New Year, New Plans: Battle Brook Stable Style Jan 20, 2020 13:12:52 GMT -5 Cruisey, S u N f r O s T ~, and 1 more like this
Post by ripley on Jan 20, 2020 13:12:52 GMT -5
After a tremendous year that saw the likes of Bold Trick, Key West and a bevvy of their top turf mares hit the winner’s circle several times over, everyone is excited to know what is next for Battle Brook Stable. The big barn is known for turning out that “Murderer’s Row” of horses because of the way Ripley Marsh trains. Her training style is not one size fits all, but rather one that seems to develop every horse so that they all seem to get good at the same exact time. After a light year in the three year old classics, we wanted to catch up with Ripley to discover what exactly she has up her sleeve for the New Year.
Interviewer: “Thank you for sitting down with me, Ripley. I have to admit it’s not too often I’m invited into a trainer’s home for coffee and a chat.”
Ripley Marsh: “Of course. This is more of a product of me not wanting to be away from home quite yet. It’s been a busy end/beginning of the years for us and with so many horses coming and going, this really is home base for me.”
I: “Absolutely. We saw a lot of movement from you in terms of horses retiring, selling, and horses shipping to the tracks or back from the tracks. I don’t know how you keep it all straight."
RM: "I have a huge notebook and a good memory. Really these plans have been in the works for some time. It's just a matter of execution of the plans."
I: "Before we jump into anything else, I want to touch on Bold Trick and Key West. Both of them had stellar careers and now we’re going to see them retire following the Dubai World Carnival. What is the feeling like gearing up to their respective races?”
RM: “I would say the feeling is excellent. It’s more sorrowful for the fans than us. We’re such a family oriented barn and it’s not like either of those boys are leaving the farm for good. We’ll welcome them back win, lose or draw. Key West will likely become a track pony here because he isn’t the type to be a companion just yet. He’s a fireball and he wants a job to do. Bold Trick already has stud plans for Y21, but he’ll get some down time to just be a horse and let down.”
I: “Are you expecting big performances for both of them?”
RM: “I would say so. Key West came out of the Dirt Mile breathing fire and Bold Trick has never stopped firing on all cylinders. Their training has been quite impressive following their races with strong gallops at The Wire. Key may have a blowout to take off the edge, but I doubt we’ll see a workout from Bold Trick as he’s maintained his fitness incredibly well.”
I: “So what’s after their retirement for your racing roster? You’ve also retired Shatter, Lawless, Wayward Lass, Cataclysmic, Pure Innocence and Amnesty. That’s quite a who’s who of retirees.”
RM: “At this moment, we’re just letting horses take vacations or slowly gearing them up for campaigns. Right off the bat, I can tell you that Braidwood Creek Manor’s Chocolatier is training like a heavyweight right now. He’s been super impressive, such a quality animal ever since he stepped foot off the trailer for his temporary lease. We have him through March Week Four and are eager to see how his early spring races go. He’ll be retiring to stud for them at some point this season, but we’re happy to play our part in closing out his career. We’re also eager to get Silent Game, Tainted Love and Bel Fuoco back.
While Silent Game didn’t perform as expected in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, we have the utmost faith in him jumping right back. He’s an ultra classy animal and so much like his sire (Mastermind) in that you can never count him out. For me, Tainted Love is one of my favorites on the roster. He’s a tough horse and he just seems to be on the edge of a breakout turf year. With Sweeto Cheeto retiring from stud in the near future, I’m excited to have such a top level son waiting in the wings. As for Bel Fuoco, we can’t say enough how lucky we’ve been lately with geldings. He’s arguably a better horse than Key West was at this point in his career and he’s only developed more since his last race. He’s a great horse to train and I can’t say enough about his talent.”
I: “I have to admit, I have a secret love for Straton. How’s he been doing since last year?”
RM: “He’s actually rip-roaring and ready to go. After such a stiff year of racing, we really emphasized down time with him. Like Bel Fuoco, there isn’t a rush with him because he’s gelded and we want to put his well being first. He’ll come back in an undercard race at Green Horse Fields. Hopefully, he can prove to be a nice successor to Key West down the road.”
I: “Now as far as your leading ladies, you definitely have some big shoes to fill. I would go as far to say that your mares were greatly underestimated in Y19. I mean two Breeders’ Cup wins and three seconds in Breeders’ Cup races are nothing to sneeze at.”
RM: “We know the level of talent we bring to the races. We knew especially last year going into the season that we were loaded on the turf side. To a degree, I still have confidence that we will bring a top level challenger to every race. Fading Embers (Ashes to Ashes x Inspiring) has returned to us from Intrepid Racing and she’ll take up the middle distance dirt races. We also have Hecate and Flightpath, who at times clashed but did very well in the latter half of the year. Hecate will have a later start than Flightpath, but we expect her to be ready to roll. I also can’t discredit Golden Envoy. She really was a superstar for us in her three year old season, dancing every major dance we put her in, finishing out of the money only one time. I think she has star potential at four and we’re really excited to see her training so forwardly.
The big name on our roster is Wild Annie. Like Shatter and Flawed Princess before her, we really expect big things in her older mare season. She was getting really strong in the latter months of Year Nineteen and she’s poised to really take on the turf miles for us.”
I: “Having seen several of those fillies train this morning, I definitely agree that you have quite the group waiting to hit the track in Year Twenty. Any particular sleepers in your older horse crop that you want to give a shout out to?”
RM: “Oh more than a few!” (Laughs) “However, for this purpose, I’ll keep it brief. I’d say my big one is Never Surrender. We cut her back in class and distance, got her a confidence building win at the end of December. Like Golden Envoy, she danced every major dance, but we think we were stretching her out too far. We’ll cut her back and really aim her for the sprints. She’s always been an awesome workhorse so the training doesn’t necessarily need to be adjusted so much as the distance of her afternoon races.
Taipan is another horse who I think will have a big year. He’s never looked better and did some growing in the last few months. His workouts have only become faster. While we were looking to sell him, we’re glad we didn’t based on the 1:00 flat workout he had around the dogs this morning. On the other side of the world, we welcomed Whispering Soldier to the farm. He brings new sprinter lines to our ranks, but we’re eager to see him move. He was a 4x HOTY race winner as a juvenile, who again took a little dip at three, but he has a great physical and his gallops have been strong.”
I: “What was your reaction following the performances of last year’s juveniles at the Breeders’ Cup?”
RM: “I would say shock and awe. We did really well at the races this year. Saccharine and War Monger have really set us up well for the new season. We’d pointed all year toward their respective races and for them both to get it done, has me really excited for the remainder of their careers. Saccharine is heading for the Kentucky Derby and then the Red Mile. Hopefully, War Monger will follow in the footsteps of his sire and dam. It’s just amazing to me that two Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winners produced a Juvenile Turf winner, and speaks to the partnership we’ve begun to develop with Stride Of Perfection Stable on the turf side to amplify our stock.”
I: “On the flip side, you went down in two races that you’d expected to win with Turbulence, Mockery and Victorina. What did you think?”
RM: “I wouldn’t say we expected to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, the Sand Challenge Mile or the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. We expected a better performance from Mockery, but she’d had a good season so we’ll rest her, bring her back and see if she wants to do the Triple Tiara or the Fillies Red Mile. As far as Turbulence, we knew he was vulnerable. He’s got the ability to go a mile and nine furlongs, but other horses have the ability to get it done faster. He is not like Silent Game or Breaking Point, who are these really light horses that can turn and burn to get those latter furlongs. He’s a heavy horse who really knows how to get it done at 6 and 7 furlongs. It’ll make for interesting planning as far as the Sprinter Triple Crown this season, but he might not be the type of animal that fits a series.”
I: “And what about Victorina?”
RM: “I can’t say enough about that filly. For a 15.3 hand filly, she hit every race this year for a total of 20 races. We’ll cut her back in the amount this season, but she’s a durable one, just like her mama. While the Breeders’ Cup result isn’t what we were looking for, we can’t blame her after a long season.”
I: “Any sleepers from this group that you have on the brain?”
RM: “I don’t know that I’d call them sleepers. They’re still so new, even after a year. Poltergeist and Epiphany didn’t go to the Breeders’ Cup, but we have the utmost faith in their capabilities. Poltergeist will join Saccharine in the Kentucky Derby, but will close out the Triple Crown series for us. Epiphany has been a good, little superstar and she’ll finally get a chance to shine with a structured filly series.
Instigator is training very well and he’ll hit the Turf Sprinter Crown with the same verve he had as a juvenile. Smuggler is looking really well and is starting to fill out his big, gangly body so we expect stronger performances in the latter half of the season, probably around the Turf Distance Series for him. Diminutive Miss is training well and we think she’ll be a firecracker in the filly dirt sprinter division.”
I: “It was surprising to a lot of people that you bought some runners out of the New Year’s Sale. We already covered Whispering Soldier a bit, but can you discuss Terrify?”
RM: “I surprised a lot of people on my team too. He’s a one-win horse, joining a roster of projects. No one expected me to buy him, but I liked the way he moved. He has these long legs and burly frame. I liked his eye and the way he just seemed to be bored with his surroundings. I’ve caught a few of his races and think he brings a lot to the table, especially when he finishes growing. While it’s way too early to tell with him, I think if the luck holds, I might have a horse for the Dirt Distance Series now.”
I: “Now on the juvenile front, I believe you have the largest juvenile roster you’ve ever had. Any trepidation on race scheduling?”
RM: “Not particularly. I raced my juvenile string last year more and harder than I thought I would. My goal this year is to be more strategic with an aim to more pointed success. Some horses react differently to different styles of training. I’m still learning this gig as well. I’ll be able to tell soon enough into their racing careers what they’ll need.”
I: “Most barns have favorites picked out by now, in terms of the ones they think will be their stars. Do you?”
RM: “I can’t say that I do. I’m surprised more often than I know. I really like my Speak Easy colt, Veiled Threat, because of his fiery personality and his hard-work in the mornings. Bronze Star is an exciting horse because he does everything so beautifully and efficiently. He’s ultra talented, but you never know if that talent carries to the track in the afternoon. I love all of my fillies. They remind me a lot of the retirees that just moved to their broodmare career, but who knows how everything will play out?”
I: “Very good. I’m excited to see them as well. I missed the opportunity to watch them move because you’ve sent them off to the racetracks.”
RM: “I have a crack team with Malcolm at Green Horse Fields and Al at The Wire. Sibyl and Royally Vexed are still here, but I’ll be driving them to Battle Stone Downs tonight to get them settled in for next week’s racing.”
I: “Thank you for taking the time to sit down with me to chat. I, for one, can’t wait to see how your stable does when racing officially kicks off. Wishing your team lots of luck, good racing and a safe season.”
RM: “Thank you.”