HRN Original Blog:
The Pressbox Blog
Posted Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Gene McLean shares his Top 20 and comments ahead of the Rebel Stakes.
Posted Monday, March 11, 2019

What a day Saturday turned out to be.

What a day.

Went to watch our own Seek N Justice in the 6th race at the beautiful, warm and jam-packed Fair Grounds in jazzed-up New Orleans with a great degree of enthusiasm and interest.

After all, Seek N Justice — our 3-year-old son of Caleb’s Posse — was coming off a rather impressive outing in his last race here. Got off to a horrid start. Fell all the way to next-to-last in the 12-horse field. So far out of view that the cameras could not even find him. But as they went into and out of the one-turn sprint, rider James Graham seemingly found a gear that we didn’t even know the colt had.

He zoomed through the stretch, bobbing and weaving like Muhammad Ali in a Joe Frazier fight. Got up to be fourth. Got our spirits up, too.

Then, just the other day, Seek had his best workout.

Thought he was in for a big day.

Instead, we were in for big surprises.

Seek N Justice didn’t run very well. Disappointing, in fact.

But he was claimed out of the race by trainer Tom Amoss, a talented horseman in his own right. Shocking, in fact.

What a bittersweet moment. Or is it sweet bitter?

I owned this colt’s mom, Diamond Seeker. She could really run, but she busted up a knee in her second career start and never got a chance to show her running talent.

So, I bred the Sightseeing filly to the stallion Caleb’s Posse. And, I got a colt. Raised him from birth. And, watched him go from seedling to a racehorse.

So, there was and is attachment. Always was. Always will be. Heartstrings tugged.

Yet, I do know and realize that this is a business. Or, at the least, should be to some degree. And, I knew going in that the horse was “for sale.”

Yet, it never truly dawned on me that the chance of Seek being claimed would become a fact that he would be claimed.

(Seek N Justice in the paddock on Saturday / Photos by Gene McLean)

After the race, I stumbled down to the track, along with trainer Buff Bradley, in search of both the colt and his rider, Ty Kennedy. Seems as if Seek thought he would do most of his running after the wire. He galloped long and hard deep into the backstretch.

As we waited for the duo to reappear, here came Buff back toward me and not toward the horse.

He had news.

“He was bought,” Buff said.

I know he must have thought I was crazy, as I fumbled for words. Any words.

“What?” I muttered.

“He got claimed,” Buff said.

“What? He was claimed?”

I know. Hard concept to grasp. Right? Especially for a guy that graduated from college with honors, right?

“Yep. Someone took him.”

“Who,” I asked.

“Let’s go find out,” Buff said.

So, we hoofed it toward the paddock. Sure enough, it was Tom Amoss’ assistant waiting in the stall.

We spoke. Exchanged some handshakes and well-wishes. Gave a little report. And, then and there, bade farewell.

It was not a long goodbye. It was just goodbye.

The claiming price was both fair and just. And the colt is now going to a good home.

Heart strings tugged. Purse strings lifted.

A few minutes later, I chatted with Tom Amoss, Seek’s new trainer, over text message. Tom didn’t realize the horse was mine. Seek ran under my full name of “Warren Gene McLean.”

Tom was quick to apologize.

I reassured Tom that there were no ill feelings. He is a class act. Has some of the best horses in the world under his care and watch.

Horses like Serengeti Empress — who may be the best 3-year-old filly in the land.

Horses like Roiland — who may be a sleeper for this year’s Louisiana Derby.

Horses like Lone Sailor, and others.

I told Tom good luck. And, since I still own two half-sisters to Seek, I sure hope that the two of them go on to win a stakes race or more.

So, Seek is headed to a new home.

So, I am headed home to Kentucky.

Paid off a few bills. Now the stable is a horse lighter.

Not the day I imagined. But that is exactly the kind of day you can expect in the horse business.

Crazy.

Moving on.

Headed to Lexington on Monday. Better go check out Seek’s half-sister — Miss Jacqueline. She is by Jack Milton. And, she is now the theme of our next storyline.

(See you down the road, good and faithful friend / Photo by Gene McLean)

Posted Friday, March 08, 2019

When I got up in Anchorage, Ky., on Thursday morning, the temperature was hovering somewhere close to Anchorage, Alaska, rates.

Cold. Blustery. Chilling.

And then the snow started to flail. Anchorage, Alaska style.

It was March 7, for goodness sakes. March 7. Average temps are to be in the 50s.

Thursday was not average.

So, Thursday evening, I caught a flight and came on down to New Orleans. All business, mind you. All business.

Seek N Justice — a 3-year-old colt that I bred and raised — will be running in “The Big Easy” on Saturday. Seemed like a good time for me to pay a visit. Seemed like the perfect time for me to come say hello and check on him. Seemed like the right thing to do.

Business purposes, mind you. All business.

So, I’m here. In New Orleans. Mardi Gras is done, but I’m just getting started. It is 75 degrees. The sky is clear. Fair Grounds is about to open its gates for Friday racing. And I talked to my great friend and trainer Buff Bradley. Always fun to talk with Buff.

All systems are go.

All things that were wrong on Thursday are now right on Friday.

Amazing what a little sun and a little horse racing will do for the mind and body.

And, don’t forget the soul. Especially in the city of “soul.”

My soul is good.

(Seek in Justice in the Fair Grounds paddock before his first career race / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

We are in the sixth race at the Fair Grounds on Saturday. It’s a maiden claiming event for $15,000. But I truly think that we have a chance to dance.

And, if Seek N Justice can make it across that finish line first, that’s exactly what you will see in the winner’s circle. A victory dance.

So, get your dancing boots on, Buff.

Joe Kristufek, the paddock TV host, had better get his dancing peds ready.

John Dooley, Fair Grounds track announcer, gear up that baritone voice.

We are in New Orleans. It is time to party.

And, nothing spells party like a winner’s circle parade — Mardi Gras style.

Posted Wednesday, March 06, 2019
The Pressbox's Gene McLean shares his leading contenders and thoughts on the trail.
Posted Wednesday, February 27, 2019
A Fountain of Youth contender is on the move up in Gene McLean's rankings.
Posted Wednesday, February 20, 2019
The Pressbox's Gene McLean lists leading Derby hopefuls and 10 more to watch.
Posted Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Columnist Gene McLean offers his first Top 20, plus 10 more to watch.
Posted Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Gene McLean covers the emotions of having a horse go through the sales ring.
Posted Tuesday, February 05, 2019
Gene McLean on the emotions of letting go as a filly heads to the sales ring.
Posted Tuesday, January 29, 2019

(The South Tower of the new Louisville Thoroughbred Society and Hughes Building is nearing completion. Bricks will be added over the next two to three weeks. Then work will turn to the North Tower, near Washington Street / Photo by Mike Schnell)

This coming Spring, around Kentucky Derby time, it will be two years since Mike Schnell and I stood outside the track kitchen along the Churchill Downs backside and announced our plans to build a new, state-of-the-art, private membership club in downtown Louisville that would cater to those persons invested in, interested in and fans of the Thoroughbred racing and breeding industries.

We talked about providing a first class venue for our members and guests to come and watch and wager on horse races.

We talked about renovating an old, mostly forgotten and ignored historic structure into a vibrant, new space with lush accommodations and private meeting and dining areas.

We talked about adding a premium “Cigar Bar,” where our members and their guests could sit and enjoy a fine blend of leaf and flavor.

We talked about adding a much-needed parking facility, the ceiling of which would provide the city’s largest open-air rooftop entertainment area for our members and guests, and allow our patrons views of both Main Street, on one end, and Washington Street, on the other.

We did a lot of talking.

But then again, Mike will tell you and anyone else that will stand still long enough to listen that I am really good at talking.

Yet, we are now proud to say:

It may have taken us awhile, but the words are not the only things that are starting to add up at 209 East Main Street and the soon-to-be home for the Louisville Thoroughbred Society.

Despite the cold and the wet, construction crews are building our new home and a brighter future for both downtown and the Thoroughbred racing and breeding industries.

One of two new elevator and staircase towers that will service both the new parking garage and the newly proposed Hughes Lofts is nearing completion. The “South Tower” — close to Main Street — will be covered with decorative brick over the next two to three weeks, and begin to “dress up” the historic structure.

(A look the project from Washington Street. Next week, work will shift to the North and construction on the second elevator shaft and staircase will begin / Photo by Mike Schnell)

Next week, the construction crew will move their sled to the “North Tower” and begin installing an identical tower that will provide both elevator and stair access near Washington Street. The second tower will take about the same, four-week timeline to produce — weather permitting.

After that, the “bones” of the parking garage will begin to be inserted, constructed, poured and filled.

All the while, work on the interior space of the Louisville Thoroughbred Society will begin in earnest in February. Infrastructure work will begin. Refurbishing and refinishing the beautiful, decorative subway tile brick in the front room will continue. Restoring an old bar that will be inserted in the indoor “Cigar Area” will commence.

New fire prevention systems soon will be installed. New electrical service will start to be implemented. New heating and air duct work will soon be added. Work on new plumbing for bathrooms and kitchen equipment will start.

And, by the end of March? The building may be ready for walls to be studded up and aligned.

The project will begin to take shape.

The words will begin to have more meaning.

To learn more about our project, and how you can become a member of this exciting opportunity, visit thelouisvillethoroughbredsociety.com for a membership application. You can begin building toward a better tomorrow, too.

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Meet Gene McLean

The Pressbox is your source for news, handicapping and interviews with the industry's biggest stars. Gene McLean is the Founder of The Pressbox and The Louisville Thoroughbred Society. No one in this industry has more talent in reviewing, forecasting and handicapping.




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