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Winning Races For Veterans


Beneath the surface of many races there lies a story that sometimes transcends what just took place on the racetrack, a story within a story that speaks more about humanity than about horses.

Take Friday night’s fifth race, a five-furlong maiden sprint on the turf, nine horses vying for the first win of their careers. Certainly nothing earth-shaking there.

Yes, there was a heart-warming scene in the winner’s circle when Keagan and Maeve Dougherty cheered the winner, a filly named Astral Favor, high-fiving their grandfather Marvin Boyd, a partner in the horse with trainer Joe Merrick.

The partnership, Remount Thoroughbreds, gets its name from the Remount Foundation, established in conjunction with Colorado State University to assist servicemen and women and their families with PTSD and other service-related issues.

Boyd owned a car dealership in Colorado Springs, home to the U.S. Air Force Academy, Peterson Air Force Base and the U.S. Army Department. Surrounded by numerous military related establishments, it is difficult to escape the realities of service related subjects such as PTSD and wounded warrior stories.

Boyd and Merrick became kindred spirits after they met in this enterprise to assist whatever way they might, in this case by connecting horse racing with raising funds to help struggling veterans and their families.

Boyd has four horses with Merrick at this point, a little more than a year after putting the idea together. Ten percent of Remount Thoroughbreds’ winnings go directly to assist wounded vets and their families, but the publicity generated by this partnership sometimes attracts far more.

“A group heard about what we are doing and donated the proceeds from a benefit they held to our foundation, $40,000.” Boyd said.

Boyd took a flight on Friday from Colorado Springs, Colo., to attend the race. His daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren reached the winner’s circle steps ahead of him.

“Well that makes the plane ticket hurt less,” he joked as he greeted them. It also raised a few more bucks for a veteran or family member somewhere in need.


The daily double on the card took on a whole new meaning, connected as it was to rider Jake Samuels, who rode the winning quarter horses in the first two races, both trained by Bob Johnson.

Samuels is attempting to make his mark here for the first time this year and has kept a sense of humor about breaking into a new environment.

It so happens he rode the winning ostrich on Extreme Day this summer, accomplished by simply staying on his mount, the only rider to do so.

He laughed about it that day, saying that it was nice to win on a bird since he hadn’t been doing it very often on horses.

After taking the double on Friday, he cracked about picking up his fourth and fifth wins of the meet, adding, “oh, make it six if you include the ostrich.”

There was more associated with his wins on Friday, of course.

A fellow rider called out to him as he made his way back to the jockeys lounge after the second win. “Way to go,” he said.

“Yeah,” Samuels responded, “it’s called getting a paycheck.”