Friday, April 30, 2010

If you don’t like the weather at Belmont, wait a minute. That’s what it’s felt like this spring. A couple of weeks ago, it had felt like summer – and now that’s back. But when Joe and Steve were at Belmont on Sunday morning, it was cold and rainy yet again. So cold that Joe and Steve were on their own – unlike last week, when, in bright sunshine and balmy breezes, they were joined by partners Vinny DiSpigno, John Capece, and Ellen Cohn. And, so rainy that a lot of the horses just jogged around inside the barns, rather than getting their feet all muddy on the training track. That was probably better for the horses – and their riders – but visitors beware! It wasn’t so great for Joe and Steve, who barely had time to leap out of the way whenever a horse came jogging around the corner of the shedrow.

We checked out Good Law at Bruce Brown’s barn as he was getting tacked up for his jog. He’s happy and in good shape. Jogging around the shedrow, he was bouncing along, up on this toes. He’d had a breeze this past Wednesday and is all ready to go. We’re hoping for a starter allowance, and there was one in the condition book for closing day at Aqueduct, but that wasn’t used. It was brought back for opening weekend at Belmont, but, again, didn’t go. If it doesn’t fill next time either, we’ll look for other races for him.

At Leah Gyarmati’s barn, it wasn’t just the horses who pined for better weather. With all those horses galumphing around the shedrow, Leah’s two Jack Russell terriers had to stay in the office. Instead of being grateful that she was saving them from all those hooves, they were leaping around even more wildly than Jack Russells usually do, whenever anybody made the mistake of going in there.

Strings and Arrows looked in good form. Leah passed on the turf race scheduled for closing day at Aqueduct because she didn’t like the looks of the Aqueduct turf. She’ll enter Strings and Arrows for a NY-bred maiden special on the turf at Belmont. There’s one in the book for May 8.

And at Bill Turner’s barn, now back to (almost) full strength with most of the horses back from Florida, Bagavond was up on his toes and looking like he can’t wait to get back to the races. Bagavond came back from his winter vacation in Virginia in such good condition that Bill thinks he’ll be ready for a race after just a few more breezes. There’s a seven-furlong turf sprint at Belmont on May 20 that might be a good target for his first race back.

Iguazu is still missing from Bill’s Belmont barn. He’s at Diana McClure’s Carousel Farm in Virginia, where he is living the good life, spending most of the daylight hours in the paddock.Diana reports he’s happy to be out in the fresh air, playing in the big paddock with a bunch of other horses.

Joe and partner Marilyn Miller visited Talking Blues at Dave Rintoul’s farm in Suffolk County again on Wednesday morning. Talking Blues is getting to know that, when Joe and Marilyn show up, that means carrots. He spends a good deal of his time in the big round pen where, as the attached photo (taken by Marilyn) shows, he gets to roll in the dirt to his heart’s content.

If you’d like to join Steve and Joe at Belmont any Sunday morning, or if you’d like to visit Iguazu or Talking Blues down on the farm, just call Joe at (888) 989-7223 or email him at and he’ll be happy to set it up for you.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Joe’s Barn Report – Sunday, April 11th

Spring is here, bringing warm, bright mornings to the backstretch, perfect for spending an idle hour or two by the rail at the training track, watching the horses go by. It’s not surprising that for Castle Village Farm, this was a busy week at the barns – and not just the ones at Belmont. Joe and partner Marilyn Miller went out on Wednesday to David Rintoul's farm in eastern Long Island to make sure Talking Blues’ is happy in his new (temporary) home. Colby Mitchell and his daughter had a nice, long visit, in beautiful weather, at the Belmont backstretch on Friday, and Marty Schwartz and Barbara Burke came by the barns on Sunday to meet our newest horse, Good Law.

Early on Sunday morning, just as Joe arrived, a horse got loose on the training track, throwing its rider. The alarm sounded for what seemed like at least 10 minutes as the ambulance came out to check up on the exercise rider, and the errant horse was vanned off. This is the third week in a row that a horse has gotten loose on the training track while Joe was there, and our trainer Bruce Brown threatened, jokingly, I hope, to bar Joe from the training track in the future.

The big news this week is that we have claimed a horse for our new 2010 partnership. We claimed Good Law, a five-year-old New York-bred gelding by Good and Tough, for $25,000. Trainer Bruce Brown promptly installed Good Law in the corner stall, with a good view of the training track, and this Sunday, Steve and Joe stopped by to see how the newest Castle Village Farm team member was settling in. Here’s their report:

Good Law had just finished his morning gallop, had his bath, and done about 45 minutes of hot-walking when we arrived at Bruce Brown's barn this morning. He’s a very striking animal, with his shiny, nearly red coat (officially it’s chestnut) and he’s got lots of curiosity; he wants to know everything that’s going on. He’s also very calm; nothing in the morning routine bothers him. That’s probably why Bruce put him in the corner stall, which gets a lot of traffic and where there’s a lot going on just outside the window. Good Law just takes it all in stride.

Good Law has impressed Bruce with his reliable work ethic and good physical condition. As of now, it looks like Good Law will be able to return to the races in relatively short order.

Because we’d have to run him for at least $35,000 if we brought him back in a claiming race within 30 days, and because we don’t really want to put him in for a tag the first time he races for us, Bruce and Steve are discussing a Starter Allowance race, rather than a claimer. There’s one in the condition book for the last weekend of the Aqueduct meet, and another on the second weekend of the Belmont meet.

Anyone who wants to see our newest horse is welcome to join us on Sunday mornings at Belmont.

We also watched from the rail at the training track as trainer Leah Gyarmati galloped by on Strings and Arrows:

The colt looked great, pulling at Leah to let her know he wanted to go faster than she was about to let him. After his gallop, Leah walked him over to the rail where we were standing, so we could get a good look at him, and have a chat with her. Leah said that Strings and Arrows came out of his last race none the worse for wear, despite having clipped heels and almost fallen on the first turn. Leah and Steve want to give Strings and Arrows another try on the turf, to see if he can get a clean trip. There’s a race in the Aqueduct condition book for April 25th, but Leah isn’t happy with the condition of the Aqueduct turf course and may wait until Belmont, when there’s a similar race in the condition book for May 8th.

Earlier in the week, Joe and CVF partner Marilyn Miller stopped by the Rintouls' farm in Suffolk County where Talking Blues is having his Spring Break. Here’s Joe’s report on his visits to the farm:

When Bruce Brown decided that Talking Blues could do with a short rest, he recommended we look into David Rintoul's Farm. It’s at Exit 62 off the Long Island Expressway, not all that far from Belmont. Bruce had sent a couple of his horses there already, and found it a good, safe place, with owners who have a good feel for horses. They also do layups for Carlos Martin and Bill Mott. The farm is small, just two rows of stalls and a few turnout paddocks. It's the last surviving agricultural property in what has become a suburban neighborhood. I got my first tour of the farm from Dave's father, James. He took me to the farm office, where there’s a whole wall covered with win pictures from horses who’ve been at the Farm. I promised him one from Good Law.

When I came back the next day with Marilyn Miller, Talking Blues was in the holding pen rolling around and kicking up a storm. The Rintouls told Marilyn and me that after a brief adjustment period, Talking Blues is now acting like a happy horse. Time and rest should work wonders for Talking Blues. We are all looking forward to our horse’s return to the racetrack.

Further afield, Iguazu has left Florida and arrived at Diana McClure’s Carousel Farm in northern Virginia, where he’ll stay in training until he’s ready to come north to Belmont race track. Bill Turner thinks that Iguazu just needs a bit more time to mature.

Castle Village Farm seems to be operating a revolving door policy at Carousel Farm. As Iguazu arrived there, Bagavond was preparing to leave the farm and return to Bill’s barn at Belmont for the upcoming turf season. I’m sure Bagavond will regale his barn mates with stories of the record-shattering snowstorms that hit his winter quarters.