Many thanks to Myles who basically did all the work for this article. All I did was ask the questions.
How did you find out about Final Furlong?
I had looked at a number f racing simulations for a few years leading up to the time I joined. Frankly I can’t remember what or where they were but most of them were to say the least “Hokey”. The ones that did interest me all had to revolve around “money”. You bought the horses, paid to enter them against others and then won the purses that were being offered. You could claim horses and buy and sell horses pretty much the same way we do in FF. A $5000 claimer would actually cost you about $5. On the surface you can see that if you had a lot of money you could easily buy your way to the top. However if you were a poor trainer, no matter how much the horse was worth you would eventually lose money.
Not wanting to lose money I kept looking. I eventually found FF after looking at other non-monetary wanting games. I was also behind a desk rather than out in the field being a Steamfitter. I had the time!!! I made the plunge and the rest they say is history.
Which horses were your starter horses, how did they perform for you and where are they now?
My starter horses were Runfortheborder and Annihilation. Runfortheborder, a daughter of Run For It, won the “Boo La Boo” Stakes as a 3 year old and the “Lincoln Heritage Handicap” as a 4 year old. She had numerous stakes placings and shows. I retired her after her 5 year old season and she is in foal to Highland Magic. I am looking forward to seeing this baby race.
Annihilation on the other hand was a different story. He showed a lot of promise as a 3 year old when I got him but could not get the job done in stakes company. He showed the same in his 4 year old season with the same results. Knowing that this IS a business I made a tough call to sell him in a dispersal sale. Maybe someone else could make him go better than I? He raced without much success until early last year when he finally got sold in a mixed auction. I purchased him and promptly retired him. He’s currently out ruling the broodmare roost with Native Rhythm, who was an early purchase in the game as well.
When did you get your first win and stakes win?
Runfortheborder has always been a favorite of mine. Just when I thought that things were getting bleak wins and money wise she would come thru to keep me afloat. She raced real hard against some of the best turf mares of her time and did a great job even if she didn’t win. When she couldn’t go the route distances against them I shortened her up and when she was having trouble there I retired her.
Of course you can’t have a favorite that does not include Spock. He didn’t have a great 2yr old season and then at 3 he won just about everything set in front of him. You’ve got to love a horse that couldn’t get his “Fitness” past a “D” as a 3 yr old and still win the races he did on sheer will power.
For those of you who don’t know Spock here is a quick summary. As a 3yo Spock was a 9 time Grade 1 winner including wins in the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, and Queen’s Plate. He also beat up on the older horse division that year in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Breeder’s Cup Classic. He was voted as Horse of the Year and has come back this year to race as a 4yo. So far this year he has won an additional 4 Grade 1’s including the Dubai World Cup. He is most likely headed for another Horse of the Year Title and quite frankly is every onwer’s dream on Final Furlong.
How did you come to acquire Spock and what was it you liked about him?
I bought Spock in the Annual Foal Auction at the end of my first year, 2010. He was named Optimum and he cost $54,000. First off he had to be Grey as I do own “The Grey Stable” but at the time I was looking to diversify my stable with different sires and every once in a while you have to take a gamble on a young sire. I did with Highland Magic and the rest as they say is history. As for the dam’s side of the family, Somethin’ Smokin had only produced 2 foals at the time and Spock’s half brother’s Smokin Hot and No Smoking had won a grand total of $43,000 between the 2 of them. As time has borne out Smokin Hot is a Graded Stakes winner of $550,000 and No Smoking is a stakes placed winner of over $165,000. As should be the case Somethin’ Smokin is now a Gold rated mare and has had 4 foals after Spock. A Secretariat half sister called Somethin’ Secret who is a placed 2 yr old, an Oscillation half sister called Suliban that I purchased from the last Select Sale I believe, an unnamed colt yearling by Whirlaway and a weanling filly by Harvard Bound. The fact that I was able to buy his sire Highland Magic afterwards in the Storybook Farm dispersal for $375,800 was icing on the cake.
Spock didn’t have the best 2yo season, not hitting his stride until he was a 3yo. Did you always think he had great potential or did you wonder about his ability?
As far as the 2 year old season goes that didn’t bother me a whole lot. You’ll find as in real life horse racing that the ones that have a great 2year old season tend to not comeback that well at 3. I’d prefer to get some races into them at 2 and then quit with them, but if you have a good 2yr old as I had in Bashir last year you go on with them. Bashir isn’t having as great 3 year old season a I think he could have, but that’s horse racing.
The only real concern that I had with Spock was his fitness and the tightness of the racing schedule for 3 year olds and the major races. Up until the last month I have not been able to get his fitness level above a “D” as I said earlier. I believed that I owed him a shot at the major stakes races he was eligible for and therefore I entered him into the ungraded “Best Turn Stakes” early in 2012 and he won. The next step was of course something bigger so he was entered into the “Florida Derby” which he finished second in. That was our first time entering into a million dollar race and believe me when he dropped to 5th heading for home my heart sunk about as far down as it could get. He finished second in the race with a great late rally and that cemented one more reason to run him in a larger race and then maybe the Kentucky Derby. I entered him into the “Wood Memorial” and as he has become famous for, he once again dropped all the way down to 10th just before the home stretch. Once again I was sure he was finished but to probably everyone’s including my surprise he won the race. That cemented his ticket to all the big dances that he raced that year.
What are your plans for Spock for the rest of the year? Are you going to retire him at the end of the year or run him as a 5yo?
Spock will run in the Jockey Club Gold Cup as he did last year as well as the Breeders Cup Classic. I hope he produces a similar result but we are talking about horse racing!!! After that he’ll pick and choose some lesser graded stakes to finish out the year. He will not leave North America for the turf races that he entered last year.
As with all stallions that run well you want to give them a chance to run and then to breed. You want to see if he can reproduce his kind and have more champions. Therefore he will NOT race as a 5 yr old and will head to the breeding shed. He will be bred to some of my best mares and about 20 of the best mares the other breeders in FF have to offer. As is probably common knowledge already, your mare has to have shown a booking to either Hope to Succeed or Spock’s daddy, Highland Magic, to be eligible to breed that mare.