Honey Creek Farms

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Arnold Relieved After Rescinded Positives, Hopes for Reform

Trainer Rusty Arnold had a weight removed from his shoulders Tuesday when he received notice that Kentucky stewards will rescind a pair of ractopamine positives from the 2016 Kentucky Downs meet. Arnold had been mulling his appeal options through the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) after a 90-day suspension was issued last week, but had his name cleared when new information was discovered by the commission’s laboratory Monday.

Because the positives did not hold up to the lab’s tests, all sanctions against Arnold and trainer Joe Sharp–who was suspended 30 days for one positive–were lifted, effectively exonerating them.

“It was going to be a timely, expensive process, and to have it adjudicated that quickly is a huge relief,” said Arnold, who was in Ocala assessing 2-year-old prospects when he received the news. “I got it off my back and I can get back to doing what I like to do–training horses…My wife Sarah and I have been overwhelmed with the support we’ve gotten from our industry. We couldn’t be more grateful to all of them.”

Arnold credited the KHRC with being highly knowledgeable and placing the interests of horsemen first. He said he had a productive conversation with Marc Guilfoil, Executive Director of the KHRC, Wednesday morning and is hopeful that he can take an active role in shaping reform that provides more safeguards and rebuttal options to trainers faced with positive tests.

“I’ve probably been a little naive in the past,” Arnold said. “One thing I’d like to say to all trainers is that if you think it can’t happen to you, it can. I think we all need to work together, and if there’s anything good to come out of it, I’m going to sit down with the racing commission. We need to fix this…It seems to me that the system works a bit backwards: you get a ruling put out against you, and then you get the opportunity to clear yourself after that and spend a lot of money doing it. I feel like if there’s going to be a ruling put out against you of this magnitude– telling you to disband your stable and be out of commission for 90 days–it needs to be absolutely certain. It needs to be taken to a higher level.”

Guilfoil, too, said he has given much thought in recent days to how the process can be tweaked to allow trainers to clear their name before a potentially damaging ruling is issued.

“It’s really a shame it happened,” Guilfoil said over the phone Wednesday morning. “We’re dealing with people’s lives and reputations, and we take it very seriously here…Are we going to look at this thing to see if we can change things around and make it work better? 100% yes. That’s my number one priority right now…At the end of the day, we’re going to look hard and seriously at it.”

Guilfoil said the KHRC was contacted by lab director Dr. Rick Sams around noon Monday and acted quickly to present the Kentucky stewards with new information that ultimately led to Arnold and Sharp being cleared of any wrongdoing.

“The metabolizers were there, but the parent drug was not there,” Guilfoil said. “Dr. Sams changed his views and he let us know that. He put it in writing, and I sent it to the stewards and asked them to reconsider with this new information. They convened via a telephone conference [Tuesday] morning, and decided there wasn’t enough to go forward with calling this a positive.”

Guilfoil, who said he personally believed that the positives were a result of contaminated feed samples from the outset, said that there must be a level of subjectivity when dealing with medication positives on a case-by-case basis. Because ractopamine is an easily detected drug–and due to the reputations of Arnold and Sharp–there was good reason to be skeptical of the initial results, according to Guilfoil. As such, the executive director said there must be a clearer recourse for trainers to avoid having their name unjustly associated with a positive test.

“The rule is written on paper in a way that they can’t rebut, but that’s not truly how it goes,” Guilfoil said. “At the racing commission, we tested whatever Joe Sharp and Rusty Arnold wanted tested. In reality, there is a rebuttal, so we’re working on changing the rule back in writing. We’re going to clean it up so it reads that way on paper.”

With the cases of Arnold and Sharp resolved, Guilfoil said the KHRC maintains its ultimate goal of protecting the integrity of the sport as much as possible.

“We want to catch the bad guys,” he said. “More than catch them–we want to have deterrents out there. We have a clean sport 99.99% of the time.”


Eating Road Trip to Adams Organic Farm in Thailand

Eating Road Trip to Adams Organic Farm in Thailand

I have a very good friend, Tim, who I’ve known for many years in Bangkok. He invited a group of us from Newsong in Bangkok to take a day trip of eating and visiting Adams Organic Farm (http://adams-organic.com/), located in Pak Chong, about 3 – 4 hours from Bangkok.

Ying and I met up with Anthony and Dwight, and we got in the truck and started driving. We stopped off a few times, and once we arrived to Pad Chong we stopped to have lunch at a restaurant called Ko Koon (โคขุน). One of the best dishes for lunch was their sai krok Isaan (ไส้กรอกอีสาน), northeastern style Thai sausage served with lots of different toppings to complement the.

We arrived to the farm, and first started by visiting the distribution packing center where they package all the fresh organic vegetables, and get them ready to transport to Bangkok where they are sold at supermarkets and distributed to restaurants. Within the packing facility we had some tastes of some wonderful vegetables. Somewhere along the way, someone figured out Dwight and I loved chilies, and all of a sudden we were faced with a plate of fresh chilies to eat… Dwight and I started eating chilies, and they weren’t spicy hot at first, but the heat definitely caught up with us. It was painful and wonderful at the same time.

Once the sun died down a little bit, we continued walking around Adams Organic Farm, and saw lots of the fresh vegetables and also learned about the process of the organic farming in Thailand, and the natural methods of fertilization they used at their farm. I’ve been eating Adams Organic for many years in Bangkok, so it was great to be able to see where the vegetables I often eat come from.

After a wonderful day trip to the farm, we started heading back to Bangkok, but when we reached Saraburi, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant called Siri Otana (ร้านศิริโอทนา), a local khao tom restaurant, specializing in rice porridge and any kind of stir fried dishes. The meal was incredibly good, salty and oily, and very tasty.

It was an excellent day trip Adams Organic farm, and we ate a lot of good Thai food along the way!


Adams Organic: http://adams-organic.com/ (also in Bangkok at Tops and Gourmet Market)
Dwight: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCs6-…
Anthony: https://www.facebook.com/MorseAnthony


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EatingThaiFood.com: http://eatingthaifood.com/
TravelByYing.com: http://travelbyying.com/


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Detailing Our Horse Trailer

Big Horses Big Messes

horse trailer cleaning

As any horse owner knows, traveling across the state or country with a horse trailer can be a messy endeavor. If you are involved in any kind of horse show then you have traveled distances towing your trailer behind your truck and you know the mess that comes with it. Prior to driving into Oklahoma last month we had traveled across three states and our horse trailer was a complete disaster. It was filthy with dirt, horse urine, and horse poop. There was no way we were going to drive up to the Oklahoma horse fair with our prized horse in that disgusting mess. We had a few days to prepare for the event and got ourselves an Air B&B in Oklahoma City. We stopped at a gas station prior to pulling into the driveway of the rental property and hosed the inside of the trailer out. The property we rented had about a half acre of grass, so we were able to wash our stud and prepare him for showtime.  There was a barn we were able to keep him in for a few days to rest and prepare. While the horse was out of the trailer we figured it was also a good time for us to get the horse trailer detailed. There were dead bugs splattered along the top, horse pee and poop still swishing around in the crevices of the trailer floor, and brake dust saturated around the trailer wheels. We called an Oklahoma City car detailing outfit that specialized in mobile detailing. A great group of guys came in with a mobile detailing rig and blew the trailer floor clean with pressure washers and scrub brushes. They cleaned the exterior panels and polished the rims of the trailer. The detail work was so great that we pulled the truck around and had them clean it as well. They cleaned the interior and exterior of the truck and helped me mount the trailer to the back of the truck. Both my husband and I were very pleased with the level of detail and care they took when preparing our vehicles for show time. Next time we travel through Oklahoma City for a horse show we will be using those guys again to prepare our tuck and trailer the day of the event.

Mid-Atlantic Tracks Strike a ‘MATCH’, Revive Bonus Series

Tracks and horsemen’s associations in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey have united to reignite the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships (MATCH) series in 2018, a May-through-September regional schedule of races that will feature a $450,000 bonus pool for owners and trainers atop a $2.9 million stakes structure.

The MATCH Series previously existed in a similar format for five years starting in 1997, but disputes over purses and conflicts with racing dates derailed the series.

Alan Foreman, the creator of the MATCH concept and chairman of the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, cited ownership changes at many of the region’s tracks and a new, collective spirit of unification in the face of declining horse populations as catalysts for reviving the series.

The purses for the stakes will be paid out of each track’s respective purse accounts. Horsemen have agreed to put up $450,000 for the bonus pool. Tracks will be responsible for the administration and advertising costs. The exact amount that each entity contributes is based on a sliding scale, Foreman said.

“[The tracks are] doing it at different levels. It’s not ‘same size fits all,’” Foreman said. “And on the horsemen’s side, it’s the [various regional] THA groups and the Pennsylvania HBPA, and each group is contributing at a different level because we’re not all similarly situated insofar as our purse accounts are concerned. At Delaware and Monmouth, the horsemen are far more challenged than they might be in Maryland or Pennsylvania. But that $450,000 bonus pool is coming from the horsemen’s organizations, and that’s the engine that drives the series.”

Horses competing in the MATCH series will earn points based on participation and order of finish, and the leading points earners in each of the divisions, as well as the overall owner and trainer points leaders, earn bonus money.

The 2018 series will be contested among five divisions, with five races for each division, at Pimlico Race Course, Laurel Park, Monmouth Park, Delaware Park, Penn National, Parx, and Presque Isle Downs. The complete schedule and rules can be viewed here.

The first, second and third-place owners, respectively, in each division will earn $20,000, $15,000, and $10,000. The top three earning trainers will earn $15,000, $10,000 and $5,000, respectively. The MATCH series overall top-earning owner will win $50,000, while the top-earning trainer will earn $25,000. Previous series winners included trainers H. Graham Motion and Ben Perkins Jr., and owners Arthur Appleton and Sam Huff.

Foreman said there had been attempts in recent years to revive the MATCH series, most notably in 2014, when the various entities came “very close” to doing so. This past fall, when representatives from tracks and horsemen’s groups held an annual meeting to discuss regional strategies, MATCH talks began in earnest, with commitments crystallizing in December.

“The tracks took the position that for the series to be successful, it requires the bonus pool, and that [means] financial contributions from the horsemen’s organizations,” Foreman explained. “And so [it was discussed that if] the horsemen’s organizations would commit to the bonus pool, the tracks would take a serious look at funding it from their side; they have historically provided the funding for marketing and promotion.

“And then we had to get the racing directors together to see if it was possible to coordinate a series in terms of what would be the best divisions and whether the tracks would agree to put the puzzle together by not scheduling [conflicting] races on top of series races,” Foreman continued. “From the horsemen’s perspective, it was important to have a road map for the length of the series and [to know] that the tracks wouldn’t be fighting for horses because they were competing against each other.”

Asked to pinpoint a specific change that helped to bring MATCH back, Foreman cited the turnover in track ownerships.

“One of the things is that the ownership groups of all the tracks, except for Delaware Park, have changed. So we’re dealing with different ownership groups, some of whom are more progressive than their previous ownerships and are starting to think outside the box on what’s going to be necessary for this industry to move forward,” Foreman said.

“Everyone who came to the meeting had to put aside whatever agendas they had if they wanted the series to go forward. Because if that didn’t happen, or if the horsemen were not willing to take money from their purse accounts for that bonus pool that drives the series, this wasn’t going to work,” Foreman said. “And if the tracks didn’t think that they could move races, or card a new race, this wouldn’t have happened. And in every instance nobody said no, so we were able to go ahead each step of the way.”

Foreman also said that in terms of marketing and promotion, another big change is the now-ubiquitous presence of the internet and social media, which were only in nascent forms when MATCH last existed.

“Compared to today’s world, it was the Dark Ages,” Foreman said. “This time, we’re going to be able to do most of our marketing and promotion on the internet and through social media. We’ll be able to pop that stuff out for a lot less money. We’re going to be lean and mean. We’re going to demonstrate that there’s value in this series, and then we’ll try and build on it. “

Arabian horse and the Saudi man

Arabian horse and the Saudi man

AN ORGANIC FARM IN INDIA: Manure, Life and the Bio-fuel Miracle of the Cow

AN ORGANIC FARM IN INDIA: Manure, Life and the Bio-fuel Miracle of the Cow

I didn’t actually know how the bio-fuel system worked, and I still don’t, but I know a little more. Visiting this farm as a homestay was a grand experience in India. It also helped me understand the common sense of how and why, among a largely vegetarian populace, the cow came to be considered sacred. She is a profound symbol and means of sustainability, when treated with love and intelligence. At the very least she would have been, and may still be, vital. We also visited a small organic farm-based community at the end of our trip, Navadarshanam, which was gorgeous and slow, and the people lovely.

The stunning music from Brijesh and Vivek is something I witnessed at a Christmas Eve concert in Fort Cochin, with, shockingly, only about twelve other people. It was jaw-dropping and inspiring I left the theatre in a heightened state of joy and wonder.

Acclamation Colt Stays Unbeaten in Cal Cup Derby

Nothing has phased Heck Yeah in his first two starts, whether it was sprinting on the main track on debut Dec. 7 at Los Alamitos or coming from behind down the hillside course here in the California Cup Turf Sprint Jan. 27. He has found the winner’s circle in both.

In his first test routing, the heavily favored dark bay was challenged for the lead to his outside by Intimidate (Vronsky) around the first turn. He was a length clear passing the half-mile pole and opened up the margin while still in hand around the far turn. He kicked clear by three lengths inside the final furlong before holding off a late charge by Violent Ridge in the final strides to remain unbeaten.

“I was telling Bob that down the backstretch, I felt like I was in the Olympics (with a strong headwind), said winning rider Mike Smith.” I was trying to be as aerodynamic as possible. (The wind) was really strong and it took its toll on all of them in there…I wanted him to stay in that nice rhythm and we were able to hold them off down the lane.”

This is the first foal to race out of Lutess and hails from the family of MGSW Moment of Hope (Timeless Moment). She also has a juvenile colt named Inconceivable (Coil), a yearling colt by Surf Cat and was bred to Vronsky last year.

CALIFORNIA CUP DERBY, $201,035, SA, 2-19, (S), 3yo, 1 1/16m, 1:46.60, ft.
1–HECK YEAH, 124, c, 3, by Acclamation
1st Dam: Lutess, by Maria’s Mon
2nd Dam: Alchema, by Menifee
3rd Dam: Madeira M’dear, by Black Tie Affair (Ire)
O-Robert Baedeker, Michael Pageler & Michael Sigband;
B-Michael Pageler (CA); T-Bob Baffert; J-Mike E. Smith.
$110,000. Lifetime Record: 3-3-0-0, $194,000.
2–Violent Ridge, 120, g, 3, Violence–Feel Ridge (Brz), by
Choctaw Ridge. O/B-BG Stables (CA); T-Hector O. Palma.
3–Continental Divide, 124, c, 3, Animal Kingdom–Bandora, by
Dixieland Band. ($45,000 Ylg ’16 BAROCT; $245,000 2yo ’17
BARMAY). O-D P Racing; B-PT Syndicate #1, LLC (CA); T-James
M. Cassidy. $22,000.
Margins: 1 1/4, 3 3/4, HF. Odds: 0.90, 6.10, 13.90.
Also Ran: Fire When Ready, Campaigner, Black Site, Hardboot, Faversham, Intimidate, Kaleidoscope Kid, Lucky Romano. Scratched: George From Tahoe.

Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.


Wood carving sculpture “Arabian horse”

Wood carving sculpture “Arabian horse”

Process of wood carving sculpture “Arabian horse”
Wood: linden.
Aqua color and wax.

The Week in Review: Who Says They Don’t Make Tough Horses Anymore?

A 27-year-old rookie trainer claims a horse for $10,000 at Mahoning Valley and, usually, the story goes nowhere. But not this one. There are better horses out there than Chella (Where’s the Ring), but good luck finding one more consistent and durable. When she won a $50,000 starter stakes at Gulfstream Saturday it was not only the biggest win of her career purse-wise, but raised her career record to a remarkable 26 for 41.

“She’s not normal,” said owner-trainer Elliot Sullivan, now 29 and based for most of the year in Ohio.

No, she’s not. Sullivan claimed the horse for $10,000 on April 1, 2015. He won a three-way shake to get her, but wasn’t sure if he had done the right thing. Chella had already won six times in her career, including three in a row, and was taking a suspicious drop in class.

“It looked a little too obvious that she was in for $10,000 the day I claimed her,” Sullivan said. “She ran a bad second in the race we claimed her out of. She was a really body sore horse when I got her and they put her on vet’s list day I claimed her.”

But using such methods as a magnetic blanket and ice treatments, Sullivan got the horse back to her best. She won eight straight for her new connections, many of them in starter allowance company at the Ohio tracks. Sullivan got more adventurous and started shipping around to find spots. Chella has won at, among other tracks, Keeneland, Churchill, Fort Erie, Delaware and Mountaineer. Normally, Sullivan stays in Ohio for the winter but decided to ship to Tampa Bay this year. There, for the first time since he started campaigning her, he put her in for a tag. She won the $62,500 optional claimer at Tampa and there were no takers. Next out she won another starter allowance, this one at Tampa, and then headed to Gulfstream. The second choice in the wagering, the 7-year-old won by a half-length. She’s won 63.4% of her starts.

“I don’t really know how to explain it,” Sullivan said. “To me, she’s just a freak of nature. Anything you put in her way she takes it down. Seven-eighths is not her preferred distance, but yesterday she found a way to win. She looked like she was in trouble at the quarter-pole but she really has the will to win. She is a very competitive horse. She loves her job. I haven’t trained many horses like that who love to go out and train in the morning and love what they do. She makes your job a lot easier as a trainer.”

What impressed Sullivan the most is the mare’s consistency. She may not always win, but she always tries. She has run out of the money only once during the 23 starts she’s made for his barn.

“The best thing about this mare is she has stayed at the same level for so long,” he said. “I’ve never had a horse that has come close to that. They all seem to have a peak of six months to a year, max. Three years ago, she was at the same level she’s at today. If anything, she’s gotten even gotten better with time. She’s just special. She’s been a special part of my life.”


Speaking of Iron Horses

Page McKenney (Eavesdropper) was also in the winner’s circle Saturday at Gulfstream, winning a $60,000 starter stakes. That was win number 21 for the 8-year-old gelding who has made 54 career starts.

There were some signs that time had finally caught up with the Mary Eppler trainee as he had finished a non-threatening eighth and fifth in his prior two starts. But both were in tough spots, including the GIII Harlan’s Holiday S., where he was eighth behind Fear the Cowboy (Cowboy Cal). Dropping down into easier company helped as he won by four lengths.

Like Chella, Page McKenney is one of the more remarkable stories in racing today. He was claimed in 2013 for $16,000. He’s now earned $1,796,000, most of it for current owners Adam Staple and Jalin Stable.


Aqueduct’s Winter Blues

For those of you who still think winter racing at Aqueduct–at least four days a week of it–is a good idea, please look at the charts of this week’s races.

Sixty-seven horses started Saturday in nine races for an average field size of 7.44, and that was the good day. On Thursday, there were five races with five-horse fields and the average field size for the day was 5.5. Friday’s eight-race card kicked off with an early double consisting of two four-horse races. Forty-seven horses ran, for an average field size 5.875. The first three races on Sunday’s card were all four-horse fields and the average field size for the day was 5.77.

The product matters. Horseplayers are not going to bet on this stuff and, though no one equates Aqueduct in the winter to Saratoga, NYRA is tarnishing its brand and driving customers to other signals by putting together the types of cards horseplayers despise.

Surely, there has to be a better way.


Former Jockey Found a Second Career

One Joey (Skinny Joey) Merlino was all over the news last week. The reputed boss of the Philadelphia mob, he was in court in Manhattan on racketeering charges and, on Thursday, the jury told the judge it was deadlocked. However, the judge told the jury to get back to work and they will reconvene on Tuesday.

The Associated Press reported: “Joseph ‘Skinny Joey’ Merlino was a tough-talking ‘fixer’ in a widespread scheme to collect insurance payments by bribing doctors to write bogus prescriptions for a pain cream, Assistant U.S. Attorney Max Nicolas told Manhattan jurors.”

But once upon a time, Merlino, 55, was a fairly obscure bug boy on the Mid-Atlantic circuit.

Starting in 1979, Merlino rode for three years and won 41 races, most of them at Monmouth and Parx (then known as Keystone). His biggest win came in the 1981 Annapolis H. at Pimlico.


A Sleeper for the Triple Crown

Still Having Fun (Old Fashioned) is going to have to do a lot more than win a $100,000 stakes in the middle of winter at Laurel before anybody gets too excited about him, but don’t be surprised if you hear a lot more from this colt down the road.

First off, some pretty smart people in Gary Barber and the Wachtel Stable have already bought into him and they surely weren’t disappointed by Saturday’s Miracle Wood at Laurel, even though the horse only won by a neck.

Coming off a 4 1/2-length win in the Frank Whiteley S., he had a brutal trip Saturday. Ridden by Fergal Lynch, he broke from the one-post on the one-mile, one-turn race, and ducked in at the start, which cost him about four lengths. Trapped on the inside and lacking room all down the backstretch, Lynch was forced to steady. Finally, he found an open lane in mid-stretch, but it looked like long shot Old Time Revival (Brethern) was long gone. But Still Having Fun showed admirable courage, dug down and caught the longshot before the wire. Trainer Timothy Keefe said the Private Terms S. is likely next. If the connections don’t point for the Derby, he might just turn out to be the hot new shooter in the GI Preakness S.


Narayan Reddy on Organic Farming

Narayan Reddy on Organic Farming

In this interview with Mr. Reddy, he tells us about his journey and how organic farming is the only solution to a better future for us all.

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