The early part of this year saw the racing schedule rather interrupted by the rain at Fair Grounds. Having had a very good start to the meet down there and weather to go with it, we then had some interruptions with a number of runners: Summer in Adriane had to scratch out of two Stakes races, Son of a Birch scratched out of two Allowances, and Charging had to scratch out of a Stake. It was frustrating, but luckily things turned and we got better weather to wrap up our Louisiana stay.

With the Fair Grounds meet now over, there’s a strong possibility that we’ll send a small number of horses, probably around six, to Keeneland to compete in their Spring meet. I think we’ve got a number of horses that fit their program well, so I’m hoping to get the stalls we need to participate.

I was absolutely thrilled with the return of Cees Get Degrees on February 9. This is a horse we claimed back at Saratoga, and Rainbow’s End Racing has been wonderful with, giving him some very needed time off, bringing him back slowly, and getting him ready for a winter campaign. He’s a very likeable horse who tried very hard to win by a head last out and seems to have come out of the race in good shape.

Two days later on February 11, Amy’s Light, the smallest horse in our shed row, showed great tenacity to break her maiden. This daughter of Central Banker is a first foal and as such has typical first foal-syndrome of not being very big, but she doesn’t know she’s not very big, so we call her Small and Mighty, especially when she gets her picture taken. Absolutely thrilled for the DiDonatos and partners, she’s their first homebred and I’m hoping I’m lucky enough to train any siblings. If they have as much heart as their diminutive sister, they have a real shot at being a racehorse.

The surprise of the month was Curbstone, who had his prior start in Saratoga. He’d been on the go for a good while and we felt he needed a freshening up. He went to Dr. Stowe Burke in Saratoga and came back three months ago looking really well. He’s a big horse who doesn’t do an awful lot in the mornings and is not an exuberant breezer. I felt we’d done enough work with him to get a run under his belt on February 25. Trevor McCarthy took over for Manny Franco, who had another obligation to ride for Chad Brown, and Curbstone did something he’s never done before: he managed to win a one-turn dirt race.

I’ll be completely honest, I was simply using this as a prep for a race I had picked at the end of March, so it was with great surprise and joy that Curbstone could get through this second level condition on his first go. Trevor McCarthy gave him a wonderful ride and a real chance to finish the race nicely so we could get what we wanted out of it. It wasn’t until there was only a sixteenth-of-a-mile to run that we realized he had a big possibility of winning. Thrilled for Mrs. Moseley, a long time client and owner/breeder, who’s had some tough luck with her breeding operation.

It’s nice to have a number of horses back in now, such as Ez Roll and American Know How. It’s also nice to be back on the trainer’s roster for Donegal Racing, who have sent us two Uncle Mo colts currently training nicely at Fair Grounds. One of them, who will remain nameless for now, appears to have above average ability, which is very exciting.

The month of March had me in Ocala briefly attending OBS, but mainly visiting some of our horses who have just turned two. It’s a wonderful time of year to get down and see how the babies have developed in their different ways and who’s getting close to being ready to come in, who needs a bit more time, etc. I’m looking forward to this group of two-year-olds. They look like a solid bunch. Hopefully he can have some juvenile success if not more than we did last year.

One of the perks of a late winter break for the children is the chance to take Grace and Willow down to New Orleans. It’s such a fun city to take young children to between the zoo, the children’s museum, going racing and catching up with old mates. It was a wonderful time and true working vacation for me as I worked in the mornings and then would parade with the girls in the afternoon. Maggie headed off to Arkansas to cover the Rebel Stakes, leaving me with the girls to have daddy-daughter time before flying back to New York.

Probably the highlight of the whole thing was feeding giraffes out of our hands at a wonderful animal sanctuary outside of New Orleans.

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