Tag Archives: Maiden Claimer

Murph gets one more shot

Mrs. Murphy will have one more chance this year to break her maiden at Pinnacle Race Course on Friday.

Mrs. Murphy will have one more chance this Friday to break her maiden during the 2009 meet at Pinnacle Race Course.

With all the excitement in Lansing, I almost forgot to mention this….

Mrs. Murphy is entered to run on October 16, 2009 at PINNACLE RACE COURSE. 

Race: 1  Distance: Five And One Half Furlongs  Surface: Dirt  Age: 3  –  Filly
Race Type: Maiden Claiming Purse: $ 7,500
Jockey: Mike Roll
Trainer: Randall R. Russell
Race conditions: FOR MICHIGAN BRED MAIDENS, FILLIES AND MARES THREE YEARS OLD AND UPWARD. Three Year Olds, 120 lbs.; Older, 123 lbs. Claiming Price $8,000.
Last Raced: 10/02/2009 at PINNACLE RACE COURSE in Race 8
Finish Position: 3rd
Last Reported Workouts:
08/25/2009-PINNACLE RACE COURSE-Four Furlongs-Dirt Fast-54:00 Breezing
05/30/2009-PINNACLE RACE COURSE-Five Furlongs-Dirt Fast-1.06:00 Breezing
05/19/2009-PINNACLE RACE COURSE-Four Furlongs-Dirt Fast-56:80 Breezing

– Equibase.com

Barring a miraculous (and a little bit insane) two-day turnaround for the getaway day card, this will be Mrs. Murphy’s last start at Pinnacle this year, and in turn, her last chance to earn a breeder’s award for yours truly. I am going to try stormtrooping this card, so I have not yet had a look at her competition outside of the basic information given in the Equibase entries and my own recollections. Besides, I already know who I am betting on in this one. The morning line has her picked as the 5-2 second choice off a very decent third place finish in her last start. There is no reason she should not be right there at the end once again.

After exhausting my energy and funds during my trip to Keeneland Race Course last weekend, I am going to stay close to home tomorrow and watch this race from the comfort of the Mount Pleasant Meadows simulcast room. Because this is her first race in Michigan I will not see in person, I fully expect Murph to win by several lengths. Hope for the best.

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Murph returns

Look who’s back in Detroit…

Mrs. Murphy is entered to run on October 2, 2009 at PINNACLE RACE COURSE.

Race: 8  Distance: Six Furlongs  Surface: Dirt  Age: 3  –  Filly
Race Type: Maiden Claiming Purse: $ 7,500
Jockey: Mike Roll
Trainer: Randall R. Russell
Race conditions: FOR MICHIGAN BRED MAIDENS, FILLIES AND MARES THREE YEARS OLD AND UPWARD. Three Year Olds, 120 lbs.; Older, 123 lbs. Claiming Price $8,000.
Last Raced: 09/03/2009 at PRESQUE ISLE DOWNS in Race 4
Finish Position: 6th
Last Reported Workouts:
08/25/2009-PINNACLE RACE COURSE-Four Furlongs-Dirt Fast-54:00 Breezing
05/30/2009-PINNACLE RACE COURSE-Five Furlongs-Dirt Fast-1.06:00 Breezing
05/19/2009-PINNACLE RACE COURSE-Four Furlongs-Dirt Fast-56:80 Breezing

I have not yet had the opportunity to look at the past performances for this race, as my Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance 10 DRF Formulator programs for $10 discount expired a few days ago. What I do know is Mrs. Murphy is running in the card’s night cap and is the fourth choice at odds of 6-1. It will be a full field, and she will start from around the middle stall.

Mike Roll is a new rider for Murph, but he appears to have established himself the trainer’s go-to guy, so clearly he has confidence in him. The last time I remember Randy having a rider on retainer like this was Jareth Loveberry at Great Lakes Downs, who was the most consistent and successful rider my grandpa’s horse, Royal Charley, ever had on his back.

Also working to Murph’s advantage is a slight drop in class. After spending her time at Pinnacle running in open-fillies $12,500 maiden claiming company, she will drop down to a state-bred $8,000 tag. Perhaps the change in competition will be a welcome one.

With the Pinnacle meet drawing to a close in the coming weeks, this could be my last opportunity for the year to see Mrs. Murphy race in person. Hopefully she can pull this one off.

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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…

Photobucket

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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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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Mrs. Murphy’s third start completely overshadows Regret Stakes, Michigan-Bred Derby

Rare is the day when a maiden claimer takes top billing over a stakes race. This is one of those days. Mrs. Murphy leaves the paddock with Angel Stanley aboard.

Rare is the day when a maiden claimer takes top billing over a stakes race. This is one of those days. Mrs. Murphy leaves the paddock with Angel Stanley aboard.

At the beginning of the day, the plan was to post a preview of Saturday’s Regret Stakes at Pinnacle Race Course.

Then I checked the entries.

Mrs. Murphy is scheduled to make her third start this Saturday in a $12,500 maiden claiming event going 5 1/2 furlongs. The purse is $6,600.

I don’t care if they resurrect Man O’ War to run in a match race against Secretariat; Murph gets the duke.

Mrs. Murphy looks to improve from her last race on June 9, where she faded to last after challenging for the lead for four furlongs. Murph will face three foes from her last start, who finished second, third and fourth in that race. 

To be honest, I am not sure what to expect out of this race. Her trainer said she likely learned a lot from her last start and she is becoming more focused and better conditioned, so those are signs that suggest improvement (let me be optimistic, damn it).

Understandably, Murph’s odds are the second longest on the board at 12-1. Considering Mrs. Murphy’s finishes in her first two races, I can not imagine what the 15-1 Ariel’s Ryder did to deserve longer odds. I assume I will find out when I get a look at the program.

It should come as no surprise that I will be there to see the race in person. Expect some kind of recap in the days following the race and, of course, lots of pictures.

Also somewhere down Saturday’s card is the first stakes event for Michigan’s three-year-old fillies division, the $50,000 Regret Stakes.

Can Moon Charmer find the winner's circle again this Saturday? Federico Mata poses aboard the winner following the Michigan Juvenile Fillies Stakes at Pinnacle Race Course.

Can Moon Charmer find the winner's circle again this Saturday? Federico Mata poses aboard the winner following the Michigan Juvenile Fillies Stakes at Pinnacle Race Course.

The six-furlong Regret features an eleven-horse field, which may very well be the most competitors the track sent to the gates all year.

The field’s lone stakes winner, the Robert Gorham-trained Moon Charmer, will look to reclaim her blacktype success after finishing in the middle of the pack in races at Indiana Downs and Hawthorne Race Course this spring. Owned by Mast Thoroughbreds, LLC, the Indian Charlie filly upset the field, including stablemate and eventual Michigan Two-Year-Old Filly of the Year Skyline Star, in the Michigan Juvenile Fillies Stakes at Pinnacle last November. Jeffrey Skerrett will be in the irons aboard Moon Charmer.

Also entered is maiden winner Silent Tears, who comes in off a week’s rest from her maiden victory. The Gold Case filly scored a front-running win in the Maiden Special Weight event as the 0.80-to-1 favorite, winning by 4 1/2 lengths. She is owned by Felicia Campbell and II B’s Thoroughbred, and is trained by Ronald Allen, Sr.. Federico Mata gets the assignment.

The morning line favorite, Baba Booyah, enters the race off a second place allowance effort on June 9. The Daylight Savings filly was soundly beaten in two Allowance Optional Claiming tries at Hawthorne this March, but broke her maiden in her first start at Pinnacle. Ricardo Barrios retains the mount for owner Marion Gorham and trainer Robert Gorham. 

Here is a full list of entries for Saturday’s Regret Stakes…

#. Horse / Jockey / Trainer / Odds
1. Oh Fiddlestix / G. Laurente / J. R. Jackson / 15-1
2. Flint / J. J. Delgado / J.R. Jackson / 20-1
3. Hakuna Matata / A. O. Stanley / L. R. Uelmen / 8-1
4. Peak of the Storm / R. L. Knott / L. Penner / 7-2
5. In the Frame / L. J. Frazzitta, Jr. / L. R. Uelmen / 20-1
6. The Girl Rolls / O. Bernal / J. R. Jackson / 15-1
7. Moon Charmer / J. Skerrett / R. M. Gorham / 5-1
8. Silent Tears / F. Mata / R. D. Allen, Sr. / 9-2
9. Ittybittymeadow / I. R. Gonzalez / R. M. Gorham / 6-1
10. Creative Secret / M. B. Chen / J. C. Rupert / 12-1
11. Baba Booyah / R. Barrios / R. M. Gorham / 3-1

Also on the stakes schedule for the weekend is Sunday’s $12,500 Michigan-Bred Derby at Mount Pleasant Meadows. The 350-yard race is the first final of the year for Michigan’s three-year-old Quarter Horses.

Anniversary Annie will be one of three horses entered by the Rettele barn in Sunday's Michigan-Bred Derby at Mount Pleasant Meadows. Richard Rettele is aboard in the photo, but Julie Veltman will get the assignment Sunday.

Anniversary Annie will be one of three horses entered by the Rettele barn in Sunday's Michigan-Bred Derby at Mount Pleasant Meadows. Richard Rettele is aboard in the photo, but Julie Veltman will get the assignment Sunday.

The likely favorite will be Carol Rettele charge Hez Fastforthecash. The Heza Fast Man gelding won stakes races at Mount Pleasant and Beulah Park during his juvenile campaign. He proved his mettle against older competition earlier this year, finishing fourth in the May 24 Spring Sprint Stakes at Mount Pleasant, but only missing the top spot by a neck. Hez Fastforthecash is owned by Coronet Farm and will be ridden by Richard Rettele. 

Another entrant with stakes success is Im The Saint. Owned by Debra Redmond and trained by Renee Wilson, Im The Saint won last year’s GLQHA Stallion Service Sale Futurity. Nate Alcala will get the leg up on Sunday.

Also entered is allowance winner Anniversary Annie. The First Wrangler filly’s lone off-the-board finish was a fourth place effort against Im The Saint in the Stallion Service Sale Futurity. She is owned by Mark Mercer, trained by Carol Rettele, and will be ridden by Julie Veltman.

Here is the field for Sunday’s Michigan-Bred Derby…

#. Horse / Jockey / Trainer / Odds
1. Mama Cole / No Rider / D. N. Gates / 8-1
1A. Sagas Quick Dash / O. Delgado / A. F. Cunningham / 8-1
2. Red Tail Fox / W. Ortiz / C. Rettele / 12-1
3. Justa Toolin / L. Gates / D. N. Gates / 6-1
4. Anniversary Annie / J. Veltman / C. Rettele / 4-1
5. Spinning Planet / M. Holmes / D. J. Evans / 20-1
6. Hez Fastforthecash / R. Rettele / C. Rettele / 3-5
7. Mood For The Dash / J. F. Delgado / A. F. Cunningham / 10-1
8. Im The Saint / N. Alcala / R. Wilson / 2-1

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It’s go time…

Oh, snap. Get a load of this…

Mrs. Murphy is entered to run on April 24, 2009 at HAWTHORNE. 

Race: 6  Distance: Six Furlongs  Surface: Dirt  Age: 3  –  Filly
Race Type: Maiden Claiming Purse: $ 10,500
Jockey: Jose R. Betancourt
Trainer: Randall R. Russell
Race conditions: FOR MAIDENS, FILLIES THREE YEARS OLD. Weight, 122 lbs. Claiming Price $15,000, For Each $1,000 To $13,000 1 lb.

Last Reported Workouts:
04/09/2009-HAWTHORNE-Four Furlongs-Dirt Fast-49:20 Breezing
03/20/2009-HAWTHORNE-Four Furlongs-Dirt Fast-53:80 Breezing
03/06/2009-HAWTHORNE-Three Furlongs-Dirt Fast-40:80 Breezing

Equibase Virtual Stable

It took me 22 years, but I finally made onto Equibase (Check the breeder on the Entries page). I mean “Joe Nevill” made it onto Equibase. I need to talk to someone about getting that fixed.

Exciting stuff, huh? The problem? I won’t be able to see it. I’ll be at a J. Geils Band concert in Detroit that night, so a run to Suburban Chicago is probably out of the question. With any luck, I might be able to catch it over the Pinnacle simulcast before the show. Not the ideal situation, but with the band’s age and propensity for artistic differences, you just don’t pass up J. Geils at this point in the game.

As for the race, I’m not going to pretend I know anything about Hawthorne’s maiden claimer scene. To my knowledge, I have handicapped exactly one half a card at the track and the Illinois Derby this year. Hardly enough to get a feel for the track and its horseflesh.

Here’s what I do know. Mrs. Murphy’s jockey, Jose Betancourt, is not among the top 20 riders at Hawthorne -Probably a negative, but in 2004, the rider on her uncle, Royal Charley, had only two wins on the year before he went on to dust the field by five lengths. Also, she’s listed as the second to last choice with morning line odds of 8-1. Considering her circumstances – first-time starter, Michigan-bred, less than blazing workouts, un-sexy bloodlines, unheralded rider – I figured she would be set at double figures without a second thought, even in an eight-horse field.

During Royal Charley’s heyday at Great Lakes Downs in 2007, I would put $5 across the board and $5 more to win on his nose. I have not yet decided how much I plan on wagering on Charley’s niece, but I figure it will be something in the $5 to win neighborhood (keep in mind that I will be placing the bet at Mount Pleasant Meadows around noon before I head to Detroit, so there will be no opportunity to handicap the race except for the horse I want to win). When Mrs. Murphy can prove she deserves the big bucks, I’ll play her accordingly. She ought to go for a decent price, so if she does manage to hit the wire first, I stand to make a good sum of money. Perhaps enough to pay for a concert t-shirt later that night.

One final note: If any of my Chicago-based readers (do I have any Chicago-based readers?) would be kind enough to snap a few pictures of Mrs. Murphy during your usual course of business and send them to me, I would be eternally grateful. She’s the #8 horse in the 6th race on Friday. Please send them to the email address listed on the “Contact” page. Thanks a bunch.

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