I didn’t figure out a way to get to Oklahoma City for today’s big event.  I quickly remembered that we have a huge day on Wednesday, so instead of sulking I decided to jump out of bed and get serious about this playlist.

The task was simple since Sara Dacus and The Track Philosopher already did the real work!  Sara’s post The Ultimate Horse Racing Playlist and The Track Philosopher’s Top 10 Horse Race Songs provided plenty of material for me to tune up my own play list!  Rest assured the wake up alarm will be set for our sixty-second race day on Wednesday, and this upgraded playlist will be the new early morning tradition for race days.

Race Day Playlist

First Call by Metal Patriots
It’s Who You Are by AJ Michalka
Run for the Roses by Dan Fogelberg
Let the Big Horse Run by John Stewart
The Best is Yet to Come by Tony Bennett
The Race is On by George Jones
Bottle of Smoke by The Pogues
I’ll Take You There by The Staples Singers
Oh Happy Day by Edwin Hawkins
Call to Post by Instrumental All Stars
They’re Off by Mike Battaglia


Enjoying More Than Racing at Indiana Grand

JULY 7, 2014

After spending several evenings a week at Indiana Grand this summer, I have learned that there is more to like about it than just the horses.

The New OTB

The Winner’s Circle Brewpub & OTB inside the casino opens this week. I snuck in last week to see what it was like, and I was pleasantly surprised. If you put me in there without knowing where I was, I would not have guessed Shelbyville, Indiana. I will definitely check it out the next time we have a horse racing at a far away track.

The Contests and Freebies

The live racing program costs $3.  Inside the program is a coupon for $5 worth of slot play. Before or after the races I take my ID, players card and coupon to the rewards counter in the casino and they load $5 of free play on the players card.  I stick it in a slot machine and with a little luck, supplement my track earnings or lack thereof.

The track always has at least one contest or promotion running.  Trifecta Tuesday and Selfie Saturday are my personal favorites. The Facebook check-in that gets you a t-shirt is a definite crowd favorite.

The casino is giving away $10,000 every Friday and Saturday in June and July and you don’t have to be there to win! Entries are accumulated through the week, so for those of us that hit the track on Tuesdays and Wednesday, entries have really piled up! I can’t wait to have someone take my picture with a giant check…

The Food

Inside the casino is the requisite steakhouse. When I first walked in my expectations were low. I ordered the 6 oz. filet mignon with mashed potatoes, and my preconceived notions were swallowed with the first bite of my steak! Their food is delicious.

The track and casino both serve $1 Hotdogs and $1 Beers on Friday Night!

The barbeque stand has the best pickles I have ever eaten. They call them firecracker pickles.  Be careful, they added some habaneros and secret spices to some really delicious dill pickles and came up with a little nibble of hot flash inducing heaven!

The Apron and its Friendly, Outdoor Appeal

I like being outside at the horse track and the picnic tables with umbrellas scattered all around the apron at Indiana Grand are the perfect spots. There is a bar, BBQ and taco stands, an outdoor betting window and a playground for the kids just steps from any of the tables.  The atmosphere is quite casual and joining folks at a partially filled table doesn’t seem intrusive. The crowd is friendly, has a common interest and sharing a table hasn’t gone wrong for me yet. Leaning on the rail is always possible even on busy nights. I have yet to see a crowd so big that I couldn’t find a spot.

The owners spruced the place up over the break and made some noticeable aesthetic improvements. We would like to lobby for some big holes in the concrete and shade trees planted in those spots during the next phase!

The Drive Home through the Country

Don’t get on the highway unless you must.  Indiana Grand is in the middle of farm country and the views across the farm fields are spectacular. On Friday and Saturday nights the last race finishes right around time for a drive home during sunset. Catching the sun perfectly lighting a field as it goes down behind a big barn with a few corn bins is rural Indiana at its best. Roll down your windows, slow down, and if you are heading west when you leave, save some room for an ice cream cone at the Frosty Dog in Fairland.

Visiting Midshipman

MAY 2014


I arrived at Jonabell Farm/Darley America already in awe. The rolling hills, blooming trees and flowers, fence-lined pastures, grazing horses, the fresh green of spring, barns that are architectural masterpieces and the magnificent homes of the area beg you to slow the car way down and look around. I really just wanted to get out, set up a lawn chair and spend the morning on a hilltop roadside looking out over horse country. I drove as slow as great grandma trying to see as much as possible, but the drivers sharing my road were clearly annoyed at my snail’s pace.  I was equally irritated at their presence in my utopia.

I pulled up to the gated main entrance of Jonabell Farm and spoke with a gentleman at the guard house. In a truly southern fashion he addressed me as Miss Davis and phoned the office to let them know I had arrived. Being called Miss Davis is a delight for me, and on a bad day I might consider hopping in the car and driving south just for that genteel experience. He opened the gates and kindly instructed me to proceed up the drive, park in front of the office and enter through the glass doors.

At about the midway point up the drive, my eyes welled up with tears. I am very fortunate to have been to many exciting and interesting places and on a fairly frequent basis, but I have rarely been so taken aback upon arrival anywhere. The setting was as close to perfection as I can imagine and strangely, it didn’t seem surreal—I was really there.

I parked the car and went into the office, as I had been directed to do. I was welcomed and pleasantries were exchanged. It was immediately obvious that I had walked through the big glass doors of the capital of refinement and sophistication, not the type of place where I normally spend much time. I nervously asked if I could wear regular shoes or should change into the boots I had left in the car. I was told that my shoes would be fine. I explained that I was there because I wanted to see Midshipman, and asked if it would be possible. They assured me that I would be able to see Midshipman.

We started at the trophy case. The display of trophies re-established the feeling that I was in someplace special. I got goosebumps while we talked about the horses and races where they won the trophies. Midshipman’s Eclipse Award and Breeder’s Cup trophy were both in the display. I really wanted to hold them, but I resisted the temptation to ask. I felt like a restrained child whose mother had forewarned me of severe consequences if my behavior was not exemplary.

Even though I read about the farm and their stallions prior to my visit, it didn’t register with me until I was standing in front of this case that the horse who had brought me here was still something of a small fish in this big, fancy pond. While he was a champion, his career was short and his first crop will just begin racing this summer. As a sire he is unproven but living with some of the greatest race horses and proven sires of champions in the industry.

The level at which I was seeing the thoroughbred industry hit me even harder as we walked and talked ourselves to the paddocks of Animal Kingdom and Street Sense, where a pair of Kentucky Derby winners were standing right in front of me. At this point I realized that I am involved in a sport that allows me to come visit the celebrities without the line, the crowd, the paparazzi or any real interest outside real horse racing fans. Standing in this spot was the equivalent of coming by a big, empty gymnasium, walking in and finding Magic Johnson and Larry Bird sitting on the bleachers just hanging out.

We stopped next at the paddocks of Street Cry and Medaglia d’Oro, and it was like my tour guide smacked me in the back of the head with his words like my mom used to do with her hand when I wasn’t understanding the significance of a situation. I silently said to myself, “Dorothy, you are not in Kansas anymore” while trying to listen to everything he was telling me about these horses. I was so far away from my Breeders’ Cup and Kentucky Derby cheap seats, claiming a horse at the Fairgrounds, and being in the winners’ circle at Churchill Downs, my previous horse racing encounters with the “big time”, that I could no longer believe I wasn’t dreaming.

We toured the breeding shed, and the operation was explained using delicate and scientific terminology. I mostly suppressed my remarks and giggling and took it all in. We walked through the immaculate barns with stalls the size of my living room and an elegance that I do not have the words to describe. My main attraction was up next.

Jonabell Farm Visit

I saw the three white socks and knew it was him. Midshipman was standing in his paddock, grazing, looking as happy as a horse can look. I am certain he smiled at me as we walked up. My interest in Midshipman was cultivated through the purchase of a colt he sired in 2012. Last fall we became the colt’s owner, named him Avery Glenn and are eagerly awaiting his racing days. Meeting Midshipman was very much like the replay you often hear when a fan meets their favorite sports star. I could easily hear myself saying ”He was very down to earth” or “I really enjoyed talking to him” or “He just seemed like a regular horse.” But there was more to the experience. It was also like meeting a long, lost friend or maybe the father of the child you adopted. I instantly adored him and wanted to throw my arms around his big neck as if we had known each other for years. Some farm planner had the good sense to make the fences as tall as me so that it wasn’t possible for me to hug the big guy without going over the fence.

Sire of Avery Glenn

My tour guide was a bit lenient and let me pet Midshipman. The farm has strict rules stating that their visitors must stay on the paved paths which are not close enough to the horses for touching. I let Midshipman chew on my arm, making my guide a bit nervous. Apparently, when you are a sheik and have a collection of multi-million dollar horses on a bazillion dollar farm, you become a lawsuit target. I don’t even know how to grasp the complexity of such a concept.

My guide had the sensitivity to know how important this moment was to me. This was as close as I have ever been to a champion, unless you count the 2008 Indiana High School South Central Regional Women’s Soccer team captain. He indulged my desire to take pictures and answered all of my very elementary questions as if I was going to bring a full stable of mares to the farm for breeding.

On our way back to the office we talked about the Triple Crown, and we stopped at Affirmed’s burial site, an exclamation point on a morning that was already monumental. When I left through those same glass doors, I had to remind myself to walk to my car. I wanted to skip. I am not sure I can dream Darley big, but it is certainly scalable. We will continue to watch Avery Glenn grow and learn to be a race horse. The next few months will pass quickly, and we will soon know if he is a chip off the ol’ Midshipman block!

When I emailed Darley America to ask if it would be possible for me to come to Jonabell Farm to see Midshipman, I didn’t realize that stud farms offer tours that you can schedule regardless of whether or not you intend to use their services. Jonabell/Darley is no exception and with a bit of planning, you can take a tour of this operation. I also learned that the stud farms are organizing a touring program much like the bourbon distilleries have put in place and that it will be rolled out this fall.

Derby Week 2014

City Steel kicked off Derby Week for us on Opening Night at Churchill Downs with a WIN in the second race. Desperado Racing fans cheered City Steel to victory as they were out in full force at the track, the local OTB or tuned in to their live internet feed.  The excitement from this victory is still fresh over a week later.

City Steel in the Paddock

Rosie Napravnik on City Steel

On Derby Week Wednesday Desperado Racing partners had a Kitten’s Joy filly, in which we own a small percentage, in a mid-afternoon race at Churchill Downs.  I went down early in the morning for workouts during Dawn at the Downs, which I recommend.  For a Kentucky Derby fan, it is an interesting (and free) way to see the horses in a different setting. That afternoon I met up with some Desperado Racing fans for Kitten’s Race.



We went to the paddock to watch Kitten get saddled and then watched the race from the rail.  Upon our return to the box where we were sitting, we found that California Chrome’s owners had gotten tired of standing and chosen our box to sit down while waiting for Derby draw time.  We had a wonderful visit with Steve and Carolyn Coburn, which may have been the highlight of my Derby week!

A group of Desperado Racing partners and fans decided that missing the Derby would be a terrible shame, so we swallowed hard and purchased some seats.  Derby Day was perfect. We had a splendid day enjoying the sunshine, racing, and terrific company. When it was over we decided that value of our day was far higher than the price we paid for the tickets. While our handicapping left something to be desired, I am happy to say that we were all behind both Wise Dan and California Chrome for the main events and experienced the same love of these horses and their stories that is found throughout the media this week.

Kentucky Derby

Jockey Silks

MARCH 27, 2014

Until we were in need of jockey silks, I hadn’t noticed what a design project they were going to be.  I have been to hundreds of horse races but never paid much attention to what the jockey was wearing. The next time you watch a race, take a good look.  Some of them are works of art. The stable and horse owners are easily identified by the unique design of their silks, that is, if you have a photographic memory.   After a few weekends at the races, I have been able to commit about ten of the thousands to memory.

Lucky for me there is a program out there in the webiverse called SilkSelector available for free use on the websites of the companies who make jockey silks.  If you are a big spender, you can purchase an app for your Iphone provided you are willing to part with 99 cents.  The program let me play around with colors and patterns. The possibilities are endless, so the process can be quite time consuming but extremely fun.  Since our logo contains the queen of hearts I wanted to capture some of the colors or symbols from the playing card and came up with way too many choices.  I also wanted to put a D in the design, of course, for Desperado Racing, but also for Davis.  At some point about a week into the whole thing, I decided I better get an order placed or our recently claimed horse would be racing with a shirtless jockey.

With a bit of feedback but mostly by using my ability to make an executive decision without fear of the certain future critique when our fans couldn’t spot our horse on the backstretch,  I decided on this design and submitted it for quote to a couple of silks makers that we found listed in the back of the Blood-Horse magazine.

Desperado Racing Jockey Silks

The price quotes were back fairly quickly and after I picked myself up off the floor, I continued to procrastinate thinking there was surely a more economical option.  After paying race horse bills for quite a while now, this price tag should have seemed inexpensive. It was when I convinced myself that we were purchasing a handcrafted piece of artwork, that I was able to hit SEND on the order to Victory Silks.

Rose Sanders from Victory Silks was kind enough to send me photos of the work in progress when I asked, and this special garment was indeed being handmade to our specifications!

sewing Desperado Racing's silks

It is difficult to tell from the photos, but Rose’s work is exceptional.  Such meticulous work requires a skill level that is uncommon, and from the high quality workmanship it is clear that Rose is an expert seamstress.   After receiving the photos, I was even more eager for this delivery to arrive.

work in progress jockey silks

When the package was delivered today, I couldn’t get it out of the envelope fast enough, and yes, I tried it on!  There was nothing I wanted more than a selfie in the jockey silks, but of course it was way too tight and looked hideous on me! Until our next race when we have a jockey to model it, this is the best I can do!

Desperado Racing silks

The package also included a Safe Trip token to keep in my pocket to remind me that these nice folks are thinking of us!

safe trip token

City Steel Places Impressively

March 23, 2013

City Steel earned a paycheck today for Desperado Racing in a close second at a shortened distance on dirt at The Fairgrounds losing narrowly to a three time Stakes race winner.

City Steel in the tunnel at The Fairgrounds

photo courtesy of @GeoffWorden

We claimed City Steel on February 28 and this was his first race since joining our stable.  Enthusiasm was high as we cheered him on from home in Indiana where March Madness was shut off for nearly an hour to focus on this big event!



The 2014 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park

MARCH 22, 2014

The Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park was going to be one of my few chances to see Kentucky Derby hopefuls run, so I took full advantage of the opportunity.  I have an odd obsession with buglers and was happy to see that Turfway had one for their big day.


Sean Fitzpatrick did something I have never heard from a track bugler when he made it his own.  I suppose that the traditionalists think this is not cool, and I can understand that; but at Turfway on this day, it rocked!

Click here to watch  CALL TO POST

We Miss Artie took the big race, and I took a million (well, 600+) photos.  This was my favorite.

We Miss Artie