Breeding Business: Romance
The supervisor of this home, unable to get an offer of more than $500 for the filly and another horse of similar origin and condition, finally sells the horses to a woman trainer for $5,000, to be paid whenever.
The new owner runs her horse operation with her three children. She is in the middle of a divorce, trains her horses in an orange grove and ships from the farm to the track to race, a four-and-a-half-hour trip, if the traffic is light.
Based on this scenario, would you predict success for the principals involved? If you said yes, you have the business sense of the man who bought a share in John Henry, the heart of a Hollywood movie producer and your address is the Magic Kingdom... but you are right.
The stakes-winning filly, First
Prediction, has earned owner-trainer Janet Del Castillo more than $200,000.
She paid the Florida Horseman's Children's Home for the two horses long ago,
and according to Children's Home president Ed MacClellan, Del Castillo sends
a check for $1,000 every time First Prediction wins a race. Not only that
but breeder Paul Marriot got his tax writeoff for the donation, and he continues
to receive Florida breeders' awards every time the filly wins.
On the buying end of the transaction,
Del Castillo remembered, "Ed MacClellan called me, said he had two horses
for sale. One was a May filly 14-months old. The Florida Horseman's Children's
Home didn't even have fences up yet. In the middle of trying to say 'No,'
this voice from above said 'Shut up and take the horses'."
"She absolutely trained like a very, very ordinary horse," said the Winter Haven trainer. "I would never have said this one is going to be great. In fact, I offered another trainer a half-interest in her for $2,500. He didn't have any money either."
Two years ago in February after
First Prediction rolled up a couple of seconds and a third, an agent offered
$25,000 for the filly. "When you get a horse for $2,500 and someone offers
you $25,000, that is a lot of money," the owner said. "I went to
the kids and everyone said, 'Oh, Mom, don't sell the filly'."
After the daughter of On To Glory
broke her maiden at Tampa Bay Downs, Del Castillo shipped to South Florida
for a crack at the big time.
"I was going to put her back in a $35,000 claimer, but Roger McElhiney told me not to run her for $35,000 or she'd get claimed. First Prediction ran third in an allowance race, and afterward someone offered me $50,000 so she probably would have been claimed away at a lower price. Every time I was going to lose her someone always helped me."
In all, First Prediction has started 59 times with 11 wins and 14 seconds and earnings of more than $250,000.
In the latest chapter of this movie-like story, the gray filly defeated Thirty Zip in a thrilling stretch run in the Very One Handicap. "She was passed by Thirty Zip in deep stretch, and she came again to win," said Del Castillo with excitement still in her voice.
The owner's three helpers and children are Alex, 19; Hernando, 18; and Victoria, 15. The Very One Handicap was the first time the boys had been allowed to transport a horse five hours down the Florida Turnpike for a race . They made the trip the night before the race. "In the winner's circle, my son turned to me and said he ran out of gas on the turnpike," Del Castillo revealed. "The gas gauge was not working right. Here the poor little filly is coming down to run in one of the biggest races of her life, and she is stuck on the side of the Turnpike."
First Prediction has given the woman from Winter Haven credibility and a belief in dreams.
"You must not ever forget," she explained, "there is serendipity in life. Getting this wonderful horse is the greatest thing that ever happened to me. She has made so much that it would be awful not to remember."
And checks continue to arrive at the Florida Horsemen's Children's Home.