He even had his wife give Nanticoke Racing’s half of the filly to their 19-year-old daughter Brooke, thinking maybe she’d pick up a couple checks to help her with college expenses.
Six months and nearly $130,000 later, Givens is quick to admit he was forced to eat his words. Spend It All, the 3-year-old filly he was ready to give up on, beat the Open mares at Dover Downs this week, notching her 15th win for the year. The daughter of Tell All and Dream Card (Dream Away) has now amassed earnings of $129,790 in 2013 and boasts a mark of 1:51.4f.
“I thought she was nothing,” Givens said. “I thought maybe she’d get some checks.”
|Charlene Sharpe photo|
|Spend It All with Deshawn Sample at Les Givens' farm in Seaford, Del.|
Givens bought Spend It All at the Standardbred Horse Sale in Harrisburg in 2011 for $5,000 for Head and Nanticoke Racing. He said she trained down “so so” and qualified in 1:59.3 in June of her 2-year-old year. Not quite keeping up with the competition in two 2-year-old races, she was turned out.
Spend It All qualified at Dover Downs in January this year but appeared to have little interest in racing. Givens didn't bother to pay her 3-year-old stakes fees.
“She was good gaited and had a good way of going; she just had no desire,” Givens said.
By the end of February, she’d earned just one fifth place check racing against non-winners of one competition at the five-eighths-mile track. That’s when Givens and his wife Teresa gave Nanticoke Racing’s half of the filly to their daughter, who’s studying dental hygiene at Delaware Technical Community College.
At about that same time, however, caretaker Deshawn Sample began working with the filly. Since she wasn’t doing any good with a traditional jogging and training routine, he decided to change things up a bit. He started training Spend It All slow miles, between 2:25 and 2:30, every day.
“I just thought I’d try to build her up,” said Sample, whose former charges include Snow White 2,1:52.4 ($1,433,551) and Southwind Tempo p,1:48.2 ($2,396,362). “There was nothing special about her, she just couldn’t beat nobody.”
The daily training miles went on for about three weeks, Sample said. In her first race after that, she finished fourth against fellow maiden pacers at Dover, pacing a modest 1:58.
Sample could tell she was a different horse though. He says now that race was a tightener, as she came back to win her next start by 2-3/4 lengths in 1:54.
She’s done nothing but make money ever since.
She won five in a row at Yonkers Raceway, pacing her way up through the conditions before heading to Harrah’s Philadelphia to face the older mares in June. She took her lifetime mark of 1:51.4 there on July 3 in the fillies and mares non-winners of $12,500 last five starts.
“She just got better every week,” said Sample, who made it his goal to see the filly have a $100,000 year.
|Spend It All (#4) was a head winner over Jeremes Sweetheart in the Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace on Dec. 9 at Dover.|
Spend It All has become a familiar face in the winner’s circle at Dover, where she’s been racing since November. She started the meet with a convincing 6-1/4 length, 1:53.2 victory in the fillies and mares winners over $45,000 for driver Jim Morand.
She followed that up with two more wins before being moved to the fillies and mares Open in December. She put in a good showing, finishing third and pacing in 1:51.1, before coming back Dec. 9 to beat a field of First State standouts -- including Jeremes Sweetheart and Monochromatic -- in 1:52.2.
Givens says that was her most impressive race of the year.
“I thought she was maybe third best in there,” he said. “She was just unbelievable.”
Spend It All will start from post six this Monday (Dec. 16), again facing Delaware’s top pacing mares. Givens says he plans to race her through the end of the year and then give her some well deserved time off.
While the late bloomer might have fooled her father, Brooke Givens is just pleased to have had the chance to own part of such a successful horse.
“She has definitely exceeded our expectations,” she said. “I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunities my parents have given me in the business of harness racing.”