Friday, March 31, 2017
Back in 2011, when Ocala's Martin Stables South went bust and horses of various denominations were being rescued off the farm by concerned neighbors, Kathy Taylor and her daughter Andi wound up with nine of them on their five acres-plus called Capstone. The first order of business was to feed the five starving mares, three 2-year-olds and one 3-year-old, then sell them for a ham sandwich before the ladies were eaten out of house and home.
Kathy bred the mares to stallions whose seasons were donated by clients of her advertising business, and, in time, all had new homes ranging from Florida to a couple of time zones to the west. There was one foal, though, that Kathy kept. He was a fiesty one from day one, by Shakespeare out of the Storm Bird mare Cent Nouvelles, and Andi literally pulled him from the womb the night he was born.
They raised the little guy for two years, then entered him in the 2012 OBS January sale, but he didn't bring his reserve and they wound up selling him privately to Canadian owner Howard Walton, who races at Woodbine in the summer and Gulfstream Park in the winter. Now a gelding, French Quarter turned out to be a solid addition to the Walton barn, compiling a record of 7-5-3 in 33 starts and earning $243,726 before being claimed out of his last race at Gulfstream a few weeks ago for $62,500 by trainer David Fawkes.
Of his 33 races, 22 came at Woodbine and 11 at Gulfstream and it appears Frenchie likes the southern racing strip better than the all-weather up north - he won four times over it, including the last two this season, along with a second and a third. That's six breeder's awards for Kathy, and with the recent increase in the percentages doled out by the FTBOA, the last two were blockbusters of $5,400 each. That probably just about got Kathy even for her costs of five years ago.
Now Frenchie is in the Fawkes barn, and David is a year-round Florida resident, which has Kathy more than elated. And tomorrow, Frenchie is entered in the $100,000 Sir Shackleton Stakes at seven furlongs, a distance at which he has never won. He has one victory at five furlongs, five at six furlongs and one at 6 1/2. But he has the services of talented youngster Nik Juarez, who was aboard for his last two scores and appears to fit Frenchie like a glove.
It's only the second time the gelding has been in a stakes race - he finished fifth in the $125,000 Jacques Cartier at Woodbine last April and collected $1,925. Morning line-maker Ron Nicoletti has him pegged as the choice at 3-1, and Kathy and Andi hope Ron is on the mark.
And what happened to some of the other rescued equines from five years ago? Ifoundmy Mojo, one of the 2-year-olds, started 48 times in the mid-west and compiled a record of 13-9-5 with earnings of $222,510. In 2013, the gelded son of Spanish Steps ranked 53rd in the country by number of winning races - six. The 3-year-old filly in the group was named California Quick, and she went 4-5-1 in 15 starts and collected $61,497. Hojas, a half-brother to Ifoundmy Mojo by Two Step Salsa, bred by Kathy, is now six and sports a record of 3-3-3 in 15 starts with earnings of $36,696. After a long layoff, he recently returned to the workout tabs at Los Alamitos and should be racing again shortly.
Kathy will also have a second major interest tomorrow in the $1 million Florida Derby with the Gone Astray colt Three Rules, who is leaving right next to favored Gunnevera on the outside and attempting to show co-owner/trainer Bert Pilcher he's good enough to shoot for the Run for the Roses. Gone Astray stands at Northwest Stud, one of Kathy's clients.
SHOOTING FOR THE MOON - The Rainbow Pick 6 reached $1,543,677 for today's Gulfstream program, and if it's not hit, it will jump to more than $2 million for the Florida Derby card. There are 14 races slated, including eight stakes, and the mutuel handle will be somewhere in the stratosphere, with huge guarantees in some of the major exotics. If the Rainbow isn't hit today or tomorrow, it will be given away on Sunday.
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