Sunday, December 30, 2012

F Sixteen - The Racing Days

Pilot I got fresh off the racetrack, up to the day he shipped out of Belmont to the farm he was in active race training though he hadn't raced for about 2 months by the time I got him.

Unlike Melody, Pilot was quite successful on the track. In 12 starts he finished first 3 times and second 3 times with earnings totaling $118,786.

Like Melody his racing name, F Sixteen, was most likely inspired from his pedigree, he is a bay gelding sired by Unbridled Jet out of Boldly Appealing by Valid Appeal.

His dam Boldly Appealing while unraced has produced some nice foals. She is the dam of 9 foals and 7 foals to race. All but two of her foals of racing age have broken their maiden's, of those 4 are multiple winners. Pilot is her second highest earning foal behind Bythebeautifulsea who has earned upwards of $300,000 and is multiple stakes placed. Only one of her foals is currently running, Outburst, a 3yo filly by Flashy Bull who has yet to break her maiden in 10 starts but has earned $37,123 on the way, that is the kind of maiden you want! Boldly Appealing also has a yearling (will be a 2yo in two days) colt by Colonel John who I am excited to follow and is reported to be in foal to Desert Party for 2013.

Pilot first debuted June 22nd, 2005 as a three year old. He had very nice works going into the race and was bet down as the heavy favorite in a New Jersey bred maiden special weight at Monmouth Park going six furlongs. He broke slow and settled in the back of the pack in the early stages he made a move from 10th to 5th at the half mile pole, was third by 4 lengths coming into the stretch and finished strongly down the lane to finish 2nd of 11 beaten only 1 1/4 lengths. About a month later he started again for the same condition and thanks to his performance in his debut was once again the heavy favorite. The chart reads 'F Sixteen was slow into stride, never factored and bled'. This was a chronic problem for him and if I remember correctly was why he debuted so late. Luckily for him his connections decided to give him time and let him heal. When there is a bleeder comment in the racing chart you know the horse must have bled badly for it to have been visibly noticed. Pilot shipped to our farm to rest after he bled and he wouldn't race again for another year.

His next start would be the race which I saw, they entered him longer this time, a mile versus 6 furlongs, where he finished a solid fourth in June of 2006. Early in August he ran a similar race to once again finish 4th of 10. Later that month he showed improvement, finishing 2nd of 7 behind a runaway Gorgie G who went on to win by 9 3/4 lengths. September 8th he came even closer, this time beaten a head after stumbling at the start and battling on the rail which is a tough spot for horses to prevail because they tend to get intimidated with the rail on one side and a horse on the other.

September 24th he was once again the heavy favorite and it was finally his turn. He broke well and settled closer to the pace than was his custom. He advanced to contention on the final turn and drew clear at the quarter pole and ran off to win by 8 3/4 lengths under a handride by Eddie Castro. After breaking his maiden he made his next start at the Meadowlands in a state bred first level allowance. In almost the exact same fashion as his maiden breaking win he made a sweeping move around the turn and was clear coming out of the turn. This time though he was challenged down the stretch by two different horses but once again prevailed by three quarters of a length. Unfortunately after this race the New Jersey meet ended so they experimented with a race up in New York at Aqueduct, a 2 mile Allowance which is practically unheard of in the states. Despite this it attracted an 8 horse field though you could tell by the running of the race that most of the horses and the riders were not used to running this type of distance, the fractions set were a bit to fast early and all the front runners but one were eased down the stretch, Pilot was one of those front runners.

Pilot was sent back to the farm again for the winter and then was brought back for what would be his final season on the racetrack. In his 5yo debut, a 2 other than allowance on the dirt, he showed great heart when he had to angle out 5 wide coming into the stretch and then was knocked into multiple times by Four Shore who kept knocking his hind end out from under him. His rider then checked him pulled him outside the horse who was bothering him and then closed steadily to just get up for the win. They tried him next out at Belmont where he was outrun from the start. His final start ended up being a Jerseybred stake where he finished 5th of 9 in the Lincroft Handicap. On paper it did not look like that terrible of a run, he came from out of it to finish 5th but his connections saw something they did not like and decided to let him try out a different career.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Meet Pilot

Pretty much all of 2007 Melody was just not quite right. She would go on and off lame every once in a while which mostly we attributed to her feet, they are terrible! Finally in August she started going off after jumping so we decided to get x-rays to find out what exactly was going on. What we found was she was getting arthritic in both front fetlocks along with an old sesamoid injury that had recently been exacerbated and re-injured. Our vet who is one of the best lameness vets in the country suggested injecting her joints with hyaluronic acid which is a much better option than hydrocortisone in my opinion which is known to be a great help for a time for inflammation but with use causes cartilage damage which gets you right back where you started! He also suggested stall rest for 6 weeks followed by handwalking and then gradually getting back to turnout. We did as prescribed, she ended up without a rider for about a year. He said best case scenario she would get better but looking at the damage he cautioned she might not be anything more than a trail horse.

Needless to say I was heart broken, as difficult as this horse had been she was FINALLY getting it together. We were schooling upwards of 3' at home and she was going beautifully! So like the stupid kid I was back then I decided I needed a new horse!

Enter Pilot, jockey club registered F Sixteen. Get it?! Clever nickname right? ;)

I first met Pilot when he was a three year old in November of 2005. He and a few other horses shipped into the farm for lay-up over the winter. He was a holy terror, he was a gelding, than goodness, and had (and still does) a MASSIVE oral fixation. He always had to try to bite you or chew on something, it wasn't malicious, he thought he was being funny. At times we called him alligator when he was being particularly obnoxious. He left in March the following year to get back to the races.

In June his owners invited the bosses and myself to one of his races at Monmouth Park. Ironically this ended up being my first live racing experience, I'd seen hundreds of races on the television but had never been to a live race. He ended up finished a good 4th of 7 beaten 8 1/4 lengths. Minutes before the race the skies opened up and what had been a fast track turned into a sloppy mess. He broke awkwardly and trailed the field but made a nice move and came in fourth. While disappointed his owners were pleased with the performance considering the start and he hadn't run in almost a year.

We met again in November that year when he was sent back to the farm for a rest. In his time at the farm while he was in race training I only ever rode him once, the day before he left in March of 2007. I remember him as being a beautiful mover albeit a bit lazy. Everyone at the farm really liked him, he was beautifully put together and had such a great way of moving, he was also very supple and flexible which impressed everyone because quite a few racehorses are stiff, as a baby someone started him right.

Late in 2007 as I was contemplating the idea of another horse his owner's contacted my bosses telling them that they were going to retire F Sixteen as he'd had two poor performances and their trainer believed he would need to be dropped in the claiming ranks. His owner's did not run any of their horses run for tags, if they wouldn't be competitive in allowances they would retire and rehome them. His owner's are very prominent on the OTTB front and they've had great success rehoming their horses because each horse they purchase is of very high quality. As we got more of their horses in for lay-up we noticed they were commonly of the same conformation and build. Honestly each of their horses are drop-dead gorgeous.

My boss mentioned that F Sixteen was looking for a home and I jumped on the oppurtunity. If I'm being completely honest this was a dumb move, as hot as Melody was Pilot is a VERY quirky horse and while now after 5 years of owning him I'm enjoying him, for years he was pure hell to ride. Violently spooky, spins, massive bucks, leaps, bolting, propping, you could NOT trail ride him, he would rather lay down than cross a stream, the sound of the grass blowing, birds flying by, squirrel of death equaled instant horror, falling down while spooking because he wasn't paying attention to where his feet were, anything you can think of he did minus one, he has never reared which I am thankful for, I hate rearers! Many, many times I have seriously considered contacting his owners to get him rehomed (they give their horse's away but you have to sign a contract stating that if you no longer want/can care for the horse you will notify them so they can either approve a new home or take him back). Every time I was entertaining these thoughts he would do something that would change my mind, this horse is so athletic he has so much ability, we just had to dig through 5 years of horrible and now we are tapping into the potential.

So, with all that said, meet Pilot!