Bruce Headley is the rarest of horsemen: he doesn’t own a cell phone.
Old school to the core, the 76-year-old trainer is a hay, oats and
water man. It’s been a successful modus operandi throughout his career
of nearly half a century, producing champions such as Kona Gold, the
2000 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner.
Headley’s immediate focus is on M One Rifle, winner of the Grade I
Malibu Stakes in 2009, who has his designs on the $100,000 California
Cup Sprint at six furlongs on Oct. 29. The 5-year-old gelded son of One
Man Army has been working brilliantly towards the race since finishing
an uncharacteristic seventh in the Grade I Triple Bend Handicap at
Hollywood Park on July 2.
“He worked in 10 and change Friday (a bullet 1:11.20 on the work
tab),” Headley said. “He’s right on schedule. He ate everything Friday
night. He feels good and he’s happy. He didn’t even sweat Friday, didn’t
turn a hair or blow hard.”
Headley attributes the disappointing Triple Bend outing to an
eventful incident late in the stretch run of the Los Angeles Handicap
one race earlier, on May 30.
“He was involved in all that bumping,” Headley pointed out. “He got really slammed and they moved him up to second (from third).
“So the next time I ran him, he didn’t run that good (finishing
seventh by nearly 10 lengths in the Triple Bend). He got bruised
somewhere from that bumping, so I just took him home and kept training
him and put him in a paddock with Bermuda grass.” Headley has a 2 ½-acre
spread in Arcadia where he provides TLC to his charges as needed.
“I bought two tons of sand and made a big pile so that he could
roll in it every day,” Headley continued. “In 11 days I started trotting
him on the turf course and then turned him back out in the paddock all
It’s a regimen Headley has employed throughout his career.
Kona Gold was just one of Headley’s steeds that enjoyed a romp
in the sand. “Any horse in the world likes to roll,” Headley said.
“That’s one of their ways to scratch itches, get insects off their body
and shed hair. It makes a horse feel good.”