Jasper Had a Good Race

Jasper (With Any Luck)

Yesterday I went down to Woodbine to watch one of my kids race.  Jasper. The big grey goofy guy.  He is Monster’s older brother and just like that entire family, he’s got a ton of personality.

He had a tough go of it as a youngster. Broke his shoulder at 7 days old and was on stall rest until he was nearly a year old. So when he first starting going outside, he had to learn how to trot and canter. He had never had a chance to get that all figured out.  He was underweight, with no muscle, and a huge, ungainly head.  Gawky doesn’t begin to describe him.

He’s raced a few times already, but he’s coming back from a year and a half layoff (he had an injury, but it was not quite as bad as that – part of the layoff was just due to a shortage of available stalls and bad timing).  That’s a long time to be away from racing, so you kind of expect them to need a race to get sharp again.

However, Jasper adores his job. He is very happy at the track – much happier than he is at home on the farm. He has a whole bunch of little routines, and he LOVES his routines.  He knows everyone’s schedule and watches for his favorite people. Only Harri is allowed to groom him. No one else understands the rules. You must always do everything in the same order. Once something is in the routine – it must stay in the routine.  He has to look out certain windows when he’s being walked in the barn. He has to go back in the barn as soon as you put the scraper down after his bath.  Sooooo many rules Jasper has.  And at 17+ hands, it’s kind of hard to argue with the big guy.

He came swanning into the paddock before the race with his ears up, cheerful as can be. He knew what he was there for and he was ready. Not stressed at all, just marching around. READY.

The pony that took him out on post parade was probably an average sized Quarter Horse. But he looked like a 13hh pony with Jasper towering over him.  Jasper was good as gold going out. Ears up, looking for the starting gate. He loaded into the gate perfectly. And for a first race back… you couldn’t ask for a better race. He tried his heart out and was a very good second at the finish.



A Few New Photos of the Mares and Foals

I still make plenty of mistakes with my camera. But I’m starting to feel like I know what I’m going to get in the end when I press the shutter. I know better how I want the camera set up for specific situations.

The other morning I got a couple of nice photos of the mares and foals just as the sun was coming up. I knew when I took them that I’d have to do a bit of editing to fix up the exposure. The first couple of photos below were taken before it was light. And they were handheld. So they were underexposed and very dark. But I took them in RAW format and was able to bring them up when I processed them.

Broodmares and Foals at Dawn
All three broodmares with their three foals, moving out into the pasture. That’s Bernice, Dora, and Loula. The foals are Ruby, Sammy, and Gabriella.

Ruby and Bernice at Dawn
Ruby is a very exhuberant filly. So it’s easy to get shots of her in motion. Her mama, Bernice is quite often in motion herself (though not in this photo), so Ruby takes after her. When there is this little light though, it’s very difficult to prevent motion blur (or blur from camera shake). So I was very happy that this one turned out as sharp as it did.

Ruby And Bernice
Ruby and Bernice again. The sun was above the horizon here, so I didn’t have to do much to fix the exposure.

Dora’s foal, Gabriella. The very perfect filly.

Gabriella and Dora
Gabriella, with Dora in the background.

Bernice and Ruby
Bernice and Ruby

Bernice’s filly, Ruby

Diva and Sammy
Sammy, introducing himself, rather rudely, to Diva. Diva is Dora’s foal from two years ago.

Dora and Gabriella
Dora and Gabriella

Class and No Class

In racing, there are classy horses…

Yesterday Black Caviar won her 25th straight race in Australia. She did it easily, just galloping away from the competition. It’s a beautiful thing to watch her run.

And then there are the not-so-classy horses….

Also yesterday, Spicer Cub, while leading easily in a claiming race at Pimlico, bolted to the outside. The jockey, Xavier Perez, got him back into the race, but the the horse bolted again. This time going so far out that he went around the outside of the starting gate (which was pulled to the outside of the track). Perez lost his stirrups and, in what I suspect must have been a case of total adrenaline overload (due to sheer terror), got after the horse with the whip and straightened him out again. Spicer Cub very nearly won despite all the zigging and zagging, but managed to maintain his spotless record of 0 wins in 8 starts. It was a remarkably athletic feat on the part of the jock. I’m guessing he may decline to ride the horse again though!

Photo Finish in the Marathon

It’s the end of the racing season at Woodbine. Just like last year, Handy Harold raced in the 1 7/8 mile allowance race, which is a very long way. He’s a big strong horse, with a great finishing kick, and he definitely likes the longer races.

Just like last year, my old friend Sammy ran in the same race. Sammy (aka Stolonboy) is a bright chestnut who is smart, cheerful, and full of the devil. A few years back, I worked for his trainers and was Sam’s designated daily sacrificial lamb hotwalker (he ate hotwalkers for breakfast, so it required someone who knew his quirks).

Harold is the great big chestnut, with the rider in brown silks with a yellow cap. Sam is a smaller chestnut, with a rider in green. Both horses ran like champs. Sam ran on the lead for most of it. Harold ran most of the race in mid-pack, just cruising, then geared up towards the end. They ran head to head through the stretch. There was a photo for the win. It was a great, great race.


Vegas Won!

Finally. FINALLY! Vegas won today at Woodbine. He’s always had lots of talent. But way too much bad luck, and just a little too much goofiness has hindered him. He is an enormously strong horse who looks rather more like a cart horse than a racehorse. Known affectionately as the “police horse”… or sometimes “big donkey”. He’s so strong that often riders have been unable to rate him. But he was pretty good this time and waited until he was supposed to run instead of burning himself out in the first quarter mile.

Jasper Goes To the Races…

Today was a very exciting day for me. Jasper had his first start at Woodbine. Jasper is a great big gorgeous grey. A son of Monarchos (Kentucky Derby winner in 2001… Monarchos had the second fastest time in Derby history… Secretariat ran it 2/5 of a second faster in 1973). Jasper’s mama was, of course, the late, lamented Freckles, who is also the dam of Reno (the orphan), Monster (my beloved), Vegas (big friendly doofus), and Parker (who is only second to Monster in my heart). So really all my favorite horses are out of Freckles. And she herself was a lovely, kind, classy mare.

When I first came to work at the farm, Jasper was just a scrawny little yearling. He was on stall rest due to a broken shoulder sustained at seven days old. No foal should ever have to be on stall rest. It’s truly torturous for both the foal and the mare. He was a big, strong, handsome fellow and really would have liked to be galloping around, raising hell. Instead he and his mother were cooped up on limited feed to keep them from getting too energetic (not that it worked so well) for months. Poor Freckles must have been desperately glad to be weaned from him. And in fact, from what I hear, she walked away from him and never looked back, never called, never showed the slightest sign of distress when that big day arrived 🙂

Jasper was always a longshot to become a racehorse at all, with that broken shoulder. He was a longshot to even be sound at all. Linda, his owner, used to say, over and over, “With any luck… he’ll get through this” (as she wrote out cheque after cheque for veterinary bills). So in the end, she named him “With Any Luck”.  He recovered perfectly from that injury. Then this year he ended up with EPM and was treated (thank goodness) very quickly with the super expensive stuff (Marquis) and again recovered perfectly. So apparently, Jasper does come with a little bit of luck after all.

Jasper coming out of the paddock for the post parade before the race

Anyway, I spent a lot of time with Jasper as he grew up (and UP… 17+hh now!). More than with the other foals from that year (Paris and Victoria). And did quite a bit of work on his manners, leading skills, longeing, etc. So I have a bit more of a sense of connection to Jasper than to the older racehorses. Which is why I was so excited today to see him run. I went down to Woodbine to watch this afternoon, and dragged along an entire cheering section too (Brooke, Jen, and Misha). As a show of faith, I bet $20 on him to show. As a first time starter, he wasn’t expected to win. And he didn’t. But oh my goodness… he looked fabulous out there!

He is the number 11 horse, so he started from the far outside. He came out of the gate well, and looked strong all the way around. First time starters are generally green and confused about what is happening. But he looked quite steady. If you watch the video, he’s very recognizable as the only grey and with a great big wide white blaze.  He ran around 3rd/4th place most of the race, and held onto 3rd place at the finish. A very good beginning to his career. The jockey was quite pleased with him and commented that he’d be happy to ride him again.

If you hear really loud yelling as they cross the finish line, that’s probably all of us jumping up and down and screaming “Go JASPER!!!” in the background. I was so proud of him, I damn near burst into tears (I don’t even want to imagine what sort of ridiculous display I’ll present when Monster finally runs… yikes). And yes, I cashed my ticket for $52 in winnings.

Here he is after the race, looking not even slightly tired. Though he was definitely very VERY hungry…

Got food???



Handy Harold Won Today… At a Mile and Half!

Our big crazy chestnut won today at Woodbine at a mile and half. Apparently he likes to go long. He looked good doing it too. Cruised along steadily like a big train, and cruised right by them all on the final turn.

Handy Harold is out of the late, lamented Annie (Elusive Affair). She’s the foundered mare that we nursed along for a couple of years after a bad bout of laminitis. She was euthanized last fall. Annie was a big crazy chestnut herself, and Harold has a lot of her mannerisms.

More Work With Lady

Went up yesterday and rode Lady again. She is quite a smart little cookie. She again declined to leave her new mom, and I had to insist. She pinned her ears a little bit at me. She reminds me a great deal of Foxy Baronessa, who bonded to her new owner like this too. To the exclusion of all others.

She’s a nice filly though, and after we discussed it, she moved along and did as I asked willingly. Her brakes are good, and she steers pretty well. She has the typical big Standardbred walk. She seems to have no concerns about a rider on her back and stands well for mounting/dismounting.

Her new owner got on her after a while. The filly was very good with her too. But has a tendency to just stand there when asked to move forward. I think that perhaps she was a bit tentative about getting after the filly to insist that she move on. When I rode her, I just went ahead and flapped my legs and pushed with my seat until I irritated her enough that she moved.

Once they have gotten used to your legs against their sides, most of them tolerate pressure well. Standardbreds off the track like this are usually quite broke… they just have to get used to someone above them instead of behind, and the pressure of legs against their sides. Everything else is just a variation of what they already know.

After we were done, she went out into a big paddock next to the round pen for a while. Where there was quite a display of badness. Galloping around like a complete lunatic. Quite snippy about her mom leaving her again. She can definitely canter anyway. And gallop…

Oh, and apparently on the weekend, a fire engine went by while her mom was in her paddock with her. They went over to the fence near the road and watched it go by, lights and sirens both on. Lady just watched it with some curiosity. No spook at all. She’s a steady-minded little horse, that’s for sure.

Another Standardbred Available… Spanish Lady

This filly has now been placed in her new home 🙂


Just had a lovely filly arrive, looking for a new home. Her name is Spanish Lady. She’s a three year old Standardbred. Never raced. She was in training, but has never even come close to being fast enough to qualify.

She is sound, and by all accounts, exceedingly quiet. Trainer says she is quiet enough for a child to drive.  And has no spook in her at all.  The groom was apparently giving her kids pony rides on her too. And given that she’s been in race training and has been fed like a racehorse, she will only get quieter once she’s been turned out and allowed to relax. So this is likely to turn out to be a very bombproof sort of mare once she’s had a couple of years to finish growing up.

She’s here in my round pen at the moment. Just arrived half an hour ago. Super friendly. Chowing down happily on a pile of hay. Thinks maybe Swamp Dog could be her friend too.

She has not yet been backed, though I will probably do that within the next day or two.

She’s free to a good home. It has to be a pleasure home. No racing. No breeding. I follow up on the horses I place, and require references if I don’t know you. I always accept these horses back if they turn out to be unsuitable, and will retain ownership for period of time to make sure that everything goes well. I can deliver within a few hours of the Greater Toronto area for the price of fuel.

Albert the Great and Friends

Of our three foals this year, the least well… likeable… has been Al. He’s a big handsome chestnut. But he was pretty much born snapping his little teeth (gums actually I guess) at any exposed skin within range. He has been trying to overpower us all since the first day. He rears, strikes, and bolts with glee at the least opportunity.

He was sort of gawky and awkward initially. But we figured he would come out looking reasonably okay eventually given his colour and size. It’s so hard to know when they are little just how they will turn out. Lately though, Al has been blossoming into quite a stunning looking colt.

Al’s mama is Bernice. She’s possibly the most beautiful mover I have ever seen in my entire life. Bernice can do things that absolutely defy the laws of physics. It’s visually stunning to watch her playing out in the field (which she does quite a bit… even in foal). But it’s sort of frightening to think about actually riding her.

When he was first born I really didn’t see a lot of Bernice in Al. But it’s starting to show now. He’s developing a long, stretchy, floaty way of going that is sometimes a little startling in a weanling. Every morning I think “wow! look at that gorgeous little demon”… just before he tries to run me over.

Lately Al does seem to have figured out that the humans really don’t like to be bitten. So he’s a lot more bearable than he used to be anyway. And he is definitely friendly. Loves to be scratched and is usually the first baby to come and see the people. It’d be nice if he learned to lead though. Rather than rearing up, and bolting off with humans in tow.

Al has grown bigger than either Esmerelda and Reno (who is not an insignificant size himself). Although Reno is absolutely the king of the kids. He’s vastly more confident that either Al or Esmerelda. Strangely… Reno seems to have absorbed some of Twister’s personality. Kind of an obnoxiously obtuse twerp. The other two kids have become quite dependent on Reno to take care of them. They even try to nurse from him on occasion. Much to Reno’s disgust.