After a 13 month Holiday, our Novgorod The Great was back in action at Tampa Bay Downs, where he
RAN A GAME SECOND!
This past April 29th, we entered our boy in a 6 furlong sprint on the sandy dirt in the featured 8th race - an AOC for a 31K purse. Since Novgorod has all his conditions still available to him, of course we did not dangle him for the 16k Claiming tag. Nobody is poaching our WarHorse from us!
Novgorod has been in the care of Trainer Jimmy Gulick down in Ocala, Fl - 1st at Jimmy's farm and then getting racing fit at the nearby Nelson Jones Training Center. Trainer Chris Block had arranged to send Novgorod down to Jimmy and got him race ready - as you can see.
Novgorod is owned in a 50/50 partnership with Princess Kathy Racing (Kathy & Rick) & Red Rabbit Racing. This race, we ran under the flamboyant Yellow & Magenta colors of Princess Kathy Racing as we alternate Race Colors each race. Trainer Gulick had secured the services of Jockey Skyler Spandel to ride our boy around the track and she did a stellar job. More on the race later.
Jimmy vanned Novgorod to Tampa Bay on RaceDay. At the track we were well represented. My Mom, spry as ever a fortnight shy of her 87th birthday, was in full command with her church friend Bonnie and a few members of her family - some of whom had never been to a racetrack before. Money Rabbit, (sister Jean) was there and had invited several friends from her Sarasota barn where she stables her pleasure horse, Lenny. Princess Kathy could not make it down and all other RRR partners couldn't as well. At the last minute, I flew down as Trainer Gulick had taunted me...
"You're Not Going To Want To Miss This!"
So Here's how the race unfolded.... Breaking from the 3 hole, Skyler hustled him out of their pronto and got the rail, running 3 across at the front. Opening fraction was 22 flat - which is absolutely BLISTERING. Half was in 45 and change - which is DOUBLE BLISTERING. Skyler wanted to make sure that she wasn't too far behind early, so she probably used a little more of the horse than we would have liked - but Novgorod was only too happy to comply.
As they went around the turn and entered the stretch, our boy was a couple lengths on the lead - with the other early frontrunners dropping back - dead from exhaustion. But, in the last furlong a grey six yearold, who'd been waiting in the weeds, outkicked us for home.
BUT WE WERE SO PROUD OF OUR BOY!
Picture upper left is Jockey Skyler beaming after the race. Picture left is Money Rabbit with Trainer Gulick and myself just after the race. Picture below is of the group we had that watched the race with us....
The Track Oddsmaker had set us as the longshot at 15/1 in the Morning Line, but by post time the crowd had bet us down to 8/1. Dancing Rabbit ( Jeff Johnson) had advised the partnership to "BET THE FARM!" No one disregards Dancing Rabbit when it comes to wagering advice, so the partnership earned a pretty penny outside the 2nd place purse.
A Couple Funny Stories.....
Another word of thanks goes to Trainer Gulick's able horsewomen, shown directly above, who are the real heroes of getting our boy back to the Racetrack. Jimmy's Master Groom is a woman named Roberta, who has led our boy every step of the way during his time in Ocala. She is absolutely superb and has our thanks. Also, a woman named Jo is Jimmy's exercise rider and she has also been stellar in helping our boy get back. We can't thank them enough....
Next race is undecided at present - so keep looking at the Website www.redrabbitracing.org for updates.
Thanks to Trainer Gulick, Trainer Block, Master Groomswoman Roberta, & Exercise Rider Jo, for the excellent job they did to get our boy back!
'twas a great day!