If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It.

I’m not one to wish anyone in the Sport of King’s bad mojo. It just wouldn’t be right, and as a true fan, we love to watch the equine athletes participate. – The Breeders’ Cup Sprint was filled with everything we could ask from a Breeders’ Cup event and then some. He galloped out strong under the guided hand of Edgar Prado, and the detailed preparation of Maria Borell. She kept this three-year-old son of Super saver fresh and ready, and became the third lady to saddle a Breeders’ Cup winner. – She fell in love with horse racing watching Sunday Silence, the 1989 Kentucky Derby winner. Sounds like a dream come true, but on this Halloween night there was a goblin or two waiting to spoil the party.

“”My favorite words are authentic, genuine, real, and transparent,” McInvale said. “I think if we’re going to talk the talk and walk the walk, we’ve got to do it. No Lasix for us. No drugs. Just hay, oats, and lots of water,” according to the Blood Horse.com article. – James McInvale (Mattress Mack) from Houston, Texas is a true American story. He would go to any length to promote and help his chain of stores prosper. His efforts turned Gallery Furniture into one of the most successful businesses in the country. Sounds like an American dream. – I first had the opportunity to meet “Mattress Mack” at Turfway Park for the running of the Gallery Furniture Stakes.

The year was 1999, and Stephen Got Even romped home for trainer Nick Zito in the $750,000 race. Mac was brash, and always moving. He spoke to everyone, and the place was plastered with gaudy posters, signage, sweat shirts, and souvenir glasses as tradition held. – I’ve seen many big name folks walk through the door, and some were pretty interesting stories. – It was at the end of the day when I was one of the last folks walking out of the building after closing out for the day when I saw the goofiest act ever by a major sponsor. – There were three men hoisting Mack to reach a large signage poster fixed to the wall in the race book. James McInvale stood on the shoulders of his helpers and took down the sign to keep. – I just walked by with a smile thinking about how proud he was of his investment. – Immediately following, for some unknown reason the race would not be sponsored by Gallery Furniture the next season.

One of my all-time favorite “Mack-Moments” came in 2014. – “Come in and buy at least $5,000 worth of stuff and pick the winners of the NFC and AFC championship games. If both of your teams win … you get your money back.” – Well, 85 percent of the gamblers, (I mean furniture shoppers), picked both the Denver Broncos, and Seattle Seahawks (both favored to win) … costing Mattress Mack a cool $600,000. “On Sunday night, I had a ‘me and my bright ideas’ moment,” but then I realized it was a great success because it made a lot of customers happy, ” according to an article in Chron.

I guess business savvy does not carry over to the races. A day after winning the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in record time at Keeneland, Maria Borell was given her walking papers. – Laura Wohlers ( McInvales sister in-law) will assume the training duties of Runhappy, according to the Blood Horse.com. – “(Runhappy) had (filling) and heat in an ankle this morning, (and McIngvale’s racing manager Laura Wohlers) wanted to send him to the track,” Borell said on the social network. “Now she tells me I’m gone… Just went from the best day of my life to the worst day of my life.” – I guess this is how you are repaid when you ultimately stand up for the good of the horse and not agree with the owners. Ms. Wohlers is no stranger to Runhappy. An article in the Washington Post summed up the horse’s career and how the ultimate decision to land in Borell’s care started.

McIngvale’s business acumen didn’t carry over to horse racing, largely because his relationships with trainers were always rocky — even with trainers such as Baffert and Nick Zito, both Kentucky Derby winners. “The problem was with me,” McIngvale admits. “I just wanted to try things which were slightly wacky. I wanted to run the horses with no Lasix. I’d like to train them on a farm [instead of the track].” He finally put his horses under the direction his sister-in-law, Laura Wohlers, who is also the customer-service manager at his store. His fortunes at the track did not improve.

McIngvale scaled down his racing operations, but in 2013 he spent $200,000 for a yearling son of Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, and wound up getting the best horse he’s ever had. Runhappy showed great precocity as he won one of his first two starts under Wohlers’ management, but he suffered a stress fracture in his leg and needed time to recuperate. Wohlers heard from a friend about Borell and sent Runhappy to her Kentucky farm. McIngvale approved of the choice: “She was young and ambitious, and we were looking for a trainer who would do things our way.”

After Runhappy was back to full strength this past summer, Borell saddled him for two winning starts in the Midwest, and then took him to Saratoga, where he delivered his smashing performance. “It was the best day of my life — it still gives me goosebumps,” the young trainer said. The victory put Borell in the spotlight along with Runhappy, particularly after an area newspaper published a photo showing the tattoo of a racehorse that spans the entire upper portion of her back. It depicts the favorite horse of her childhood, 1989 Kentucky Derby winner Sunday Silence, in full stride.

She’s come a long way from that first Saturday in May that ignited her love of racing. Maria Borell is another casualty of “Success has a thousand fathers, and failure is an orphan.” – If not, why would they have opted for someone who took over the horse in the first place after Laura Wolhers previously trained this runner ? – This is a black-eye for the weekend, and as luck would have it Mattress Mack is back in the headlines at Ms. Borell’s expense. – Here’s an idea. Hey, how about one of the marquee trainers picking her up as assistant ? They’re always looking for quality people who get the job done. Give her a jingle and see where it goes.

 

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