Saturday, March 20, 2021
OLDSMAR - As she accepted congratulations from a stream of well-wishers after winning today’s sixth race on the turf with 5-year-old mare Twirling Star, trainer Sharon Boland struggled to keep her emotions under control.
It wasn’t just winning two races on a card under her own name for the first time that caused Boland to choke up. The occasion also gave her a chance to reflect on a lifetime around racing that has provided rewards lasting far beyond the excitement of getting to the winner’s circle.
“I was still breaking babies five or six years ago, but I was pretty much thinking about getting out of the game because it was changing so much," she said. "I had a lot of owners who said ‘You need to be back at the races. This is what you love, and this is what your passion is.’ So I came back, and it’s paying off."
Boland, who also won the first race with the 5-year-old gelding He’s Royalty, has 12 horses in training at Tampa Bay Downs and six babies at Lambholm South, including a few she bred and “which I’m quite excited about.”
Boland learned to gallop horses at Lambholm South when it was still the legendary Hobeau Farm of Jack Dreyfus, and later galloped for trainers Bill Badgett and the late Sally Lundy.
Today’s victories were her first of the meeting. He’s Royalty, who broke his maiden in the 5 ½-furlong first, is owned by Bart Brookshire and was ridden by Mike Allen, while Wilmer Garcia rode Twirling Star for owners Anthony, Khaleef and Yanush Ali in the one-mile sixth. The victory was the mare’s second.
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Boland is the daughter of Racing Hall of Fame member Bill Boland, who won the 1950 Kentucky Derby aboard Middleground as a 16-year-old apprentice. A day earlier, he had won the Kentucky Oaks on Ari’s Mona. Before turning 17 that July, he earned the first of his two Belmont Stakes victories on Middleground after they had finished second in the Preakness to Hill Prince.
Bill Boland lives in Palm Coast with his wife of 68 years, Sandy. In honor of his Kentucky Derby victory, Sharon named her property, which is in Reddick, Middleground Farm.
“My dad taught me everything I know, mostly about integrity,” Sharon said. “Meaning you’ve got to be able to go home and sleep at night. You do the business right, work hard, hay and oats and it will pay off. You treat people fairly and be honest, and that is what I try to do.”
Following today’s victories, Boland was just as happy for riders Allen and Garcia and her team that cares for her horses on the Tampa Bay Downs backside. “You can’t take credit for everything. It is 99 percent the horse, but it takes all of us and all the hours you put in.
“I have a lot of people supporting me, and winning two today means the world to me.”
AROUND THE OVAL - Trainer Michael Stidham also won two races today, both on the turf. Stidham was victorious in the eighth race with Rumeli, a 3-year-old gelding bred and owned by Godolphin and ridden by Tomas Mejia. He added the 10th race with Fly Nightly, a 5-year-old gelding bred and owned by Hill ‘N’ Dale Farm and ridden by Jesus Castanon.
Castanon also won the second race on first-time starter Danceswithbourbon, a 3-year-old filly owned by Euclid Racing and trained by Jordan Blair.