Tag Archives: thoroughbred

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

Midshipman

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.

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!

RACE REPLAY

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Our First Claim

MARCH 1, 2014

Friday, February 28 was a huge day for Desperado Racing!

On Thursday morning while I was packing a bag to leave for New Orleans for Mardi Gras, I got a call from Dad.  He and Willy had identified a horse that they wanted to claim out of a race on Friday at The Fairgrounds.  Since this was going to be our eagerly anticipated first claim, I had no idea what to do, so I called our trainer to talk it over.

The basic first task was to get a big, fat cashier’s check to put on deposit at The Fairgrounds while the trainers got the scoop on the horse, City Steel.  I hastily finished packing and headed to the bank while confirming that the trainer was giving us the early thumbs up.

On Friday we went to the barn early to make sure everything was in order and understand what I would need to do that afternoon.  We met with the trainer and then visited the track office to get the money on deposit checking back at home to give Dad and Willy the progress update. We returned to the track mid-afternoon ready to claim a horse.

City Steel was running in the last race of the day, so the wait there through the afternoon into the early evening seemed like an eternity.  Finally, as the horses left the paddock for the eighth race I got the go-ahead from our advisors to drop the claim.  I checked all of the spelling on the ticket for about the billionth time (a misspelled word gets you instantly disqualified) and I proceeded to the office as I had practiced in my head all afternoon.  The claim must be dropped 15 minutes before post time of the race, so I couldn’t be delayed by getting lost or confused about where to go and what to do! I slid the claim envelope into the time clock to make sure it was time stamped and dropped it nervously into the claim box after confirming once again that I was in the right place and doing all the right things!

I went to the paddock to get a quick glimpse of the horse and hurried back to the office where I had been instructed to stay and watch the race.  Just before post time we were told that we were in a three way shake, meaning that two other people had claimed the same horse.  I was a nervous wreck.  The office took the claim ticket envelopes, sealed them shut, shuffled them up and put numbers on them 1, 2 and 3.  They put dice with numbers one, two and three in a shaker and we waited for the start of the race.  When the horses left the gate, the shake occurred and out popped the number 2.  The office opened the number 2 envelope and announced my name as the new owner of City Steel! City Steel was an exclusive claim for Bill and Willy, but since I was in New Orleans and licensed, I got to make the claim for them.  I feel so lucky that I got to do it—it was one of the most exciting experiences I have ever had!

The groom and I watched the finish of the race on the office television, grabbed the paperwork and went to the paddock to collect the new addition to Desperado Racing, City Steel.  The day continued at the barn, where City Steel got a bath, a new stall, a check out by the vet and good look over from everyone involved!

Happy Mardi Gras!

Avery Glenn at Elloree Training Center

February 16,2014

On Saturday I visited Elloree Training Center in South Carolina where Avery Glenn is training.  I was able to talk with Frank Smith, owner and trainer at the Center, about his progress, the possibilities for his future, horse racing and life in general.  Frank’s career as a horseman and passion for the sport leave him with an endless supply of stories to tell!

Avery Glenn is growing and learning to be a racehorse and is right on target.  I watched him run the track in Elloree with another horse at his side.  He was easy to manage on and off the track.  He was fuzzy with winter fur and is a bit dirty in the photos from the slop on track.  Frank assured me that I would not recognize him the next time I see him after he loses his winter coat and grows even more.

2b

Since we are very hopeful that Avery Glenn will be able to race as a two year old, I was excited when Frank reminded me that AG’s daddy was a Breeder’s Cup champion at two and he has every reason to believe that AG will run as a two year old.  He predicted that Avery Glenn will grow to 16.1-16.2 hands and looks like he will be able to manage a two turn race in addition to the sprints that his sire was known for.

Avery Glenn’s sire is Midshipman.  AG is one of is first crop of foals, making him an extra exciting opportunity for us.  If this crop of colts and fillies sired by Midshipman race well as two years olds, prices on Midshipmen foals will increase dramatically.  AG’s sale price was well below that of his half-siblings, so I feel very fortunate to have a horse like AG with his pedigree at the price we paid.  Frank did not fail to make this point, as well, and mentioned that he likes getting into the yearlings with unproven sires while the prices are “reasonable.”

I am now on my way to New Orleans (because Louisiana is conveniently located near SC–haha!), where Follow the Kitten (filly in which we own a small share) will be running on Monday afternoon.  Wish us luck!  If you want to watch that race, let me know, and I will send you some ways to see it.