Monthly Archives: January 2010

2010 MTOBA Stallion Season Auction

The Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association will conduct its annual Stallion Season Auction on Monday and Tuesday.

Over 110 stallions from 14 states have seasons donated for the sale.

Bidding began Monday morning and will continue through Tuesday at 6 p.m. Phone bidding will be available Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information on the MTOBA Stallion Season Auction and to see a full list of the seasons being offered, click here.

Let’s have a look at some highlighted stallions from Michigan and elsewhere offering seasons in this sale…

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I Do One Two Three wins APHA Running Champion Award

I Do One Two Three competed in stakes races at Remington Park and Mount Pleasant Meadows during his award-winning 2009 campaign.

Michigan-bred I Do One Two Three was named champion regular registry two-year-old gelding at the Jan. 16 American Paint Horse Association’s Running World Championships.

The Judys Lineage gelding is owned and bred by Walt and Carolyn Bay’s T-Bill Stables. While in Michigan, he was trained by Jay Hall and ridden by Julie Veltman and Oscar Delgado.

I Do One Two Three won two races from seven starts during his two-year-old campaign with earnings of $41,748. In 2009, he entered the gates at Remington Park, Mt. Pleasant and Blue Ribbon Downs.

I Do One Two Three competed in stakes races or trials at all three tracks he visited.

On May 30, He finished fourth in the $273,987 Graham Paint & Appaloosa Futurity (G1) at Remington Park.

At Mt. Pleasant, I Do One Two Three finished second in the Aug. 30 Great Lakes Quarter Horse Association Michigan Paint Horse Futurity and the July 26 GLQHA Stallion Service Sale Futurity. I Do One Two Three also registered the fastest time in the trials of the latter race.

To view the full list of winners from the 2009 APHA Running World Championships, click here.

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Holst leads award winners at A.R.A.B. year-end dinner

Catch Me Ridin Dirty, jockey Nate Alcala and trainer Nicole Holst were each well-represented in A.R.A.B. of Michigan's year-end awards.

Trainer Nicole Holst wrapped up a successful 2009 campaign by securing an armload of awards for herself and her charges at the Association of Racing Arabian Breeders of Michigan’s year-end awards dinner.

The awards were presented Jan. 9 in Mt. Pleasant.

Holst led all trainers with six awards for horses in her stable, including Horse of the Year Catch Me Ridin Dirty. She also took home two individual awards as Michigan’s champion trainer and breeder.

Catch Me Ridin Dirty earned three awards on the evening, the most of any horse. In addition to Horse of the Year, the Aransas HF gelding also picked up honors for champion three-year-old male and Michigan-Bred of the Year. His dominant meet at Mt. Pleasant also earned Catch Me Ridin Dirty national attention when he was named a finalist for the Darley Award as champion three-year-old male.

Owner Tom Fritz was also well-represented with three awards, including Owner of the Year. Fritz’s award-winning stable included the champions in both four year-old divisions – Zanthus Fury (male) and ARC Midewst Maturity Distaff Stakes winner Pachet (female).

To view the preview for the awards, including the full list of nominees in each category, click here.

A full list of winners (with pictures!) can be found behind the jump.

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Catch Me Ridin Dirty nominated for Darley Award

Catch Me Ridin Dirty's dominant 2009 campaign earned the gelding a Darley Award nomination for champion three- year-old male.

Michigan-Bred Arabian Catch Me Ridin Dirty is a Darley Award finalist for champion three-year-old male.

The Darley Awards are the Arabian equivalent of Thoroughbred racing’s Eclipse Awards. The winners will be announced March 13 in Houston, Texas.

Catch Me Ridin Dirty was Michigan’s top three-year-old male in 2009. He notched five wins from six starts in his juvenile season for earnings of $11,625. His lone defeat was a second-place finish to an older horse.

The Aransas HF gelding was campaigned in 2009 by owner Diana Jackson and trainer/breeder Nicole Holst. Nate Alcala rode Catch Me Ridin Dirty in every start.

Catch Me Ridin Dirty capped off his 2009 campaign with an emphatic 12 1/2 length victory in the Sept. 27 Michigan Juvenile Stakes at Mt. Pleasant. His five wins last year were by a total of 29 1/2 lengths.

Other three-year-olds nominated for the award include stakes winner A Ladys Man, multiple stakes placed Full of Fiesta, multiple stakes winner Lacy Crazy Vaz and Grade 2 winner Quite a Show.

Another Darley nominee with experience at Mt. Pleasant is MW Bonnie Z. The K A Czubuthan mare, who is a finalist for champion older mare honors, was a stakes winner at the Michigan track in 2008. She did not make any starts at Mt. Pleasant in 2009.

For more information on the Darley Awards and to see the full list of nominees, click here.

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Michigan Office of Racing Commissioner merges with Gaming Control Board

From the Michigan Gaming Control Board website:

Effective January 17, 2010, the Office of Racing Commissioner (ORC) was transferred to the Michigan Gaming Control Board by Governor’s Executive Order 2009-45. The ORC remains mandated to promote the safety, security, growth and integrity of all horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering on the results of horse races, and simulcasting conducted at licensed race meetings within Michigan.

As part of the Governor’s initiative to merge these two agencies, you will find all information concerning Michigan Horse Racing on the Michigan Gaming Control Board web page as a new part of the Michigan Gaming Control Board agency.

From this announcement, and the new “Horse Racing” section of the Gaming Board’s website, it appears the ORC will remain largely intact, but under a new umbrella. This is contrary to initial speculation suggesting the Gaming Control Board would regulate the racing industry using its own staff.

It remains to be seen if and how this will affect horsemen and the day-to-day operations at the state’s five racetracks. New developments will be posted if and when they become available.

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The Haiku Handicapper: 2009 Eclipse Award Predictions

Two-Year-Old Male
Derby cred in doubt
Not a dirt start among them
Lookin at Lucky

Two-Year-Old Female
What East-Coast bias?
Cup loss doesn’t dim campaign
Luck be the lady

Three-Year-Old Male
Big year for the Birds
Mine That Bird got the roses
Summer Bird gets this

Three-Year-Old Female
Rachel – No contest
Got bored clobbering the girls
Boys weren’t much harder

Older Male
Not a standout year
Gio was most consistent
In the biggest spots

Older Female
This one’s a slam dunk
Classic score removed all doubt
Zenyatta is queen

Turf Male
Conduit gets love
Not a fan of one-and-dones
Give it to Gio

Turf Female
A cause for debate
Tempting sentimental choice
But “Goldi” locks up

Sprint Male
A blanket finish
Kowboy’s road stands give the edge
Over Cal homer

Sprint Female
It’s a two-horse race
Get Informed – She gets the duke
In the head-to-head

A stab in the dark
Eenie meenie miney moe…
Let’s go with Mixed Up

Godolphin grabs it
Sheikh Mo had strongest stable
Score one for Dubai

Al Davis proclaims
“Just win baby.” Who won most?
Asmussen by lots

Adena made bank
Juddmonte did more in less starts
That’s more impressive

Who is the top jock?
Leparoux in small upset
Breeders’ Cup tipped scales

Apprentice Jockey
Not much knowledge here
Going by wins, earnings, class
Reyes should take this

Horse of the Year
The debate rages
Star filly or monster mare?
Rachel by a nose


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Guest commentary in Thoroughbred Times TODAY

Last week, Ed DeRosa of Thoroughbred Times invited me to write a commentary piece about my grandpa and our time together at the races for the daily email publication, Thoroughbred Times TODAY. I was more than happy to oblige.

The story appeared in Tuesday’s edition of TODAY and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. They even picked a pretty sweet picture of me for my bio. Have a look for yourself…

Click here to read the story – “More than just past performances and picking winners”.

This PDF appears courtesy of Thoroughbred Times and its daily publication Thoroughbred Times TODAY. Many thanks to them for allowing me a page to remember my grandpa and our adventures at the races.

Thoroughbred Times TODAY is currently offering a free 30-day trial of its email publication. Having written for TODAY during my internship with TTimes, I can tell you from experience that they do a fantastic job and it is definitely worth your time to check it out.

To sign up for a free trial of Thoroughbred Times TODAY, click here.


Filed under Commentary, The Family Business

Buying a stake in new fans

There is no question that horse racing faces the dilemma of attracting new fans.

However, a very big question facing the industry is how to not only attract those fans, but get them to stick around.

To find the answer, we must look at what this sport has to offer that can not be obtained elsewhere. To gain some context, let us examine what other growing niche sports bring to the table…

Mixed Martial Arts:  Lightly-officiated one-on-one combat, Charismatic figures, Clothing with crudely drawn skulls and wings.

Poker: The sense of “I could do that”, Opportunity for fame, fortune and recognition on ESPN without possessing any actual athletic ability.

NASCAR: Identification – names, brands, numbers, colors – There are a lot of things for people to latch on to; more so than any other sport.

So what does horse racing offer that these wildly successful pseudo-sports do not?

This question occupied my thoughts for a few days. Then, while listening to my iPod during one of my many snow-shoveling adventures, I found the answer.

During his superb podcast, Ted Grevelis of Owning Racehorses discussed his racing partnerships and how the sport offers the unique aspect of ownership.

“This is something you can’t do anyplace else,” Grevelis said during his Dec. 24 podcast. “You can’t go to a Twins game and walk away an owner, but you can do that in racing.”

This led me to daydream about owning my own racehorse, which was quickly deflated by the cold realization that ventures like that require money – quite a bit of it. I wouldn’t doubt there are many others in my position.

Then, I remembered there are ways around this.

Every year around Triple Crown season, West Point Thoroughbreds holds a contest on ESPN’s website where the winner receives a small share in one of the syndicate’s two-year-olds for a year.

This is a fantastic idea.

To those outside of the industry, horse racing can appear to be an exclusionary game for Middle Eastern royalty, old money and other privileged folks with wads of cash to burn. Giving the average person a little slice of the action through contests like West Point’s is a great way to remove that stigma and introduce new people to the ownership side of the sport.

More racing operations need to consider this option.

Holding contests of this nature provides positive exposure for the organization conducting it. The benefits are twofold. First, the stable/syndicate/etc. gains the attention of everyone who registers for the prize they offer. Even if an entrant does not take the big prize, he or she may consider doing business with that group somewhere down the road when the money is available. Second, the contest holder gains the good PR that comes with a new owner’s positive experience. The winner’s local paper will probably write a glowing story featuring the stable. Furthermore the winner would likely tell his or her friends and bring them to the track to see the horse, which could create even more racing fans and potential future investors.

The share doesn’t have to be significant. In West Point’s contest, the winner gets a five percent stake in the horse being offered. It’s not enough to have a say in the horse’s campaign, but it allows the winner to come along for what could be a wild ride and hopefully pick up a few checks along the way. Even if the winner does not become a repeat customer with the stable, he or she will probably be good for some additional handle, which will pay back in purse money.

Not a bad return on investment for what amounts to the hair on a horse’s mane.

If the horse’s manager does not want to risk a long-term garnishing of profits, the terms of the contest could limit the duration of the prize to a year (as is the case with the West Point contest) or a particular meet. From there, the prize winner could have the option of buying his or her share for the rest of the horse’s career, or the share could be kept or re-sold by the horse’s manager. Perhaps the share could be put into a contest for the following year or meet to bring in another new fan.

Contests offering stakes in racing prospects offer positive exposure for the organization holding them and for the industry itself. When thinking of ways to promote the industry to new audiences, this method is worthy of further consideration.

Charismatic figures? Attainability? Identification?

Yeah, we’ve got that.

It’s just a matter of getting it to the fans.


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In Memoriam

My grandpa, John Murphy, passed away last night at the Masonic Pathways Home in Alma, Michigan. He had been battling a variety of ailments for quite some time.

He’s the one who introduced me to the sport of horse racing, patiently taught me how to decipher the program and instilled a love of the game that lives on to this day. Simply put, if not for him, you’re probably not reading any of the things you see on this site right now.

Outside of the track (though often at the track, too) my grandpa was the funniest individual I have ever known. Readers who have been fortunate enough to meet him over the years have almost certainly been touched by his sense of humor at one time or another. No one could make me laugh the way he could.

Few people have shaped my life like he did.

We lost a good one today.

I’ll miss him.

UPDATE: Funeral arrangements have been finalized and will be as follows…

Visitation will be on Thursday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Clark Family Funeral Chapel in Mt. Pleasant.

The funeral will be Friday at 1 p.m. at the Clark Funeral Home with dinner following.

My grandpa displaying his horsemanship. (Family Photo)


Filed under The Family Business