Snippets of success from around the region and beyond:
So what does it feel like to be on the verge of watching a horse you bred line up for a $2 million race?
“I’m calm, but I don’t know why. I feel like it’s already decided. Somebody knows who wins this race, we’re just watching it play out.”
That was Sabrina Moore about Knicks Go’s start in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile-G1 at Churchill Downs in November. If she wasn’t so good at raising Thoroughbreds, Moore could consider a writing career because you won’t read a better description.
In the end, Sabrina and her mother Angie Moore watched the undefeated Bob Baffert-trained Game Winner win the Juvenile. Sent off at even-money, the Kentucky-bred is your 2018 champion 2-year-old and your 2019 Kentucky Derby-G1 favorite.
Maryland-bred Knicks Go, who broke his maiden at Ellis Park, won Keeneland’s Breeders’ Futurity-G1 at 70-1, started at 41-1 in the Juvenile and came into the world within shouting distance of the Maryland Hunt Cup course, settled for second.
And a big thrill for his breeders.
Bob Manfuso and Maryland racing just go together with decades of success on the racetrack, in the sales ring, at the Maryland Horse Breeders Association’s yearling show and beyond. In the 1980s, Manfuso was even part of a group that owned Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course. He and Katy Voss send some of the state’s best out of their Chanceland Farm in West Friendship.
But, Manfuso had never won the Maryland Million Classic. Until now. Saratoga Bob, owned by Manfuso, Voss and Wayne Harrison and named for Manfuso (by Harrison) stormed off with the feature on Maryland Million Day Oct. 20.
Gravelly voiced (like always), Manfuso shook hands and bear-hugged friends on the way to the winner’s circle. Once there, he talked about how he and Harrison met, how the partnership with Harrison came to be, how “big boy” Saratoga Bob was going to be a good 5-year-old when he finished growing into himself next year and what it was like to watch.
Underneath, in there somewhere, he got a little emotional too.
“Every now and then us old characters get something done,” he said with a wink.
Lori and Tommy Fackler weren’t about to change anything, not after Pennsylvania-bred Shamrock Rose won the Grade 2 Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland without them in attendance. So they stayed home in Florida to watch a horse they bred run in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint on television.
The Facklers wore Shamrock Rose Breeders’ Cup hats, and even put one on her dam Slew’s Quality for a photo on Twitter, and could probably be heard cheering all over their Best A Luck Farm near Ocala, Fla. Foaled at Horseshoe Valley Equine Center in Annville, Pa., and sold for $120,000 as a 2-year-old, Shamrock Rose rallied from last in the 14-horse field to win by a head.
“It was amazing,” said Lori Fackler, whose husband is a regular at Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sales in Timonium. “We weren’t there at Keeneland when she won either, so we figured we should stay away.”
At Churchill Downs, Melissa Anthony accepted the breeders’ trophy for the Facklers. Anthony is the stallion manager at Florida’s Double Diamond Farm, where Shamrock Rose’s sire First Dude stands, and was proud of her horse and the Facklers.
“I’m trying not to cry,” she said in the winner’s circle. “This means so much. First Dude gets no respect. He’s a good sire, who produces good horses. Tommy and Lori will be over the moon.”
See you when you get back.
For the better part of two decades, maybe longer, Marylander George Mahoney tried to win the Maryland Hunt Cup and other major timber stakes on the American jump circuit. The owner had his moments, but never did get that Hunt Cup. And now he’s not missing it much.
Mahoney’s Rosbrian Farm ran away with the National Steeplechase Association’s owners’ championship in 2018 and campaigned arguably the two best horses on the circuit in Zanjabeel (GB) and Optimus Prime (Fr). The former won two Grade 1 stakes, the Iroquois and the Lonesome Glory, and should – should – win the Eclipse Award as champion steeplechaser. The latter won the New York Turf Writers Cup-G1, finished third in the Lonesome Glory and laughed home in the Zeke Ferguson-G2. Rosbrian’s horses earned $712,050.
At every stop, Mahoney put the achievements into perspective and shared the credit with trainer Ricky Hendriks, assistant Eve Ledyard, main jockey Ross Geraghty, frequent partner Ben Griswold IV and a barn full of nice horses.
“I’m so blessed to have Ricky, Eve and the whole team and everybody and nice horses,” Mahoney said during the season. “To do it together is really fun and makes it even better. Sharing the success is a big deal.”