News and Notes June 8

By JIM WELLS

Tenacity and a big heart got trainer Jerry Livingston what he wanted Sunday afternoon. First place in the Grade III $27,500-added Skip Zimmerman Memorial Stakes. Livingston got the trophy, but the tenacity and heart belonged to the winning filly, Silver Fastback, a narrow winner over Cruzin to Victory and Corona Deluxe.

“I really wanted to win this race,” Livingston said afterward. “Skip was a terrific guy, one of the best. I handled some horses for him at one time.”

The race honors Zimmerman, who raced quarter horses at Canterbury before his death last year, and was run at 350 yards. The winner hooked up with Cruzin to Victory with half the race to run. “She’s fairly fast,” Livingston said of his horse. “Once she hooked up with that other horse, I knew she was a winner. She’s tenacious and she just dug in.”

Livingston got his win and was presented the winning trophy by Vivian Zimmerman, Skip’s widow. The winning rider was Ry Eikleberry, who was the leading quarter horse jock at Turf Paradise in Phoenix this year. Eikleberry completed a grand week by winning the 10th race on the card, too, for three winners on the day and eight for the week.

Livingston passed the tables in the clubhouse where Zimmerman’s family were seated several times early Sunday afternoon before Skip’s widow, Vivian finally stopped him with a question. “Who are you?” she wondered. “I think I should know you.” “I’m not going to tell you,” Livingston told her. “But I know who you are.” “Why, are you in trouble with the law?” Vivian asked.

Skip Zimmerman had a plumbing company in Lino Lakes, but Vivian left Minnesota some time after his death in March, 2007 for Lisbon, N.D., and now lives just blocks away from her daughter and son-in-law, Marsha and Brad Bittner, and youg grandchildren, Jayden and Jordyn. Vivian did not attend last year’s running of the race named for her late husband. “I just couldn’t to it,” she said. “It was too soon.”

Sunday, she was delighted to be among family and friends for the second running of the stakes named for her husband. Among those present Sunday was Lenny Christ, a long-time friend of Skip Zimmerman’s. Christ had a hand in getting Zimmerman involved in horse racing years ago and drew lots of attention with his custom-made calf-skin boots. Christ wore his jeans inside his boots and the reason was obvious to people around him.

“With a pair of boots like that you don’t want any of them covered up,” said Jim Olson , vice president of the Minnesota Quarter Horse Racing Assn. Christ saw a pair of boots in a museum in Cody, Wyoming in 1999 and decided he wanted a pair just like them _ with a slight modification. “That pair had crossed pistols on them,” he said. Christ replaced the pistols with his initials, front and back. Christ took a picture of the museum boots and sent it to the famous boot maker Paul Bond in Nogales, Ariz. Bond has made boots for celebrities around the globe, including such country-western legends as Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash. Six months later, Christ got the boots.

The boots are a variety of colors and include butterflies in blue, red, yellow, grey, burgundy and white and diamond-shaped designs and half moons.It was the consensus of people who knew Skip Zimmerman that he would have been pleased with his friend’s choice of footwear for Sunday’s race.

WHEN LOSING A JOCKEY IS OK

Horse owner Cam Casby had one of those once in-a-lifetime tales to share on Sunday and share she did, with anyone who cared to listen.

“How many times can you tell someone that you lost your jockey because he won the Belmont Stakes,” she said.

An explanation: Casby’s horse Cordilleran Ice was in the 12th race at Belmont Park on Saturday, a $60,000 mile and 1/16th allowance event on the turf. Alan Garcia was named on her horse, and Casby didn’t question for a moment beforehand his availability. She knew he was riding Da’Tara in the Belmont Stakes, but that horse was given no chance of winning the race and was sent off as the longest price on the board, 38-1. When Da’Tara went wire to wire in a stunning upset of Big Brown, Garcia found himself engaged afterward in interviews with the waiting media and was suddenly unavailable to ride Casby’s horse. Channing Hill picked up the mount and finished third.

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