Monday, May 23, 2011

Dance For Lucy

To start this post I have to say "I Loved Lucy". Dance for Lucy will always be one of my favorite Wolfe runners!!!
It didn't start out that way. Here is my story.

When Dance For Lucy came into my horse racing life. Lucy was a large filly with lots of potential. But was also a very high strung, and unsure of herself. I did not look after Dance For Lucy. During her two year old year. That responsibility went to Charmaine W. Who is a very talented horse woman in her own right. That worked out well. Because Lucy and I did not enjoy good first impressions of each other.

Dance for Lucy was purchased by my father for Al and Marge Schmidt of Buffalo N.Y. and the Argyrides Brothers(Klitoes, Mike and Phil). Who operated the Racetrack Kitchen(Cafeteria) at Woodbine for years. Dance For Lucy received her name from Klitoes Argyrides' daughter Lucy.

My father Sheldon Wolfe purchased "Dance For Lucy" from the Keenland Fall Sales for $32,000 in 1988. Dance For Lucy was out of the excellent mare Fleet Courage . The only reason my dad was able to purchase Dance For Lucy for $32,000. Was the fact that she was sired by "Dance Bid". Who was not very popular in the horse racing community. Fleet Courage was an excellent race mare in her own right. Also all of the females from her side of the family were all successful producers of talented racehorses. Dance for Lucy had a highly successful 1/2 brother named "Iron Courage" who was the best turf horse racing in Chicago. When my Dad purchased Dance For Lucy in the fall of 1987.

Like always my father was very patient with Lucy. Dance For Lucy did not make her debut until October 1, 1988. It was an impressive debut! Lucy won her first race in professional style going to win by 1 & 1/2 lengths!

Dance For Lucy would come back for her second career start 18 days later and again score an impressive victory winning easily by 4 lengths. With Dave Penna in the saddle.

Lucy's final race as a two year old would take place at Greenwood on November 12, 1988. It would be her debut running in a stakes race. Again Dance For Lucy would complete the natural hat trick and remain undefeated. Winning the "Glorious Song" stakes race handily by 4 lengths. It now looked like the Sheldon Wolfe Racing Stable. Had found the world beater we had been dreaming about. The dream began when my Dad first attended horse racing at Dufferin Park back in the 1930's.

My father took Dance For Lucy to winter in Florida in 1988 to prepare Lucy for her promising 3 year old year racing season. However Lucy did not winter that well in Florida. Dance For Lucy made her 3 year old debut at Keeneland Race Course located in Lexington, Kentucky. It was disappointing race as Lucy not only suffered her first career loss. But Lucy also finished out of the money. Something wasn't right.

It was discovered when Dance For Lucy returned back to Woodbine. That she had developed a respiratory bleeding problem. This is a common problem in racehorses. When a racehorse is diagnosed with this problem. Medication can become the only solution. To allow the afflicted horses to race up to there potential. The diuretic drug Lasix is the treatment of choice. However at that time. Lasix was on the prohibited medication list for use at racetracks in Ontario.

Dance For Lucy races at Woodbine continued to be poor. The Argyrides brothers who owned 1/2 of Dance For Lucy. Had run out of patience with the Sheldon Wolfe racing Stable. The coach always has to take the blame when the athlete is not performing up to expectations. Also loyally on the racetrack, or in life in general can be non existent when things are not going well.

It was panic time to try anything. To try and get Lucy back to her talented form. We approached another Veterinarian working at Woodbine to treat Dance For Lucy with a drug called "Robinul" before her race in late September at Woodbine. The drug Robinul was used during human heart operations to prevent hemorrhage by the patient. It was not a diuretic. So the side effects were minimal. The vet agreed and treated Lucy with the Robinul. Dance For Lucy and our fortunes were going to reverse form. For Dance For Lucy ran a great race on the Robinul and just got beaten by a nose.

Our resident veterinary found out what had transpired, and complained to the stewards that we had treated Dance For Lucy with a prohibitive drug. There were not punitive actions taken against us or the Vet who had helped us. Since the racing comission were not testing for Robinul in the collected urine samples. The stewards just warned all of the veterinarians working at Woodbine not to treat anymore horses with Robinul prior to racing. It was now time for us to ship Dance For Lucy to a racetrack where she could legally run on anti bleeding medication. Back to Keeneland we would go.

The date was October 18, 1989. Dance For Lucy was back at Keeneland without winning a single race as a 3 year old. Lucy was coming off of a good second place finish in a 6 furlong race at Woodbine. Dance For Lucy was now running in a 1 mile & 1/16 allowance race at Keeneland on the turf. D. Wayne Lucas had one of his best 3 year old fillies in the race named Darby Shuffle. Who had finished 3rd in the Breeders Cup two year old filly race the previous year. Darby Shuffle was being ridden by hall of fame championship jockey Pat Day. My father had acquired the services of hall of fame jockey Jorge Velasquez to pilot Lucy. Who was also riding the fall Keeneland meet.

It was a very damp and cold fall day in Lexington, Kentucky. But I was now ready to enjoy one of my favorite moments in the horse racing game. Dance For Lucy broke alertly and was rated just off the pace, in the run down the backstretch. Lucy was running great and Jorge Velasquez had made the decisive decision to take away the inside from Darby Shuffle and Pat Day. Past the 3/8 pole from home. This 6 horse field had developed in a match race. Between our Lucy and Darby Shuffle. At this point magic was starting to happen before my eyes. Reaching the 1/4 pole. Pat Day tried to get Darby Shuffle to run by Dance For Lucy. Lucy had repelled the attack! At this point in the race. I knew Dance For Lucy had Darby Shuffle beat!!! And Lucy was going to win a huge race for us, at old Keeneland. Down the home stretch they went! A huge battle raged! Lucy was refusing to yield the lead! In the final 70 yards to the finish. Darby Shuffle and Pat Day made one final attempt to pass Lucy. Dance For Lucy was victorious by a head! The racing fans standing by me on that day. Must of thought I had completely lost my mind! My cheering for Lucy was so intense!!! That feeling of being in the winner's circle to cerebrate that great victory will never be lost!!!!!

From the Sheldon Wolfe Racing archives. You now have the chance to enjoy watching Dance For Lucy's fantastic race on You Tube.

A special photo from Keeneland Racecourse in 1989. One of our best racehorses "Dance For Lucy" being led by her trainer. My dad Sheldon Wolfe. Being ridden by jockey Mary Doser.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Dave Borden Expereince

Here is your chance now. To watch one of my all time favorite moments. Working in the Thoroughbred Racing Business!
Jockey Dave Borden who was a former champion jockey at Thistledown Racetrack in Cleveland, Ohio. Who was competing on the tough New York City circuit. When my dad and the owners of Myrthful Mynx, Les and Dianne Lee. Flew Dave in to pilot there talented filly in this tough 6 furlong race. Dave Borden was the difference in guiding Mynx to victory in this race.
This was the best race Myrthful Mynx raced on the main track in her career. Sadly Dave Borden never got the chance to ride her on the turf. Where she was very prolific!

The date of the race was September 16, 1981. The link for the video is below;

For more details of how this race came to be. Please read the post of "Myrthful Mynx".

Monday, May 2, 2011

Burgandy Dancer

It is time to remember our classy and talented filly "Burgandy Dancer". It was the year 1987 and Burgandy Dancer would enjoy one of the best years. A Sheldon Wolfe runner would ever turn in. Like a lot of the successful horses my dad trained. Burgandy Dancer did not race as a two year old.
Veteran Woodbine jockey Lloyd Duffy would pilot Burgundy Dancer to win 6 out of her first 7 lifetime races, as a 3 year old. The fifth win would be her only state race win. As Burgandy won the Duchess States Race wearing down her opposition that day. In a very determined effort.

I can remember Burgandy Dancer being a very gentle and intelligent lady. Who was serious about becoming a successful racehorse. Burgundy was easy to take care of, and was pretty easy to train. A lot of the success of of the Sheldon Wolfe horses. Had to go to Edie Tarves. Who is in fact a very talented 3 day event rider. Who competed for Canada in the 1984 Summer Olympic games, held in Los Angles. Edie worked as our main excerise rider for 7 enjoyable years. I know Burgandy Dancer was one of Edie's favorite Wolfe runner's.

The two pictures I have posted of Burgandy Dancer. The top picture is her second win of her career in her second race. Lloyd Duffy sent Burgandy right to the lead. Burgandy Dance would lead and control the pace for the entire race. Ain't That Wicked would prevent a serious challenge with a 1/16 of a mile to the finish line. However Burgandy Dancer would rebuff that challenge and pull away to earn her second career win, and remain undefeated!

Picture number 2 represents Burgandy States Race in the "Duchess Stakes". The date was August 3rd, 1987. Burgandy Dancer would not have the best of racing luck in this race. As Burgandy Dancer would have to overcome and inside post position, and also Lloyd Duffy couldn't find the best position around the far turn. So Burgandy Dancer was forced to outrun her opposition from the outside. Burgandy won this race on her class, and desire. That of a Thoroughbred!

Burgandy sadly was injured in a turf stakes race. Later that year. As she was badly bumped during the running of that race. Burgandy was retired and sold to interest in Australia. To start a new successful career as a broodmare. Burgandy Dancer will always be fondly remembered as one of our best!