In most cases, the horses born and raised at Oldfield Farm in Sand Creek, Michigan, are placed in yearling sales.
But a couple years ago, Richard Oldfield saw something he liked in one of the pacing colts, so the family kept him.
It’s turned out to be a nice move. The pacer, Thin Blue Line, has won $193,931 in his career and is the 3-1 second choice in the morning line for Friday’s (October 28) $275,000 Windy City Pace at Maywood Park in Chicago.
"We don’t usually keep them," said Patti Gira, who is Oldfield’s daughter and runs the farm with her husband, Bill.
"But my dad saw this colt one day; he just picked him out and wanted to train him. It’s been an up-and-down year with him. He was gangbusters early in the year, then got an abscess in one of his front feet that took months to get over. He’s finally coming back into form. He’s a nice horse to get along with. We’ve had a lot of fun with him."
Thin Blue Line was sired by, who stands at Oldfield Farm, out of the mare We Be Fast. The colt’s name is a reference to the Thin Blue Line of Michigan program, which assists the families of fallen law enforcement officers. Bill Gira has been a member of the Michigan State Police force for 27 years.
Oldfield Farm, located on 120 acres, was started in 1968 by Richard Oldfield and has approximately 35 broodmares.
The farm bred Michigan’s 2003 Trotter of the Year, Bankable. Thin Blue Line, who was second toin his world-record mile in a Bluegrass division at Lexington’s Red Mile on October 1, has won eight of 22 lifetime starts.
"It’s a real family operation," Patti Gira said. "My brother, Rick, has done a little bit of the work with this horse and we’ll all be at the race on Friday. Hopefully, he will be ready."
Thin Blue Line finished second by a head to Gold Dust Beach in his Windy City elimination race. Gold Dust Beach, who drew post two for the final and will be driven by Tony Morgan, is the 5-2 morning line favourite. Thin Blue Line drew the rail while Leading X Ample, who won the other elim, got post eight and is 4-1. Morgan drove both elimination winners, but had committed prior to the races to Gold Dust Beach’s owners Lee and Linda DeVisser to drive their horse if he reached the final.
"I probably would have had a tough call, so I saved myself from having to choose wrong," Morgan said with a laugh.
Gold Dust Beach, trained by Joe Seekman, won the American-National at Balmoral Park in July. He has won seven of his last 11 starts and nine of 19 overall this year. Morgan has driven him twice, both times to wins, although he got caught three-wide in the first quarter of a mile last week while getting to the front.
"I used up one of my bad drives and he still won, so it was a good day," Morgan said.
"He’s a real nice horse. He’s a big, strong thing and he seems to get around the turns well. He can get a little aggressive, but he’s really strong and doesn’t need a trip; he can rough it. I raced him up front in the elim, but he’s probably as good or better from behind."
Leading X Ample, trained by Bill Elliott, has won six of 14 races this season, including the Provincial Cup and a Burlington division, and earned $278,091. He won an elimination for the Meadowlands Pace, but went off stride in the final and finished last.
Lifetime, he has won $421,150. In his Windy City elimination race, Leading X Ample rallied three-wide from sixth place off the last turn and beat Arts Day by 2¾ lengths. Favourite Cam’s Fool was fourth.
"He’s quiet and good mannered, and gets home real good," Morgan said about Leading X Ample.
"He seems real handy. If you were going to get the eight-hole with someone, he would be the one to get it with. He’s a closer and doesn’t seem to need to be up close to the pace. It was a really slow pace in his elimination and he still out finished them. He’s the horse to beat, I think."
Below is the field in post-position order for Friday night’s $275,000 Windy City Pace at Maywood Park in Chicago. Drivers and trainers listed are from the elimination races.
Horse -- 2005 Record -- Driver -- Trainer -- Owner(s) or Lessees
hin Blue Line
13-2-3-3 $75,685 1:51.3M
Gold Dust Beach
19-9-4-1 $228,310 1:51.2H
23-5-6-2 $427,435 1:50.2M
J. Snyder, Lothlorien Equestrian Centre
24-6-5-3 $144,348 1:53.0H
McIntosh Stb, CSX, C. Grundy, P. Ysebaert
20-7-5-3 $175,089 1:51.4S
Saulsbrook Stb, L&J Willinger, W. Lambeth
16-4-2-2 $92,377 1:51.1M
17-7-3-2 $63,021 1:49.3M
D’Elegance, Royal Flush, Iannacone, Giamarino
Leading X Ample
14-6-2-2 $278,091 1:50.1M
Leading X Am
Courtesy Of Harness Racing Communications, A Division of the United States Trotting Association