Free Food, Free Knowledge 2009

 Free Food, Free Knowledge 2009

The open houses for 2009 held lots of good experiences, bitter cold and crazy winds aside. Once again I was able to venture out and visit old friends, meet many new friends and eat good food. Actually, the cold is the only big difference compared to last year's trips.

So travel with my motley crew took me to previously never visited farms like WinStar, Hill 'n' Dale, Vinery, and Darley. Then I had to revisit the winner of last year's rounds, Lane's End. I did visit Three Chimneys for the first time this past year, but that was during the Big Brown open house in the fall. Though it was amazing, I will have to omit it. You can read about that trip in my co-worker Jason Shandler or Dede Bile's blogs.


WinStar has two horses that I was very excited to see–Distorted Humor and Tiznow. They did bring out Spring at Last and Speightstown, who both looked nice, but I was there to see the legendary Tiznow and talented Distorted Humor.

They are the sires of horses I am a fan of like Hystericallady, Comentator, Flower Alley (who I actually met at that Big Brown open house), Colonel John, Well Armed, and Da'Tara.

Upon entering their stallion barn, we were greeted with much desired heaters and walked passed a very nice foyer with warm soups, sandwiches, cider, and coffee. BUT there was no time to eat, we went to the barn to see the guys. I enjoyed that they did not have such a huge operation of stallions that I couldn't see them all...I was able to see who I wanted.

As for the food, they had an amazing cheese and broccoli soup. If you have ever had the loaded baked potato soup at O'Charleys and loved it, think of a similar consistency but more gourmet taste. It was hot and delicious. The cider was icing on the cake.

Hill 'n' Dale

Seattle Slew's tomb marks hallowed ground. With wonderful people working this farm, it was joy to meet many horses who I have grown to love and others I have now grown to respect.

I was most excited to finally see Stormy Atlantic and Shakespeare. They both looked very good, and I had always enjoyed reading about them and seeing their pictures. Shakespeare had an old nostalgia look, but looked good. He and all the other horses were paraded in the center walk of the stallion compound. I really like the layout of Hill 'n' Dale's compound. Stormy Atlantic was the only one who was not brought to the center paddock, but taken out a side to be shown privately, so I strolled over to look at him as well as the company checking out his strut and conformation.

I really enjoyed meeting Candy Ride for the first time. After seeing Capt. Candyman Can and Chocolate Candy do well as 2-year-olds and now at 3, their dad was just as commendable. I enjoyed talking to the stallion manager about Candy Ride's offspring and how this is shaping up to be a good, possibly big, year for Candy Ride.

As a huge Midnight Lute fan, it was great to be face to face with him. I have seen him race before, but I have never been that close to him. Those giant ears and big butt, sprinter and grinder at heart. A Breeders' Cup hero. His presence was very strong to me, he just says determination. I also enjoyed seeing Indygo Shiner.

This was a second stop trip and there was not any food or drink for us at the barn, but we wanted to get in and get out, since it was windy and cold. The horses warmed us up though, seeing all the champs I have not met before. I still think the layout was beautiful.


I was not as excited about stallion show here, because they did not bring out half of the horses. Vinery did have beer available though. It was a little too cold for me to drink something on ice, but it was a very tempting presence. Their food was okay, but the hot-chocolate hit the spot. It was incredibly windy that day.

I did have a guy come up next to me and start chatting. He was telling me about how he "hated to have them get into a biting habit" referring to how horses chop their chains that run through their halter. I regret not asking the man's name, but he was older and genuine, with great insight on the development of horses and habits. I enjoyed his comments.

The biggest reason for me wanting to come to Vinery was to check on Chelokee. I was present, along the rail, as Chelokee rounded that final turn in the Alysheba Stakes (gr. III) and then went down. I remember the jockey flying through the air and the horse ambulance flying onto the track. Chelokee did get back up and walk down the track. I needed to come back and wish him well and see how he was doing. He looked very happy and was a looker, despite the obvious area he'd had some surgery on.  I was happy to see him doing so well, I truly hope he gets a fair chance at stud.

There is actually mention him in an upcoming Eclipse Press entitled Equine ER we are working on. Actually, the writer who mentions him was hanging out by the stall and I was able to meet her and talk to her about how awesome it is to see how well Chelokee was doing.

We were shown Street Hero, Lime House, and More Than Ready. They had scheduled show times with ten minute intermissions, but they didn't show all the horses and would understandably not show Chelokee.

I was very impressed with Street Hero. He looked very good, and once he fills out a bit more, will be a good looker for sure. More than Ready looked like a well-pieced together horse. He looked pretty good in his images, and better in person.


Expectations were high for Darley. I expected nothing but greatness from this perviously unvisited farm. It was fun standing in their walking paddock, as there was plenty of wind and cold, but the onlookers were energetic. Some guys were on the phones bidding on horses at Keeneland, exclaiming it was okay to "Go to 100" meaning $100,000.

Darely had a warm meal that was in a tent and was a wonderful break from the cold wind. Skyline Chili and Apple Cider. Who knew? Well evidently whoever the smarty pants to pick that combo knew. Two coney dogs with everything on it, and warm apple was an amazing combination and I would never have guessed or had the mixture at the same time, but behold. Deliciousness!

The obvious attractions were the ever popular Street boys, meaning Street Sense, Street Cry, and Street Boss. They all looked like family, and Street Sense still glistened with greatness. Rockport Harbor was another horse I wanted to see. His pictures have always been beautiful, and he is one of the relatively few gray/roan's at stud in the area, so he has to represent. Even better in person, Rockport was a win for me.

Street Boss was one of the new stallions this year at Darley, so it was nice to see him up close. I think he has a lot of potential. BUT Hard Spun would be my pick of the newer stallions here. Hard Spun is just a horses horse. Meaning he looks good, fits together, and is proven to run. Retiring sound and strong.

Then came baby face. The beauty that beholds, none other than Bernardini. I have seen the pictures, and those pictures never did anything for me. But my motley crew's reaction, and the reaction of other peeps around were inline with mine. Wow, he looks cute. Not just another face in a crowd.

Caption: Bernardini
Photo: A. Beckstett

Lane's End

The reasons I had to go back: revisit the holder of "best food" title, see the Curlin, War Pass and of course my boys Aragorn and Rock Hard Ten. It was the coldest day by far with 30-mph winds and snow. They were not keeping the horses out very long, if at all, and brought out only those asked to be shown.

The one horse I saw out in their walking ring was Curlin. He still looked like he was prepped for the track. He will be gorgeous when he fills out. It was funny though, before leaving, I went down to see War Pass and Curlin one last time, and War Pass was out. By out I mean he was laying down and sleeping. Curlin however, was standing and sleeping...sort of. My friends said he was laying down when they first got here, so they had to get him up and out of the stall to show him. He was back in his stall, did not want to lay down in case he had to get up again. He was standing with his eyes half open, slowly closing then shaking his head to stay awake. It was hilarious to see him try and stay awake. It was a loosing battle.

The one horse I asked to see, actually the groom didn't even make me ask, he saw my interest and brought out that big boy. He still looked amazing and I am sooooo freakn' excited about his 2-year-olds starting!!!! I am talking about Rock Hard Ten.

After checking on Mingun and the other old friends made last year at Lane's End, it was time to eat in warmth. They had this amazing chili like gumbo vegetable soup.

Results for best food 2009 are:

3rd Darley
2nd WinStar
1st and repeat champ Lane's End

hard spun
Caption: Hard Spun
Photo: A. Beckstett

Thank you for lunch and for introducing me to so many awesome stallions!

Did any of you make it to an open house?

rockport harbor
Caption: Rockport Harbor
Photo: A. Beckstett


Side Notes:

I must point out that my horse Big Bad Leroybrown is racing in the Sunshine Millions Sprint.

$300,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint (Race 8, 3:15 p.m.), 4 & Up, 6 Furlongs (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Big Bad Leroybrown (CA), 122, Joseph Talamo
2. Carnacks Choice (FL), 122, Eibar Coa
3. Machismo (FL), 122, Mike E. Smith
4. Partywithlarryz (CA), 122, Tyler Baze
5. Sok Sok (FL), 120, Shaun Bridgmohan
6. Cape Hatchet (CA), 120, Michael C. Baze
7. Georgie Boy (CA), 120, Garrett K. Gomez
8. Devoted Magic (CA), 122, Joel Rosario
9. In Summation (FL), 122, Rafael Bejarano
10. Dancing in Silks (CA), 120, Victor Espinoza
11. Yesbyjimminy (FL), 122, Elvis Trujillo


 Jedi Code Starts his second race upon his return. He finished second in his return race.

Gulfstream Park - January 25th, 2009 - Race 8
Estimated Local Post Time:     4:43 PM
Race Type: Allowance
Breed: Thoroughbred
Age Restriction: Four Year Old and Upward
Purse: $42,000
Distance: One Mile
Surface: Dir



Obi Wan won!
Race 8 Jan 21, 2009 at Penn National

4        Obi Wan        Thomas Clifton       5.40       3.00       2.60
7     Netcong     Luis A. Belmonte           3.80     3.00
9     B L's Metropolitan     William P. Otero                 3.60

Han Solo finished 3rd!
Race 1 Jan 19, 2009 at Fair Grounds

1        Daddy's Lilpunkin        Curt C. Bourque       11.80       4.60       3.40
3     Sea Gaze     Corey J. Lanerie           3.00     2.40
6     Han Solo     James Graham                 4.00

Work Outs:

Jedi Games
Date: January 22, 2009


Distance: Four Furlongs

Time: 49:00 Breezing

Track Condition: Good

Surface: Dirt

Rank: 1/11

Date: January 20, 2009


Distance: Five Furlongs

Time: 1.05:40 Breezing

Track Condition: Fast

Surface: Dirt

Rank: 11/14

Scooby Dubai (derby trail)
Philadelphia Park
4 Furlongs

Dark Vader

Date: January 20, 2009


Distance: Four Furlongs

Time: 46:80 Handily

Track Condition: Fast

Surface: Dirt

Rank: 6/31

Jedi Code
Date: January 21, 2009


Distance: Five Furlongs

Time: 1.01:40 Handily

Track Condition: Fast

Surface: Dirt

Rank: 2/20

Capt. Candyman Can (derby trail)
Palm Meadows
5 Furlongs

Jedi Code

Date: January 16, 2009


Distance: Five Furlongs

Time: 1.03:20 Breezing

Track Condition: Fast

Surface: Dirt

Rank: 12/15

Caption: Tiznow
Photo: Marta

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