Tag Archives: Angel Stanley

Meadow Wise wins older males Sire Stakes

Meadow Wise staked his claim to Michigan’s older male of the year title with a dominant victory in his division of Saturday’s $50,000 Michigan Sire Stakes at Pinnacle Race Course.

The four-year-old Meadow Prayer gelding angled in at the start, but quickly corrected his course and shot to the front. He was soon passed by Hot Chili on the outside, followed closely by Red Bow Tie as they headed down the stretch. The trio came back to even terms heading into the first turn and became a duo when Hot Chili and Meadow Wise sped off to battle their way into the backstretch. Hot Chili led by a half length over Meadow Wise as they made their way past the barns with Red Bow Tie and Romeo Again less than a length behind him. As they made their way into the final turn, Hot Chili was swallowed up by Meadow Wise on the rail and Romeo Again on the outside.

The lead pair of Meadow Wise and Romeo Again battled neck-and-neck throughout the turn, with Hot Chili trying to regain position three wide. Meadow Wise emerged at the top of the stretch with a length and a half lead and ran down the shadow of the rail to win by 3 1/4 lengths under jockey Angel Stanley. Romeo Again battled Hot Chili for second place, and finished a length ahead of his foe.

Meadow Wise completed the mile and one eighth race in 1:54.76 on fast dirt. He left the gates as the favorite among the betting public at odds of 1.50-to-one.

Meadow Wise was bred in Michigan by James Arnold, Marcia Arnold and Deb Miley. He is owned by Mast Thoroughbreds LLC and trained by Robert Gorham. With the win, his second in stakes competition, Meadow Wise improved his lifetime record to six wins from 20 starts for earnings of $139,296.

For an Equibase chart of the race, click here.

1 – Meadow Wise (Angel Stalney) 5.00 / 3.40 / 3.40
5 – Romeo Again (Federico Mata) 2.80 / 2.40
7 – Hot Chili (Ricardo Barrios) 4.20

One Mile and One Eighth
Time: 1:54.76

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Mata wins three in Michigan Sire Stakes

The following Sire Stakes recaps are presented without shots of the winning horse and rider courtesy of Sunlight Photography, Pinnacle’s track photographers who threatened to have my camera taken away if I photographed anything except the races themselves, which I was “allowed” to do. All of this happened despite having obtained a media photo credential from track management.

But enough about my day, let’s talk about some races…

Bipolar Express wins stretch battle in Classic

Bipolar Express (4) duels to the wire with Demagoguery (7) and Hot Chili (1, inside) to win the Michigan Sires Classic at Pinnacle Race Course.

The streak is dead. Long live the streak.

After four years of Sire Stakes consistency by Meadow Vespers, Bipolar Express began a run of his own by winning his second straight October Classic race in Saturday’s $50,000 Michigan Sires Classic at Pinnacle Race Course.

The four-year-old Equality gelding broke with the front pack and battled for the early lead with Hot Chili and Mt. Factor before cooling off and taking a stalking position as the field headed into the first turn. Hot Chili dueled from the rail with Mt. Factor, who maintained a small advantage through the turn and across the first half of the backstretch. Bipolar Express sat two lengths behind the lead duo and began to make his move to on the outside with about five furlongs to go.

Bipolar Express gained the advantage heading into the final turn as Mt. Factor began to fall off the pace. As Bipolar Express and Hot Chili battled into the stretch, Demegoguery also began to gain ground. The lead pair traded bobs of the head throughout the stretch with Demagogurey chipping away on the outside. In the final strides, Bipolar Express put a head in front to prevail under jockey T.D. Houghton. Hot Chili finished a neck ahead of Demagoguery  for the runner-up money.

Bipolar Express stopped the clock in the 1 1/8 mile race with a time of 1:54.21 on a fast track. He left the gates as the second choice of 1.60-to-one. Post time favorite Meadow Vespers had his usual ground saving trip, but came up empty in the stretch.

Bred in Michigan by Gene and Phyllis Gilmore, Bipolar Express is owned by Winning Stables, Inc. and trained by Gerald Bennett. The Sire Stakes victory completes a successful re-claim by Bennett, who lost Bipolar Express to trainer Scott Lake for a $25,000 tag two races ago at Presque Isle Downs. Bennett claimed his charge back in the next race for $35,000

With the win, Bipolar Express improved his career record to seven wins from 27 starts. The race was also his second stakes win, after winning last year’s three-year-old Sire Stakes at Pinnacle. His career earnings now total $209,069.

For an Equibase chart of the race, click here.

4 – Bipolar Express (T.D. Houghton) 5.20 / 3.60 / 3.20
1 – Hot Chili (Federico Mata) 6.80 / 5.60
7 – Demagoguery (Godofredo Laurente) 5.60

1 1/8 Miles
Time: 1:54.21

To view the rest of the day’s Sire Stakes action, click the link below.

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Juvenile favorites hold, veterans upset in Michigan Breeders Championships

Hustle Now hustles in the stretch to win Sickle’s Image Stakes


Hustle Now (7) pulls away from Top Touch (1) to prevail in the Sickle’s Image Stakes at Pinnacle Race Course.

Hustle Now took charge at the top of the stretch and held off the begrudging early leader to take Saturday’s $50,000 Sickle’s Image Stakes at Pinnacle Race Course.

The two-year-old Creative filly watched from third on the outside hip of Q Ginger Snap as Top Touch shot to the lead from the inside post. Top Touch held a 1 1/4 length advantage after the first quarter mile as Hustle Now moved into contention. That advantage was whittled down to a half length as the lead duo entered the turn. Hustle Now continued to close the gap on the outside and entered the stretch with a head in front.

Top Touch refused to waver after being passed and continued to pressure the leader throughout the stretch, but she could not regain her advantage. Hustle Now began to separate from her rival in the final furlong and crossed the finish 1 1/4 lengths in front under a right hand whip by Angel Stanley. Creative Lite turned in a ground saving third place effort 5 1/2 lengths behind Top Touch.

Hustle Now completed the six furlong race in 1:14.13 over a fast surface. She was the second choice at two-to-one behind post time favorite Top Touch.

Homebred in Michigan by Sheffield Farms, Hustle Now is conditioned by Larry Uelmen. Hustle Now improved her career record to two wins from three starts. The Farer Belle Lee was Hustle Now’s first stakes victory. Her career earnings now total $40,208.

For an Equibase chart of the race, click here.

7 – Hustle Now (Angel Stanley) 6.00 / 3.40 / 3.60
1 – Top Touch (Federico Mata) 3.80 / 3.40
2  – Creative Lite (Alexis Ortiz) 5.20

Six Furlongs
Time: 1:14.13


Your winner, Hustle Now; Angel Stanley, up.

Recaps of rest of Saturday’s stakes action from Pinnacle Race Course can be found behind the jump. Just click the link below to see more.

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Yawm Estoora powers home in Moonbeam Handicap

Yawm Estoora made a strong statement in her bid to be named the state’s top older female with a 4 1/4 length victory in Saturday’s $20,000 Moonbeam Handicap at Pinnacle Race Course.

The six-year-old Dayjur mare tracked Silent Sunset from second in the opening furlongs. She overtook that rival on the backstretch and held off She Could Be Good and Wave Pool heading into the final turn. Yawm Estoora began to separate from her foes in the turn and held a two length advantage at the top of the stretch. The lead continued to grow as the wire drew closer under steady right hand whipping by Angel Stanley. Yawm Estoora stopped the clock in the one mile race in 1:42.37 over a sloppy surface.

Irish Date took a wide trip coming out of the final turn to finish second by a neck over Wave Pool. Early pacesetter Silent Sunset faded to last.

Yawm Estoora’s rider, Angel Stanley, extended his stakes streak at Pinnacle to three straight wins. Stanley has proven effective in the big spots this year, having won four of the six stakes races at Pinnacle during the 2009 meet, including wins in the Ann Arbor Stakes (aboard Hakuna Matata), Dowling Stakes (Meadow Wise) and Larkspur Handicap (Yawm Estoora).

Yawm Estoora was saddled by trainer Ronald Inman. She was homebred in Michigan by Twin Cedars Farm. The victory in the Moonbeam increased Yawm Estoora’s career record to six wins from 17 starts with lifetime earnings of $83,612.

For an Equibase chart of the race click here.

3 – Yawm Estoora (Angel Stanley) 6.80 / 3.00
1A – Irish Date (Godofredo Laurente) 2.40
5 – Wave Pool (Federico Mata)

One Mile
Time: 1:42.37

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Hakuna Matata wins by DQ, Senorita Tres by a neck

Hakuna Matata wins Ann Arbor Stakes by DQ

Hakuna Matata took advantage of an overly physical stretch drive to win Saturday’s $20,000 Ann Arbor Stakes at Pinnacle Race Course by disqualification.

The three-year-old Meadow Prayer filly bided her time in seventh place throughout most of the race before staging a rally deep in the stretch. Despite the late move by jockey Angel Stalney, it was not enough to get past post time co-favorite Moon Charmer, who completed the one mile race with a time of 1:42.14.

However, the order of finish was altered when Moon Charmer was taken down to third after repeatedly bothering the race’s leader in the stretch, Baba Booyah.

After taking the lead through the first turn, Susie’s Prayer battled The Girl Rolls through the backstretch with the three entries from trainer Robert Gorham’s barn all sitting in stalking position. Baba Booyah moved up to challenge The Girl Rolls approaching the final turn and overtook the leader shortly afterward. After distancing herself from the field through the turn, Baba Booyah was challenged by Moon Charmer as the two turned for home. With 1/16 of a mile to go, Moon Charmer began lugging in toward Baba Booyah, whose rider eventually checked, leaving her rival free to win the race by 1 1/4 lengths. With her momentum already going in the wrong direction, Baba Booyah was unable to hold off Hakuna Matata, who rallied seven-wide to finish second by a nose. 

After the race, a Stewards’ Inquiry put Moon Charmer behind Baba Booyah for third, which elevated Hakuna Matata to the top spot.

Hakuna Matata is trained by Larry Uelmen for White Lake Farms, Inc.. The Ann Arbor was Hakuna Matata’s second win in eight career starts, and was also her first stakes triumph. With the win, her career earnings increased to $50,866.

For an Equibase chart of the race, click here.

3 – Hakuna Matata (Angel Stanley) 12.60 / 5.40 / 4.00
6 – Baba Booyah (Ricardo Barrios) 5.60 / 4.20
1A – Moon Charmer (DQ 1st to 3rd) (Godofredo Laurente) 3.80

One Mile
Time: 1:42.14

Your winner, Hakuna Matata; Angel Stanley, up (Photo from a previous race).

Senorita Tres hangs on in Midwest Maturity

Senorita Tres (4) holds off Rio Rojo Jess (1A) to take the Midwest Maturity Challenge Stakes at Mount Pleasant Meadows.

The “right horse for the course” theory held up once again when Senorita Tres notched another big win in Sunday’s $21,000 Midwest Maturity Challenge Stakes at Mount Pleasant Meadows.

The four-year-old Tres Seis filly avoided a small commotion from her neighbors coming out of the gate and put a nose at the front of the pack in the early goings. She maintained a small advantage heading into the main stretch and gained separation in the middle stage of the race. Senorita Tres then held off a strong late charge by Rio Rojo Jess to prevail by a neck in the 350 yard race under jockey Richard Rettele. The winning time for the race was :17.696 seconds, eclipsing the horse’s own mark for the year’s fastest time at that distance. 

Rio Rojo Jess finished 3/4 lengths ahead of Hez Fastforthecash for the runner-up position. Rio Rojo Jess ran second to Senorita Tres in a similar fashion during their last faceoff in the July 5 Don Boyd Memorial Handicap.

Senorita Tres is owned by Walter Harrison and trained by Carol Rettele. The Midwest Maturity was Senorita Tres’ 17th win in 22 starts, increasing her lifetime earnings to $131,932.

For an Equibase chart of the race, click here.

4 – Senorita Tres (Richard Rettele) 3.00 / 3.00 / 2.10
1A – Rio Rojo Jess (Nate Alcala) 2.40 / 2.20
2 Hez Fastforthecash (Jimmy Williams) 2.40

350 Yards
Time: 17.696 Seconds 

Your winner, Senorita Tres; Richard Rettele, up.

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Meadow Wise, Happenedindamoonlite prevail in weekend’s stakes races

Meadow Wise gets breakthrough victory in Dowling Stakes

Meadow Wise (2x) drives to the wire to win the Dowling Stakes at Pinnacle Race Course.

After getting close in several stakes attempts but always coming up short, Meadow Wise finally earned a blacktype win in Saturday’s $20,000 Dowling Stakes at Pinnacle Race Course.

The three-year-old Meadow Prayer gelding took a wide path from the outside post in the early goings and sat in fifth as I Found Friday and Juggle pressed for the lead. Meadow Wise began his move near the end of the backstretch and had Juggle within his sights as the two entered the final straightaway. The stablemates did battle throughout the final two furlongs, with Meadow Wise drawing even in the middle of the stretch. He gained the advantage in the final hundred feet and pulled away to win the race by 1 1/4 lengths in a driving finish under jockey Angel Stanley. A late-closing Romeo Again nosed out Juggle for second.

Meadow Wise covered the one mile distance in 1:41.68 over a fast track. He was part of a three-horse entry sent off as the 1.80-to-one favorite.

Meadow Wise is owned by Mast Thoroughbreds, LLC and trained by Robert Gorham. He was bred in Michigan by James Arnold, Marcia Arnold and Deborah Miley. The Dowling was Meadow Wise’s second career victory from 10 starts, coming off a maiden triumph in his last effort. With the win, Meadow Wise increased his career earnings to $58,126.

For an Equibase chart of the race, click here.

2x – Meadow Wise (Angel Stanley) 5.60 / 2.80 / 3.20
1 – Romeo Again (Godofredo Laurente) 6.40 / 3.40
2b – Juggle (Jeffrey Skerrett) 3.20

One Mile
Time: 1:41.68 

Your winner, Meadow Wise; Angel Stanley, up.

Happenedindamoonlite wins at long odds in Stallion Service Sale Futurity

Happenedindamoonlite (5) crosses the line ahead of I Do One Two Three (1) to win the GLQHA Stallion Service Sale Futurity at Mount Pleasant Meadows.

Perhaps it was an omen that the saddlecloths in Sunday’s $36,483 GLQHA Stallion Service Sale Futurity were all green, the color commonly associated with the number five horse. 

Whatever it was, it did not cause any confusion when the race’s five horse, Happenedindamoonlite, pulled off the upset at odds of 11.10-to-one.

The two-year-old Jewels First Moon gelding broke well and established a small lead over the tightly-bunched pack heading into main stretch. Happenedindamoonlite and post time favorite I Do One Two Three gained a length’s separation from the field, but the leader never yielded and powered ahead to a half length victory under jockey Harold Collins. I Do One Two Three finished a half length ahead of late-moving Kit Corona for third.

Happenedindamoonlite stopped the clock in the 350 yard race at 17.840 seconds over a fast track.

Happenedindamoonlite is owned by Jack Geer and is trained by Ron Raper. He was bred in Michigan by First Moon Farms. The Stallion Service Sale Futurity victory was the gelding’s second win in four starts and increased his lifetime earnings to $22,401.

For an Equibase chart of the race, click here.

5 – Happenedindamoonlite (Harold Collins) 24.20 / 9.00 / 2.80
1 – I Do One Two Three (Julie Veltman) 260 / 2.10
3c – Kit Corona (Juan Delgado) 2.60

350 Yards
Time: 17.840 seconds 

Your winner, Happenedindamoonlite; Harold Collins, up.


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Fourth without fire

Murph causes a bit of a stir in the post parade with Angel Stanley aboard.

Murph causes a bit of a stir in the post parade with Angel Stanley aboard.

Great expectations often lead to great disappointment.

After drumming up public support from local sources including track announcer Matt Hook and further-reaching national sources off a strong second place effort last time out, Mrs. Murphy failed to deliver, turning in a fourth-place effort on Friday.

Murph’s race was the first one of the day, so I made the 2 1/2 hour drive in record time and got to the track about an hour and a half before the first post. This left plenty of time for a marathon’s worth of nervous pacing.

After a while, the National Anthem started to play from the PA system. Already a bundle of nerves, hearing the Star Spangled Banner brought to the surface years of repressed memories surrounding the tense moments before participating in an athletic competition. Like Pavlov’s dogs, the Anthem has always been a sign for me that it was time to uncoil on some unsuspecting rival. I began to bounce on the balls of my feet, waiting for the song to be over so it could be game time. It took some effort to bring myself down from this, and the adrenaline rush didn’t fully go away until well after the race had concluded, but a few shaky shots with my camera got me balanced enough to function properly.

Shortly after the Anthem concluded, Hook and wandering mutuel teller/handicapper Andrea Ritter began their pre-race prediction show. Both analysts picked Murph to win. The combination of background noise in the tent where I was watching the broadcast and the intermittent roar of airplanes passing overhead kept me from hearing most of what the two had to say about Mrs. Murphy, but ultimately, Murph’s #6 at the top of their selections was all that mattered. The public stepped up to support Mrs. Murphy as well, sending her off as the second choice at 2.10-to-one

As this was going on, the field began coming over to the paddock. Last race, I searched for the distinctive star on her forehead to separate her from the crowd, only to find she already had her blinkers on. This time, I searched for the silver and blue blinkers and instead found the star. 

While the horses were led around the paddock, Hook began to speculate as to whom Mrs. Murphy was named after. He then told an anecdote about a Mrs. Murphy he knew from Thistledown and wondered aloud if she was the namesake. Then, after reviewing the program, he realized her co-breeder was John Murphy, my grandpa. Mystery solved.

Unlike her two previous starts, Murph went through the whole pre-race process without spending time on two legs. She continued being reasonably well-behaved throughout the post parade. 

It seems as though that spell of good behavior ended at the gates. The horses were loading on the other side of the track, so my point of view was not the greatest, but with only Murph left to load, I saw her rider, Angel Stanley, dismount. Rarely is this a good sign. She loaded in by herself and Stanley got back on. 

Mrs. Murphy broke from the outside post and spent most of the race hung out in no man’s land. She was forwardly placed in third, but not as close to the leaders as she was in previous starts. 

In Murph’s three races at Pinnacle, the turning point each time has been the…um…turn. Three races ago, she went backwards and faded to last. Two starts ago, she accelerated en route to a second place finish. This time, she did something in between, running with the pack and lacking a late bid. She crossed the line fourth, about three lengths behind the winner, first-time starter Sinful Eyes.

To help express what was going on inside my head in the moments following the race, I would now like to introduce my special guest, international movie star, and Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader…


Thank you, Mr. Vader.

She appeared to come back just fine, so the performance probably can not be blamed on a physical issue. Sometimes it just isn’t a horse’s day. Perhaps last Friday wasn’t Murph’s. 

If one positive came out of this race, the fourth place finish ought to drive her odds back up to a more profitable level, so when she does finish first, I’ll be able to afford a good meal on the way home (Fowlerville Farms, here I come).

We’ll get ’em next time.

Behind the jump are a few pictures from Mrs. Murphy’s race…

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Mrs. Murphy looks to move forward in fourth start

Can Mrs. Murphy improve from her second place finish last time out? I sure hope so.

Can Mrs. Murphy improve from her second place finish last time out? I sure hope so.

When promoting an athletic competition, it is usually an unwise decision to put the main event at the beginning of the schedule.

However, Friday’s card at Pinnacle Race Course will do just that, and it works for me just fine.

Michigan’s most famous maiden claimer, Mrs. Murphy, will make her fourth attempt at her first win this Friday in the first race of the day.

Unlike her previous starts, Murph will likely enter the race with support from racegoers other than myself and her trainer. On the strength of her second place finish last race, the morning line has her picked second (assuming one of the horses in the entry scratches) at odds of 5-2. Quite the step up from the 12-1 she was sent off at in her previous outing.

Of course, with odds like that come bigger expectations. Mrs. Murphy proved last out she is capable of putting together a complete race and hanging with the Chicago invaders that will inevitably challenge her (Can someone please explain to me why Pinnacle is drawing more Chicago shippers than I ever remember seeing at Great Lakes Downs despite being 100 miles further away?). There is only one way to improve from a second place effort, and looking at the field, she stands as good a chance as ever to do it here.

Angel Stanley retains the mount, which I am happy to see. He has been having a successful meet at Pinnacle so far, so perhaps some of that good mojo will rub off on Murph. Any advantage she can get doesn’t hurt.

As always, expect a look back with words and photos in the days following the race. Of course, the only photo that matters is the one I don’t take, if you get my drift…Hope for the best!


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Yawm Estoora pulls the upset in Larkspur Handicap

On paper, Saturday’s $50,000 Larkspur Handicap at Pinnacle Race Course looked like a homecoming romp for 2008 Michigan Thoroughbred of the Year Valley Loot.

Apparently, Yawm Estoora did not get that memo.

The six-year-old Dayjur mare battled for the lead on the rail before riding tactics by jockey Angel Stanley helped Yawm Estoora chip away at pacesetter Dublin Dutchess’ lead and eventually put a nose in front to win the six furlong race in 1:12.97 on a fast surface.

Dublin Dutchess took early command of the race and was quickly pressured on the lead by Yawm Estoora on the rail. Dublin Dutchess steadily began to separate from her rival heading into the turn and had a full length’s advantage at the top of the stretch. Early in the stretch drive, Angel Stanley took Yawm Estoora off the rail, angling to the outside of Dublin Dutchess. The two battled to the wire as Dublin Dutchess’ lead slowly vanished and Yawm Estoora got the good side of a head bob finish to win the Larkspur at odds of 11.30-to-one.

One-to-two post-time favorite Valley Loot suffered from a wide trip  in the early goings and finished an even-running third, a half-length ahead of rapidly closing stablemate Wave Pool.

Homebred by Twin Cedars Farm, Yawm Estoora earned her first career stakes win in the Larkspur, increasing her earnings on the year to $39,690. She is trained by Ronald Inman.

For a chart of the race, click here.

1 Yawm Estoora (Angel Stanley) 24.60 / 10.40 / 6.60
6 Dublin Dutchess (Augusto Marin) 21.60 / 7.80
9 Valley Loot (Federico Mata) 2.40

Six Furlongs
Time: 1:12.97 

Sorry gang, it seems I don’t have any photos of Yawm Estoora in my collection. I couldn’t make it to the track on Saturday, so you’ll just have to use your imagination on this one.

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She just might make a runner yet

Her pictures look even better when she runs well. Mrs. Murphy comes back from her second place effort under Angel Stanley.

Her pictures look even better when she runs well. Mrs. Murphy comes back from her second place effort under Angel Stanley.

Hay season has put me a little behind schedule in terms of writing things, so let’s go back in time a little bit, shall we?

Last Saturday, Mrs. Murphy had her third start. After a third-to-last effort in her debut and a fading last in her encore, her racing career had so far left much to be desired. Her trainer was optimistic that her form would come around, but she had yet to show it on the racetrack.

Regardless of her performance, a horse with my name on it is more than enough of an excuse to justify a trip to Pinnacle Race Course.

Mrs. Murphy was in the second race. Though having a horse in a race early in the card can create the occasional time crunch getting to the racetrack, it is nice to get all of the jitters out of the way and be able to enjoy the rest of the day’s races without feeling like a spring about to uncoil (maybe that’s just me…). Plus, the earlier the race, the sooner one can get his or her win picture if the day should warrant it.

As the horses walked over from the barns, I started looking for that big white star right above the eyes that set Murph apart from the rest of the field. The group of horses and their handlers all came by – no star.  After making another sweep through the field, I noticed the silver and blue blinkers of the Russell stable covering her face. Bingo.

As usual, Mrs. Murphy looked spectacular, but there was something about her that looked different. She seemed leaner, more fit. After her last start, her trainer said she was still coming around in terms of conditioning. It seems she had progressed by leaps and bounds in the last eleven days, which was definitely a good sign.

Remember during Murph’s last race when I noted how well-behaved she seemed despite her bloodlines suggesting otherwise? It appears she got the memo.

Shortly after her handler was given his yellow #4 smock before entering the paddock, Mrs. Murphy went up on two legs, nearly flipping all the way over on her back. She came down a loose horse with her shank wrapped around one of her front legs. 

This could have gone downhill very quickly. She could have fled the scene and taken a few practice laps on her own – Best case scenario: she’s quickly wrangled and brought back to saddle, but not before tiring herself out and removing herself from serious contention. Worst case scenario: she bolts and that tangled shank causes her to go down and never get back up. Either way, I would have spent an awful lot of time on the road to see a non-starter.

Instead, she stood calmly and allowed herself to get scooped back up by her handler and taken to the paddock without further incident. My blood pressure eventually returned to its normal level.

Mrs. Murphy saddled and left the paddock without causing much of a ruckus and calmly went through the post parade and back to the gates under jockey Angel Stanley.

Meanwhile, I hurried to the betting window to place my Standard Unproven Murphy Horse Wager (TM): $2 across the board. During the glory days of Royal Charley’s racing career at Great Lakes Downs when he was a threat in just about every start, that number would jump to $5 across and five more to win, but Murph has a long way to go before things get to that point (and yes, I know that’s still relatively chump change. I’m a college student. Not much money to play around with). When the gates opened, she was giving 12-1 – the longest shot on the board.

The horses were loaded without much fuss and were released just as quickly. 

Mrs. Murphy took roughly the same spot in the early goings as she had in her last race, right in the front pack just off the leaders. She didn’t have the lead this time, but she was in the discussion. Murph kept her position heading into the turn when the leader, Kindasweet, began to pull away. From where I was standing, it looked like Mrs. Murphy was beginning to lose steam again, the same as her last race. I began to wonder if she just wasn’t cut out to be a racehorse and prepared my new, expensive camera (more on this at a later time) to photograph the eventual winner as she made her closing strides.

Just then, I heard announcer Matt Hook exclaim something like “Mrs. Murphy is making another move.” I focused in my camera to see a rider with blue silks and a yellow cap making a move toward the leader on the outside. She was actually doing it! I set my camera on “Burst” and held the shutter button down as Murph inched closer to the leader. However, in my excitement as the two got closer to the wire, I became more concerned with watching the race and ended up with a bunch of pictures of the top of the riders’ heads. I haven’t yelled that loud in a long time.

Mrs. Murphy ran hard, but could not get past the leader and finished second by a length. As a breeder, I do not get a paycheck, unless she wins, but considering her first two starts, this was as good as a victory. She showed she could compete on the racetrack and last longer than four furlongs; something her mother struggled with her entire career.

I got $14 and change for the place and show bet payoffs, so even though she did not win, I did come out ahead for the race. After this race, it is doubtful she will demand 12-1 odds for her next few starts. Regardless, I am incredibly stoked to see if she can finish the job in her next go-round.

Though she did not finish the day in the winner’s circle, the race offered hope that doing so was a realistic goal. Though the breeder’s check is an obvious reason to root her on, the main reason I want Mrs. Murphy to succeed is to keep the Echo Hills bloodline going and show it can still compete in Michigan. Murph’s granddam, Janies Echo, still lives at my grandpa’s farm (she’s 26 years old) and I would love to see her family tree keep going strong for generations to come. 

Make no mistake, Mrs. Murphy is not my horse. But there are so many ties back to my family, from the name to the bloodlines to my grandpa and I being named as her co-breeders, it still feels as though she were running under our own colors.

For a chart of the race, click here.

Behind the jump are some of the pictures I took of Mrs. Murphy’s day at the races…

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