Kentucky Ghost Gets Ideal Trip For Breakthrough Stakes Win In Monmouth’s Cliff Hanger
by Tom Luicci/Monmouth Park||
OCEANPORT – For a deep closer like Kentucky Ghost, it was the perfect set-up: The fast early fractions in the $106,000 Cliff Hanger Stakes at Monmouth Park on May 28 provided all the assistance he needed for a breakthrough performance.
With full momentum while swinging five-wide coming out of the final turn, Kentucky Ghost collared pacesetter Winfromwithin at the sixteenth pole before surging to a half-length victory, his first against stakes competition, according to a press release.
The winning time for the mile-and-a-sixteenth over a turf course rated “good” was 1:40.44.
“We got the early pace he needs,” said trainer Vickie Oliver. “He’s a late-closing horse. It was a good set-up for him. He can close in on anything. He has such a big turn of foot and such a big heart. But whenever you get those fast early fractions you always feel a little better about him closing into them.
“The horse that was in front (Winfromwithin) dug in gamely, but our horse is a pretty game horse.”
Jockey Jorge A. Vargas Jr. said he felt better about his chances after seeing the opening six furlongs go in 1:09.97, with the mile reached in 1:34.42.
Kentucky Ghost, a gelded 5-year-old son of Ghostzapper, was last after a half in the nine-horse field and was still sixth after three-quarters of a mile.
“I knew they were going fast early. My horse was running and we were pretty far behind the leaders,” said Vargas. “But he was throwing in good licks. So I felt good about him, even though he was far back. So when it was fast I was happy. I was a little worried about the turf, which I thought was a little quick. I didn’t want to give myself that much to do, but that’s the way it worked out.
“When he got running he really got running. I was trying to keep him away from horses because he can come in a little bit. So I wanted to give myself a little room so I didn’t take his momentum away. It worked out good.”
Kentucky Ghost, owned by B B N Racing LLC, returned $14.20 to win. Winfromwithin finished one-and-one-quarter lengths ahead of Analyze It in third after dueling for the opening six furlongs with Mid Day Image.
Kentucky Ghost had three second place finishes in stakes company last year, but had yet to win a stakes race. In his seasonal debut on May 7 in the Grade 1 Turf Classic at Churchill Downs he was pulled up and vanned off.
He now has a 4-7-2 line from 21 career starts.
“He’s had a few misses in stakes races, but he’s always consistent and he is always right there except for the last race, which I don’t really have any answers for that other than he just didn’t take to the turf course that day,” said Oliver. “Hopefully moving forward we can get a couple of more stakes wins over the summer.”
Trademark and Spin Wheel Triple Crown Nominated, Hidden Stash 2nd in return
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – They say that once you’ve run a horse in the Kentucky Derby, you want to do it every year. Vicki Oliver and Brian Klatsky wouldn’t disagree.
Oliver, now in her 24th year of training, and Klatsky – who with Brendan O’Brien and Braxton Lynch oversees the BBN Racing partnerships – are looking to go down the Derby trail again this year with a gelding named Trademark. In 2021, they were represented by the 14th-place finisher, Hidden Stash, in their first experience with a Derby runner.
Trademark, just like Hidden Stash, won a pair of two-turn dirt races on his home Kentucky circuit to end his 2-year-old season. Oliver, who winters at Payson Park some two hours north of Gulfstream Park, said she and the owners are excited about the potential Trademark has shown.
“We gave him a little break after he won at Churchill Downs,” said Oliver, referring to a three-length allowance victory going 1 1/16 miles on Nov. 27. “We’ve got that foundation under him now and have him back working again,” with his latest breeze coming Friday at Payson.
Oliver said the Sam F. Davis, a Derby points qualifier set for Feb. 12 at Tampa Bay Downs, will be the first start for Trademark at 3.
Klatsky said the BBN partners also have Derby hopes for Spin Wheel, a Hard Spun colt who also capped his 2021 campaign by winning Nov. 27 at Churchill in a 1 1/8-mile maiden race for trainer Rusty Arnold. Spin Wheel goes next in the Holy Bull on Feb. 5, also a points qualifier and the first major Derby prep of the winter at Gulfstream.
Coincidentally, Hidden Stash was scheduled to make his first start since the Derby when he returns Friday in a turf allowance at Tampa. The 4-year-old Constitution colt was sidelined in late June after undergoing surgery on a cannon bone.
Oliver, Bejarano Shine on First KY Downs Preview Day
Pair teamed for three victories, rider won four overall Aug. 7 at Ellis Park.
- By BloodHorse Staff
- Saturday, 11:28 PM
Trainer Vicki Oliver and jockey Rafael Bejarano proved the stars of the first day of Kentucky Downs Preview Weekend Aug. 7 at Ellis Park, teaming for three victories, with the rider winning four overall.
Oliver brought two 3-year-old fillies from her Keeneland base. But instead of running both Flippant and Core Values in the $100,000 Kentucky Downs TVG Preview Dueling Grounds Oaks, she opted to put Core Values in against boys in the $97,500 Kentucky Downs Preview Dueling Grounds Derby. That resulted in a nose victory for Core Values, with Flippant winning the Preview Dueling Grounds Oaks two races later by a half-length.
Asked about winning three races, Oliver said: “Oh, it’s unbelievable. The last time I won three in a day was at The Meadowlands a long, long time ago (2006), when they had one of those all-day turf days.”
She said winning two stakes in a day was a first.
“Never done that, so that’s exciting,” she said. “But these two fillies are really, really nice fillies and so is the filly who won earlier, which I think is a stakes horse as well. So it’s fun being loaded-up for Kentucky Downs.”
BBN Racing’s Core Values won her third straight race in the Preview Dueling Grounds Derby as she got up on the last stride over favored Royal Prince. It was another neck back to pacesetter Modern Science.
“She likes to make it close every time,” said Oliver. “But she seems to get her head in front at the wire.”
Oliver used the turf stakes as a stepping stone to the $500,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Oaks at 1 5/16 miles on Kentucky Downs‘ Sept. 5 opening card.
Bejarano had Core Values back in last in the field of seven 3-year-olds, flying through the stretch to get up by a nod at the finish while covering 1 1/8 miles in 1:46.94 over firm turf. The Honor Code filly paid $24.40 as the longest shot on the board.
Saturday’s win followed victories in the July 17 Hatoof Stakes at Arlington International Racecourse and a June 17 allowance optional claimer at Indiana Grand.
“Today, I just wanted to relax in the beginning and make my own ground,” Bejarano said. “By the three-eighths pole, when I had my position, I started to ask her for more and she responded and gave me a good kick. I wanted to make sure we were clear in the stretch. When I came up to the favored horse, I knew we were going to beat him.”
Core Values now is 4-0-0 in eight starts, earning $141,377.
Oliver said she was confident of a big performance.
“I liked that it was a small enough field, there was enough speed for her, and pace for her to close into,” she said. “So I did like our chances. And we had five pounds on the boys. That’s a big deal going a mile and an eighth.”
Core Values was bred in Kentucky by John Bates, Ron Kirk, and Michael Riordan out of the Street Cry mare Sweet Awakening. She is a half sister to two-time Canadian champion Are You Kidding Me. BBN Racing purchased her for $230,000 from Denali Stud’s consignment to the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
It’s Oliver Again With Flippant
In the first running of the Preview Dueling Grounds Oaks, Flippant and Bejarano upset the field to give Oliver yet another win on the card.
“I know Flippant was taking a step up off a maiden race, but she was experienced enough to run against this kind of company,” said Oliver, referring to the filly’s five prior starts. “We trained the mare (Frivolous), she was a really classy mare. (Flippant) deserved to be in stakes company, and she proved it.”
After stumbling at the start, Flippant steadied and settled well off the pace, leaving Stillchargingmaria to set a representative pace followed loosely by Takntothecleaners. By the top of the stretch, Caldee and Flippant engaged each other with Flippant gaining the ultimate advantage by a half-length.
“This horse ran a tremendous race today,” said Bejarano. “Today, there was a lot of speed. The track played really fair today for horses that came from behind. We had a beautiful trip after having a bad break from the gate. I just got her set and tried to get her relaxed. She did good and kept running in the end. Definitely, she was the best horse today.”
Owned and bred in Kentucky by G. Watts Humphrey, the daughter of Tapit improved her record to 2-2-0 in six lifetime starts and increased her earnings to $115,109. Flippant paid $8.20 to win, while covering the 1 1/16 miles in 1:39.56.
Frivolous (Empire Maker) was a multiple grade 2 winner for Humphrey and Oliver. She is also the dam of grade 2-placed Never Forget, who was ridden to victory by Bejarano for Humphrey and Oliver in Saturday’s third race, a $52,000 turf sprint allowance.
Brian Klatsky: Horses, Hoops & Hard Work
COLTS NECK, NJ (June 1, 2021), Community Magazine
Hidden Stash made a “Run for the Roses” last month, resulting in lasting memories for Brian Klatsky who grew up in Rumson and has lived in Colts Neck for the past fifteen years.
Brian and his business partners, Brendan O’Brien and Kentucky horsewoman, Braxton Lynch, co-founded BBN Racing, and own Hidden Stash and many other racehorses. Although the partners and horse trainer, Vicki Oliver, sensed there was something special about Hidden Stash, they still found themselves in awe of having their horse race as number 13 in the 147th Kentucky Derby on May 1 at Churchill Downs.
Brian’s exuberance for competition has been the driving force behind his varied accomplishments in business, basketball and horse racing. In business, he enjoys success as a partner in Gold Coast Wealth Management in Red Bank, and his financial acumen has played an integral role in BBN’s success. In the basketball realm, a local youth athletic program he began when his sons Alex and Brandon were in grade school now attracts statewide membership and graduated many top players. One of Brian’s greatest joys was watching his son and teammates win the Tournament of Champions (TOC) for Ranney School. His son Brandon is a junior there, and Alex is a freshman basketball player at the University of Florida. In the world of racing, Brian estimates having an interest in 100 horses throughout 20 years in the business, and currently maintains close to 20 horses.
To some, basketball and horse racing may appear to be worlds apart, but Brian explains how, in his world, they have intersected in meaningful ways.
PHOTO CREDIT: BBN Racing/Mark Brown
CM: When and how did you first get interested in horse racing?
Brian: On my first day of college at Skidmore in Saratoga, I was with a group of basketball players who went with a jockey’s son to a simulcasting of Belmont Park at the Saratoga Harness track. I grew up five minutes from Monmouth Park and until I learned about racing in my freshman year of college, I didn’t realize I had a gem in my backyard my whole life. I was home from college the summer of 1991 and got all excited for the Haskell. I remember the stories about Hansel, the Preakness and Belmont winner that year, like it was yesterday.
CM: What is your involvement with basketball?
Brian: I played basketball in college. More than ten years ago, I started Team Rio University with my boys, Alex and Brandon, and it has since grown into something much bigger than I ever envisioned when I was in the gym with them as first and third graders. We started at the Central Jersey Hawks with my uncle Fred Klatsky from Holmdel, with a group of Mid-Monmouth travel basketball players. Our success led others from around the state to join us and we grew into a sponsored Under Armour Program. It evolved into a boys and girls program to deliver a complete student-athlete basketball development and educational advancement program. In the last decade, we have graduated more than 100 NCAA Division I scholarship athletes, seven McDonald’s All Americans, and nine NBA players.
CM: You and partner Brendan O’Brien both played basketball in college and many of your racing investors are die-hard fans. What parallels do you see between the two sports that you know so well?
Brian: I think the most interesting parallel is evaluating young prospects. When I go to the Keeneland or Fasig Tipton yearling sales it feels like an AAU tournament to me. It’s all about scouting prospects and projecting what a young player, or horse, will look like in a few years. I now respect what college coaches go through when evaluating talent. Trying to predict which kids are going to grow, who is going to work hard and not be distracted by girls, which kid is going to be coachable and fit in your system, etc. is always very difficult to quantify based on recruiting rules. When our selection team is at a yearling sale, we are asking the same questions: Which horse is fully grown, who is going to stay sound, who has the pedigree and class to want to compete and run hard? One difference between the two is that horses haven’t learned how to use social media yet! It’s one distraction they don’t have. But horses get distracted by the craziest things as small as a shadow on the ground.
From left: Nicole Klatsky, Alex Klatsky, Maxine Klatsky, Brian Klatsky, Alan Klatsky, and Brandon Klatsky | PHOTO CREDIT: BBN Racing/Mark Brown
CM: How did your interest in racing develop into a business venture?
Brian: I never thought of racing as a business; it is a hobby that I am passionate about and as with any passion, you want longevity. I can’t compare horses to anything like traditional investments. You cannot forecast earnings on athletes that do not come with guaranteed contracts. Health and luck are so much part of the game. It’s almost impossible to build any predictable financial models around racehorses. The key for me has always been about working with the right people- whether it’s horsemen, or managers for our equity fund. Due diligence, trust, and hard work are paramount for any successful venture. I was very fortunate that in 2000, Jeremy Rosen of Lincroft introduced me to trainers Vicki and Phil Oliver and to G. Watts Humphrey, Jr. who has been a great mentor to me on the business and the industry as a whole.
CM: Speaking of financial models, what kind of matters do you handle at Gold Coast Wealth Management? How has this knowledge contributed to BBN?
Brian: Gold Coast Wealth Management is a private investment advisory firm. We started off as a family office and evolved into an investment boutique for clients seeking a custom and personal advisory relationship. We also run our own equity fund and manage our client’s accounts on the Charles Schwab platform. The business model that Braxton, Brendan, and I devised for BBN is a bit different, allowing partners to quantify their risk and enjoy the sport without any financial stress. The capital structure of BBN Racing allows partners to make a single one-time capital contribution that budgets all the horses’ expenses through their three-year-old career and assumes zero revenue. With this model, partners are never asked again for a capital call. The horses’ earnings and sales proceeds are returned to partners as distributions. Instead of getting bills, they get checks. If it is economically justifiable to race a horse past its three-year-old career, we hold back some of its earnings to afford continued training. Each year BBN creates a new partnership that buys six to eight horses. Each partner is invested in that full crop and gets two to three years of action from that single investment.
CM: What is your particular role in this team effort to develop champion horses?
Brian: Our team has worked together for years and has a special chemistry. We have a combined 200 years of experience. My role has been to align and select the right horse people, and to manage the financial discipline of the model. I make sure we budget properly, stay disciplined to our price limits in the auction rings, and provide transparency for all of our partners.
Hidden Stash Trainer Vicki Oliver (center) with her parents G. Watts Humphrey, Jr. (left) and Sally Humphrey | PHOTO CREDIT: BBN Racing/Mark Brown
CM: What was it about Hidden Stash that attracted BBN?
Brian: Hidden Stash was our sleeper pick in the BBN II crop of yearlings from the 2019 Keeneland sale. His sire, Constitution, was an exciting young stallion that won the Florida Derby and had his first crop of runners at the track that year. Just a matter of days after the sale, his first big progeny began to rise with Tiz the Law and Independence Hall. We liked Hidden Stash because he had a very athletic look and was underdeveloped at that time. We believed he was still growing, and all felt his upside was significant. We examined him several times and he was a bit stubborn to walk and show off his long stride. If the sale had been a couple of weeks later, there is no way we would have been able to afford him.
CM: To be a part of the Kentucky Derby is a phenomenal accomplishment. What were some of your first impressions when you arrived at Churchill Downs?
Brian: The Derby is the pinnacle of the sport. We never planned or envisioned the reality of being in it. Our goal was always to buy good athletes and develop them. There are lots of great races and you can have lots of success without ever running in the Derby. In life, I have always been about the journey more than just the destination. I had been to the Derby about 15 times and never once realistically thought we would be running in it one day. When we arrived at Churchill Downs for the derby draw, it all hit home. I had tears in my eyes when they called Hidden Stash with the number 13 post. For us this wasn’t just a dream- it was a fantasy come true!
CM: How did the team feel about getting assigned Number 13?
Brian: All we wanted was to be somewhere in the middle. Number 13 was well received. The superstitions around 13 made us all even happier with the draw.
Brian Klatsky and Brendan O’Brien in front of Churchill Downs | PHOTO CREDIT: BBN Racing/Mark Brown
CM: What was the most memorable part of the experience?
Brian: My biggest memory was walking with Hidden Stash from the barn to the paddock before the race. This was the culmination of 20 years of hard work, friendship, and remarkable horsemanship for all of us. I have known Vicki and her husband Phil from their earliest days training at Monmouth Park. Vicki put herself and all of us in contention to make history with a Derby winner, and the first winning horse to be trained by a woman. Watching Vicki enter the paddock locked arm-and-arm with her parents to saddle a Derby horse was one of the most touching moments I ever had in sports.
CM: What were the unexpected aspects, positive and/or negative?
Brian: The negative aspect was the stress in the three weeks leading up to the race. I never expected that hanging over my head 24/7. In racing, so many things can go wrong. I knew we were so close and I feared the phone call every day that something had come up and we would have to pull out. All it takes is a bad step, elevated temperature, cough, or soreness and all bets are off. I struggled to sleep and eat for almost the whole time. On the day of the race, all of that dissipated. We made it! In a 20-horse field anything can happen. I knew we had a good horse and chance. Unfortunately, Hidden Stash has a closer running style. We hoped for a fast early pace, that would allow for him to make a big run late and close in on the early leaders. Things didn’t set up for him to run his race, but he came out in great order and has his best running days still in front of him.
CM: What has been more exciting, going to the Derby, or winning the Basketball TOC at Ranney?
Brian: I struggle with this question. Watching my son grow up with friends from Ranney, and then to win the TOC was remarkable and really special for all of us. The Kentucky Derby was also a very special environment. I can’t answer the question, but I will say that being there for Derby Day made me want to get back and actually win the race someday.
LEXINGTON, KY (April 26, 2021), Lexington Herald Leader
For many Kentuckians, there are few things that stir up the passions more than basketball and horse racing, especially this time of year.
For those local fans with a rooting interest in both sports, Kentucky Derby long shot Hidden Stash is likely to be a favorite Saturday.
The Kentucky-bred colt is one of the earliest products of upstart syndicate BBN Racing, and — while the origins of the outfit’s leadership group are far flung — its principals have deep roots in a love for the sports that matter most in the Bluegrass.
And the nod to Kentucky basketball was by design.
The founding partners in BBN Racing are Brian Klatsky and Brendan O’Brien — partners in a wealth management firm — and Braxton Lynch, the current president of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association with deep ties to the Kentucky racing industry.
The seeds for the syndicate were planted decades ago at Saratoga Race Course in New York, where O’Brien — a Troy, N.Y., native — went as a kid and where Klatsky was introduced to the sport as a college freshman.
Klatsky — a New Jersey native — had arrived at Skidmore College, and, early in the school year, the son of a jockey took him to the track on a day of simulcasting and taught him about racing.
“I knew nothing about horses prior to that,” he said. “And by the end of my freshman year, I was all in.”
Klatsky grew up 5 miles from Monmouth Park in New Jersey. Before leaving for college, he said he never even had an interest in even pulling into the parking lot. After that first taste of racing at Saratoga, he was hooked.
A few years later, he got involved with the sport himself, ultimately crossing paths with G. Watts Humphrey, a prominent Thoroughbred owner and breeder who has long owned a horse farm in Mercer County.
The pair were involved in business partnerships, and Humphrey became a mentor for Klatsky.
“He’s taught me a lot about the game,” Klatsky said. “And when we decided to get BBN together, a lot of the experience and lessons I learned from him over the years really helped us build the foundation on how to put together a syndicate that could give new people in the business a chance to have a great experience.”
Monmouth Park was also the setting for Klatsky’s introduction to Humphrey’s daughter, Victoria Oliver, and her husband Phil, two trainers who — two decades later — would become integral to the BBN Racing outfit.
Victoria Oliver, who will have her first Kentucky Derby starter Saturday with Hidden Stash, trained horses for Klatsky in New Jersey back in the early 2000s. Eventually, she and her husband moved to Kentucky, while Klatsky backed away from the sport while his kids were growing up.
A few years ago, the Olivers and Humphrey had a racehorse and approached Klatsky about taking an ownership stake. He and O’Brien came aboard.
BBN Racing followed soon after, with Klatsky and O’Brien as founding partners. Lynch joined as the third founding partner and the group’s racing manager. Victoria Oliver and Paris native Rusty Arnold were brought on as trainers, and Bo Bromagen — another Kentuckian — joined as bloodstock consultant.
The syndicate allows for outside individuals to buy into the group’s new crop of yearlings annually. Klatsky said a lot of that interest comes from clients of his wealth management practice, and it’s a way to generate new interest in the sport.
“A lot of our clients were looking to have a little exposure — to having a hobby and having some fun with it. And that’s sort of how we got started,” he said. “A lot of our partners are big sports fans but have not had any experience in racing before. In giving them a taste of it through Keeneland, in Kentucky — the ‘BBN’ was about the best of the best from Lexington. We have partners from New York, Florida, California, Chicago, and at the end of the day we wanted the best people in Kentucky.”
BBN RACING’S BASKETBALL TIES
Klatsky and O’Brien both played basketball in college — at Skidmore College and Manhattan College, respectively — and the love for that game runs deep through the BBN Racing outfit.
UK basketball fans might remember Klatsky as the founder of a grassroots basketball program that featured Scottie Lewis, a five-star prospect and major Kentucky recruiting target who ultimately chose the Florida Gators over the Wildcats. Klatsky’s son, Alex, also joined Florida’s team in the same class.
Klatsky earned a master’s degree from Florida after his time at Skidmore, and — with a son on the team — is obviously a big fan of the Gators.
Still, he wanted the racing syndicate to be based around Kentucky. And he said the BBN Racing name and blue and white checkerboard jockey silks were “100 percent” a nod to the greatness of the basketball history in the state.
“We have partners that are Florida fans, North Carolina fans, Duke fans — but it’s cool, because it centers around Big Blue Nation,” he said. “And there’s definitely a ton of BBN roots.”
Victoria Oliver says she and her husband, Phil, a native of England, watch UK games since they’ve moved here, but they’re not among the crazies, though others within BBN Racing are major fans. Both Klatsky and Oliver noted with a chuckle that Rusty Arnold, a UK alumnus, is a diehard fan of the Wildcats.
And Klatsky has found similarities in the worlds of basketball recruiting and horse racing.
Each fall, Klatsky, Lynch, Bromagen, Arnold and the Olivers converge on the sales and try to come together on six to eight yearlings to purchase.
“I like to compare it to a college coaching staff going to an AAU tournament and recruiting players,” Klatsky said. “We’re trying to project what a 1-year-old horse looks like at 3, the same way you’re going to try and project what a ninth- or 10th-grader in high school is going to look like as a sophomore in college. There are a lot of parallels between the two.”
HIDDEN STASH’S DERBY HOPES
One of the yearlings the BBN Racing crew picked out in its second run together was Hidden Stash, who went for $50,000 at the 2019 September yearling sale at Keeneland.
Hidden Stash began his career last year with two 6 ½-furlong races in Kentucky. He finished third and fourth in those, but his connections knew he wanted longer distances. He broke his maiden going 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland in October and won at the same distance at Churchill Downs a month later.
Hidden Stash started the Derby prep season in Tampa Bay, finishing third in the Sam F. Davis Stakes and second in the Tampa Bay Derby. In the latter, he took off during the post parade — Klatsky estimated he ran an extra quarter to three-eights of a mile — and finished second, beaten less than a length.
“We ask ourselves, had he not had the incident before the race, does he win the Tampa Bay Derby? And the answer: we think so,” Klatsky said.
Next up was the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. That race was notably lacking in early speed — Hidden Stash likes to come from off the pace — and heavy favorite Essential Quality chased default pacesetter Highly Motivated around the track before winning by a neck.
Hidden Stash finished fourth, beaten 10 lengths. But, yet again, he was gaining position late and running at the end. The Derby on Saturday will bring an extra quarter of a mile, and the huge field typically leads to a faster pace. Rafael Bejarano will ride him Derby Day.
“I think every time we’ve stretched him out, he’s run better,” Oliver said. “I think everything about him is a mile and a quarter — with pace, which hopefully we get more of in the Derby.”
Oliver has been preparing her first Derby starter at Keeneland, with plans to ship him to Churchill Downs on Tuesday morning after one last gallop in Lexington.
She said she’s been pleased with each of Hidden Stash’s efforts this year. Obviously, a victory in one of those three starts would have been nice, but advancing to Saturday with good health and enough Derby points has been the ultimate goal.
BBN Racing’s brain trust think they have a horse that will love the added distance. History says they should get plenty of pace to run at. Now, it’s all about getting to that starting gate, getting a clean trip in the early going, and then we’ll see what Hidden Stash has in store for the stretch run.
Perhaps, when that time comes, those blue and white silks will be flashing out front.
“You put them on this Derby trail, and it’s tough to cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s to get there,” Oliver said. “Everyone always asks me, ‘Are you excited?’ Well, I am. But I don’t want to get too excited, because anything can happen between now and then. You have to take one day at a time. And you have to keep saying that it’s no different than getting a horse ready for any race,” she pauses, then laughs. “It just so happens to be the Kentucky Derby.”
When: 6:57 p.m. Saturday
Where: Churchill Downs
Purse: $3 million
Distance: 1 1/4 miles
For: 3-year-old Thoroughbreds
Post-position draw: 11 a.m. Tuesday (NBC Sports Network)
LEXINGTON, KY (April 26, 2021), Courier Journal – Jonathan Saxon –
For the first time in six years, the Kentucky Derby race could feature a long shot horse trained by a female trainer.
Vicki Oliver, who has trained Hidden Stash on his road to the Kentucky Derby, is the lone female horse trainer in this year’s Run for the Roses and the first woman since Carla Gaines brought Bolo to the Derby back in 2015.
But the fact that she is a female trainer in a heavily male-dominated industry doesn’t mean much to Oliver.
“You’re just doing your job, whether I’m a man or a woman,” she said.
“I don’t think any of us want to highlight the fact that we’re female,” said Rachel Halden, a friend of Oliver’s who trains horses in the Canadian racing circuits. “We’re all as good as the horses that we train. Vicki’s probably one of the hardest working people on the backside that I know. She’s reaping the rewards of her hard work.”
Should Hidden Stash make it to the starting gate on race day, Oliver would become the 18th female trainer to saddle a horse for the event billed as the World Series of horse racing.
But for Oliver, making it to that day is still a great challenge in itself. Anything can happen before the big race and so many things, like the weather, are out of her control.
Horse training, she says, is not for the faint of heart.
“There’s a lot of unknown, but you do it for the love of the animal,” she said. “That’s why you’re here.”
For Oliver, the days leading up to the Kentucky Derby include a lot of “hurrying-up-and-waiting.”
Most of Hidden Stash’s pre-Derby workouts are geared towards maintaining lung and heart strength for the big race, so Oliver will run Hidden Stash in the mornings at a near-racing pace for set distances. But afterward, the thoroughbred goes back to the barn for food, rest and relaxation. Physically, there’s not a lot more that Hidden Stash and his trainer can do before the big race.
“We’ve done the hard work,” said Oliver, who’s been training racehorses since 1998, though Hidden Stash would be her first horse to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. “You just kind of keep the air in them and keep the fitness level up.”
Because her dreams of training a Kentucky Derby winner could be dashed if the horse gets sick, which Oliver was worried about when the weather fluctuated about 10 days out from the Derby when Churchill Downs was covered in a blanket of snow.
There’s also the concern that Hidden Stash could hurt himself in a way that takes him out of the race.
“It’s one of those things you have to take day by day,” Oliver said. “When you’re dealing with a live animal and the humans around them, you can have as many plans as you want, but the plans can change. You have to take each day as a different day.”
The unpredictability leading up to the Kentucky Derby onMay 1 could drive anyone to question their sanity. Years of planning and preparing can go away with one cold night or a small misstep in training. Oliver understands how people who don’t work around horses could question why someone would put themselves through that kind of stress.
But Hidden Stash doesn’t seem too bothered by unknowns.
“He’s a pretty laid back horse,” she said. “He doesn’t get worried about much. He’s not a difficult horse to be around. You wouldn’t even really know he’s in the barn. He takes everything in stride.”
Hidden Stash’s mellow nature certainly helps with the waiting game, but Oliver won’t fully exhale until after the Kentucky Derby. As the only female trainer in this year’s field, she would love to win it and cement her name in history as the first female trainer to have a Derby-winning horse. But her number one goal right now is keeping Hidden Stash happy and healthy.
“If you manage to get them there healthy, safe and sound, you feel like you’ve already won half the battle,” said Oliver.
But who’s watching out for her legacy? Oliver knows her presence at Churchill Downs for the fastest two minutes in sports could serve as inspiration for a number of future female horse trainers, and she is humbled by the notion she could be an example for others behind her.
“If there’s a young woman who wants to be a horse trainer, I hope I am a role model to someone,” she said. “I wouldn’t call myself one, but if someone aspires to do it, I think that would be great.”
Hidden Stash has potential to spring a Tampa Bay Derby surprise
OLDSMAR, FL (March 3, 2021) – A busy weekend of Kentucky Derby prep races is liable to uncover a surprise or two. Vicki Oliver hereby volunteers to provide the surprise with Big Blue Nation.
Oliver is the trainer of Hidden Stash, one of the live contenders Saturday in the Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs. A late-closing third in the Sam F. Davis here Feb. 6 after winning back-to-back races in Kentucky to end his 2-year-old season, Hidden Stash stands to improve enough to enter the Derby discussion with a big finish in the 1 1/16-mile Tampa Bay Derby.
Or so Oliver is hoping.
“We believe he’s good enough for the Derby,” Oliver said from her winter base at Payson Park on Tuesday, shortly after Hidden Stash had his final pre-race breeze when going a half-mile in 49 seconds.
Hidden Stash was part of a capacity field of 12 3-year-olds when entries were drawn Wednesday for the Grade 2, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby, one of three 50-20-10-5 points qualifiers for the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, along with the Gotham at Aqueduct and the San Felipe at Santa Anita. Candy Man Rocket, the Sam Davis winner, is the 2-1 morning-line favorite for the Tampa Derby, with Hidden Stash the second choice at about 5-1, according to track oddsmaker Tommy Creel.
Oliver is the daughter of the iconic owner-breeder G. Watts Humphrey Jr. of Harrodsburg, Ky., and as such, her 23-year training career has paralleled the philosophy long ago adopted by her father, who is her main client. Humphrey, like many top breeders, sends his most valuable colts to market while keeping most of his fillies for future considerations. In fact, all six of Oliver’s graded stakes wins have come with fillies or mares, so “it’s pretty exciting to have a nice colt like him,” she said.
Hidden Stash, a chestnut colt by the red-hot Constitution, was a $50,000 yearling purchase at the 2019 Keeneland September yearling sales for Big Blue Nation Racing LLC. Big Blue Nation is more generically known as the worldwide fan base of University of Kentucky sports, and that fandom is a common thread within BBN Racing, a partnership pieced together a few years ago by Brian Klatsky and Brendan O’Brien. After two sprints, Hidden Stash won a Keeneland maiden race and a Churchill Downs allowance, both at 1 1/16 miles. He was beaten just 1 1/4 lengths by Candy Man Rocket in the 1 1/16-mile Davis.
“We think more distance will be his thing,” Oliver said. “We really thought about going in the Louisiana Derby,” a 1 3/16-mile race on March 20 at Fair Grounds, “but that’d be a one-and-done because you’d pretty much have to go straight into the Derby,” which will be run May 1 at Churchill. “So we thought if we don’t get enough points at Tampa, we can always run once more back home in the Blue Grass” on April 3 at Keeneland.
For the record, 17 women trainers have run horses in the Kentucky Derby, with Carla Gaines (12th with Bolo in 2015) being the most recent. The best finish was by Casual Lies, the 1992 runner-up for Shelley Riley.
Besides Hidden Stash and Candy Man Rocket, the other 10 entered in the Tampa Bay Derby are Awesome Gerry, Boca Boy, Helium, King of Dreams, Moolite Strike, My Liberty, Promise Keeper, Sittin On Go, Super Strong, and Unbridled Honor.
Hello Hot Rod, sold at auction since winning the Jan. 31 Jimmy Winkfield at Aqueduct, was not entered after recently suffering “a little setback,” said Shawn Davis, who now trains the Maryland-bred colt.
The Tampa Derby is one of five stakes on a 12-race Saturday card. The others are the Florida Oaks, Hillsborough, Challenger, and Columbia.
Even after a heavy downpour Wednesday morning, turf racing was still held as scheduled here later in the day. Dry conditions were expected to continue until Saturday, when a 90 percent chance of showers and high-60s temperatures are in the local forecast.
Tampa will admit as many as 2,500 fans Saturday with a $15 general admission. Pandemic-related protocols apply.
Hidden Stash wins back-to-back two turn races as a two year-old
LOUISVILLE, KY (Nov. 28, 2020) – Making his fourth start for Victoria Oliver, Hidden Stash outfinished Scarred to win by a half-length in a 1 1/16th mile allowance race at Churchill Downs, coming off of a three-length win in a Keeneland maiden race at the same distance. Hidden Stash stalked the pace early on while four wide on the second flight, was in the three path into the lane, made a bid in the stretch and edged past Scarred. Hidden Stash will ship to Payson Park in Florida for his winter training. He will target the start of his three year old campaign in the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in February.
Son of Constitution romps in maiden win on Keeneland closing day
LEXINGTON, KY (Oct 24, 2020) – BBN Racing’s Hidden Stash trained by Victoria Oliver wins by 3 in a maiden special weight going 1 1/16th miles on Keeneland’s closing day. Hidden Stash was making his 3rd lifetime start and first attempt at two turns. A full race replay can be seen on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aX6CWX0Cg2I. Hidden Stash was purchased for $50,000 in the September 2019 Yearlings Sale at Keeneland.
Grade 1-Winning Millionaire Concrete Rose to be Offered at 2020 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale
LEXINGTON, KY (Aug. 5, 2020) – Grade 1 winner and millionaire Concrete Rose will be offered as a racing or broodmare prospect during the premier Book 1 of this year’s Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale, which begins Monday, Nov. 9, and follows the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland on Nov. 6-7. Concrete Rose, a 4-year-old daughter of successful young sire Twirling Candy who has won six of seven races and earned $1,218,650, will be consigned by Lane’s End, agent for co-owners Ashbrook Farm and BBN Racing.
“We’re excited to offer Concrete Rose as a racing or broodmare prospect with such great companies as Lane’s End and Keeneland,” Ashbrook Racing Manager Bo Bromagen said. “Working with them as partners gives us the greatest opportunity to showcase her.”
“Lane’s End proudly welcomes Grade 1 winner Concrete Rose back to our sale consignment, this time as a racing/broodmare prospect at Keeneland November,” Lane’s End Director of Sales Allaire Ryan said. “Concrete Rose was previously sold by Lane’s End at Keeneland September in 2017 and from the start of her racing career has been a banner sale graduate for us and for our versatile resident stallion Twirling Candy. To date, she is the sire’s leader of lifetime top performers with over $1.2 million in career earnings – more than Grade 1-winning sons Gift Box and Collusion Illusion.
“We are thrilled for the opportunity to highlight our November consignment with a filly of her caliber,” Ryan added. “Her combined talent, looks and breeding will make her a sought-after prospect for any top-level program.”
“Concrete Rose is a once-in-a-generation elite athlete that everyone dreams of owning,” BBN Racing Founding Partner Brian Klatsky said. “It’s been an honor and a privilege for all of our partners at BBN Racing to be associated with her. She has already created memories of a lifetime and is not done yet.”
“She is something to have in your barn,” trainer Rusty Arnold said. “Great mind on her. She is not complicated. She is easy to train. You hear this from trainers, but she is one of those horses you just stay out of her way and she’ll say ‘I’ll get the rest done.’ ”
Concrete Rose’s connections had high hopes for the filly when she began her career in a maiden race at Saratoga at odds of 12-1.
“About the eighth pole, I decided she was a good horse because she was about five lengths back and she flew by the leader and galloped out pretty strong,” Arnold said. “From that day on, she trained like a special horse, and she acted like a special horse.”
Advancing to graded stakes company in her next start, Concrete Rose proved her talent with a 3-length triumph in Keeneland’s JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G2).
“She’s beautiful, incredibly athletic, stands over some ground,” Bromagen said. “She’s well-balanced with a great shoulder and hip. But her mind really makes her stand apart. She’s incredibly smart. When she progressed from her 2- to 3-year-old year, you could sense the change in her personality from doing things on talent to really taking ahold of the bit and going after them.”
Concrete Rose opened her 3-year-old campaign with a win in the Florida Oaks (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs and remained undefeated for the year. Her outstanding performance at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day in the Edgewood (G3), in which she defeated Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) winner Newspaperofrecord (IRE) by 3¾ lengths, cemented her status among the sport’s most talented 3-year-old fillies on turf. She polished her resumé in her next race with a nearly 3-length victory in the $750,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1), a showcase of division standouts.
That dominance continued in her next race at Saratoga, where she won the inaugural $750,000 Saratoga Oaks Invitational by 4¾ lengths. With the victory, the superstar captured two-thirds of the New York Racing Association’s new Turf Tiara series.
“I’ve never seen a filly win by the margins that she did on the turf,” Arnold said. “Usually turf races are very close; the runners all stay together. Other than her Tampa race, which was coming off a layoff, she never had a close race.”
“Watch the replays of her races,” Bromagen said. “The greatest testament to her ability is what she’s shown on the race track: the horses she beat and the level of competition.”
Out of the winning Powerscourt (GB) mare Solerina, Concrete Rose is from a family of successful North American and international performers. Her family includes Horse of the Year and Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Ferdinand.
“Concrete Rose is an extremely accomplished racehorse – one of the best of her generation in her division – and her future is exciting whether she returns to the race track or begins her career as a broodmare,” Keeneland President-Elect and Interim Head of Sales Shannon Arvin said. “Keeneland is thrilled for the opportunity to present Concrete Rose at the November Sale with all the support a performer of her stature deserves.”
For more than 80 years, the Keeneland Association has devoted itself to the health and vibrancy of the Thoroughbred industry. The world’s largest Thoroughbred auction house, Keeneland conducts four sales a year, in January, April, September and November, and presents online auctions through the Keeneland Digital Sales Ring. Graduates of Keeneland sales dominate racing across the globe at every level. In April and October, Keeneland offers some of the highest caliber and richest Thoroughbred racing in the world. In 2020, The Summer Meet at Keeneland presented five days of racing from July 8-12. Keeneland hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships in 2015 and will hold the event again on Nov. 6-7. Uniquely structured, Keeneland is a privately held company with a not-for-profit mission that returns its earnings to the industry and the community in the form of higher purses and millions of dollars donated in support of horse industry initiatives and charitable contributions for education, research, and health and human services throughout Central Kentucky. Keeneland also maintains the Keeneland Library, a world-renowned public research institution with the mission of preserving information about the Thoroughbred industry. To learn more, visit Keeneland.com.
For more information contact Amy Gregory at 859 361-3490 or Amy Owens at 859 421-2566
Mary LaRue for Blood Horse |
Twirling Candy filly put up slow fractions and pulled away easily in the stretch.
Concrete Rose has barely faltered in her seven-race career.
With only one loss to date, the 3-year-old daughter of Twirling Candy added the second leg of the New York Racing Association’s inaugural Turf Tiara—the $695,000 Saratoga Oaks Invitational Stakes—to her résumé Aug. 2, one month after winning the first leg, the Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes (G1T).
Only this time, the filly trained by Rusty Arnold for Ashbrook Farm and BBN Racing did it in a walkover.
As five 3-year-old fillies left the gate on the Saratoga Race Course turf, Concrete Rose inherited the lead. She and jockey Julien Leparoux set a dawdling pace, completing the first quarter-mile in :25.58 and the half in :51.41.
At the top of the turn for home in the 1 3/16-mile test, rivals behind her shuffled for position, but Concrete Rose, running freely on the lead with her ears up, cruised along unfazed.
In the stretch, Leparoux simply shook the reins, tapped her once with his whip, and Concrete Rose took off. Before completing the distance in a final time of 1:55.34 over firm turf, the jockey affectionately patted the filly’s neck and let her coast home.
“They gave me the race in the first part of it,” Leparoux said. “We ran very slow, but she finished very strong. She’s a very special filly, and I’m very excited to be riding her.
“I was very confident the whole way around, and I knew she was going to kick home,” Leparoux added. “I’m very happy for the connections. There are a lot of people here that love her.”
Happen got up for second, 4 3/4 lengths behind the winner, and Kelsey’s Crossheld for third. A steward’s inquiry involving fourth-place finisher Coral Beach and fifth-place Olendon did not result in a change in order.
The winner returned $2.60 and $2.10 with no show wagering.
“It was a nice year for me to come up with a nice horse,” Arnold said. “We’re excited. She’s so easy. I’m just on for the ride.
“I was happy when they hung up a half-mile in :51 and three-quarters in (1:15.93). She’s a fast horse, and they turned it into a sprint home. She had done nothing when they hit the half-mile pole, so we were in a good spot.”
Bred in Kentucky by Ron Patterson, Concrete Rose is out of the Powerscourt mare Solerina. The filly has won four graded stakes, and the Belmont Invitational was her first top-level score. Her only loss came in an off-the-board effort in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1T).
“We feel good. She handled the month turnaround really well,” Arnold said. “The (grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Presented by Lane’s End Oct. 12 at Keeneland) has always intrigued me a lot. That was the plan at the beginning of the year. However, it is going to be tough not to try to win these three races (of the Turf Tiara) the first year they have it. To win all three, that would be awful special, so there will be a lot of talking going on.”