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Ford California Juvenile Challenge

September 1, 2006     E-mail this page to a friend!

David and Leah Nelson's Caughtmezoomin takes Ford Juvenile Challenge
(photo by Los Alamito Photo)
LOS ALAMITOS RACE COURSE, CYPRESS, CA... It would have been understandable if David and Leah Nelson of Turner, Oregon had stopped breeding Quarter Horses just a few years after they first became involved with the breed back in the late 1960s.
"The first six babies that we bred died because of one reason or another," said Leah Nelson.
"One of them colicked, another one was injured, and so it went," added her husband. "It was a myriad of things. It came a point where we just said to ourselves, 'what are we doing this for? '"
More than 30 years since the couple first asked themselves that question, the Nelsons were celebrating in the winner's circle after their homebred Caughtmezoomin gave them one of the most important wins of their careers as owners in Friday's $37,080 Ford California Juvenile Challenge at Los Alamitos.
Ridden by Alex Bautista and trained by Jimmy Glenn Jr., Caughtmezoomin made no mistakes in the 350-yard race, holding off Henry Smith's Underneath It All by a neck while covering the distance in :17.74. The win gives the Shazoom gelding a starting berth in the Grade 1 Ford Juvenile Challenge to be held at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas on November 11.
"Can somebody please pinch me so that I know that I'm not dreaming," Leah said as she was being presented with the trophy for this race.
"Why did we keep breeding and raising horses?" David said. "It's worth it - that's why. It's given us a lot of fun and excitement and that's what it's all about. We've enjoyed it so much over the years, breeding the babies, raising the babies, watching them grow, watching them race and seeing how they perform. I grew up reading about Los Alamitos. I remember as kid I would read about Go Man Go's exploits in a Western Horsemen's magazine column named 'Down the Straightaway.' My goal was to win some big races at Los Alamitos.
"We're small breeders" he added. "We only have two mares. We've had as many as five mares but we've cut that number in half and instead we look for quality mares."
The Nelsons keep their horses at their 22-acre home in Turner.
"We get frozen semen shipped direct to the farm and if the shipment comes by airplane in the middle of the night, I go get it," he said. "The vet and I take care of the rest from there."
Caughtmezoomin, who earned $18,540 for winning this race, is out of the Strawfly Special mare Caughter Inthe Straw. She won four of 10 races, made about $28,000 and won the Grade 3 Far West Futurity.
"We bred her a few times before but it was the cross back to Dash For Cash /Takin On The Cash blood with Shazoom that really worked," he added. "We also own a Holland Ease mare named Copes Hope, who is out of Nosey Devil. Nosey Devil ran second by a nose to the great Higheasterjet here at Los Alamitos."
Parents of three children and eight grandchildren, the Nelsons own and operate a public affairs business in Salem, Oregon. "We do legislative lobbying," he explained, with his resume including being a longtime lobbyist for the grass seed industry. "We also lobby on behalf of Portland Meadows."
The Nelsons have kept their horses with trainer Jimmy Glenn Jr. for more than 15 years. "Jimmy was a leading rider in the Northwest, so when he started training we went to him," he added. "That was back in 1991 and as he's grown up and matured, he has really blossomed into a solid horseman. He has a keen eye for a horse and he's become a very complete trainer."
Glenn Jr. may have done his best training job ever with Caughtmezoomin, who began his career with a victory but then lost three consecutive starts. He broke his losing streak with a victory in the trials before delivering his flawless effort in the final.
"This horse was squirrelly," David Nelson said. "He had the fastest time (in the April 9 trials) to the Pot 'O Gold Futurity and had about a half-length lead at the halfway point of the final. The jockey remembered that the horse had ducked in at about that same spot in the trials so he hit him left handed as he was approaching that same spot in the final. Caughtmezoomin reacted by going almost all the way out to the rail. It was just greenness. He's really improved here. He likes the lights, he likes the atmosphere and he loves the surface."
"He came up to this race better than in any of his previous races," the trainer added. "We'll point him to a stakes race here before sending him to Lone Star during the first or second week in October. We'll send him to trainer Guy Hopkins' barn up there."
Trained by Lindsey Frahm, Underneath It All earned $7,416 for running second. A filly by Heza Fast Man, she's now hit the board in five of six career starts. Snowbound Angel, Fleeting Touch, Chantell Corona, Kiptys First Kiss, Da Edge, Snowbound Lady Bug, Royal Heights and Hot As Diamond completed the field.