Tim Glyshaw continued…
A Tale of Two Horses
Bullards Alley was the underdog. The hammer fell for blueblood pocket change when he went through the ring. He raced for a $30,000 tag first time out, cracked a shin, and was off until 3. When he came back, Glyshaw noticed the longer he ran, the better he ran. His breakthrough came in the 2016 Louisville Handicap (G3T) going 1 1/2 miles on the Churchill lawn.
"We had no idea how good he was, but when he won the grade 3 here, we knew we'd just have to shop for those races and find races that were 1 1/2 miles or longer," Glyshaw recalled. "They don't write allowance races like that, so you have to take your chance in stakes."
Bucchero was different. His $43,000 price tag was the most his owners, Ironhorse Racing Stable, ever spent. Managing partner Harlan Malter knew the son of Kantharos was quality from the start, and Bucchero proved it, debuting for trainer Mike Trombetta with a runner-up finish in restricted stakes company, followed by a 5 3/4-length maiden score. He won or ran second in six of his first seven races, but Trombetta was based in Maryland at Fair Hill Training Center, and his owners wanted to keep Bucchero in Indiana to take advantage of the state-bred program instead of shipping for every race. So they sent him to Glyshaw.
"The Indiana program developed him into the horse he is now," Glyshaw said. "Going out and winning, gaining confidence, and winning in different ways—it made him what he is today."
Bucchero won or placed in stakes on dirt, turf, and synthetic. He won sprinting and routing. Along with 11 victories, he finished in the money in 20 of 30 starts. He left graded stakes winners like Lady Aurelia, Marsha, Mongolian Saturday, and Disco Partner in his dust en route to Indiana Horse of the Year honors. He punched his Breeders' Cup ticket two years in a row with wins in the Woodford Stakes Presented by Keeneland Select (G2T), a race he took in 2017 at odds of 26-1. This year he was the favorite.
Bucchero's Woodford win and the Canadian International score by Bullards Alley came last fall in a whirlwind eight-day span. Suddenly the man who'd just picked up his first top-level win was Breeders' Cup-bound with two contenders. Unlike 2013, when he took graded stakes-placed Taptowne to the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1T) only to have the colt vet-scratched with a bruised hoof on race day, Glyshaw sent out Bullards Alley to a serviceable sixth in the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1T), while Bucchero wound up fourth in the Turf Sprint, with little more than a length separating him from a win. They came home from California with their heads held high.
Five months later, Bullards Alley was racing in the April 21 Dixiana Elkhorn Stakes (G2T), when everything went bad.
"He basically shattered his hind ankle," Glyshaw said. "He got bumped by another horse, and Corey Lanerie said he just landed on his hind ankle wrong. I was on the ambulance with him, and I'm the one who told the owner we had to put him down.
"We would have spent any amount of money to save him. Any of us would have gone in debt to save him. But when the state vet and our vet and everybody else tells you he'd be in pain the rest of his life, there's no point. And even if they could initially save him—a month, three months down the line—he would have probably died of laminitis anyway and just suffered all that time for what? Just so we could see him? That's sort of selfish to keep a horse around for that, because he's not going to have any quality of life."
Time marched on, with Bucchero prepping for a run in the May 4 Twin Spires Turf Sprint Stakes Presented by Twinspires.com (G3T). Glyshaw worked hard to hold it together.
"We came back from Keeneland, and a few days later I had to work Bucchero," the trainer recalled. "That was the scariest work I've ever had to watch.
"It makes you extra sad, because the horses put all their trust in you as a trainer to watch out for them, and things in races happen like that and you just can't do anything for them. If any of our horses are sore, we take care of them. If any of our horses are sick, we take care of them. But when an accident happens in a race, there's nothing you can do about that. It's out of your hands.
"I've never been a parent, but I imagine it's a lot like watching something happen to your kid that you can't control. Basically that is it for us, because I have no kids, so these are my kids."
An outpouring of support from the racing community and fans on social media helped ease Glyshaw's pain. So did Bucchero, who took them to Royal Ascot a month later and finished a respectable fifth in the King's Stand Stakes (G1).
"Tim is as stoic and poker-faced as they come, but I think the fact Bucchero existed, and he could wake up the next morning and look forward to training him, has helped a lot," Malter said. "And I think having the goal of returning to the Breeders' Cup all year at least helped him move forward."
"Not many horses run in the Breeders' Cup (in) consecutive years, and we're really proud of that with Bucchero," Glyshaw said. "Obviously, we wish we could have had the opportunity with 'Bullard.' That's what makes it special, that Bucchero could make it all the way back, because the one that went there with him last time isn't around anymore to have a chance to do it. And people really cared about 'Bullard.' I never knew so many people cared. He was a workmanlike horse, and everybody really loved how much he tried."
These are things that make Glyshaw proud: Taking a horse that has been undervalued and helping bring out its true worth, succeeding with Indiana-bred horses in open company, and training his runners to campaign with above-average longevity. You might say he understands the underestimated.
Up By The Bootstraps
The river town of Evansville, Ind., isn't exactly known for producing top horsemen. That distinction goes to Lexington—"The horse capital of the world"—some 3 1/2 hours east on I-64. Growing up in the Hoosier State, Glyshaw used to head across the Ohio River to watch races at Ellis Park. That was the extent of his experience until he graduated from Indiana University in 1992, spent two years teaching, and realized he wanted something more. He was watching the 1995 Kentucky Derby (G1) when an advertisement played for an internship program at Taylor Made Farm. He applied immediately.
"I'd always loved horses, but I didn't think there was any future in it for me, since I didn't grow up around them," he said. "I learned a ton in the Taylor Made internship program, but the whole sales scene—people getting excited because we sold a horse for a million dollars—just wasn't for me. I wanted to be where the end product happened, which is at the racetrack."
Few thought he'd ever get here, this Indiana boy with no pedigree. But one man, fellow Evansville native John Griffith, knew what it's like to pull yourself up by the bootstraps. Griffith, an accountant for the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, once cold-called then-Keeneland president Bill Greely and offered to work for free in exchange for experience (he got the job, and a paycheck). Introduced to the young man who was trying to make it from the ground up, Griffith reached out to a friend—veteran trainer Bob Holthus, who happened to need a hand.
The barn crew took bets on how long Glyshaw would last last when he rolled up to Barn 32 on the Churchill backside in his Dodge Stealth wearing khaki shorts and a polo top. Holthus was in for the longest, at a week. Glyshaw stayed 7 1/2 years. He moved from hotwalker to groom to assistant in an eight-month period, when Holthus decided to send a string to Hoosier Park.
"There's two reasons I got moved up to assistant so quick," Glyshaw recalled. "No. 1, Bob knew I was college-educated, didn't drink, didn't do drugs, and was very responsible. Even though I didn't know much, I could learn on the fly. And No. 2, nobody else in our barn wanted to go up there, which was probably a bigger factor than the first part."
Team Holthus at Hoosier was a success, and soon Glyshaw was traveling to run horses at Turfway Park and Ellis.
"It was absolutely thrilling to be around the horses all the time, and I was with a trainer who was always very successful and won plenty of races, so the barn was always in a good mood," Glyshaw said. "But I knew I wanted to train. I didn't want to be a groom for the rest of my life, even though I loved grooming horses. I didn't want to be an assistant for the rest of my life, even though it's basically being a trainer, just without the recognition. That's why I was doing all of this, because I wanted to train."
He did a two-year stint with Cole Norman to learn about the claiming game, then in 2004 he returned to Kentucky, cashed out a modest fund his late grandmother had set aside for him, and claimed his first four horses.
"He's an intense person who is into each and every detail of what he does each and every day," Griffith said. "He's been there from the bottom. He's been under the legs. He gets there early and stays late, looking after the horse and the health of the horse—which you've got to do in this kind of environment to compete with the Chad Browns, Todd Pletchers, (and) Bob Bafferts. And it speaks a lot to his dedication and his training ability."
In the 14 years since he went out on his own, Glyshaw has carved out a living on the Kentucky-Indiana circuit, especially excelling with Indiana-breds.
"We really try to take advantage of that program," he said. "Indiana-breds have definitely improved. A lot of people are spending money on expensive studs in Kentucky, then foaling the mares out in Indiana, and the last two years I've been down to Ocala (Fla.), I see them selling for $120,000, $180,000. That never used to happen. It's so hard for me to even wrap my head around."
Glyshaw keeps about 30 horses in training between Churchill and Indiana Grand, then goes to Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. The New Orleans oval was the site of one of his biggest setbacks last January, when his barn was quarantined during an equine herpesvirus outbreak. Bullards Alley and Bucchero helped put them back in the black.
Horses like Grand Traverse, a stakes winner who earned just more than $500,000, and Unreachable Star, who set a record for earnings by an Indiana-bred at $784,595 before he retired, are a point of pride. Glyshaw trained Ready's Rocket—an Old Friends resident who holds the modern-day record for wins at Churchill (11)—to victory when he was 9. Grand Traverse won at 10. Unreachable Star was still racing when he was 10 and was stakes-placed, although he didn't win. Unreachable Star's record, surpassed by Lady Foghorn in 2016, was regained for the barn by Bucchero, the all-time leading money earner from his home state ($937,936). With a top-three finish Saturday, he could become the first Indiana-bred millionaire.
After significant rainfall in Louisville in the days leading up to Breeders' Cup, Glyshaw isn't concerned about the state of the turf, even if by the time Bucchero runs it might be, as he put it, "soup with some grass on top."
"Bucchero doesn't mind it, so I think he'll be fine, but 'Bullard' absolutely excelled in those kind of conditions," he said. "He would have loved to have run in the Breeders' Cup this year, because with the forecast the way it is, that's what he loved. At Woodbine, when he won the Pattison by a record number of lengths, that was a bog. 'Bullard' loved that. And a lot of horses don't. So it would be a little ironic if we got those kind of conditions, which everybody in the horse racing world knew 'Bullard' loved, and Bucchero could go out and win on that kind of surface."
Glyshaw turns 50 Saturday, a milestone he has not let Bucchero forget. He keeps asking his overachiever to put it on the line just one more time—for "Bullard," for a birthday present, and because beneath the Twin Spires is where their story ends. Bucchero is set to stand the 2019 season at Pleasant Acres Stallions in Florida. Just one week after Breeders' Cup, he'll already be available for inspection at KESMARC near Versailles, Ky. While Glyshaw will miss the best horse in his string, he's also pragmatic.
"It's going to be sad that he's gone, but it's also going to be the first horse I've ever had that's stood (at) stud," he said. "And I would much rather him go out now, when he's sound and healthy and off hopefully running the biggest race of his career, versus trying to make him run next year and the chance of something happening to him. We know he's going to have a good home and a pretty good life, and that's all you could ask for, for your ex-racehorses. We always try to find them homes, and he's one I'm not going to have to worry about finding a home for."