Graul has hollow victory in Dubai

ON HORSE RACING

April 04, 2004|By TOM KEYSER

Congratulatory calls began pouring in as soon as the Maryland-bred Our New Recruit won the Dubai Golden Shaheen last weekend in the Middle East.

Tom Graul, breeder of the horse, appreciated the sentiment, knowing full well it's not every day you breed the winner of a $2 million race. But he also knew the reality of the situation. He wasn't going to benefit financially from the victory.

Graul, 57, owns Graul's Market in Hereford. He lives in Hunt Valley. He owned the mare Delta Danielle when she gave birth five years ago to Our New Recruit. But Graul sold Our New Recruit as a weanling for $40,000, and he gave away Delta Danielle.

"It's sort of like hitting the lottery and then losing the winning ticket," Graul said.

Graul will receive a breeders' bonus only if Our New Recruit earns money by racing in the Breeders' Cup or in Maryland. John Sadler, who trains the horse in California, plans on giving him the summer off and pointing him to the Breeders' Cup Sprint in the fall at Lone Star Park.

Delta Danielle, the 13-year-old dam of Our New Recruit, remains in Maryland at JoAnn and David Hayden's Dark Hollow Farm in Upperco. She is due April 24 to deliver a baby by Two Punch, and then she's scheduled to travel to Kentucky to be bred to Alphabet Soup - for the second time. The first mating produced Our New Recruit.

Delta Danielle was in foal to Alphabet Soup, winner of the 1996 Breeders' Cup Classic, when Graul bought her in January 1999 at a Keeneland auction. Graul had enlisted David Hayden, a longtime friend, to help him pick out mares. Graul had raced horses on the flat and over jumps, and he had owned pleasure, fox and show horses. But this was his initial foray into breeding.

Graul bought four mares for $135,000. Delta Danielle, a daughter of Lord Avie, was the most expensive at $40,000. The idea was to keep the mares and sell their babies.

Delta Danielle gave birth to her Alphabet Soup foal at Graul's farm, and then, at Keeneland's November sale, Graul sold the weanling for $40,000. Not long afterward, while getting divorced, Graul decided to get rid of the rest of his horses. He gave the four mares to the Haydens, and in return the Haydens cared for and then sold Graul's weanlings and yearlings for him.

They ended up also selling three of the mares. They kept Delta Danielle, despite her disposition when she arrived at Dark Hollow.

"She was evil. She was nasty," David Hayden said. "Her ears were pinned back 90 percent of the time. ... Now, she's just one of the girls. We don't have any problem with her."

Delta Danielle has produced horses by Black Tie Affair, Partner's Hero and Two Punch, but none has approached Our New Recruit's record or earnings of $1,423,120. Of 16 starts (15 of them in California), he has five wins, seven seconds and two thirds. His victory in the six-furlong Golden Shaheen on the Dubai World Cup undercard was his first in a stakes. In his two previous races he finished second and third in Grade II and Grade III sprints at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park.

The Haydens are delighted to have Delta Danielle, dam of the winner of the richest sprint stakes in the world. They also owned Safely Home, dam of Safely Kept, winner of the Breeders' Cup Sprint, the richest sprint stakes in this country.

Meanwhile, people continue to congratulate Graul, who said with a smile, "That and 50 cents will get me a cup of coffee."

Still joy for an old boy

Jug o' Luck missed opening day at Pimlico, but the 26-year-old lead pony, the oldest in Maryland, is expected back today, said his owner and rider Karen Przybyla.

Przybyla, 51, saved Jug o' Luck from the slaughterhouse when he was 8, washed up and lame, after a tough career at Charles Town. He had raced 24 times with three wins, four seconds, two thirds and earnings of $7,429.

Przybyla needed a pony to lead horses to and from the track in the morning and from the paddock to the starting gate in the afternoon. She found Jug o' Luck through a colleague, and the rugged racehorse arrived by van at Pimlico in 1986.

"When he came off the van, I said, `Dear God, if he's intended to be with me, then I'm going to need some help,'" Przybyla said. "His knee was as big as a head, and he was as wild as a reindeer. He was an emaciated nut case."

She treated him for ulcers, took care of his feet and teeth, and let him calm down. "As soon as he realized he wasn't here to race, he seemed to come around," Przybyla said.

As he's gotten older she's tried to give him away. But the dark-colored Jug o' Luck, nicknamed Raven, wanted nothing to do with farm life. He moped and lost weight. Back at the track with Przybyla and her husband Eddie, Raven came back to life.

Przybyla, who has three ponies, didn't want to risk sending Raven out last week in the Pimlico mud. Also, Raven had just gotten over an infection in his left front ankle, possibly caused by a rat bite in his stall at Laurel Park.

"At his age we just pick our spots and take it as easy on him," Przybyla said. "He gets out there, and his ears go up, and his tail flicks. It's kind of neat to see the old geezer still has a little bit of that old spark about him."

Toccet schedule update

Plans for Toccet continue to change. The latest is he's coming home Friday to Maryland and getting a few weeks off.

A week ago John Scanlan, his trainer, said the Laurel-based colt would run April 9 in the Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland. But Wednesday, entries came out for the Arcadia Handicap (yesterday at Santa Anita Park), and Toccet was in.

Two days later, Scanlan said Toccet would be withdrawn from the Arcadia and flown back to Laurel. He said the colt was fine but needed a rest. Toccet has been at Santa Anita since December and raced five times without a victory.

"We just figured we'd give him a break," Scanlan said. "He's had enough dances out here."

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