For Immediate Release, April 13, 2017
Steve Anderson's Article - Dowd Mile
Are you kidding me?
The cast of characters that will report for duty in the $25,000 Dowd Mile this Saturday is so solid, even I wouldn't take a free skybox ticket to the Husker's spring football game.
Please don't tell my good friend, Mike Hamik, I said that.
Nevertheless, Racing Secretary Doug Schoepf and Stakes Coordinator Wayne Anderson have really outdone themselves this time. On paper, the race sets up to be one of the top 5 ever run in the history of Fonner Park.
The storyline for a full-field of ten horses is so stellar, I don't even know where to start?
How about with last year's defending champion, Eton Ridge.
Fresh off a second-place finish behind World Famous Sam T in the Budweiser/Tondi Stakes, this five-year-old son of Stephen Got Even and Josaka has been sitting on "Go" for as long as I can remember.
Trainer Dave Anderson makes no bones about the fact that winning the 75-Grander, The Bosselman-Pump and Pantry-Gus Fonner Stakes, has always been the goal for this horse. A victory in this spot would be huge.
So, what does Mr. Anderson do? He enters the top mare in his barn, Hero On Saturday, owned by local businessman Tom Baxter, to run in the same race. She finished third, behind Eton Ridge and Diamond Joe, in last year's Dowd Mile.
Speaking of Diamond Joe, he'll be making a belated, season-debut in the Dowd as well.
Trainer Chuck Turco has patiently brought his eight-year-old Nebraska-bred gelding along, extremely slow, but three electric workouts in the morning, have raised all sorts of green flags around Barn A.
"Joe" is ready, and so is his stablemate, Sightforsoreeyes, who was shipped in from Oaklawn Park down in Hot Springs, Arkansas specifically for this race. Another Grand Island native, Art Wetzel, is the proud owner of the four-year- old Kentucky-bred gelding.
Oh, did I mention that World Famous Sam T is making the plunge and trying a route of ground for the very first time in his 36-race career?
Trainer Troy Bethke admits he's taking a big chance, but "Sam is doing well. He loves this track. No, he's never gone this far before, but we don't know he can't do it. Also, (leading rider) Laren Delorme had other options, but he decided to ride my horse, and that was a plus, too."
"It's a good feeling knowing that your jockey has confidence. We're going over there thinking we can win," added Bethke.
By the way, World Famous Sam T was purchased through the claiming box for only $4000 and in two-years-time has earned $100,000. That's how you make money in the horse business.
There's a father-son connection from two other starters in the Dowd.
Last year's "Boss Cap" winner, Sweet Stuff, has drawn into the race, trained by Larry Donlin, Jr., and Larry Donlin, Sr. will saddle Born Force.
And, here's another one for the record books.
The first million-dollar winner to carry a saddle cloth around the Fonner oval, Valid, will break from the ten-hole in the Dowd.
You can't make this stuff up.
Valid is a seven-year-old Virginia-bred gelding who last raced on April 2nd, 2016, AND WON the Grade 3 Skipaway Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Prior to that, he ran fifth in the 2015 Breeder's Cup Dirt Mile.
Owned by Tom Thurman and trained by Stacey Rushton, Valid has piled up $1.1 million dollars in earnings over 37 career starts.
Bringing Valid to Grand Island has always been a part of the plan in restructuring a comeback.
Assistant trainer Sheridan Rushton, 21, has been caring for the horse for only a week. She says her uncle bought Valid back at Keenland last fall and "he's just a cool horse. He knows he's made all this money. He's got a little attitude to him. He's probably not quite fit enough to win the race, but we're trying to get him ready for the Bosselman, so we hope everything works out."
So, if you're still planning on going to the football game this weekend, might I suggest tuning into the live-stream at fonnerpark.com. This truly could be a "Race for the Ages".