Sunday, December 20, 2009

Good news and bad news

Posted by Avram Freedberg

Hi all! Whichever holidays you’re celebrating, I hope you are enjoying them. All the best to all for 2010.

Spoke with Pat Hoppel today. He has Ahvee’s Destiny at his farm. He was the bearer of some very good news. Her feet seem to finally be getting better. He tried adhesive shoes, the other shoes, now she is going barefoot (as Linda told me she had been suggesting) and that seems to be doing the trick. She threw another abcess from the inside of her front right foot but now seems to be growing new, healthy hoof. She had been piling up her bedding to give her extra support and it seems to reduce the pain. Now, she has stopped that. She seems like a happy horse again. I love what he said, “there’s no telling how good she can be with healthy feet!” Go Ahvee!

The two yearlings are progressing. Though, “Yes It’s True, I’m Stuck with You” is tough to train. Nonetheless, he really likes him (Of course, that’s why he bought him in the first place!). The Midas Eyes colt, he says is a nice horse but is not as mature as the first one. In any case, it’ll be 6 weeks (Pat’s magic number) or so before he can make an evaluation about their potential.

It’ll take Ahvee’s Destiny 6 weeks to heal. So, as I said, it’s the magic number.

One of these days I’ll hear from Linda about the other horses and, maybe, we’ll actually get them to the racetrack. I’ll let you know when I finally hear something. When I called her number, her mailbox was full. I guess she’s really enjoying the holidays!

The bad news is my good friend, Don Stern, had another heart attack. They say he’s a cat, but he’s going through those nine lives rather rapidly. It seems he will require more bypass surgery. Please keep him in your prayers. I can assure you that if you knew him, you’d agree with me about what a special guy he is. We love you, Don (and your lover and caregiver – also known as your spouse – Barbara)!

My tribe is off to Cancun next Wednesday. We’re back late New Year’s Eve. As I said before, our best wishes to all.

Sincerely,
A.




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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Update

Posted by Avram Freedberg

It’s nice to hear that some of you are missing more frequent updates. We certainly miss having more to say, since we have not been racing.

Hear the Footsteps returned today from an extensive (and expensive) hospital visit. He will be hand-walked for a few days and, if all remains well. Go back into training shortly thereafter.

Ahvee’s Destiny is showing signs of improvement. They did not take off her horseshoes yet. However, if she continues to make progress, they will leave them off next time they would normally change them. No racing in her near future.

Holy Blitzer was a little thin, so Linda has delayed breezing her for several days. Hopefully, she will be ready to race by year-end.

The other three fillies are or will shortly be in training. Earliest racing will probably be 2010.

The two yearling colts continue training with the Yes It’s True being a bit of a handful.

We are going to Saratoga Springs this weekend to help decide what we’re going to rent and for how long next summer. The racing season has increased from 36 to 40 racing days.

Best,
A.


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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Another injury


Hear the Footsteps who had been working out so nicely got spooked after Gate training, reared up, fell down and cut his leg very badly, requiring stitches, lots of antiseptic and hospital stay. Linda was already pointing him to a race on December 12. Now, it will likely not happen before 2010, even if he heals nicely. Let’s hope he does. He seems to have a lot of promise (that’s what they all say!).

Supposedly, Holy Blitzer worked 3 furlongs in 36 3/5 but it doesn’t appear in the published works. However, Linda is happy with her.

Last night, we opened CIRCUMCISE ME! At the Bleecker Street Theater. Yisroel Campbell, the former Christopher Campbell, was very funny, as well as moving. He’s got an interesting story of his 3 conversions to Judaism and he tells it in a way that will leave you laughing.

The Addams Family Musical has started previews in Chicago, where it opens next month starring Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth. It’ll be Broadway bound in April. There’s lots of good buzz. They’ll be doing some editing to make it tighter. Hopefully, they’ll get rid of the slower material.

On a completely different topic, it’s easy to get stressed over obstacles we all have to overcome. Please keep Kelly Stevenson, a mother of a newborn who finds herself in distress, in your prayers. It’ll also make your obstacles seem smaller.

Best,
A.


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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Question: Which is the more handsome horse shown in the two photos?



Posted by Avram Freedberg

Both are photos of Holy Blitzer and they are very different. She’s changed a lot since we saw her last December.

She arrived 10 days ago and has had her first breeze, going 37.29 for 3 furlongs and Hear the Footsteps also breezed, going 36.6 for 3 furlongs. Hopefully, they’ll both be ready to race soon.

Ahvee’s Destiny is down in Florida but her feet are still sore. Linda is not worried but I am. It’s the first persistent problem she’s had. She’s our star and our first baby. GET WELL AHVEE’S DESTINY! We’ve had her leg joints and her hooves X-rayed and we’re waiting for a Vet’s report.

Arielle’s Song is also in Florida. She is a Florida bred and will probably try to race down there in January. Katy’s Office Girl is not having surgery (yet). The Vet in Florida did not see a chip. So, we’re putting her back in training and will watch her reaction. Hopefully, she will not show any soreness but if she does, they’ll “scope” her joints. Conseated Lady should be going back into training soon too. I’m hoping we can visit all the horsies down there, if one of them races this winter.

The two yearlings are doing well, according to Pat. The Midas Eyes colt is a good student. The Yes It’s True colt is very aggressive. I’m sure he’ll have both doing well. I’m anxious to hear whether he thinks either is very special. If not, they’ll be sold at auction in April (or at least we’ll try!).

Apparently, Rachel Alexandra, the Super filly, who won the Kentucky Oaks by 20 lengths and then won the Preakness, Haskell and the Woodward Stakes against the boys, is going to be in New Orleans during January. We won her owner’s (Jess Jackson of Kendall-Jackson wineries) auction to benefit the V-Foundation for the chance to visit with her. The other Super filly, Zenyatta, who has won every race in which she’s competed and just beat the boys in the $5 Million Breeder’s Cup Classic, may be some people’s choice for Horse of the Year but Rachel raced at 8 different racetracks in different conditions to accomplish many more wins this year than Zenyatta and Zenyatta has only raced on synthetic tracks. So, my vote (I don’t have and official one) is for Rachel Alexandra as Horse of the Year.

Best,
A.


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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Horsie update

Ahvee’s Destiny is down in sunny Florida while her stablemate and tough competitor, Canadian Ballet, gets ready to compete in the Breeder’s Cup Turf Sprint next week. Wish we were there too. Maybe someday. For now, we’ll have to root for our friends’ horsie.

Holy Blitzer is being shipped to Belmont from Florida. When I asked Linda when she might race? Linda replied, “you mean we’re going to race this horse!” She thought that was pretty funny. I told her it was a good thing she was not standing next to me.

I’m eager to see Holy Blitzer. When we saw her last year in Ocala at Clyde’s ranch, she was magnificent to look at. So, before she races, I might as well look at her as eye candy and pay a visit to her and hear the Footsteps at Belmont. Hear the Footsteps continues to do well and, hopefully, will race before the year is out. Same for Holy Blitzer.

Katy’s Office Girl was re-Xrayed and they found a bone chip in her knee. Sounds like the surgery will keep her out of commission until Springtime.

Arielle’s Song will go back into training next week in Florida. Conseated Lady will follow a few weeks later.

Hey, Pat Hoppel, how about a report on the progress of the two colts at your farm?


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Friday, October 23, 2009

Her racing year is over

Too bad. Sore feet just won’t get better in a timely manner, so she is heading to Florida even before the snow birds do. I guess she’ll be able to beat them to the Earlybird Specials.

We expect her feet to recover and the problems to “grow out” while she is vacationing. Hopefully, she’ll be ready for a really good year. Realistically, she might get to race one or two more years but would likely be retired to the breeding shed by then to make little Ahvees.

Hear the Footsteps breezed 3 furlongs in 38 2/5 secs, a nice easy pace for his first breeze since the summer. Now, we have to hope he is not sore tomorrow.

Have a nice weekend!

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ahvee's Destiny

She’s had a great deal of work done to her feet. The left one is now fine but the right one still has some heat. She is entered in a Friday race at the Meadowlands. However, I don’t think she will make it. We’re probably going to aim for The Witches Brew Stakes on October 31st. Last time we were there on the Halloween it was night racing but I’m not sure what the schedule is for this year yet.

Hear the Footsteps should have his first timed workout (breeze) at Belmont next week… we hope.

Holy Blitzer is training in Florida and doing well.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

2 previews YesItsTrue-Vision Quest 08c











Here are two photos of the latest acquisition whose sire is “Yes It’s True.” For now, we’re calling him, “Yes it’s true, I got stuck with you!”

Ahvee’s Destiny is traipsing around the shedrow with no shoes on. Next thing you know, she’ll be going to the beach in a bikini and flip-flops. She seems to be doing better. I can’t see her being ready to race this Saturday. Maybe we’ll make one of the races on Friday the 16th. I’ll let you know.

Spoke to Linda today. She was at a sale. I got off the phone as fast as I could!

Best,
A.

PS Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking opened last night to very positive reviews!


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Friday, October 2, 2009













Here are photos of Ahvee's Destiny with her feet in ice in Philadelphia. She's been seen by Ian McKinley, the hoof specialist who worked on Big Brown before the Kentucky Derby in 2008. We've been expecting an abscess to appear and are soaking her feet in Epsom salts trying to accelerate the process.

Once that happens, she can heal rapidly. It's been frustrating and it doesn't look like she's going to make it to Kentucky for that Grade 3 Stakes on October 10th. Next chance is a race in KY for a $100K purse or the Meadowlands in NJ for $60K. Both are on the 16th of October.

The two yearlings have gone to Pat Hoppel's farm in Florida for training and will be prepared to be sold in April unless wither or both gives us reason to want to race them ourselves.

Hear the Footsteps is back in training at Belmont. Holy Blitzer is under tack at Clyde Rice's farm. The other three are recovering in Florida and will go back in training between October 15th and early December.

Conseated Lady will aim for a New York State bred Maiden race, since she's a NY bred. Arielle's Song will start out in Florida (she's a Florida bred). Katy's Office Girl will likely remain in Florida until she's ready for a grass race and will either start there or wait until the grass season begins in NY.

Have a nice weekend, Shabbat and Sukkot (yep, another Jewish holiday that goes through October 11th).

Best,
A.

PS Sunday night sees the opening of the Carrie Fisher one-woman show we're involved with, called Wishful Drinking. It's happening at The Roundabout Theater at Studio 54. Eva Price, whose been overseeing the show since its US Tour in selected cities, says it's even better than the show we saw during the Hartford run.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Queen of the Stable

We got to Philly on what started out as a nice day in Connecticut and got very overcast at Philadelphia Park. After much searching and rebuffing by a security guard , we got into the stable gate. Ahvee’s Destiny was in Barn #1, next to Canadian Ballet. They’re both chestnut colored and since Ballet was closer to us, we said hello to her first and then tried to shower love on Ahvee’s Destiny. She was a little “bitey” according to Josie, the assistant trainer, who came down with the two horses from Saratoga. She also told us that the track condition of the turf course had enn downgraded from “good” to “yielding.” Ahvee has never liked an off track.

After we spent some time with her, the grooms put her front feet in an ice bath. Even though she looked good in the morning and upon arrival and even though the State Vet had seen her an said she was good to go, they were still trying to take care of her sore foot (or is it feet?). I took some photos of her ice bath and we left to join Canadian Ballet’s owners at the trackside dining area. We exchanged pleasantries, had some food and waited until race time approached.

The race was exciting. The little chestnut took off was overtaken in the stretch but fought back gallantly and gamely to eke out the big victory. The Queen of the Stable had won… or should I say the NEW Queen of Linda Rice’s Stable, Canadian Ballet. You see about an hour before post time, Linda arrived in the barn and checked out Ahvee’s Destiny, only to find that Ahvee was exhibiting soreness in her right front foot and was wincing when they jogged her around a turn in the shedrow. In short, we and Ahvee’s Destiny had made the trip for nothing. She was scratched.

Linda said she would come to see us but she didn’t. We caught up with her in the paddock but she didn’t have much time, since she needed to saddle, and eventually anoint, her new Queen of the Stable. Not to take anything away from Canadian Ballet – she’s a great horse with a lot of heart -- Ahvee’s Destiny remains our Queen. We were happy for Ballet and her owners and for Linda, but when Ballet fought back to win by a head, our eyes got teary, as we thought, It coulda been Ahvee’s Destiny.

Needless to say, the ride home stunk, enough said.

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Anatomy of a horse purchase

I had no desire to buy any more horses at present… until my friend said he was interested in a particular horse being sold at Keeneland’s yearling sale in Kentucky. They sell thousands of horses in this sale which continues for over two weeks.

We got Pat Hoppel, who’s married to Linda’s cousin, to check out the horse my friend was interested in. Aside from having his won ranch where we keep some of our horses, Pat is often consulted by others because of his expertise and finding quality horses.

We spoke Tuesday morning. Turned out the horse we were interested in was on his “short list.” He was going back to see the horse one more time and ask around to get a feel for the horse’s reserve price in the auction, which was to take place the next day.

He called me back a few hours later and said he decided the horse we were interested in was not the way to go. Instead, he found a horse he thought was the best specimen to be auctioned that day. So, I asked him when that horse was going into the sales ring. Imagine me feeling overwhelmed when told the horse was going to be sold in a matter of minutes. I tuned in to the auction site which had streaming video live of the auction. Only problem was it ran behind the actual events by 15-20 seconds. So, I stayed on the phone with Pat. He suggested waiting until the bidding slowed before showing interest. When it slowed down, I told him to make one bid. It seemed we overbid. So, I asked him for his recommendation. He said this horse was worth it, so I authorized one more bid. He said it was too late. The horse was sold. Better luck next time.

Well, from my point of view, I had the excitement of participating but none of the responsibility of purchasing. Since I hadn’t had time to talk to my friend who started the ball rolling or to anyone else, including Rhoda, my wife, I was actually relieved that we didn’t get the horse. However, my luck has been questionable lately. So, of course, the phone rang in less than a minute. It was Pat. Apparently, when he bid, the auctioneer had taken another bid first and merely advanced the level for our bid. What did that mean? It meant we were the high bidders! Oh, boy!!

To foreshorten the rest of the happening, no ne else wanted to participate in the purchase… not the friend who brought up the auction in the first place, not my other partner, not another friend I tried calling, not even Linda who demurred about taking her usual 10% share. Oh, boy! Oh, boy!!
I started feeling like Dustin Hoffman in Rainman. Then, of course, I got beaten up (and rightly so) for not consulting with Rhoda. Oh, boy! Oh, boy!! OH, BOY!!! Wapner, gotta see Wapner.

So, now it’s my horse. I had a plan with these horse but because of the way Linda takes her time with the horses and injuries, the plan has never been implemented. It was to get young horses, prepare them for racing and, if their talent was questionable, sell them as a two-year old in training. Hopefully, we’d get our money out but, if necessary, take a loss but not be wiped out. So far, as I said that plan hasn’t worked. So, I’ll check with Linda. If she can implement it, great. If not, I’ll be forced to find a trainer who will. Oh, boy!

Meanwhile, Ahvee’s Destiny is getting over a sore foot. Yes, that means it’s possible she will not be able to run in the $200,000 purse Stakes race on Saturday. Oy!

Best to all who celebrate Yom Kippur for a meaningful holiday and an easy fast,

A.


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Freudbergian slip

In my missive about the new year, I meant to say that I hoped I would always make you feel loved. I left the word “you” out of the sentence, effectively stating that I always wanted to feel loved. Well, who doesn’t?! Nonetheless, it was an interesting slip up.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Race classifications

Today’s lesson: what is meant by “class?”

We all know about first class, second class, etc. Races are also “class”ified. When a horse first starts out, they are entered into “maiden” races. These are for horses who have never won a race. So, it’s their maiden voyage.


Even maiden races have their own series of classifications. To explain, I need to explain a different classification series known as “claiming.” Essentially, when a horse cannot compete at high enough level, the horse may be put into a “claiming” race. The conditions for the race set a price at which the horse may be “claimed” (bought) by any trainer or owner who has raced their own horse at that particular race meet. The lower the “claiming” price, the lower the purse (usually) and the lower the level of competition. This is the key to all classifications… an effort to make each race competitive.

So, for those horses who have never won a race, they may be entered in a maiden claiming race. The claiming price at which they are entered may be based on a trainer or owner’s evaluation of the horse’s ability or the horse’s prior performances (say he ran last in a $50K claiming race, so now he’s entered in a $20K claiming race).

There is a level called “Maiden Special Weight.” In this case, the horse cannot be claimed and the purse is generally higher (always higher within a particular racetrack). Once a horse wins, the next level is an “allowance” for non-winners of 2, non-winners of 3, etc. The name “allowance” reflects the conditions for each individual race which may give weight allowances to some entrants based on their age, gender, number of victories, etc.

At some point, the horse runs out of new conditions and graduates to running in “Stakes” races. As a group, these are the highest quality races but, here too, they are divided into sub-classifications. Listed Stakes (also known as Overnight Stakes) are the first level of Stakes competition. This is where Ahvee’s Destiny has been running. There are also three higher grades of Stakes competition: Grade 3, 2 and 1. These are mostly longer distance races than Ahvee’s Destiny runs in. Grade 1 is the highest and includes the triple crown races like the Kentucky Derby and the top races in the country, like the Breeder’s Cup.

As noted earlier, when a horse is thought to be not competitive at whatever level of achievement, he goes down a notch, if possible. However, if there are no other kinds of races he can compete in, he often ends up in the claiming ranks or is retired. Claiming races can be run at prices exceeding $100K. However, that is rare. Most often, you’ll find them in the top race tracks at between $15,000 to $50,000. At lesser racetracks they can be for substantially less. Officer Sheila T Rex was claimed at Finger Lakes Race Track for $4,000.

Conditions within the categories can be written for only horses of a specific age or gender (or both). I think that does it for today’s lesson. If I’ve missed anything, please chime in!

Best,
A.

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New Year

The Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah, begins a contemplative time that asks us each to take a hard look inside ourselves. Prayer seeks to offer a form of apology to God but doesn’t have any effect on our relationships with friends, family, colleagues, vendors, etc.

I used to make an effort to ask as many people for their forgiveness for any slights or other offenses I might have committed against them. Mostly, I did not single out anything specific. Often, they looked at me like I was a little nuts or they wondered what Ihad done that they were not aware of.

One year, I tried a mass approach with an e-mail. At least one person felt slighted by the e-mail because it was not personal. Essentially, I always manage to piss someone off. So, I’m sorry if this message offends you but it’s my way of expressing my feelings.

I know that in the past I had a sometimes very abrasive personality. Those who are already laughing by my use of “in the past” continue to view me that way and, I’m sure, with good cause. I believe that I have significantly tempered that side of my personality but, since I tend to wear my feelings on my sleeve, as they say, I’m sure when I feel depressed, pout, am angry and display other negative feelings, I do reveal a side of me I wish would remain hidden. I’d like to be even tempered, always. I’d like to express how much I appreciate your friendship… how good I believe you are… how lucky we all are to have you on planet earth. I’d like to feel loved all the time. You deserve that. Yet, often I let you down.

This is why I am sorry. I hope I have been doing better but I know how much one negative experience contributes to an overall feeling, even when there is much positive going on too. You see, in addition to being abrasive, I’m incredibly sensitive. I need positive reinforcement all the time. Even though I am reasonably successful at what I do, if I have a slump, I view it as a calamity. I get very anxious and self-deprecating. I realize this seems to be saying, “stroke me, please.” What I mean to say is that I hope to do better so you won’t have to stroke me (at least so I don’t keep asking for it). I’d rather stroke you because. Like I said, YOU DESERVE IT!

Happy new year. Wishing you good health, success, prosperity and good friends to share it with. You already have on good friend... me.

Sincerely,
A.

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Tough race

Yes, it’s a tough race in Philly… but what do you expect for a $200,000 purse. In addition to Canadian Ballet (who’s beaten us twice this year, avenging her loss to us last year) and Smart and Fancy (she’s finished ahead of us twice this year, we won once), there’s are two graded stakes winners, Queen of the Catsle (not castle) and Dubai Majesty. She goes from post 2 with C.C. Lopez who’s won three times aboard Ahvee’s Destiny.
Queen of the Catsle is inside of us in post 1 with Canadian Ballet in #4, Smart and Fancy in #5 and Dubai Majesty in #6. Several others have a shot as well.

Then, we have the track condition. Ahvee’s Destiny does not love an off track of any kind. It seems Philadelphia’s grass course has a propensity to be “off.” Today’s races on the turf were classified as “good.” There may be more rain Wednesday and/or Thursday. So, we’ll just have to see how it comes up. In any event, she’ll do the best she can. She does NOT lack heart!

It’s the ninth race. Post time is ~3:50PM.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Conseated Lady

She now joins the hospital list because the nuclear scan showed a hairline fracture of the tibia in the hind end. She has been shipped to Clyde Rice’s farm in Florida for 90 days of respite.

At this time, Ahvee’s Destiny is our only runner pointing to a 5 furlong stakes called the Turf Amazon in Philadelphia on Sept 26th. More to come…

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Horse loses, trainer wins

Conseated Lady was in perfect position at the head of the stretch but had nothing left for the finish. She finished 6th.

Linda Rice had no winners the last few days but neither did Todd Pletcher. So her 20 wins was enough to win the Trainers championship. The first such championship for a woman in new York State, ever! Congrats Linda.

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Monday, September 7, 2009

An exciting race

She looked like Ahvee’s Destiny today. After only 4 days rest, she ran faster than the winner of Wednesday’s race. Because there was a lack of speed, Linda sent her to the front. I don’t know that I agree with this strategy. She seems better stalking the leader(s) and coming on for the win. Certainly, we’ll be able to do that in Philadelphia on September 26th when Canadian Ballet will streak for the lead.

Today, however, she lead going into the stretch and fought gamely all the way to the finish. She was passed by two colts and came in third losing by ¾ of a length. The race was very fast, just one tick (1/5 sec.) off the track record! That’s the Ahvee’s Destiny we know and love. Yes, we would have been ecstatic with a victory but seeing her perform so well and with so much heart warmed our hearts!

Despite the fact that both Linda and Todd Pletcher had several chances today, the score remains: Linda-20, Todd-19. Tomorrow Todd has the edge with 5 possible race winners vs. Linda’s 4, plus, Todd has several favorites and multiple entries. And, tomorrow’s results will decide the championship. My fantasy is that Conseated Lady, who is entered in the final race of the Saratoga meet, puts Linda over the top. Considering how she ran a few weeks ago, that is probably just a good fantasy. Let’s hope Linda comes into the last race ahead of Todd Pletcher, whose horses haves started more than twice the number of races as Linda’s horses. GO LINDA!

Goodbye Saratoga 2009! BTW, if any of our guests are missing eyeglasses, let me know ASAP.

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Sunday race for Ahvee's Destiny

Linda Rice is embroiled in an exciting race of her own. She is the leading trainer, as computed by number of wins, by one, as of tonight with two days of racing left. Achieving this accomplishment would make her the first woman trainer to win the race for leading trainer in any meet in New York EVER. So, she’s pulling out all the stops… and all the horses out of the barn. Ahvee’s Destiny will race on just 4 days rest, something she’s never recommended before. However, she assures me it will not hurt our horsie queen, nor will it impede her effort to run in the Philadelphia race on September 26th. Therefore, we’re going… all of us. She will run and we will schlep to Saratoga once again to root her on.

It really has been very exciting to watch Linda compete for this position. Over the last few days, we look at all the entries between her and Todd Pletcher, who is in second place. We watch the results on a race by race basis. Todd runs many more horses. His horses have more than double the “starts” of Linda’s horses. But percentages don’t count, only the number of victories. A few days ago, she was in the lead. Then Todd tied, took over the lead by one and then by two, but Linda had two late winners yesterday and re-tied the score. Today, Todd took the lead. Then, Linda came back with two victories to take the lead once more. All her groupies (like us) are not doing their work, not paying attention to their homes and not feeding their children. It’s crazy!

Ahvee will be in the 5th race coming out of post 3 with John Velasquez riding. Some people are worried that John (who is Todd Pletcher’s #1 rider) may not try very hard because of his relationship with Todd. They think he may not have tried hard last Wednesday when she ran a very unlike Ahvee’s Destiny type race. It didn’t look that way to us. He’s a great rider.

Stay tuned to this channel for further bulletins.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The fantasy, the fear, the future.

As Rhoda said, “if we can go to Florida, Baltimore, etc. to see her run, we can go back to Saratoga.” And so we went, accompanied and supported by our friend, Rob. It was a beautiful day to take a ride in a car or on a horse. When we arrived, we felt like we had come home.

I was nursing this fantasy… if she won this race, then won the big purse in Philadelphia, Linda would enter her in a 6 furlong stakes in Canada called the Nearctic Stakes and boasting a purse of $500,000. In 2 short months, she could establish herself, doubling her purse money won and showing the pundits that she could run a little longer and a little faster than even the likes of Smart and Fancy and Canadian Ballet. It was a nice dream. When race time approached, we headed down to the paddock to watch her being saddled up. Smart and Fancy was the favorite. Canadian Ballet was second choice. Ahvee’s Destiny was 4 -1… but she would show them all in just a few minutes.

But then came the fear. She ran poorly. Was this an indication of a longer term issue? Could she be hurt? Would she be able to continue racing competitively? Would one of our jockey choices agree to ride her in Philadelphia (last year we got hurt by a bad ride from a jockey who was not one of our top choices)? Will she run well in Philadelphia? Maybe last year’s loss was not the jockey’s fault. Maybe it was like today’s race.

What will the future bring? I can’t be sure. What I do know is that we love that horse. She has created so much excitement and so many thrills for us. She will always be our special “Queen of the Stable.” Cricket would be proud of her. She has 9 victories and is a multiple Stakes winner. What a horse…. no matter what anyone else thinks!

We love you, Ahvee’s Destiny! Go Ahvee!!


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Shakespeare in Love

It was a fabulous movie. One of the catch phrases was, “it’s a mystery.” Well, that applies to Ahvee’s Destiny’s awful race today. Johnny Velasquez said he had her perfectly positioned at the top of the stretch but when he asked her to go, she didn’t.

It’s downright depressing when your horse comes up empty. Linda scoped her after the race and she checked out fine. One possible answer is a “flipped palette.” Soft tissue flips over the trachea and impedes breathing. Happens sometimes, but who knows for sure. We can only hope for a better result next time out.

At least Linda and our friends from Obviously NY Stable won the race. The winning time was slower than the time of Ahvee’s Destiny’s last victory but she wasn’t up to it today.

One note on losing to a friend’s horse. There is a natural camaraderie and a natural competition with other owners. So, many feelings are filtered through the heart, brain, etc. Nonetheless, it must be said that Canadian Ballet is a superior horse. She’s a year younger than Ahvee’s Destiny and can run at slightly longer distances successfully. We tip our caps to Ballet and Obviously NY (and to Linda who remains in a tie with Todd Pletcher for the meet’s leading trainer) while biting our tongue because we want our “child” to get the top award. It was not to be, today. But, tomorrow, we’ll be cheering her on again!

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Shes's running. We're going.

It’s a tough one but we’ll be there to root our baby on. Smart and Fancy… Canadian Ballet… and all the others… Ahvee’s Destiny is coming!

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Our last night in Saratoga for this year

Today was Travers Day. A mass of bodies surrounded us wherever we went.

We must have been sitting in the right place because the New York Racing Association people kept bringing out the various trophies for each race and had to pass our box. Then, NY Governor David Paterson stopped by our box to shake hands on his way to the Winner’s Circle and on his return, I kidded him about his not returning with one of the trophies. He told us that the trophy for the Belmont was much heavier than the one for the Travers and after the Belmont, he had to hold it for quite a while when the TV network was doing commercials. He found it quite difficult. So, he said he worked out before the Travers to be ready but it turned out he didn’t need to. I told him I saw him flipping the Travers trophy up. He said it only weighed about 5 pounds. When he left I imagined having a similar conversation with his predecessor (NOT).

Thursday night we attended the Travers Celebration at the Racetrack which is a benefit for two charities. They had a silent auction. As the deadline for bids neared, I found myself in a bidding war for a piece of art with Virginia Payson. She could eat my assets for breakfast but she kept pressing the bid only $100 at a time. When one of the administrators said the auction was over, my last bid was the apparent winning one. However, not to be outdone, Mrs. Payson put down another bid. The administrator saw her do that and took the bid sheet to the charity director. In the meantime, because Mrs. Payson was making such a ruckus, I told her if she would up her bid substantially, I’d let her have it for the good of the charity. Then I took it on the chin from Rhoda for not getting the painting. She really liked it. Oy!

The lady with all the dogs was also there. I mentioned that I would expand on the charity event she threw at her house. However, I think if you go to the website, you’ll get an appreciation:
http://www.poshpalazzopups.com/

Ahvee’s Destiny’s race was postponed until Wednesday. I guess with all the rain we had here, it is a good thing. However, we are not remaining. We’re weighing the possibility of just coming back for the race. It’s a tough one with both Smart and Fancy and Canadian Ballet entered. This time we’re in post position 6 with Smart and Fancy to our inside in PP 4 and Canadian Ballet outside in #8. We’ll see how it plays out.

So, tomorrow, we pack up, say goodbye to Ahvee’s Destiny and Conseated Lady and make our way home. Part of us looks forward to returning. Part of us will miss our Saratoga friends and the horses. We won’t miss Linda too much because we didn’t get to spend much time with her. Last year we spent lots of time with her. I think that is one of the reasons this year’s experience was different than last year’s. I know that is true for me.

It was nice to have some of you visit. I know it enhanced our time here. Hope you enjoyed it!


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Friday, August 28, 2009

The Walking Wounded

Arielle’s Song and Katy’s Office Girl left Saratoga today for Belmont. Then, they will proceed to Florida. Katy will be turned out for 60 days and re-evaluated. Training is putting too much stress on her knees, so we have to let her body growth catch up.

Arielle’s Song has a splint problem that is not resolving quickly. The pain needs to quiet down. Then they will either inject the area or freeze fire it, Figure 6 weeks, though she doesn’t do things timely. Since she is a Florida bred and Katy likes the grass better than dirt, they will both probably be pointing to racing in Florida.

Holy Blitzer remains on vacation in Florida where she will hopefully show signs of a full recovery soon but who really knows.

Hear the Footsteps will resume training at Belmont next month and we’ll have to closely observe any negative effect. Otherwise, we hope he will be able to race this year, somewhere.

Conseated Lady remains in training until she shows more lameness. If that happens, we will get a nuclear scan done to try and diagnose the cause of her soreness problem, which is not easily determined as yet.

Ahvee’s Destiny Sunday Stakes race is not happening on Sunday. Maybe Monday. Maybe Wednesday. If Monday, we’ll stay here and skip Jim’s golf tournament. If Wednesday, we’ll return over the weekend, play golf and see what to do for Wednesday.

Sometimes everything is easy. Sometimes, ain’t nothin’ easy.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fun with Horses or...

The Perils of Friendship.

Here’s how today went… This morning we found out Conseated Lady was “off a tick” but would still compete today. Katy’s Office Girl was off more than a tick and has a problem in her right front leg. We’ll know the result of an X-Ray tomorrow. A rider from another stable had trouble controlling his horse and our friends’ beautiful car took the brunt of a horse kick in the rear. The Tom Durkin visit that we planned for our friends was canceled because he went to a funeral in Chicago. And, finally, Conseated Lady didn’t look good in her debut and finished 5th. Boo!

A lovely day in Saratoga but I was walking under a cloud.

John Velasquez, who has ridden Ahvee’s Destiny to two stakes victories will be aboard for her race next Sunday. That’s good! Ahvee’s Destiny’s half-sister (same mom), Beam of Love, came in 3rd in the feature race. That’s not bad.

Hopefully, more good news to come.


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Monday, August 24, 2009

Conseated Lady's first race

She’s 3 years old and has never run. She’s scheduled for her first race on Monday, August 24th. Hopefully, since it’s Jonathan’s birthday, she will get a bit of good luck from that special occasion. Because Linda Rice is the leading trainer at the Saratoga racing meet, we are a 3-1 favorite. This is hardly what you’d expect from a horse that’s taken so long to get to the racetrack but I hope they’re right and she wins! And, no, I didn’t spell conceited, I spelled conseated… her sire in CONgaree and her dam is SEATtle Stardust. Hence, CONSEATed Lady.

Linda got stepped on by a horse she was saddling in the paddock last week. She neglected to take aggressive action and got a bad infection. She is now being treated with IV antibiotics. It’s not worth being the leader trainer, if you lose a foot.

We went to a great concert at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Marvin Hamlisch, Richard’s old friend, conducted the Philadelphia Philharmonic and played piano to Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, the Gershwins and his own music. His patter was interesting and often funny and the music was great!

Yesterday was the first time I can remember the spectators at a racetrack applauding the whole field of horses when six of them finished across the track at the finish line of yesterday’s ninth race. There was a nose between each of the first four finishers and couldn’t have been much more between the other two. Unfortunately, our friend Ziggie’s horse trained by Linda finished in the third position.

Some 100 people, including us, went to see Rachel Alexandra, the super filly, workout at 6AM in the fog. We saw her win the Mother Goose at Belmont by 12 lengths. She’s got star power.

We went to see Tom Durkin, America’s premier race caller, in his booth high above the Saratoga Race Track. We’ve been getting our guests to go too, so they can see how he memorizes all the horses’ names before each race and what he does to make his race call happen. He’s a very colorful character and it’s a very interesting and entertaining experience.

I expected to write a bit more frequently. My apologies. I’ve been under the weather. Plus, we are shooting part of a TV commercial in Washington, DC this week.

This week is Travers week. The Travers is the most important race of the Saratoga season. $1,000,000 purse, 1 ¼ miles. Everyone is still waiting to hear if Rachel Alexandra will actually run.

It’s also our last week. Hopefully, Ahvee’s Destiny will run next Sunday and give us a win at the end of our season at Saratoga. We know she’ll be trying!


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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Half-way mark

No question life is more normalized than the silver-lined cloud we lived under last year. There is still magic but it is tempered by the usual frustrations of life… things go wrong, security people exercise power, the warmth we felt from the stable staff last year is more tepid… I could go on and on, but who wants to hear about the frustrations we all experience?

So, let’s talk about the fun things. It’s nice to see Linda leading the Trainers list with 10 victories. Our friends’ horse, Mother Russia, won a $150,000 stakes. Like Ahvee’s Destiny, she survived a late charge by a competitor to get to the finish line first. Awakino Cat, a colt turf sprinter, won this year’s version of the race Ahvee’s Destiny won last year.

We went to a benefit for a new dog hospital where the person throwing the benefit spent more on the party than was raised from the attendees. This event could use its own e-mail to describe. Hope I get the chance to talk about it further.

Last night we saw the Doobie Brothers and the Allman Bros. Band. Rhoda, says they’re all old men. Glad she doesn’t say that about me (to my face, at least!).

I used to be a good handicapper. Now, like the stock market, it seems I should put put a newsletter on my picks with the advice to my readers to avoid my selections. Of course, if they start paying out for coming in last, I might become wealthy. Lucky I have Ahvee’s Destiny.

Much more to tell…

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Monday, August 17, 2009

One week complete

Day one, our first race pitted two friends’ horses against the field. Patsy’s horse, Fort McCoy won.

Ahvee’s Destiny’s victory was the highlight of day 2 and the whole trip. I got a DVD of the race which shows her after the race galloping out and pulling up. She tripped while slowing down. It was pretty scary to see but she’s doing well. Sunday night we went to the high-end yearling sale. Over 2 nights $55 million was spent. What bad economy? $2.8MM was the sale topper. Most of the highest sales were done by Sheik Mohammed. He also owns the auctioneer firm.

The rest of the week was spent seeing horses each morning, feeding them carrots and trying out some new treats. Katy’s Office Girl isn’t even eating carrots yet but she’s trying things. One of her front baby teeth has been pushed out and the adult tooth not half-way in yet. This certainly makes it difficult to chew hard food. She’s sampling, though. We shopped in the afternoon one Tuesday when the track was closed.

Our friends from Obviously NY Stable had an entry in the featured $150,000 race and she won. Linda has been having a great meet. She currently has the most wins.

Yesterday, I played golf. Started with a birdie. Usually the only birds I see during my golf round are vultures looking at the dead meat they see below, so you can understand how miraculous was my birdie. Some thought it was even more special than the miracle on the Hudson, though I know better. Last night, we went to an affair for the Double H Ranch, Paul Newman and Charles Woods’ place for kids, at the Great Escape. I would have loved to go on some rides but no one else did. They had a live auction and we participated.

We saw Conseated Lady and Katy’s Office Girl breeze on the turf. Both worked well. Katy was much better on the grass than on the dirt. Hopefully, they will have their first races before the end of the meet. Ahvee’s Destiny is aiming at a race on the 30th.

More to come…


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Monday, August 10, 2009

You can't come home again...

Yes, that’s how I was feeling. We arrived yesterday and there was one small frustration after another. Nothing big, but different than the magic of last year… The owner of our house was supposed to leave a crate for Jose. She didn’t. She moved the PC sites and didn’t tell us. The track was very crowded. We couldn’t get seating. When we went to Linda’s stable, it was so busy, I had to park elsewhere. So, we missed seeing Conseated Lady train. The NY Racing Assn. liaison office gave us separate boxes, so our guests were separated from us. It was cloudy and threatening to rain (and they might have had to take the race off the turf, which means we would probably have scratched). Like I said, no big deals, just not the magic of last year. So, I assumed this would carry over to Ahvee’s Destiny’s race today. But…

I WAS WRONG! She ran near the front from the outset. We were worried because in her early races, this meant she’d get caught from behind. However, when she got into the stretch, she lengthened her lead. Looking really good. Looking really good… but here comes her nemesis, Smart and Fancy… and she’s coming fast. Her lead’s down to two lengths – when will the wire come – it’s down to a length, a ½ length, a neck and then, mercifully, the wire. SHE WINS IT! And, gets some payback from two prior defeats by Smart and Fancy. As Shelly S. said, too bad they don’t run in Saratoga year round. That’s her fourth Saratoga victory in a row!! How can you help but love that horse, who not only has talent but lots of heart .

So, maybe this trip will be different. But not if Ahvee’s Destiny has anything to say about it. She brought back the magic today, as she has done so many times in the past. Thank you, horsie, YOU ARE THE BEST!

You guys are the best too. Thanks for all the support.

Sincerely, Avi (without the “H”)

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Update

I thought Smart and Fancy was trouble. It turns out there’s an even better horse, named Secret Gypsy, who’s already won a graded stakes race and faster speed ratings. OY!

Wish us luck. We’ll need it!

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Saratoga

The action has started at Saratoga and, for us, in our preparations. We’re packing… trying to figure out how we’re going to transport 3 weeks’ worth of “stuff,” including Jose and his accoutrements.

We’ve got lots of activities scheduled; from balloon rides to amusement parks, from Golf to charity events and lots of dining out! Most important – the horsies!

Ahvee’s Destiny is scheduled to race 5 ½ furlongs on Sunday against her nemesis, Smart and Fancy, and 10 other good horses, including Patsy’s Meriwether Jessica as well as two others from Linda’s barn, Mohegan Sky and Karakorum Elektra. Johnny Velasquez is up in the irons, as he was for her Saratoga victory last year. She seems to have totally healed from her sore foot and ran a fast 4 furlong workout earlier this week. It’s almost 3 months since her last race. Hopefully, her coming out of post 3 will be of some advantage, relative to Smart and Fancy, who is coming from the #10 post.

We’ll be seeing all the others and have a large variety of horse treats waiting for them at the home we rent up there. When I did this for Ahvee’s Destiny three years ago, she didn’t eat a single one. I’ll bet your figuring that I’ll eat them even if the horse don’t want them! How could you think such a thing… okay, maybe I’ll taste one or two. I’ll save the rest for Johnna’s arrival, if the horses don’t eat them. It’s not that I think Wayne is a candidate, but I know she may have ideas on horse feed that may be useful in getting the horses interested in these treats.

Can you feel my excitement? I’m already anxious about Ahvee’s race (and all the packing, etc.). More to come from Saratoga Springs. YAY!

Have a great weekend. Last year Ahvee’s Destiny won her stakes race the day after we arrived. The victory started the trip off with a bang and we were flying for the entire two weeks. Is it too much to wish for a similar beginning? Go, Ahvee’s Destiny!

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Friday, July 31, 2009

Frustration squared

If you think I was frustrated before, imagine travelling half-way to PA only to find that the race comes off the grass and Linda wants to scratch Ahvee’s Destiny. Rhoda was more frustrated than me but I wish it was Linda in the car with her on the way home rather than me. What are the odds we can make it on August 9th?!

On the hopeful side, Linda says Conseated Lady’s workout was much better than it seemed and she remains sound.

Anyone wanna buy me dinner tonight?! I probably wouldn’t be good company tonight anyway.

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Frustrated

We’re about to leave for Penn National without being sure we’re going to race. We may be in the car for 10 hours, round trip, depending on traffic. Since it’s Friday and poor weather, that’s a realistic estimate. Ah, the joys of horse racing!

Yesterday, another of Linda’s horses, Awakino Cat, won the race that Ahvee’s Destiny was scratched from in Saratoga. Alan Garcia gave him the perfect off the pace trip, which he didn’t do with Arielle’s Song’s last race.

Conseated Lady breezed a slow 4 furlongs at Saratoga yesterday. Hope this doesn’t mean she’s hurting again…

Wish you all a great weekend!

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

We're on... I think

Weather, weather, weather!

Before discussing the race, let me inform everyone that your prayers were successful. Don is home and doing well, thank God and thank you! Apparently, I will have to start referring to him as “the Cat,” but I hope he doesn’t need nine lives.

Now, horsie business… Ahvee’s Destiny had a choice of a stakes race against boys in Saratoga tomorrow at 5.5 furlongs and the Jennie Wade Handicap for fillies and mares at Penn National on Friday night at 5 furlongs. Penn National – shorter distance against the girls but have to ship her for a 5+ hour trip. Rain at Saratoga now and forecast tonight. Rain forecast for Penn National. Tough call but we’re going to Penn National.

After all the problems since her May 15th race, she’s a little thick in the girth (I can relate). So, she really needs to race even though Smart and Fancy, her nemesis, will be at Penn National. It is hoped, at worst, this will get her into shape for a quick turn around and a stakes race at Saratoga on August 9th for fillies and mares. Right now, we’ll just take it one step at a time.

Hear the Footsteps had diagnostic surgery. The result was the discovery of a 50% tear in a knee ligament. Ligaments don’t heal. So, he’ll recover from his surgery and then we’ll decide what to do. He’s out at least two months.

Arielle’s Song is now at Saratoga. After she settle in, we’ll figure out when she can race. Katy’s Office Girl and Conseated Lady will look to the second half of the Saratoga meeting for their first try at racing.

A word to you bettors out there. I think our betting to win on a horse like Ahvee’s destiny hurts our odds because of the relatively small win pool. Consider using her in exotic wagers (exacta, trifecta, superfecta, daily doubles, pick 3’s and 4’s, where available). Odds are you’ll get a better return for your dollar.

I have to admit, I don’t like the rain or the feeling I got that she’s not in perfect shape but she has a lot of heart. So, GO AHVEE’S DESTINY!

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Congratulations...

Your prayers are working! While Don is not out of the woods, he’s doing better today. So, keep those prayers coming.

Today is the beginning of what is known in Judaism as “the nine days.” The ninth day is called Tisha B’Av (the ninth of the month of Av), at which time it is said, hundreds of years apart, the two Jewish Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed. During the nine days much destruction was meted on Jerusalem and its inhabitants. Of course, similar themes can be found on most any date in the calendar but this is a big one. So, especially during this period, I don’t take anything for granted about Don’s recovery. I’ll just keep praying for it. Go Don!!

On the horse front, Hear the Footsteps had arthroscopic diagnostic surgery. No chips but we would have been better off with an easy chip removal. Instead, his ACL is torn and cannot be mended by surgery nor by nature. He’ll have to live with it. How successful of a racing career he can have remains to be seen. At least, it’s not supposed to be life threatening, even if he races on it.

Conseated Lady had a 4 furlong workout at a decent pace and continues to stay healthy. Her soundness still needs to be proven. If she stays healthy, hopefully, she’ll race in the second half of the Saratoga meet. Same is true of Arielle’s Song who will need several weeks to acclimate to new quarters. Alan Garcia keeps apologizing to Linda for his baffling ride in her Arielle’s song’s last race.

Katy’s Office Girl, our 2-year old gray, is also aiming for a start at Saratoga before the end of the meet. And, the Queen of our stable, Ahvee’s Destiny, is doing much better. We are aiming for the 5 furlong $100K stakes at Penn National on July 31 to be followed by a 5 ½ furlong stakes at Saratoga on August 9th.

If she is outstanding in both those races or misses one of them, she will aim for this year’s version of the exciting Stakes Race she won last year by a head in a race that had 4 entrants trained by Linda Rice. Ahvee’s Destiny won by a head, while 2nd, 3rd and 4th were the other Linda Rice entrants! Last year it was called The Mechanicsburg. This year it is The Troy. I guess they honor different upstate New York cities.

Remember, you can always see past e-mails by going to my blog (link below). And, please, please continue to include Gidon Stern in your prayers.


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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Distraught

People always ask me if the horses know me. Perhaps, if I had lived with them like the Brits who lived with the lion named Christian (if you haven’t seen their reunion on youtube, you must see it), they might remember me. However, some I have barely seen much less spent time with. When Katy’s Office Girl got colic last week, I thought I might lose her without getting to know her. Some said it would have been easier that way. They might be right.

This message is not about horses. It’s about people… friends, like you and me. I don’t often tell you how important you are to me. Today, however, my very good friend Don Stern lies in a hospital with his life in the balance. It reminds me that we all need to tell each other how much we value our friendship. In the last month or so , we went to dinner and the theater with the Sterns, played golf with Don and don’t you know it, Barbara rescheduled her doctor’s appointment so they could join us at Belmont for Arielle’s Song’s race and dinner.

We’ve traveled with them to Europe and the Caribbean and for a one day round trip to Saratoga to see Ahvee’s Destiny win and get a Winner’s Circle photo. Jeremy’s wedding in MA and Gabriel’s wedding in Naples, FL. Jeremy worked for my company for a year or two. So much more in a period of over 35 years.

Yet, it doesn’t take continuous close contact to make good friends. In fact, there was a period where we didn’t see the Sterns for over 10 years. Nonetheless, closeness and deep affection remain. As they do with most of those who get these missives.

My Jonathan is living in my college buddy, Jules’s mansion in L.A. Another college friend, Allen (whom I did not see for 20 years after college) helps me keep some assets. I’m regularly in touch with my childhood friends like Zvi, Len, Milty and Dave. Can’t wait to see my new friend Patsy in Saratoga and just wish I could see all my Stamford friends more frequently. Nonetheless, I know I can depend on all of you. The others have fallen by the wayside. Thank you all for your friendship (even the one’s who are pissed off I didn’t mention them by name… your turn will come). I feel very lucky to have you as part of my life.

Please join me in a little prayer for Don. His name is Gidon Stern. Gidon ben Rut for the Jewish prayer for wellness. I hope that someday those who have not met him will get the opportunity. Then you can take some credit for your prayers working out.

There’s more to tell about the horses… but not today.

Much love,
A.


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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Nothing went right

The purpose of Arielle’s Songs race today was to get more race experience and learn to “rate.” Some horses just want to run as fast as they can and burn themselves out, so they have to be taught to run at an easier pace before, hopefully, unleashing a strong run late in the race. Putting Arielle’s Song off the pace were the specific instructions given to jockey, Alan Garcia. Instead, she got a quick start and he gunned her to the lead. Her first quarter in 21 1/5 was probably the fastest quarter mile run at the current meet. Naturally, she burned out. More importantly, it was a setback to her training. Boo!

Ahvee’s Destiny is 85% better but her next race could come in less than 2 weeks, so she needs to improve to 100% rapidly. We’re pointing her to either an overnight on Saratoga’s opening day or the Penn National race we’ve been talking about. Still leaning towards the latter but we’ll see her progress, the weather, etc.

Hear the Footsteps continues to show soreness in his knee. So, he will have diagnostic arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday, which will hopefully also repair any problem found. Forget about him for Saratoga.

Katy’s Office Girl continues to do well. No more signs of colic. Yay!

We’ve been winners and we’ve been losers and, surprise, surprise, winning is much more fun!

Two friends had a horse in today’s one mile featured race. One took the lead and looked like she’d run away with the race, only to stop with a quarter mile left to go. The other one came on strong late but couldn’t catch the winner. Disappointment all around.

OK. Ahvee’s Destiny didn’t win a race until her third attempt. Hopefully, Arielle’s Song will have the same good fortune. Hope springs eternal….


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Friday, July 17, 2009

Arielle's Song

Today we’re off to Belmont to see the big, strong, very independent and very tough horse known as Arielle’s Song. Do we expect to win? Not likely. One of the other entrants beat her by 8 lengths in her maiden voyage two weeks ago (Outpost is the name of that one). Nonetheless, we hope it is a positive learning experience for her.

I’ll update the conditions of Ahvee’s Destiny, Hear the Footsteps and the others over the weekend.

In the meantime, Saratoga is around the corner. First day of racing is July 29. We’re there from August 8th to 29th. Last year, we wondered what we would do for the two weeks. Then, we didn’t want to leave. Now, we’ve extended to three weeks and we’re wondering whether we can replicate last year’s experience.

Hope to see some of you there!


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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Lame update

I should have described the difference between “lame” in the horse world and the way we think of it outside the horse world. In daily use, it means a disability. In the horse world, it means a sore foot. Yes, there are differences in severity. Ahvee’s destiny was acutely lame. Nonetheless, it is not career threatening and often resolves in a short time. In fact, we were hoping to run her Sunday at Monmouth, if the Penn National stewards would have permitted it. Since we had to scratch, they demanded a Vet’s note. This means Ahvee’s Destiny cannot run anywhere for 10 days. So, not only is she hurt, she (and we) are being punished because she’s hurt. Makes sense doesn’t it?

Well, it makes sense to them because they need to fill races with entrants. They worry about trainers entering but not intending to race. So, they hope their severe form of recourse discourages trainers from scratching their entries. Just like regulators everywhere use a heavy hand, it is no different in horse racing. Save us from our policemen!

In the end, Ahvee’s Destiny will not race until the Penn National stakes race on July 31. Unfortunately, she will not have the benefit of a prep nor the time she would have been in residence at Penn National acclimating to new surroundings.

Katy’s Office Girl is doing much better after her bout with colic. Thank heaven for that. Hopefully, we’ll get to know her in a few weeks, when we see her daily in Saratoga.

Arielle’s Song will, hopefully, continue her training with another race this Friday at 4:30 at Belmont. Alan Garcia will be aboard (Cornelio Velasquez, who rode her last time, will be aboard her stable mate, Gentle Ride. I guess he wanted a more gentle ride than he got in Arielle Song’s first race!). Garcia should be good for her. He knows how to get a horse moving late in a race.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lame

Ahvee’s Destiny came up lame today and will not run tomorrow.

What a week!


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Monday, July 13, 2009

Good news!

Katy’s Office girl is back in her stall in Saratoga. She appears over the colic problem. She will be walked the next few days and if all is well will go back to training. YAY!

Hear the Footsteps X-ray is being compared to prior x-ray. Nothing has been seen on the current x-ray. If that is the same after comparison, Linda will continue to evaluate him day-to-day.


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OY VEY!

What a way to start the week… Katy’s Office girl is having an attack of colic where the intestines wrap around themselves. If it cannot be cured quickly, it can be fatal. She’s at the clinic in Saratoga.

Hear the Footsteps continue to show mild soreness/lameness. He will be re-X-rayed today. If nothing apparent shows up, Linda’ll keep an eye on him and make a decision about his short term future by end of month. Of course, if something shows on the X-ray, she’ll have it dealt with immediately.

Arielle’s Song continues to be difficult to handle. She’s scheduled to run on Friday to further her education and maturity (hopefully). She’s so high-strung that Linda thinks it will be 3 weeks in Saratoga before she settles in to new surroundings.

The Grand Dame of our stable, Ahvee’s Destiny, will appear in an allowance race at Penn National Wednesday night. If all goes well, she will stay at Penn National until the end of the month when she will compete in a stakes race with a purse of $100K on July 31st.

Naturally, it is disturbing to hear of horses getting sick or injured. You feel bad for the horse and for yourself. Unfortunately, it’s part of the “game,” as they like to call this business. I guess it is a little gamey but not in the sense they meant it.


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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Back from Belmont

Today we went to see friends’ horses race. We lunched with patsy and her daughter Lisa, watched the $500K Man O’ War Stakes and then went down to the paddock to see Meriwether Jessica (Patsy’s horse) and Canadian Ballet (Obviously NY Stable) get saddled. Ballet came in second by a nose and beat us a head at Pimlico on May 15th. Today she took the lead immediately. She’s a very fast horse out of the gate. Then, coming around the stretch turn MJ seemed to catch her but drifted out only to come back at her again. Stride by stride MJ kept closing but when they hit the finish line, Canadian Ballet held off MJ by a neck and made Rick and Dave very happy. Linda was happy her horses finished 1 – 2. Unfortunately, the race also made Patsy and Lisa very frustrated. Patsy has the most 2nd place finishes I’ve ever seen. So close, yet so far is assuredly frustrating!

At least Ahvee’s Destiny will not have to face Canadian Ballet or MJ on Wednesday night at Penn National which is 20 miles outside Harrisburg, PA. Nonetheless, there will be plenty of other competition from the boys, including Awakino Cat from Linda’s barn. This is a prep race for two stakes races that take place on July 31 and August 1. We are pointing for the filly and mare race on July 31 with a $100K purse. So, the benefit is that A.D. will get to run on the track and then stay there for the two weeks, so she can train there and acclimate to the surroundings, including the fact that the races take place at night. Of course, we’re planning on being there. (Yes, we are a bit nuts!)

On the good news front, Conseated Lady ran a fast ‘bullet” (fastest time at the distance [3 furlongs]) workout at Saratoga today. It’s her best to date. If we get lucky and she shows no recurrence of a soundness problem, this may be an indication she’s healed and ready to race. YAY! Let’s hope.

Linda plans on racing Arielle’s Song once more at Belmont before the action shifts to Saratoga. I’ll keep you advised.


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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Arielle's Song


So, she finally ran her first race. She was last coming out of the gate, made a very wide move around the stretch turn, improved her position but was no threat to the front runners who ran a very fast time. The race chart is attached.

As her jockey, Cornelio Velasquez said, “she was very green!” She was also very tough to handle. Cornelio says she should do better at longer distances. We’ll see what the future brings.

Ahvee’s Destiny’s next race will be either July 12 at Monmouth or July 15 at Penn National. If she goes to Penn National and runs well, she will stay there until the end of the month for wither a $100,000 race against the girls or a $200,000 race against all comers.

Conseated Lady is in Saratoga and had her first workout since her last time off for injury. I need to find out how she came out of it.

At least we got a race in. HOORAY!

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rachel Alexandra, Super Filly

SHE WAS GREAT TODAY winning by almost 20 lengths! Now, I’ve seen the great Secretariat and the great Rachel Alexandra win big at Belmont. Both were special experiences.

Our very large filly, Arielle’s Song, will run for the first time on the grass at 6 furlongs on Thursday, July 2 in the first race at Belmont. Post time is 1PM. We saw her today and tried to snuggle her a little. She doesn’t like it too much, seems scared. Linda says she is very hard to handle and she feels a race will help her learn. In short, don’t expect a victory because this is more in the way of training her. (Boy, July 2nd is going to be a busy day. I have a 6AM appointment and Arielle and Jonathan performing at night at Sullivan Hall, Sullivan Street between Bleecker and W. 3rd. They’re asking people to show up at 7:30. If you want to join us for dinner at Ennio and Michael at 6PM, please let me know.)

Ahvee’s Destiny will either run at Monmouth (Oceanport, NJ) on July 12 or Penn National (Grantville, PA near Harrisburg) on July 15th. There are two big races at Penn National on 7/31 and 8/1. The July 15th race is a prep for those races. It would be ideal if she runs well in the prep to have her stay there until the big races but we have to conquer logistical problems.

More to come.


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Saturday, June 20, 2009

My Mistake

Frustrating… between the weather and health issues, we struck out today. Arielle’s Song would not have raced even if she was healthy because of the rain. We (I) decided not to send Ahvee’s Destiny to Colonial Downs because of the threatening weather.

We were going to ship her down on Thursday to give her one day to acclimate to her new surroundings and recover from her long trip to southern Virginia but Linda said that we would not run her if the race came off the grass. I did not want to put her through a trip of 9 – 10 hours, if she might not run. So, when the weather looked iffy and because the Colonial turf course was soft earlier in the week (in fact they took the races off the turf on Monday), the chances were for at best a soft grass course which she doesn’t like much and the entrants included Smart and Fancy who had beaten her twice, I thought the chances were not good enough to put her through the shipping process, even though we had the 3 post and C.C. Lopez.

Yesterday, we found out that 7 horses had scratched, including Smart and Fancy but it was too late. The race ran today on firm turf in a very slow time that she could have easily beaten but c’est la vie. I made the wrong call… but would probably make it again, unless Linda let her run whether it went on grass or not.

Looks like the probable next race for her will be at Monmouth on July 12. Rhoda and I have a wedding that day, so hopefully, some of you can represent us.

Depending on how Arielle’s Song responds to medication, we still hope to race her next month at Belmont. Odds are that Hear the Footsteps will not race until Saratoga.

Katy’s Office Girl had a decent breeze today going 3 furlongs in less than 37 secs. Hopefully, she’ll be ready for Saratoga too.


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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Scratch Arielle's Song

She had a nice easy workout today but came out of it coughing and, when scoped, she exhibited some spots of blood. Between the weather report and what is termed a minor health issue, she will not be entered for Saturday.

Ahvee’s Destiny is ready and willing but it looks like the weather will not cooperate. I’d like her to run, even if it comes off the grass but Linda has the final word (so far). Certainly, I would not like to see Ahvee’s Destiny trek for 9 or 10 hours to Southern Virginia and then not race.

Oy!


Hear the Footsteps also had a nice workout today. I know his teeth are good…


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Monday, June 15, 2009

Love bite

Visited with the new acquisition, Hear the Footsteps, last weekend. Tried to feed him a carrot. He liked my arm better. It must be love!

Arielle’s Song now scheduled for Saturday at Belmont. Ahvee’s Destiny has been entered that same day at Colonial Downs in Virginia for the Buckland Stakes. It’s a “look-see.” I’ll let you know what we saw and what the decision is. Smart and Fancy, who beat us in Maryland will be there as well as a new cast of characters. We have the 3 slot with C.C. Lopez vs. Smart and Fancy who will be in the 13 post position.


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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Plans

It’s been raining a lot. This makes it difficult to train much less race. But for all you who have said they’re waiting for a race at a metro track, Arielle’s Song is pointing to her first race at Belmont on Friday, June 19th. It’ll be a mile on the grass, if weather allows. Let me know if you intend to come, so I can gauge how much seating to reserve. First race on Fridays is now 3PM. Belmont has all kinds of happenings for their “Sunset” racing, including music, probably a concert and much more.

Ahvee’s Destiny was supposed to be nominated for a race at Woodbine in Toronto on June 21. However, they missed the nomination date. It’s still a possibility, since we can pay for a supplementary nomination. This race is at 6 furlongs (she hasn’t raced this long a distance since 2007) on the grass. It’s a graded stakes with a purse of $200K. In other words, it’s a high quality race that will have a high quality field. In the meantime, we’ll be looking for other alternatives. A decision on the Canadian race must be made by next Wednesday. Ahvee’s Destiny breezed on Monday a little faster than Linda wanted her to because she was a little rank (unruly). At least, she was the fastest of those breezing that distance.

Katy’s Office Girl breezed a slow 39+ seconds for 3 furlongs. Unfortunately, she has not shown any speed in her short workouts. We can only hope that she can run long distances with some speed in reserve.

Conseated Lady has arrived at Saratoga and will gradually resume her training.

Hear the Footsteps breezed 4 furlongs in 49+ last week and looks good to all.

We still keep track of Rexy who will be competing against one of Linda’s horses at Fingerlakes on Sunday. I’ll be rooting for Rexy.

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Washed out!

Ahvee’s Destiny’s race at Monmouth has been taken off the turf because of bad weather at Monmouth. So, she has been scratched.
I’m returning tomorrow and will let you know what the future plan will be.

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Friday, June 5, 2009

Candy Éclair

At 5 – 2, Ahvee’s Destiny is the Morning Line favorite for this $60K stakes race on Saturday at Monmouth. It’s 5 ½ furlongs on the grass with lots of good competition. She has the 9 post against her but should be competitive. I expect to be in the air homeward bound when the race is run, so I won’t get to see it until I return. Hope someone is going to represent us in the Winner’s Circle (let me know). Hope she gets to the Winner’s Circle!

Arielle’s Song continues pointing to a mid-June race at Belmont.

Hear the Footsteps had his first workout for us at :49 sec. for 4 furlongs. Conseated Lady will be shipped to Saratoga this weekend and go back into training. IT’S HORSIE TIME!

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

New Horse

Posted by Avram Freedberg

Whenever I get a call from Linda Rice, I assume there is a problem… except when she is attending a horse sale. Actually, there is a problem when she is there too because she always fall in love with another horse. Her phone call means she wants me to buy another one. I’d wanted to keep a maximum count of 6 in our stable. Her theory this time was that Conseated Lady might have to be retired, if it turns out that she keeps getting hurt. Of course, we don’t know that yet, so I should have just passed but somehow, she times her pitch perfectly. We have just come back from a very exciting race at Pimlico with a 3rd place finish. Ahvee’s Destiny won her first race of 2009 last month and is showing a lot of heart. In other words, we are feeling excited… high… not quite euphoric. Then, Linda quotes Rhoda saying that maybe we’re better off getting 2 year-olds, rather than weanlings or yearlings, since it’s easier to see how they developed, rather than projecting how they will develop.

Anyway, I’m just crying about my own weakness… my inability to consistently say NO. Instead it was, YES. So, we bought another colt. His name will be Hear the Footsteps. Hopefully, he’ll be able to run at Belmont next month. We’ll see. He has a little something in a knee but is showing no inflammation.Arielle’s Song will breeze tomorrow. She is close to be readied for a race. Let’s hope she keeps progressing nicely.

Ahvee’s Destiny is currently pointing to a stakes race called the Candy Éclair at Monmouth on June 6th. As you can tell from the name, this race is meant for me. Unfortunately, we will not return from our Israel/Cyprus trip until the following day. Who wants to represent us in the Winner’s Circle? (We can dream.)

Thanks for all your comments and all your support. I’m glad you enjoy reading about the horses and our exploits with them. Hopefully, we’ll get a race at Belmont next month where we can get together.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

She Belongs...

Posted by Avram Freedberg

Thursday afternoon Ahvee’s Destiny shipped to Baltimore’s Pimlico Racetrack. Thursday night it started pouring in Baltimore. We thought it would wash her race off the grass and she would be scratched, but by Friday morning, the rain had stopped and we were told the race would go on the grass if there was no significant additional rain. Thanks to Dave K. and Mike G. who gave us weather reports from Baltimore.

We took the Acela at 7:59 and got into Baltimore’s Penn Station at 11:11 where Dave K. drove us to Pimlico. I got photographed for my license and then we visited Ahvee’s Destiny in the holding barn. Her groom, Jeobani, was busy braiding her mane. He did such a nice job that the owner of Mr. Nightlinger who was in a stall next to Ahvee called his trainer to complain that his groom was doing nothing and Ahvee was getting such a nice job done on her! Mr. Nightlinger won the 8th race which was a $100,000 Stakes without braids.

After our nice visit, we went to the track. Pimlico was very disappointing. It’s about the size of Saratoga with none of the charm. One wag said it lacked the charm of Aqueduct (which is quite rundown). They’re gonna run The Preakness here tomorrow. It’s the 134th running but Pimlico is lucky to have this second leg of the Triple Crown.

We found Mike Geraghty whose working on a painting for us and displaying his art at Pimlico this weekend. Then we went up to the Hall of Fame dining room. Sounded good but was in the spirit of the rest of the track… tired. A few tables away from us were Dave E., Lawson and Rick, the owners of Canadian Ballet. She is also part of the Linda Rice entourage. We beat her by a head in the final strides of last August’s Mechanicville Stakes at Saratoga. By chance, we also met the owners of the classiest horse in the race, Smart and Fancy. Nice people (even Dave).

BTW, who knows the meaning of Canadian Ballet? I just thought it was a pretty name but it has specific meaning to upstate New Yorkers.

As usual, I couldn’t eat but we shared pleasant conversation with the other owners. After the 5th race, we went right downstairs to Pimlico’s indoor paddock which is the size of a large living room. Imagine 9 horses in a large living room… not so large anymore. Dave K. and Ruthie joined Linda and Josie and two grooms and the rest of Canadian Ballet’s group. Heck, it was really crowded. Ahvee’s Destiny was wet, as were a number of orther horse and Canadian Ballet was lathered up. We thought she would leave her race in the paddock. It turned out we were wrong.

We were in post position 3. Smart and Fancy was in 4, Sheets was in 5 and Canadian Ballet was in 8. We thought this would be the main competition. However, when the gate opened the #1 horse, Sentebale went to the lead and almost hung on to the very end. At the head of the stretch, Ahvee’s Destiny tried to make a move on the rail but it appeared Sentebale shrugged her off… but she came again. To the outside of them cam Canadian Ballet and Smart and Fancy launched her bid… four of them across the track. Stride by stride they fought. Ahvee’s Destiny gaining slightly on the inside until with just a few strides left to the finish line, she inched in front. We thought it would come down to a head bob on the finish line but all of a sudden she seemed to slow up. Her lead evaporated but it was still a photo finish. The winner won by a nose. Second place was a head in front of third and third was a nose in front of fourth. Whew! Smart and Fancy had won with Canadian Ballet second, Ahvee third and Sentebale fourth. Sheets was three lengths further back. What a race!!

Mike G. took us to the replay room to see the race over and over again from different angles and look at the photo finish. He thought that C.C. Lopez, our jockey, stood up in the irons a little too early. Josie reported that C.C. said the turf along the rail was softer than the middle of the tack and slowed them up. However, Linda said that Ahvee’s Destiny started drifting out late in the stretch and C.C. corrected Ahvee which set her back a little. That was probably the point where Mike G. thought C.C. stood up and we noticed her slow up. C’est lavie. Even the jockey you want on the horse can make a mistake.

Nonetheless, Ahvee’s Destiny proved she can run with these good horses. Next time, maybe she’ll finish on top. We all like to win but it was one exciting race and we are content that Ahvee’s Destiny showed her mettle, her courage and her heart. Horsie, we love you!

P.S. Canadian Ballet is a term used in upper New York State to denote strip tease clubs. As in, “wanna go to a Canadian Ballet?”

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Worry, worry, worry...

Posted by Avram Freedberg

Morning line has Ahvee’s Destiny at 6-1. No question it’s a tough race. And, with the forecast for rain, it could be even tougher or she might even get scratched.

Of course, the next question is “to go, or not to go?” Travel time is about 8 hours between the train and getting to and from destination. What if it turns out she doesn’t run? Or an “off-track” (which she has not liked in the past) results in a poor performance?

Since we can never tell what the weather will turn out to be, we are going. Since we’re going to spend even more time together on a plane to Israel on the 25th, this will be a good test of whether Rhoda can put up with me for that long. Of course, she can always escape to the bar car on Amtrak.

We had fun on our adventure to Florida last month but we know that not every trip can result in a victory. Nonetheless, we can dream. We need to be licensed in every state we race, so my collection will grow by one. Then we’ll visit Ahvee in the holding barn and go to lunch. I’m told lunch is free, since we’re in a Stakes race but I doubt I’ll be able to actually consume any food until after the race is over. The adrenaline rush suppresses the appetite (at least mine). If I had a horse racing every day, I’d be thin (but somehow I think I’d find a way to get over it!).

This morning we saw Arielle’s Song breeze at Belmont. We last saw her in Ocala in December when she was running around the corral with her friend Mohegan Sky (who ran third in Ahvee’s Destiny’s victory at Gulfstream last month). She has filled out, which is saying something for a filly who is 17 hands high. She even seemed pretty calm in her stall. She let me stroke her and she nuzzled Rhoda. She could only see Jose from afar because they were worried that the puppy might spook one of the horsies. Anyway, they worked her 5 furlongs. Linda was upset with the workout because the rider let her go to fast for the 2nd and 3rd furlong. She didn’t want to push her too hard yet. All I can say is AZ (AS would be more proper but open to more humor and it sounds like AZ. Besides, this way people can put the AS [or ass] monicker on me) looked good to me. After she finished, she almost pranced down the track looking very regal.

Katy’s Office Girl had her first breeze in Saratoga. It was so short, it was not even considered by the clockers to be an actual breeze. Linda said she was told that Katy did well running with a partner.

Tomorrow will be interesting. I look forward to it with much trepidation but with an inner pride in all her accomplishments to date. We know we have been very lucky to have our first horse do so well. GO AHVEE’S DESTINY!

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