Snow disruption is not enough to scratch annual horse benefit

ON HORSE RACING

December 14, 2003|By TOM KEYSER

Neither rain nor sleet nor snow ...

The phone began ringing at Ellen and Herb Moelis' house at 7:30 a.m. last Saturday. Callers wanted to know whether the annual Thoroughbred Charities of America dinner and auction at the Moelis' CandyLand Farm in Middletown, Del., just across the Maryland line, were still on. Surely, with the double punch of snow that had just fallen, the gala event would be postponed.

"It's not something that can be postponed," Ellen Moelis said later, citing the tent, caterer, display of auction items and telephone hookup to Kentucky as arrangements that can't be easily redone.

So the high-powered event, attended regularly by many Marylanders, went on. Last year, the dinner and auction attracted 380 people and raised $1.4 million for equine-related organizations, the Moelises said. This year, because of the weather, they were afraid the 14th event would be a bust.

"To our amazement, 350 people came," Ellen said.

Another 110 attended a companion event at an art gallery in Lexington, Ky. Along with those under the heated tent at Moelis' farm, they bid by telephone on breeding rights to an impressive array of stallions. The top bid of $95,000 secured a breeding to Unbridled's Song.

What started in Moelis' home in 1990 as a get-together for 20 people grew into the Thoroughbred Charities of America, a sort of United Way for racing. The nationally renowned event has raised more than $8.5 million for nearly 100 organizations. About half are horse-rescue groups. Others are involved in such endeavors as therapeutic riding, education and research.

Last Saturday, despite the weather, the charitable function set a record and raised about $1.5 million, Herb Moelis said. That was the fourth straight year it raised more than $1 million. It left the Moelises shaking their heads.

"Unbelievable," said Ellen. ... "Incredible," added Herb.

Gone but not forgotten

Old horses frequently die without fanfare. But seldom does one who had won 10 of 15 races, including the Grade I Pimlico Special, die unnoticed.

When As Indicated, winner of the Pimlico Special in 1994, died in August 2002, his owner and former trainer, Rick Schosberg, never got around to telling anyone from the media, and no reporter ever asked. Consequently, As Indicated, winner of the Grade II Gotham Stakes as well as three Grade III stakes, vanished without as much as a nod or salute.

The chestnut gelding raced from 1992 to 1995 for Schosberg, who is based in New York. As Indicated's crowning moment, amid a six-race win streak, was a sound thumping of Devil His Due in the 1994 Pimlico Special.

When As Indicated retired, his owner gave him to Schosberg, known for being extra caring with his horses. The gelding romped merrily around Schosberg's small farm in New York until early last year, when the trainer sent him to a friend's therapeutic riding center in Kentucky.

"He was great with the kids, and he was having a great time," Schosberg said. "You don't see too many Grade I stakes winners giving kids pony rides."

But after about six months, As Indicated became ill and died at age 12. Schosberg requested an autopsy, and cause of death turned out to be an intestinal tumor that ruptured.

Schosberg realizes that many old horses die with no public notice. "I hope they had as good a life as my guy had," he said.

A winning name game

TVG, the racing network, is conducting a contest to name a yearling colt who was struck by lightning when he was 2 months old. Whoever submits the name selected will win 5 percent ownership of the horse.

Born in February last year, the dark bay colt (Vicar-Dear Abigail, by Dehere) lives at Wintergreen Stallion Station in Midway, Ky., and will likely begin racing next year with trainer Beau Greely in California. Greely's brother, John IV, owns the colt with Richard Sturgill. They will select the winning name.

You can enter the contest online at www.TVGnetwork.com (deadline 11:59 p.m. Dec. 22) or by letter to Name That Colt, 19545 N.W. Von Neumann Drive, Suite 210, Beaverton, Ore. 97006. Letters must be postmarked by Dec. 22 and received by Dec. 29.

Down the stretch

The New York Racing Association has renamed the Turf Classic Invitational, a Grade I stakes run in October at Belmont Park, the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational. Hirsch, 75, retired last week after 49 years at The Daily Racing Form. In addition, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and The Daily Racing Form announced the creation of the Joe Hirsch Scholarship and Joe Hirsch Internship, and Churchill Downs named the new press box in its renovated clubhouse the Joe Hirsch Media Center.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association will conduct voting until Jan. 19 on its Web site, www.ntra.com, for the fifth annual "Moment of the Year." The 10 nominees are Funny Cide's winning the Kentucky Derby; Jose Santos' vindication after an allegation of cheating in the Derby; Empire Maker's winning the Belmont; the opening of the movie Seabiscuit; Storming Home's dumping Gary Stevens in the Arlington Million; the death of Bill Shoemaker; Julie Krone's becoming the first female jockey to win a non-steeplechase Breeders' Cup race; Johar's and High Chaparral's dead-heating in the Breeders' Cup Turf; Pleasantly Perfect's winning the Breeders' Cup Classic for Richard Mandella's fourth victory of the day; and Jerry Bailey's winning three stakes the same day to break Mike Smith's record for stakes win in a year.

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