Letter from the President - July
June was a landmark month for West Point Thoroughbreds. It was also one of the most emotionally charged times in the history of the company. On June 9th we were poised to capture our first grade one stakes victory when Dream Rush made her Grade 1 debut in the $250,000 Acorn Stakes. The energy surrounding the race was electric. Dream Rush ran a tremendous race. In the shadow of the wire, I thought we were home. Unfortunately, she was collared in the last fifty yards finishing second to Cotton Blossom.
I am aware of how much everyone expected her to win - our employees, our Partners and, of course, the betting public that sent her off at odds of 3/5. Deep down I thought she couldn't lose. Before this year, running second in a race of this stature would have been good enough.
We were beaten by a horse that ran an incredible race and showed a lot of determination. Our faith in Dream Rush stays strong, and we believe that she'll post her first grade one victory by year's end. I think she's the toughest sprinter of her gender and the racing world will certainly hear more from her in the near future.
At that point, we were disappointed, but we licked our wounds, got back to work and eagerly looked forward to the next start?
The very next week our plans took an unexpected turn when Kiaran McLaughlin called to say that he wanted to run Flashy Bull in the Stephen Foster Handicap(G1). Our original plan was to run in the $150,000 Salvatore Mile(G3) the following week. Kiaran said that the horse had never trained better and his confidence was at an all time high after his victory in the Schaeffer. His rationale was that he'd rather run in a $750,000 Grade 1 race than in a Grade 3 for five times less money. He made a compelling argument. So we put Flashy Bull on a van to Churchill Downs and took our shot.
While Flashy Bull has enjoyed a great year on the track, the Foster was a significant step up in class for him. He had run with the top of his division last year and represented us well, but with three straight wins this year; he was getting a taste for crossing the wire in front. We didn't want to hurt his confidence. We were fifth choice in the field of eight horses. After a perfect trip, he exploded on the turn and opened up a big lead in the stretch. Needless to say, my mind flashed back to our previous grade one start when our horse was on the lead approaching the wire. I feared history would repeat itself. It didn't. Flashy Bull dug in on the rail and held his foes at bay. He won and gave us our first grade one victory.
The next fifteen minutes were a blur for me. The small group of us who attended the race was speechless after he crossed the wire. I somehow made my way down to the winner's circle amidst all the congratulatory comments from friends and associates and best wishes from the crowd. Many thoughts were racing through my mind. I thought gratefully about all the people who have supported West Point Thoroughbreds throughout the years. I thought of my loyal and hardworking staff. I thought about my family who unfortunately could not attend the race with me (one of the unfortunate drawbacks of last minute decisions to run in grade one stakes - busy schedules and exorbitant airfares). I wish my wife Debbie could have been there. Sixteen years ago she took a leap of faith to start this business with me, and it was the dream of winning races like this that's kept us going all these years. I thought of all these people without whom none of this would be possible.
Finally, I thought of Flashy Bull - the most important cog in the machine. And there he was, out of breath and surprisingly bright after running the race of his life, he had no idea what he had done for all of us. He just seemed content to have gone out there and tried - like he always does. As I led him into the winner's circle, I breathed a sigh of relief. I couldn't have been happier for all those who this win affected. I couldn't have been more proud of this colt who took us to our first Kentucky Derby and who delivered us our first grade one win. I couldn't be happier that the racing industry will now see what we've seen all along - a talented and honest racehorse. And after all, isn't it really all about the horse?
True to form, Flashy came out of his race in great order. He went right back to Saratoga to enjoy the cool air and quiet surroundings of upstate New York. We'll keep our options open for his next start, but with the retirement of Invasor, the handicap division is wide open. I couldn't be more excited for what the future holds for this colt and for our stable.
I can honestly say that I've enjoyed writing this month's Letter from the President the most. I'm sure you can understand why. We're still riding high on the excitement this month has provided for us. We look forward optimistically to the rest of the summer as the summer race meets approach. We'll continue to fire on all cylinders at Saratoga and Del Mar. Awesome Gem, Dream Rush, Flashy Bull, High Finance, and Lear's Princess are all pointed for stakes races and should be very tough in each of their respective divisions. Our first two-year-olds from the Class of 2007 will also debut. Life is good and the future is bright.
Until next month.