Iowa's Donegal Racing Lands Three Breeders' Cup Entries
Article by The Des Moines Register; Bryce Miller. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images.
Iowa-based Donegal Racing galloped to another first for its horse racing group Monday when it was awarded a trio of post positions for this weekend's money-soaked Breeders' Cup.
The partnership, entering its seventh year, landed multiple entries into the richest weekend in sports — with an estimated $27 million at stake Friday and Saturday during 13 races.
The group with Midwest roots will compete among sheiks and multi-millionaires when Puca, Danny Boy and Finnegan's Wake break from the starting gate.
"This is the world championships of horse racing," said Jerry Crawford, a Des Moines attorney and prominent Democratic strategist who helped form the group. "There are people and horses from all over the world. It's an opportunity to prove that hard work and intense study of a competitive activity can be as important as money.
"Others put themselves in this position by owning hundreds and hundreds of horses. We own eight (in any given year). We're proud to compete with people like that with our relatively modest budget."
Puca and Danny Boy, both 2-year-olds, will run in a pair of juvenile races. Danny Boy will compete in the first race of the weekend, the $1 million Juvenile Turf at 4:25 p.m. Friday, Iowa time.
Puca, which is Gaelic for "ghost" in a cap tip to mare Boat's Ghost, is entered in the $2 million Juvenile Fillies at 2:05 p.m. Saturday. At 5:22 p.m. that day, Finnegan's Wake will run in the $3 million Longines Turf — a mile and a half on grass.
Two-thirds of Monday's post-position news buoyed confidence for Donegal owners, as Finnegan's Wake drew the No. 6 spot in a 13-horse field and Puca is No. 8 among 12. Danny Boy, who finished first, second and fourth in three career starts, is 14th of 14, however.
"That will be a difficult challenge for him," said Crawford, a founder and former managing owner of the NBA Development League's Iowa Energy. "We're pretty excited, though. We don't just have three horses -- we have three with chances to do well."
The race weekend at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., just outside of Los Angeles, will be a cash-splashed, global affair. Finnegan's Wake, for example, will run against seven horses from outside the United States.
Crawford said Donegal Racing invested $30,000 in home-bred Finnegan's Wake, which has earned more than $675,000 in his lifetime. The group paid $90,000 to acquire Puca and $260,000 for Danny Boy.
"That might sound like a lot to some, but they'll compete against horses that people paid millions for," Crawford said. "This just shows that our systems are working. We know how to select the right horses. When you see all the millionaires we're up against, that's the reason we call ourselves The Blue-Collar Gang."
The post-position draw for Puca will pump up her owners, given that the filly clocked the fastest time among 91 who worked out at the race distance Sunday.
Puca won her last race, three weeks ago at Belmont, by more than 16 lengths.
"She'll be forwardly placed in that race, so that post is good for her," Crawford said.
THIS WEEKEND'S DRAWS
Race, distance, surface: $1 million Juvenile Turf, mile on grass
Post position: No. 14 (of 14)
Iowa time: 4:25 p.m.
Of note: Finished first, second, fourth in three career starts.
Race, distance, surface: $2 million Juvenile Fillies, mile and 16th on dirt
Post position: No. 8 (of 12)
Iowa time: 2:05 p.m.
Of note: Has won almost $54,000 in debut season, finishing first, third and fifth in three starts.
Race, distance, surface: $3 million Longines Turf, mile and a half on grass
Post position: No. 6 (of 13)
Iowa time: 5:22 p.m.
Of note: Won a graded stakes race this summer at Arlington; finished second in a Group II stakes race last time out.