Luck is a Lady Named Negligee For Seven Lakes Couple
"I can't stop thinking about Negligee," Tim Parton told his wife, Nancy, two weeks ago.
He wasn't referring to his wife's bed attire or another woman. He was referring to a thoroughbred racehorse the Seven Lakes couple are part owners in.
"I'm 62 years old," said Tim, a painting contractor. "It's very seldom when you're up in age that you find something that excites you and your spouse like horse racing does. It's great to have something this late in life that brings back your youth."
The Partons are the poster folks for thoroughbred racing. They are living every thoroughbred racing investor's dream of hitting the jackpot. And they have managed to do it in a very short time with no previous experience in horses.
Some people invest in racehorses for decades and never have a major stakes victory. Not so for the Partons. They have lady luck on their side, and her name is Negligee.
On Oct. 9, Negligee won the $500,000 Darley Alcibiades Stakes Grade 1 race for 2-year-old fillies at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky. Negligee was a 12.70-to-1 long shot, but she overtook the 1.30-to-1 favorite She Be Wild to post a half-length victory.
Nancy convinced Tim they should invest in Negligee just three weeks before she won the Darley Alcibiades.
"Tim showed me Negligee's race tape, and when I heard her name, I said we have to buy into her," said Nancy, who has been a nurse at Manor Care in Pinehurst for 13 years. "I just felt she was going to do well, though anything can go wrong in a horse race."
"Nancy is the one who bought into Negligee," said Tim, who has been investing in racehorses for four years. "This was the first time Nancy put up some of her savings, so I knew she was serious."
Tim's interest in buying a racehorse began when he won the trifecta with Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro in 2006. Tim decided to invest his winnings back into racehorses.
The Partons, two of several investors in Negligee and the only North Carolina investors, have had lady luck on their side since they started investing in racehorses. Negligee is the second filly to win a stakes race for the Partons.
"To have two horses you invest in win stakes races is phenomenal," said Tim. "You have to have luck in horse racing. Negligee, there is your luck. She is on a roll and she is clicking."
Negligee, who began her racing career in Canada, won her first race and came in second in her second race. The filly was then purchased by Sovereign Stables, a horse-racing management company based in New Hampshire. The Partons found the company in Tim's research on the Internet for a possible place to invest in racehorses and bought into a number of their horses, including Negligee.
The plan for Negligee's third race under her new Belmont, N.Y., trainer John Terranova, who trains for Sovereign Stables, was to run her in a Grade 3 $150,000 turf race at Belmont Racetrack in New York the week before the Keeneland race. Due to rainy weather, Negligee's principals decided to scratch her from the Belmont race and run her at Keeneland the next week.
"I didn't go to Keeneland for the race like a fool, but I sure was watching it on television. We were dancing we were so excited. It was unbelievable," said Tim, who bet Negligee to win. "She went off at 12.70-to-1 odds. She had never run that far before, and it was only her third race. The race was one mile and one-sixteenth, and she had only run five and six furlong sprints up to that point. She was just hitting her stride at the final pole. She made the horse on her left look like a rag doll."
Ups and Downs
Not all of the Parton's horses have had lady luck on their side. They have experienced the agony of defeat along with the thrill of victory in racing.
"The first horse I invested in was called Sports Town," said Tim. "He was a stakes winner. Sports Town was headed for the Woody Stephens race at Belmont as a 6-5 favorite. He started limping the day of the race. He had contracted a staff infection and then developed laminitis in three legs. Five days later he was euthanized. One week we had a beautiful horse, and the next week, he was gone. So this girl is our get-back."
According to Sovereign Stables manager Matt Gatsas, Negligee came out of the Alcibiades race at Keeneland "fantastically well."
"Tim is one of my luckier clients," said Gatsas. "He deserves to be lucky. Tim has persevered, and in this game, perseverance is what you need."
Negligee, whose sire was Northern Afleet, earned an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies race in Santa Anita, Calif., Nov. 6 by winning the Darley Alcibiades Stakes race. As long as all goes according to plan, Negligee will be shipped to Santa Anita the week before the Breeders' Cup races.
A Family Affair
Tim and Nancy's plans for the Breeders' Cup races aren't finalized yet. They will either travel to Santa Anita or meet Tim's four brothers in Kentucky to watch the Breeders' Cup races broadcast live from Churchill Downs racetrack.
"We have debated whether to go to Santa Anita. It will be very nerve-wracking to watch such a big race. There could be 100,000 people there. We're leaning toward being with my brothers. We don't have a chance to get together too often. None are involved with racing, but they all love it."
Tim's brothers are scattered among Georgia, Michigan and Raleigh. Racing has brought them closer together as they gather occasionally to watch Tim's horses run. It continues a family tradition of coming together for a horse race. Tim and his late father had a tradition of attending the Kentucky Derby every year.
Defying the Odds
It would be a long shot for Negligee to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Filly race, but Negligee has beaten the odds before. With a little lady luck riding on Negligee's shoulders, she may continue to live up to the Partons' expectations.
"I'm just glad she won this one. If she never wins again, we had a good time," said Nancy.
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