ESPN doesn't write about Montana sports very often. When it comes to horse racing, the World Wide Leader would seem to have little reason to pay attention to the Treasure State — if not for the remarkable luck of Magic City Thoroughbred Partners.
Bill Finley has a new story on ESPN about a pair of Billings businessmen who stumbled upon one the sport's biggest surprises. Last year, Carter Stewart and his partner Ken Schlenker bought a couple horses: Golden Ticket for $100,000 and Unbridled Minister for $150,000. With just two horses, Finley explains, their odds of winning anything were slim. Slim turned to slimmer considering Stewart and Schlenker didn't know much about horse racing's bigger races. But the pair landed a bright trainer named Kenny McPeek and Golden Ticket turned into, well, a golden ticket. The horse tied for first in the prestigious Travers Stakes, splitting a $1 million pot, and tomorrow will enter the starting gate in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby.
This is one of those things that can only happen in horse racing. Two friends get together, pool a relatively modest amount of money, hire the right trainer and advisor in Kenny McPeek and, well, get lucky. That's how they won the Travers, winning right alongside Sheik Mohammed's Godolphin stable, the most powerful racing outfit in the world.
"Nobody told me how difficult this sport was supposed to be," Stewart told Finley. "We always kept a positive attitude and figured if someone else could do it we could do it."
Golden Ticket is currently listed as a favorite at 5-2 odds.