Many say the racing game is all about luck, but for more than a decade it seemed that Lady Luck was refusing to smile upon the Last Call Racing Partnership of Chicago residents Clyde Peterson and Tim Fella. As hard as they tried to claim and run successful horses, the partners kept coming up short. That is, until Mizzcan'tbewrong came along.
The multiple stakes-winning mare has now completely turned the partners’ fortunes around, as well as their spirits, and in the process—albeit in a small way—even touched the life of Fella’s cerebral palsy-stricken son, Shane.
Peterson and Fella, who started buying horses together in the late 1990s, agree they made the best decision of their careers when they claimed Mizzcan’tbewrong for $32,500 through trainer Richard Scherer at Arlington Park last September from her former owner, Todd Ingram.
“Without a question, she’s the most successful horse we’ve had thus far,” Peterson said. “Out of the 35 or so we’ve had, we probably made money on five, broke even on five, and lost money on the other 25.”
Peterson said one of the most impressive things about Mizzcan’tbewrong, who has earned more than $200,000 and has won or placed in eight of 10 races since being claimed by Last Call, is her running style. “She’s got natural speed, and three times when she’s run, she’s had someone pass her in the stretch, and she’s come back either to win the race or come close to winning,” he said of the 4-year-old daughter of Mizzen Mast , who most recently captured the July 25 Claiming Crown Tiara at Canterbury Park.
A few hours following Mizzcan’tbewrong’s last victory, Peterson along with Fella; his wife, Dawn; daughter, Cassidy; and Shane, who is confined to a wheelchair, went to visit the mare at her barn.
“We’re feeding her some peppermints, and we wheel Shane right in front of her stall,” Peterson said. “She sticks her head out and puts her nose right on top of his head for five or six seconds, and then she licks him in the face. It was enough to make you cry. She had just run her eyeballs out four hours before and was so competitive, and then to have that demeanor after the race, she really is remarkable.”
Peterson believes Mizzcan’tbewrong is doing much more than just warming hearts, however. The filly, in a way, is attracting just what the sport of racing needs: more fans.
“A lot of people show up (at her races) and want to know what’s going on with her,” said Peterson, who sends an e-mail out to around 50 people each time the mare runs. “So I think she’s helping draw people into the sport that normally wouldn’t be interested, because they’re getting a little bit of the buzz behind the scenes.”
For now, however, Peterson and Fella have decided to give Mizzcan’tbewrong a rest after her vigorous racing schedule the last two years.
“She’s been in training for almost 21 months, so she’s probably just worn out,” Peterson said. “She doesn’t show any heat in any of her joints; we’re going to do a bone scan on her to make sure she’s OK, but she’s just tired, I think. She needs a break.”
After her freshening, the partners hope to bring Mizzcan’tbewrong back to the races next spring for a 5-year-old campaign.
“I tell my partner every time we’ve been running her, ‘pinch yourself, because you know these times may not come around very often, so you’ve got to remember these moments when you are winning,’ ” said Peterson. “It makes up for all the disappointments you get, because it’s a tough game.”