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Quarter horse breeder is enjoying his first Standardbred
Friday, December 16, 2011 - by Charlene Sharpe, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

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Charlene Sharpe
Chinquapin, NC --- Quarter horse breeder Ted Press rode with a friend to Harrington, Del., for Chick’s Harness Horse Sale in Sept. 2010. He’d never had a racehorse, but when hip no. 17, a yearling pacing filly, came in the sale ring, he encouraged his friend to buy her. Although there appeared to be nothing wrong with her, bids on the filly had stalled out at $300.

“I said to my friend 'take this one,'” Press said. “He raises his hand and takes her for $400.”

When the sale’s staff came over to get him to sign the slip, however, the man pointed at Press and told them to take his name.

“Just like that I bought a horse,” Press said with a laugh. He had purchased Karen’s Assets, a Cams Fortune filly out of the Artiscape mare D R J.

Karen's Assets hit the board in seven of her nine freshman starts.

While he had never owned a Standardbred before, Press, a retired Marine, did have some experience working with the breed, as he had helped a friend -- the same friend he went to the sale with -- train one the year before.

Press said he brought the filly home and began jogging her.

“Within a week she was pacing,” he said.

He spent months putting miles on her on his quarter-mile jogging track before shipping her to a half-mile track in Greenville, N.C., to begin training. In August, when Karen’s Assets -- called Missy by Press -- went a mile in 2:07 on the farm track, she was deemed ready to race and was sent to Delaware trainer Bib Roberts.

She qualified in 2:01.4 on Sept. 15 at Harrington and made her first pari-mutuel start two weeks later, finishing third in a non-winners of one race at the Delaware half-miler.

Roberts then entered her into the Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund events at Harrington. After finishing second in a pair of preliminary legs, she picked up the fourth place check in the $100,000 final on Oct. 24.

photos courtesy of Ted Press
Karen's Assets failed to break her maiden in 2011, but she did cash $42,190 in purse checks.

Karen's Assets also competed later in the fall in the DSBF events at Dover Downs. Once again, she was second in each of the two legs, then finished third in the $100,000 finale on Dec. 3 in her final start of the year.

The $400 yearling purchase ended the season with earnings of $42,190 in just nine starts.

Press, pointing out his inexperience with harness racing, says it was probably his fault the filly did not win a race during her freshman campaign. He said that when he was training her down, he made a mistake.

“I was running her outside another horse, two or three wide,” he said.

When she made it to the racetrack, driver Jonathan Roberts had trouble getting Karen’s Assets to pass other horses. Press recalls one race where the filly came from the back of the pack to quickly reach the leader, only to sit outside her for the remainder of the mile.

“It wasn’t that she wasn’t faster; she just wasn’t passing,” Press said.

Several equipment changes failed to encourage her to go by other horses, leading Press to the conclusion that he’d trained the attitude into her. He plans to work on the problem when he starts back with Karen’s Assets for next year’s Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund stakes.

“I’d like to see her set a mark,” he said.

For now, however, the 2-year-old is enjoying a well deserved vacation on Press’ North Carolina farm. He says the laid back filly is turned out with six young quarter horses she likes to herd around.

“I watch her and make jokes she’ll be a good cow horse when she’s done racing,” he said.

Press, who only bought his farm and set up his breeding operation three years ago, is now thinking about adding another Standardbred to his array of cutting horses.

“We’ve had a lot of fun,” he said. “I think I’ll get one or two more. It’s fun and it pays for itself. There’s not many hobbies like that.”

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