Saturday, December 29, 2012

Danielle Ballou, Aspiring Horsewoman

A Tampa Bay Downs insider’s opinions, observations and
reflections about their favorite sport


Despite being only 13, Danielle Ballou played a role in one of the meet’s early success stories. At the Ocala Breeders’ Sales June Two-Year-Old & Horses of Racing Age Sale, Danielle picked out a bay filly from the consignment of Southern Chase Farm for her father, construction executive Steve Ballou. Her opinion was confirmed by bloodstock agent Marette Farrell, and Dad signed the sale ticket for $42,000. Now owned by Steve Ballou, Harriet Waldron and partners, and trained by Joan Scott, Cor Cor is 2-for-2, including a scintillating score in the $75,000 Sandpiper Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Dec. 1 under jockey Scott Spieth. Cor Cor’s time of 1:10.02 for six furlongs was a stakes record. The daughter of 1997 champion sprinter Smoke Glacken, out of a mare by 1986 2-year-old champion Capote, is entered in the Grade III Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream on Jan. 1. Cor Cor is named after Danielle’s older sister, Corri. Danielle cares for two retired Thoroughbreds at the Ballou home, riding them on trails at the end of her street.



HOMETOWN: Tarpon Springs, FL.

BEST HORSES EVER OWNED/SEEN: Cor Cor, of course, is the best horse I’ve ever been a part of. I saw (2011 Preakness winner) Shackleford in his first race as a 2-year-old at Keeneland, when one of our horses, Fifth District, finished ahead of him by a nose. And I was at Gulfstream to watch one of our horses run when (Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic winner) Royal Delta finished second in the Sabin Stakes to Awesome Maria.

HOW I GOT STARTED IN RACING: My dad and my grandfather, Ron Ballou, bought a horse named Who’s There.

MY BIGGEST INFLUENCES: In horse racing, Joan Scott and her assistant, Aldana Gonzalez. They are really good with the horses, know what is best for them and care for them deeply. And Marette Farrell – I love going to the sales with her.

ONE CHANGE I WOULD MAKE TO RACING: Ban the use of whips. I think if everyone didn’t use whips, it would just make the jockeys work harder.

MY FAVORITE SPORTS TEAM: None, but I played soccer with the West Florida Premier and currently play volleyball for the Pinellas Heat.

NO. 1 ON MY BUCKET LIST: Go to the Kentucky Derby.

FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT TAMPA BAY DOWNS: I like Matt & Tanya’s ice cream downstairs in the grandstand, and the turf course is really nice.

FAVORITE TV SHOW/MOVIE: The Hunger Games and Secretariat.

ADVICE TO SOMEONE STARTING IN RACING: Be confident around the horses and do what it takes to make them happy. Pay a lot of attention to them!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

C.C. Lopez, Jockey

A Tampa Bay Downs insider’s opinions, observations and reflections
 about their favorite sport

Charles “C.C.” Lopez was born to be a jockey. His father Carlos Lopez, Sr., who lives in Hollywood, Fla., rode for more than 40 years in the United States and Puerto Rico. Three brothers were jockeys; the best-known, Carlos, Jr., remains active in Maryland. And C.C.’s sons David and Erick are former jockeys who currently gallop horses. A mid-Atlantic fixture, Lopez rode his first winner in 1979, capturing the Meadowlands riding title the same year as a teenager. He has ridden more than 4,000 winners and his mounts have earned more than $86-million. Among his best-known horses are multiple-graded stakes winner Gottcha Gold, who was second under Lopez in the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile; Valid Video; Gators N Bears; and Key Lory.

HOMETOWN: Brooklyn, N.Y.

BEST HORSE EVER RIDDEN: Gottcha Gold. Besides finishing second to Corinthian in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, we won three Grade III races: the Salvator Mile and Philip H. Iselin Breeders’ Cup at Monmouth and the Skip Away at Gulfstream.

HOW I GOT STARTED IN RACING: My dad was a jockey, so I always thought I would ride. The only other thing I wanted to do was be an astronaut.

MY BIGGEST INSPIRATION: My father has always been my idol. He accomplished great things in his career, and I always admired what he could do on a race horse. After he won the biggest race in Puerto Rico, he became a star overnight.

ONE CHANGE I WOULD MAKE TO RACING: Do more to promote it at both the national and local level.

MY FAVORITE SPORTS TEAM/ATHLETE: Thoroughbred racing and my father.

NO. 1 ON MY BUCKET LIST: Race in a NASCAR event. I’ve done a lot of quarter-mile racing at Englishtown Raceway Park in New Jersey, and I have a Pontiac Trans Am 12-second drag racer. I also own a 1985 Cadillac Eldorado and I’ve restored a 1962 Fleetwood.

FAVORITE TV SHOW: Star Trek. Growing up, Captain Kirk was my hero.

FAVORITE THING ABOUT TAMPA BAY DOWNS: The turf course. There is nothing wrong with the dirt course, but the turf is a real nice surface to ride on.




Saturday, December 15, 2012

Joan Scott, Trainer

A Tampa Bay Downs  insider’s opinions, observations and
reflections about their favorite sport

Before going out on her own in 2000, Joan Scott galloped horses or worked as an assistant for top trainers Bud Delp, Elliott Walden, Carl Nafzger and Nick Zito. Racing has given her an opportunity to travel extensively, and she worked at such prestigious sales as Deauville in France and Newmarket in England. Scott was a co-owner and trainer of Dr. Zic, a filly who won the Grade I Vinery Madison at Keeneland two years after capturing  the Sandpiper Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in her second career start. Scott won this season’s Sandpiper on Opening Day with Cor Cor, a filly she trains for Steve Ballou and Harriet Waldron.

HOMETOWN: Penn Laird, Va.

BEST HORSE EVER OWNED/TRAINED/RIDDEN: I owned and trained Grade I winner Dr. Zic and trained Grade II winner Freefourinternet, who I ran in the 2003 NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita. Also, talk about things coming full circle: Dr. Zic is in foal to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Unbridled’s Song, a horse I galloped for Nick Zito.

HOW I GOT STARTED IN RACING: I went to Kentucky to work with Saddlebreds and got a job working the Keeneland November Sale and breaking Thoroughbred yearlings for Margaux Stud. I loved the opportunities the sport provides.

MY BIGGEST INSPIRATION: My dad – he was kind, honest and always had faith in me.

ONE CHANGE I WOULD MAKE TO RACING: Create national uniform medication rules.

MY FAVORITE SPORTS TEAM/ATHLETE: My horses, the members of Joan Scott Racing!

NO. 1 ON MY BUCKET LIST: To travel to Machu Picchu in Peru.

FAVORITE MOVIE: Raising Arizona (1987).

FAVORITE THING ABOUT TAMPA BAY DOWNS: It is a great surface to train on. The horses relax here, and so do I!

ADVICE TO SOMEONE STARTING IN RACING: Educate yourself. Work hard, ask questions and keep an open mind. Pay attention to what successful owners, trainers and jockeys do, and learn from it.