Tracking RC Bee

Allison waved as the van pulled away, knowing the horse wouldn’t see the gesture, let alone understand it. Once the van turned into the street she turned and walked back to Barn 9. In a week either Brooke or Brian would call from the farm that Sonatina has arrived, and she’ll rest easier.

Sonatina finished dead last in the Tempted Stakes, and Old Man Frank decided right there and then that the two year old filly was simply not mentally mature enough to continue into the winter season. She was, admittedly, a high strung brat and had completely melted down before her last race. Now she’ll spend all of winter off at the farm, keeping Allison’s two yearling fillies Santeria and Lady Ironsides company.

The first two stalls on her left were empty, reserved for her two geldings Bucking Tiger and Twiterpated. Bucking Tiger was at Belmont Park but Twiterpated was coming for the Aqueduct races. She marveled at the five year old’s constitution; he had not been home since July and yet finished a strong second in his most recent race, a sprint at Belmont last Saturday. A few more races, she thought, and he’ll go home for at least two months. He deserved it.

First Taken stuck his head over the stall door as she approached the first occupied stall. The tall bay colt snorted and nodded in her direction; she smiled and sidled over, rubbed his nose. The bald face bowed down and nuzzled her arm. He was a sweet horse, but about is immature as Sonatina; he was Old Man Frank’s Rubik’s Cube.

The stall next to First Taken was empty; it was filled with fresh bedding for Easy Memories, a gelding she won at a local racing auction. He had a good pedigree and, being three, a bright future.

Glory’s Jewel neighed. Allison rolled her eyes. The filly always demanded attention; she walked over to the next stall to stare up at the horse. Glory’s Jewel was a mountain of a mare, standing at 17.3 hands, but so far she’s been an absolute dud on the track. Old Man Frank did tell her the filly had taken to her new equipment - a figure 8 - and her next race, a dirt allowance this weekend, seemed to fit her. Hopefully, Allison thought, hopefully she won’t screw it up this time.

Across the barn from Glory’s Jewel was an empty stall, recently mucked. It belonged to Sonatina while she was at the Aqueduct racetrack. Then a horse snorted impatiently two stalls to her left.

Leave A Note was her pride and joy. Soon after she got into the racing business she saw him training at Aqueduct for his debut, a twelve furlong dirt claimer. Although he finished a dismal fifth she won him, and he’s done nothing but reward her since, that is until recently. He had begun to tail off but she believed it was because she and Old Man Frank rushed him too much, and he hated the turf. The ten furlong allowance this weekend was the perfect spot for his return to the winner’s circle.

The glossy bay colt snorted again as she approached. He arched his neck and danced in place, fairly jumping out of his skin. As soon as he spotted her Leave A Note stretched his neck out over the stall door and stuck his nose into her armpit.

“Hey, get out of there,” she said as she pushed him back. “If you must know I did take a shower this morning.”

The colt shook his head. She laughed and stroked the thin stripe on his face. He took to the caress but his ears were pricked and his tail swished back and forth constantly. He wanted out.

Something poke her waist and Allison frowned. “If that’s a whip I’m tossing you out of the barn.”

Someone laughed. “It’s a carrot. See?” Leave A Note’s regular jockey, Sam, stuck the bright orange vegetable in front of her. The bay colt yanked his head back, startled, but a millisecond later leaned over and tried to snatch it out of his hand. Sam quickly pulled his hand back, said, “After your workout, boy. You haven’t earned it yet.”

“You keep teasing him he’s going to dump you out there,” Allison said. “He’s smarter than that.”

“Which is why you’re going to keep it safe until we get back,” Sam replied, holding it out to her. She rolled her eyes and took it.

Leave A Note rubbed his muzzle into her hair.

Glory’s Jewel was the first one out. Being a large horse she needed all the exercise she can get to keep the fat off. Old Man Frank was in Manhattan visiting family; he handed Allison Thursday workout schedule the night before and warned that if she or Sam strayed from it he was going to chew them out.

“I’m your boss, Old Man, remember?” she said as he got into the taxi.

“And I’m in charge of your horses,” he retorted. “You want to win, right?”

Initiate eye roll.

First Taken headed out to the track while Glory’s Jewel had a bath, and she called Old Man Frank’s assistant Terry at Belmont for Bucking Tiger’s schedule. In the meantime she kept an eye on Leave A Note, who was prancing in place. Once in a while he hollered to no one and everyone, demanding he be taken to the track.

“Hush, boy,” she snapped the fifth time he did so, and he responded by sticking his muzzle in her hair.

First Taken came back looking quite placid. Melody, Old Man Frank’s favorite exercise rider, could only shrug when Allison asked her about the workout.

“He just went along like nobody’s business,” Melody confessed as she got off and the towering colt was led away. “He doesn’t like to rush, likes to take his own time.”

Old Man Frank’s Rubik’s Cube neighed as if to emphasize Melody’s point.

Leave A Note was finally led out of his stall. He snorted and pawed at the ground  outside the barn while being tacked up, and began prancing in place once Allison and Sam appeared.

“He likes you,” Allison said as she held the reins. Isaac, Leave A Note’s groom, gave Sam a boost, and Allison led the two out to the track. Other horses were galloping by, and Leave A Note watched them intently, tense, ready to take off after them. Sam quickly wrapped the reins around his hands, knowing quite well that the colt wouldn’t hesitate to dump him in hopes of overtaking the other horses.

Allison was quite proud of her colt. After some dismal efforts, he was really coming around. That, and he had gotten over being shipped from Belmont. Leave A Note hated shipping.

Sam then leaned over to her and she quickly said, “If you kiss me I’m kicking you out of the barn for sure.”

The jockey grinned, and plucked hay out of her hair. “He left you a gift.”

She sighed and rolled her eyes as horse and rider headed out for a gallop.

Twiterpated and Easy Memories arrived later that day. She supervised the unloading, the unwrapping of shipping bandages, and the walks around the backside to stretch their legs out. She then decided to jog them a slow mile on the track, and see how they went.

Melody soon returned with Twiterpated and a wrinkled nose. Allison saw, however, and didn’t ask for an explanation. She sincerely hoped his refusal to run was because he was tired from riding in the van, but knew that his long campaign was beginning to wear him out. If he continued being lackluster in subsequent training sessions he was going home.

Easy Memories headed out to the track next, with Sam aboard. The young gelding had won his last race, a grass sprint for claimers, and she suggested that Sam give him a go and see how he moves. As the chestnut galloped slowly around the dogs she watched from the clocker’s corner with Old Man Frank’s precious old binoculars. She honestly didn’t trust horses who were testy about whips, but as Old Man Frank said the horses were in charge and if a horse didn’t like the whip he wasn’t going to run if he got smacked in the rump with one.

Horse and rider jogged out to the main track towards the back. She headed down to meet them, and grabbed the reins as Easy Memories strode by.

“How is he?” she asked.

“Too early to tell,” Sam said. “He rides easy, though. I’m sure you and Frank will make something out of him.”

“I hope so, too,” she said and pulled a face. “Compared to First Taken and Glory, that is.”

Sam laughed. “I’m sure they’ll come around. It’s their first year racing. You watch - Glory’s Jewel will get in the money this Saturday.”

“I know,” she sighed. “I just hope Leave A Note doesn’t bomb his race.”

“Oh he won’t,” the jockey said confidently. “He’s too much horse for that.”

Leave A Note was not a happy camper. Several times he approached people passing by his stall with an open mouth and pinned ears. When he nearly took off Isaac’s ear, Allison told the groom to snap a lead shank onto his halter and take him out for a long walk.

Glory’s Jewel, however, was rather content. After watching Isaac try to teach the bay colt some manners as they walked out to the backside, she walked over to the mare’s stall and watched Glory’s Jewel push around the bedding with her nose. The race yesterday hadn’t taken too much out of her, and Allison hoped it was the confidence booster the filly needed to do even better the next time out. Now it was only a matter of how much longer she wanted to go.

“Are you going to win next time?” she asked quite seriously. Glory’s Jewel raised her head and blew air out of her nostrils before turning around to slurp up water from her bucket.

Easy Memories and Twiterpated were both scheduled to run next weekend, so Old Man Frank, who was at Belmont checking on Bucking Tiger, ordered light exercises for them. Melody took the two geldings out to the track one by one - Sam was riding another trainer’s horses today - and galloped them an easy five furlongs. The chesnut Easy Memories was fairly bristling with energy, but Twiterpated was being ornery again and that had Allison worried. She already made arrangements for him to ship home on Sunday, so she hoped he wouldn’t screw it up this coming Saturday. His last time out was a very good effort, and he hadn’t ripped off his rider’s pants yet.

First Taken was taken out for a light gallop, too, but he was so eager to run that he nearly pulled Melody off his back. The colt came back heaving from his efforts, and Melody’s face was quite red.

“Nearly yanked your arms off, huh?” Allison said as Manny, their other groom, came to lead First Taken away.

“Why don’t you try getting on his back?” the exercise rider grumbled, rubbing her arm.

She was absolutely thrilled.

Twiterpated was clearly not ready to go home for the year yet. Perhaps, Old Man Frank said, he needed seven furlongs. The bay gelding sat in third until the last half furlong, where he rallied for second and finished out strong. He cooled out very nicely after the race, and was now resting contently in his stall.

Easy Memories made it two in a row by wiring the field in his race, a seven furlong turf sprint. Old Man Frank thought blinkers would help him focus after he spooked during one of his training sessions earlier in the week, and the gelding fairly flew over the fast Aqueduct turf course. The cherry on the top? The gelding cost only $5,500. Allison had started shouting and jumping when she realized he wasn’t slowing down, that with every furlong he was pulling away even further, and she nearly dropped Old Man Frank’s binoculars when he crossed the finish line forty-eight and a quarter lengths in front.

She snuck a carrot into his dinner.

Ideal Ransom arrived this morning. Frank and Melody were with her as the four year old filly was unloaded from the van. The grey was mild-mannered, and a small neat package.

“She’s quite lovely,” Melody remarked as Isaac, her new groom, led her in a circle to stretch out her legs.

“Perhaps,” Old Man Frank said. “She toes out a little…she’ll make a nice allowance mare. Maybe she’ll earn back that claiming money.”

“There’s nothing wrong with finishing second,” Allison said. “Nothing to be ashamed at all. If a horse brings back a check, I’ll be happy.”

“Just what I wanted to hear,” Old Man Frank said. He gestured to Isaac and walked toward Barn 9. “How else are we going to pay for everything?”

Leave A Note was breaking down the stall again. Finishing a good fourth in the stakes race on Wednesday seemed to be a morale booster.

Twiterpated was asleep on his feet. The poor boy, he made his exhaustion clear by running dead last all throughout the race on Saturday. The van would be here any minute now to take him to the airport.

Glory’s Jewel was alert. The towering filly tried to follow everyone who passed by her stall, but pinned her ears back when a horse walked by.

Easy Memories was out on a jog around the main track. He was on the muscle, ready to roll.

First Taken pawed at his bedding. The tall colt took his first victory in stride, although he got nervous the very first time he was led to the winner’s circle.

Ideal Ransom was slurping up water from the bucket. Nobody had any explanation for her inexplicably bad finish, and could only hope she’ll do better next time around. She may be going home fora few weeks to prepare for a winter campaign.

By phone they learned that Bucking Tiger was still a bit sore from his last race, which had Old Man Frank worried to no end.

Newcomer Class Above was lying in the bedding, sound asleep. He would be taken out tomorrow for a jog around the main track so Old Man Frank can see how he moves. As a two-time stakes winner he was obviously a good addition to the stable.

Allison was going home, too. She wanted to see the yearlings before the Foal Auction.

A few more hours and she’ll be standing on the Churchill Down grounds for the first time as an owner and not as a spectator. Allison wiggled in her seat as the plane hit turbulence and peeked outside the window. The sun was rising.

Eighteen Karat. She found his name in the program, called up Old Man Frank, put in a claim on him, got him, and watched him grow into a serious stakes horse. A What’s It Worth son. She never dreamed she’d own one, especially now that the great stallion had been retired. But here he was, a glossy bay colt that would carry her colors in the post parade for the 2013 Kentucky Derby.

He was immature, a little gawky, and they turned him out after running him in a stakes race late last year. He finished terribly and Old Man Frank promptly had him shipped to the farm. The colt broke his maiden in his first race back, six furlongs on the turf. After that it was a seesaw. Sometimes he was brilliant, other times he finished nowhere. But once he showed he could handle stakes competition, once he grew to his full height of 17 towering hands, Old Man Frank sent him to the wolf’s den, and Eighteen Karat made good on his golden pedigree by wiring the Grade I Santa Anita Derby, the stable’s second Grade I victory.

He was already at Churchill Downs, jogging around the track. Old Man Frank was up in Woodbine to oversee Eleanor Rigby’s next stakes race. A lease from the venerable Stillwater Farms the chestnut daughter of Government Secret and top broodmare Lady O’War had earned blacktype earlier in the year. In her first race off a nice, well deserved layoff she wired the field in a turf sprint and now she was in her second stakes race of her career. Hopefully she’ll do even better.

The wet weather had been wreaking havoc on the rest of the stable. They’d exercise fine, and then spin their wheels out in the afternoon. The two year olds were especially painful to handle; Lady Ironsides was already back at the barn after she threw a fit in the post parade of her first race and then finished at the back of the pack. Her jockey remarked that she hated the going and she needed to get bigger, but the little gray simply wasn’t growing. The others were shooting up like weeds, though. Raise A Cheer was 16.2 hands high, the tallest of the youngsters. He was running in Del Mar this weekend. Maybe he’ll do better than the others.

Love Triangle was up in Arlington, trying to nab a fourth stakes victory while Leave A Note and Class Above made the rare trip up to the New York circuit. Allison had doubts about Class Above, but Leave A Note could still run with the best, so why not?

RC Bee Stables had a few steeplechasers now, although she mainly claimed them for their pedigrees. She was slowly but surely building up a broodmare band so that she could start racing her own homebreds. Can’t hurt to also sell a few at auction, right?

Yesterday Sam called to let her know that Eighteen Karat nearly took a chunk of his arm. The bay was on his toes, ready to roll on the biggest stage of his life. Could he do it?

She sighed, leaned back in her seat, and closed her eyes, dreamed of the deafening roar of the crowd as the horses turned for home.

Eighteen Karat

Del Mar is lovely this time of the year, when you ignore the oft cloudy early mornings and the humidity. Allison is often left feeling uncomfortably sticky, but what’s a little sacrifice when watching your horses gallop?

She studies the latest email from Brooke on her Blackberry; her five new purchases have settled nicely at the farm, and who knew their resident lease is such a grouch? Hormones nearly took a chunk out of Brian’s arm this morning is the wry comment on Icy Honor, who’s in foal to Rahy.

Her racing division - it’s a division now, not a mere stable - is scattered all over the country, making it hard for her to keep up with all 35 horses at all times. She feels guilty about it, but it happens when one cannot resist the call of a claim or auction. Old Man Frank just shakes his head and gives her this look when she calls him up, sheepish but enthusiastic about the latest acquirement for RC Bee Stables.

It’s not like their horses are all bad. Some are still finding their way, some are only 2, and one is driving them all up the wall - no wonder Cause to Celebrate cost a mere 1K - but she is the proud owner of 5 individual stakes winners - 4, once you take out the Stillwater lease Eleanor Rigby - and three of them are former claimers so the percentage isn’t bad. It could be worse, it could be better, but they’re going at a good clip so she can’t complain.

There goes Eighteen Karat and Diamond Prospector, two of their stars. They make an odd pair - Eighteen Karat is monstrous and loves routing while Diamond Prospector is of average height and a stakes-winning sprinter - but they have good minds and plenty of courage, and tend to look like they’re egging each other on. Allison once commented on the idea of breeding them to each other once they retire - she wants to see what happens when Mr. Prospector shows up 3x2 in the resultant foal - but everyone else shot her idea down; Old Man Frank snapped about counting her eggs before they hatch and Terry was horrified at the inbreeding.

Leave A Note and Remembrance have become training partners, too. Two reliable stakes performing 5 year olds, willingly galloping along with necks arched, black manes and tails flowing freely in the salty air. She adores them - Leave A Note was her first claim and stakes winner, and she had been watching Remembrance for months before finally getting him through a private sales. Thanks to Melody’s suggestions during workouts, he’d been outfitted with a shadow roll and wraps, and he’s improved by leaps and bounds.

Eighteen Karat, Diamond Prospector, Leave A Note, and Remembrance are coming off the track now, so she heads down to the barn to check on them and listen to comments from their riders and Old Man Frank. In a few days Karat will be shipping up to Woodbine while Diamond will go home for a short break. Note and Remembrance are staying behind for the Pacific Classic, which Allison hopes Note will nail again. Later, Allison will fly to Saratoga to look on Class Above, the incredibly versatile 5 year old sprinter who may be making a name for himself on the grass. She’ll be checking on Terry and the Arlington legion first, and give Red Light District a victory carrot for her victory a few days ago. Many of her 2 year olds have gathered at the Illinois track as well, including her darling Lady Ironsides.

And maybe this time Cause to Celebrate will give her a cause to celebrate by hurdling to victory at the Saratoga steeplechase racecourse for the first time this year.

Reviving another old thread of mine and revitalizing it by turning it into a mini-blog rather than an full-on RP. Not sure if it’ll make for interesting reading but it’ll help me keep my thoughts straight as I continue reorganizing how I run my stable.

So I have a tendency to hoard my horses, including the money sinks. Of course it took last year’s disaster where these money sinks took all of my money and left me with no way to enter more races or ship the horses home to finally change that. I’m just glad I was on the winning team in the Color Wars. I could express my relief in a series of expletives, xD

When this year began I cut a lot of horses via auction and retirement to either the pasture or the broodmare band. Racing stable currently consists of 35 horses, which is a far more manageable size than what I had last year (until the new 2YOs graduate from the training track to the main stable, including a veritable slew of homebreds). I prefer small racing stables anyway since I like to give each horse individualized care.

I just put together a spreadsheet to mark each horse’s progress, including equipment preference, surface preference, distance preference, and record/earnings in the first two months. The results? I’m pretty optimistic about this year. I know we’re only two months into this season and a lot can change but I’m really happy with the runners I have. In fact, some of the runners have convinced me to send another mare to Tiznow; he has a pretty poor sire record here but I currently have three runners by him and they’re all winners. I gotta take another chance on him.

One runner I have a lot of hope for is my Nightfight filly [color=red]Th

Wrt the RC Bee homebreds:

Our first crop of five turned three this New Year’s Day. They consist of [color=blue]The Time Lord (Tiznow–What’s Honor, by What’s Debatable, and arguably the best bred of the bunch when you look at the damside), [color=red]Quorra (No Duplicate–Glory’s Jewel), [color=red]U.R. A Shinin Star (I’m A Classic–Party For One, by Lonesome Glory), [color=red]Rahy On The Rocks (Rahy–Icy Honor), and [color=red]A.P. Impala (A.P. Indy–Chicks Are Better).

Of the five, three are winners - The Time Lord, Quorra, and A.P. Impala - and two are multiple winners - The Time Lord and Quorra. Still working out the kinks on the other two, including swapping equipment, surfaces, and distances, but I do hope to hit 100% winners from starters with this group.

… I’m just now realizing that Time Lord is the lone colt in my first crop of homebreds. Huh.