Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"Emmy" Wins 6 In A Row!

Dancing Emerald after winner her fist race had problems winner her second. That would all change when the fall Woodbine meet ended, and racing moved to Greenwood for the final meet of the 1983 racing season. Our fortunes were about to change for the better. Dancing Emerald had arrived in her realm. There is a saying at the racetrack; "horses for courses". That is very true. Racehorses can be very comfortable and successful runneing at a certain racetrack. This is usually due to the racetrack surface, or the amenities of the racetrack. Dancing Emerald "The Queen of Greenwood" enjoyed running at Greenwood, yes because of the racing surface. Also she loved and maneuvered extremely well around the tight turns at Greenwood. Emmy had amazing speed. That could prove to a huge advantage for a front running racehorse, when running at Greenwood .

Win #1
Dancing Emerald would make her first start of her career at Greenwood on November 9, 1983, under the lights. A big part of her success. Was being paired up with jockey Robbie King Jr. Robbie was an excellent rider, and was very comfortable riding a front runner. They were a great duo and worked extremely well together. Get us started Daryl Wells, "There at the post, there off!" "That is Dancing Emerald reaching for the lead" "Dancing Emerald has a 2 length lead" "That's Dancing Emerald by a good margin". These were just some of Daryl Wells descriptions, that would become predicable and carbon copy when this excellent filly raced, at Greenwood. Emmy would go wire to wire in her first race at Greenwood. Golden Champ would try her coming to the 1/4 mile pole. However it was apparent that Dancing Emerald could sprint around the tight turns. As quickly as she could, running on the straight a ways. The Queen had arrived! Emmy pulled away and beat Golden Champ by 4 lengths, easily! The Wolfe Stable, and Toronto racing fans were going to be treated to some fantastic racing, by the "Queen of Greenwood".

Win #2
Emmy would race back for her second race, and win at Greenwood on November 17, 1983. This event would race at 6 1/2 furlongs, and would match her against tough older, and more experienced females. Also Dancing Emerald would have to break from the 8 post position. All these obstacles didn't matter to the "Queen of Greenwood". I remember Emmy was in a particularly horrible mood that November night. She took it out on her opponents. O.K. Daryl get the race started, "There at the Post, There Off" That's Dancing Emerald reaching for the lead". Emmy broke like a bat out of hell, and she was flying going into the clubhouse turn. Midway through the turn, Emmy had cleared the field and made the lead. Now Robbie dropped Emmy into the rail, and it was up to the field of older mares to try and catch, our speed demon! They had no chance. Emmy made her competitors feel really old that night, and maybe ready to call it a career. Down the run down the backstretch, by the time she reached the racetrack kitchen, Emmy had opened up a commanding 4 length lead. By the time she reached the far turn, the lead had expanded to 6 lengths. In the run for the finish line. Emmy just coasted to the line by a staggering 8 length margin of victory. Robbie King had eased the Queen up at the 1/16 pole, as he tried to save her for the next race, and not to embarrass her beaten opponents. It was all smiles in the win picture for this one.

Win #3
Dancing Emerald would race back on November 30, 1983 in her final start as a 3 year old. This race would complete the natural hat trick for the "Queen". Emmy would become only the second Wolfe runner to win 3 races in a row. The challenge for this race would be to find a replacement for Emmy's very talented regular jockey, Robbie King Jr. Robbie had been suspended for a riding infraction, and could not pilot the Queen in this race. A replacement had to be found. Enter David Piques. Dave was an up a comer, and had enjoyed a very successful fall Greenwood meet. Dave was sitting fifth in the jockey standing at the 1983 fall meet. He was riding very well. David Piques was also very suited riding a racehorse. Who enjoyed a front running style. My father made the wise choice of picking Dave to replace Robbie for this important race. I remembered Dave being thrilled that my dad had picked him to ride Dancing Emerald. He was honored that he would be getting a chance to pilot the Queen! Emmy was again meeting a tough group of more experienced fellow females. The toughest of the group was "Tiffany Tam" from the Sam Son Farm. Tiffany Tam was being ridden by champion jockey "Irwin Driedger". They would prove to put forth a tough challenge to our star performer.

David Piques did an excellent job in this race. Emmy broke very well, and moved into a commanding lead going into the clubhouse turn. Dave let her relax and cruise in the run down the backstretch. Going into the far turn. Tiffany Tam was starting to try and harass Emmy. Dave and Dancing Emerald responded by opening up a 2 1/2 length lead, turning for home, and the run for the finish line. Tiffany Tam and Irwin Driedger would make one last attempt to ruin Emmy's third win. However Emmy and Dave both would bare down, and repel the late challenge of Tiffany Tam, and win this race by a margin of 1 1/2 lengths. It was a great feeling for the win picture, for this third win. It is a special accomplishment for a top caliber racehorse to win multiple races, racing at this level. Thank you David Piques for doing a excellent job, riding Dancing Emerald. The "Queen of Greenwood" winning streak was far from over. It would continue well into the 1984 racing season.

Win #4
Dancing Emerald enjoyed a very good winter up at the Hindmarsh Farm. Physically and mentally she could not wait to get back to the races. Emmy trained brilliantly coming up to her first race of the year. Which took place at Greenwood, on March 31, 1984. The distance for this race was 4 1/2 furlongs.

In the good old days. The Greenwood Spring meet use to open with 4 1/2 furlong races for the first 3 weeks of the meet, almost exclusively. This use to give the horsemen that wintered in Toronto a chance to compete with the horsemen that had wintered away in the sunny south in the U.S.A. Also it gave the trainers with pure speed racehorses a chance to compete at this shorter distance. From a racing fans point of view. I use to enjoy watching the races at Greenwood. The smaller 6 furlong oval, gave the racing fans a more intimate view of the races. The 4 1/2 furlong races were a real treat to watch.

This would be Emmy's first try at 4 1/2 furlongs. The Queen of Greenwood was ready to defend her throne. "There at the post, there off" Was the opening call from Daryl Wells. Dancing Emerald broke alertly, as the the talented field of fillies and mares sprinted down the backstretch at Greenwood. To try and open up a lead going into the far turn. There was a big battle that was being fought between Emmy, and Shantilly Liz, and Forest Green. The threesome were altogether going into the turn. Midway through the turn. Dancing Emerald was starting to win the fight. Turning for home the challenging pair could not keep up the pace. Robbie King set Emmy down for the stretch drive, and she pulled away to win this 4 1/2 furlong dash in a quick time of .52.3 by 1 1/2 lengths. Dancing Emerald had now won 4 races in a row! The Wolfe Stable and Lee Family were ecstatic.

A special thanks for the great success of Dancing Emerald has to go to Debbie Goldman. Debbie is an American from New York State. Debbie Goldman was a very competent exercise rider, and did a great job riding Emmy for her morning training. Dancing Emerald was not a very easy horse to ride in the morning. Emmy was very aggressive, and like to do things her own way. Debbie did a excellent job to get her. To all of these fantastic races, in great shape. Debbie did suffer from stretched arms for her dedicated efforts. The "ass-sistant" trainer thanks you, Debbie!

Win #5
Emmy would run back on April 12, 1984. She would be trying for her second win of the year, and her unbelievable fifth win in a row! This Greenwood dash would be at 6 1/2 furlongs. Her main competition in this overnight Handicap. Would be her stablemate "No. One Busheling" This very fine filly would push Dancing Emerald to her limit. To win her fifth race in a row. I will be honoring and remembering "No. One Busheling" on this blog.

Emmy broke alertly and quickly moved to take control of this race, in her usual style. Everything was going well in the run down the backstretch. However No. One Busheling was tracking Dancing Emerald in second place. No. One Busheling was also a very fast female racehorse. Who also loved racing at Greenwood. No. One Busheling was coming off an impressive win on March 24th. So she was also in very good form. Our two stars raced that way down the backstretch, and into the far turn. Then No. One Busheling made her move, and actually ran by Emmy, and opened up a 1/2 length advantage coming to the 1/8 pole. Was the "Queen of Greenwood" winning streak over at 4? No! Robbie King who was also a fierce competitor, who hated losing. Robbie put his whip into his left hand, and gave Emmy a couple of slaps with the whip. To awaken her bad temper. It worked! Emmy responded with a come from behind win. Running past No. One Busheling, strides before they hit the finish line. It was an unbelievable feeling being in the winner's circle again! Dancing Emerald had accomplished the unbelievable. Winning her fifth race in a row! Emmy's groom and assistant trainer, me! Saluted the Queen in the win picture. Holding up five fingers. One for each win! Of note in this race. The 1 and 1 exactor paid off at $4.10. It is the smallest exactor payout I have ever seen at the racetrack.

Win #6
Dancing Emerald, the "Queen of Greenwood" would race back on April 28th, and win the 2nd Division of the "Whimsical Stakes". What an accomplishment for this outstanding racehorse. Emmy dominated the field in every stage of this race. Dancing Emerald sprinted to the front. Robbie King had the Queen in cruise control in the run down the backstretch. Going into the final turn. There was no doubt who would win the 2nd Division of the Whimsical. Emmy started to pull away in the run through the final turn. Robbie set her down for the final 1/8 of a mile to the finish line. Emmy pulled away to win by a commanding 4 horse lengths. The Lee family and the Wolfe family were very proud to be part of such of this accomplished and talented racehorse. Dancing Emerald would come back as a 5 year old mare in 1985, and win the Whimsical stakes race again. She refused to ever give up her title of being a Queen!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dancing Emerald "The Queen of Greenwood"

It it time to talk about pure royalty. Her title was; "The Queen of Greenwood". Her racing name was "Dancing Emerald" This talented performer was the best speed female from the Sheldon Wolfe Racing Stable. Dancing Emerald stood about 15.1 hands high. She was dark bay in color, and had a beautiful star between those piercing eyes of hers. Dancing Emerald was the epitome of a highly talented female. Dancing Emerald nickname became "Emmy". Dancing Emerald knew she was from royalty and was talented. She was very sure of herself, she was very confident, very demanding, and had a extremely bad temper. Emmy would quickly let you know if you did something that displeased your heinous. Then you would have to try and cope with her wrath! It was difficult for Emmy to show affection or to show her approval. I knew her well, because I was her groom for most of her exciting career.

My father purchased a yearling for the Les Lee family at the Keeneland Sales in the fall of 1981. He purchased a filly by Cutlass, out of the mare Jestaemerald for $17,000. The Lee's choose the name "Dancing Emerald". Emmy would be the second prolific Lee runner in there horse history, in the Sheldon Wolfe Racing Stable. Dancing Emerald would go on to win 10 races including winning the Whimsical Stakes race twice. Also she would put together a 6 race win streak in her brilliant racing career. Eight of her wins would take place at Greenwood. Sadly Greenwood is just a memory now. There is nothing left of Toronto's historic racetrack. All that stands now, is rows of houses, where the thoroughbreds use to entertain loyal horse racing fans for generations.

Dancing Emerald showed tremendous talent very early in career. However she never made it to the races during her two year old campaign. This was due to being plagued with shore shins. My father reassured Les Lee that he should not worry. That he owned a very talented race filly. Giving her the time would pay off in the future. Les agreed to my father's advise. We were all rewarded by the correct decision that was made. Dancing Emerald enjoyed a very good winter, and started to train great as a 3 year old. However there was still some soreness in her front shins. We kept working on them. Finally we resolved her shin problems. It was now time to see how good this talented filly was. Emmy kept telling us that she was good. Emmy showed great speed in the morning trials. She was breed for speed. That would become her style and her trademark. Even with the amazing talent that she had. It took the Queen a while to perfect her success in the racing business.

Dancing Emerald broke her maiden (won her first race) on July 2, 1983. She was confidently ridden by ridden by Jack Lauzon in this race. It would be the only race that she would win running from behind, in her career. Emmy broke well in this race. She stalked from fourth position on the outside, and was never far behind. Running past the quarter mile pole, Emmy laid a menacing second on the outside. The front runner "Plum Fun" was no match for Dancing Emerald in the final eight of a mile to the finish line. Dancing Emerald pulled away to win one lenght. Emmy was on her way!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"Captain Sunburst" Wins

After Captain Sunburst broke his maiden in his first start. It put his happy owners in a very good situation. However he came out of his maiden win with sore shins. We were now prepared to do the right thing, and give our promising colt the time he needed to get over his bucked shins. He wouldn't run again to the fall. His next win would come on October 21st, 1982. This win would be his first on the turf course. The race would be run at a mile on the Marshall Turf Course. There had been some rainy weather conditions prior to the race, as the turf course came up as soft conditions, and was officially listed as yielding.

Captain Sunburst was ridden by Richard Dos Ramos in this race. The Captain broke alertly and was allowed to relax and find his best stride, and settle in 4th position. Captain Sunburst stayed that way until they turned into the long home stretch. He was clear on the outside and was responding to Rick's urging. After the crossing of the main track it was apparent that Captain Sunburst was going to win his second race. He pulled away to win by 1 and 1/2 lenghts going away. The syndicate was on cloud nine in the winner's circle. The winter of 1982-83 would be filled with dreams and optimism for his three year old year. In the win picture for Captain Sunburst's second win. You could clearly see why I added the Sunburst to this handsome colt's name. Also of note. Was the decision to use the beautiful orange and yellow racing silks. Used by the D'angelo brothers for Captain Dawn. That was an appropriate nice touch.

Captain Sunburst had a very good winter going into his three year old year. He came to the racetrack in fine shape. He was looking forward to getting back to the races. His training went very well. He made his first start as a 3 year old, at Woodbine on May 21, 1983. Richard Dos Ramos was back aboard "The Captain" for his first start as a 3 year old. The race would be run at a 1 mile & 70 yards on the main track. I believe that this race was taken off the grass because of a lot of rain prior to this race being run. The main track conditions for the race did not come up muddy. However the racetrack came up deep and tiring. Over the winter the syndicate and my father had discussed the future plans for our promising star. We all agreed to drop the nomination for the Queens Plate. We all felt that Captain Sunburst was at his best on the turf course. From the beginning of the racing year. We decided to point Captain Sunburst for the final two thirds of Canada's tripe crown. The "Prince Of Wales" was the second leg, which at that time was run at a distance of 1 mile and 3/8 on the turf at Fort Erie. The final leg the "Breeders Stakes" was ran back at Woodbine at 1 1/2 miles on the Marshall Turf Course.

Daryl Wells announced "There at the Post, There Off". Captain Sunburst never had an easy trip in this race. He never looked comfortable racing on the track. Captain Sunburst was trying hard, however he looked like he was laboring badly, trying to run on the tiring race. Turning into the stretch drive, and the final 1/4 mile of the race. It appeared that Captain Sunburst would only finish fourth or third at best. However Richard Dos Ramos had other plans, he wasn't beat yet, and either was the "Captain". In the final 1/16 to the finish line. The outcome of this race would radically change. A determined Captain Sunburst and Richard Dos Ramos stormed up the inside to pass all of the now dead tired front runners. The "Captain and "Rick" had pulled a rabbit out of the hat, and like magic had given up a very exciting first win of his 1983 campaign. I do have the video of this race, and hope to have it uploaded to this post in the near future.

Win number four was a very impressive race. Even though Captain Sunburst was not eligible for the Queens Plate. He next start would see him run in the final prep for the Queen's Plate. This allowance race was run at 1 mile & 1/8, and was called the "Semi-final". The date of this race was June 18, 1983. My father liked the distance for him. However he wasn't that happy to run him on the main track. My dad was looking for grass races for our up coming star. The Plate "Semi-final" came up a very small field, it ran with only 5 horses. So my dad entered the Captain in this race. There would be a change of jockeys for this race. Robbie King would be Captain Sunburst's pilot for this winning race.

After the start Robbie relaxed Captain Sunburst, and took him back to last place. The pace was fast in this small field. Robbie and the Captain were content to bide there time, and wait to do battle later on in this race. In the run down the back stretch. Young Captain Sunburst looked just like his namesake "Captain Dawn". Robbie started to ask the Captain to pick up the pace. He was ready to delivery. Captain Sunburst glided up on the outside and quickly moved in to second place by the time the front runner had reached the 3/8 pole. It was now very obvious that Captain Sunburst had this race in complete control. He quickly soared by the front runner, who was starting to shorten his stride. Captain Sunburst and Robbie King put on a great show in the home stretch. They came to the finish in fine style, winning this race by and impressive 8 lenghts, easily! After this race we were all starting to second guess ourselves. Did we make the right decision by dropping Captain Sunburst out of the Queen's Plate? His winning time for a mile and 1/8 was the impressive time of 1.51.4, and his final quarter time was also very impressive. This race was his best effort on the main track in his short career. I also hope to include the video of this race, to this posting.

The climax of this odyssey would take place on July 24th at Woodbine. Our Captain Sunburst would win the first division of the "Heresey Stakes". It is difficult to put into words, what winning this race meant to the syndicate, to the Wolfe Racing Stable, and to Captain Dawn! There are a lot of people, very wealthy people who venture into the Thoroughbred Horse Racing Business. Very few ever achieve the thrill of winning a stakes race. We did, with a very talented and courageous racehorse named "Captain Sunburst".

Here is the description of the race. We had very good fortune going into the race. We acquired the services of Brain Swatuk. Brain, I nicknamed him (Brain the Lion) was one of the most prolific jockeys to ever ride at Woodbine. He was an outstanding talent. It was a pleasure to work with him, and to watch him ride. Captain Sunburst was getting more confident, and getting better with ever start. He came into the Heresy in perfect condition. It was a full field, the Captain broke from the 3 post position. I was excited as Daryl Wells got the race under way. "There at the Post, There Off". Captain Sunburst broke well. Brain got him to relax, and they had a good trip going into the clubhouse turn. The pace of the race was moderate. Brain was deciding what there next move would be. Then there was some concern. About 5 horses ran by Captain Sunburst in the run down the backstretch, as they stayed to the inside. It made me feel nervous. However Brain Swatuk the great professional he was. Did not panic. He knew he was on a very talented racehorse. He would give Captain Sunburst every chance, in order to win the race. Brain kept the Captain to the inside. By the time the field turned into the home stretch. Captain Sunburst was about 5 lenghts from the leader. The good news was that he had a clear path to run. Brian gave Captain Sunburst the signal it was time to go! I can still hear the call from Daryl Wells, "And hear Comes Captain Sunburst"! There was a burst from our champion, a "Sunburst". The 5 lenght disadvantage, evaporated in the blink of an eye. It was victory! Our Captain Sunburst had won the Heresy Stakes going away by 2 lenghts. It was a fantastic day I will never, ever forget.

The video posted on YouTube of Captain Sunburst's Heresy win.

Brain Swatuk came back after the race, and told us that we had an exceptional racehorse on our hands. We were all very confidant going into the "Prince Of Wales". Captain Sunburst went into the race as second favorite. Brian Swatuk was very confident that we would win the race. However it wasn't to be. During the running of the race. Captain Sunburst had suffered a serious injury. He didn't race well and only beat one horse. He pulled up lame, and had to vanned off in the ambulance. Captain Sunburst had badly torn the tendin in his right front leg. His life wasn't in danger. However his very promising racing career was over. It was an unfair and sad ending to a very happy story. Captain Sunburst won 5 races from only 13 starts, including one stakes win.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Captain Sunburst "The Return of Cinderella"

The Captain Dawn story will always be one of my favorite in the history of the Sheldon Wolfe Racing Stable. How about another great story? The D'angelo and Wolfe families would often ask the question. "How good a racehorse. Would Captain Dawn have been, if he would have had four goods legs to run with, instead of only three?" We were all about to find out.

This story begins at the Hindmarsh farm located in Hillsborough, Ontario. During my father's training career the Hindmarsh Farm was used as winter stabling for our horses. In the winter of 1980 my father was up at the farm with good friend John Rubino. My father went up to look and check the horses that were resting at the farm that winter. During the visit Harry Hindmarsh offered to show my dad and John Rubino his weanling's that were out in the paddocks. The colts were out in a separate paddock all together. During there brief stay in the paddock a playful roan colt took a run by his human visitors. This startled John Rubino who was really unfamiliar with being around horses. John actually tripped and fell to his knees when the colt went running by. The colt made a good impression on him. John asked, "who was that colt?" Mr. Hindmarsh announced that was his roan colt by "Rouge Sang" out of his mare "Regal Ruth".

We now go to September of 1981, and the Canadian select yearling sales. My father and John Rubino are at the sales. However they are there as spectators, as my father has no money to buy any yearling for any of our clients. Then the next yearling is lead into the sales ring. The auctioneer announces it a roan colt by Rouge Sang, out of the mare "Regal Ruth". John quickly asks my dad. "Isn’t that the same colt that we looked at on the farm that knocked my down, when he ran by us? My father answered, "That was the same colt". John then responded "if he sells cheap, I’m going to buy him" My dad asked" do you have the money to pay for him?" John replied "I'll raise it" Sure enough there wasn't much interest in the colt. Rouge Sang had done poorly as a stallion after being imported from Europe. John Rubino was the winning bidder at $11,000. This great story had it's beginning.

John Rubino was on the phone that night. He had to raise some money right away to pay for our new addition, to our stable. Sam D'angelo was called. The D'angelo family was in for another chance of being racehorse owners. Long time friends of Sam, The Wakling family was contacted they were also in. John Rubino and his brothers were going to keep and interest. The last part of the quickly formed syndicate. Was myself and my brother John. We were both in for 10% each. I remember how much money I had in the Bank at that time. I had a whole $1,500. I spent $1,100 to purchase a 10% interest in the roan colt by Rouge Sang. The syndicate now had the fun of giving our new racehorse a name. Some ideas were talked out. I came up with the idea of honoring our Cinderella star Captain Dawn. The name I submitted was "Captain Sunburst". The Sunburst part of his name came by looking at him. Our new racehorse was a very rare looking individual. He was a strawberry roan. That meant that he was a gray, white, and black colored horse. He was also streaked with red hair throughout his body. Also this special colt had a very handsome face, with very intelligent eyes that would look right through you. The markings on his face were extraordinary. He had a spiral of color, a exploding sunburst between those magnificent eyes. About 6 weeks after our names were submitted to the New York jockey club. It was official, his racing name would be "Captain Sunburst".

This exciting, talented, and special racehorse was very well named. Captain Sunburst would be the only racehorse that I would have the privilege to name. He was named in honor of Captain Dawn. He never let his namesake, or his connections down. He would, like his namesake take us all on an amazing ride. Captain Sunburst looked totally different to Captain Dawn. Yet there were many similarities between the two. Both horses enjoyed to run and win from behind. Both had the showmen in them. They had that way of winning a race. That would get your Adrenalin flowing, and bring you right out of your seat. Both racehorses had tremendous endurance. They both would run there competitors into exhaustion, and then beat them!

In the spring of 1982. We were very aware that Captain Sunburst was a talented racing prospect. The Captain was a very playful colt, and enjoyed to be mischievous. However he was all business when it came to the business of racing. He showed the long loping stride of am endurance horse. He didn't show any raw speed of a sprinter. However he was proving that he had the talent and attitude to be a very successful racehorse. He was training well. My father had him up to his first race. Everything was looking good. Except he was starting to show some signs of sore shins. This is a common problem with young thoroughbreds. With time they will grow out of this problem. The problem of our syndicate was lack of money. We wern't wealthy people. We were operating on a shoestring. We had to make the tough decision. Were were going to run Captain Sunburst in a $20,000 maiden claiming race, and run the risk of having him claimed in his first race. Or enter him in maiden allowance race. To find out exactly how much talent our young racehorse actually had, and not run the risk of losing him in a claiming race. There was a lot of emotion at this discussion. The decision was made. Captain Sunburst was entered in a 5 furlong $20,000 claiming race. This race took place on May 15, 1982, at Woodbine.

Jockey Jimmy Fazio who was doing a lot of work for our barn at this time would get the mount. The 5 furlong distant of this race was against our talented colt. He broke well in his first start. However he was outrun in the first quarter mile in this race. Until Jimmy Fazio asked Captain to try and win the race. Young Captain Sunburst just like a seasoned veteran took off, and started to run by his competitors. Turning into the home stretch. Captain Sunburst was lying in third, and moving. At the 1/8 pole there was only Autumn Alley to beat. Captain Sunburst ran by him, and gave him a cold in doing so. Our "Captain Sunburst" was for real! We had a good racehorse on our hands. Also the great news was. There was no claims in for our racehorse. His sire "Rouge Sang" who was very unpopular had scared any would be claimers away. Our groups' plan had worked. We now had a promising young horse in our stable, and money in the bank. We were on our way! Captain Sunburst would never run in a claiming race again.