Racing Update – September 22, 2013

Battier, coming off a fourth-place finish in the Smarty Jones Stakes, ran third in yesterday’s $1 million Grade II Pennsylvania Derby at Parx, in Philadelphia. He earned $111,200 for the effort. Finishing 2 3/4 lengths behind winner Will Take Charge, and a neck short of second-place Moreno — each of whom is ranked among the top 3YO colts in the country this year — Battier looked like a possible winner driving down the stretch, but fell just short. We were thrilled, to say the least. Next race will probably be a Grade III Stakes at Aqueduct six weeks from now, but plans are fluid.

In Lingerie is due to enter the Keeneland sales ring in November, where she will be sold in foal to Frankel. Connections say she looks fabulous and are excited by sale prices at the recent Keeneland yearling sale. Here she is in a photo taken last week.


State of Play did not draw into his Stakes race at Laurel Park yesterday, and now is planned to go in a one-mile allowance on turf October 5th at Laurel.

Bee Brave is said to be progressing nicely, but not in fitness shape for racing just yet, as you can see from this photo.

Bajan had a very nice work last week, going 35 and change over 3 furlongs. She is planning to run October 13 at Santa Anita in the $70,000 Anoakia Stakes on dirt, at 6 furlongs, if all goes well.

Everything looking good, so far.

Racing Update – September 4, 2013

Since the last update, two horses have run, with mixed results.

Two-year-old filly Bajan ran in the Del Mar Debutante Derby, a $300,000 G1 last Saturday , August 31. She finished 6th, and her jockey Victor Espinosa — who has been aboard for all three of her races — reported that she unexpectedly broke in to a lather of a sweat before entering the gate. She was never a factor in the race, but the management team seems to view it as an anomalous “fugataboudit”! We shall see. In any event she came out of the race in good condition, and future races are under consideration. Seasoned observers beyond our connections still have confidence in her.

Battier, our 3-year-old colt — named after Duke basketball player Shane Battier  — ran the following Monday, September 2, at Parx racetrack near Philadelphia, in the G3 Smarty Jones Stakes for $350,000. After falling far back entering the first turn, he rallied nicely, but went 6-wide around the 2nd turn, and had only enough in the tank for a fourth-place finish. He earned $21,500 for the effort and pleased our connections enough that they are looking at the September 21 Pennsylvania  Derby for $1million. The race is also at Parx, a track Battier seems very comfortable running. This race was more encouraging than it first seemed, as jockey inexperience — a common villain in horse disappointment — was blamed with some apparent justification.

Bee Brave, a 3-year-old filly who has been on the shelf since arriving from England as a heralded 2-year-old, finally appears to be healthy, and is in training in Lexington, KY. She has never run in the US, and sending her to California from Europe now seems to have been an unwise move in retrospect. Being a Kentuckian, I can understand, never having been really comfortable in California. Looking forward to seeing her race in 2013.

State of Play is in serious training at Fair Hill, where Barry Irwin continues to tout TVI sole trainer Rick Mettee as the second coming of Ben Jones. Not our affair. Geh gesundte heh! According to notes released, State of Play is expected to be ready to run at Laurel in  Maryland this month.

And last . . . In Lingerie, healthily in foal to Frankel, will be sold at the Keeneland Broodmare Sales in November. HUGE expectations! At least from Laurie and Gerry.

Fingers crossed.

Horse Racing Update August 2013

Since our last update last December, there have been significant changes in our ownership interests and status of currently owned horses.

First the bad news:

We claimed a half-brother of Pluck named Southern Heart, who turned out not to want to pursue a career in racing and was retired after three lackluster efforts. He is currently in Law School at Stetson, wherever that is.

Vapour Musing, who won her last two races, developed ankle problems late last year and never raced again. It was felt she was likely to break down, and a good home was found for her.

Matagot, a horse for whom we held some expectations, was a non-winner and retired.

Bee Brave, a European filly who had a promising start in England, has been snake-bit from the start after being shipped to the US after purchase, with one ailment after another. (Laurie thinks she didn’t like the smog in Los Angeles.) She has not run here since being shipped from England. She now appears to be injury-free and happy in the east, and at last notice should resume training this fall. We own shares in her in partnership with son Phil.

Now for the good — and possibly great — news:

In Lingerie was successfully bred to Frankel in England in April, subsequently shipped back to Lexington, KY, this spring, and is being groomed and pampered in anticipation of her sale in foal at the Keeneland sales this November. Frankel was the most sought-after sire in the world this spring, after being called the greatest horse of the past century. (That is, 100 years, not 13). Sale expectations are running rampant — at least in Laurie’s imagination — and she expects we will be able to retire some time after the sale.

State of Play also experienced health problems after his disappointing run in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. He ran first in a March 2012 race, then third in an April 2012 race, but has not run since. He was declared fit again about three months ago and has been returned to training, where he is now breezing 5 furlongs in good style. Management still has confidence in him, both as a racehorse and a breeding stallion. We shall see. They anticipate a September return to racing.

New acquisition Battier, May 2013, had never run out of the money in 5 previous races prior to our purchasing him, and has two third place finishes in three starts in stakes races, including a G2. His only stinker was a 6th place finish in a G2. He appears to be back on track and is poised for a $350,000 G2 at Parx on Sept 2.



And last, we bought into Bajan, a 2yo filly, after seeing her acquired at the Ocala Breeder’s Sales ring for $80,000 this May. ( Top price paid for any filly in the sale was $800,000.) She ran second in a $52,000 maiden race against colts in her debut, then came back to break her maiden for $75,000 at Del Mar last time out, beating some highly heralded fillies, including the Ocala $800,000 buy. She will go in the Del Mar Debutante Stakes, a G1 $300,000 race.

Exciting prospects through the late summer and fall. More later!



Vapour Musing, Matagot, State of Play and Fifth Gear Update

Vapour Musing, coming off a maiden win, was totally unimpressive in her follow-up, with the connections suggesting that she needs a longer race, and more maturity.  Her pedigree suggests that she will do best running long races on the turf when she is older. A call from a TVI staffer urged us to keep the faith while this tall, rangy filly matures.  OK!  We will.

Fifth Gear, a two-year-old colt, clearly hasn’t gotten the message yet, as he ran poorly in his second outing. The jockey said he heard the colt make a noise before he quit trying.  A dynamic scope (a very sophisticated diagnostic tool for discovering breathing problems) revealed… nothing!  And the management/vet explanation was that most two-year-olds have a sore throat now. OK again! We’ll keep the faith.  Fifth Gear has run (or zig-zagged) to no avail in two starts, mouthing the equivalent of WTF? while seeing that other horses may be using his track.

And then Matagot, who finished 8th in his debut at Saratoga on Saturday, August 4th, is clearly a “green” two-year-old who has much to learn, but whose connections are not as panicked as he was to find himself confronted by eight other colts tearing down the course. He raced without blinkers, which meant that he was easily distracted.  Hopefully much better is in store for him.

And finally, State of Play, the hard-luck story of 2011, fighting through multiple injuries and setbacks, appears healed, and is back in training. Time will tell whether this promising colt will be able to regain form and once again become a player.  He is much too talented to be sidelined by injuries, and we expect him to be back in form very soon.

More later!


Salmon Coulibiac Dinner

About once a year, we invite a few friends over to try our brioche-wrapped wild king salmon dish, using a recipe by Rose Levy Beranbaum from her book Rose’s Melting Pot. While she is best known for her book, The Cake Bible, I think her Melting Pot is one of the best cookbooks around. No recipe better exemplifies this than “Russian Rivers Salmon Pie (coulibiac)”. It is not an easy dish to make- and is full of opportunities for disaster – and takes parts of three days to prepare at that. But it elegant and wonderfully flavorful, and visually is beautiful and unusual.

It might help to understand the narrative by going to the gallery link here.

The brioche is prepared two days before service, from bread flour, eggs, and butter. It goes through two rises, with refrigerator time in between, to keep the butter from separating, and firming the dough. It is kept chilled until ready to roll out on the third day.

The salmon is briefly poached in chicken broth and white wine, with sliced mushrooms on top. The poaching broth is poured off and used to make a veloute, along with egg yolks and lemon juice, a roux, and seasonings. After thickening, the veloute with the mushrooms added is placed over the salmon and put in the refrigerator to chill until set, up to a day.

Crepes are made from cornstarch, milk, eggs, and minced dill and parsley. These, too, can be made a day ahead and chilled.

Next, couscous is prepared, adding chopped hard-boiled eggs, and minced dill and parsley.

The day of service, the brioche is rolled out and lined with dill crepes to keep the brioche from getting wet from the salmon mixture. Layers of couscous and salmon-veloute are alternated, followed by a final dill crepe covering, and the brioche is pulled together, trimmed and sealed, decorated with pastry cut-shapes and brushed with an egg glaze.

After resting (the coulibiac, not the chef) it is baked for an hour.

The coulibiac is removed from the oven, cooled, sliced, and served with clarified butter. Now do you see why we only make it once a year?


Racing Update

Hello all,

We are just back from a two-week driving trip to visit kids and grandkids in St. Louis and Washington, D.C.  As you know if you read the previous post, our connections decided not to enter In Lingerie in the Kentucky Oaks tomorrow. She is not injured, but Todd Pletcher and our CEO Aron Wellman felt her last work did not warrant an entry in the Oaks, given the level of competition. The fourteen best fillies in the country will be competing in this “Run for the Lilies” the day before the Kentucky Derby.  If our filly isn’t at her best, it wouldn’t be fair to run her against them.

In the meantime, Sweet Cat ran yesterday at Belmont in a non-graded stakes for $85,000, and finished a non-threatening second, four lengths behind the winner, Jazzy Idea, and nearly two lengths ahead of the third place finisher. The speed of the race was an extraordinary 1:10 and change, and Sweet Cat earned $17,000. Still and all, she was widely expected to win, so the race was a disappointment overall.

Further on, our third filly, three-year-old Vapour Musing, goes in a maiden special weight at Pimlico tomorrow in the 10th race, for a $31,000 purse. We don’t believe our connections have much confidence in her, echoed by her morning line fifth choice in a field of nine. BTW, of the six horses we currently own in partnerships, Vapour Musing and Fifth Gear (our new two-year-old acquisition with son Phil, who is just in training and has never raced), all of the others are Stakes winners or Graded Stakes placed. This includes Pluck, winner of the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf; Sweet Cat, third- place finisher in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf; and State of Play, winner of the Grade 2 With Anticipation Stakes — who is recovering from stifle injuries. He is expected to run in the James Murphy Stakes at Pimlico for $100,000 on May 19, if his stifles heal.

And last, but not least, In Lingerie, expected to run in the Kentucky Oaks, was deemed not ready at this time for the level of competition that the Oaks presented, and is instead pointed toward the Black-eyed Susan at Pimlico the day before the Preakness two weeks later, where the level of competition is expected to be less intense — although not to say easy.

Keep posted!  Comments welcome.


Growing up Jewish in the 40’s

Yes, it is true that I found the play Yentel unsatisfactory. The characters were wooden, the dialogue stilted, the scenarios highly improbable. Did the mikvah lady really collect the marital sheet to check for blood? No matter. My argument with the play lay deeper.

I grew up Jewish in Louisville, a midwestern city with clearly Southern traditions, in the 40’s and 50’s. The Jewish community at that time numbered about 10,000 out of a population of about 350,000. There were several shules (synagogues), Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. Keneseth Israel, where my parents belonged, considered themselves Orthodox, though by no means would it be considered such today. Perhaps a better appellation might be Southern Orthodox, or as I perceived it later, Conservative.

Nontheless, growing up there, we thought our synagogue was Orthodox. When I was very young, women sat in an upstairs gallery called a mehitzah, apart from the men. That was later liberalized so that the mehitzah became a curtain separating men and women downstairs, about 1950. Sometime later, the mehitzah was reduced to a small portion of the main floor, while everyone else sat together.

Women were never called to the Torah (to read from the scriptures in Hebrew).  Never at that time were women counted in the minyan (the requirement of ten men to pray), 140 years later than the Yentl play, and never were women called to the bimah for aliyas, or honors, such as dressing the Torah or opening the Ark.

I confess that this did not bother me at the time, and I continued to observe as I had been taught — albeit with more and more questions — until my daughter, Marcy, was to be Bat-Mitzvah. Sons Phil and Louis had been Bar-Mitzvah earlier, in traditional ceremonies. As Marcy approached her own Bat-Mitzvah, she asked me why she couldn’t do the traditional prayers on Shabbos morning (Saturday), as her brothers had. I arranged to ask the rabbi, at a meeting with Marcy and me. The rabbi’s answer was, “It isn’t discriminatory. Women just do not have the same religious obligation as men.” That marked the beginning of the end of my observant Judaism. The same dialogue was in the the play Yentl, set 100 years earlier, and struck me to the heart.

This personal anecdote only serves to mark the connection of my story to the traditions of the past several hundred years, in some cases a thousand or more, which continue today in the horrendous conduct of Orthodox Jews persecuting an innocent young girl walking to school in her own neighborhood in Israel, because her sleeves weren’t long enough. Or a Muslim woman scarred with acid because she dared to refuse an arranged marriage. Or a Catholic woman denied communion because she confessed using contraception to her priest.

I am more and more convinced that fundamentalist religion — Jewish, Christian, or Muslim — does more harm to women specifically and humanity in general than any perceived threat of “godlessness” that we hear about from our politicians today.  I continue to believe that reasonable people of faith can be both right and relevant, as long as they don’t infringe upon the beliefs, nonbeliefs, or practices of those who disagree.  In my view, there is no justification for trying to convince people who disagree with you on a religious basis to come to your point of view. And certainly no justification for imposing your own beliefs on them in the name of the law.



In Lingerie goes in $100,000 Bourbonette Stakes

In Lingerie, a three-year-old daughter of Empire Maker, out of Cat Chat by Storm Cat, is our latest thoroughbred purchase. We are part of a syndicate (a really small part) who bought this promising filly after an impressive maiden win. She finished second to a wonder horse in her last outing, after a near-disastrous experience in the gate. She is listed among the top fillies in the early betting pools for the Kentucky Oaks, which is the big race run the day before the Derby each year at Churchill Downs.

As noted above, she will run in the Bourbonette Stakes this Saturday at Turfway Park, outside Cincinnati. Should she run well, she will move on to the Oaks in May. The Oaks is the biggest race in America for three-year-old fillies, the “girl” equivalent to the Kentucky Derby and the race that was won so spectacularly a couple of years ago by the great filly Rachel Alexandra.

But, as Robert Frost wrote, ” I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.”  We’ll keep you posted (no pun intended). Fingers crossed.