Like an old friend

This blog has become like the letter to an old friend that you really want to write, but there’s so much to say you keep putting it off. Tonight, I’ve conquered my procrastination so here we go, starting back to front.

This has been a tremendously tough week, because we had a lot of runners and not many real chances. Unfortunately, you can’t always run to win. Sometimes, you’re on an exploratory mission instead, bringing a horse back from a long layoff or trying one out for the first time. Santarini, Hera Eria and Greatest all fell into that category.

Santarini, if you’ve been following along, is a huge four-year-old filly who had knee chips removed in February down in Cagnes sur Mer. Knee chips, plural, because the vet clinic operated on the wrong leg first, then had to do the right one. No matter, both knees were bad, so while it was technically malpractice, in reality we got a two-for-one knee deal. She’s been on the rehab trail since, and finally ran her comeback race last week at St. Cloud. The race was 2,100 meters long, but it turns out Santarini really can only stay about 1,600. Her pedigree says that, and her past performance says that, but she is the size of an oil tanker and looks for all the world like she’s built to run a mile and a half – or maybe even two or three. But no, it seems she only wants to run a mile after all, so that’s what she’ll do next time out.

Greatest debuted for us last week in Fontainebleau. He was bought at the July sale, and seems to be a very nice horse that needs soft ground, and probably a shorter trip than what he’d been getting in Ireland. Because he is an import, we don’t have many choices for entries for the first few races here, so he ran a 2,600-meter claimer. And while I was looking for soft ground, what we got was a bog, with several days of rain before the race and plenty of rain on race-night, too, just to add to our pleasure. He came back with a good knock to his hock, but otherwise relatively unscathed and will run slightly shorter next time out, when he’ll be entered in a 2,300-meter race in Le Mans. It’s still a bit too long, I think, but we have to take what we can get.

Hera Eria is a tougher kettle of fish. She’s a big, four-year-old filly who came to us over the summer desperately needing to build up some back muscle. She did, and now looks fantastic, but it turns out she also has some serious issues, chief among them being she’d rather not gallop next to other horses, thank you very much. She ran a debut race for us like a filly that had never seen a racecourse before. That embarrassment earned her a set of full blinkers, which seemed to help a bit and she ran much better at St. Cloud. We’re still figuring her out, and I think ear plugs might come next, but I really hope we can get to the bottom of her because she is a lovely horse with a bit of ability, and it would be a shame to waste it.

We’re also still trying to figure out Gold Knight, but he seems to be coming around a bit, running two places down in the country. He’s looking pretty well and still may have some back issues, but hopefully will be ready to tackle a race in Maisons-Laffitte in early October.

Most of the other horses are doing pretty well, but we’re just waiting for the right races. Eternal Gift had two off runs, but both were over courses I wasn’t sure would suit him but wanted to try – the famous 1,400-meter “tobaggan” at Longchamp (just a bit too slow for that) and the 1,600-meter straight at Maisons-Laffitte (the lack of a turn does not favor a front-runner, unless you’re super-horse, and sadly, he is not). He’ll go back to Longchamp on Arc weekend to run a mile handicap WITH a turn, the same course he won on in July, and he should appreciate that better.

King Driver is doing great, taking home money in all four of his starts this year. Only problem is he should have won last week at St. Cloud and finished only 5th, partially because Olivier Peslier forgot he was sitting on a nice handicapper and not the next Sea the Stars. He set too strong a pace out front, and couldn’t quite hang on. He wasn’t beaten far, though, and he’s knocking on the door for a win, which should come soon.

Gorki Park came back from his summer vacation ready to work, which he showed us by finishing a nice 2nd in his comeback race at Longchamp. He now has two nice entries in October, and all indications are that he’ll be a very fun horse this fall.

Hard Way and Grey Falcon are waiting for the right races to come along, and both of them have good chances coming up in October. Deep Ocean is more of a puzzle, because I’m not sure where we are with him. We were going to retire him because his arthritis is starting to take a toll, but now he seems to have regained some form and will stay around for a bit longer. He is a tough horse, but also tough to place because there aren’t any great entries for him at the moment. The best chance will be back at his favorite track in Lyon, but that race isn’t until November, and he’ll need to do something in between. Not sure what yet, though.

And there have been some comings and goings: Not Bad for a Boy convinced us he really didn’t want to be a racehorse when he finished only 6th in a very easy country race. He was promoted to 5th after a jockey in the money forgot to weigh in, which gave him an oh-so-tiny check, but there was really no point in insisting. He has found a very happy home doing trail riding and some show jumping, and his new owners love him, so that’s a story that ended well. Meanwhile, we’ve added Babaway, a three-year-old who is coming back from a late gelding this summer and a change in trainer, and La Mer, a very promising two-year-old filly who will be prepped for the Cagnes sur Mer meeting.

That sort of catches things up in a nutshell. There’s a lot more that could be said, but then I’d just be putting it off again!


2 Replies to “Like an old friend”

  1. Gina,

    Is it the same Babaway which was trained by Marine Henry? Seemed quite decent in Cagnes last year if he is. Best of luck with him.

    All the best¨

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