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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