17 March 2018, USA -“The Kahayla Classic has long been a goal,“ said Scott Powell of the winning Quarter Moon Ranch team. Even though we are speaking on the phone for this interview, I can mentally see him tipping back the brim of his ever-present cowboy hat as we speak.
Powell grew up on a ranch in Montana where his father was in construction. “I had to work for everything,” he said. “I was envious of those who had time and money for horses and cowboy events.”
“As a Senior in High School, I worked for a year for a man who owned Arabians, and with that money I bought an untrained horse from him. I broke some ribs trying to ride that horse. I knew nothing.”
At the age of 30, after a decade of construction work, Powell decided it was time to do something for himself that he really loved – getting back in touch with his passion for horses.
The softer side of the Quarter Moon Ranch couple, Lori Powell, was born and raised outside of Flint, Michigan. Her background was in the organized disciplines of showing horses. She recalls: “I really didn’t get serious about showing until after I graduated from college. When I started riding again, I began to go to local Arabian shows. I purchased my first Arabian when I was about 23 from a local Arabian horse farm, Master’s Arabians.” In 1999 Lori relocated to Ogden, Utah and eventually began studying classical Dressage. “My goal was to do something big with horses,” she reflects.
Lori was not a fan of horse racing, being more familiar with the negative side through reports of drugging, misdeeds and breakdowns promoted in the press. After meeting Scott in 2012, the two horse enthusiasts found they had a lot in common in their attitudes towards horse management, training and general horse welfare. The two were married on April 3, 2014, during the Darley Awards that year. They live and work together on their horse-friendly New Mexico-based Quarter Moon Ranch.
Paddys Day was a chance purchase for the Powells. Named for the Saint’s Day on which he was born in 2011, the bay colt looked much like his race-bred dam, AK Loretta, with a smaller white stripe down his face. He did have the same gentle demeanor of his dam, but he most certainly has inherited the speed of his sire, Burning Sand.
“Racing in Colorado, we knew a good deal about the success of the Burning Sand babies, and we learned more as we went along,” said Scott. “We knew the breeders of Paddys Day, Jane and Ray Teutsch, who were also racing at Arapahoe Park in Colorado, but wanted to downsize their herd. We also knew his trainer, Kenny Massey, who said the three-year-old could run, but was a bit lazy. We know that sometimes you have to teach them to run,” offered Scott.
“We knew the horse and we liked him. He is easy-going and solidly put together with an efficient stride. Originally we purchased him with a partner, as it is hard to keep financing horses to try out.”
“We had seen him run, but we don’t rush or push our young horses in racing. We are the owner and the trainer and we brought him along slowly, as we do all of our horses. I don’t expect a horse to win every race, even if we think he can.”
The Powells methods worked, as Paddy’s Day won three out of four races in his first season, then eight out of ten races in 2015 with a combined record by 2016 of 34 starts with 22 firsts, totaling almost $500,000 in earnings. In that time he also scooped the US Arabian Triple Jewel bonuses amounting to $450,000 in the Sheikh Mansoor Festival series. Along the way he won 7 Gr 1 races and picked up Darley Award statues in 2015 and 2016 including Darley Horse of the Year for both years, giving the extended Powell clan many reasons to negotiate the steps in evening attire at the Dolby Theatre to collect awards.
Racing and winning seemed easy for Paddy except for the two end-of-season Abu Dhabi races on turf in 2015 and 2016. The little bay did not even try, racing on turf and the wrong way around probably seemed to him to be a practice event.
“We thought it was unfair to judge Paddy for not doing well in the Abu Dhabi races on turf,” said Scott. “We decided to follow our heart this year and left him in training in Dubai with top UAE trainer Doug Watson. Doug and his great crew have helped.”
Paddys Day has now won two out of his four Meydan races with close finishes on the other two, bringing his total earnings to well over $1 Million.
“We were so happy when he won as we knew he could run better than he had in Abu Dhabi,” said Scott. “We are proud of him,” the Powells say together, echoing each other’s thoughts as often happens when talking to both of them at once.
And what is next? The Powells have pointed Paddy towards the 2018 $1Million Dubai World Cup Kahayla Classic Gr 1, one of the top Arabian invitational races in the world on 31 March, 2018.
“Paddy is always going to give you 100%,” said Powell. “He is easy to handle and doesn’t get excited, doesn’t fret, and doesn’t waste energy, but the jockeys tell me that you have to work with him.”
Paddy’s Kahayla Classic jockey is the Watson stable jockey, Patrick Dobbs, who has ridden him in his four Meydan races. “Patrick knows this horse. He rides him every day in training and in the races,” said Scott.
Powell is complimentary of the jockey that have won with Paddy in the US, including Keiber Coa, Ricardo Chappy, Calvin Borel and Victor Espinoza. Powell quotes Borel as saying, ’Riding Paddy is just like riding a little Thoroughbred.’
“Training for Kahayla, we will get him as well prepared as we can, but we won’t push him harder than he should go,” said Scott. “We want him to be able to continue racing in good form.
Scott, who has traveled to the UAE to check on Paddy’s training, will return to Dubai before the 20th to help prepare him for the Gr 1, 2000 meter race on the last day in March, the second race of the Dubai World Cup. Lori will join Scott a few days before the big event.
Powell added that it is his special attention that helps to keep his horses content. “I do a lot for Paddy including massage and icing that makes him happy,” said Powell. “My main treatment is my hands, massage, and ice.”
“We don’t use drugs or Lasix on our horses so running in the UAE and the US Festival non-Lasix competitions is no problem.”
No matter what happens in Dubai, the Powells plan to bring Paddy back home to the US after the race. “We will return to California to run in the 7 April, Sheikh Mansoor Festival’s Sheikha Fatima Grade 1 Santa Anita race, “ said Scott. “Then, after a break, we will take Paddy back to Delaware for the season.”
The Powells have 54 horses on their New Mexico Quarter Moon Ranch, with 12 started in training this year. There are 12 Paddys Day babies on the ground and 10 more coming. “They are tall with very nice temperaments,” said Lori Powell.
And what do they think about their success? The Powells again respond, filling in each other’s words.
“We feel so fortunate to have this opportunity and thank everyone that supports Arabian racing.”
Already the top US racing Arabian for earnings, with a win in the Kahayla Classic, Paddys Day will make history as the most successful US Arabian race horse earner in history.
Check for times and watch the $1 Million Kahayla Classic online and on Dubai TV on 31 March. The winning report will be online at www.Horsereporter.com.
Photos and text By Pamela Burton
Foal photo by Jane Teutsch