In this week’s Spa Diary, we catch up once again with Kim Dutrow, who finds that the Saratoga meet — a whirlwind of racing, sales, and charity events — is exhausting. Yet she wouldn’t have it any other way.
by Teresa Genaro
On Monday of the penultimate week at Saratoga Race Course, Kim Dutrow was getting ready to head home to Pennsylvania with her trainer husband Tony to check on their horses at Fair Hill.
But first, they had to wait until about 4:00, until after the sixth race, when their Pennsylvania-bred 4-year-old filly would be going for her third win in a row.
And then they had to wait a little longer, to get their picture taken when Devilish Love took the optional claimer by three-quarters of a length as the favorite.
Their stay at home would be brief: the 12-hour round trip car ride would have them back in Saratoga by late Wednesday afternoon, when the Dutrows would attend the annual Saratoga benefit for the Belmont Child Care Association, which this year honored Ramon and Sharon Dominguez. The BCCA is based at Belmont Park and offers low-cost child care and early childhood education, along with other educational programs, to children of backstretch workers; its on-track facility Anna House is open 365 days a year at 5 a.m. and serves children as young as six weeks old.[Disclosure: the author is a member of the BCCA board of directors].
“It’s not hard to manage,” said Kim of the daunting Saratoga schedule, “but it’s exhausting.”
She’s not, though, in any hurry for the meet to come to an end.
“It’s also so peaceful up here,” she said, “and for us, we get family time. All our boys are up here, so it’s a lot of one-on-one time with friends and family from everywhere here.
The Dutrows have been married for 23 years, and they have three sons. Anthony, who will be 22 next month is an apprentice blacksmith at Saratoga this summer. Johnny attends Drexel on a wrestling scholarship, and James just graduated from high school and is contemplating culinary school while working at El Verano Taqueria at Saratoga Race Course.
“The only thing Tony and I do outside of horse racing is watch the boys wrestle,” she said. “With John, it’s Division 1, so we’ll be traveling a lot.”
As if they aren’t already, what with all those Fair Hill-Saratoga trips.
As the sixth week of Saratoga comes to a close, Tony Dutrow is ranked sixth on the leading trainers list by earnings with almost $700,000 and a record of 22-6-3-2. Two of those wins came in a couple of Saratoga’s most prestigious races, the Grade III Sanford on opening weekend and the Grade II Saratoga Special on August 10th, both for 2-year-old colts. In addition to the purse money, both horses earned a $100,000 bonus available to 2-year-olds that break their maiden at Aqueduct or Belmont and go on to win a graded stakes race at Saratoga that year.
Sanford winner Big Trouble is now sidelined with an injury, his racing future in doubt; I Spent It, winner of the Special, will likely be seen next at Belmont. This weekend, Saratoga’s biggest, will see the Dutrows in action with Maryland-bred The Big Beast, winner of two of four lifetime, most recently here on July 26 by 6 1/4 lengths, and entered in Saturday’s Grade I Ketel One King’s Bishop.
“We’re really excited about it,” said Kim. “He’s blossomed since his last race. Every day you see him, he gets more confident. He gets better and better.”
The Big Beast is owned by Alex and JoAnn Lieblong, who also own I Spent It and who purchased four horses at the Fasig-Tipton Selected Yearlings Sale here earlier this month.
“Mr. Lieblong’s given us a great opportunity,” said Kim, “and we’ll be buying for him this year, as well as Team D and a few other clients, so we’ll keep busy. We’re getting geared up, trying to get our team together.”
Team D is a partnership managed by the Dutrows; both Big Trouble and 2013 Grade II Futurity winner In Trouble are Team D horses.
Should Big Trouble’s injury prevent him from racing, a good home is waiting for him with Bo Hunt, who broke the horse for the Dutrows. Big Trouble isn’t the first horse that they’ve retired; Suave Jazz, a stakes-placed sprinter with 70 lifetime starts ended his career at Suffolk Downs, but because the Dutrows stayed in touch with the horse’s owner, they got the chance to make sure his retirement was an easy one.
The 11-year-old now lives in Charlottesville, Virginia; after going through a 30-day retraining challenge, he embarked on a new career as a foxhunter, along with fellow Dutrow retirees I’ve Got Speed and the stakes winner Redefined.
“We were offered money for Suave Jazz but we didn’t take it because we promised to keep him and give him a good home,” Kim said. “We trained Redefined and I’ve Got Speed until they were nine, and they’re all in the same pasture. They’re good old boys. They deserved it.”
There’s no retirement in sight for either Dutrow at this point: apparently indefatigable, they host gatherings at their home, they organize dinners out, they support charities, and they take care of their horses, winning at the sport’s highest level.
At this time of the summer, there are a lot of people who can’t wait for Saratoga to end, can’t wait to go home, can’t wait for the end of six-day racing weeks and nightly social and professional obligations.
Don’t count Kim Dutrow among them. Not a bit.
“I kind of wish,” she said, “that the meet was longer.”