Feel Good Game

Don’t ever believe that horse racing is anything other than the greatest game. The second larger-than-life, feel-good story of the young Saratoga meet unfolded in the Loudonville Stakes. The first featured the daughter of a sharecropper whose only horse triumphed in the Sanford Stakes. This one featured a man down on his luck and the ghost of a woman he loved.

Tim Snyder, a guy who lives in a stable at Finger Lakes Racetrack, bought a filly for $2000 down and $2500 to come from future earnings.  He named the horse Lisa’s Booby Trap in memory of his wife, who died from cancer.  Lisa’s Booby Trap has won four from four starts following Friday’s smashing Loudonville victory.

Clubhouse patron Mike Deeb led the chorus of applause that accompanied the 3-year-old daughter of Drewman on her triumphant walk from the winner’s circle to the barns at Oklahoma.  “I love the little guy that rises up and wins,” Deeb explained, knowing Snyder’s extraordinary story. By the way, Lisa’s Booby Trap is blind in one eye and wears a hind shoe on her front foot to help with an ankle problem.

“Freak” is the word horsemen use to explain the raw talent that Lisa’s Booby Trap seems to have. “Cheap” is the word fans use to describe the $25,000 claiming horses that ran in the fourth race.  Nonetheless, many would give anything to own any of the nine horses that started.

Not one has earned less than $100,000. All combined, they have started 263 times, posted 52 victories and finished in the money on 114 occasions. As often is the case when an experienced bunch like this comes together, the lightest raced takes the prize. Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Quick to Charm, in his 15th lifetime start, won for the eighth time – an enviable percentage. Of course, he was claimed afterward.

Two other races Friday gave onlookers the gee willikers. Only those holding the winning ticket on Pelican Lake in the fifth can say how jockey Shaun Bridgmohan failed to get penalized.  Even track announcer Tom Durkin said Bridgmohan’s mount, the eventual winner, “came off the rail and smashed” She Wears The Best while rounding the turn.  Later, a British-born 9-year-old gelding named Always First, trained by a steeplechase trainer to run a mile and five-eighths on turf, won the co-featured John’s Call Stakes. Shame on all those who didn’t back him at 21-1; he was favored last year in the very same race.

At 7:00 pm, a stunning Marylou Whitney arrived in a yellow ‘60s taxi at the Canfield Casino for her “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” party. Gawkers were given gaudy faux diamond rings and vials of blue bubble solution to blow kisses at her entourage.  Whitney wore an elegant, black, floor-length sheath dress with a black mesh insert at the waist and a jewel-enhanced neckline. With a new roan-colored Tab Hunter hairdo and jewel-enhanced bolo, publisher Gene Stevens moved about the 300 curiosity seekers, passing out magazines.

Vic Zast writes a column for HorseRaceInsider.com each Monday. He’s written the Saratoga Diary for bloodhorse.com in five of the last six years.


Leave a Comment:


Hey Vic.  Love reading your blogs.  But, I think you missed on one important topic of the "feel good topic".  Yes, Always First won the John's Call, but he is also trained by the same trainer as John's Call (Tom Voss).  Also, John's Call used to always lead the Post Parade in the race named after him. Unfortunately, he died earlier this year.  John's Call also had his best year is a 9 year old.  Always First, is a 9 year old.  It couldn't have been scripted any better if you ask me.  A barn with a heavy heart takes the race named after their former stable star.

07 Aug 2010 9:26 AM

There were two great stories coming out of Friday's races; Lisa's Bobby Trap and Always First. I was surprised that Blood Horse chose not to enter even a short article regarding the win in the John's Call to date. Imagine that a 9 year old winning such a race and trained by Mr. Voss who was John's Call's trainer should have received some mention. John's Call was a popular horse and for many years after retirement was present for the race named in his honor. It was amazing to me to see Always First cross the finish line first, especially since this was the first running of the race after the passing of John's Call this past winter and having the same trainer who had a bond with John's Call for many years.  Now, if that doesn't rate some mention in the Blood Horse or in the Saratoga racing news I wonder what racing is coming to. There were two "make you feel good" stories on friday.  We want the fans to come to the races.  Stories like this relate to the public.  I suggest that one of you writers get your pen out and do your job.  I hope to see an article on-line and in the next issue of Blood Horse regarding this race.

07 Aug 2010 9:30 AM
Vic Zast

Dear Darrell: Nice job on filling in the details on the winner of the John's Call and the horse after which the race was named.

I try to write the Saratoga Diary in a way which causes people to feel like they're here.  So much wonderful occurs in Saratoga that I could write 4500 words instead of the 450 words that I file with each entry.  Because of space and time constraints, I often leave out information that I expect you to get elsewhere in favor of things that...well, seem interesting to me.

That said, I'm very appreciative that you read the Saratoga Diary and wrote to let me know how you feel about it.

07 Aug 2010 12:54 PM

Stories like Lisa's Booby Trap are what keep so many of us enthralled with this sport.  It gives hope that every once in a while the "little guy"  can get a break and succeed in this "sport of kings".  I got a chance to see the filly's second start live, and it gave me chills- she was running against her peers and never looked back- an easy 10 length romp.  When she came to Saratoga, her original start was to have been the the CCA Oals G1 (won by Devil May Care), however, opening day was a monsoon, the track was no better on Saturday, and she was scratched at M/L of 30/1.  I had given her name to several people as a hot tip, and after what she did in the Loudonville Stakes this past Friday, you have to wonder how she might have done on a dry track that day. When she ran on Friday, of the 4 horses she challenged, their combined auction value was  $ 900,000 (compared to her $4500), and trainers in the field of 5 included Pletcher  and Trombetta.  LBT's M/L was the highest at 12/1, and had the local paper not written a front page story about her, would likely have drifted far higher.  

The story is amazing.  Snyder had already turned down $ 500,000 for her, and probably more niw,after this latest victory.  The filly is named for his late wife who died of cancer in 2003- she was under 40 yrs old.  The filly, not only blind in her left eye, but with a clubfoot, another flat foot and a shoulder problem, as well as no discernable pedigree, would have been cast aside by almost everyone.  Yet Snyder bought her with the last of the money he had in the world, got her in shape and has been blessed with the real deal.      

This is such a great example of overcoming adversity, both equine and human.  The Saratoga crowd bet this horse down as the sentimental favorite and many people were crying as she returned to the winner's circle. I know I was.  If Hollywood were to make a movie of this, no one would believe it.  Such a heartwarming example of how dreams can come true.  It is, IMO, what keeps alot of us in this game-what we all dream of.

LBT's next start is likely to be on the Traver's day undercard Victory Stakes (G3).  If you go to the NYRA web site and register, you can watch of free replay of the Loudonville win- 8/6/2010, race 3.  Listen to the crowd roaring as she thunders down the stretch! You Tube also has a great video on this story, done before the scratch in the CCA Oaks.  

If this isn't the feel good horse racing story of the year, I don't know what is.  I wish LBT and Mr. Snyder all the success in the world.  They both deserve it.  

08 Aug 2010 6:09 AM
Lynne Veitch

Great story Vic.  Bless all those "cheap" horses.  they have all the heart too!

08 Aug 2010 7:09 AM

Whatever happened to Gene Stevens' Posttime USA?  Is it still being published?  

08 Aug 2010 8:06 AM

Gotta love Saratoga - the graveyard of champions, perhaps, but the place that dreams come true for the little guy!

This weekend's races were wonderful, and, like so many others, I couldn't wait to see "Lisa" run.  A great story.  I think there's more in her pedigree, though - with Unbridled and Cozzene on her sire's side and Tom Rolfe, No Double and In Reality on her dam's side - there's a lot of blue blood lurking back there.  Her parents aren't household names, but sometimes, as they say, "blood will out".  I hope to see a lot more of Lisa!

10 Aug 2010 5:27 PM

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