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North Dakota Futurity Recap
News - Misc
Sunday, July 21, 2013

Gritty Effort

BB Stables’ Tuff Grit, Tiff Mosset, team up to take North Dakota Futurity

By Ryan Roshau, NDHP Website / Photos by Cindy Breyer

Ten years ago, Rick and Jodi Buchholz watched the best horse they ever had race wide in the North Dakota Bred Futurity at Fargo.  A longshot skimmed along the rail to beat their Strike an Image that day.  For a few heart-stopping moments on Saturday afternoon, they had to think it was déjà vu all over again.

Their unraced juvenile Tuff Grit, a son of Strike an Image, was carried wide by the rider-less Boozeinablender but despite the challenge, proved to be much the best in winning the $10,000 North Dakota Futurity by 16 lengths. TuffGritWire

“I thought it was a remarkable effort,” Rick Buchholz, who co-owns the horses with his father Rodney said in the aftermath. “Giving up all that ground to the field, going head to head with a runaway horse, all of that is a lot to overcome.”

It is hard to envision a tougher coming out party for a first time starter but the ordeal seemed smooth to a horse who has had “the look” for some time.  Buchholz hoped he had something special when the son of Orientate developed into a real looker but it wasn’t until he was sent to Wayne Slater’s barn in Belcourt that he started to think he had a racehorse. “Six weeks ago they said this horse was the real deal because he was inhaling horses in these morning workouts which are basically, mini races,” Buchholz said. “Instead of running him up in Belcourt we thought ‘let’s wait until the Futurity and take a gamble’”.

“I called Rick about three weeks ago and told him, ‘you can come and get this horse, he is ready to run at Canterbury,’” trainer Wayne Slater said. Any owner with a Minnesota-bred like Tuff Grit might be tempted to ship to Shakopee, where maiden races for state breds often go for $12,000 to $15,000.  “Despite all the good reports, I’m a bit of a realist,” Buchholz laughed. “With a first time starter anything can happen.”

And in the six furlong Futurity, anything did happen.

Within two seconds of the start, the complextion of the race changed dramatically as race favorite Boozeinablender lost her rider when a stirrup strap broke.  “I wanted to get the rail but all of the sudden here comes this horse inside of me with no rider,” jockey Tiff Mosset recalled. “As I’m trying to get on the rail, we hit.  I didn’t want to pull up my horse to stop his momentum so we just went with it.”  Boozeinablender was hell bent on staying in front and the two raced as a team down the backstretch and around the far turn while the others in the field scattered behind. “I’m thinking so many things at this point,” Mosset said, tensing up as she recalled the ordeal. “Do I use my whip to waive at this horse, should I grab it’s mane?  I thought about grabbing him and ponying him along with me.”

But as they entered the stretch, it went from drama to cliffhanger.  Boozeinablender on the inside veered out, going extremely wide, carrying Tuff and Tiff with her. “I’m thinking, the horse is going to trip me, I’m going to get thrown, and it’s going to be an epic fail,” Mosset said. And what was Buchholz thinking? “Oh my gosh, no, this cannot be happening.”

“We were racing eight or nine wide so I thought at this point it’s lose-lose because someone’s going to come up on the inside,” Mosset lamented. “But then I figured if we just stay together out here, maybe we’ll be ok because when I looked back no one else was around.”  They were more than ok, they were dominant.  The lead on the others in the race increased to 16 lengths by the time they hit the wire, Tuff Grit a neck behind Boozeinablender and his ghost rider. Classi Coyote was second followed by Joe Kid and Two Eyed Kid.  Boozeinablender was placed fifth.  

“All I could think is, this horse is for real,” Buchholz said as the Horace, ND native headed toward the winner’s circle, overflowing with acquaintances as this is their home town track. “To win it here in Fargo in front of friends and family is extra special.  We’ve won big races before but we’ve never had a winner’s circle scene like that.”TiffMomHug

And one of those family members, Cousin Tiffany was aboard the horse, beaming brightly in as they brought the horses back. “It’s extra special to have Tiffany on this horse.  We took a chance when we could’ve used a more experienced rider but she showed great poise out there.”  For Mosset, she likened the moment to ponying a horse in the Kentucky Derby this year.  “It was a real tear jerker moment,” Mosset said. “My dad was here watching me for the first time and to win it for Rick and Jodi was bigger than any ride possible, probably ever.”

Now for this talented two year-old it appears the possibilities are endless.  Not only will he be the likely favorite to return in the Derby next year, he will also continue his freshman campaign this summer.  “When I first started going with him I realized how smart and talented this horse is,” Mosset, who rides some of the nation’s best juveniles in the mornings said. “He can go to a bigger track and succeed, even in allowance and stakes races, he’s so smooth.”  For the moment, it appears a trip north is in order. “We’re thinking Winnipeg,” Jodi Buchholz said at a post-race party. “Road Trip.”

Here’s hoping the path from this point forward is a bit smoother than Saturday’s race.