Trainer Barry Abrams retired last year and California racing is not the same. He co-owned the great California stallion Unusual Heat (a horse he claimed) and had a style of training not seen in decades (and still not emulated). He was also a mentor to a young syndicate named Little Red Feather.
My favorite Barry Abrams story is this.
He sold us and our partners 80% of a CA Bred horse named Unusual Beam and almost immediately the horse got hurt and needed 8 months off. As you can imagine this wasn’t an ideal start to the new partnership. So, Barry came to me and said, I have another horse! As my eyes rolled, he explained the other horse, the CA Bred Lindz Winz, was just coming back from a similar injury and the same partners should “trade” 25% of Unusual Beam for 25% of Lindz Winz.
TRADE!? Is this Major League Baseball?
To be honest, I didn’t want either horse at this point!
“TRUST ME!” Barry said. If there are two words you never want to hear in horse racing, especially after your new purchase gets injured… it’s TRUST ME.
But we did.
And then Lindz lost her first 7 starts.
After each one he said again, TRUST ME. Lindz is just getting into shape. INTO SHAPE? This is Southern California where a horse has 15 breezes before its first start off a layoff. Not Barry. He races them into shape. And often. These 7 starts occurred over 3 months! You can imagine how my partners felt at this point. We make the worst trade since Pedro Martinez for Delino DeShields and now they are also concerned Barry’s style may cause our new horse to need another break.
And then in the 8th start, she broke her maiden.
Keep in mind when a Barry Abrams horse breaks its maiden it isn’t your typical ‘Oh well, after 7 starts, we finally get $30,000’ type of win. Because Barry races so often he doesn’t wait around for the CA Bred MSW. Lindz broke her maiden in open company and being a CA Bred we also received the additional $20,000 maiden bonus. We grossed nearly $65,000 that day, only 3 months since the “trade”. Barry made me look like a hero. Even better, five weeks later (after a prep race no less!), Lindz won the Irish O’Brien Stakes. Lindz went on to earn over $200,000 from 16 starts in just under 10 months for our partners.
And Unusual Beam?
As promised, he returned to the races 8 months later and earned just over $175,000….racing 24 times in just over a year!
TRUST ME INDEED!
Unusual Beam actually only won 2 of 29 starts but the in-the-money finishes, coupled with the number of starts in short time created a profitable partnership. Quintessential Barry. He never met race he didn’t want to enter. One of our Barry horses once won two races IN THE SAME WEEK. We won on Wednesday, entered the next day, and won again on Sunday. He yelled at the racing secretary once after winning on a Thursday because he wanted to enter again on Sunday. He was told you can’t run and enter on the same day!
“They don’t make money sitting in the barn,” he once said.
I only hope the Hall of Fame one day recognizes the true horseman that he is. While many of us still get to enjoy mornings with him at Clockers’ Corner, LRF misses him everyday in the barn. I still hold out hope for a comeback, but for now, thank you for coming into my life and helping a nascent LRF lift off.