Tag: lady caroline

Nebraska native and former newspaper journalist Jeff Apel has a love of horses, and his passion brought him to Indiana Grand when he relocated to Central Indiana. He secured a job as an electronic games attendant in the casino and soon found his way to fellow Nebraska native Marvin Johnson’s barn. Today, he owns horses with the Nebraska Horse Racing Hall of Fame trainer and their partnership has produced several profitable purchases, including the race mare Lady Caroline.

Lady Caroline holds special meaning for two families that connected her via a special message on Facebook. Both Jeff Apel and Stacy Tuttle treasure the horse that is now retired to broodmare duty. (Photo by Mark Davis, freelance photographer – Nebraska)

Lady Caroline, who is now six-years old, was claimed as a three-year-old by Apel and the brothers’ team of Mike and Tony Jackson for $15,000 in 2014. She earned more than $36,000 for her new connections before showing signs of slowing down and giving Johnson the indication that she might be nearing the end of her racing career. Being one of Apel’s favorite horses, he negotiated a price of $2,300 and bought the Jacksons out to retain ownership of the mare as a game plan was thought out for the future of Lady Caroline.

“Marvin (Johnson) told me there was no guarantee Lady Caroline would ever run again,” said Apel, who worked as a sports writer for 15 years at the Grand Island Independent until 2005. “In fact, Marvin told me not to buy the mare. I told him I was willing to take a risk because she was the first horse I owned that made me a profit.”

Intuition paid off for Apel. After some time off in a field at Johnson’s farm in Grand Island, Neb., Lady Caroline came back to the track, earning Apel and Johnson almost $85,000. In all, she completed five trips to the winner’s circle at Indiana Grand, all under jockey Fernando De La Cruz. Her success made her a viable investment and she was claimed by new connections. After making one start, she was retired to broodmare duty in Kentucky.