Month: June 2018
The Quarter Horse Racing Association of Indiana (QHRAI) hosted their annual “Youth Racing Experience” event at Indiana Grand Saturday, June 30. The program provides an extensive look at Quarter Horse racing in the state for teenagers with the opportunity to take home scholarship money at the conclusion of the program.
A total of eight girls from across the state of Indiana spent the day at Indiana Grand learning about Quarter Horse racing. Their day began at 8 a.m. with morning training on the track followed by trips to the starting gate, jockey’s quarters, barns and other various departments with guest speakers explaining the work that goes into preparing horses for competition and presenting a racing program at the track.
“I really enjoyed watching the exercise riders during morning training hours,” said Gabbi Paxson of Portland, Ind. “That is possibly something I would like to do one day.”
Paxson learned about the “Youth Racing Experience” from a neighbor and family friend, Theresa Myers, who was one of the adult volunteers for the event. Paxson is currently heavily involved in eventing with her Thoroughbred, which includes a three-part series of dressage, show jumping and cross country. Quarter Horse racing is another avenue for her to consider as a profession once she graduates from high school.
It was evident that the third race at Indiana Grand was a little different than most Saturday, June 30. Track Announcer Bill Downes’ voice got very animated in the final strides of the race as Miracles Take Time and jockey Declan Cannon when it was clear they were going to record the victory. The race was a special moment for trainer Mike Lauer as Miracles Take Time scored the 1,000th career training win for Lauer.
“It feels really nice (to get 1,000 wins),” said Lauer regarding his milestone. “I’m glad to get it over with. I think we’ve had four seconds between the last win and tonight. I thought either one of our horses tonight had a chance to win, so it’s nice to get this milestone.”
Miracles Take Time, a homebred owned by Lauer’s wife, Penny, left the gate for Cannon on the outside early in the one mile turf race before finding a spot along the inside. Cannon then found racing room at the head of the stretch and shot through traffic, opening up to a four length advantage at the wire for the win with the Paddy O’Prado three-year-old filly. Ella T and Rodney Prescott finished second over Indian Feather and Jesus Castanon for third.
Backstretch Supplies, owned and operated by Bruce Murphy and Genaro Garcia, have provided a month long initiative to honor and reward the hard working grooms at Indiana Grand. The five-week series concluded Saturday, June 30 with Luis Quintero receiving the final $100 bill for going above and beyond for his job as a groom with the Paul Holthus Stable.
A native of Guatemala, Quintero has worked as a groom for nine years. He has worked with the Holthus Stable for the past year and a half. He stood out to the judges observing for the weekly “Groom of the Week” for the way he presented himself when racing horses for the Holthus barn and for the way his horses are cared for each and every time they arrive in the paddock at Indiana Grand.
“We wanted to do something to put the spotlight on the grooms that work so hard at Indiana Grand,” said Murphy, who is also a racehorse owner. “This has been a nice way to honor five of these grooms during the month of June for their hard work.”
Quintero calls Indiana home now. He has family back in Guatemala, including his wife, Avalee, and his daughter, Jeslee. He cares for several horses in the Holthus barn, but his favorite to take care of is Heavy Roller, who has won his last two starts at Indiana Grand. He has always been a groom and loves his job with the Holthus Stable.
The Indiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) has teamed up with Texas Corral of Shelbyville, Ind. to implement a new award at Indiana Grand: “Barn Crew of the Month.” The first award was presented during the races Saturday, June 30 to members of the Anthony Granitz Stable.
A native of Chicago, Granitz relocated to Indiana approximately four years ago. His team works very hard to ensure their shedrow is always well manicured and the horses are well taken care of. Granitz currently has eight individuals who work with his stable of 22 horses. The team includes Cedrow Castro, Ella Aragon, Dean Wern, Liz and Charlie Diton, Eve Granitz and exercise riders Sixto Castro and Otto Thorwarth. Granitz also receives assistance from his wife, Joy, with book work and added touches around the barn, including flowers.
“Our crew works very hard in the barn,” said Granitz. “I also get help from my wife, Joy, and my daughter, Eve, is working with us this summer too. They are a great group, and we will take them all out to dinner at Texas Corral. I’d like to thank the Indiana HBPA and Texas Corral for this award.”
Indiana HBPA and Texas Corral’s “Barn Crew of the Month” will be presented during five months during the remainder of the 2018 racing season. The award will be presented on the last Saturday of July, August and September and then on Saturday, Oct. 20 to close out the 2018 racing season, which concludes Wednesday, Nov. 7.
There was no doubt Victor Olivo would make a seamless transfer from jockey to trainer a few years ago. Indiana Grand’s fourth all-time leading Quarter Horse jockey already has a Quarter Horse track record to his credit as a trainer. His filly, Jess Kool Lady, established a new mark for 350 yards last year in a time of :17.384 seconds. Now, he’s expanding into Thoroughbred racing.
A native of Mexico, Olivo made the decision following the 2015 racing season that he would begin putting his talents into training Quarter Horses. After two seasons, he is now among the track’s all-time top 25 Quarter Horse trainers with 15 wins and is off to another fast start in 2018.
Olivo has five starts with eight wins thus far, recording his most recent victory with Trickitty Track, ridden by Samuel Mendez, in a $13,000 two-year-old maiden race Wednesday, June 27. The Freighttrain B filly, owned by Francisco Javier Robles Jr., romped to an easy win which will set her up nicely for her next start.
Union Bowman scored his 20th career win Wednesday, June 27 at Indiana Grand. It was just another day at work for the 11-year-old son of Newfoundland, who now has in excess of $440,000 in career earnings.
“He’s just a class act,” said jockey Rodney Prescott. “I rode him about four years ago and he goes out and does his job. He acts like a two-year-old and feels good. I noticed after the win photo, he bounced back down the track to the barn. He’s a neat old horse.”
Union Bowman earned win number 20 in a $15,000 one mile starter allowance event. Starting from the inside post and got away to his customary start, sitting near the back of the pack before beginning a late race rally around the final turn. In the stretch, Union Bowman had his ears pinned and his total focus on running down race favorite Ferocious Tiger and Declan Cannon, who had the lead. Union Bowman matched Ferocious Tiger for a few strides before getting the best of him and moving on for the win by one and one-half lengths. Southwest Trail and DeShawn Parker moved between horses to finish second over Ferocious Tiger for third.
Joyce Anderson took an early lead in Real Horseplayers of Indiana Grand and was never caught, picking up the trophy and the top prize of $500 following the final round of the contest Tuesday, June 26. The contest spanned 11 weeks and provided tiered-level prizes for points accumulated during each week of the contest.
Joyce, a native of Florida, and her husband, Jon, relocated to Nashville, Ind. a few years ago so that Joyce could pursue her love of painting. Both retired, they lived in the Tampa area for 36 years and frequently visited Tampa Bay Downs. They have always enjoyed handicapping horses and now participate in almost all of the contests each year at Indiana Grand. Jon was the grand prize winner of the 2016 Racing Rachel’s Warriors contest and took home $2,000. Now, his wife is also a grand prize winner.
“Winning this contest today was dumb luck,” laughed Joyce. “I do enjoy handicapping. We don’t have anything else to do now but run around and handicap horses. We will for sure be back tomorrow.”
Team USA kept its streak alive Saturday, June 23 by winning the third consecutive title in the fifth annual World Jockey Challenge at Indiana Grand. The event was represented by seven different countries with jockeys teaming up for their homeland to accumulate points. Team USA compiled 43 points over Team Mexico’s 24 to win the title.
Team Mexico jumped out to an early lead with a win by Jesus Castanon in the evening’s first race of 11 on the card. Castanon returned in the second race to finish third for a total of eight points with Panama getting a boost by Marcelino Pedroza with a win in the evening’s second race. DeShawn Parker of the United States won his first of two on the card in race three to get Team USA on the board, with Mexico still leading the way into race four. Santo Sanjur was a winner in the evening’s fourth race to catapult Team Panama into the lead.
BS Special from the Larry Sharp barn proved to be the quickest of 23 vying for a spot in the $50,000 Indiana Grand QHRAI Derby final slated for Saturday, July 7. BS Special, ridden by Berkley Packer, won the first of three trials in a time of :20.065 to lead the top 10 into the final.
Starting from post four in the eight-horse trial, BS Special broke strong from the gate and got his momentum together for the final half of the 400-yard dash, cruising under the wire by one-half length to the victory. Fast Prize Karen and Rodney Prescott maintained ground along the outside for second while All American Ease and Shanley Jackson moved up the inside for third.
Owned by Duane Murphy, BS Special came into the trials as the richest three-year-old with more than $115,000 in earnings thus far in her career. The Freighttrain B filly is no stranger to success in Indiana. She was a winner in the $134,000 Governor’s Stake last fall at Indiana Grand for Sharp. The Barley and Sharp Farm bred filly is now six for nine lifetime.
Felix Villata of the Randy Matthews Stable was named “Groom of the Week” at Indiana Grand Saturday, June 23. The award is presented by Backstretch Supplies, located at Indiana Grand and owned and operated by Bruce Murphy and Genaro Garcia.
“Felix has looked good all week when he came to the paddock to run his horses,” said Murphy, who is an owner for Garcia and also owns and operates Murphy Trailer Sales out of Crawfordsville, Ind. “We want fans to come out and enjoy the races at Indiana Grand and we’ve got a great crowd out here tonight and we want to put on a good show. These guys work very hard with their horses and they don’t get a lot of credit, so we wanted to do something to help them out.”
Villata, who has been with the Matthews Stable for three years, received a $100 bill from Backstretch Supplies for his extra effort to represent his stable well this week. He goes to Oaklawn Park during the winter months, but says, “I like Indiana Grand a lot. This is my favorite place to be.”