Updated on 09/17/2011 9:44AM

A career littered with obstacles


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - To cope with disappointment.

Occasionally, things go right for a horse from the outset. He is on a smooth path to success. More often than not, however, it is just the opposite. Events are constantly occurring to throw a horse off schedule and frustrate his connections.

Windsor Castle came along smartly toward the end of his 2-year-old season. A Lord Carson colt purchased for $45,000 at a 2-year-old sale by trainer Frank Alexander, Windsor Castle won the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct that fall and was being discussed as a classic prospect. A 75 percent interest in Windsor Castle was acquired privately by Dogwood Farm.

He came to Florida to prepare but developed an abscess in one lung and was on the sidelines while his contemporaries were seeking Triple Crown honors, and for much of the rest of the season as well. He trained well as he turned 4, but a quarter crack soon put him out of action again and his career advancement was delayed.

Windsor Castle came to hand at Saratoga last summer, raced well in fall features, and returned to Florida for the handicap program at Gulfstream. He trained nicely, only to be stopped once more by a quarter crack to the left hind foot. Alexander and his blacksmith got right on it, lost only 10 days, and the acrylic patch held well. There was even time for a brief breeze before last Saturday's $100,000 Hal's Hope Handicap.

The favorites cut out a lively pace, Eibar Coa played the waiting game with Windsor Castle, and he came from last place in a competitive field of eight to win with authority. He increased his earnings to nearly $500,000.

"It set up nicely for us," Alexander said, "but he deserves credit for a solid effort. He got a great ride, too. Now we'll consider the $500,000 Donn Handicap on Feb. 22, although the field figures to be much stronger.

"Distance limitations? The pedigree says yes but his training and his disposition say no."

Another good start for Melnyks

Planning soundly and paying for quality bloodlines, Eugene Melnyk and his wife, Laura, have quietly built a powerful stable under the direction of trainer Todd Pletcher.

Statistics recently released for the 2002 season show the Melnyk stable high in the national standings with earnings of $2,633,260. This isn't a run of good fortune, either. The Melnyk stable earned $2,744,076 in 2001 and $1,551,322 in 2000.

The Melnyks and Pletcher are off to a good start in 2003 with the victory of Harmony Lodge in Sunday's First Lady Handicap for fillies and mares. Purchased at Calder's Fasig-Tipton sales for $1,650,000, Harmony Lodge, a 5-year-old mare by Hennesey, won convincingly under John Velazquez, strengthening her credentials as a broodmare prospect.

You will see more of Harmony Lodge and the Melnyk-Pletcher team in weeks to come.