By Christie DeBernardis
Just about everyone involved in racing can name that one horse that changed everything for them, and for former model and ballerina Sheila Rosenblum, that horse was La Verdad (Yes It’s True).
“She is much more than a horse to me,” Rosenblum said. “I always say it’s my kids, then La Verdad, then all the other horses because she has been really so important in what happened to me and for me with racing.”
Rosenblum purchased the then 3-year-old La Verdad and her half-sister Hot City Girl (City Zip), who was a yearling at the time, privately from breeder Eklektikos Stable LLC after her third straight win at the suggestion of her trainer Linda Rice.
“Linda called me up and there was a little bit of a delicate situation with the owner and I was asked to come in and kind of save the day,” said the Manhattan socialite. “I decided to go out on a limb and do it because I trusted Linda and the rest is history so to speak. I went with a gut feeling and decided to just go for it.”
As for Hot City Girl, who takes a big step up to Grade I company in Saturday’s Mother Goose S., Rosenblum said, “She was just sort of a surprise because she was a yearling out in a pasture at that point. We were pleasantly surprised. Nobody really knew about her, but Linda had her eye on her all along really. Linda trained the whole family, so she is really a homebred at this point! We will see where she goes. She looks phenomenal and is really filling out, enough so that Linda said, ‘Let’s go take a chance [in the Mother Goose]. Let’s see.’”
Going with her gut proved to be the right decision for Rosenblum when it came to La Verdad. The speedy bay has won several listed stakes, back-to-back renewals of the GII Distaff H. and this year’s GIII Vagrancy H. since she began carrying the colors of Lady Sheila Stable.
“When I started with Linda I brought her seven unraced 2-year-olds and she turned them all into winners, but no stakes horses,” Rosenblum said. “So La Verdad is the first stakes winner I have ever had, and then to win a couple of Grade IIs, is beyond a dream. La Verdad was the beginning of the big success.”
The New York resident added, “With La Verdad our goal is really to try the [GI] Ballerina [S.] and try to get her a Grade I. She was tired last year [when fifth in the Ballerina] and did not have much success in Saratoga. I gave her a 100-day break and she came back and won her first two races of 2015 in the Distaff and Vagrancy. So, the 100-day break was very rewarding for both of us. As long as she is sound and can still race this year, God bless her. After that, I think it is time for her to be a broodmare.”
La Verdad did more than bring Rosenblum her first big success as a racehorse owner. The fleet mare also led Rosenblum to starting two all female ownership syndications, Lady Sheila Stable Two and Triumphant Trio.
“I have been blessed with La Verdad and a lot has happened as a result of my confidence with her and wanting to give back to women who are in a position of wanting to get involved with less risk than I did,” Rosenblum said with a laugh. “Because of La Verdad’s success with me and Linda, I have decided to go out on a limb and start a syndication for women that has been pretty successful.”
Lady Sheila Stable Two is made up of eight women from around the world and the stable currently has four horses. The only one to run so far is the 3-year-old filly Hilaryinthehouse (Freud), who has finished second and fourth in her first two outings.
Triumphant Trio, on the other hand, is made up of the powerhouse team of Rosenblum, Rice and Iris Smith. The trio has been making a lot of noise at the 2-year-old sales this year, buying several juveniles in the high six-figure range, and currently have nine horses in their stable. Two of their biggest purchases thus far include a Broken Vow colt that the ladies bought for $950,000 at OBS March and a $840,000 Pioneerof the Nile colt out of Fasig-Tipton Midlantic.
“The Triumphant Trio is an extremely serious syndication,” Rosenblum commented. “We just got our ninth horse. That has been a multi-million dollar investment in that group and that is playing with the very big boys. I am long in horses right now, but I love it and I am taking it one day at a time.”
La Verdad could be the inspiration for a Lady Sheila Stable Three if Rosenblum decides to keep the 5-year-old after her retirement from racing and try her hand at breeding.
“Everyone wants her and I am not sure what I am going to do yet,” she said. “I am weighing the options, but I never thought a year after starting my first syndication I would be here thinking of starting my third, Lady Sheila Stable Three. Breeding is fascinating and one couldn’t start with a nicer horse. La Verdad is classy and beautiful and has a temperament as wonderful as she is a sprinter. I am not counting anything out. The world is at my finger tips right now!”
The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship…
Sheila Rosenblum always loved horses, but was not able to begin riding until her 20s. After trying her hand at both jumping and dressage, she decided that she preferred riding for pleasure over competition and found herself in horse racing.
“I have liked horses for as long as I can remember,” Rosenblum said. “I always wanted to ride and started in my 20s. I broke a shoulder jumping and moved into dressage. I fell in love with it, but didn’t want to be competitive in that sense. I decided to go into racing and that is even more competitive!”
She continued, “My heart is in horses. I like being in the stall. I like being there at 6:00 a.m. to watch them exercise. The joke is that if you can’t find me I am probably in the stall, hanging out with one of my horses. I am very fortunate that I have turned my passion into a business now.”
That business really began to take off when Rosenblum met trainer Linda Rice. Rosenblum had seven unraced 2-year-olds that she had taken from a trainer in Kentucky and brought to New York. She did not have a trainer in mind when she made the move, but she did know that she wanted a New York trainer so she could see her horses more often.
“I decided to part ways with a trainer in Kentucky and was trainerless,” Rosenblum said. “I wanted to see a lot of trainers. I met a handful of trainers and Linda had just driven back from Saratoga at 4:00 that morning.”
A crusader for women in racing who heads an all-female ownership syndication, Rosenblum originally had no intentions of hiring a female trainer.
“I had absolutely no plans of hiring a female trainer, so she was hired in spite of that fact not because of it,” Rosenblum said. “I thought I would do better with a male trainer and I was just so impressed with what that barn looked like and how beautiful the horses looked. I was just so taken by her that I didn’t need to interview anybody else. I met Linda and my luck changed.”
All in the Family…
When it comes to Lady Sheila Stable’s Mother Goose contender Hot City Girl, it truly is all in the family for trainer Linda Rice, who conditioned the chestnut’s sire and dam Noble Fire (Hook and Ladder). Rice also trains the filly’s aforementioned speedy half-sister La Verdad.
When asked how Hot City Girl compares with the rest of her Rice-trained family, the New York-based trainer said, “She seems to be getting better with age and, unlike City Zip and La Verdad, she is built a little bit more like a distance horse, but she does have speed, too.”
Rice purchased the half-sisters privately on behalf of Rosenblum.
“The original owner [breeder Eklektikos Stable LLC] needed to sell, so I suggested instead of just buying La Verdad that we buy both,” Rice said.
In La Verdad’s case, that decision has already paid off. She was scratched from last Saturday’s GIII Bed O’Roses H. due to lameness in her hind foot, but will defend her title in the Dancin Renee S. Sunday.
Hot City Girl, however, still has something to prove and Rice hopes she will do so Saturday as she takes a big step up from listed stakes to Grade I company.
“She has been stakes-placed several times,” Rice remarked. “She looks like she can handle the distance for the most part and we felt that she deserved a chance at it. It would also be very positive even if she finished second or third. It would add a lot of value to her.”
A second-out graduate against fellow New York-breds going a mile at Aqueduct in November, Hot City Girl was second next out in the state-bred East View S. a month later. She kicked off this term with a win in a one-mile and 70-yard state-bred optional claimer Jan. 11 and was second when facing open company for the first time in Laurel’s Wide Country S. Feb. 16. Fourth in a muddy renewal of that venue’s Caesar’s Wish S. Mar. 21, the sophomore resurfaced from a brief freshening with another fourth-place effort in Belmont’s state-bred Bouwerie S. May 25.
Rice is confident that the Mother Goose’s 1 1/16-mile distance will not be a problem for Hot City Girl, despite the fact that her sire, dam and half-sister were all sprinters.
“She has actually raced better going longer distances,” the conditioner commented.
Rice continued, “It’s obviously the toughest race she has been in so far, but she has really been training forwardly and I like the way she is coming into the race. We are hoping for a great result.”