Friday, August 26, 2011


Thursday, August 25, 2011


Monday, May 23, 2011


There were no 2-year-old races for 5-23-11.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Listed below are 2-year-old winners from 04/08/2011

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Review of Stakes Winners From the 2010 2-Year-Old in-Training Sales

Below is a list of all the Stakes Winners that came out of the 2010 2-Year-Old In-Training Sales through 1/31/11. There's a chance that I missed one or two but I feel pretty confident that this is a comprehensive list. The list is organized by BRW (Best Race Won) and includes the track where they won their best race, sire, dam, the 2YO sale into which they were entered, the price they sold for and their breeze time. Of course, the crop of 2-year-olds that came out of last year's training sales still have long careers ahead of them but I thought it would be interesting to check out the early returns.

Here are a few interesting stats I compiled from this information:

Overall Sales Average = $101,189.65
Overall Sales Median = $ 70,000.00
Overall % Sold = 83%

Of the 2010 2YO In-Training Sales horses that where Stakes Winners 37% were GSW's.
Sales Average for Graded Stakes Winners = $110,500.00
Sales Median for Graded Stakes Winners = $ 55,000.00
% Sold for Graded Stakes Winners = 77%

Of the 2010 2YO In-Training Sales horses that where Stakes Winners 77% were sold at The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company.

Of the 2010 2YO In-Training Sales Horses that where Stakes Winners 43% were sold at The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's April Sale.

The Average 1/8 work went in 10.1 with nothing slower that 10.4
The Average 1/4 work went in 21.2 with nothing slower than 22.2
The Average 3/8 work went in 33.3 with nothing slower than 34.2

The Average Sales price for 1/8 Workers = $127,785.00
The Median Sales Price for 1/8 Workers = $132,500.00
The % Sold of 1/8 Workers = 82%

The Average Sales price for 1/4 Workers = $ 78,363.00
The Median Sales Price for 1/4 Workers = $ 40,000.00
The % Sold of 1/4 Workers = 85%

The Average Sales price for 3/8 Workers = $ 56,700.00
The Median Sales Price for 3/8 Workers = $ 29,000.00
The % Sold of 3/8 Workers = 80%

% of 3/8 Workers that became Graded Stakes Winners = 75%
% of 1/4 Workers that became Graded Stakes Winners = 53%
% of 1/8 Workers that became Graded Stakes Winners = 18%

From this very small sample it looks as though buyers were better off purchasing that fast 1/4 or 3/8 work they liked than the 1/8 works. There's a much better chance they will become Graded Stakes Winners and on average they cost less.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Rick Venenga with Kaminari

In this edition of Here's The Deal we get to know Pocket Aces Racing partner Rick Venenga.

HTD: Can you tell us a little bit about your background? Profession, family, where you’re from and where you live now, etc.

RV: I have grown up in the Midwest here in Iowa my whole life. I grew up in a little community of about 3,000 residents where most of my family either lived on or was part of farming. I currently live in Waterloo, Iowa. I went to College in Missouri and after receiving my degree came back to Iowa to start my professional career. Currently I own with another business partner a counseling agency called Families First Counseling that provides service for children and families all across Eastern Iowa. We are one of the largest Counseling agencies in the State. I have been part of working with children and families in Human Services for over 28 years now. I have been married for 23 years to my wife Tammy. My wife also works in the profession of helping others as currently she is employed by the State of Iowa as a counselor at a local college.

HTD: How were you introduced to the sport of thoroughbred racing?

RV: My father introduced me to the sport on weekend trips to some of the thoroughbred tracks that were close. We would go for the weekend and have time together as a family. Through the years we would go to different tracks across the country such as Arlington, Canterbury Downs, Keenland, Churchill Downs, Gulfstream, and others where you got to see the horses up close. The sport has always been part of our family discussion and has been close to us over the years.

HTD: Who is your all-time favorite male and female horse? Why?

RV: My favorite male horse of all time is Barbaro. Barbaro captured the country with not just his spectacular win in the Kentucky Derby but his will to survive after his injury in the Preakness. The rallying cry and support from the fans and the team around Barbaro became a inspiration to all of us even after his death. The first time visiting Churchill Downs and seeing the Barbaro memorial statue meant a lot to me.

My favorite female horse of all time besides of coarse being a little biased with Turbulant Descent, Dixies Hope, Mirador, and Kaminari is Zenyatta. I believe Zenyatta with all the excitement she brought with her magical streak created a big buzz around the sport and brought in many new fans as evident by the fact if you go to youtube and see all the videos created by her fans, the power pink that came out at the tracks, and the media coverage. Zenzatta brought that enthusiasm back to our sport and has given the thoroughbred industry a lot of new fans.

HTD: You’ve participated in the sport for awhile now, what would be your best advice for someone who is considering the transition from racing fan to owner?

RV: I did a lot of research and phone calling asking a lot of questions to a lot of people. I found all though there is many types of Thoroughbred operations out there you need to identify for yourself first what your budget and amount of control you would like to have. For me the idea of being part of a partnership that has professional people who control the horses operations and being a part owner has been a wonderful blessing. I have had the opportunity to meet so many great people in this industry that share my passion for the sport and over the coarse of time have become my friends. On race day the anxiety and excitement of seeing a horse that you are part of run in a race where ever that is, is such a natural high that I cant describe the feeling unless you are part of it. Three big pieces of advice I would like to give to new owners coming into this business once you have formed your budget.

1. Like purchasing the correct breed of a dog for your family pet, you have to have the right partnership with thoroughbreds for you. There are so many different partnership operations out there that offer different things so know what you are looking for, do your research on them, and call them directly and see if they treat you with great customer service. For me Pocket Aces offered it all for me. Reasonable share prices in quality thoroughbreds, location of where they do their racing, and the great customer service I have received from the beginning all the way until now as a current owner with Pocket Aces of Mirador, Posso, and now looking at Kamanari.

2. Don't expect you are going to hit the jackpot on every purchase. To put it in perspective My friend Mike who is a co-owner of some horses has told me there is 30,000 new thoroughbreds born every year. Only 20 run in the Kentucky Derby. Make sure you are in it for the fun and life style. Hey, and if you happen to make some money along the way fantastic!

3. Enjoy the opportunity to go see these great athletes in action on and off the track! Enjoy the great ride with your horse and new friendships that you will form along the way in the right partnership!

HTD: In your opinion, what are some of the most difficult challenges facing the sport of thoroughbred racing currently?

RV: The economy of coarse has been tough but some tracks have suffered with the lack of support from local governments to supplement the local track with other forms of gambling such as slots which increase the purses and make a bigger draw of people coming out to the tracks. However, with all that said I always notice the local tracks making it more family friendly with games, prizes, lots of music so the whole family can enjoy.

HTD: What’s your favorite race track? Why?

RV: My favorite track is where I have seen live racing is called Canterbury Downs in the Twin Cities. It bills itself as the friendliest track in the country. Give it a try sometime-they make it very entertaining and you are right on top of the horses with your seats. Churchill Downs is my all time favorite track. Although I have visited there I have never seen live racing there. I will be changing that real soon hopefully this summer. The history of Churchill Downs is second to none.

HTD: Other than thoroughbred horse racing what are few of your other hobbies and interests?

RV: When I am not working I love to play golf, follow sports, enjoy my time at home with my two cats Nipper and Lipton, and every moment I can get with my wife Tammy, family, and all the friends I am so blessed to have.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mulligan Time

With word that Tapizar is off the Derby trail I would like to take my one mulligan and replace him with another horse on my 5 To Watch For The Derby list.

Machen - This son of Distorted Humor has a lot to do and not much time to get it done but in just 2 races at 3 he has already proven himself as a horse with as much raw talent as any in this year's Derby crop. Trainer Neil Howard does have his work cut out for him with this colt. First off, he has no graded stakes earnings (a problem he can remedy this weekend in the $300,000 Risen Star-G2). Secondly, and most concerning, is that the horse does have a propensity to be rank in the early stages of his race. He's got some big hurdles he needs to get over quickly but I just have a feeling that if Theriot can get him to relax just a little in the Risen Star he can overwhelm the other horse with his natural ability. If he does that this weekend he will be right in the thick of things.

Friday, February 4, 2011

5 For The 1st Saturday in May

Around this time last year I picked my 5 early favorites for the Kentucky Derby. One of my selections was eventual winner Super Saver so I felt like it was important to try and keep the streak alive. Does 1 year constitute a streak? Anyway, here are 5 to watch for the 2011 Kentucky Derby.

1.) Uncle Mo - 2 year-old champions don't always make great Kentucky Derby contenders. If he runs he's likely to be the prohibitive favorite as well and we all know how poorly favorites have fared in Derby's recent history. This horse seems a lot more like the real deal then some of the disappointing 2-year-old champs and Derby favorites we've seen fall by the wayside in previous years though. He wasn't the best 2-year-old in the land last year by virtue of the fact that he was the most precocious of his generation, he was the best because he had the most talent. To this point his running style suggests that he needs to be on or very near the lead which can make the Derby distance of 10 furlongs very hard to get but every so often you get a front runner who forgets that he's supposed to stop running. Unless he's forced into a ridiculous pace scenario he will be very tough to beat.

2.) To Honor and Serve - Last year's Nashua and Remsen winner already runs like he's an old pro. I love his pedigree - Bernardini out of a Deputy Minister mare. He likes to be near the lead too, always a possibility that he and Uncle Mo wear each other out but this one doesn't seem to need the lead like Uncle Mo. Would love to see Mott hoist his first derby trophy.

3.) Soldat - Most recently seen thumping an allowance field by more that 10 on a sloppy track at Gulfstream. He could really be one to watch if there is an off track on Derby day. He is scheduled to run next in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream, could really legitimize his chances with a big performance over a fast track.

4.) Tapizar - Turned in the best run I've seen for a riderless horse in his first start. Without any guidance, obviously, he ducked down on the rail when they passed the grandstand for the first time - a difficult enough task for a first time starter that has a rider. As the field galloped down the backstretch it appeared that he had lost interest but as they straightened up for home Tapizar re-rallied and blew by everyone. He managed to keep his rider on in his last start, a win in the Sham S. at Santa Anita, and looked ultra tough in doing so.

5.) Clubhouse Ride - The problem with the 1-4 horses is that it appears as though they all want to be near the lead so the race may set up for a closer. I liked the way he ran 2nd to Tapizar in the Sham and the Derby could set up well for a horse like this.