Alexis Annechino


Strike Your Light and Malcolm Franklin
Photo courtesy of Coady Photography

            Two Steve Belford homebreds delivered a 1-2 punch in the recent $75,000 Green Carpet Stakes at Belterra Park. Strike Your Light was the pace presser and the 2016 Best of Ohio Juvenile victor, Tough It Up was the come-from-behind runner-up – and that’s exactly how the knock out happened.

Except for two in the nine-horse field, it would be the first time for the rest going over the greensward, so the jury was out on who would excel on the surface. It was just as hard for the handicappers and as the horses approached the gate for the 1 1/16 mile test – four horses were listed at 3-1. The mystery horse was a Southwest shipper named Tiz a Melody, a stakes winner at Retama Park and stakes-placed runner-up at Sam Houston. All four career starts were on the turf. Bred by O.T.B.O. member Peter Sheppell, the son of Tizway brought $38,000 at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton October Sale and regular rider T.D. Condron made the trip to Cincinnati.

When the gates opened, Hansenation shot to the lead and held that spot to the stretch when Tiz a Melody ranged up alongside. Jockey Malcolm Franklin astride Strike Your Light saved ground throughout along the rail and in the straight, quickly moved him to the three-path and cleared the pacesetters quickly to draw off by 5 lengths. Meanwhile, Tough It Up, who was hard held and last after 6 furlongs unleashed a strong rally, but it was too late to catch his stablemate. Cake Pop, winner of the Tall Stacks Stakes got up for the third spot.

Strike Your Light was coming out of a second-place finish in the 6 1/2 furlong Tall Stacks. “That was my first time on him,” said the 27-year-old Franklin. “After the race I told Tommy (trainer Drury) he just needs more ground and the way he strides I think he will like the turf. Today, with 4 ½ furlongs left I was so confident, once I kicked him out he had a great turn of foot. Tommy has always helped me out and he put me on my 1,000th winner.”

“These Ohio-breds have been a lot of fun,” said trainer Tommy Drury after the race. “I’d love to have more and Steve (owner/breeder Belford) breeds a good horse. I’m still figuring out Strike Your Light. He won at a mile wire to wire at Churchill Downs last season and ran third in the Best of Ohio Juvenile when Tough It Up went by him in the stretch. As far as Tough It Up, I spoke with Johnny (jockey McKee) before the race and told him to save him for one run. There is a big upside for the both of them.”

Tom Drury, who also trains horses for Claiborne Farm and is known for breaking Eclipse Award winner Hansen, often starts horses in Ohio and is familiar with the program. “There are so few opportunities in the state to run in a stakes on turf I hope the powers to be, look at the schedule next year,” said Drury. “My next chance to run these two in Ohio on grass, would be against older horses in two weeks in the Gendleman. I’m not going to do that now, but would if the race was later in the season.”

O.T.B.O. member Steve Belford has made a major investment in the sport and it is good to see him getting a return on his investment. “It was a great weekend,” beemed Belford. “Tommy is terrific and always said he’d like the turf. It is a great feeling!” Belford has farms in Ohio and Kentucky, and had 14 foals in Kentucky this year. “It’s a business decision. The restriction to have mares in Ohio by August 15 needs to be looked at. I buy top quality mares in foal to high-priced stallions in the October/November Sales and I have a farm there. Unless I breed back to an Ohio stallion they can’t be registered as Ohio-breds. I believe we need the quality of the breed in the state to flourish and in a few years Ohio-breds could win from coast to coast.”



Indy Wind stands at Poplar Creek Horse Center in Bethel

                Indy Wind, who stands at Robin Murphy’s Poplar Creek Horse Center in Bethel, sired Starship Jubilee who captured the $175,000 Nassau Stakes at Woodbine on May 27. In doing so, Starship Jubilee defeated two Canadian Horses of the Year – Caren and Catch a Glimpse.

Making her first start away from her base at Gulfstream Park, the 4-year-old Indy Wind filly was at the back of the pacesetters in the one-mile event.   Caren held a clear advantage into the final turn after Catch a Glimpse dropped back quickly while bleeding for the first time in her career. With the Horse of the Year showdown now ended, Starship Jubilee, who stumbled at the start, responded to her cue from jockey Eurica Rosa Da Silva and accelerated with every stride to blow past the leader to impressively win by a widening 2 ½ lengths.

Trained by Kevin Attard, who co-owns her with Soli Mehta Attard he stated after the race, “I know we were an underdog , but I was confident going into it. She’s been perfect at the mile distance for us, so it made sense to try this spot. I just hope Catch a Glimpse is OK.” The win in the Grade 2 Nassau improved Starship Jubilee to a record of 7 wins from 13 starts with $204,839 in earnings.

Indy Wind is a horse who got better with age and proved his soundness. Unraced at 2 he went 2 for 2 as a 3-year-old and won 5 stakes races through his next three seasons with 4 stakes-placings with earnings of $392,900. In a racing rarity, he was raised, owned and trained by Amy Tarrant of Hardacre Farm. Jeff Garen manages the facility and is glad Indy Wind has found a home at Poplar Creek. “ He originally stood in Florida and we couldn’t be happier he is with Robin. She loves all of her horses just like we do.”

Indy Wind brings some strong bloodlines to the Ohio Program. He is a son of A.P. Indy, sire of champions Mineshaft, Bernardini, Rags To Riches, Festival Of Light, Eye Of The Leopard, Marchfield Tempera, Serenading and numerous Grade 1 winners. A.P. Indy, a son of Seattle Slew has become a major influence in North American thoroughbred breeding. Indy Wind’s female family is legendary. His second dam is Late Bloomer, Champion Older Female ($512,040) and his third dam is Broodmare of the Year Dunce Cap II.

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