|Blazing Away in the saddling paddock at Sunland.|
Photo credit Janis Smit.
Blazing Away was in a field of twelve horses running in the Winnie Vick Memorial for a purse of over $24,000. He had some solid competition--sons of some of the best stallions in New Mexico. At 12-to-1 he was far from the favorite, and with good reason. "Zinger" had never won a single race in his seven starts. Oh, he'd come close. A second, four thirds, but always there was a problem of getting packed wide on a turn or some rough traffic or a stumble at the start that prevented him from winning the big prize.
|Blazing Away heading for the Winnie Mack Memorial race.|
Photo credit Janis Smit.
Just prior to the race, we started getting photos from Janis Smit of "Zinger" in the post parade, and later got some of these awesome shots of him in the saddling paddock. He looked great. Bigger, stronger, more confident than he had before. He was well behaved, but he had those ears pricked, looking eager to have his run.
The race wasn't televised, but I was on the computer tracking results as they hit. Our trainer won the two races just before Zinger's and I took that as a good omen. Could this be the day? "That feeling" started to build again. Then it was post time and David and I sat and waited for word, both of us a total case of jitters.
Until we got the FB message from Janis, "He just won!"
Shrieking, yelling, hollering, hugging and kissing ensued. Zinger had done it! He'd lived up to his pedigree and won! Both of the colts we bred were now winners!
|Blazing Away "All Alone at the Wire"|
Photo credit Janis Smit
His win was exactly what I'd pictured in my mind from the first moment I'd laid eyes on him as a tiny little newborn and heard the imaginary stretch calls in my head. "And down the stretch they come, Blazing Away is in the lead..."
In fact, the announcer said something quite close as our boy pulled ahead of the field off the turn, "...and Blazing Away is doing just that!"
|Blazing Away as a newborn with dam Blazing Bartok|
It had been a lifelong dream of mine to get involved in the industry. After a brief stint with some good Quarter Horses "back in the day," we moved to New Mexico where anyone in their right mind would have stuck with racing Quarter Horses, New Mexico being the center of QH racing. But noooo. We wanted to breed Thoroughbreds. Fortunately for us, New Mexico has one of the best breeders incentive programs in the country.
|In the Sunland Park winners circle getting his photo and|
blue winners cooler blanket. Photo credit Janis Smit.
In fact, things did not start well at all. We had a disastrous beginning in the mid-2000s, where only one filly from of our first two crops of foals survived beyond the first two weeks. It was beyond heartbreaking. They were in the care of a "professional" breeding farm and we learned the hard way how not to succeed in this business. After closing down our operation and selling off all of our mares, four years later we had two of the last horses we bred win races, and as the breeders we got some very healthy checks in the mail.
It was enough for us to give the old game another try, and this time, we vowed to do things right.
We scoured the US to find two exceptional mares. It took months, but we found them. We bought Kentucky-bred Soulful (dam of Echo Eight and Inherit the Stars) right off a farm in Lexington, and Blazing Bartok (Zinger's dam) was a Cal-bred we found on a breeding farm in Arizona. Both have stellar pedigrees for our region, and were accomplished winners with some great racehorses in their immediate families.
And that's how the Thoroughbred business is so much like the writing business. You have to do things right for any chance at an eventual payoff. Make the story the best it can be, have it professionally edited, have a professional cover, etc. But just like horseracing, there's no guarantee and it takes time to build up to success.
That's where I am in my career right now, and though it can be disheartening and disenchanting, and I've been ready to throw in the towel more than once, this weekend reminded me that if I give up, I may never know how close I came to success.
Because sometimes *magic* happens.
[The full race video is now available on the Bloodhorse site here >>> Sunland Park Race 4 ]
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Have a great week.