12/17/2010 1:49PM

Teddy's Promise gives couple a stake in the game

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. – From the start, Ted and Judy Nichols wanted to be fully involved in horse racing. When their 2-year-old filly Teddy’s Promise was foaled at Golden Eagle Farm in Ramona, Calif., in May 2008, they were on hand for the moment.

“We helped pull her out,” Ted Nichols said recently. “We get chills just watching her. She’s our first horse.”

Teddy’s Promise gave the Nichols their first win as owners at the Oak Tree at Hollywood Park meeting on Oct. 17, with a comprehensive victory by 7 3/4 lengths in a maiden race. She could give them their first stakes win in the $100,000 California Breeders Champion Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 27.

The seven-furlong stakes for 2-year-old statebred fillies will be Teddy’s Promise’s second stakes appearance, preceded by a last-place finish under jockey Joe Talamo in the Sharp Cat Stakes over 1 1/16 miles against open company at Hollywood Park on Nov. 7.

As disappointing as that race was for Nichols and trainer David Hofmans, the filly more than redeemed herself with an easy win in an optional claimer for statebreds over seven furlongs at Hollywood Park on Dec. 2, drawing off to win by 5 1/4 lengths under jockey Joel Rosario. For the California Breeders Champion Stakes, Rosario will have the mount.

“She’s very temperamental,” said Ted Nichols. “She was fighting [Talamo]. She didn’t like that.”

Teddy’s Promise has won 2 of 5 starts and $55,400. She was second in her debut at Hollywood Park in July and 10th in a maiden race at Del Mar in August. “At Del Mar, she didn’t handle the track at all,” Nichols said. “She’s a young filly. David says at 3 and 4 she’ll be much better.”

Teddy’s Promise will start in the Dec. 27 stakes in sharp form. She worked six furlongs in 1:12.20 at Hollywood Park on Wednesday, the fastest of five works at the distance.

The Nicholses, who own an avocado and citrus ranch in Oceanside, not far from Del Mar, became involved in racing through the direction of Golden Eagle Farm, one of the state’s most prominent breeding farms. “They’ve guided us,” Judy Nichols said.

Teddy’s Promise is by the late Golden Eagle stallion Salt Lake and is out of Braids and Beads, by Capote. Braids and Beads was winless in seven starts for Golden Eagle Farm in 2001 and 2002 and is a half-sister to their stakes winner General Meeting, who won 3 of 14 starts and $230,725.

Racing had always intrigued the Nicholses, and after Ted retired from operating a sales and marketing company, more time was available for the venture.

“We wanted to pull back and do something else,” Ted Nichols said.

The couple owns a commercial kennel in Orange County, which has a correlation to another of their passions – dog shows. “We’ve had dogs since the 60s and now we have the horses,” Judy Nichols said.

Their involvement in dog shows has led to travel throughout the world. Ted Nichols has served as a judge at shows in several countries, and has judged the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club show in New York. “We’ve traveled all over with our dogs,” Judy Nichols said.

Their breeding involvement includes two mares they keep at home in foal to Stormin Fever. Those foals of 2011 had better turn out well to keep up with the early progress shown by Teddy’s Promise. By the end of the year, the Nichols could be the owner of a stakes winner with Teddy’s Promise.

“We feel she’s an extraordinary horse owned by ordinary people,” Judy Nichols said.