A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT - NOVEMBER
From the desk of Terry Finley:
I am excited to introduce a new monthly feature for the West Point Thoroughbreds web site, the letter from the President. On the first of each month, I will share with you my thoughts from the past month on our stable and issues that affect our sport. I look forward to sharing my views with you, and I hope you enjoy this new feature.
People ask me what makes thoroughbred racing the best sport in the world. I answer them with one word: dreams. It's the dream of finding the big horse. It's the dream of getting to the winner's circle. It's the dream of achieving a goal and sharing moments of pure joy with family and friends.
October gave birth to a new dream for West Point Partners as the appropriately named Dream Rush remained undefeated with a convincing allowance score on the "Stars of Tomorrow" card at Churchill Downs. She ran the fastest six furlongs of any horse - male or female - on the entire card.
I have thought about her last race a lot, and all I can say is that this filly is one of the most exciting young racehorses we have ever had. There are very few two year old fillies in the country faster than Dream Rush. By Wild Rush out of an Unbridled mare, her pedigree has two-turn success written all over it. One cannot help but dream big with a filly like this. We don't want this to have been Dream Rush's last trip across the Churchill Downs surface. Our dream is to be back there on the first Friday in May for the Kentucky Oaks(G1).
Dream Rush was not the only noteworthy horse to race in the black and gold colors of West Point Thoroughbreds in October. Facing winners for the first time, Awesome Gem dominated a very tough allowance field at Santa Anita Park. This horse was late coming to the races, but he now looks like he has the possibility of becoming a very competitive older horse on the west coast. Craig Dollase has a done a great job with Awesome Gem, and he thinks we can take dead aim on the Stub Series of races with him this winter at Santa Anita.
Sometimes, however, thoroughbred owners have their dreams deferred. This is a brutal business at times. When you are dealing with living and breathing creatures, things will go wrong. In these cases, you deal with the circumstances as they are and make the best decision for the horse based on a cost/benefit analysis. Early in October, Psychotic Reaction returned to the races off a substantial layoff to win a $25,000 claimer. Choosing to run in this spot was a hard decision to make as "Psycho" showed us a world of talent as a two year old. We knew this was where he'd be the most competitive, but $25,000 was a pretty steep drop. However, the intrigue and magic of this game is that when you put your horses in the right spot they reward you. Psychotic Reaction did just that by winning his return race by a nose.
That's the beauty of being involved in a partnership. As a Partner, you hire a management team to make tough decisions based on its expertise and years of experience. I am thankful that our trainers are comfortable enough to give us an honest appraisal of the situation on the ground. It has made us better, and the results speak for themselves.
October also ushered in a new era at Keeneland as it introduced Polytrack. We had our first big test over the surface when High Finance ran in the Perryville Stakes(G3). Unfortunately, he stumbled shortly after the break and grabbed a quarter. Garrett Gomez could feel that High Finance wasn't himself, but our colt showed heart. Personally, Keeneland this year held extra significance for me. My daughter Erin is a freshman at the University of Kentucky, and to share my racing experience with her at Keeneland was very special.
The day after High Finance ran at Keeneland, I went down to Maryland to see Yolanda B. Too run in the Maryland Million Distaff. It's always nice to run two stakes horses that go off as first or second choice in a weekend. Yolanda is a really nice filly who holds a very special place in my heart, but yet to capture that elusive first stakes win. She ran second to last year's Kentucky Oaks winner Summerly up at Saratoga, and we thought we might finally get that stakes win in Maryland. Unfortunately, we caught a talented filly that simply had a better day than us, and we ran second. Our primary focus is getting Yolanda that deserved stakes win. We'll look at the Top Flight Handicap(G2) at Aqueduct for her next start.
As I write this, we are three days from the 2006 Breeders' Cup. I think that this year's races are going to be spectacular. We have a vested rooting interest in the races on the day, because four of our trainers will have up to twelve runners on the card. I wish each of our trainers the best of luck with their horses and will be rooting for them every step of the way.
I am honored to sit on the Breeders' Cup Board, and I can tell you that this year's Cup is just the beginning of a tremendous period of development for horse racing's championship day. We signed a broadcast deal with ESPN through 2013, and its plans for the future telecasts are revolutionary. We should see some of the initial steps this year. To have ESPN broadcast your championship day lends great credibility to the sport of racing. Additionally, very few sports can boast eight consecutive hours of coverage on ESPN.
There are many other developments in the road to the Breeders' Cup Championships. Beginning next year, ESPN and ABC will televise twenty-four races from the last weekend of July to the first week of October. The winner of each race will then earn an automatic berth into the corresponding Breeders' Cup race. Horseracing doesn't really have a regular season schedule, so this gives us a chance to reward horses for running in certain races and potentially allow for rivalries to develop before the Breeders' Cup. I'm hopeful that this series will excite the public prior to Breeders' Cup day.
We've also made it easier for horses to run in the Breeders' Cup. We've changed the rules for horses not nominated as a foal to the series to become eligible. Owners can now pay a one time fee to nominate a horse for the entirety of their career. The fees are still steep enough to encourage breeders to nominate their stallions and foals early, but we will hopefully reduce the number of reasons for someone to skip a race with a qualified horse.
I believe that we are poised for a time of great excitement at West Point Thoroughbreds and in the industry at large. In the month that brings us Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my family, my loyal staff, our Partners, and all the supporters that have taken the time to support us in one way or another all these years. Because of you we continue to dream, and we will strive to share that dream with as many of you as possible. Until next month, keep dreaming I know I will.