Kip Elser’s Kirkwood Stables will continue to only gallop its entrants during the under tack show for The Gulfstream Sale as the stable has done for the past two years, rather than push the juveniles through a timed workout.
Elser launched this experiment in 2018 at Fasig-Tipton’s select 2-year-olds in training sale at Gulfstream Park following a conversation during the Saratoga Race Course meet with a friend who proposed pinhooking yearlings at the 2-year-olds in training sale without pushing the young horses during the under tack show.
Previous “gallop-only” prospects, offered only at The Gulfstream Sale, had been cataloged as part of the Kirkwood Stables consignment but also under the names Midway Gallop or Gulfstream Gallop so buyers knew what to expect. This year the Gulfstream entrants have been cataloged only under Kirkwood Stables, so Elser wants to be sure buyers know the gallop-only program is still in place.
“We have had very positive results at the sales and on the racetrack,” Elser said. “Maybe we leave a little money on the table, but we are selling every horse and reducing the injury rate.”
During the first two years of the program, Kirkwood offered 14 juveniles, of which eight were sold in the ring for an average of $121,250. The others that did not meet their reserve prices all found new homes through private sales.
Out of these 14 horses, 11 went on to start in a race, and six became winners. Four of the horses became black-type performers, led by winner Splashy Kisses, a daughter of Blame who was second in the Pocahontas Stakes (G2) and third in the Sweet Life Stakes (G3), and Defense Wins, a son of Flatter who was third in last year’s Runhappy Del Mar Futurity (G1). Both of these graded stakes horses are trained by Doug O’Neill. Kirkwood also sold stakes-placed winners Irish Hustle, a daughter of Data Link, and Wicked Slider, a gelding by Wicked Strong .
“The better our results on the racetrack, the better our sales results will continue to be,” Elser said.
At the upcoming April 1 auction at Gulfstream, Kirkwood will offer the following horses as part of its gallop-only program:
At NYRA, Johnstone served as the bridge between management, horsemen, and riders, working with everyone from the stewards to jockeys, the gate crew, outriders, and anyone else connected to racing. Imposing at 6’4″ and with a deep, baritone voice, Johnstone stood out for his commanding presence at the track—and for his knowledge, wise counsel, experience, and diplomacy in times of stress.
“Bruce was a true horseman who used the lessons of a lifetime to make all of us better in so many big and small ways,” said NYRA CEO and president Dave O’Rourke. “He was a man of impeccable integrity who was a beloved member of the Thoroughbred racing community here in New York and around the country. Bruce was universally admired for all the right reasons and we will miss him every day.”
NYRA created Johnstone’s position when he joined the organization in 2007. “If I’m talking to a trainer, I know what they’re saying,” he said of his duties in a 2018 interview. “I’ll know how to address a concern or an issue. I have an office, but that’s not where I live.”
Instead, Johnstone could often be found in the paddock, on the edge of the track, the backstretch or the barn area, navigating between groups and attending to any and all issues. Those issues could range from something as basic as a sauna without hot water to pop-up decisions on whether to postpone or cancel racing in poor weather conditions and ensuring the horses were adequately hydrated and sponged down in hot weather.
In 1974, Johnstone went to work at the Phipps Stable with accomplished trainer John Russell and Hall of Famer Angel Penna. Johnstone took out his own training license in 1980. Among his career highlights were wins with Secrettame in the 1983 Shirley Jones Stakes at Gulfstream Park and Buck Aly in the 1986 Bay Shore Stakes (G2). Secrettame, a daughter of Triple Crown winner Secretariat, was owned by Venezuelan owner Jose “Pepe” Sahagun and his Villa Blanca Farms.
While at NYRA, Johnstone also served from 2018-19 as chairman of the famed Aiken Training Center in Aiken, S.C.
Born and raised in Santa Barbara, Calif., Johnstone attended the University of California at Berkeley on an athletic scholarship as a swimmer and a water polo player, and also played rugby. After earning a degree in International Relations and Diplomacy, Johnstone was recruited by the U.S. Coast Guard for the Special Coastal Forces Program, an elite group of college graduates who had been Division 1 athletes.
Johnstone then ran a successful steakhouse, Chuck’s of Hawaii, in his native Santa Barbara, a job in which he worked his way into an ownership stake. The restaurant celebrated 50 years in business in 2017 and remains open.
It was through time spent with his biological father, Charles “Sandy” Johnstone, a New York-based veterinarian, that he turned to horse racing. Visiting his father in both New York and Kentucky, Johnstone, in his mid-20s, became smitten with Thoroughbreds to the point where he made it his career change.
“I got the bug with horses,” Johnstone said in the 2018 interview. “It must have been the pedigree. So I packed up my orange VW van and my two dogs and headed to Kentucky.”
In 1972, he joined trainer Victor J. “Lefty” Nickerson at Elmendorf Stable, where he was a part of one of racing’s biggest upsets, Big Spruce’s victory over Forego in the 1974 Marlboro Cup at Belmont Park.
“I live racing seven days a week,” Johnstone said in 2018. “And when I go to the neighborhood bar to get away from it, I find that people want to talk about what I do—not their jobs, but mine. That’s always fun—and it makes me realize how much I enjoy this life.”
Johnstone is survived by his daughter, Kelly Johnstone.
Details on a memorial service will be announced when available.
Courtesy of the SPORTING POST
Capetown, South Africa
The R1,7 million Captain Al colt Regimental, owned by an illustrious group of owners, caught the eye on debut at Durbanville on Saturday when he went all the way at odds-on to seal a coup for his backers.
Ridden by the SMG Cape Town-sponsored Corne Orffer, Regimental proved too strong for the persistent and more experienced Gold Medal in the second race, a 1250m Maiden Plate, and went on to win by 0,40 lengths in a time of 76,23 secs.
He was purchased for R1,7 million at the 2017 Cape Premier Yearling Sale and is out of US six-time winner Crazy About Me (Lawyer Ron).
He is owned by former Mayfair Speculators Racing Manager Derek Brugman in partnership with an international mix of owners, including Mr and Mrs Antony Beck, Anna Doyle, Kip Elser of US-based Kirkwood Stables, Dr Jill Warner of Carry On Alice fame and Henry Bozo of French-based Ecurie des Monceaux.
The Brett Crawford stable comments, published by courtesy of Phumelela Publishing, caught some punters wrong-footed as they had indicated that the obviously smart colt ‘should need the run’. He behaved like a professional and won easily.
The Klawervlei Stud-bred galloper was snapped up from 7-2 and backed into the red before easing to an official starting price of 11-10.
On the Brett Crawford Racing website, it is stated that Regimental is ‘a nice colt, and may be green on debut. Each way chance’.
Assistant Barry Donnely was quoted on Saturday suggesting that Regimental ‘was going places and should have a money chance.’
MUCHO GUSTO (Mucho Macho Man) recently 2nd in the Haskell Invitational Stakes (Gr. 1) will start from post 7. He is owned by Michael Lund Petersen and trained by Bob Baffert. Next to him in post 8 is CHESS CHIEF (Into Mischief) who was recently 2nd in the West Virginia Derby (Gr. 3). CHESS CHIEF is owned by the Estate of James J. Coleman, Jr. and trained by Dallas Stewart.
MUCHO GUSTO was consigned by Kirkwood and sold for $625,000 to his owner at Fasig Tipton Timonium. CHESS CHIEF was prepared for racing at Kirkwood Stables.
COURTESY OF THE TDN
Gus Schickedanz with his longtime trainer Mike Keogh | Dave Landry
By Kelsey Riley
Gustav Schickedanz, a leading owner/breeder in Canada, foxhunting enthusiast and construction magnate, died peacefully on June 17 aged 90 at his home in Schomberg, Ontario, with his family by his side.
What Gus achieved in the Thoroughbred business, with a broodmare band rarely totaling more than 20, was truly remarkable. His pride and joy was his homebred sire Langfuhr (Danzig), who in 1996 won the GI Vosburgh S. and GII Forego H., and in 1997 the GI Carter H. and the GI Met Mile. Langfuhr, standing first at Vinery and later at Lane’s End where he is today pensioned at age 26, would carve out a reputation as a reliable sire of runners over all surfaces and across all distances, his Grade I winners including Whitney H. and Woodward S. winner Lawyer Ron, Arlington Million and Gulfstream Park Turf S. winner Jambalaya and Beldame S. and Gazelle H. winner Imperial Gesture.
Gus’s entire program was built on cultivating his own families and using predominantly his homebred stallions, and thus it is no surprise Langfuhr would go on to be the linchpin of his breeding program in the 21st century. Such a strategy gave Gus Wando, the 2003 Canadian Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year; 11-time stakes winner Mobil, GII Nijinsky S. winner Last Answer and dual Grade III and Canadian Classic winner Marlang. Gus bred Langfuhr from his own homebred mare Sweet Briar Too (Briartic), and he bred the dams of both Wando and Marlang as well. Last Answer, who won his stakes race at age seven, was the 14th and last foal out of Gus’s foundation broodmare Victorious Answer (Northern Answer), who he purchased in 1976 from Windfields Farm. Victorious Answer was Gus’s first stakes winner and produced two black-type winners, and her daughters and granddaughters produced a further 14 stakes winners. Last Answer, who won his stakes race at age seven and ran 44 times, perhaps embodies everything that Gus’s breeding program stands for: the belief in his own carefully nurtured families to produce tough, sound, classy athletes.
Other standouts bred and raced by Gus include the GII Monmouth Oaks winner (and Wando’s dam) Kathie’s Colleen (Woodman), 1999 Queen’s Plate winner Woodcarver (Woodman) and Canadian champion sprinter Glanmire (Briartic). He bred the only Canadian-bred winners of the Kentucky Oaks (Gal in a Ruckus, 1995) and Arlington Million (Jambalaya, 2007). Gus’s horses have earned 10 Sovereign Award trophies, and another testament to his homebred program is the fact that three of those were for Broodmare of the Year. Gus is a member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame and in April he received one of Canadian racing’s highest honors, the Sovereign Award of Merit. In presenting Gus with his award, Glenn Sikura of Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm said, “Gus is a true horseman. This is a man that wakes up early to look at his horses. He lives on the farm with his family. He’s a master horseman and rider. He knows a horse from every stage. There is nothing this man can’t do that’s related to a horse.
“If you want the definition of a true homebred program you need look no further than at what Gus has done. The stallion he breeds to is his own stallion, and he breeds it to his mare that is out of another mare he bred and he races the offspring. Gus has been an absolute beacon for all of us.”
Gustav Schickedanz was beating the odds long before he entered the racing game. He was 15 when the Russians attacked his town in Germany in the midst of World War II in 1944 and, with his elders brothers in the army and his father ill, it was up to Gus to lead his family to safety. They all survived.
Six years later, with opportunities limited in war-torn Germany, Gus seized the opportunity to emigrate to Canada, the first country accepting German immigrants after the war. He arrived in July 12, 1950, with the clothes on his back, a toothbrush and $3 in his pocket. He found a job the following day laying bricks for a German contractor for $1.10 an hour and as he later recalled, “I was never unemployed.”
Gus’s elder brothers Gerhard and Kurt, as well as their cousin Dani, arrived in Toronto the following year and the quartet shared an apartment and worked as stonemasons and carpenters. In 1953 they incorporated their construction company Schickedanz Brothers.
Anyone who has ever spent time around Gus could attest to his devotion to family and his loyalty, and the fact that the Schickedanz’s were able to build an extremely successful business as a team and run it harmoniously for more than 60 years is a testament to those qualities. In a biography commissioned by the Schickedanzes in 2011 for family and friends, Gus explained that it was set out in the beginning that the running of Schickedanz Brothers would not be majority rule; all four had to agree on a decision to move it forward. With four stubborn German men at the helm this admittedly led to many a late-night deliberation, but in the end they all emerged on the same page. Today, Schickedanz Brothers owns land in the Greater Toronto Area and as far afield as British Columbia, Alberta, Florida and South Carolina. Shortly after the company was founded Gus married his wife, Ann, and they had four daughters: Lisa, Tina, Susi and Heidi.
Later, when Gus began to grow his breeding and racing operations, those same family values shone through not only in his dedication to his equine families but in his loyalty to his long-serving-and equally as loyal and hard-working-farm manager Lauri Kenny and trainer Mike Keogh. Kenny and Keogh are often described in racing circles as Gus’s “adoptive sons” and have been paramount in his racing success.
Gus, in Germany, had been on the backs of horses nearly from the time he could walk–“I believe I rode at age two and a half, bareback and barefoot,” he recalled-but his passion was set aside for his first decade in Canada to focus on building his business and his family. In 1960, he at last got back in the saddle with the purchase of a handful of Trakehner horses-this breed, originating from his homeland, would be Gus’s mount of choice for Foxhunting and carriage driving. Gus later kept a small string of Trakehners that shuttled between his farms in Ontario and South Carolina, and he rode every morning until well into his 80s. His faithful servants included the geldings Ethos and Kronprinz, and in 2006 he traveled to Germany and paid a record price at auction for Songline, a young Trakehner stallion in training who went on to be a very successful eventer.
In the early 1970s, Gus began buying well-bred fillies-the likes of Victorious Answer-to lay the foundation for his Thoroughbred empire. As Gus well knew himself he also needed the right land on which to nurture his athletes. In 1976 he purchased Longleaf Plantation near Aiken, South Carolina. A few years later followed the property he would dub Schonberg Farm in Schomberg, Ontario–Schonberg meaning ‘beautiful hill’ in German.
When it came to a Thoroughbred, Gus knew what he liked: the compact, strong type as opposed to the longer and leaner, with a short back with “just enough room for a saddle,” he’d often say. He had shares in Woodman and Clever Trick that served him extremely well. His most inspired splurge, however, would prove to be on a nomination to the booked-out Danzig at a Matchmaker auction at Fasig-Tipton in 1990. Gus selected his homebred stakes-winning filly Sweet Briar Too to use the nomination for her first mating, and the result was Langfuhr.
A foal of 1992, Langfuhr was the crown jewel of Gus’s best-ever crop of foals that also included Kathie’s Colleen and My Intended, who later foaled the Canadian champion 2-year-old filly My Vintage Port. Of 20 foals born at Schonberg Farm that year, 17 started, all were winners and seven were stakes winners. The next best individual crop was perhaps the 2000 group that yielded Langfuhr’s sons Wando and Mobil, between them the winners of 18 stakes races and almost $4.4-million. It was those two sons of his prized Langfuhr that pulled Gus back from the brink after a major health scare in 2001, when he suffered a series of strokes. Gus had a Richard Stone Reeves painting of Langfuhr that hung above the fireplace in his sitting room, and he once told me that he sometimes sat for hours and just studied it. When he passed through Lexington en route to South Carolina each winter, Gus would stop and spoil Langfuhr with a giant bag of carrots-the stallion grooms at Lane’s End will tell you the horse knew the sound of Gus’s voice.
Langfuhr, the tenacious, come-from-behind sprinter who went on to beat the odds year-after-year as a sire, perhaps embodied everything Gus had endured and accomplished in his own extraordinary life, and it was plainly obvious that the consummate horseman never once took that for granted.
I met Gus in the summer of 2004 when I was 15 years old on the Woodbine backside after stopping by to see my favorite horse, Wando, on the morning of a race day. I probably bombarded him with stats about his horse, and Gus told me to come back to the barn after the race and meet his wife Ann and farm manager Lauri Kenny. Wando didn’t win that day, but when my parents brought me back to the barn we found them in great spirits. Lauri invited me to visit Schonberg Farm, and I showed up about two weeks later. Lauri told me to give him a call if I was looking for a summer job the following year. I showed up for my first day of work the following fourth of July and, for the next four years, was at the farm just about every moment I wasn’t in class.
There are a few things I’ll never forget about Gus. Every morning, seven days a week, he walked down to the barn in a checkered shirt, blue jeans, black boots and a riding helmet, his dog Moby at his heels. He stopped en route to his morning ride to look at each mare and foal as they were turned out. He would then head on about a mile walk down to his barn of riding horses. As Gus aged and slowed down a little, he only started his walk earlier; he never drove to his morning ride.
Gus lived on the farm from the time he purchased it and he truly knew every building, every fence line and every tree. He often got down and dirty during big projects and he’d frequently drive the tractors and pull the wagons during haying season.
I remember Lauri telling me before I started that as a boss Gus was “tough, but fair,” and that couldn’t have been more true. He expected hard work, but if you delivered, he and Ann truly did treat you like family. When Ann took off for a drive around the farm she’d come armed with food for whoever she saw along the way. If she forgot, she’d turn around and return with something.
Gus’s positive attitude was infectious. When asked how he was, his response was almost always, “if I was any better, I wouldn’t know what to do.” He would grab your arm and squeeze it during conversation when he was excited, and sometimes slap you on the back so hard you’d lose your breath. Many a jockey surely suffered a bruised thigh when returning aboard a winner thanks to his exuberant slaps. On the contrary, if he lost, Gus was the ultimate sportsman. “That’s horse racing,” he would say, followed by his trademark, “amen.”
What Gus gave me is completely immeasurable. A massive leg up and education in the racing business, yes, but more importantly, memories that will last a lifetime and a second family that I remain very close with. Gus, you were the most incredible, inspiring, irreplaceable man. Today, I’ll raise a glass of Oban (and the other half) to you and say thank you. Amen.
Belmont Stakes Day is the perfect day to remember TOM’S READY’s come from behind win in the 2016 Woody Stephens G1. TOM’S READY was purchased and prepared by Kirkwood for owner GMB Racing and trainer Dallas Stewart
Kip Elser’s Kirkwood Stables sent out Monday’s fastest quarter-mile breezer when Le Competition(Competitive Edge) worked in :21 1/5. The dark bay filly is out of the unraced Lefreakcestchic (Bellamy Road), a half-sister to multiple stakes placed He’s So Chic (Jump Start) and from the family of graded stakes winners Living Vicariously, With Distinction and Sightseeing.
“We had as good and as safe a track as we could possibly have under the conditions,” said Elser, who sent out eight horses to work Monday. “They did a great job with the track. The horses went well and everybody came home well. I think some of them were more confident going over the mud than others, but those are today’s conditions.”
Of Le Competition, Elser said, “She is one that really relished a wet track. I was in the chute, I didn’t see her frontside, but I know she galloped out past me tremendously.”