(Taxed / All Photos by Holly M. Smith)
From the Horseshoe Indianapolis Media Team / Jennie Rees:
Dick Bahde was hoping he’d snagged a nice allowance horse when he claimed the filly Taxed last year out of a $50,000 maiden-claiming race upon trainer Randy Morse’s recommendation.
The retired businessman from Kearney, Neb., has yet to run Taxed in an allowance race. Instead, the now-3-year-old gray filly has justified Morse’s course of running only in stakes, with Taxed one of the favorites for Saturday’s $200,000, Grade 3 Indiana Oaks after her impressive win in Pimlico’s Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan in her last start. It was Bahde’s first graded-stakes victory and the latest former claim that Morse has developed into a stakes horse.
“I didn’t figure it would ever happen in my lifetime,” Bahde said of winning a graded stakes. “I’m 73 years old, been doing it for over 30 years. And if it took me another 30 years, I might be too tired to attend the race.
“Actually, it was a fairly dominant victory. That’s the part that shocked me the most. It wasn’t that I didn’t think she could win. But we were running against one horse considered the best 3-year-old filly in the country, and that was Faiza. And we were also running against the horse that as a 2-year-old filly was considered the best in the country. That was Hoosier Philly. So, to have our $50,000 claimer just run right by them, it was amazing. My wife and I were up on the observation platform. When I saw her make that move, I figured it would be a challenge and tough run to the finish. But it didn’t go that way. She had so much run, full of run.
“It was an experience of a lifetime…. It was just sheer joy, just such exhilarating joy to witness something like that and know that you own that horse. That’s why we do it: It’s a feeling you can’t buy.”
Taxed, who went off at double-digit odds in all her prior starts for Bahde and Morse, is the 2-1 second choice in the 1 1/16-mile Indiana Oaks. The favorite is 8-5 Defining Purpose, winner of Keeneland’s Grade 1 Central Bank Ashland before finishing seventh in the Kentucky Oaks.
Despite finishing second in Oaklawn Park’s Fantasy (G3) behind the highly regarded Wet Paint, Taxed did not make the Kentucky Oaks field under Churchill Downs’ reconfigured qualifying-points system. Plan B was the Black-Eyed Susan the day before the Preakness, where she won by 3 1/2 lengths over multiple stakes-winner Hoosier Philly, with previously unbeaten Faiza third.
“Anybody who claims a horse for $50,000 and thinks she’s going to become a graded-stakes winner, that’s stretching it,” Morse said. “The stars aligned, and we were lucky enough to get her. Dick is very deserving. He’s been in this game a long time. He doesn’t go out and buy the $300,000, $400,000, $500,000 yearlings. But he’ll claim a nice horse.”
In her first start for Bahde and Morse, Taxed had finished fourth in Oaklawn’s Year’s End Stakes won by Defining Purpose. She then was second in the Martha Washington won by Wet Paint. But after fading to ninth in the Honeybee (G3), Morse took off the blinkers, which Taxed had worn in all her prior races. The result was the big second in the Fantasy and then the Pimlico triumph.
“The blinkers are a part of it, sure,” Morse said of the equipment change. “But she’s just matured. She’s gotten bigger, stronger. She’s really becoming a nice racehorse. She’s just got ‘it.’ She’s not that big. To me she doesn’t look like a really true route horse, so to speak. But she just amazes me. In her works, she just gallops out phenomenal. I think she’d run a mile and a half.”
Rafael Bejarano has ridden Taxed in each of her races for Morse.
“She’s an amazing filly,” he said. “She’s growing up day by day and getting more mature. I’m very excited for the race.”
So is Bahde, who was raised in Kearney, Neb., about 45 miles west of Fonner Park in Grand Island.
“My father said, ‘We’re going to the races today,’ and I was 15 years old,” he recalled in a phone interview. “He said, ‘Make sure you dress well, wear a sports coat. This is a special sport, and you need to respect it.’ He let me drive – I didn’t have my learner’s permit yet, but back in Nebraska, that’s OK. We weren’t in the clubhouse; we were down on the apron with the railbirds, and we were one of them. We had our sports coats on. The thing that impressed me the most were the athletes, the horses, when they would come out in the post parade. I was fascinated with these animals. How fit they were. How beautiful they were.
“Back in those days, Fonner Park would draw 5,000 people and that was a full house. I’ve never seen people have more fun at an event. I thought, ‘Gosh, this is something I’d like to be involved with my entire life.’”
It was quite a few years before Bahde could afford to become a horse owner. Around 1980, he bought half of his dad’s one-seventh interest in a young horse purchased for $18,000.
Bahde said he was a middle manager for a Fortune 500 corporation. “Then I bought a beer wholesaler, and I ran that for many years,” he said. “Somebody stopped by one day and told me he wanted it worse than I did. I sold it. Quite honestly, it’s still a fixed-income situation. I’m retired so I have to make a lot of right decisions. I’ve got to have horses that win to be able to continue on in this business.”
Morse, who had watched the filly train, recommended claiming Taxed for the $50,000 price tag in her third career start. She won that day.
Once Morse got her in the barn, Bahde said, “Randy kept telling me, ‘This filly doesn’t train like normal fillies.’ He said, ‘There’s just something special about her.’ He loved her from the day we put a halter on her. The dialogue kept going like that until we decided we weren’t going to start her in an allowance race, we were going to start her in a stakes race. It was that New Year’s Eve stakes at Oaklawn Park, and she ran a respectable fourth. Which told us maybe we were on the right track.”
Bahde calls it “a privilege” to run in the Indiana Oaks.
“I’m thrilled to death,” he said. “She’s young and she’s smart and she’s very talented. I think she has a very bright future. Randy has done everything right, and I have no doubt he’ll continue to make very good decisions with her.”
Indiana Derby Day, the state’s biggest day of horse racing, will be complemented by numerous activities, including a Virtual Reality Jockey Station, cigar rolling station to the first 500, $600 Indiana Derby Hat Contest, $2,500 Indiana Derby Legends Handicapping Contest, and a drawing for one $3,000 Megabet across the board on the Indiana Derby. A total of eight premier races are on the program featuring purses in excess of $1.1 million.
Doors open at 10:30 a.m. with ample seating both indoors and outside on a first come first serve basis. Free parking and free general admission offered to guests of all ages on the racing side. Reservations are still available in the Clubhouse by contacting Beth Litteral at (317) 421-8801. For more information, visit the website at www.caesars.com/horseshoe-indianapolis/racing-promotions or follow the track on Twitter @HSIndyRacing.
The 21st season of live Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing extends through Friday, Nov. 17. Live racing is held Tuesday through Thursday with Saturday racing added in during the summer months. First post Tuesday and Wednesday is 2:30 p.m. Thursday racing begins at 2:10 p.m. The Summer Saturday Racing Series includes five all-Quarter Horse dates July 1, July 22, Aug. 12, Sept. 2, and Oct. 7 beginning at 10:45 a.m. Indiana’s featured event, the Grade 3 $300,000 Indiana Derby is set for 12 p.m. Saturday, July 8. For more information on live racing at Horseshoe Indianapolis, visit www.caesars.com/horseshoe-indianapolis.