Saturday, April 18, 2009

Guest Blogger--Sandy James

I'm happy to welcome back Sandy James as a guest blogger today.


It’s springtime again in Indiana. Of course, we had snow flurries this week, but... In the Hoosier state, you can never count on spring and warmth to co-exist. With the arrival of April comes the opening of Hoosier Park. Yes, my friends, we’re racing horses again!

I stood in the winner’s circle for the first time this season on my first trip up to Anderson. Between the eight hours I spend dazzling kids in my classrooms, the time I devote to churning out edits, and the hours of trying to add pages to my many “works in progress,” I don’t get to see my horses nearly as often as I’d like. So to have a visit to the winner’s circle on my first trip truly made the drive to Hoosier Park worthwhile. The cherry on top of the sundae was that the winning horse was Heart’s Prince – my homebred four-year-old.

I wrote about Prince the last time I blogged for Equestrian Ink. At that time, he’d finally won his first race, and I was in hopes we would have some success with him. His two-year-old season hadn’t really been much more than a few qualifiers and some less than stellar races. That first win was the beginning of his three-year-old season, which I’m happy to say was a success. He found his way into the winner’s circle three times. Most of his earning, however, came from Prince’s constantly finding himself a bridesmaid. He finished second eight times. For a horse who seemed to act like racing was the furthest thing from his equine brain, we were pleased to see him pacing so well.

Prince is a chestnut – a typical redhead. Hot temper and passionate nature. He used to be a pain both on and off the track. Luckily, he seems to have matured. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still an ass around the track. It’s one of the reasons we keep him with a trainer who stables on a farm.
The first time this season Prince was led to the track for a pari-mutuel race, he reared enough he almost unseated our driver, Jason Dillander. And in the paddock, he doesn’t exactly wait patiently for his race. But at the farm, when he’s away from the track, he’s affectionate and easier to manage. He’s also fallen in love with our trainer’s girlfriend, Renay. She’s the only one
who can keep him calm in the paddock. Prince obviously has a crush on her.

That fire inside Prince showed itself in the race I watched. The first quarter had been slow, and Prince had been parked in second, riding the pocket behind the leader. But as they approached the half, Jason took him around the leader and started to set his own pace. That move is always a big gamble that often leads to the horse being too tired to finish strong in the stretch. I think I groaned and threw a frown at my husband who sighed in return. We both feared the race would have a very unhappy ending.

As the field rounded the last turn, Prince’s lead started to dwindle as the pack, one horse especially, closed in on him. My heart sank as I figured Prince would fade. But he didn’t. In fact, when the inside horse drew eye-to-eye with him, Prince refused to let him pass. That kind of desire to win came from his parents. They were both fantastic and tenacious competitors. Prince not only held his ground, he opened up a lead again. He won by a good length.

Heavens, how I love my little chestnut. Is it any wonder I modeled Katie’s horse – Spun Gold – in Murphy’s Law after him? Speaking of Murphy’s Law, I’m pleased to say it has done well since the ebook release last month. It’s nice to know people love to read about horses. I’ve also had a couple of great reviews of the story from Night Owl Romance and Coffee Time Romance. Look for the book to appear in print in June. My May ebook release, All the Right Reasons, takes readers back to the track to reconnect with the Murphy’s Law characters and introduce some new people and new horses.

Let’s hope this season will be just as great for Heart’s Prince as the last.

Photo by Linscott Photography

Sandy James


Ellen said...

Wonderful post, Sandy! Many congratulations to Prince---what a beautiful boy. And also congratulations to you on the success of Murphy's Law :)

Kathleen O said...

Congratulations Sandy on your win with Prince. Watching your horses go around the track is a real thrill. My aunt and uncle owned, standards too and I loved to be at the track and watching them stride to finish line, especially if they came in 1st.

One of their horses, Christmas Bonus, was a filly, who sure earned her keep. She was a bounus for them, having several 1st, 2nd's and 3rd wins for them. But I never had the honour of being in the winners circle with her, because I was never there when she ran. She sold when my uncle died. My aunt never had a lot to do with the horses, so she sold her shares in the horses.

My dad now, he was more of a thourghbred man. He loved to go to the track and handicapp the winners. I often asked him why he never owned a horse. He said he just wasn't that interested in that side of the horse racing. He never got rich, but up until the last few months of his life, enjoyed the "The Sport of Kings". We often said the "Woodbine" racetrack was his second home.

After he died, it was hard for me to go their or even watch racing on TV. But then my cousin, who's middle daughter became very interested in horses, wanted to go to "The Queen's Plate", that is our first race in our Triple Crown of Canadian Thourghbred horse racing.
My nephew wanted to go, so I said yes we'll all go. It was hard for me, as this had been a big part of his life and something that I above all, of his children and grandchildren, had shared with him. But it was a terrific day and I felt his presences their with us. And it turned out his grandson has his luck for picking winners.

I wish you good luck this season for your Prince and any other of your horses and may they be in the winners circle many times.

Sandy James said...

Thanks so much, Ellen!! I appreciate you stopping by to read my entry. :-)

Kathleen -- *hugs* Your father sounds like a great man. Thanks for sharing his story and Christmas Bonus's as well. Horses have a way of becoming like family members, don't they?

Diana Coyle said...

What a fantastic post, Sandy! I loved hearing about Prince and seeing another pic of him. What a beauty! I loved your ebook, Murphy's Law and can't wait to read your other stories too. Much success with your writing and racing passions! You're very talented and it's a breath of fresh air to read a wonderfully written book wrapped around horses.

Sandy James said...

Thanks so much, Diana! I was so thrilled with your review of Murphy's Law for Night Owl, and I hope you enjoy my other books as well! I love books about horses too! I must have read and re-read The Black Stallion a hundred times when I was little. :-)

Libby Scrivener said...

Hi Sandy!
Well - Murphy's Law just jumped to the top of my TBR list. I LOVE horses in stories.
How thrilling to watch something you bred do so well - way to go!
And thanks so much for introducing me to this most splendiferous blog!

Sandy James said...

Hi, Elizabeth! Thanks for putting me on your shelf. :-) Murphy's Law is truly a "Book of My Heart." It was my way of sharing my love of the animals and the sport with people.

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

I've always been a horse lover and that's one reason I started writing western historical romance. I haven't ridden in many years but loved it when I was young. I placed second in a writing contest in grade school with a story about a young girl and her horse. :-)
Congrats on Murphy's Law, and congrats on your horse's success. I'll have to look for your ebook! Thanks also for the great intro to this blog site! I'll definitely be back.

Sandy James said...

Hi, Jeanmarie! I'm glad you found us! I love historicals, especially westerns! I'll be looking for your stories!
I wrote quite a bit when I was younger, but I could never find time when my kids were younger. Empty nest is bliss. :-)

lainey bancroft said...

Yay, Prince. Yay, Sandy!

Murphy's Law was such a great story and I love how well you showed character growth through the relationship with the horse, Spun Gold. So cool to learn about the 'real' animal that inspired the creation of Spun Gold.

Sandy James said...

Hi, Lainey! I'm so glad you liked my book! Would you think I'm silly if I tell you that I whisper in Prince's ear before every race that he inspired Spun Gold? :-)

Cara Marsi said...


I really enjoyed your post. I don't know much about horses, but when I was a child, we had a track near our house and my parents would go to watch and bet on the trotters. I look forward to reading your print book. Good luck.

Sandy James said...

Thanks so much, Carolyn! I'm DYING for the print. Looks like my first three -- Turning Thirty-Twelve, Murphy's Law, and Free Falling -- should all hit the cyber shelves at Amazon and Barnes & Noble the beginning of June. :-)

Edie Ramer said...

Congrats on your win, Sandy! And your great reviews. Murphy's Law is a winner, too!

Sandy James said...

That's so sweet, Edie! Thanks for stopping in to read my post! :-)

Aspiring Girl said...

Congrats on the win. It's amazing that you have time for anything with your full time job, your full time other job, your family, and your horses.

I love how you know your horse is an ass, but a loveable one nonetheless.

Sandy James said...

Hi, Catalina! Thanks for the kind words! I have a great come-back about the horse being an ass and still loving him, but I just don't think my dh would appreciate it if I compared him to Prince.

Laura said...

Hi, Mom. You and Daddy match, and that's horrible.

Your favorite daughter

Sandy James said...

Hi, Laura! An early HAPPY BIRTHDAY! And of course we match. We're a pair! :-)