Julie Gomena, who trains G1 Colonial Cup winner Balance the Budget for Stonelea Stables LLC, wanted the horse so badly that she put in a claim for him four times before she finally got him in 2013.
It was a good claim, as Balance the Budget won his first G3 stakes in Aiken in March, 2015, won another stakes in Camden in 2017,won the G2 David L. (Zeke) Ferguson Memorial at Great Meadow last fall and then on March 31 won the G1, $150,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup Stakes in Camden.
"We claimed him at Churchill Downs in 2013 as a 4-year-old," said Gomena. "That was the fourth time we'd tried to claim him. My husband, Robert Bonnie, saw him run at Saratoga and thought he was a lovely type. My husband is always looking for horses to claim, so we joke about it and call him Bonnie Bloodstock.
BALANCE THE BUDGET was running in claiming races, and Gomena claimed him out of a $16,000 claimer.
"At that point, he was scrawny, and he had no appetite," said Gomena. "He was an unhappy horse. But through the years, he's blossomed."
"He's a nice type," said Gomena. He's a classic thoroughbred as far as his conformation goes. He's always been a kind horse, but now he has a personality."
In the Colonial Cup, Gomena wanted jockey Mark Watts to get out well in front, and he did just that, opening up leads of 23 to 30 lengths through the race.
The field started to close in on Balance the Budget three fences from home, but he held on.
"The Colonial Cup was the longest race he's ever run in," said Gomena. "He had never run 2 3/8 miles. He's been running shorter distances. The more jumps and the shorter the distance, the better. He needs to get out in front because he has no sprint at the end. So our tactic worked in the Colonial Cup."
Balance the Budget beat Rosbrian Farm's Zanjabeel (GB), trained by Ricky Hendriks and ridden by Ross Geraghty, by 6 1/4 lengths, with Edith R. Dixon's Schoodic, trained by Jack Fisher and ridden by Willie McCarthy another 2 1/4 lengths back in third.
"We're hoping to go to the Gold Cup, but he can't run on soft ground, so we'll have to wait and see," said Gomena. "I'm thinking about Saratoga, maybe the first G1, the A.P. Smithwick. But it's hard for him at Saratoga, without that last fence. He just doesn't have that sprint for the end."
At Saratoga, they took out the last fence a couple of years ago to prevent falls as tired horses tried to close for the win over the fence in the stretch, right in front of the stands, so now the last fence is on the backside, leaving a very long run to the finish, which helps the speedier horses with a good ability to sprint at the end.
"We bought him as a yearling for Seth Klarman," said Patti Milleer of EQB. "He has been durable, fast, and a multiple stakes winner over jumps. He had a tremendous cardio, and was a 9/7 physical."
"I have always been amazed that none of the steeplechase people ever realized how important a great cardiac profile was to their success at distances over 2 miles" said Miller.
JONATHAN SHEPPARD and Ricky Hendriks each won two races at the Carolina Cup meet.
Sheppard saddled Hudson River Farms' Iranistan, ridden by Darren Nagle, to win the first race on the card, the $30,000 Raymond G. Woolfe 4-year-old restricted hurdle at 2 miles.
Iranistan won by 11 1/2 lengths over Riverdee Stable's Down Royal, trained by Kate Dalton and ridden by Bernard Dalton.
In the $40,000 Life's Illusion filly and mare hurdle stakes at 2 miles, Sheppard owned and trained both the first and second placed horses, winning with Stalled, ridden by Gerard Galligan, who was just a neck over his stablemate, Sarah Joyce (Ire), ridden by Geraghty.
Hendriks saddled Rosbrian Farm's Sail Ahoy, ridden by Geraghty, to win the $30,000 Dale K. Thiel Sport of Kings Maiden hurdle by a neck over Leonard J. Rubacha's Vitium, ridden by Richard Boucher.
In the Training Flat race, Sixty Five (Fr), owned by Rosbrian Farm, trained by Henriks and ridden by Geraghty, won by 2 1/2 lengths over Woodslane Farm's Overwhelming, trained by Fisher and ridden by Sean McDermott.
Richard Valentine saddled Magalen O. Bryan't Personal Start, ridden by Barry Foley, to win the $70,000 Carolina Cup Sport of Kings Novice Hurdle Stakes at 2 1/2 miles by 1 1/4 lengths over Robert Kinsley's No Wunder (GB), trained by Elizabeth Voss and ridden by Jack Doyle.