(Originally published in the November 20, 2010 issue of The
Blood-Horse magazine. Feel free to share your own thoughts and
the bottom of the column.)
Industry newbie, limited budget, I stretched to land a broodmare at the Keeneland November mixed sale in 2001. A maiden mare light on paper—luck would be required to make her offspring commercially appealing. Who knew that first foal would mark my introduction to racing abroad?
Exported to Ireland—could I keep track, watch her run? The Internet became my ally. Irishracing.com (HorseTracker), AttheRaces to the rescue—entry alerts and live video!
Over time the mare did her part—producing attractive foals, sold beyond the dictates of their page. Racing was another story…vetting issues, untimely death—you know the drill. In February I lost my mare and her beautiful foal. We soldiered on. The 2010 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s April sale of 2-year-olds in training—her last surviving offspring and our final connection. Silent prayer? Get into capable hands, remain on United States soil—potential breeder awards on the line. Sold to an owner from Korea. Great, toss in a language barrier.
Friends call me a ferret, constantly digging for information. Add terrier; tenacious, unwilling to let go. True to form I must establish a link to the lovely, chestnut filly I raised—Murphy’s Law—she’ll be the one! Horseracing in Korea, (Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance), I post an inquiry and hope for a response.
June 30: “You’ve Got Mail!” Alistair—my goodwill ambassador. Beyond the call of duty, he is a fountain of information; Korean Stud Book registry page/picture provided, owner, trainer, and personal note—”Two-year-old racing at Seoul doesn’t usually begin until August or September, so I don’t expect her to be on the track for a little while yet, but more than one person has mentioned her name, so it seems that plenty is expected of her!”
July 24—Update! First appearance, Seoul Race Course—five-furlong trial. “Manchester Miss raced 10 others, finished second—now eligible for sanctioned race. Interestingly, the reason I was watching this trial, she was beaten a half-length by a gelding named Subsidy, now 10 and one of Korea’s most successful racehorses.” Formerly Korean Horse of the Year and one of the last foals by Mr. Prospector still competing. “Subsidy is semi-retired, but very fit and still very fast!” Thus, her journey begins.
Aug. 29—Debut! “By race time, we were into the eighth hour of a tropical storm in Seoul; the track was a quagmire, horses running into a blanket of rain in the stretch.”
Who needs live streaming video? Sent off as the favorite, she finished sixth, beaten five lengths.
“She did quicken toward the end and finished as fast as any of them, but it was far too late to mount a challenge. Due to the weather I wasn’t able to get a good picture of her, the only one I have is of her rather despondently returning to the saddling enclosure.”
Sure enough—like a drowned rat; soggy and dejected. Better days ahead!
Oct. 10—Holy Cow! Results just posted (morning coffee in Florida—race card complete in Seoul). Courtesy of Korean Horseracing Authority website; chart and video replay! There’s my girl—full field of 12, allowance, 3-year-olds and up. What? She’s only 2! Voila—mail from Alistair!
“Second outing today, undercard of the Minister’s Cup (final leg of Korean Triple Crown), Manchester Miss went in race 2, over six furlongs. She did a bit better—finished second to an experienced 4-year-old gelding. Her odds were 9-1 to win and even money to show.”
Watching replay, she did well to stay on her feet—knocked sideways by the eventual winner, hustled up and over toward the rail following the break.
“I happened to be by the paddock before the race and took a couple of pictures of her. I was also by the winning line and got as good an action shot as I could. Sadly, it’s not a win picture just yet, but she’s got potential!”
I’ve already won. In a time when horse racing desperately needs feel good stories—I am living mine, even from a distance—all thanks to a little help from a friend.
Worlds apart—we share a common denominator; love of the sport, moreover—the equine athlete.
Final note: I received a note Oct. 25 regarding Subsidy. It appears the trial which my filly ran in was the final trip to the track for this gallant old(er) gelding. Pray that he enjoys a long and happy retirement!