Welcome to The Michigan-Bred Claimer!


As you might have noticed, this blog hasn’t been updated for quite some time. However, that doesn’t mean I’ve given up the Michigan beat. I’ve simply graduated to the professional ranks.

I am currently the sales editor and Michigan correspondent for the Daily Racing Form, as well as a columnist and Michigan correspondent for Arabian Finish Line, ever in pursuit of my goal to become the most electrifying man in Turf writing.

To see what I’ve been up to since the heyday of the Michigan-Bred Claimer blog, and to keep tabs on me going forward, please visit my new homepage, http://www.joenevills.com/. For any questions, comments, or inquiries, my contact page is here.

I also tweet frequently about happenings in Michigan and handicap cards at Hazel Park on my corporate Twitter account, @DRFNevills.

I hope you enjoy this snapshot of Michigan racing during a tumultuous period (as if there are any times when it’s not tumultuous), as well as my journey from a college writer to full-time employment. This site has meant a lot to me over the years, and it will stay online as long as WordPress will have it. Thanks for visiting and for your interest in Michigan horse racing.

– Joe Nevills

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Michigan-breds qualify for All-American Futurity, Derby

A Michigan-bred will fill a spot in  the starting gate in both the All-American Futurity and All-American Derby this weekend at Ruidoso Downs.

Cold Cash 123 will compete in the $1,316,760 All-American Derby on Sunday, September 4, while Mr Ease 123 will run in the estimated $2.4 million All-American Futurity on Monday, September 5.

Both horses are owned by Walter and Carolyn Bay’s T-Bill Stables and trained by Sleepy Gilbreath.

Below are a pair of press releases from the American Quarter Horse Association outlining each qualifier.

All-American Futurity

Brown gelding, Holland Ease-Barbs Beduino 123 by Chicks Beduino

Racing in the ninth trial, Mr Ease 123 was second by a neck to Lethal Volt, with a time of :21.395. He held on to be the 10th-fastest qualifier.

Race Record: 3-0-2-0 $1,630. A maiden, Mr Ease 123 opened his career in the Heritage Place Futurity (G1) trials, then was second in his Rainbow Futurity (G1) trial to qualifier Hez Our Secret.

Owner/Breeder: Carolyn Bay of Clare, Michigan, races horses in her own name and in the name of her T Bill Stables – named in honor of her first horse. Her runners include two-time Grade 1 winner Cold Cash 123 and Grade 3 winner Fanci Ending 123. Cold Cash 123, the Rainbow Derby (G1) winner, is the fastest qualifier to the All American Derby (G1).

“Believe me, this is an excited place,” Bay said from her farm in Clare, where both her qualifiers were foaled.

Mr Ease 123 is a homebred out of her homebred mare Barbs Beduino 123.

“This doesn’t make a bit of difference, they don’t have to be beautiful to run,” Bay said. “But he happens to be just a beautiful 2-year-old. He happens to be one of my favorites. He’s been good-looking and a dominant baby ever since he was born.”

Mr Ease 123 got his name when farm helper and volunteer Joan Roberts, who loves to help with the newborn foals, brought her non-horsey husband, Mike Roberts, out to see the foals. Joan reported that Mike really liked the colt, and so Bay added his initials – MR.

The “123” designation at the end of the horses’ names indicates an old family story – when Bay’s parents began dating, they did not have the approval of their families, so they used the numbers as a code for “I love you.” It became part of the family lore and part of the horses’ names.

Trainer: Dwayne “Sleepy” Gilbreath, a member of Ruidoso Downs Racehorse Hall of Fame, trained world champion Refrigerator to his 1990 All American Futurity win, and On A High to win the 1983 All American Futurity. His trainees have earned more than $22.6 million, with 1,335 winners from 6,868 starters. He has the bookend qualifiers for the All American Futurity – fastest qualifier Ochoa and 10th-fastest qualifier Mr Ease 123 – as well as the All American Derby (G1) fastest qualifier Cold Cash 123.

Qualifying Jockey: Reigning champion jockey Jacky Martin returned to race riding in a big way in 2010, jumping in with year-end earnings of $3.2 million and the champion jockey award. The seven-time All American Futurity-winning jockey, who rode his first official races in 1972, has ridden 2,968 winners from 14,344 starters and the earners of more than $46.4 million. Martin also qualified Ochoa, Tee Cos and Denver Pass.

Pedigree: Sire Holland Ease is a 22-year-old son of First Down Dash and the sire of Corona Cartel (who sired four of the All American Futurity finalists). A Grade 1 winner on the track, Holland Ease from 16 crops has sired the earners of more than $11.7 million. They include 367 winners from 617 starters, 41 stakes winners and champion Haulin Pass.

Barbs Beduino 123 is a homebred for Bay, and like All American Derby fastest qualifier Cold Cash 123, traces to the stock that was owned by Walter and Barbara Conley of Remus, Michigan. Bay bought and was given horses from their program, including Tiny Lou Etta. The Tiny’s Gay mare is the third dam of both Mr Ease 123 and Cold Cash 123. Barbs Beduino 123 is named in honor of Barbara, who picked the filly out as her favorite of that year’s crop.

The winning Chicks Beduino mare has produced three winners from four starters, including stakes winner Shadaisy 123 (by Shazoom, $60,203).


All-American Derby

Bay gelding, Oak Tree Special-Hot Cash 123 by Takin On The Cash

Winning the sixth of nine trials by a half length over second-fastest qualifier DM Streakn Thru Fire and 10th-fastest qualifier The Printing Press, Cold Cash 123 won his sixth consecutive start at 440 yards in :20.833 to earn the fastest qualifying time.

Race Record: 10-6-1-0 $615,346, won Rainbow Derby (G1), won Southwest Juvenile Championship (G1), won All American Juvenile (R). Cold Cash 123 broke his maiden in the All American Futurity (G1) trials last year, failing to qualify to the final but winning the All American Juvenile Invitational (R). He went on to earn his first Grade 1 in the Southwest Juvenile Championship at Zia Park. After an uncharacteristically poor effort in the Heritage Place Derby (G2) trials this spring, he dominated his Rainbow Derby trial in a near track-record time and went on to win the final.

Owner/Breeder: Carolyn Bay of Clare, Michigan, races horses in her own name and in the name of her T Bill Stables. Her runners include two-time Grade 1 winner Cold Cash 123 and Grade 3 winner Fanci Ending 123. She also owns All American Futurity finalist Mr Ease 123.

“When you’ve won so many races and so much is expected of you … ‘Cold Cash’ probably doesn’t know that, but it’s nerve wracking (for us),” Bay said. “But it’s very exciting.”

The gelding has an easy-going temperament that shows before races.

“He is something,” Bay said. “He just goes onto the track like a pony horse. He’s laid back, just goes along with a loose lead. But then he gets behind the gates and knows where he is. And he does his job.

“He has caused quite a stir here,” Bay added. “The neighbors are calling, they’re watching it on television. It has caused quite the excitement in this small county of Clare.”

Trainer: Dwayne “Sleepy” Gilbreath, a member of the Ruidoso Downs Racehorse Hall of Fame, trained world champion Refrigerator to his 1990 All American Futurity win, and On A High to win the 1983 All American Futurity. His trainees have earned more than $22.6 million, with 1,335 winners from 6,868 starters.

“He’s a different kind of horse,” Gilbreath said of Cold Cash 123. “He’s really laid back. If you shake him up, he gets mad, so we just leave him alone.”

Qualifying Jockey: Since 1985, Roy Baldillez has won 1,314 of 9,599 starts, including 51 stakes wins, with mount earnings of more than $13.6 million. His mounts have included Grade 1 winners Illegal Memories (Texas Classic Futurity), Thewayouwantmetoo (Rainbow Futurity), Red Clay Of Texas (Ruidoso Futurity), Invisible Injun (Texas Classic Derby), Significant Speed (Dash For Cash and Rainbow derbies), Easily A Rogue (Remington Park Championship) and First Down Kelly (Blue Ribbon Futurity).

Pedigree: Oak Tree Special (2000, Special Task-Easy Lady Oak by Easy Dozen) was the 2003 world champion and earned $628,470 while compiling a record of 26-16-2-2. With 248 starters from five crops raced, Oak Tree Special has sired 17 stakes winners, 130 winners and the earners of more than $5 million. With progeny earnings of more than $1.57 million to date this year, Oak Tree Special currently is the sixth-ranked sire of money earners in 2011.

Dam Hot Cash 123 is a maiden half sister to the stakes-winning Striking Bunny geldings Overpowered and Hot Hugger. The Takin On The Cash mare also produced 2010 Paint world champion I Do One Two Three. Cold Cash 123 is her first American Quarter Horse foal.


Filed under Stakes Races

Labor Day pig roast at Mount Pleasant Meadows

From the Michigan HBPA website…


2:00 PM UNTIL ??? MUSIC After 5:00

Pig Roast !
Hot Dogs, Soda,MORE

Brought to you by:
Mount Pleasant Meadows
Michigan HBPA
Great Lakes Quarter Horse Assn.

Info call (989) 772-2725

According to the MPM condition book, the Labor Day card is also scheduled to feature the Don Boyd Memorial Challenge for Quarter Horses and an additional mixed challenge race open to Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses carded for 550 yards.


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Handicapping Mount Pleasant Meadows: August 14, 2011

Just for a lark, and partially because I refuse to let go of the track despite my move to Lexington, I decided to break down this Sunday’s card at Mount Pleasant Meadows and give out my selections.

I analyzed each race horse-by-horse, included comments on each entry and made my top four picks. If my top four includes an alternate entry or both parts of a paired entry, I picked down to fifth place in case of scratches.

Hope you find it interesting, entertaining or useful. If my picks bomb, let’s try to lean toward “entertaining”. What do you want from me? I’m 500 miles away.

Best of luck to everyone at MPM on Sunday. I wish I could be there myself.

To view my analysis and picks for the August 14, 2011 card, click here.



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Pinnacle Race Course assets to be auctioned?

The Southgate News Herald published a story Tuesday suggesting that some assets from Pinnacle Race Course may soon be up for sale.

The story focuses on the appointment of a new Huron Township deputy clerk, but the last few paragraphs are of particular interest….

So far, the department collected more than $55,000 in late taxes. Currently, it is preparing to auction off assets from Pinnacle Race Course and Simply Dave’s.

The township placed orange stickers, dated April 1 and signed by Spangler, on the clubhouse doors at Pinnacle, 18000 Vining Road, for nonpayment of taxes. The Thoroughbred track, owned by Post-It Stables of Jackson, did not reopen for the 2011 season and stopped simulcasting races Nov. 3, 2010.

As of May, Pinnacle owed just under $265,000 to the township for personal property taxes, water bills and state “breakage fees” and just over $1.5 million to Wayne County for real property taxes.

Obviously, there is not a lot of detail there about what would be auctioned off, when it would happen or how likely it is to actually happen. Any speculation on what the auction might entail is just that – speculation – given the half-sentence of information we have. However, if those “assets” include the things necessary to put on the show, like the stripping down of Great Lakes Downs in 2009, that would be a hard setback to overcome on the road to opening the doors once again.

Keep an eye out for future developments.


Filed under Pinnacle Race Course, Politics

Opening day 2011 at Mount Pleasant Meadows

Opening day at Mount Pleasant Meadows was the climax of a roller coaster year for the central Michigan track. Porsche Pink is led to the winner's circle with Nate Alcala aboard.

On the track’s Aug. 1 closing day last year, the idea of Mount Pleasant Meadows hosting Michigan’s lone Thoroughbred meet seemed outlandish.

A lot can happen in a year.

The central Michigan racetrack’s July 24 opening day was last stop of a roller coaster offseason that included the shuttering of Pinnacle Race Course and months of “Will they? Won’t they?” tension as the state, the track and the horsemen all worked to get on the same page.

The pressure went down to the wire, as the Michigan Gaming Control Board balked on approving Mount Pleasant’s live meet until just days before it was scheduled to commence. Once the paperwork got signed, the gears got turning – and with little time to spare, they got turning fast.

Since Mount Pleasant called it a meet last year, I have been to more racetracks around the country than I can count on two hands. At no point was I more genuinely excited for a day of racing than I was for this year’s opening day.

By the time the horses came over for the first race, I could hardly contain my giddiness, and it lasted throughout the card. The tension that built up with every event that made it look like the place would never host another race had finally come uncoiled. This feeling could have also been due in no small part to mild dehydration, but it was still pretty amazing, nonetheless.

I have been watching and playing the races at Mount Pleasant for years, but for the first time since I first picked up a program, I had absolutely no idea how the races were going to shake out. Would the native horses and riders have a home-track advantage until the new ones figured out the four furlong bullring? Would class prevail regardless of the racing surface? Would horses and bloodlines that succeeded at five-furlong Great Lakes Downs recapture the magic? Would the horses bred for Pinnacle be able to adapt? As it turns out, the answer for just about all of these questions was “yes.” Every bettor on the grounds was on a level playing field, and it was an exciting time.

The best thing about opening day was, without a doubt, getting to see everyone in the same place – Thoroughbred people, Quarter Horse people, Arabian people and other fellow racing enthusiasts. Mount Pleasant is a very communal track, and that spirit was not lost on its new residents. I was glad to see this.

The crowd was robust – easily double the average attendance, if not more. I have never been good at eyeball estimating a crowd, so whenever I want to gauge the attendance at Mount Pleasant, I look out at the parking lot. On a normal day, the cars usually make two rows. On this day, they made four very long rows. It was kind of beautiful.

But enough talk, lets look at some pictures…

Continue reading


Filed under Mount Pleasant Meadows, Pictures, Racetrack Visits

My new gig

For those who have not yet heard the news, I am starting on as a staff writer for Thoroughbred Times on August 8.

Dating back to my internship with Thoroughbred Times in the summer of 2008, my goal has been to get back with the publication in some capacity. Over that time, I have appeared in the magazine, website and daily publications in a freelance role at some of the sport’s biggest events.

If one got right down to the nuts and bolts of it all, my time with Thoroughbred Times was largely responsible for the birth of The Michigan-Bred Claimer. I did not want to start a racing blog until I had the right kind of momentum behind my name to make it stand out from the pack. An internship with Thoroughbred Times provided just that.

So, what does this announcement mean for this site? Honestly, I don’t know.

The job will require a move to Lexington, Ky., which means that coverage of racing in Michigan will become nearly impossible to pull off, especially on top of all the responsibilities of working for a leading Thoroughbred publication. Considering all the recent goings on at Mount Pleasant Meadows, this is a pretty considerable bummer, but opportunities like this are too rare to pass.

I have been asked if I would ever pass the title of “Michigan-Bred Claimer” on to someone else to carry on the coverage of the state’s racing industry. Quite frankly, I have spent so much time building the brand and its reputation that I’d prefer to hang on to the name for possible future use. This is not to deter anyone else from picking up the torch and providing the coverage Michigan desperately needs, in fact I encourage it, but if you use the “Michigan-Bred Claimer” name, I will find you…

Regardless of what happens to this blog, readers will still get to read my often off-kilter thoughts on racing in the pages of Arabian Finish Line. Because the publication covers a different breed of horse from Thoroughbred Times, the “Making Claims” column will live on.

Anyway, that’s what’s new and exciting around here. This development more than likely would have never happened without everyone who has read, commented, promoted and otherwise helped make The Michigan-Bred Claimer a rousing success in drawing attention to what I have to offer, and more importantly, what Michigan racing has to offer.

So many people in Michigan’s racing industry have been vital in helping me get to this point – from the horsemen’s organizations, racetrack personnel, owners, breeders, trainers and anyone else that was ever nice enough to accept an interview request, to the people on the track for not punching me when I shove a camera in their faces.

In particular, an enormous debt of gratitude is owed to Rick McCune, who has been one of my biggest teachers and supporters in this business. Simply put, if not for Rick, I would probably still be one of those kids who spends more time running races on the apron than watching the actual races on the track. There is no way I am here writing this post about this subject without his guidance, and for that, I can’t thank him enough.

A plethora of thanks also goes out to all of the publications who took me on as a freelancer and allowed me to expand my career to new levels. It was a thrill opening the mailbox every day and seeing my work appear in a different magazine, including Arabian Finish Line, Midwest Thoroughbred, Louisiana Horse and online at Thorofan.com.

Even if the end is near, this isn’t it for the blog just yet. I still have some time in Michigan, and as the last year has proven, there is never a dull moment in this state. Without a doubt, that experience will make me even better on my next stop.

I look forward to getting started on my new gig.


UPDATE: From the Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association website…

Joe Nevills, creator of the MI Bred Claimer Blog and member of MTOBA, will be leaving Michigan to take a position as staff writer for the Thoroughbred Times.  He begins this next phase of his career on August 8th in Lexington, KY.  A farewell party will be happening at Mt. Pleasant Meadows this Sunday, July 31st.  All are invited.  The MTOBA Board sends their congratulations and will all look forward to following  Joe’s stories in the Thoroughbred Times.  We will miss you Joe but we are oh so proud to have our own Michigan Bred son make it to the big leagues in Kentucky!


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It’s On: Mount Pleasant Meadows approved for 2011 meet

After almost a year of uncertainty, Mount Pleasant Meadows will kick off its 2011 live meet this weekend.

Mount Pleasant Meadows has met the requirements set by the Michigan Gaming Control Board and will conduct a live meet in 2011.

The announcement was made Wednesday afternoon, before the races drew for the Sunday, July 24 opening card. Saturday’s races were canceled after entries were ordered by the state to cease Tuesday morning.

To make up for the cancelled day, some of the races from Saturday’s card were combined with Sunday’s to produce the opening program. A total of 82 horses were entered in the day’s 12 races – 11 Thoroughbred and one Quarter Horse.

Here is the revised schedule from the Michigan HBPA website…

Sunday Post Time 1pm

2011 Amended race dates:
Sunday July 24 and 31
Sunday August 14 (County Fair no racing 6th, 7th  or 13th)
Saturday August 20 and Sunday August 21
Saturday August 27 and Sunday August 28
Saturday Sept. 3, Sunday Sept. 4 and Monday Sept. 5
Saturday Sept. 10, Sunday Sept. 11
Saturday Sept. 17, Sunday Sept. 18
Saturday Sept. 24, Sunday Sept. 25
Saturday Oct. 1, Sunday Oct. 2
Saturday Oct. 8, Sunday Oct. 9
Saturday Oct. 15, Sunday 16
Friday Oct. 21, Saturday Oct. 22 and Sunday October 23
Friday Oct. 28, Saturday Oct. 29 and Sunday October 30

 An updated condition book will be posted as soon as it is made available.

One of the major stalling points in the process of getting approved by the state was the use of purse pool funds to offset operating expenses. To alleviate the problem, the track will charge a $400-per horse, per-entry starter fee. The fee is refunded if the horse does not start.

The Michigan HBPA will cover the ship-in costs for the first 200 Thoroughbreds to ship-in during the meet. Mount Pleasant has 55 ship-in stalls.

To read the Gaming Control Board’s executive order regarding Mount Pleasant Meadows, click here.


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Michigan Gaming Control Board issues statement on Mount Pleasant Meadows

From the Michigan HBPA website…



Based upon our discussion yesterday, there exist some outstanding matters that need resolution prior to any live racing at Mt. Pleasant Meadows.

Foremost, as discussed, the outstanding breakage needs to be paid and all aspects of the race meet application that require modification need to be amended, including details of capital improvements as discussed in our meeting.

The legality of the use of the purse pool to fund track operations was brought up last year by the HBPA and the MGCB was asked to look into the matter. In doing so, the advice from the Attorney General’s office was that purse pool funds could not be used for track operations, thus the purse pool order was issued earlier this year. Additionally, audits of the purse pool were conducted to further identify its usage.

Based upon review and internal discussion of the information from yesterday’s meeting and contracts recently provided between the associations and the track, the contracts denote that the purse pool remains to be used to fund operations through the use of assessments. Although this may have been prior practice by the tracks, it is by no way an “industry standard” and based upon advise from the Attorney General’s office we cannot find it to be a viable use of the purse pool funds. The track must find alternative methods to fund operations outside of deriving money from the purse pool, even if indirectly through a horsemen’s account. The MGCB is not opposed to the use of fees prior to a race, such as a starter fee, which are not derived from the purse pool.

Until the aforementioned information is addressed and we are provided contracts which adhere to the racing act and purse pool order, live racing cannot commerce at Mt. Pleasant Meadows.”

Thank You
Erik Pedersen, Deputy Director
Division of Horse Racing, Audit & Gaming Technology

With a week to go before Mount Pleasant’s scheduled opening day, and just days before the races draw, this is not promising news. One can only hope the situation is promptly rectified and racing in Michigan can finally get off the ground as planned.

UPDATE: The Michigan HBPA has put out a response to the Gaming Control Board’s ruling…

MT PLEASANT MEADOWS: Efforts are currently underway to address and comply with ALL request made in Erik Pedersen’s letter.

The MI-HBPA, GLQHA and MPM are amending contracts to meet requirements to permit entries to be taken Tues. and continue for plans for opening day Saturday July 23, 2011. A meeting is scheduled for Sat. and the MGCB will be available as the process continues.

Information will be updated ASAP.

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Filed under Mount Pleasant Meadows, Politics

Mount Pleasant Meadows releases first 2011 condition book

The groundwork for Mount Pleasant Meadows’ upcoming meet was revealed Wednesday when the track released its first condition book.

Aside from laying out the conditions from Mount Pleasant’s opening day on July 23 to Aug. 24, the document provides an interesting preview of what to expect during what will be an unprecedented meet.

Thoroughbred races will make up the bulk of the cards. The claiming ranks will range from $2,500 to $8,000, along with allowance and starter allowance contests. No stakes races are listed for any breed.

Mount Pleasant’s Thoroughbred purse structure will be regionally competitive, and even better than some tracks in surrounding states. For example, here is how Mount Pleasant will stack up against other regional tracks running at the same time at the open maiden special weight class…

Presque Isle Downs* – $39,000 (Plus up to 30% PA-Bred bonus)
Hoosier Park* – $35,000 (Plus 40% State-bred Supplement)
Arlington Park – $28,000 (Plus $10,080 Illinois Registered Owner Award for ICF)
Mountaineer* – $17,600
Mount Pleasant Meadows – $10,000 (Plus $2,080 for T.A.F)
Thistledown – $7,200 (Plus $5,000 if winner is OH-bred)
River Downs – $6,400 (Plus $5,000 if winner is OH-bred)
Fairmount Park –  $5,600 (Plus $2,016 Illinois Registered Owner Award)

(Purse information gathered from condition books or entries available on Equibase or track websites)
*Tracks with expanded gaming or “Racinos”. 

The meet’s first half will be heavy on sprint races. A vast majority of the Thoroughbred races written in the first book are carded between two and six furlongs, with races at a mile or longer dispensed sparingly. However, because of the track’s four-furlong oval setup, featuring a six-furlong chute, any race contested at four furlongs or longer will include at least two turns.

Quarter Horse, Paint Horse and Arabian races will fill out the remainder of the cards. Purses appear consistent across the breeds and classes, with a base of $3,000 plus up to an additional $2,333 from other sources.

The track, and Michigan’s racing industry, still await a final endorsement by the Michigan Gaming Control Board before the meet is set in stone. Until then, the track continues to prepare for the live meet as scheduled.

If all goes to plan, Mount Pleasant Meadows is expected to race Saturdays and Sundays from July 23 to Oct. 30. A few three-day weeks are being planned for the second half of the meet to make up for the dates lost to the Isabella County Fair in early August.

To download the condition book, click here.

UPDATE: There have been some tweaks made to the condition book to account for actions taken by the Michigan Gaming Control Board. The above version is no longer current. For an updated version of Mount Pleasant’s condition book, please contact the track or the Michigan HBPA.


Filed under Mount Pleasant Meadows