Recently, on her visit to Ballantrae Farm in Kentucky, Shannon White, one of the few female horse breeders in the business, introduced Suzy to a beautiful, day-old foal. As their discussion evolved, Ms. White was so pleased with its progress that she surprised everybody by naming the foal “Of Wit and Will”.
With a respectable racing heritage behind her and an outgoing personality to boot, little OWAW will theoretically be eligible for the Triple Crown – comprised of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes – in 2016. So what are her odds?
The same for any untested young foal – small. Really, really small. Especially when you consider the amount of effort that goes into creating each one.
Every year owners register approximately 55,000 Thoroughbred foals. Because of the significance of bloodlines in creating winners in this sport, the family trees of these horses are diligently recorded and stretch back to the late 18th Century. Studs and mares are brought together based on those bloodlines and fees for those services, often quite large, exchange hands. Storm Cat, a grandson of Secretariat, at one time commanded $500,000 in stud fees.
And what does this guarantee the breeder?
Fewer than 50% of all race horses ever win a single race. Less than 1% win a stakes race like the Kentucky Derby.
The odds are even longer for fillies. Only three fillies have ever won the Kentucky Derby, five the Preakness Stakes and three the Belmont Stakes.
But this year, on June 8th, a filly will try to wrest victory from 13 male rivals. The horse, Unlimited Budget, has been on quite a streak for the year. She’s a large filly, making it harder for the colts to intimidate her, and is bred for the kind of stamina she’ll need for that mile and a half long race.
What’s more she’s being ridden by the nation’s fifth best jockey, Rosie Napravnik. Rosie finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby – higher than any other female jockey – and is the only female jockey to ride all three legs of the Triple Crown.
So come June 8th, we’ll be placing our bets on Unlimited Budget and Rosie Napravnik – a bold, audacious and unafraid winning combination.