Friday, September 5, 2014

News & Notes | 9/5/2014

By Pam Gleason

Palace Malice News

Cot Campbell, the president of Dogwood Stable in Aiken, is the kind of man who is not afraid to take a chance. Dogwood Stable owns Palace Malice, the winner of last year's Belmont Stakes. Mr. Campbell has a lot of confidence in his horse. In fact, he has so much confidence that this spring he approached the Willaim Hill Agency in Nevada and convince them to take a $5,000 bet on the horse's future. Campbell wagered that Palace Malice would be named the 2014 Horse of the Year. The odds were set at 8-1.

This was certainly a bold move at the time, and the William Hill Agency couldn't be faulted if they thought they had made an excellent deal. But lately, Palace Malice has been racing in a way that justifies Campbell's confidence. The colt emerged from winter training in Aiken stronger and faster than ever. He started his spring campaign with a win in the $250,000 Gulfstream Handicap in March and then went on to victory in the $400,000 New Orleans Handicap three weeks later. In May, he was back at New York's Belmont Park, where he won the WEstchester Handicap by almost 10 lengths. Next he was entered in the $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap on the Belmont Stakes undercard on June 7. He went off the favorite, and gave his backers something to cheer about when he megotizated his way through heavy traffic at the top of the stretch and ran away a winner.

If you want to be named Horse of the Year, winning all your races in convincing style is a good way to do it. If the 3-year-old California chrome had won the Belmont Stakes and thus the Triple Crown, it wouldn't matter very much how well Palace Malice ran - a Triple Crown winner would be pretty much guaranteed Horse of the Year honors. But with California Chrome coming up short (he tied for fourth) and Palace Malice looking like a champoin on Belmont Day, Mr. Campbell's $5,000 ticket is starting to get hot.

Dogwood says their colt will probably make his next start in August, most likely in the Whitney Stakes at Saratoga. To date, Palace Malice has won seven of 16 career starts and has earnings of $2,711,135.

Repair Your Horse

If you are looking for an addition to your equestrian library, and even if you aren't, consider buying Doug Payne's new book. The Riding Horse Repair Manual: Not the Horse You Want? Create Him From What You Have. Doug Payne, who is currently competing in Europe on a Land Rover competition grant, is an accomplished event rider who is in Aiken to train each winter. Doug's mother runs a training and lesson business in New Jersey, and Doug and his sister Holly grew up immersed in the horse world. An A-Level Pony Clubber, dough studied with Jimmy Wofford, the legendary eventing trainer and coach. Before college, he competed in eventing and dressage and was the U.S. National champion in Tetrathlon, among other things. Then he went to college and earned a degree as a mechanical engineer.

Today, Doug is a professional horseman with an engineer's mind. As a horseman, he is someone who has a reputatin for being able to "fix" problem horses. When you have that kind of reputation, you are sure to get a lot of problem horses to ride, and Doug has thrown his leg over an immense assortment of difficult animals. Unlike many people who are good at ironing out equine behavior problems, Doug is also good at explaining how he does it. The Riding Horse Repair Manual addresses a wide assortment of difficulties and provides clearly expressed solutions that have worked for Doug. 

The book begins with chapters about preper training to avoid creating a problem horse. It then goes on to examine a number of common behavior problems, giving possible causes and possible solutions for each. How do you keep a horse from rearing, bucking, spooking and bolting? It all depends on the horse and why he is doing these things. Do you have problems with contact or with jumping? Doug has some ideas. Do you have trouble seeing a distance to a fence? Doug can help with that, too. This isn't a bag of tricks: the book emphasizes correct and consistenet riding, conditioning and horsemanship. But Doug does provide a number of interesting tips and some insight into what has made him as successful as he is.

The book is exceptionally well written, cleanly laid out and well illustrated, although one might wonder exactly how Doug found horses to demonstrate such a wide variety of behavior problems for his photographer. It is certainly a valuable addition to any library, especially for those of us who have not yet found the perfect horse. The Riding Horse Repair Manual is published by Trafalgar Square Press. It is 224 pages long and available as a paperback. The recommended retail price is $29.95.

Aiken Polo Pavilion

Next fall, Aiken Polo Club fans will be able to watch the game from underneath a new permanent pavilion. Aiken players have been wielding their mallets on historic Whitney Field ever since 1882, making it the oldest continuously used field in the country. The only permanent structures around the field now are the score board and slightly rickety announcer's tower. Each Sunday during the season, fans and spectators gather fieldside, either out on the sidelines or under the social tent. The social tent, which costs $25 per person for non-members, offers drinks, hors d-oeuvres and other refreshments. Sometimes the spread is good enough to replace dinner. For instance, this spring, there have been two authentic Argentine asados, offering enough meat and sausage to satisfy even the most carnivorous appetite.

Aiken Polo Club does not own the social tent. Instead, the club has been renting it every year for at least a decade. The cost of this is substantial. Because of this, some members of the Aiken Polo Club Board of Directors have been lobbying to build a permanent structure to replace the tent. There have been various plans and proposals, but until now, nothing has come to fruition. Building a fieldside paviltion si not as simple as it might seem. First there is the fact that Whitney Field is in Aiken's historic district, which means that any new structure built there has to pass the Aiken Design Review Board. Second, the club does not own the field. It is owned by the Whitney Trust. This means that anything built on the field will need to be approved and desired by three separate sets of people. Then there was the question of how to pay for it.

Over the last several months, all of these obstacles have been overcome, one by one, Aiken Polo Club and the Whitney Trust submitted a proposed design for a new pavilion to the review board last fall, and it was unanimously approved this December. A few more details were worked out this psring, and now everything is in place. There was a ground breaking ceremony for the new pavilion on Sunday, June 8 at the last game of the spring season, the USPA Dogwood Cup 4 Goal finals.

The pavilion will be 22-foot wide, 134-foot long, open-sided red cedar structure. In the center, there will be a two-story announcer's tower. Spectators will be able to gather under the shade of the pavilion to watch the game. The building will also be useful when Whitney Field is used for other community events such as the Aiken Soccer Tournament, which comes to the city each fall, and the Aiken Bluegrass Festival. 

The pavilion is being built by Lawn Master in partnership with Home Depot, and Home Depot is one of the sponsers of the porject. There are other sponsorhip and anming opportunities available. The easiest way to become a part of the pavilion, and thus of polo history, is to purchase a commemorative brick, which will be installed installed inside. Engrave them with the names of everyone on your polo team, or all your best horses, or sponsor an historic brick, engraved with a famous name from Aiken Polo history. (Take your pick!) you can design your own brick online on the Bricks R Us website, and they come in a range of sizes and prices. A 4"x8" brick is $100; an 8"x8" brick, $200 dollars. Want a premium location? Buy it for $500. Money raised from the bricks will go to the renovation and restoration of Whitney Field.

For more information or to inquire about buying a brick, visit

Aiken's Equines

If you are considering something new for your coffee table this summer, take a look at Mike Kleiman's book Aiken's Equines: A Photojournal. Mike says he has been photographing horses and horse people in Aiken since he moved here from New Jersey eight years ago.

"I'm not a horseman, but I appreciate horses," says Mike. "I'm drawn to their strength and their majesty."

Mike always loved photography, but it wasn't until about ten years ago that he began to study it seriously. Back in New Jersey, he was a member of the Raritan Photographic Society in East Brunswick. After moving to Aiken, he became a member of the Aiken Artists Guild. His photographs can be found at various places around town, including the Ridgecrest Coffee Bar.

"I wanted to make a book for my son, to show him my life for the last eight years," says Mike. "That is how this book came into being. Then I decided that I would also make it available to other people; I wanted to give something back." Many of the horses depicted in the book live at Equine Rescue of Aiken, and Mike says that a portion of each sale will be donated to the rescue. "It's a wonderful place and they do such good things."

Mike's images include action shots of horses in various disciplines, as well as pictures of horses and foals at home and at rest. The book is leather-bound, 11.5" x 15" and printed on high quality, glossy paper. It is a luxury item and priced accordingly: At $300, the books are available by special order only. For more information, call Mike at 908-331-2031 or visit his website:

Wando to HOF

This August, the racehorse Wando will be inducted into the Canadian Thoroughbred Hall of Fame. Wando was owned by Gus Schickedanz, who lives in Ontario and has a farm in Aiken. The horse, who trained at the Aiken Training Track under Mike Keogh, won the Canadian Triple Crown in 2003. The Canadian Triple Crown consists of the Queen's Plate (1 3/4 miles) in early July, the Prince of Wales Stakes (1 3/16 miles) two weeks later and the Breeders' Stakes (1 1/2 miles) in August.

The Canadian Triple Crown mirrors the American Triple crown. Both are for 3 year olds, and they are run over the same distances. Neither is easy to win: the Canadian crown was devised in 1959, and just seven horses have won it since that time. Before the Canadian Triple Crown itself was established, five additional horses won the three races, making a total of 12 winners in 82 years. Compare that to 11 horses to win the American Triple Crown since Sir Barton first achieved that feat in 1919.

Wando was the most racent horse to win the Canadian crown. That year he was named Canadian Horse of the Year. He raced succesfully at 4 and 5, and retired with 11 wins out of 23 starts and earnings of $2.5 million. He stood at stud, first in Kentucky and then in Ontario. Although he sired 66 winners out of 9\ starters, he was not an especially sought-after sire. One reason for this may be that his foals are generally big and slower to mature, while the marketplace favors stallions whose offspring can go out and win as 2-year-olds. At home on the farm, Wando was known for his easy-going, friendly nature. He was said to act more like a family pet than a Thoroughbred stallion.

Wando died unexpectedly of an apparent heart attack this January and was buried on Schickedanz's farm in Ontario. He was just 14. He joins his sire, Langfuhr, in the Hall of Fame, as well as some other brilliant horses that raced in Canada. These include Secretariat, who ran his last race at Woodbine in Toronto, as well as Sir Barton, who did the same thing. The star of the Hall of Fame is Northern Dancer (1961-1990). Northern Dancer, a winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, was a Canadian bred that went on to become the most influential and important Thoroughbred sire of the 20th century.

This article is copyrighted and first appeared in The Aiken Horse. It is reprinted here by permission.