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From ’rock bottom,’ One climbing with Trigger Warning

Photo: Courtesy of John Engelhardt
Owner Jim Thompson always shows up when his prized 3-year-old colt, Trigger Warning, runs “all around the country.” There were races everywhere from New Mexico to Louisiana — under three trainers’ care — before the Ohio resident Thompson paired the son of Candy Ride with a home state conditioner.

Since then, Michael Rone, a trainer on a lengthy journey of his own, has brought the best out of Trigger Warning, the former $6,000 auction purchase who was a head away from winning last Saturday’s $500,000 Indiana Derby.

“I don’t hide nothing,” Rone said, “because my past performances make me the man that I am today.”

A trainer now for more than a decade, and a blacksmith before that, Rone said he’s “hit rock bottom twice” due to alcoholism. In a tale familiar to racing — think of the Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day — Rone credits finding his faith for helping him pick up the pieces.

He also hopes others can learn from it.

“The good Lord above’s got a handle on this outfit,” said Rone, who’s on pace for his most lucrative year ever, already with mounts having earned in excess of $450,000 from 44 starts, according to Equibase. All of last year, Rone’s runners tallied $617,000 in 117 starts.

The development of Trigger Warning — he also ran third at lofty 86-1 odds in the $500,000 Ohio Derby — has certainly helped.

“He expects a lot of courtesy and respect amongst the team,” said Thompson, who campaigns horses under the Brinley Enterprises name. “I’m sure in some way that is also affecting the animals. I believe that a positive energy around them and God having a hand in it is part of this.”

But you can’t chalk all of this up to divine intervention.

Kim Williams, whose Fairwinds Farm campaigned the filly Indian Ink from 2007-2011, had never heard of Rone before a veterinarian recommended him. Indian ink was a “rogue horse,” fractious to the point where another trainer suggested Williams put her down due to the dangers she caused around the barn.

“She had a wide eye, and everybody thought she was just crazy,” Williams said. “I took the horse to Michael, and about a week later, he says, ‘Do you mind if I run this horse?’

“…Hell, she won by 10 lengths.”

Indian Ink went on to total $288,000 in earnings with multiple stakes wins.

From southern Illinois, Rone grew up riding barrel horses, then later worked for top blacksmiths at Churchill Downs. He says there, “When those old boys were talking, I was listening. I was around the elite of the elite.”

Also in his barn is 4-year-old True Cinder, his top all-time earner, but much of Rone’s success has come from training Ohio-breds at a lower level. He has about 30 horses at the track and another 10-15 on his farm.

Rone continues to shoe his own horses and also rides them in the mornings.

“He does it all,” Williams said. “He goes and buys his own hay and straw.”

Thompson, Trigger Warning’s owner, credits Rone with changing up the training regimen for his colt, giving him long gallops rather than focusing on sharp breezes. Connections “are comfortable right now in this class,” running Midwestern derbies, but Thompson isn’t ruling out bigger spots for a horse — and trainer — on the rise.

Simply, Thompson said, “I’ve got to follow Mike’s lead.”

Congratulations to Brinley Stables…

Congratulations to Brinley Stables and their outstanding colt #6 Trigger Warning on a very game 3rd place finish in the Grade III $500,000 Ohio Derby beaten a length and nose. This colt was selected and purchased by Big Oak Farms out of the 2016 Keeneland September sale. Even a 10% share on a 3rd place finish isn’t too shabby.

Congratulations to our client, Brinley Stables

Brinley Stables-1965413040436491-4718998946003812352-n
Brinley Stables
Brinley Stables

Congratulations to our client, Brinley Stables, on the win tonight by their star colt TRIGGER WARNING in the $100,000 Tom Ridge Stakes at Presque Isle Downs in PA. This nice Candy Ride colt was selected and purchased by Big Oak Farms out of the 2016 Keeneland September sale.

First-Time Pinhooker Hits Book 5 Paydirt

Tony Cummins (left) and friend John O’Herlihy at Keeneland where Cummins sold a Quality Road colt for $95,000 Sept. 20

Tony Cummins of Boston
sold $5,000 weanling for $95,000 September 20, 2017

A self-professed “horse fanantic” who decided to take a chance in the horse business hit paydirt Sept. 20, selling a Quality Road  yearling for $95,000 that he privately paid $5,000 for last year.

Boston native Tony Cummins bought the colt from Aaron Loden and Tracey Caudill of Watershed Equine. The colt, out of the stakes-placed Bold Executive mare On the Podium, was bred by Sienna Farm and was a $1,500 Keeneland November sale weanling (purchased by Big Oak Farm). The colt was boarded and prepped for the September sale at Watershed.

“I did a little research and I really liked Quality Road, so I got the horse checked out and the horse looked good, so I took a chance,” Cummins said. “Quality Road stands at Lane’s End, so I called the farm and luckily they looked at the horse and liked what they saw and they said they’d consign it.”

Michael Neatherlin signed the ticket for $95,000 for the colt consigned as Hip 2987.

Cummins became quite attached to his first purchase.

“You worry in case they get hurt, but everything has worked out,” he said.

The Irishman, who works for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union, also named the colt Father Bryan.

“The horse is named for a very good friend of mine who is a pastor in Boynton Beach, Fla.,” the 56-year-old Cummins said. “We’ve been close for 30 years.”

​Cummins said he’ll return in November to scour the grounds for another weanling.

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