Columbus, OH --- Mark Ford has a lot of horses and he likes to move them around. Out east, he has the option of keeping horses in his care and going to all different sized tracks like Saratoga, Yonkers, Pocono and the Meadowlands. However he decided a change of scenery to the Midwest would be the best option for Up Front Kellie Jo and he sent her to Scioto Downs Racino in the care of relatively unknown trainer Jay Hock.
|Up Front Kellie Jo has banked $759,616 in her career.|
Since making her first start at Scioto on May 17, Up Front Kellie Jo has two wins and two seconds in five starts. She has earned an even $20,000 while racing at the Columbus, Ohio five-eighths-mile track, nearly half of her 2013 earnings; she earned $24,830 in 14 previous starts out east.
“Track size really makes no difference to her, but usually the smaller the track, the better,” said Ford. “She’s been a good mare her whole life and made all her money nickel and dime, just overnights. She didn’t make much money as a 2- and 3-year old.”
Having a horse that has made more than $100,000 in each of her last four years of racing, you would think that he’d want to keep her close to home but that’s just not his style.
“As long as she’s racing good, she’ll stay there (at Scioto),” Ford continued. “When you’re racing, when something doesn’t go right, you like to move them around.”
Jay Hock worked for leading Scioto trainer Virgil Morgan, Jr. for years and always had one or two horses with his then girlfriend, and now wife, Aimee. This year, he decided to branch out on his own and start his own training stable. The first horses he got were for Ed Mullinax, and Up Front Kellie Jo was part of that group, who is owned by Mullinax and Ford.
“I didn’t really know anything about her before Mark dropped her off,” said Hock. “He said she probably needed a change of scenery and maybe the horses here would suit her a little better.
“If you get her turned out overnight, the next morning she’s a lot happier. We turn her out three or four nights a week depending on the weather -- she’s really responded to that. A horse like her can make a guy look smart. You jog her, feed her, turn her out and she’s made some money.”
Up Front Kellie Jo has made a lot of money the last few years and her breeding indicates that she should be a good race mare. Life Sign broodmares are the fourth best cross for Bettor's Delight when looking at average earnings minus top foal in the USTA’s Crosses of Gold reporting. Up Front Kellie Jo is the leading foal from the Bettor's Delight/Life Sign cross with $759,616 in lifetime earnings. Her dam, Life’s Highway, now has nine foals of racing age that have earned $1.76 million.
Up Front Kellie Jo took her lifetime mark of 1:50 in 2012, as a 6-year-old, at Pocono Downs. She has earned at least $110,000 in each racing year the last four years, with 2011 her most lucrative year when she raced 47 times with six wins, eight seconds and 10 thirds and earned $213,760.
Up Front Kellie Jo will race again on Friday (June 21) at Scioto in race eight, which has a scheduled post time of 8:50 p.m. She will be driven by Chris Page, the third leading driver this season at Scioto, and is listed at 5-1 as the third morning line favorite in the Fillies and Mares Open II.
“She drives like a sports car,” said Page. “But I don’t do anything. I’m out there for two minutes, Jay and Aimee are the unsung heroes.”
“Chris said she was real good last week,” said Hock. “He said she had a ton of pace. I think she’s ready for it, and we might try leaving, get her back to her old self. I’m looking forward to racing Friday for sure. She’s as good as I can get her. Since starting out on my own, to hit the winner's circle two times in one week would be great.”