Home > Running Down a Dream > Chapter 13 - Stakes Race Part II

Running Down a Dream
Bob Carson takes new owners from sales ring to turnout
written by Bob Carson

Chapter 13 - Stakes Race Part II
'Running Down a Dream'
By Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1989

Photo Source: Wikipedia

July 19, 2011


Hello gang,


Next Monday, Mariko Hanover is in a stakes race. The name of the race is The Arden, the purse turned out to be $20,000. It is very exciting.


Races like these are the goals when owners purchase a yearling (baby) horse. How we got here, and exactly how to explain a "stakes race" is confusing for people new to harness racing. Many months ago I walked you down the path that leads to a stakes race. Now that it is real, it might make more sense if I go through it again.


Remember, when Jim and I purchased Mariko Hanover at the Harrisburg horse auction, at the very bottom of her pedigree page, you saw a paragraph that had a long list of stakes engagements.


Arden Downs
Bloomsburg Fair
Bluegrass Series
Breeders Crown……etc


This was a menu of races that we could have entered Mariko in. In February, we sent an entry form and a check for $200 dollars to make Mariko "eligible" to race in the Arden. If we did not send in our money we would not be eligible. Remember, it’s like a poker game, you must ante up (in this case, $200) before the cards are even dealt.


For the Arden, it turned out that 211 trotting fillies decided to pay the money into the kitty to be eligible to race in the Arden in July. Mariko and each of the other 211 horses had to clear a big hurdle - prior to the race any horse that wants to race must qualify (show that they can trot a mile in 2:04). This is not easy. Probably 2/3 of the horses will not have the talent to race this fast. These owners lose their ante money.


As you know, Mariko cleared this hurdle, last week she trotted a nice mile in 2:02. We paid the early ante money; Mariko did her part and qualified. Now that Mariko CAN race, at this point Jim and I must decide if we think she has shown enough promise to spend an additional $400 for a starting fee to finally, officially enter the Arden. We decided yes.


They drew today. 46 horses joined us (in other words, only 46 of the original 211 are still in the game). The racetrack randomly divided the 46 horses into six divisions (races). Mariko wound up in the 4th division.


Here is where luck plays into harness racing. Mariko could have randomly drawn into a division with a bunch of VERY, VERY good fillies. On the other hand, your horse may draw into a race with a fairly weak field. A few of the races may find the winner going very fast; in other divisions, the winner may be fairly slow. In some races, six of the horses may break stride and you can win a slice of the purse by simply staying on stride. Who knows what will happen - it's a horse race. And we are in it.


Here is our race. If you have any questions - just ask.


Click here for the entries.


Aug 1, 2011 – going forward

Let’s take a breath and recap.


So far, Mariko Hanover is good, not super. She was 4th in the Arden Downs, 3rd in her Stallion series race. Once again we have decisions to make.

It will cost us $700 to make the long ship and race the next Stallion Leg at Chester with Mariko.

The Stallion leg at the Meadows (own home track) on the 31st is a given.

Maybe we can try a NW1 at some point (non-winners of 1 race).

The fairs offer races on the 10th, 15th, 22nd, 30th, 2nd,, 10th, most have dual fairs so the divisions will be lessened.


She should be a strong threat to win here every time, which is great if they go for 6K per, not so great if it’s 2, 3 or 4...

I think we will ship to Chester but we could make a case for other scenarios...

Sending Fantail to race on the fair circuit was a close call, Mariko is closer.


Thinking about jumping into horse ownership?

E-mail owners@ustrotting.com and we will get you more information to get started in the racing game. Click here to share this story with a friend.

Editor's Note: The views contained in this column are that of the author alone, and do not necessarily represent the opinions or views of the United States Trotting Association.

Bob Carson
Hoof Beats Magazine About the Author
Bob Carson's award-winning freelance writing has appeared in more than two dozen national publications. He is a steady contributor to Trot Magazine, The United States Trotting Association and Timeline Magazine. After more than 200 magazine articles and stories, his first novel, The Voyage of Mess (humor) was released in 2009. In 2005 he produced the documentary film, Touching Home (Minor League Baseball). In 2006 he received the Hervey Award for Journalistic Excellence and Best of Ohio Fiction awards. He has published Minor Trips (Minor League Baseball) since 1991. Bob Carson has owned harness horses for more than a decade, including a stint as a weekend trainer. He lives in Strongsville, Ohio, with his wife, Sue, and daughter, Katie.
Subscribe to Hoof Beats Magazine

Share this on Facebook Share