Peter Seals Plays The Claiming Game

By Rebecca Roush

At just 8-years-old, Peter Seals was already skipping school and heading to Canterbury Downs with his horse-owning father, where he would often place bets for his catholic school nuns. Seals later followed in his father’s footsteps when he decided to purchase his first horse in partnership with trainer Jamie Ness.

In 2008, Seals formed another partnership with three of his friends from the St. Paul Curling Club. They named it Eight Ender Stables after the term for a perfect score in a single end of team curling. For the first year, the partnership raced at Canterbury Park, but after hiring trainer Tammy Domenosky they began racing their horses at tracks in the Chicago area as well.

Since then, Seals and partners have owned and raced one or two horses at Canterbury Park each season. This year however, they face a different story. Seals’ only horse to race at Canterbury this meet, Moonlight Train, was claimed for $20,000 on June 8.  “We knew that this was bound to happen, but we are continually looking for horses to purchase and run here,” he said.

It is having a horse claimed that Seals says can often be the most challenging aspect of ownership. “You have to put the horses in a position to win and that often means putting them in spots where they can be claimed,” he said. While having a horse claimed can certainly be discouraging, Seals says it is “important to trust your trainer and hand over the control.”

Seals and Eight Ender Stables are currently working with trainer Valorie Lund and claimed a horse last week, So Sorry Ruston, for $10,000. “[Lund] is a great trainer to work with here.” He adds that “typically trainers know what they are doing with the horses better than any owner can. It is important to trust that they want what is best for the horses.”

Seals enjoys coming to the track with his friends and family, including his wife, Heather and son Thom (10). “I enjoy sharing this amazing experience with others,” he said. “It is something that I am truly passionate about.

“We may be small-time horse owners, but we have a big passion for the sport and for the animals,” Seals said about himself and his Eight Ender Stables partners.

Bill Kroska and Miracle Logistics

By Katie Merritt

Lakeville, Minnesota native and horse owner Bill Kroska, has always loved horseracing. When the track first opened as Canterbury Downs in the mid-80s, he used to come to the track just to sit and watch them run, in total awe. “They’re just so fun to watch,” he gushed, “How strong and powerful and fragile they are, all at once.” Horses already held a special spot in Kroska’s heart, so horse racing was love at first sight.

About 10 years ago, Kroska (pictured above second from left) and his business partner Stan Krupke (pictured second from right) had just launched their company Miracle Logistics. Kroska, in his 40s and going through a self-professed mid-life crisis, found himself itching to buy a racehorse so he proposed the idea to Krupke. “At first he looked at me like I was crazy,” laughed Kroska, “And then I talked to him for about 15 seconds, and he said, ‘You know what, why not?’. I told him I’d wait ’til next year, and a month later I went and got one!” And so, the race horse owner partnership called Miracle Logistics was born.

Over their 10 years of ownership, Kroska and company have acquired 16 of their 17 horses through claiming races and had a fair amount of success with several of them. In the last several years, many of those claims have been scouted out by Kroska’s son, Matt.  From 139 starters, they’ve won at an almost 20% clip, getting their picture taken in the Winner’s Circle 27 times. Winning, however, isn’t everything for Kroska. “My favorite thing is just coming with my family, friends and neighbors, having a beer, and relaxing. No stress, always smiling,” he said, adding “If a horse is bad? Guess what, it’s called forgiveness. Wait for another one. Cross it off, put a line through it, say that’s it, we’ll get another one.” As Kroska puts it, he’s not in the ownership game to make a house payment, he’s here to enjoy himself and have fun.

Winning, of course, is fun, and one horse that did that quite a bit for Miracle Logistics was a gelding named Moralist. They claimed Moralist with trainer Tammy Domenosky for $10,000 at Hawthorne in October of 2008. Less than a year later, he became a stakes winner. “He was our ATM machine!” Kroska said with a grin. “We had him for 22 starts. He won 9 of them, three of them stakes, and I think he was in the money 14 of the 22.” Moralist won back to back Honor The Hero Stakes at Canterbury, and finished third in the Grade 3 Shakertown Stakes at Keeneland. “He was a horse that gave 100% every time he went out to the track,” Kroska added. “He tried. So, as anything, even with your own kid, the only thing you can ask is that they give you 100% effort.”

Kroska thinks of his horses as his equine children. He enjoys going back to the barn and spoiling them when he comes to the track in the mornings, and is diligent in finding them good homes when it comes time to retire them. “I’ve never sold any of my horses, I’ve always given them away,” said Kroska. “As long as I know they have good homes, I don’t care about trying to get money for them.” Whether they have become showjumpers, trail horses, or even horses used for the Thoroughbred Make-Over Project, Kroska can go to sleep at night knowing that his horses are thriving in their new roles. “I just don’t want anything bad to happen to my kids,” he said, smiling.

Kroska takes the responsibility of ownership seriously, but he clearly enjoys it very much. “We’re just having fun!” he said, “I’m hoping I can do this for many, many years. I’ve already got ten years under my belt – I’m hoping for another ten, if not more.”

Overheard Last Night at The Local

Oaklawn“You don’t forget how to win The Derby” in reference to The Coach D. Wayne Lukas’ chances come the first Saturday in May. Not exactly sure how many pints had been downed at that point but the notion does make some sense. The pressing question for this week is: Do you forget how to win The Rebel?

If not then it goes to either Bob Baffert who is on a three-year Rebel win streak, Steve Asmussen who has one Rebel title with Curlin, Lukas with one – but he may be having a memory lapse – as Manashtash Ridge won for him in 1989 or Canterbury’s perennial leading trainer Mac Robertson who scored with Win Willy at 56-1 in 2009.

The free-to-enter Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest features the 11-race Oaklawn card including the double-point Rebel. Post time and contest entry deadline is 1:00pm.

Baffert has a pair entered in The Rebel including likely favorite Super Ninety Nine. The Pulpit colt dominated in the Southwest in February and has two Baffert-like drills at Santa Anita for Saturday’s Derby prep. For Beyer players this looks like a cinch as Super Ninety two most recent figs are better than any other challenger’s single best number.

Robertson teamed up with Jer-Mar Stables in ’09 for that Rebel shocker and they are back again Saturday with Stormy Holiday. The late running colt should be double digit odds with Beyers – an indicator of where the money goes – a cut below the rest of the field. Stormy Holiday, like Win Willy, broke his maiden at Canterbury Park as a 2-year-old in his only local start. He sprinted two weeks back, suffering a bad start, and a very wide late run. Plenty to run at today for D. Bell if he can save ground and charge on late maybe we see a Robertson Rebel repeat at a huge contest-winning price.

For all the Derby news visit The Daily Racing Form online. Their Top 20 page provides a great summary of who has done what and where they are headed.

Congrats to Tammy D.

Former Canterbury Park trainer Tammy Domenosky gave birth to a baby boy March 3. Tammy reports that young Maverick is doing very well. “I’ve come to realize that being a race horse trainer is easier than taking care of a newborn child,” she said.