Outperforming Expectations Lands Him in Tourist Mile
Trainer Kent Sweezey had a plan and it didn't work. Things should always go so well.
Shortly after he started his own stable, Sweezey claimed Western Reserve for $62,500 for Louisville-based Turf Stable Racing. The plan was to run the 5-year-old gelding in a $100,000 turf stakes at Indiana Grand, hope he ran well, and then go to Kentucky Downs for the $150,000 Old Friends Stakes for horses that haven't won a stakes race this year. Western Reserve was third by a neck last year in the Old Friends.
But Western Reserve won at Indiana Grand and so is ineligible for the Old Friends. Instead, he's in the Tourist Mile with its $400,000 purse.
“His form was really good, he never really runs a bad race,” Sweezey said. “When we claimed him, we thought, ‘Well, let’s take him to Indiana.’ We didn’t think we were going to win. We thought we’d run well. We had thought if we hit the board at Indiana, we’d give him some time and run in the Old Friends. That was the goal. We blew the condition. So every time I see that race in the condition book, I think, ‘Wow, that would have been our spot.’ Then I think, ‘We’re lucky to be in the Tourist.’”
Western Reserve is the 6-1 co-fourth choice in the field of nine older horses in the Tourist Mile. The 2-1 favorite is Irish Straight.
Shaun Bridgmohan rode Western Reserve before he was claimed and has the mount again. Florent Geroux rode him in the race at Indiana Grand.
The 5-year-old gelding started his career in England as a 3-year-old, came to the United States last year and did well. He finished his year with victory in Fair Grounds’ Buddy Diliberto Memorial. This year, he was only a neck off winning the Grade III Colonel Bradley and was fourth in Churchill Downs’ Opening Verse before being dropped in for the $62,500 in an allowance race with a claiming option. He finished second that day.
“I like the race we’re in right now,” Sweezey said. “There’s a lot of speed in there, but I’m happy with our jockey. I’m happy with our post. I’m happy with the field. I believe it will be a good track, and we’ll see what we can do. There’s definitely not a monster in there. They’re all good horses, but it’s not like you’re up against somebody like, well, Tourist.”
Sweezey, 31, started on his own in April after being an assistant to Jimmy Jerkens, traveling around with the top handicap horse Effinex. His dad and step-mother, Wayne and Cathy Sweezey, operate Timber Town Stable, where prominent owner Mandy Pope boards broodmares such as Horse of the Year Havre de Grace, champion Groupie Doll and Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty.
Rusty Jones, who put together Turf Stable Racing, is a Louisville businessman and Sweezey’s former step-dad, the two remaining close.
Western Reserve won as only the fifth horse to run for Sweezey as a trainer, and the Indiana stakes was his second victory.
“It’s for a good group of people from Louisville that I’d grown up with who own the horse that made it even more special,” Sweezey said. “It was really cool they were all there. A really cool win picture, actually.
"Rusty was part of a syndicate when I was growing up, and he always had horses. Just recently he’s put together his own syndicate. They’re mainly out of Louisville, businessmen who like to go to the races and have fun. They had a big time when we went to Indiana, and I think they’re going to have a big time Wednesday when we go down to Kentucky Downs.”
Edited Kentucky Downs release; photo by John Engelhardt
1 Hootenanny (121) Garcia/Ward 5-1
2 Flatlined (125) Rocco/Dickey 6-1
3 Shining Copper (121) Gaffalione/Maker 3-1
4 Dimension (121) Landeros/Murphy 20-1
5 Western Reserve (125) Bridgmohan/Sweezey 6-1
6 Zambian (121) Gilligan/Miller 20-1
7 Applicator (121) Valdivia/Yanakov 8-1
8 Irish Straight (125) Lynch/Motion 2-1
9 Bandar (121) Barbaran/Jurado 30-1