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Still 'lucky' in his second career
Monday, June 21, 2010 - by Ellen Harvey, Harness Racing Communications

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Freehold, NJ --- Luckyisasluckydoes was both lucky and good during his seven-year harness racing career. He piled up $910,845 in earnings over a career that saw him win major stakes races like the Dan Patch Pace, legs of the Classic Series and a sweep of the Isle of Capri. The now 11-year-old pacer had his best year in 2004, with just shy of $400,000 in purse earnings. If not for the inconvenient fact that “Lucky” is a gelding, he might be enjoying a stallion career right now.

He did not have that option in his retirement plan and in 2007 things were not looking up for him. He was 0-for-2 and had just bowed a tendon. But lucky for Lucky, his timing couldn’t have been better. Marie Eve Menosky was looking for a horse at the same time.

Photo courtesy of Marie-Eve Menosky
Marie-Eve Menosky and "Lucky" at Island Beach State Park in N.J.

“I was living with my parents-in-law (in Jackson, N.J.) at the time,” Menosky said. “They had a little barn in the backyard and she (her mother-in-law) has a retired Standardbred also. I asked her if I could keep a horse there, too, and she said, ‘No problem, I have the room.’

“I just happened to talk to my friend Rock, he was a groom for Mark Kesmodel, and he said he didn’t have anything that needed to find a home. But a week later he called me and said, ‘We have one; come look at him.’ I was at the races, but I went after the races and there he was and I called Stacy (her sister-in-law, trainer Stacy Chiodo) and said, ‘Get the trailer here quick, before they change their mind.’”

Menosky got Lucky home, but was in no condition to start serious training right away.

“I was pregnant at the time, so I just let him play with the other horse and be quiet,” Menosky said. “He had a bowed tendon, but it wasn’t bad. I didn’t push him too much. I put the saddle on him and he didn’t flinch; put it on, walked around. I’ve ridden many Standardbreds and never really had a problem with any of them.”

While trail riding in Jackson, Menosky got an idea for what direction to take Lucky’s training.

“I found a little farm that had barrels set up,” she said. “I always wanted to do that (barrel racing), so I got in touch with them and I practiced a little bit.”

Barrel racing involves running full speed around a trio of barrels set up in a cloverleaf pattern; it’s a timed event and the fastest horse wins.

Tallman Photo
Luckyisasluckydoes is enjoying a second career in barrel racing.

By 2008, Menosky and Lucky were ready to start competing in “speed events” that involve agility and speed in the show ring.

“I started to go to little shows and got more serious about it last summer,” Menosky said. “I found a good trainer, Kathy Nelson, and we’ve been working with her. The training was pretty much for me; he knew what to do. She’d never worked with Standardbreds. I don’t think she’d ever seen a pacer in her life. She was pretty much a pro barrel racer, but she loves him, she’s very impressed. When I first brought him to her, he’s very big and has long legs and she was like, ‘OK, I can’t promise you anything.’”

Fortunately Lucky took to his new job.

“He loves it, absolutely loves it,” Menosky said. “He loves the pole bending (a slalom-like dash around closely placed poles), dash (a down and back race), and keyhole which is pretty much the same thing.”

This year, Menosky hopes to put in a full schedule of competition between her work as a caretaker for the Carl Cito Stable. She occasionally rides Lucky to work, where his fit appearance impresses all who lay eyes on him. She is always the only Standardbred in competition against primarily Quarter horses, a breed known for short, fast bursts of speed. On Sunday, June 13, Menosky and Lucky took yet another blue ribbon against a field of Quarter horses.

“No Standardbreds, just me,” she laughed, adding that her fellow competitors aren’t grousing about being beaten by a pacer.

“They are all thrilled a Standardbred is beating up all the Quarter horses and I like to impress people with what our horses can do.”

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