A local group has made a foray into horse racing and it paid off with a recent win at Oaklawn.
Jackrabbit Thoroughbreds, a company headed by Gary Elmore of Lonoke, were the victors in the fourth race at Oaklawn on Feb. 10. The mile event was for older $5,000 claimers.
Seven-year-old Sleeve was claimed by trainer Chris Richard for Elmore’s company after a win at Remington Park in Oklahoma City in December.
Sleeve’s first start for Jackrabbit Thoroughbreds was Jan 19 at Oaklawn, where it ran fifth.
"We had been looking for one all fall," Elmore said recently. "This one came up and Chris Richard saw it and he claimed for us. We had him shipped to Oaklawn."
Elmore said Richard worked with Sleeve for a couple of weeks and put blinkers on him and said it helped in the win Feb. 10. He paid $9 win, $4.80 to place and $3.80 to show.
The purse for the race was $15,500 and it was also a claiming race. Jackrabbit Thoroughbreds received 60 percent of the purse.
The win was Sleeve’s only win for Elmore as he was claimed by Cody Autrey of Arkansas-bases Lucky Dog Stables.
According to Wikipedia, a "claiming race in thoroughbred horse racing is one in which the horses are all for sale for more or less the same price (the ‘claiming price) up until shortly before the race."
Elmore said he has wanted to do horse racing for a long time.
"Dad and I used to go to the track all the time," Elmore said, referring to his father Wayne Elmore, who died Dec. 13, 2012. "We always talked about how we needed to get a horse someday. I did get to tell him that we had bought a horse because he was in on our group. That is something I enjoyed being able to do. I know he was there [Feb. 10] but he just wasn’t there in body."
Jackrabbit Thoroughbreds, LLC is comprised of Elmore, who is the managing partner, and Stephen Parker, Drew Parker, Johnny Washburn, Lloyd Kick, Steele Westphale and Robert Ryberg.
Elmore said watching Sleeve race and win at Oaklawn was like it was when he was playing sports growing up.
"I always compare everything to athletics," he said. "It’s the feeling I would have had when we were playing in all those big-time championship games. I had butterflies before the race. And after winning, it was a euphoric feeling that I haven’t felt in a quite a while."