Larry Sterling Jr. Successful Regardless The Occupation

By Katie Merritt

Trainer Larry Sterling, Jr. was born and raised in Arcadia, California, just outside of Santa Anita Park. His father, Larry Sterling, Sr., was a prominent trainer in California, and his entire family worked within the industry, so Sterling grew up completely immersed in horse racing. Whether it has been as a jockey or as a trainer, he has always made a living working with the Thoroughbreds.

Sterling grew up working in his father’s barn at Santa Anita, and credits him for providing the knowledge and skill that has allowed him to be so successful in the industry. “He was great. The best,” he said of his father, well known for training multiple grade 1 stakes winner Vigors in the late 70s. When Sterling, Jr. was old enough at 16, he started riding races, but found making the low apprentice weights a challenge, so he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and train horses. “I won with the first horse I ever saddled at Golden Gate Fields,” he reminisced, adding, “That horse won by 12 lengths!” After doing well in Northern California, he eventually returned to Santa Anita to train.

Sterling enjoyed that first foray in training, which he did for about four years before a friend talked him in to returning to the saddle to ride one of his horses that was causing other riders quite a bit of trouble. “I would work that horse in the morning, and he would go around the turns just fine,” Sterling recalled, “But in the races, he would blow the turn and run straight through the fence.” The first time Sterling rode that horse in a race, he finished mid-pack – but the next start, he won. “I was doing well as a trainer, but I knew I couldn’t do both, and I didn’t want to be a flake going back and forth, so I decided to stick with the riding,” he explained. Sterling continued to ride for the next 20 years, achieving riding titles at meets like Hawthorne Park and Kentucky Downs, and riding many talented horses, including War Emblem, who he guided to victory in the Grade II Illinois Derby. He retired from riding in 2011, shortly after the passing of his father.

Since he retired from riding races, Sterling has spent much of his time training his horses at High Pointe Training Center in La Grange, Kentucky, away from the hustle and bustle of the racetrack. “It’s a good place to train horses, nice and quiet,” he said, praising the year-round training facility. Though he rode at Canterbury Park many years ago, this is the first time he has brought horses here as a trainer – a decision stemming from the fact that he felt like his horses would be competitive here. Sterling currently has nine horses in training, a manageable number for him and his girlfriend Jo to take care of on their own. “It’s hard to find help sometimes,” he pointed out, “And I want to do right by my horses.” Sterling gets on all of his own horses in the morning and he and Jo work together to get all of the barn work done and make sure that each horse is happy and receives the best care possible.

So far this season at Canterbury Park, Sterling has had 20 starts, six wins, five seconds and three thirds – over 70% of his runners have hit the board. There is an old racing adage that “Happy horses are fast horses,” and it seems to be proving true for Sterling’s stable here in Shakopee, Minnesota.

Magnificent Minnesota Moms Part 2

Chasin Mason

By Noah Joseph

Recently, CanterburyLive has featured posts on fillies and mares that had success at Canterbury on the track and in the breeding shed. For the Minnesota Oaks and Minnesota Derby last month, we featured prominent Minnesota bred mares, and last week, we featured successful non-Minnesota bred mares. With the Minnesota Festival of Champions Day this Sunday and the Minnesota Bred Yearling Sale the following day, it seemed appropriate to feature more top quality Minnesota bred mares.

She’s Scrumpy was a horse who could easily strike fear into her state bred competition. The daughter of Squadron Leader was a four-time stakes winner at Canterbury, including her final three starts. As a broodmare, she produced several foals, two of which have raced at Canterbury. She produced Scrumpy Town in Minnesota (by Jersey Town), who is currently a maiden, and in Kentucky, she produced A She’s Adorable (by Johar). A She’s Adorable won the Lady Canterbury in 2011 for owner and breeder Phillip Mass, who also owned She’s Scrumpy.

Ma Home Cat was the mare who always ended getting stuck with best of the best. The daughter of Tommorrows Cat developed a rivalry with her arch opponent Glitter Star in almost every Minnesota bred stake race, finishing second to her nearly every time. Ma Home Cat as broodmare however beat Glitter Star in the breeding race with just one foal. Her daughter Talkin Bout (by Yonaguska) won only won stakes race, but it was the 2014 Minnesota Distaff Classic, named after her mom’s arch rival Glitter Star. Ma Home Cat and Talkin Bout were both owned by the late Cam Casby. When she passed away, Al and Bill Ulwelling acquired several of her horses. One of which, was Talkin Bout, who is now a broodmare herself.

Talkin Bout

Although she spent most of her career as a claimer, Chasin Mason was no slouch however. The daughter of Barkerville won the 2006 Minnesota Oaks and was running against the best Minnesota bred mares at that time. As a broodmare, she has produced two winners at Canterbury. They are Shaboom (by U S Ranger), and Kelamonster (by Kela). Both horses are either owned or carry the silks of Steve or Dorothy Erban, who have had horses in Minnesota since before racing began at Canterbury in 1985.

 

Racehorse Owner: Curt Sampson

By Katie Merritt

Curtis Sampson was born and raised in Hector, Minnesota and has been attending the races at Canterbury since it first opened as Canterbury Downs. In 1994, after the track had been closed for two years, Sampson, his son Randy and Dale Schenian purchased the facility and brought live racing back to Shakopee the following summer under the new racetrack name of Canterbury Park. In addition to his massive influence on the racing and breeding industry in Minnesota, Sampson has also been a successful businessman.

Since Sampson purchased his first racehorse in the 80’s, he has been fortunate to have many successful runners. The first horse he owned in partnership, a Quarter Horse named Cash Caravan, won several stakes races at Canterbury and is in the Canterbury Hall of Fame. Over the years, Sampson continued to increase his involvement in the industry, purchasing more runners and starting a breeding operation where he had several mares and stood a stallion named Crossed Swords.

Dale Schenian with Curtis Sampson

Every year, Canterbury Park holds the Minnesota Festival of Champions, a day of racing designed to promote, honor and reward horses born in Minnesota.  Sampson has won the second-most number of Festival Races, with nine winners. One of his best horses, Wally’s Choice, won the Minnesota Classic Championship twice in a row. Wally’s Choice is now in the Hall of Fame and the Classic is named after him.

Wally’s Choice

Sampson is still very involved at Canterbury Park, serving as the Chairman of the Board. One of his sons, Randy, is the CEO, and another son, Russ runs his racing operation. His grandkids, the next generation, have recently started to get involved in ownership as well with their cleverly named partnership, NEXTGEN Stables. Curtis Sampson has been leading owner at Canterbury Park twice, in 1996 and ’97, and looks to have a good chance to be leading owner again this year, for the first time in 20 years.

Canterbury Jockey: Andrew Ramgeet

Andrew Ramgeet is a journeyman jockey whose career began in his homeland of Jamaica. Learn more about him here:

PAST JOINS PRESENT ON SPECIAL DAY

BY JIM WELLS

For a couple of moments on Sunday, the past became the present, history became real time, and one of the grand dames of Minnesota racing history was alive on the track.

The long gray tail floated behind her in a steady breeze, and her rivals saw only clods of damp earth and her behind. She was first out of the gate and no one even drew abreast as she glided easily to the finish line under Victor Santiago.

A five-year-old gray mare named Puntsville floated through swift fractions to win the 25th running of the $50,000 Hoist Her Flag Stakes, named for the gray Canterbury Park Hall of Fame mare. Although perhaps a shade darker, Sunday’s winner bore striking resemblance to the two-time Canterbury Downs horse of the year.

“We were just saying that,’’ said Canterbury Park President/CEO Randy Sampson. “She’s a big good looking gray mare.’’

Hoist Her Flag won 17 times from 43 starts in Shakopee and was named the outstanding horse on the grounds in 1987 and again in 1989.

Puntsville at 5/2 finished 3 ¼ lengths in front of 6/5 favorite Thoughtless and another 4 ½ head of Malibu Princess after setting all the fractions: 22.02, 44.79, 57.01 and 1:09.87.

“She’s very quick,’’ said Santiago, who had ridden the winner in nine of her previous 10 starts. “I was just praying to God that we would get a good quick jump.’’

She did just that, and the race essentially was over.

The theme of the afternoon was hope and there were plenty of things covered under that umbrella. Hope that the sun would make an appearance, that the rain would hold off until the card was complete. There was, as always, hope at the windows as patrons placed their wagers, hope right up until a winner hit the finish line.

Despite iron-gray skies throughout the afternoon, there was plenty of pink throughout the premises on annual Fillies Race for Hope day, dedicated to the understanding, treatment and hope for eradication of breast cancer.

The feature event on the card annually is the Hoist Her Flag Stakes.

Messages promoting the theme of the day could be found throughout the grounds. The tote board from time to time advised the crowd that “Early Detection is Key.’’ There was a thank you message from the Fillies Race for Hope committee.

Valets to the riders wore shirts celebrating the occasion. The outriders and pony horses and their riders were festooned in pink accouterment, wraps, tack and other related items.

Raffles, drawings and donations contributed to the fund that supports this endeavor.

Patrons could be found in pink slacks, hats, dresses, shoes accompanied in some cases by pink purses. Employees in the Coady photography studio, the finest enterprise of its type in all of racing, wore pink suspenders and ties, did Shawn Coady and Senor Oscar Quiroz, who also helped work the gate at times without sullying his shirt or pink tie.

Coady was moved early in the day to loan his bowtie to a forgetful member of the Fourth Estate who arrived prepared to attack the day in conventional attire.

Pressbox magistrate Jeff Maday’s black suit was nattily set off with fashionably muted pink tie and cufflinks. Breast cancer survivors assembled in the paddock to offer thanks and encouragement in pink western hats and other attire.

A debate ensued over the true color of the dress worn by pressbox assistant Katie Merritt. Was it really pink or closer to coral?

Ultimately, it didn’t matter. It was in keeping with the colors and the spirit of the day.

TITLES ON THE LINE AS 17 RACING DAYS REMAIN

Amy’s Challenge with Jareth Loveberry aboard

BY JIM WELLS

Update: Only 17 racing days left on the 2017 calendar. A mere two weeks of race days and change. Plenty of time for trainers to begin cleaning out their barns, sending out the horses that need a paycheck to cover their travel costs.

Still time for others to achieve some unreached goals, trainers, owners and riders alike.

The race for leading thoroughbred rider might come down to the final day, so too the quarter horse riding title.

The only certain matter at this point is the thoroughbred conditioners title. Mac Robertson has that award locked down tighter than the treasury vault. The bottom would have to fall out of the earth we stand on for anyone to catch him.

Robertson is 18 wins in front of the second place trainer, Bernell Rhone, and in typical robust fashion responded to a comment thrown his way in the paddock on Saturday.

“Hey, Mac, you’ve taken all the fun of the race this year, all but wrapping it up so early.’’

“Hey,’’ he responded, “I heard nothing but good things when Diodoro was 30 in front (in previous years),’’ he said.

He  was referring to the 2014 and 2015 seasons when Robertino Diodoro ended a nine year string of titles won by Robertson.

“Well, that took the fun out of it, too,’’ he was told.

“Story after story about Diodoro when he was in front.  I have the best time by a two-year-old filly in the country last Sunday and not a word locally but the New York Times calls me.’’

Robertson’s diatribe, of course, was based on fake news, his method of letting off steam, of making a point, of sticking the needle in.

Mac Robertson

The two-year-old filly of note is Amy’s Challenge, by Artie Schiller from Jump Up. She is owned by Novogratz Racing Stables. All sorts of rumors swirled in shed row after she broke her maiden in grand fashion, finishing many lengths in front of seven rivals last Sunday.

“Best horse I’ve had,’’ said Robertson.

Indeed, the stable area was abuzz with rumors about a filly with one race under her belt, offers approaching or exceeding the million dollar range.

There is additional drama surrounding this two-year-old. Jareth Loveberry, who closed to within two wins of Orlando Mojica in the thoroughbred riders race on Saturday, had planned to leave Canterbury a few days early for other racing obligations. Not if he gets another call aboard this filly, however.

“I couldn’t leave a filly like her,’’ he said.

Loveberry is riding for the first time at Canterbury this meet, and has exceeded his expectations upon arriving in Shakopee.

“It’s unreal,’’ he said. “I thought I could come here and win some races. I never expected to be where I am.’’

For his part, Mojica says he is not thinking about a title. “I don’t worry about it,’’ he said. “I don’t want to put pressure on myself. If I win it, I win it. I’m still making money.’’

Orlando Mojica

The quarter horse riders’ race might have already been decided. Oscar Delgado has a five-win lead over Brayan Velazquez.  And Jason Olmstead, in pursuit of a third-straight training title, is eight in front of Hall of Fame trainer Ed Ross Hardy.

Thomas Scheckel and Dean Frey are tied for the quarter horse owners’ lead with seven wins apiece, two more than Corey Wilmes.

And the always interesting chase for leading thoroughbred owner?

The Curtis Sampson stable is three wins in front of the Lothenbach and Novogratz stables.

It all resumes anew Sunday with a card that features the $50,000 Hoist Her Flag Stakes.

FOR NOLAN, THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME

Nolan and Track President Randy Sampson

BY JIM WELLS

There is indeed substance to the notion that you can’t go home again, back to the place you left at one time and the way it was, with all of the same elements in place, supported now by only memory. But sometimes just getting to that physical place you left behind seems equally impossible.

No one is any better equipped to expound on that idea than Paul Nolan, a prominent figure in Canterbury Park history who fully intended to rejoin the jockey colony this spring until fate stepped in and changed those plans for the worse.

Paralyzed in a riding accident in April at Will Rogers Downs, Nolan was first cared for in a local hospital before he was transferred to the Craig Institute in suburban Denver and underwent extensive therapy for his injuries.

Then, on Tuesday, he traveled back to the Twin Cities where he and his wife, Sherry, have owned a home for years. He needs to undergo additional rehabilitation before he can again live at his Bloomington home and was brought to the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute in Golden Valley.

He was not there 24 hours when he underwent a drop in heart rate, later attributed to the stress of travel and healing factors, and was transferred to Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. He expects to return to the Courage Center on Monday.

So, after all of these weeks and months, Nolan’s return home didn’t even include a permanent hospital. As he discussed his return to Minnesota on Friday, he quickly assessed the idea that he was finally home. “It’s close,’’ he said. “It’s been a weird ride.’’

For anyone unfamiliar with the popular rider, Nolan is originally from England and emigrated to the United States in the late 1980s to pursue his trade as a race rider. After moving his tack to Canterbury Park he established a lasting mark as a rider who excelled on the grass, picking up the nickname “The Sod Surgeon, ” a rider who could perform wonders on the grass with surgical precision. He often brought in grass runners with long odds on them, mostly notably K Z Bay, who returned $67.80 in the 1997 Lady Canterbury.

For all of the difficulties he is undergoing, Nolan has not lost his sense of humor, a gift of his Irish heritage no doubt that he displays in unexpected flashes at unexpected times.

He acquired a large stuffed Barbie-like doll during his stay at the Craig Institute, a doll he took with him on a boating excursion on one occasion, astonishing nearly everyone around him.

“I call her midnight,’’ he later told a Craig aide. “Why that name,’’ he was asked. “Because,’’ Nolan said, “she comes alive at midnight and we have fun together.’’

The aide was flabbergasted and later asked a colleague if Nolan indeed had all of his marbles. “Why would you ask something like that,’’ he was asked. “Because,’’ the fellow said, “he thinks that doll he has comes alive at midnight.’’

“He’s messing’ with you,’’ the fellow said. “He’s pulling your chain.’’

Nolan has a reputation for his humor, an aspect of his personality that has served him well during his ongoing rehabilitation. He is still without a prognosis for the future, although there remains a basis for hope.

Nolan and former Minnesota Viking Cedric James

Nolan was injured when the horse he was riding fell while galloping out, throwing him forward and then rolling over the top of him. The horse was fine but Nolan immediately knew something was wrong as an inexplicable force surged through his body and left him helpless, his head in the dirt.

“I couldn’t get my breath,’’ he said. “I knew something was terribly wrong.’’ He recalls those terrifying moments and those that followed in the back of the emergency vehicle. As it happened, the ambulance driver was in the stands somewhere getting a hamburger when the incident took place, delaying the entire procedure.

Then, on the way to the hospital, the EMT aides kept “asking me questions,’’ he said. “I couldn’t breathe and they wanted answers to questions.’’

The good news in this tragic episode is that although Nolan’s spinal cord was severely swollen, nothing was broken. Nothing in his spinal column was severed. Nonetheless, he is still unable to move his arms or legs to any great extent and is restricted to a wheelchair for mobility.

His current chair doesn’t offer the same flexibility he enjoyed at the Craig Center. His wheelchair there had a straw-like apparatus that allowed him to move forward or backward, right or left, simply by applying less or more force when blowing into it.

“I crashed into more things with that chair than I ever did on a horse,’’ Nolan said.

Nolan appeared adjusted to his new surroundings on Friday, injecting his conversations with doctors and nurses with his incurable sense of humor, taking in all they conveyed at the same time.

He received a call from his mother, Ann, in England. Later, Sherry arrived.

The most unpleasant moment of the morning, it seemed, was that his hospital coffee was coming up short, not at all comparable with his favorite brand. As it happens, there is a Caribou outlet in Abbott-Northwestern so on this morning, at least, his wishes were satisfied. Although he has to drink his coffee through a straw, Nolan appreciated the taste of his favorite brand.

After all, Caribou is a Minnesota brand and on this particular day it brought the Sod Surgeon one step closer to home.

 

Teaching Them Right : Virginia Peters

By Katie Merritt

One only has to walk into Virginia Peters’ shedrow to know that they are in the barn of a true horse lover. Each horse has their head hanging over the webbing, patiently waiting for a loving pat. Where’s Jordan, the star of the six-horse barn, knickers knowingly from his stall next to the office for the peppermint that is surely in the trainer’s pocket, and paws impatiently until he receives it. “He’s a little spoiled,” she laughs as she un-wraps it.

Peters’ horses have called barn D3 at Canterbury Park home for the last 10 years or so, after she was bounced around the stable area for the first several years of her training career. She began training in 2000, but her main gig at the time was teaching family consumer science, which she did for 40 years in five different districts in Minnesota. “Then, I was really crazy,” she remembered. “I would come to the track in the morning, feed my horses, arrange for them to go to the track, then I’d go to St. Paul and teach and then I’d come back and do it again.” Peters did that for about nine years until she retired from teaching in 2009.

Though she didn’t start training until later, horses were always a significant part of Peters’ life. She grew up on a farm in Rock County, Minnesota where she showed dairy cows and participated in 4H. “I started out with my dad’s pony that he had as a young man,” she explained, adding “No one really had time to teach me how to ride, so I’d use just a twine string bridle, and the only way I could get on was to climb on the windmill and jump on him.” When she went to college, she of course took her horses with her, and participated in the Rodeo Club and the Drill Team. “I’ve always been a little horse crazy,” she smiled.

Virginia always loved horses, but she didn’t grow up having anything to do with the racetrack. In fact, her first foray into racing was as an owner, and was purely by chance. She had a Quarter Horse mare that she took to breed to a paint stallion. While there, a scrawny little Thoroughbred filly caught her eye. “They had saved the mother because they wanted to breed her to their paint stallion,” said Peters, “But they didn’t like the baby at all, so I was able to buy her for $500.” Peters put her in training with Tony Rengstorf, and the scrawny little filly with a hernia that nobody wanted turned into Scotty’s Cashin In, a very successful mare. When the mare retired, Peters opted to keep her and breed her on her farm, along with a couple other mares that she had acquired along the way. “The mares started having foals, too many foals, and then my sister and my husband at the time, Woody, said ‘Well, if you want to do this you better get your trainers’ license, because there’s no way we can afford it!’” Virginia recalled. And so, a trainer was born.

Though she never worked as an assistant trainer for anyone, Virginia had gathered a lifetime’s-worth of equine knowledge and learned to train racehorses through trial and error. “It’s been a very expensive 17 years,” she joked, referencing the learning process. Over the years, she has trained for several different clients, but now mostly trains for family, and trains her own. The majority of the horses in her barn were raised on her 20 acre farm in Jordan, Minnesota. Where’s Jordan, the 4 year old gelding who is “pulling the weight of the whole stable” this year, with his two victories at Canterbury Park, is actually the grandson of that first fateful filly – Scotty’s Cashin In. Almost 20 years and three generations later, Peters is still reaping the benefits of the filly who started it all.

Virginia trains only at Canterbury Park, so that she can stay on her farm in Jordan with her horses and her family year-round. During the school year, she still occasionally substitute teaches, as well as stays busy sewing jockey’s silks for owners. “I’ve sewn most of the ones on the backside here,” she said, “I quit advertising because I’m as busy as I care to be,” she added with a laugh. Peters is passionate about horses and about what she does, but is certain that she wasn’t meant for a lifestyle that involves moving fairly regularly. Her horses get some time off after the Canterbury meet, and in February she sends them south to get a leg up on their training so that they can be ready to go when the meet starts in May.

Peters obviously enjoys her job and her relationship with her horses brings her back every summer. “You get a commitment with the horse itself,” she explains as she walks down the shedrow. “I just love them. Most of these horses in the barn, I had their mother, I was there when they were born, and I love to see them progress.” She thinks for a minute before adding, “It’s kind of like teaching in school. You see how they mature from Junior High to High School, to super status!” Be it students or horses, Virginia Peters is clearly a good teacher.

Brilliant Broodmares

Savannah Slew deplanes in 1985 prior to Canterbury Oaks.

By Noah Joseph

Last week, CanterburyLive highlighted some of the best fillies and mares bred in Minnesota that have had success on the track and in the breeding shed. But what about horses that ran here that were not bred in Minnesota? Well there are several good ones, and some have even gone on to produce famous offspring.

Balbonella was one of the most influential mares to race at Canterbury. Her win in the 1988 Lady Canterbury was one of four stakes wins. In the breeding shed, she produced six foals, three of them winners including Key of Luck (by Chief’s Crown) and Always Loyal (by Zilzal). However, her son Anabaa stands out the most. By Danzig, Anabaa won several graded stakes in Europe. He retired to stud and became a successful stallion. His best offspring was three time Breeders’ Cup Mile winner and recent inductee into the National Horse Racing Hall of Fame; Goldikova.

Savannah Slew was the winner of the Canterbury Oaks in 1985, one of four stakes wins in her short career. But as a broodmare, she had even more success. She produced two graded stakes winners. The first was Admiralty (by Strawberry Road) and Astra (by Theatrical). Astra won eight stakes wins, three of them at Grade 1 level.

Skatingonthinice was a gray mare, who could put a chill on her foes, finishing in the money 26 times in 46 starts, including two stakes wins, one of them the Minneapolis Handicap at Canterbury Downs. In the breeding shed, she produced 1999 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner up Chief Seattle (by Seattle Slew), and Greyciousness (by Miswaki). Greyciousness went on to produce the Grade 1 stakes winning sprinter The Factor.

Skatingonthinice winning 1990 Minneapolis Handicap.

As Dark Star once said, “And last but not least, the Launch.” Turbo Launch is well known for her undefeated two year old campaign in 1987, including her win over Lost Kitty in the 1987 Canterbury Debutante. In the breeding shed, she failed to produce a runner as good as her, but her daughter Turko’s Turn (by Turkoman), was a winner on the track and in the breeding shed. Turko’s Turn produced Canterbury winner Dehere’s Turn (by Dehere) and the 2001 Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner and Champion Three Year-Old-Colt; Point Given.

This year, fine fillies and mares such as Thoughtless, Sweet Tapper, Hotshot Anna, and most recently 2-year-old Amy’s Challenge have won here this meeting. (this filly won by 16 ½ lengths on Sunday, earned a 91 Beyer Speed Figure, and reportedly attracted a $1 million offer). In a few years, hopefully these mares will have foals, and just maybe, one of them will become a successful runner as well.

Owners and Breeders Craig and Janie Bishop

by Katie Merritt

Owners Craig and Janie Bishop are from a small town about 85 miles south of Canterbury Park, Blooming Prairie, where they have a 1500 acre farm with Craig’s brother and sister in law. On that farm, they raise corn, beans, a little bit of alfalfa hay, and of course horses. Craig and Janie have been active breeders in the Minnesota Thoroughbred industry for the last 31 years, which eventually led to ownership of the racehorses that didn’t meet their reserve at the sales as youngsters.

Before they entered into the Thoroughbred industry, the Bishops’ focus was on breeding Quarter Horses and Draft Horses for pleasure riding. “I thought if I had four or five really good Quarter Horse mares and just raised babies, I could sell the babies and not have to be so involved with breaking them to ride and all that,” explained Craig. However, he soon found that in order to be successful breeders in the pleasure horse industry, their horses needed to be broken to ride as well as taken to shows before buyers developed interest. “We’ve always loved horses, and wanted to have them on the farm, so we started with the Thoroughbreds,” said Craig, adding, “It intrigued me that I could have good mares, a good stallion, raise good colts, and all I basically had to do was teach them to lead, pick up all their feet, have them ready for a sale, and I could sell them.”

Now, the Bishops only have one stallion, Sam Lord’s Castle, and two broodmares, but over the years they have had four stallions and as many as 14 broodmares on their farm. “We’ve been pretty successful,” said Craig, “I think we’ve sold four Northern Lights winners, and Bella Notte (a multiple stakes winning filly) was out of our stallion Quick Cut.” Their favorite horse to watch run was another horse sired by Quick Cut, Wally’s Choice, who won several stakes races including the Grade III Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park. “We really watched the horses out of our stallions, and Wally’s Choice did so well – it was really fun!” said Janie.

For Craig and Janie, the objective has always been to take the horses that they breed to the sale and sell them, but if the horse does not bring a reasonable price, then they take them home and race them. “Don’t get me wrong, it would be nice, if I could afford to, I’d run them all. It’s fun, you enjoy it,” said Craig with a smile. They currently have two horses in training with Lynn and Red Rarick that they enjoy watching run, but they get just as much enjoyment watching the horses that they’ve sold run for other people. Even though they’re no longer involved personally with them, they still like to see them do well, and even stand to profit if they do, “With the Breeder’s Fund, we get paid back the money as the breeder, even if we don’t own them anymore,” pointed out Janie, “So it’s a good incentive!”

The Bishops clearly love horses, and enjoy both the breeding and racing sectors of the Thoroughbred industry. They of course love getting their picture taken in the Winner’s Circle, but they are also very grateful for the people that they’ve met through their equine endeavors. “Truly, with the breeding and with running horses, it’s been amazing, all the great people that we’ve met and gotten to know,” beamed Janie. Even if the Bishops are one day no longer involved in the business side of racing, you can bet they will still be coming to the track. “I keep telling her I’d like to get out in three years, but I said that three years ago!” laughed Craig – to which his wife responded with a smile, “He’s not too good with math!”