Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Horses and Jose

Posted by Avram Freedberg

What a day! In fact, an amazing two days.

After a fun breakfast with Patsy on Sunday, we went to Ocala. Before we left and in Dade City on the way to Ocala, we saw Havanese puppies… Jose, Amado, Pablo, Paco and a host of other Hispanic names because of their Cuban heritage. Patsy had a clever suggestion for a new name for a possible new puppy… Jiminy. After all, you can’t think of Jiminy without thinking of Cricket.

When we arrived in Ocala, we proceeded to Pat Hoppel’s farm which housed Ahvee’s Destiny and the new Midaseyes (his sire) colt. Of course, Pat houses almost 80 horses and trains most of them daily. Pat is married to Tori Rice whose dad, Don, was killed in a horse mishap less than a year ago.

Pat’s farm includes much of Don’s Antigo Farm, named after the Wisconsin town from which the Rice clan emanated.

On Monday, we visited Clyde Rice’s Indian Prairie Ranch. Clyde is still in the hospital but is improving. As for the ranch, have you ever seen brick stables? I hadn’t. His stables can withstand a severe hurricane. They’re beautiful. Hilton would be jealous.

Then we went to Clyde’s son’s farm, called Woodside Ranch. It’s got the most horses and a steer roping arena (I guess he has time on his hands, though you wouldn’t believe it to see the amount of work going on).

These facilities are enormous and are a testament to the Rice families’ work ethic, entrepreneurial spirit and horse training talent. Pat told us of a horse (Karakorum Elektra) who was so fractious, he had to train her twice each day (at a fiscal loss I might add!). Brian (actually Samantha) showed us a stable of horses who were progeny of some of the best sires in Thoroughbred racing history, sent to him by the Legends Limited Partnership because they are so happy with his training compared with many others. There are 5/8 mile racetracks on each facility. Acres upon acres of fenced pastures to “turn out” horses and keep various groups of horses separated. There are horse walking machines, exercise riders, grooms and many others seeing to the health and care of hundred of horses.

I had not imagined the magnitude of these operations... the beauty of the land and the animals. It was nothing short of amazing. And, of course, we got to see our four legged progeny. Ahvee’s Destiny looked great and we loved her with caresses and carrots. For awhile, she liked the carrots best but when full-up, she still enjoyed the caresses and kisses we showered upon her.

Then we got to see the new colt, just 8 months old. He was described in the sales catalog as chestnut but he looked more reddish roan. We’ll see how his color goes as he gets older. He was very young looking… just a baby, very cute. He still had his “hip number” from the sale stuck on his haunches. They need to leave it there for identification purposes until they get his official papers.

At Clyde’s ranch, we saw our yearlings for the first time. They’re tentatively named Holy Blitzer and Katy’s Office Girl. Both are gray. The Officer filly (Katy) seemed smaller than the Holy Bull filly. Holy Blitzer looked filled out… really impressive. I hope she doesn’t retain any heat in her knee from last year’s accident. They both galloped around the track with Conseated Lady, who’s back in training after recovering from her “meat cleaver fracture.” She remembered the carrots she ate Saratoga and enjoyed a few after her work.

They all looked good but I thought the Holy Bull filly looked special. Of course, it’s the horse who can run the fastest and the longest that are really special. We’ll see what the future brings.

Then we went to the pasture that contained Arielle’s Song and her gray friend, stakes winner, Mohegan Sky. Arielle Song’s color had blond highlights from sun bleaching. We got to see her get new horseshoes, eat lots of carrots and roll around on the ground, presumably scratching some itch or just trying to get rid of horse flies. Luckily, I captured some of this on tape. Hopefully, we’ll get some photos and video footage on the website soon. If so, I’ll send you links.

Back in Tampa, we went to see the Havanese pups again. Rhoda thought long and hard, finally deciding it was time to have a warm, furry animal running around the house again. So, with lots of love in our hearts and the fondest memories of our beloved Cricket, Jose will be coming home with us in the morning. He’s jet black and very playful. Maybe his photo will still be on this site: www.elmorrohavanese.com

Click the Puppies tab on the left side of the page. I’ll have some other photos in a short while. We’re nervous because of the new responsibility but we’re excited too!

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Also ran

Posted by Avram Freedberg

Did you ever think about where the term “also ran” originated? Yes, it was horse racing. While the first three finishers in a race are listed one by one on a separate line in a race chart with the prices they paid for coming in first, second or third, the other starters are listed together, separated by commas with the lead in – Also ran:

Today Ahvee’s Destiny was an “also ran…” sixth, to be exact. While I’m sure I could find some things the jockey could have done better, she just didn’t have it today. She was high strung in the receiving barn before the race and sweating in the paddock. While the anxiety of a new environment may have played a role, she acted similarly in her first race at Gulfstream in April and went on to defeat a field of “boys.”Yes, you may remember she was washed out in her first Monmouth race and lost. You might note that she’s had a difficult week and a half with problems in both legs. This race was won by a 30-1 shot. So, all the favorites suffered. Nonetheless, no excuses. She had a wonderful year. Now it’s time to let he relax and freshen up for next year.

Tampa Bay Downs is a cute little track but the opening day crowd created traffic jams on the one lane in each direction road. Happily, they’re creating a new road that will have two lanes in each direction!A couple of anecdotes: When we saw Ahvee at the receiving barn at the Meadowlands before her last victory, her groom, Jeobani, had braided her mane. Rhoda thought that his presence working on her may have relaxed her. When we arrived here today, her mane was not braided. I mentioned it to Jeobani who said he’d had other work to do. Imagine my surprise when hours later Ahvee’s Destiny arrived at the Paddock before the race with new braids! We’re lucky to have Jeobani and so is Ahvee.

I wore short sleeves today when it looked like it was warming up quick. By race time, it was getting late in the day and there was a cold wind. One of the reasons II hoped the horse would win was so I could put my “victory silks” on and warm up. By the way, those silks are actually made by a company called Victory Silks!

A friend of ours sent his sister Debbi’s regards to our jockey. Apparently Debbi was a well regarded trainer here for many years and was friendly with Rosemary our jockey. Unfortunately she had no idea whom I was talking about. I guess we’ll just be the strange folk from up north.

The good news today is that Linda’s father, who was admitted to the hospital a day or two ago with serious issues related to his accident last month, seems to be doing better and is, hopefully, in the right place.

On the doggie front, both puppies we saw on the internet that we were hoping to see have been sold… boo hoo! We’re still going to visit one of the breeders tomorrow. Then, we’ll see all the horsies, including Ahvee’s Destiny and the new colt.

Have a good rest of the weekend!

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Friday, December 12, 2008


Posted by Avram Freedberg

Sore feet, swollen ankle… well I guess we’re lucky, because Ahvee’s Destiny seems to recover quickly from these maladies. Nonetheless, it’s probably time to let her rest a while. So after tomorrow’s race, she’ll probable be turned out for a few months. We described her right front foot issues that resolved. Today I found out she had a sore left front foot when they re-shod her Monday. New shoes do it to me too! Happily she was fine the next day.

Tomorrow’s race is The Lightning City Stakes. She has to overcome the #9 post position and some pretty good competition. Rosemary Homeister will be up in the irons, so we’ll be rooting for the two girls! I was worried about the condition of the turf course because of all the rain that has pummeled the east coast but Samantha, Linda’s assistant who will be in charge, expects the course to be firm. That’s the way Ahvee’s Destiny likes it. So, I hope that’s the case. We’re looking forward to seeing her before the race and, ideally, celebrating with her after the race with Patsy, Samantha and Josie.

We will visit all the horses including the new colt. We’ll also spend some time with Clyde Rice, whose recovery has had some bumps along the way. As for doggies, we may see a few Havanese breeder’s as well. I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, GO AHVEE’S DESTINY!

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's a Boy!

Posted by Avram Freedberg

On the weekend, Linda told me that Ahvee’s Destiny’s ankle was doing well. She had a quick breeze and the ankle didn’t blow up. So, this meant that she would be running at Tampa Bay Downs this weekend. Then, she called me today.

Now, you may remember that sometimes it’s difficult to get to Linda. When she calls me, I immediately put on my Jewish worry hat. What happened to Ahvee?

Of course, you may also remember that I’ve had this reaction before… but several times it turned out to be because she was at a sale and wanted to buy something. Today she wanted to buy two weanlings, one boy and one girl. She was highest on the filly but one of her other clients wanted but didn’t want to spend more than $31K. Since she had been told that the reserve was $35K, she wanted someone ready to step up to the plate when the bidding went beyond $31K. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), the filly went for only $25K, so her other client got it.

On the other hand, we had always wanted a colt. Now this one is ours. His sire is Midas Eyes who was a Grade 1 Stakes winner, with career earnings over $600K. His female family doesn’t look like anything special but Linda liked him and is happy to get him. Hopefully, we will be too. Our stable numbers 6 strong, once again.

We’re going to visit all the horses next weekend. Hopefully, Ahvee’s Destiny will run well in the Lightning City Stakes and then be turned out for a few months. Conseated Lady is back under tack (in training). Hopefully, she’ll be racing before Spring.

As for the dog search, Rhoda has found a breeder that makes her comfortable in the Ocala area. So, we may yet return from Florida with another addition. I’ll keep you apprised.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ahvee's Destiny

Posted by Avram Freedberg

The swelling in her foot is down. The doctor has read the ultra-sound and says it’s clean. Her X-rays show something like a spur in the pastern but the doctor says it may very well have been there for a long time. He sees no reason she should not be able to run.

So where does that leave us? Ahvee’s Destiny is training again. Linda is thinking about a short workout… maybe 3 furlongs. If her leg remains symptom free, we’ll be running in Tampa on December 13th. It’s listed at 5 furlongs and called The Lightning City Stakes but only Florida bred horses qualify for the $65K purse. Ahvee’s Destiny is a NY bred and the purse for her would only be worth $50K.

While we’re in Florida, we’re going to spend some time with our friend Patsy, visit our other horses in Anthony, FL and maybe – just maybe – pick out a dog at the local Havanese breeder. Could be an interesting weekend.

Our dates for Saratoga are now set. We’re arriving August 8th and leaving August 29th. We’ve already received our first reservation request… but I know most will wait until the last moment. Summer does seem like such a long way down the road (or should I say, “the backstretch?”).

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Horse Update

Posted by Avram Freedberg

When I heard the voicemail on my cell phone, I was excitedly anxious. Linda seemed happy and said she was having a nice Thanksgiving in Florida with her parents. She said she had been to her cousin Pat’s farm, which has some of the horses and, of course, seen the ones at her parents’ farm. She liked the way they looked and wanted to tell me about them.

The gray babies are almost two years old. Holy Blitzer who had a shattered knee was running well. However, her knee was retaining a little warmth. So, Linda will check on her again at Christmas time. If the condition persists, she’ll probably prepare her for one of the Spring sales. The other gray, Katy’s Office Girl, an Officer filly, looks big, strong and ready to run. Of course, she takes her time with two year olds, so we’ll see when she actually is ready to run.

Conseated Lady should go under tack (back into training) next week. Hopefully her rest will have her ready to go. Linda may X-Ray the fractured area to be sure.

Arielle’s Song was having fun running around and will be ready to go back under tack at the end of December. She may ultra-sound her again to be sure before she goes back into training (that’s what I vote for).

So, then, I ask about Ahvee’s Destiny, who’s scheduled for a race December 13th at Tampa Bay Downs. Turns out that Ahvee has a swollen hoof and a nicked pastern. She is treating her and may have her ultrasounded on Monday to make sure there is no more serious damage. She has responded well to treatment but we want to be sure she is sound before stressing her at the races.

Boo-hoo! To me, this did not sound good. We don’t know if this happened during training or in her stall. We have our Jet Blue reservations and were really looking forward to seeing her run (and winning, of course!). However, her good health is paramount, so we’ll see how this situation develops.

Clyde Rice is home and slowly recovering. However, his medications are making him nauseous and he is not holding down his food. This is problematic, since he needs his strength to recover but doesn’t want to eat. Linda said she saw fear in his eyes for the first time in her life. Those of us with elderly, frail parents can certainly relate. Clyde was anything but frail before his accident. His diabetes and macular degeneration had not slowed him down too much.

I’ve been pretty lucky. My parents are still with me and they’re both about 87 years old. Now my dad has become very debilitated physically. It’s hard to see your tower of strength weaken. It’s hard for them and hard for you. I guess we’ll have to concentrate on counting our blessings.

GO AHVEE! Get well fast.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Posted by Avram Freedberg

Rexy finally ran today in a $7500 claimer at Finger Lakes and came in 2nd, making $1900 for her new owners. This seems to be the right level for her to compete in.

Good luck, Rexy. We miss you but hope you’re happy.

Now, I’m wondering when Linda will find a new horse she wants us to buy. Hope it’s after I recover some money from the current debacle!

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Good News

Posted by Avram Freedberg

Clyde Rice left the hospital today and is resting at home. I think the doctors wanted him to go to rehab, but he feels more comfortable at home. This in itself is a good sign. May he recuperate quickly and get back in the saddle, when his body is ready (and not one minute before!).

Ahvee’s Destiny arrived safely in Florida. She’s at Linda’s cousin’s facility down the road from Clyde’s place in Anthony, FL. She’s already training again, getting ready for us and her race next month.

BTW, Linda said that her review of the DVD of the $200K Stakes Race in Philly lead her to the conclusion that the race was probably lost by both horse and rider. I told her she was copping out and she had to pick one. So, she picked the horse (I told her I’d rather it was the horse because I loved her anyway but didn’t want to feel cheated by a bad ride from the jockey).

Unfortunately, a “daddy” doesn’t easily accept criticism of his “daughter.” So, I challenged Linda (she says I scolded her) about certain aspects of the ride. In the end, she said that Ahvee’s Destiny may not have been able to deal with her adverse trip in the race, but the rider could have done many things differently, so the trip might not have turned out as adverse as it did.

OK. Enough said. It’s time for me to let go. Can I do it? I hope so… but first I’ll have to work on her mother!

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Could you use some good news?

Posted by Avram Freedberg

I could… it’s been a bad week for my friends. Losing a parent is bad enough. Finding out a friend’s child has a terminal disease sucks (pardon the crude language, but it fits).

At least, Clyde Rice is doing better. He is out of ICU and Linda actually got to speak with him today. Let’s hope this one turns out well. Thanks for your prayers.

On the horse front, we’re looking for a jockey for Ahvee’s Destiny’s Tampa race. We plan on going and trying to take a side trip to Ocala (actually, Anthony, FL) to visit the rest of the “brood” and, hopefully, Clyde and Jeanne Rice at Indian Prairie Ranch.

Saw a photo of a Chocolate Havanese puppy today named Rahm. If he becomes a family member, will that make me “Av-Rahm?”

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Say a little prayer

Posted by Avram Freedberg

Yesterday, Clyde Rice, our trainer Linda’s father, was bucked off a quarter horse. Apparently, he initially landed on the horn of the saddle. He suffered five broken ribs, a collapsed lung and had to have his spleen removed. Today, they gave him an epidural to relieve pain, in the hope that he will breathe better. They are worried about pneumonia or other infection attacking him. He’s 71 years old.

Last year his brother, Don, was killed when a horse crashed out of a corral and knocked the gate into his head. We are hoping and praying for a much better result. It just doesn’t seem fair.

On the racing side of things, Ahvee’s Destiny had a dull workout today at Saratoga… 4 furlongs in :49+, galloping out 5 furlongs in 1:02. This was characterized by Linda as a maintenance workout before she ships on Friday to Florida.

Rexy will run for her new owners on Friday at Finger Lakes in an allowance race. We’ll be watching her. Go Rexy!

Most of all, GO CLYDE!

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tampa Bay here we come

Posted by Avram Freedberg

Yes, we got the benefit of jockey, Eibar Coa, who won on Ahvee’s Destiny in ’07 at Saratoga, being in Kentucky and available to ride her. However, the purse was smaller than we thought, since some of it was for Kentucky bred horses only and no one else could be found to share the van with Ahvee’s Destiny, making it very expensive. Couple that with some good competition and watch Ahvee’s Destiny heading for Florida and the December 13th race at Tampa Bay Downs.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to get down there, especially since we hope to get to spend some time with our friend Patsy who lives in Arcadia. She told us it’s not too far from the track. So, we’re looking forward to the opportunity.

That’s it for now… and probably for a while. So, Happy Thanksgiving!

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Posted by Avram Freedberg

Ahvee’s Destiny will be entered in the Churchill Downs race tomorrow. It’s to run on Saturday. We’ll see who is entered and decide whether to go by end of day tomorrow. If she goes to Churchill, she will ship down to Florida after the race and pint to the Tampa Bay Downs race on December 13th. Then she’ll get a well-deserved rest to freshen up for 2009.

Dr. Patty Doyle read Arielle’s Song’s Ultrasound. There is significant reduction in the tendon swelling. However, some of her tissue in that does not appear to be as dense as it should be. The prescription is for her to be turned out for 60 days and re-ultrasounded after that time. It is hoped that running easily on her own will put sufficient stress on the tendon to help with the density and not being “in training” will provide sufficient rest for the rest of the swelling to resolve. So far, Arielle’s Song has been a Veterinarian’s dream, spending more time recovering from ailments, rather than running. She is already on her way down to Florida.

By next week, all 5 will be enjoying the balmy Florida climate. Sounds good to me!

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Friday, October 31, 2008

BOO HOO, again!

Posted by Avram Freedberg

It was boo hoo yesterday because we lost Rexy. Today should have been just BOO for Halloween, but it’s boo hoo because Ahvee’s Destiny’s race has been taken off the grass. Therefore, she won’t be running.

We were really looking forward to snuggling her (as well as potentially winning!). Now, we’re looking at a possible race at Churchill Downs. No, it’s not the Kentucky Derby, just an allowance race she may qualify for on November 8th. Hopefully, we will get to see her at a stall in Linda’s stable at Belmont before she leaves for Florida.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rexy's Gone

Posted by Avram Freedberg

Boo-hoo! As much as I know it was part of the plan, Rexy was claimed today before she ran 4th as a result of a terrible trip. She was slow out of the gate, the horse on her inside came out and forced even wider than her #10 post position. Then, after she recovered and started making her move around the stretch turn, another horse cut her off and bumped her to the outside. It seemed more like the demolition derby than a horse race. After all that, she still finished 4th.

They didn’t announce the claim on the broadcast but Linda was told by phone that she was claimed. It still hurts a little but, as I said, we knew it was the business plan.

Tomorrow night is Ahvee’s Destiny’s Stakes race at the Meadowlands. Since it’s Halloween, they call it the Witches Brew. Last year they had an additional special race for Halloween called the Galloping Ghost. In order to enter, the horse had to be a Gray or Roan thoroughbred. No other color allowed… so all the gray ghosts raced against each other. However, I can’t find it on the card this year. I was looking forward to entering our two baby grays when they grow up.

Well, that’s it. Gotta take those mixed feeling and turn them all into positive feelings for Ahvee’s Destiny. I love that horse!

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To run or not to run ...

Posted by Avram Freedberg

…that is the question.

Rexy is scheduled to run in tomorrow’s 2nd race at Finger Lakes which is a $4000 claiming race (showing how much Linda wants to get rid of her). She is the 2-1 favorite, even though she is coming out of post 10. The problem is, if she runs and is not claimed, she may be ineligible to run at Aqueduct. The Big A doesn’t want horses that are not of a minimum competence level. Therefore, they don’t want horses who have been entered in claiming races for less than $7500. So, as much as Linda would like to see this horse out of inventory, she’s thinking that the best thing to do is to scratch her. We’ll know in the morning.

All the rain has not been good for the turf. Today’s turf races at the Meadowlands were taken off the turf. Presumably, they’ll be on the turf by Friday night but who knows what condition the surface will be in by then. Ahvee’s Destiny likes it firm but I believe we’ll be running in any case. She’s also coming out of a disadvantageous post position, # 11. Nonetheless, she’s a trouper who has won 3 of her last 4 races. So, root for her in The Witches Brew Stakes. She’ll be running against good competition, including 4 horses who finished in front of her in Philadephia.

Personally, I can’t wait to see her, since she will be heading for Florida after the race. If she runs well and comes out well, we’ll probably send her to compete in a stakes race at Tampa Bay Downs on December 13. Then, we’ll let her have a Florida vacation, so she can refresh herself for her 2009 campaign. Go Ahvee! We love you!!

For those coming to the Meadowlands Friday night, instructions follow. See you soon.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Talk to the Animals

Posted by Avram Freedberg

Yes, I’m feeling like Dr. Doolittle. Our friend, Pam, went to Saratoga for a wedding last Saturday. So, on Sunday, she visited with Ahvee’s Destiny and Arielle’s Song (I don’t know if she couldn’t find Rexy or Rexy is staying in Finger Lakes).

She called us when she was with each horse and we got to speak to them and hear about their every move. This allowed us to imagine what they were doing. Pam said Ahvee’s Destiny’s ears pinned up when she heard me talking to her and she ran around her stall excitedly. Naturally, it was not long before she wanted more carrots from Pam.

Arielle’s Song didn’t care that we were on the phone. She just wanted more and more carrots. She stretches her neck out and sticks her lips out to get to the carrots. She sort of looks like a dragon when in that position. We all laughed, recalling that exact pose from summertime.

BTW, we renewed our Saratoga rental arrangements for next summer. It’ll either be the first 3 weeks of August or 3 weeks starting with the 2nd week of August depending on the dates for “sales week.” We want to start when the sales week starts. We only got to see the horses parading around last summer and would like to experience the excitement of an auction sale.

Speaking about joining us, several people have said they’d like to come to the Meadowlands Racetrack next Friday night for Ahvee’s Destiny’s race in the Witches Brew Stakes (It’s Halloween!). We’ll probably make reservations for 7ish. Let me know as soon as possible, if you’d like to come and we’ll try and organize it. Hopefully, we can all go to the paddock to see her before the race and to the Winner’s Circle after the race (I hope, I hope, I hope!).

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Thursday, October 16, 2008


Posted by Avram Freedberg

Rexy (not Sheila) ran on Tuesday in a $12,500 level claiming race and finished 4th. She hadn’t run this slowly since she ran 1 1/16 miles in one race and stumbled badly in another. Linda will probably run her even cheaper at $7500. What a shame.

Ahvee’s Destiny will probably be aiming for the Witches Brew, a $60K Stakes race at Meadowlands on the turf on 10/31. We’re so proud of her accomplishments. On top of that, she’s generally very nice to be around.

Hope your days have been good. It’s so hard with what’s going on out there.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

What a day!

Posted by Avram Freedberg

The Dow Jones climbed by over 900 points, Big Brown is injured and retired and we got to go to the Meadowlands Racetrack and spend time with Ahvee’s Destiny. It was an amazing day.

OK, so you can understand that stocks recovering in such a big way is amazing. Big Brown’s forced early retirement is sad. But what’s the big deal about seeing our horse? Well, we’d never been to a race track and experienced a race in quite this way.

First, we went to the Receiving barn. We’d done this at other tracks but here we spent an hour with our horsie. She was so calm, she began yawning (or maybe it was just my ex
citing presence!). She was very snuggly and we stroked her, kissed her and scratched behind her ears. Then, we watched as she was prepared to race.

Her hooves were scraped, so the dirt that was caught between the sides of her horse shoes came off. Uh oh, one of her shoes is loose. A job for the blacksmith when we take her to the Holding barn. Then, a tincture that looked like iodine was applied several times to harden the hoof. Her rear legs were wrapped in protective gauze. She was brushed down and looked beautiful. Then the bit, bridle, shank and other accoutrements were put on her. Finally, her blinkers were put on. They tried two different pair, choosing the ones that fit best.

Now it was time to start making our way to the Holding barn. Before we left she was sprayed with water to keep her cool. It was not particularly hot and she seemed annoyed at the spray.

The Holding barn was a few hundred yards away. Here all the participants in the 7th race are gathered together. Some walked around. Some stayed quiet in open stalls. Some came in with blankets on (most
did not). A few minutes after the sixth race is over, we start making our way towards the paddock.

It turns out the holding barn is at the head of the stretch. So, we march down the stretch to the paddock, which in the Meadowlands, is in front of the grandstand/clubhouse, adjacent to the race track. Here, the horses are saddled and the patrons can watch the horses before the race begins. Our jockey is Chuck C. Lopez. He’s won twice riding Ahvee’s Destiny.

Okay, less than ten minutes to post time and we hear the call, “Riders up.” Samantha, the
Assistant Trainer, boosts “C. C.” onto Ahvee’s back for a short parade around the walking ring and then onto the dirt track. I’m nervous as can be. Happily, Ahvee’s Destiny is not.

While the riders gallop their mounts around the track for pre-race warm-ups, I go to bet. For some reason, the trainers prefer to watch the races on TV (I like to see them with my binoculars outside in the fresh air).
Nonetheless, we stay with the trainer and find seats in front of a big screen TV.

It’s post-time. The butterflys are flying (in my stomach, that is). Ahvee’s Destiny doesn’t get as fast a start as usual. However, “C.C. “ seems not to be pushing her. She falls back to fifth for a moment and, of course, I get worried. C.C. brings her up the rail, saving ground but will have to figure out how to get past the horses in front of him.

He sees an opening and takes it, going three wide into the stretch. For a few moments it looks like we’re not going anywhere and Weeks, a horse who finished in front of Ahvee in Philadelphia, is making
a move along the inside. But then C.C. taps her with the whip to remind her it’s time to move… and she does. He keeps tapping and she gains on the leaders easily, goes past and wins by 1 ½ lengths. We are happy and excited. We wish C.C. had ridden her in Philadelphia, since that was a $200K purse and this was only $47K. Unfortunately, he committed to another mount and we wuz robbed by an inferior ride.

But this is no time to cry. I put on my silks and we rush to the Winner’s Circle. They take the photo
and one more of me and C.C. together with our silks on. It’s a time to celebrate… and we will as we have a house full of guests for the Sukkot holiday.

What a great start to a week!

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sweating it out

Posted by Avram Freedberg

Thursday was very nice because I felt insulated in synagogue all day, thanks to the Yom Kippur holiday. My dad, who has become very frail, made it to the service for a while and I got to give him my honor at the Torah. He spent about half an hour in synagogue. It was the first time in about 20 years that he wasn’t seated next to me for Kol Nidre, the night before, or for the balance of the services on Yom Kippur day. I felt alone. At least I wasn’t privy to the economic happenings on Wall Street.

Unfortunately, many people leave mid-day and return after the markets close. Their news brought me out of my cocoon fast enough. The worry and the stomach muscle tightening set in… it wasn’t just fasting. Our economic blues cast a pall on everything.

Nonetheless, I am happy to report that Ahvee’s Destiny will be racing at the Meadowlands on Monday afternoon. She was going to run in a stakes race called the Witches Brew on Halloween. The race track has scheduled Monday’s race as a prep for the Witches Brew. Since turf racing is so contingent on the weather (wet grass usually means running on the dirt), we’re going for it… 5 furlongs on the grass with post time at 3:33 PM.

I always wanted the race track venture to succeed. However, I never thought of it as the main source of income. Hopefully, even with success, that won’t be the case, unless one of them turns into Big Brown or Curlin.

Ofcr. Sheila T Rex will run 5 ½ furlongs on the dirt at Finger Lakes on Tuesday, race #6 with a claiming tag of $12,500. Believe it or not, she will not be the favorite, even at this low level. Post time is 3:25.

May we all be blessed with peace and stability in this very uncertain climate… and lots of winners!

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Maximum Entertainment Update

Posted by Avram Freedberg


How the Grinch Stole Christmas Theater Production in Boston, MA
The Wang Theater and a Dr. Seuss Classic Make Quite a Christmas Combo.

By Lima, published Sep 19, 2008

"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" will be offered during the 2008 holiday season in downtown Boston at the Citi Performing Arts Center -Wang Theater . The show will run from November 26 through December 28 and will offer multiple showings on many days during that time frame to allow you and your family a chance to come to Boston for a holiday treat that you will remember for years to come. With tickets selling at prices starting at $28, this may be the kind of present you will want to give to your whole family.

There are lots of reasons to be among the thousands who will flock to the Citi Performing Arts Center-Wang Theater in Boston MA to see "How the Grinch Stole Christmas " . To begin with Dr. Seuss, the author of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" is known worldwide for his many enjoyable children's books that are filled incredible pictures and verbal images. Many kids have grown up with books like "Green Eggs and Ham", "The Cat in the Hat" and "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" that have come out of the imagination of Theodor Seuss Geisel or simply "Dr. Seuss". In the Boston area there is always an especially warm reception for the work of Dr. Seuss. He is after all a Massachusetts native, born in Springfield, MA in 2004. Today there is even a park in his honor in downtown Springfield where kids can wander and put their imagination to work just as Dr. Seuss would have wanted.


After a sold-out, box-office breaking, critically acclaimed run of Carrie Fisher’s WISHFUL DRINKING at Arena Stage in Washington D.C, this triumphant tour de force lands at The Huntington Theater in Boston Massachusetts on October 10th.

Carrie Fisher's 'Wishful Drinking' is a Sure Hit
Back to the Article

by Charles Shubow

While Billy Crystal took Broadway by storm with "700 Sundays", don't be surprised if Carrie Fisher's Wishful Drinking could be renamed 2,652 Sundays (she's 51) to continue in the tradition of Crystal's masterpiece autobiography about his family.

The Arena Stage looks like a genius presenting this incredible night of theater which caused my face to hurt due to the incredible humor of Carrie Fisher's one woman presentation. And one need only pay attention to network television and the national media the past weeks. I saw the repeat of her incredible role on the comedy "30 Rock", her Emmy nomination for this part, then saw her nice role in the Lifetime presentation of the hit film "When Harry Met Sally" (notice Crystal starred in this), a nice interview in USA Today, and finally a mention in the national weekly magazine "The Week" which quotes the Washington Post's Peter Marks who loved the show. Fisher seems to be everywhere!!

And lucky you, you theater-lovers living in the Baltimore/Washington area, can get up close and personal with Fisher before her show goes to Broadway (according to the USA Today interview anyway).

What will you see? Just imagine the historic Ralph Edwards' television show in the 1950's on CBS titled "This is Your Life". But instead of Fisher's family and friends showing up, she does it all by herself laying out her loves, marriages, divorces, family history, fight with alcoholism, manic depression, bi-polar disorder, and most importantly, her reminiscing about her involvement with "Star Wars."

While those who remember the Ralph Edwards' show may enjoy this a tad more than the younger generation, I guarantee this show is for EVERYONE (well maybe not for the real younger crowd)!!!!

If you are lucky enough to get first row seats (doubtful at this late date though), you may have Fisher take you on stage, throw confetti on you, sit on your lap, give you a hug, ask you questions (and if you're correct get a gold medal) and have a night to remember. But even if you're not sitting in the front row, you will still enjoy a night to remember.

First, a word about "Arena Restaged". While a new theater rises named the Mead Center For American Theater at its old location on Maine Avenue in Southwest D.C., Arena has a venue in Crystal City (more Crystal) VA where Resurrection is now playing, and a location at Washington, DC's historic Lincoln Theatre located in the "U" Street corridor at 1215 U St. NW. The Lincoln Theatre has been elegantly restored to its 1922 original grandeur when it played host to the likes of Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday and Sarah Vaughn. The Lincoln's location was called "The Black Broadway". Believe it or not as late as the 1950's, Washington's theaters were segregated. It took the Arena to change that becoming the first racially integrated theater in the city in 1950.

Remember, the theater was built in 1922 when theater patrons apparently did not have to use restrooms. Be warned. They have them but prepare for long lines.

So don't head to Maine Avenue or Crystal City to see Wishful Drinking. Instead head to 1215 U Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009.There's even a Metro across the street and valet parking. And did I mention the plethora of restaurants in the neighborhood? (One I highly recommend is Crème Café & Lounge at 1322 U Street (202-234-1884). And the historic "Ben's Chili Bowl" which I recently saw mentioned on CBS Sunday Morning is right next door to the theater.

Now back to Wishful Drinking. First, don't be late. Fisher will look you in the face and you'll be embarrassed as she tries to recap what you've missed. But it's all in great fun.

Fisher has an incredible sense of humor and sense of timing. She's a skilled actress/comedienne. Her family history is presented on a chalk board as if you are in Carrie Fisher 101 at Beverly Hills 90210. Her parents are singer Eddie Fisher (according to Fisher a short Jewish singer) and Debbie Reynolds (incredibly talented singer/actress who lives next door to Carrie and when she calls on the telephone says, "This is your mother, Debbie.")

And who did Fisher end up marrying? Yes, a short Jewish singer, Paul Simon. She mentions all the songs Simon wrote about her and you'll be able to listen to one.

You'll hear how her parents were best friends with Mike Todd and ElizaBeth Taylor. In fact, Fisher's brother is name Todd.

She spends much time about her daughter Billy (16) who she adores.

There are slides of her former home ("It looks like an embassy. We had had 8 pink refrigerators and three pools, in case two broke").

The turning point of her life may have been her time in London when she was 18 and she studied at a speech and drama school. She recalled, "I was just a student in London".

But her life would change forever when George Lucas after auditioning the likes of Jodie Foster and Amy Irving, picked Fisher for the role of Princess Lea in "Star Wars". You'll learn a lot about the filming, make-up, hair-styles, etc. There were Princess Lea dolls, shampoos, bobble heads, watches and the ubiquitous Pez dispenser. And what was she wearing under her white gown? Well, George Lucas told her "There is no underwear in space."

At the end of Act I, she asked for a volunteer to appear on stage. Josh Bland immediately raised his hand and he was off to join Fisher on stage after she picked him. He helped end the first act admirably. Bland, originally from LA, now works for the Navy and lives in Washington. When I asked him during intermission why he did it, he responded, "Are you kidding? That's Carrie Fisher!!! You only get one chance to be with Carrie Fisher. Awesome. It's the culmination of the nerdy life I've been living". This was his first ever play he's seen at Arena Stage and said he may now subscribe. His picture with Carrie appeared at the end of the show.

Act II concerns life after "Star Wars". Fisher speaks frankly about her health problems. She proudly announces a picture of her could be found in an Abnormal Psychology textbook. The photo is her dressed as Princess Lea.

Do not miss this incredible evening. The last performance is Sunday evening, Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m. For tickets, call 202-488-3300 or visit www.arenastage.org.

For comments, write to cgshubow@broadwayworld.com.


Irving Berlin's I Love A Piano is an enchanting new musical revue that spans over seven decades of American History as seen through the insightful and earnest eyes of Irving Berlin, a man whom Jerome Kern described by saying "Irving Berlin has no place in American Music…he IS American music!"

Using 64 of Berlin's enduring and popular favorites, I Love A Piano captures the spirit of America from the ragtime era of the early 20th century through the swinging elegance of the 1920's and 30's. From the songs that inspired a nation through the Great Depression to the innocent optimism of the 1950's, I Love A Piano embarks on an enduring journey through musical heaven. Timeless classics, such as "Puttin' On The Ritz," "There's No Business Like Show Business," "Change Partners," "How Deep Is The Ocean,""God Bless America," and "White Christmas," do more than identify the music of a generation, they define the music of our country. The show will be presented by Eva Price of Maximum Entertainment, Off-Broadway Booking, and Lawrence Toppall.

Beginning September 20th, I Love A Piano will bring its exuberant showstopping song and dance numbers to audiences across the nation. This Fall marks the start of its second touring season. Under the direction and choreography of Ray Roderick (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang National Tour), who co-created the show with Michael Berkely. The magic of each song brings new life to the material for a contemporary audience. This revitalized production brings today's audiences into the lavish musical world of Irving Berlin while holding true to its nostalgic nature.

Tour Stops include 48 cities across the United States from Michigan to Kentucky to Santa Fe, New Mexico to Carmel, California. In addition to 3 weeks at The Arena Stage Company in Washington D.C and 2 dozen more stops across the Southern United States and Florida.

The talented cast of 8 triple threat singer/dancer/actors includes Emily Mattheson, Jason Weitkamp, Alix Paige, Kyle Fowler, Ashley Peacock, Ryan Lammer, Tom Bruett, and Talia Corren.

The Los Angeles Times raved: "When asked where Irving Berlin ranked in American music, fellow giant Jerome Kern famously said, 'Irving Berlin has no place in American music. He is American music.' The enduring truth of Kern's assessment underpins the showbiz panache of 'I Love a Piano,' ...as invigorating a song-catalog revue as any since AIN'T MISBEHAVIN."

Variety reviewed it by saying: "Ray Roderick may love a piano, but his heart truly belongs to Irving Berlin. Roderick directed and choreographed this tribute revue and co-wrote it with Michael Berkeley. His affection for Berlin's songs has resulted in an energetic, animated presentation of nearly 60 of Berlin's tunes, ranging from 1911's "Alexander's Ragtime Band" to selections from 1950's "Call Me Madam."

The Boston Globe called it "A spectrum of brilliant Berlin… It captures both the astonishing range of Berlin's musical styles and the cleverness of his simple rhymes, which makes it easy to understand why the songwriter remains a national treasure."

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Call her Sheila

Posted by Avram Freedberg

I wouldn’t get excited by a victory in a maiden claiming race. It doesn’t make a champion, which our dearly departed Sheila was. But somehow, Rexy was helped today by our Sheila, from on high.

Before the horses got to the gate, one of the contenders was scratched. At the gate, another started acting up and was scratched. Then, again they tried to start and another one – the one I thought would be the main competition – ended up on her back and was scratched. When it seemed they were ready to go, a horse named Remember Betty broke through the gate. However, they re-loaded her. She was to be Ofcr. Sheila T Rex’s main (only real) competition. Here’s what the race chart writer wrote:

Ofcr. Sheila T Rex stalked the pacesetter for over five furlongs, was carried out to the middle of the track by that rival turning for home, hooked up in a battle that lasted the entire length of the stretch and prevailed at the wire.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Rexy had to fight every inch of the way but she prevailed, most certainly with Sheila’s help.

Sheila, we will always love you and remember you as a champion marketer and a champion human being. Thanks for letting us call Rexy by your name!

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Philadelphia Story

Posted by Avram Freedberg

We were lucky. The rain was no more than drizzle for our round trip from Connecticut. After a few wrong turns, we ended up at the Pennsylvania Racing Commission office, got my PA owner’s license and a day pass to get into the stable area. Then we found that every individual member of our party required a pass. They’re very strict in Pennsylvania.

Finally we got to go to the Receiving Barn to see Ahvee’s Destiny before the racing began. She was wet from anxiety but at this point she did not seem nervous. She responded lovingly to our petting and kissing. Then, she heard the bugle summoning the horses to the next race and her ears shot up. She looked ready to do her job. I told her it wasn’t her race yet.

We got to the restaurant, met our friends and the owners of another horse in the race, Canadian Ballet, whom had finished a head behind Ahvee’s Destiny at Saratoga. Then, Linda arrived. It was a good thing that I’d ordered some food early because as race time approached my stomach muscles got tighter and tighter. If I had a horse race every day, I could probably lose 20-50 pounds… another fantasy.

Now it was time to go to the paddock and see Ahvee’s Destiny get saddled up and meet the jockey, Mike Luzzi, who was riding her for the first time. Linda gave him instructions and off they went to parade in front of the race track customers before entering the gate for the Turf Amazon Handicap. At post time, she was 7-1… a little high but about right, I thought.

They broke from the gate and Mike took her out quickly. She was vying for the lead but quickly eased off into 5th. Mike brought her from her outside post 9 towards the rail and then started to bring her up on the outside of the two leaders.. fourth, third… a great ride.

Then suddenly, he took back. Did he think she was moving too early? Maybe so, but you don’t stop a horse who’s moving. It’s very difficult to get the horse started again. As he “stopped,” another horse went around her, passed her and then cut in front of her. Now, he really had to take her back. By this time, he had clearly lost the race but she still could have finished anywhere from 2nd to 4th. However, he didn’t “get into her.” He tapped her only once and gave her a “hand-ride” home. She finished 6th, her worst showing ever.

Mind you, I was prepared for her to lose. These were really good horses. But, the jockey who rode a brilliant beginning of the race was not the jockey who ran an awful middle to end of the race. Yes, you may remember how I’ve said everyone blames the jockey for their losses. I have to plead guilty to feeling that way in this case. I felt like I was cheated. I felt like Ahvee’s Destiny was cheated. She don’t get any respect, a la Rodney Dangerfield. She deserves some. She’s earned it.

Even with her pre-race sweats and the soft turf, she was running really well. If he’d just let her go once he started moving with her, she would have shown how much she had today. She might not have won but she certainly would have done much better. And she would have earned some money. Even 5th place was worth $6000. It was re-a-l-l-y frustrating! Hopefully, we’ll get to come back next year and show them something more. Maybe we’ll even go to the Winner’s Circle. Hopefully, we’ll see several more Winner’s Circles before next year’s Turf Amazon. Onward!

Tomorrow, Rexy runs in that Maiden Claimer that was canceled at Belmont on Friday. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to be there but I hope she gets to see her first Winner’s Circle.

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We're going to Philly!

Posted by Avram Freedberg

They expect to run the 5 furlong Turf Amazon Stakes on the very wet, soft turf. I’m not happy about that because Ahvee’s Destiny’s had trouble with traction on turf when it was rated “good.” I have no idea how poorly she may react to these conditions. Frankly, since they most often take these races in very wet conditions off the turf, I worry about safety but I know that Linda will not run her in unsafe conditions. Let’s hope for the best.

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Friday, September 19, 2008


Posted by Avram Freedberg

Today we joined our friend Patsy and her daughter Lisa at Belmont. We met them in the paddock before the running of an overnight stakes race with six entrants, two of which were hers… Meriwether Jessica (MJ) and Myakka. You may remember that MJ is the snuggle bunny, more like a dog than an ornery race horse.

Myakka was supposed to go to the lead but she didn’t. She got stuck on the outside either because she didn’t have enough speed today or because the jockey tried to hold her back. MJ was in behind the three leaders, including Myakka. They were running on the inner turf (grass) course on a beautiful day. MJ was doing just what she was supposed to do… stalk the pace setter. When they turned into the stretch, her rider, Eibar Coa, started to look for some racing room. At first, he couldn’t find any. Rather than taking her wide, he elected to save ground staying towards the inside. We were getting very nervous because it looked like his strategy was going to backfire.

Then, he saw some racing room to the outside of the pace setter, but as he tried to steer MJ in this direction, other horses were taking away the clear path. Then Eibar saw a hole between the leader, Lost Without You, and the rail. He went for it. As he started through the open path, Johnny Velasquez (Yes, the same Johnny Velasquez who piloted Ahvee’s Destiny to victory last month in Saratoga), dove in to the rail and cut off MJ. Eibvar had to check the horse quickly, taking back and losing ground. All seemed lost… until Eibar got MJ going again to the outside of Lost Without You. MJ was narrowing the lead with every stride… a length separated them… a half length… a head, and then it was over. The line came too fast for MJ and she came in second by a head.

We were depressed and angry. After all, hadn’t the other horse interfered with us? Then the tote board flashed, INQUIRY! The stewards were going to review the tapes. Expectations grew. However, when we saw Eibar heading for the paddock area and the other horse took a Winner’s Circle photo with her “connections” (owners, trainer, grooms, etc), we were afraid that it was all over for us. Then the tote board stopped flashing and the numbers of the top two finishers were reversed. MJ was declared the winner!

OK, so it would have been sweeter, if she had won outright and we got to take a Winner’s Circle photo. But she won, Patsy and Lisa won, Linda won and even we won (I bet on MJ). We had a champagne celebration and a fun dinner. Hooray.

During dinner, we were musing on Ahvee’s Destiny’s next assignment. She’s entered in $55K Stakes race in Delaware for Saturday. While it’s good competition (including her half-sister, Lady Rizzi, who set a new track record in her last race in Saratoga), the alternate is an even tougher race in Philadelphia on Sept 27 for $200K, that I mentioned in earlier missives. It looks like we’ll give her a chance to try for the big money, even though she could easily run out of the money because of the quality of the competition. There aren’t too many big purse races at 5 furlong distances and we know Ahvee has a big heart. If she gets a great trip, maybe she can pull it off. Go AHVEE’S DESTINY!

Off to Las Vegas in the morning. Hope to update you soon.

PS We found another snuggle bunny at Linda’s stable. She’s named, Dicey DJ. Rhoda went to visit another friend’s horse, Jess Not Jesse. She found him remarkably quiet… until he nipped her. She got a pretty good bruise right through her leather jacket, which seems undamaged. Rhoda doesn’t hold a grudge but I’m sure she’ll be a little more wary next time.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Lookin' for love in all the wrong places ...

Posted by Avram Freedberg

We were at Belmont today to watch Aldebutante’s first race. Haven’t heard the name before? Well, here’s the story.

I listen to a radio show, “At the Races,” hosted by Steve Byk. He started some horse racing partnerships with his listeners as partners. I signed up for a tiny piece of one of the partnerships several months ago before our Saratoga experience.

You see, when I was a little younger we “ boys” watched the “big” races together on TV and went to the track together. For us, ”the track” was either Belmont or the Big A, Aqueduct. We even went to Roosevelt Raceway or Yonkers to further our attempts to become the best handicappers known to mankind and be able to make so much money at the track that we could always be surrounded by the combination of magnificent animals running down the stretch and not so magnificent animals smoking cigarettes, cigars and some sweet smelling tobacco who took pride in spitting and cursing at the losers and especially their jockeys, whose bad rides inevitably cost them their hard earned money at the pari-mutuel windows. Actually, I think we may have joined them!

Win or lose, we had each other. Sometimes cheering together. Sometimes cheering for different horses. In the end, we could count on each other for support, even when we kidded each other about how poorly one or the other had done on any particular day. I MISS THIS CAMARADERIE! So I thought joining one of these partnerships would help me find this unique type of love and friendship.

Don’t get me wrong. Even though my best friend and life partner started out with an unfavorable view of the cost of my passion, she has been the best support I could ask for. The horses have become her pets and our time with them in Saratoga allowed her to bond with them. Well if you don’t know how she treats her pets… let’s just say our friends all want to come back as one of our pets. But again, I joined up before our Saratoga summer.

Anyway one of the horses in the partnership is named Aldebutante and her first race took place today at Belmont. Don’t look for her in the list of today’s winners. She only beat two horses in the race. But I hate to admit that my main motivation in going to Belmont today was to meet the other partners and do some bonding.

I first saw Steve who gave us tickets to seats in a section overlooking the finish line. I was struck by the ghost town appearance of what was my favorite venue for thoroughbred horse racing. But there were a couple of dozen partners, relatives and friends of partners. Darren and Chris came from Maryland. Mark and Karen from upstate New York. That’s the kind of commitment to the horse biz I hoped to find. It’s not that they or the others were unpleasant when I approached them. There just didn’t seem to be any synergy. Frankly, I had hoped Byk would introduce us all but no such luck.

Well, maybe it’s just the focus of the horse player busy handicapping the next race or shyness or their own lonesomeness (as opposed to loneliness). No matter what the reason, we left right after the race, realizing that we had each other and the relationships with the other owners we’d met in Saratoga.

So, we figured we’d go to see Rexy who was supposed to be the only one of our brood stabled at Belmont. Imagine our surprise when we got to Linda’s stable and she was nowhere to be found. Turns out she’s still in Saratoga with Ahvee’s Destiny and Arielle’s Song. However, we did get to snuggle Meriwether Jessica, the horse who “snuggles around” and loves to be surrounded by people. She’ll be running in a stakes race on Thursday when her owner will fly up from Florida and we’ll join her rooting section and then have dinner together (with the owner, not the horse).

In the meantime, Ahvee’s Destiny had a speedy “bullet” workout on Friday (that means she was fastest of the horses working at that distance). Tomorrow we’ll find out how many horses have been nominated to the Turf Amazon Stakes in Philadelphia. We won’t know if she gets into the race until next week.

BTW, I must admit that hearing from so many of you who enjoy reading these tomes makes me feel accepted and my heart fill with love. Thanks for your support.

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Sunday, September 7, 2008


Posted by Avram Freedberg

Monday, Labor Day, seemed, as Rhoda put it, like the last day of camp. I remember crying when I came home from my first overnight camp experience. Camp was over. There was no way of recreating the emotions… the feelings of fun and, especially, camaraderie.

So it was with our visit to Saratoga Springs. Our home for two weeks had been David Cassidy’s home once but now it belonged to Liz. It held strong emotions for us too when we found out that Liz was a 9/11 widow, now remarried with a second son to join the one left behind. Only months before the tragedy, they had returned from an overseas assignment for Cantor Fitzgerald. There was a still a poignant photo on the wall of father and several month old son in his office at the World Trade Center, overlooking the New York City skyline. When Liz showed us around, I worried about some crystal (I’m a bull in a China shop). She said, “It’s just stuff.” She knew what was important. This month my company, NCM, will reach the $2,000,000 mark in donations to 9/11 related charities. I guess you can see why this happenstance hit home.

On the bright side, we were very lucky. First, to see Ahvee’s Destiny win a stakes race the day after our arrival and to experience it with good friends by our side. But, in many ways, our fun and camaraderie were just beginning.

Every day we saw our horses. Sometimes we saw them training on the track but every day we saw them in their stalls. We tried to snuggle with them and fed them carrots. We don’t know if they bonded with us (they definitely bonded with the carrots) but we bonded with them. Each unique looking. Each had their own personality (or should that be horse-ality).

Then there were the “horse-friends” we made. Most coming to the stable or training track each morning. Some with their kids, nieces, grandkids and the like. All of them regaled by the beauty and majesty of all thoroughbred race horses and theirs in particular. We got to know them day by day and sometimes night by night, when we broke bread together. Of course, sharing the darkness before dawn and the experiencing the bits of light as the sun slowly rose over the misty clouds that gathered at ground level of the giant park known as Saratoga Race Course was particularly special.

We miss running to see our four-legged kids each day. We imagine Arielle’s Song’s big lips straining to get those carrots or Ahvee’s Destiny’s gentle way of eating from our hands (it reminded us of our beloved Cricket, the gentle dog after whom the stable is named Everything’s Cricket Racing). It’s easy to convey the excitement of winning a big race (especially at 9 – 1) and all the fun that goes with it. It’s much harder to convey the complex feelings engendered by those dear animals and those dear people.

Yes, there are many thing to do in Saratoga Springs. I guess it would be a nice vacation spot, even if you weren’t involved in horses in some way. Yet, it is this different culture (someone called it a “sub-culture” but that seems almost pejorative) that makes the experience so different and so deep. We miss you, horsies!

Now Ahvee’s Destiny and Arielle’s Song are still in Saratoga. Ahvee waits for her September 27th race in Philly, if the weather goes our way. Arielle’s Song is getting her leg iced every day before going to Florida to rest her leg or to New Jersey for additional treatment. Rexy is at Belmont and will eventually be entered in a Maiden-claiming race and the other three are all in Florida; Conseated Lady recuperating from a “meat cleaver” fracture with hand walking and resting (turn-out) and the yearlings starting to be trained for their two-year old season.

I hope you get to experience your own special time like the special time that Saratoga Springs was for us in August 2008.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Perfect Ending

Posted by Avram Freedberg

That was what we hoped for. We’d started with a win the day after we arrived and looked to end with a win today… the last day of camp. Believe it or not when the betting opened, Rexy was the favorite. I thought she’d be 12-1 or more. I guess they thought Linda Rice raced her back on 5 days rest because the dirt race was a prep for this grass race. When they swung into the stretch, she had a shot to prove them right.

She was only 2 lengths behind the leader and coming wide on the outside. Then she got smacked by the horse to her inside. She tried to come on again but didn’t have anything left. The winner was disqualified but that did nothing for us. The jock said she was favoring her left leg and refused to change leads (changing the lead leg in a horse’s running pattern often adds to the horse’s stamina, since it is putting less stress on the tired lead leg. Sort of a freshening for the horse.) The left knee was where she had chips that required surgery. Her 10th place finish means she will have to run against cheaper horses in claiming races.

Two of my new horse owner friends had better results. One almost stole her race on the lead and just missed coming in second in a tough crowd and the other won a stakes race at Finger Lakes with a purse of $ 156K.

So even when my own hopes were dashed, their success feeds the hope the resides in the heart of every horse owner. Just like last week when it was Ahvee’s Destiny first stakes win, we always look to the future full of hope. We did it. They did it. We can do it again… can’t we?

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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Rexy Race

Posted by Avram Freedberg

OK, I’ll admit it. I’m scared.

Rexy is running in the 5th race tomorrow. It’s a Maiden Special Weight, which means, the horses are classier than in her last race. So, I am worried that she will do badly and have to be sent to a lesser race track. I know the odds are we’re going to eventually lose het, so I guess it’s advance separation anxiety.

I told her today that she is known as a feisty lady, like her namesake Sheila. However, Sheila was a winner and she has yet to live up to her name. I used to imagine that Sheila was listening from up high and would help her. Just another wishful fantasy, I suppose.


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Good news, bad news...

Posted by Avram Freedberg

My friend, Rob, has been in the horse racing business for a long time, even breeding his own thoroughbreds. As far as winners, it’s been a bit of a drought. So when his first time starting 2-yr. old, Jess Not Jesse, went to the post yesterday, we were all on pins and needles.

Jess got a good start leaving the gate second, settling back and running smoothly. Everyone was holding their breath. As they came around the stretch turn, as usual it was Linda Rice, who started cheering first. Jess was coming on the outside, maybe three or four wide. Then, everyone was cheering. Would Jess make it? Go, Jess, go!

First slowly, he kept coming. Then, faster and faster. Finally, he wore down the leader and won “going away!” His winning time was sparkling.

I don’t know about Rob, but his breeding shows some staying power for longer races… you know, like The Kentucky Derby! Remember, hope and dreams. It’s what this is all about.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that Arielle’s Song has an inflammation in her suspensory ligament and is probably going to be turned out with no chance for racing this year.

On top of that, Rexy’s speed rating for her last race was poor, even with her second place finish. So, she may be limited in the kinds of races and the racetracks where she can be competitive. We’ll see and report further.

Hope you’re having a nice weekend!

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Thursday, August 28, 2008


Posted by Avram Freedberg

She’s still Rexy, not Sheila yet, but she finished 2nd today, which is her best finish yet, albeit in a lower class of competition. She was in a claiming race, which means she could have been claimed (bought) by anyone who qualified and entered a claiming ticket for her.

I was torn between the business logic of getting some money back on the investment and moving on to a horse with more potential and the emotional feelings of not wanting to give up on her or her “Sheila” name which is so special to me because of our dear departed colleague of the same name.

She got a good start and chased the leader around for 6 furlongs. However, she had nothing left in the stretch. Nonetheless, she finished a solid second, 4 ½ lengths in back of the winner but several lengths in front of the 3rd place finisher.

I was sad that we were not in the winner’s circle, especially because a special presentation was made to the winner by members of our military. More importantly, I was sad that they might put a red tag on her, indicating she had been claimed and was no longer ours. Separation anxiety, I guess, that was relieved when we found out there were no claims in the race.

Now, Linda is talking about running her again in just a few days at 5 ½ furlongs on the grass… but we’ll see what actually happens.

All the “kids” love the carrots but none of them have eaten apples or peppermint.

One of the ironic problems is we’ve become friends with several other owners and feel obliged to attend their races as a show of support. Since often they have multiple horses, this can seem an overbearing responsibility at times. The other side of the coin… it’s nice to have so many new friends who are simpatico with the vagaries of horse racing.

We almost got Linda into a balloon but by the time we got to the launch site, the winds had picked up and our flight was canceled. You’d think with all of my hot air, we could overcome this obstacle… but no.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

One week...

Posted by Avram Freedberg

It’s hard to believe that only one week of our Saratoga adventure has passed. We have been flying since Ahvee’s Destiny win last Monday. We’ve done so many things, seen so many people and hosted many friends and family. We’ve had guests almost every minute.

We take everyone to see the horses. Until this morning, there were four of our brood in residence. However, it was found that Conseated Lady had a “meat-cleaver” fracture in her rear right leg. This should not require surgery, if all goes well. She has been sent to Florida and will be hand walked for 60 days and turned out for 60 more days. Hopefully, the fracture will calcify and heal by itself. Only time will tell. She will not race in 2008.

We take carrots with us to the stable and usually get to see one or more of them work out. They all love their carrots. Only Conseated Lady did not eat them one day because of her condition. But even she started downing them with gusto before she left. We feed them by putting the carrot on top of our outstretched hand, so the horse can eat the baby carrot without grabbing a finger in the process.

Rexy worked out on the grass in an average time but she didn’t get in to her race. So Linda has put her in a Maiden claiming race ($35K is the claiming price) on Wednesday going 6 furlongs on the dirt. Hopefully, this lesser race will give her a chance to win.

Ahvee’s Destiny has been nominated for a race the last day of the Saratoga meet but will more likely point for a five furlong turf $200K Stakes race at Philadelphia Park the weekend before Rosh Hashanah (Sept 27).

Arielle’s Song, the two year old who recovered from a lengthy bout with Pneumonia, seemed to be making great progress in her training. Linda was going to breeze her (timed workout) late last week but she refused to get onto the main track. She was training there successfully when given some mild tranquilizer but when the medicine was removed for the breeze, she apparently got very anxious. Back to square one.

We’ve squeezed in trips to Congress Park, Yaddo Gardens, geysers and Springs, galleries, Racing Museum & Hall of Fame and, of course, Saratoga Race Track, including the Travers Stakes won by Colonel John by a nose hair and a race in which a friend of ours had her horse beat the track record but lose to someone even faster (both were trained by Linda and finished 1,2). I even went bowling with Bob Fox of Racing Legacy radio segments who tutored me. My first game was 105. By the fourth game, I bowled 210. Haven’t done that since I was a young whippersnapper!

Lots of fun dinners with old and new friends, including a heated discussion with another horse owner and the rest of the dinner guests. Love this guy since he makes me seem totally non-abrasive and mellow! Thanks to (in order of guest appearance), Johnna, Allen, Linda E., Joyce, Larry, Jonathan, Donny and Pam. It’s been a great week.

Root for Rexy!

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

9 to 1 ...

Posted by Avram Freedberg

That’s what the punters thought of Ahvee’s Destiny’s chances against the boys )and 3 more of Linda’s fillies!). It was a tough race, and an important one. Ahvee’s Destiny needed to show us that she could race with these quality horses because she will have to face this quality and better if she’s to proceed forward in her racing career.

As usual, I was nervous all day. Happily, Ahvee’s Destiny wasn’t.

We went to see her this morning before she had to go to the pre-race holding barn. She seemed happy and content munching her hay. I was surprised, since I didn’t think they let them eat anything prior to a race. We snuggled her and gave her our love and support. So, did you, with your good luck wishes. We had our own support network at the track, including Rob & Sheri, Allen & Linda E. and Johnna, all rooting for Ahvee. But now, she had to go to work.

She was in the #8 post with speed inside her. So, when the gate opened, she was off to her usual fast start but so were the horses inside her. She couldn’t get to the rail and ran wide most of the race. We were worried that she was giving up too much ground to these good horses.

Coming around the stretch turn, she was still close up in third but seemed to lose steam. I was viewing the race mostly through binoculars, except when the view was blocked. Frankly, I thought she was not going anywhere… but I was wrong. Johnny Velasquez tapped with the stick and Linda Rice started cheering, “go Ahvee!” I couldn’t believe it. She was coming on again… gaining, gaining until with just few strides left to the finish line, she took the lead and held it to win by a head!

What a race! What a horse! What a trainer! Linda’s four entries finished 1, 2, 3, 4. Unbelievable. Tom Durkin, the voice of Saratoga, called Linda Rice’s Superfecta.

I put on my Cricket jockey silks and we made our way to the Winner’s Circle almost not believing she had actually done it. She has a lot of heart!
They gave us a trophy and led us to a champagne celebration. All this within one hour of Allen and Linda E.’s arrival. They think this is what happens all the time!

WOW! We’ll be flying for the rest of our stay in Saratoga. No balloon needed.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Racing Update...

Posted by Avram Freedberg

No one scratched in Rexy’s race, so she didn’t get in (at least one had to scratch since she was on the wait list, known as “also eligible”).

Ahvee’s Destiny will withdraw from tomorrow’s Monmouth race and run at Saratoga on Monday against the boys in an overnight stakes race called the Mechanicville with a purse of $80K. It’s the sixth race around 3:47, 5 ½ furlongs on the turf. She’s going from post 8 with John Velasquez up (first time).

At least, we’ll get to see her race at Saratoga. Wish us luck. It worked last time!

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Rexy Update ...

Posted by Avram Freedberg

Blitzer correctly reminds me that Ofcr. Sheila T Rex is scheduled to race tomorrow in Saratoga. My stress level must be showing. Felt bad that Conseated Lady won’t get to the races this year. Am frustrated that it’s been so difficult to find a race at Saratoga for Ahvee’s Destiny. Nonetheless, let’s root for Rexy!

It’s a tougher field for her than in her last race. However, the last race was her first in a while and should serve as a tightener for this race (as Blitzer reasoned). I think she’s in with a tough crowd but we’ll be cheering for her.

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Horse Biz ...

Posted by Avram Freedberg

Conseated Lady had a workout Wednesday at 4 furlongs in :48+. She’d been appearing to have pain in her hind quarter. However, it seems to emanate from her rear ankle. X-Ray shows a hook in the bone structure, equivalent to a spur or chip. The other joints will be X-rayed and, if there are no other problems, she will go to the farm. Usually it takes 90 days for the condition to resolve. So, it doesn’t seem like she will ever race as a two-year old.

The race at Saratoga for Ahvee’s Destiny did not fill. So, Linda’s entered her in a stakes race at Monmouth for Sunday. There is supposed to be an overnight stakes at Saratoga on Monday that she could go for. Linda will re-evaluate the situation tomorrow.

We are scheduled to be in Saratoga Sunday but I don’t know when we will arrive. If Ahvee’s Destiny races at Monmouth on Sunday, post time is 4:52. If we go to the race, we would not make it until 11 PM, in all probability. So, we need to evaluate our logistics as well.

Have a lovely weekend!

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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Ahvee's Destiny wins at Monmouth

Posted by Avram Freedberg

We were worried ...…so, when we arrived at Monmouth, we went right to the stable area. We found her in the receiving barn #5, stall #20. To our happy surprise, she seemed calm. She wasn’t wet from sweat and she was happy to receive our strokes and kisses. This was a good beginning. Cissy, Linda’s assistant trainer, credited the groom, Giovvani, who had accompanied her down from Saratoga.

We arrived at our box with 90 minutes left to the announced posttime. The Parterre Box, as it is called, is like being in your own cabana with a beautiful view of the racetrack. It can be very peaceful, unless the people in the box on either side of you are rowdy. Let’s put it this way, we were lucky we couldn’t spend much time in the box. Service was so slow, we only managed to get some tea and coffee before we had to get to the paddock.

Time further got compressed when the raetrack reduced the time between races which advanced the post times. Our race, originally scheduled for 4:15PM was now scheduled for 3:56PM. In retrospect, I think the track officals were trying to get the races in before the thundershowers arrived.

Ahvee’s Destiny arrived at the paddock still looking calm. We got to stroke her and speak softly to her while she was being saddled. Suddenly, it started to rain… heavier and heavier. Ahvee doesn’t like to run on and off track, so we were worried. After all, she was the 8-5 favorite (by post time, she was 6-5).

You’ve heard about lots of worrying. There are two words I would use to describe the racing experience: hope and worry. No matter how bad the situation may seem, you hope. No matter how good the situation may seem, you worry.

As post time nears, my body’s adrenaline flow increases substantially. Sometimes, it actually hurt. This time adrenaline yes, pain no. We went to bet and found Cissy at what she called her lucky TV post.

As we watched the screen together, the gate opened. Ahvee was in the 7 post. The horse in #3 was first out of the gate with Ahvee right behind and the #9 to her outside coming up to take the lead. Ahvee and Miss Kneehigh (the #9) raced together with Miss kneehigh maintaining a head lead and the tow of them separating from the rest by about three lengths. Coming around the stretch turn, Miss Kneehigh camein on Ahvee and they appeared to make contact, but Stewart Elliot, the jockey, cut the corner coming out of the stretch turn and Ahvee was free of Miss Kneehigh and the rest of the pack. As they ran down the stretch, no one could close the gap.

When I felt certain of the outcome, I pulled a “Red Auerbach.” When Red was sure his Boston Celtics had the game won, he took out a cigar. I don’t smoke but I quickly donned an extra-large size copy of the jockey silks with Cricket on the front and the back. Ahvee’s Destiny had won, Everything’s Cricket Racing had won and we had won! What an exhilirating experience.

We ran to the winner’s circle (I have some photos of Ahvee arriving that will be posted on Monday) where we posed for our winner’s photos and even got a trophy (that they took back. I guess it was just ceremonial). I stood next to Stewart Elliot for the photo. I can’t to see the two Cricket jopckey silks together.

Really glad we won. I can’t imagine how we would have made our 4-hr., traffic jammed road trip home after losing. The high from the win made it a lot easier. Now, on to Saratoga next Sunday for the last two weeks of the season.