(Our gal, Diamond Solitaire, loves to play around with my hat and hair. She has earned the right to do so / Selfie)

Total Day Results 10 / 3-3-4
2021 Overall 962 962 / 346-342-424
Win % of Top Pick 35.97%
Payoff% of Top 3 Picks Overall 38.53%
2021 Top Pick in the Money Overall — 627-962 65.18%
2021 Top Selection ITM / CD 207-304 68.09%
2021 Top Selections Win / CD 114-304 37.50%
“Key Horses” @ CD 30/ 17-5-1 56.67% Win / 76.67% ITM
“Key Horses” in 2021 140/ 65-30-9 46.43% Win / 74.29% ITM

On Wednesday, our “team” will journey back to the grand Indiana Grand Racing & Casino facility in Shelbyville, Ind. We will be traveling with special cargo and special dreams. Our very own Diamond Solitaire — whom we bred and raised with love and now own with the most wonderful people in the world — will be running in the “Fillies Division” of the Hoosier Breeders’ Sophomore Stakes.

If you don’t think this is important, OK. Please just turn the page. And, you can move on. No harm. No foul.

If you are still reading?

To us, this is just like running in the Kentucky Oaks. And, I am serious. So, so, so serious. To us, this is just like running in the Breeders’ Cup; at Royal Ascot; in front of millions on TV; in front of a hundred thousand screaming fans in person. To us, this is special.

To us? Diamond Solitaire is so very special.

First of all, you see, there is the story of Diamond Solitaire. If you read these pages often, you probably know the tale of this tail. If not, here’s the Cliff Notes version:

I bred my mare, Diamond Seeker, to Lori Hebel-Osborne’s and David Osborne’s stallion Majestic Harbor in a foal share arrangement about 4 years ago. We ended up with a late May foal filly, who looked just like many other late May foal fillies. A little on the small side. A little on the shy side. A little little.

But that was not to be the worst of it. Just a few days later, her mom suffered a severe bout of colic. By the time the Osborne and fillies arrived at the clinic, it was too late to help mom. She was euthanized. The baby, who had been kicked my mom in route, had sustained a broken leg.

All of a sudden, the filly had no mother or mother’s milk. She had a broken leg. And, she was standing all alone in a stall with just a bucket hanging on the door.

These are what you would call dire straits. This is what you would define as a humble beginning.

What the filly didn’t know at the time was that she was born to “our” family. And, we leave no soldier behind.

On my way back from the lake, I found — through great friends on Twitter, no less — Bill Roseberry, who had this most amazing nurse mare named Geri. At the time, she was hanging out at Coolmore / Ashford in Versailles, but had no job to do. Soon, she would be on her way to the rescue.

At the same time, Lori took up residence in the stall and tended to every need of her “baby.”

And, the good doctors at the clinic “set” the little filly’s leg and put a splint on each side.

The road ahead was never to be easy. But, then again, life never promises to be.

Over the next few months — all restricted to the stall and a tiny round pen just outside, due to the injured leg — the little filly and adopted mom Geri bonded. The two became inseparable. Literally. Figuratively. And “adopted mom” Lori was never far away, either, to give them both a helping hand.

Amazingly, our filly — appropriately named Diamond Solitaire by Lori and after her mom Diamond Seeker and the fact that she was “single” at such an early age — has grown up to be our group’s Stable Star. As a 2YO last year, she ran 5 times — with a win, a second, a third and two fourths. She was Stakes-placed in Indiana. And, she was a thrill.

Now, this year, she has run two times. A win. And, a second. On Wednesday, our filly will load into the gate — knock on wood — and face nine others in the Hoosier Breeders’ Sophomore Stakes. And, our group — which will number about 40+ on Wednesday — will all be standing, cheering, yelling and loving.

That brings us to the second part of this story.

You see…

The Stakes race is worth $75,000-added. And, it represents one of this country’s most amazing breeders’ awards programs in the entire industry. Now, Indiana is building a Thoroughbred industry of its’ own. Horses are being boarded there. Horses are being bred there. Horses are being born there. And, horses are running there.

Each horse brings economy with them, too. Jobs. Jobs that create other jobs. Other jobs that beget other jobs. Feed companies are prospering. Farriers are taking root. Transportation companies now make daily trips. Insurance companies now write policies. Backside workers now take up residence.

This past Saturday, Churchill Downs — the pinnacle of all racing in this country right now — ran a Stakes event for older fillies and mares. It was worth $100,000 in purse money. Three fillies who are likely to be in this year’s Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar were in the midst of that contest. An amazing race that was Graded Stakes quality, to be sure.

On this coming Wednesday, we get to run for $75,000-added. Maybe, if we are lucky, we can win some of it. Maybe, if she is lucky, Diamond Solitaire can write another wonderful chapter in her most amazing story. Maybe, if luck shines on us again, we can rush into a winner’s circle and celebrate life today because Diamond Solitaire fought so hard for her life three years ago.

I don’t know if our Diamond will ever be good enough to run against the likes of Bell’s the One or Sconsin. I don’t know if she could muster that kind of talent to take those gals on, or not. But truth is? It does not matter. Not one bit. Our Diamond is running in a race that is just as important to us as the one on Saturday was to those horses and connections. Just as thrilling. Just as emotional. Just as nerve-wracking. (Can you tell the palms are already a bit sweaty?)

On this coming Wednesday, Lori, David, Leigh Ann and I will rally around our “lucky” table and nervously wait for the 6th race to come. As we always do. And, we will look around at this amazing group of people — most of whom were born and raised in Indiana — who have joined our “group” and now love Diamond just as much as we do.

They are more than partners, mind you. They are family. Their families are now family. Their lives are now forever intertwined with ours. Forever more.

These are the stories that make Thoroughbred racing the best sport ever created.

These are the stories that make Thoroughbred racing so appealing and so heart-warming.

These are the stories that make us all get up in the morning and realize that we are blessed above all measure.

And, since I am working on nervous energy, here’s our picks for Indy Grand’s entire card this Wednesday:

1st: 4-1/2-6-5/3…Myopic (4) gets the nod in the lid-lifter. This 3YO son of Candy ride will get the first start for the new barn operation after he was moved from the embattled Bob Baffert earlier this Spring. Blinkers come off and the barn wins with .25% of those that fit this category. Has been working well for the return. June 5th move at KEE was solid. Look for this one to flash a little more speed than previously. My pick. Kid Shelleen (1) has run two seconds in the last three outings. Last one here was on June 3. Nearly pulled off the win over the slop that day. Should improve on a dry track and against the likes of these. One to beat. I bet the 4-1 across the board and then box those two solidly in the exactas. I will key the 4-1 over/under the rest of the numbers in two smaller units.

2nd: 1-6/2-8/3-5-4…Highcotton Justice (1) is listed at 4-5 odds on the Brisnet.com ML odds computer. And, why not? Ran once before and was nipped less than a length as the PT favorite. Barn wins with .21% of those that return off a defeat as the fan’s choice. Has been training well and the barn is winning at a .20% clip here this meet. Looks formidable. Ready for More (6) needs to be just that. Ran third last time out. But was 91/4 lengths behind our top pick in that one, too. Gets the blinkers for the first time, but may need a little jet booster to keep up, too. I bet the 1 to win/place and then key the 1 over/under all the numbers listed. More with the 6-2-8 than the rest.

3rd: 10-9-5/7-8-1/2-3/6…The first grass race of the day is planned to be run over a 1-mile flat and this baby is wide, wide, wide open. I will give the slight edge to Mizzen Ash (10), who does not get the best of the post positions to begin this fray. But this daughter of Mizzen Mast is certainly bred for this sod and won here just two starts ago. Has been right there at the wire in each of the last four outings and the blinkers certainly seemed to have aided the cause here. Kanfu (9) is another who will have to overcome a compromising starting spot. But this one has 3 wins in 13 starts and has the experience edge over the barn mate listed above. Rider has won with .44% of the last 9 mounts for this barn operation. Looks like she could be tough here, too. Strong Illusion (5) has a win in three previous tries over this course. This rider has won with .21% of the last 43 mounts for the barn and this one ran better than it looks last time out. Could be the speed to catch here. I bet the 10-9 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exactas. I will key the 10-9 over/under the 5-7-8-1-2-3 in two smaller units.

4th: 7-5/4-3-8/6-2-1…Tuckyourtaleandrun (7) returns to the dirt here and goes from a route to a sprint, too. Lots of changes for a filly who has hit the board in each of the last three outings and has been giving her all each time. Has speed. Gets a new rider here, and I think this one could help. After all, over the last 8 mounts, this one has 2 wins and 2 thirds. Nighttime Justice (5) has run only once before in the abbreviated career. Won that one by 7 here on June 7. Will face winners for the first time, but appears to be very talented, too. Trainer is having a nice meet, winning with .22% of the 32 starters so far. I bet the 7-5 across the board and then box those two in the exactas. I will key the 7-5 over/under the 4-3-8-6-2 in two smaller units.

5th: 8-1-3/5-6…Crypto Cat (8) has run two thirds in a row and looks to be improving since she was equipped with the blinkers three starts ago. Will need to find another gear nearing the wire, but she fits in this grouping. Queen Charmaine (1) goes for one of the hottest barn operations on the grounds. This trainer has a 6-2-2 record in just 14 starts, but that computes to a win percentage of .43%. Dam of this one has a winner from two starters and this will be the first start over the sod. Could improve with the surface switch. Blueskiesatnight (3) had a nice work here on June 17. Grass could be this one’s thing. Mom was Stakes-placed and has produced a sod winner. Threat at a nice price. I bet the 8-3 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exactas. I will key the 8-3 over/under the 1-5-6 in two smaller units.

6th: 8/4-9-3-1/7-6-5/10…Hoosier Breeders Sophomore Stakes — Fillies Division…This is the 11/16-mile Stakes event that will include our very own Diamond Solitaire. As you will note above, there is only one choice here for me. Only. One.

7th: 3-7/4-1-8-9/12-2/5-11…This is the third grass race of the day and another that will be contested at the flat 1-mile distance. I will give the edge to Taperinea (3) in this spot. This 3YO Tapiture filly is also entered in the Stakes above for trainer Anthony Granitz. I’m hoping, selfishly, that he opts for this spot, instead. But this one won over the grass last time out in the first attempt at sod racing. At 5-1 ML odds, I think she is a standout in this spot. Truly. I bet the 3 if she goes here, and then box the 3-7 in the exactas. I will key the 3 over/under all the numbers listed in two smaller units.

8th: 5-2-1/7-8-4/9/3…Hoosier Breeders Sophomore Stakes…Daddy’s Back (5) is my top selection here. This 3YO gelded son of Noble’s Promise broke the maiden last time out and now will face Stakes-caliber horses. I know. I know. Crazy, right? Well, I just love the way this one has responded since stretching out to the two turns and I think he will get even better with a fast track. The work coming in is spot on and the barn is winning at a .27% rate this meet with the first 22 starters. This is my “Longshot Special of the Day.” Crazy, right? Lookin at Justice (2) is another one listed at 15-1 in the ML, and I like this one, too. I can toss, at the least, two of the last four outings. They came at Churchill Downs and Oaklawn Park and against open company. In each of the other two outings, this one had some traffic issues. He won a Stakes here at 2. In 7 starts over this track, he has a 2-1-1 mark. Look for more out of this one, too, and he’s another “Longshot Special of the Day.” Nobody Listens (1) is the 7-5 ML choice and the “safer” of the picks listed above. This one goes for a solid barn operation and has a 2-1-0 mark in four previous tries here. Comes in off two very impressive wins in a row. Broke the MSW two starts ago by 13. Has the speed and will have the jump. Can they come and get him? I bet the 5-2 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exactas. I will key the top 3 numbers over/under the 7-8 in two smaller units.

9th: 7-9/6-1/5-4-8…This is a Quarter Horse event that will be contested at the ultra sprint distance of 400 yards. I will be honest. I know zero about quarter horse handicapping. But, in other days where I have visited the grand Indy Grand, I have won these events. So, why not? I go with Cfv Duchess (7). I have no idea how they come up with these names, but this one seems to have some game. Has been close in each of the first three outings. Maybe? Wanna Be a Runaway (9) is the one to beat, I think. Has been out 7 times, though, and still searching for that elusive winner’s circle. Like to come late. Chance. I bet the 7-9 and then box those two in the exactas. I will key the 7-9 over/under the 6-1-5 in two smaller units.

10th: 2/1-7/6-3/4…This Quarter Horse sprint will be cut to 330 yards and I go strong with Beach Mercedes (2). This one has not been worse than 2nd in the last 8 tries. I can even figure that out. I bet the 2 to win/place and then key the 2 over/under the rest of the numbers listed in the exactas.

Good Luck & All the Best / Gene