LQHBA Insider - By Martha Claussen September  21, 2017

WHAT WE DID ON OUR SUMMER VACATION

This is a slightly deceptive title to this month's LQHBA Insider as the very busy Louisiana Quarter Horse community is blessed with a full racing calendar and very lucrative breeding program. We decided to check in with a few of the hard-working association members to see what they have been up to between the Fair Grounds and Evangeline Downs meets.

Dr. Larry Findley

LQHBA board member Larry Findley, DVM, founded Delta Equine Center in 1983. His practice and equine emergency clinic is open seven days a week throughout the year, but Dr. Findley explains that many important goals are reached between race meets.

"Once the breeding season is over, we stay busy with surgery and cleaning up chips on the horses who have run earlier in the year," he said. "We are also doing some work on the new crop of babies and going to the sales."

Reviewing new technology for diagnosis and treatment is always on the agenda. Currently, the clinic hosts a MRI Scanner, Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber, Digital Radiology and etc. They recently announced the addition of an Open C Magnet MRI Vet-MR Grade; just one of four in the country.

Continuing education is a major priority for the veterinarians in his practice, which includes Dr. Philip Appleton and Findley's sons, Larry, Jr. and Troy.

"Each of the vets have a little time off," said Findley. "We rotate so we can have a week off, but many times it will be utilized for continuing education or to attend various equine seminars."

The programs are held at various universities and medical clinics in North America. Dr. Findley attended a course on ICSI (Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection) at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

Dr Troy Findley is a practicing racetrack veterinarian and services all four major racetracks in the state of Louisiana. He recently traveled to Buffalo, New York for an Equine Meeting.

"We are constantly trying to improve our program to be able to offer the latest cutting edge technology," Findley added.

Breeder and Farm Owner Kim Blanchet

Chris and Kim Blanchet own and operate Blanchet Farms in Ville Platte, Louisiana. With both Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses, and a range of 175-225 on the property throughout the year, there is never any down time.

Sale prepping is a big part of their business this time of year, as well as breaking yearlings.

"Each horse is different, so we are very hands on with the breaking and handling," she said.

Breeding season is over, but Kim points out that this time of year, horsemen are "shopping" for studs and the bidding can be quite competitive. Their stallion roster includes Ajs Fast Dash, Jess Elie, Jls Party Wagon, Reba Reba Corona, Tee Cos and Triple Vodka. The first crop of Tee Cos did very well this year, which meant fielding calls from many new clients.

"It's great to get the attention, but finalizing the deals are not that easy," admits Kim.

Repairs on equipment and the training track at Blanchet Farms take place between meets, and of course, there is never a day off for feeding and cleaning stalls.

"I can honestly say that in our 27 years of marriage, we have never taken a vacation," said Kim. "But we love our Friday Night football and I just enjoyed attending the "Mom's" football pep rally."

Trainer Kevin Broussard

Trainers change gears as the year progresses and as they prepare for the 46-day Evangeline Downs racing season.

Kevin Broussard has 35 horses on his farm in Abbeyville, and another 30 horses stabled in Opelousas this year. This time of year means freshening up the older runners and "breaking babies" for the 2017 racing season.

"Right after the sale, we sent them to get broke," explained Broussard. "Some of them will be pointed to the Mardi Gras at Louisiana Downs; others we will pace for later in the year."

The majority of Broussard's stock are claiming or lower level allowance horses, and he has his best results at Louisiana Downs and Evangeline.

Broussard, who had a very good fifth-place finish in the 2015 Evangeline Downs meet. One of his top performers is multiple-stakes winner, Scoopies Leaving You. Bred by Gerald D. Libersat and owned by Joel Galindo, the son of Coronas Leaving You has won 15 of his 30 career starts. He finished third in the 2016 edition of the $20,000 EVD Dash, a 220-yard sprint, which was contested on September 30.

"He's a very sound horse," said Broussard. "We just freshen him up between starts. He's always been a very good gate horse."

While Broussard cannot take time for a lengthy vacation, he enjoys short getaways with his family.

"Last weekend we went to Sycamore Point to relax," he said. "We have three kids and family time is important to us."

Jockey Damian Martinez

This has been a very productive first year on the Louisiana circuit for young rider Damian Martinez. He is the 11th leading AQHA jockey in the country with 71 wins so far in 2016. Since moving his tack from Texas, Martinez gained the respect of many trainers and finished second in both the Delta Downs and Fair Grounds Quarter Horse meets.

You won't hear the 23-year-complain about not having much down time. He rode in trials for the $427,350 Dash for Cash Futurity (G2) at Lone Star Park and was aboard fastest qualifier Eye N Capo for trainer Adrian Huitron. From there, he was able to return to his home in San Antonio and spend quality time with his wife, Bianca, and young daughter, Daila, who Martinez calls his "lucky charm". Interestingly, Damian and Bianca share the same birthday: September 27.

"It was the day before the Evangeline meet started, so I had to watch my weight," said Martinez. "Bianca ate a steak, while I had a cup of lettuce!"

Three course dinners aside, Martinez is thrilled to be riding in Louisiana this year, and is already the leader in the Evangeline Downs jockey standings.

"From the beginning, the other riders welcomed me," he said. "There is a lot of support here; very different from other circuits. It's been a great year!"

LQHBA Office Juggles Full Slate

The staff in the Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders Association (LQHBA) office in Alexandria had a very busy end of the summer. On September 16, they conducted the hip and stall drawing for the 2016 LQHBA Fall Mixed Sale and will send catalogs out the first week of October.

Michelle Hatwig and Sonya Melder represented LQHBA at the Heritage Place Sale in Oklahoma City. The ladies manned a booth, visited with many sale attendees to promote the LQHBA Yearling and Fall Mixed Sales as well as the rewarding breeding and racing program in Louisiana.

"This is also a time of year when we look much closer into all of our stats and numbers trying to find ways to improve the association and benefit our membership," said Tony Patterson, LQHBA's executive director. "The Fall Mixed Sale and our Breeders Futurity and Derby on November 19th are definitely a major focus this time of year"

The upcoming LQHBA Board Meeting will take place on Wednesday, October 5 at 10:30 am in the Prefunction Room (Event Center) at Evangeline Downs in Opelousas. All members are invited to attend and offer their input on future yearling sales. The Yearling Sale discussion will begin at approximately 3:00 pm, following the conclusion of the board meeting.

Congratulations to Announcer Michael Chamberlain

Finally, Michael Chamberlain, the voice of Evangeline Downs, definitely had a winning accomplishment during his down time! He and his wife, Sarah, moved into their new home in Lafayette this summer and announced that they are expecting their first child! The new addition to the family is due in March.

The clear message from this wonderful cross-section of the Louisiana racing industry is that they had no complaints regarding the busy schedule. Louisiana racing and breeding is thriving and each individual in this feature, and so many more, are proud to be part of it!

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The LQHBA Insider is a monthly feature written by Martha Claussen for www.lqhba.com. She served as publicity director at Sam Houston Race Park for ten years. She continues to be active in writing, fan education and Quarter Horse racing publicity in Texas, Louisiana and other regions in North America.