The first horse Bill Heiligbrodt owned ran in the 1989 Breeders' Cup. It was a memorable experience, but not a good memory. On Saturday, Heiligbrodt and his wife, Corrine, hope for better memories.
In the sixth Breeders' Cup, the Heiligbrodts and partners Ted Keefer and Buddy New ran Appealing Breeze in the Juvenile (gr. I) and the colt was hit by a dirt clod early in the race and never ran a step.
This year, the Heiligbrodts have Posse in the Sprint and Lady Tak in the Distaff (gr. I). Both are trained by Steve Asmussen.
"Those boys better be glad we didn't run Lady Tak in the Sprint because she is fast," Heiligbrodt said Thursday morning on the Santa Anita backstretch. In her last start, the nine-furlong Gazelle Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont, Lady Tak ran a mile in 1:34 4/5. Buy the Sport got by her late to win, with Lady Tak just a half-length behind.
"She's the biggest over achiever we've ever had," Heiligbrodt said outside Lady Tak's stall. He and his wife bought her for $75,000 at the 2002 Keeneland April sale because they had seen her sire, Mutakddim, in South America.
The son of Seeking the Gold now stands at John Sikura's Hill 'n' Dale Farm near Lexington. This year for the first time, Heiligbrodt bred several mares to him.
Lady Tak has won six of 10 starts and has earnings of $716,270.
"She's such a competitor," Heiligbrodt said. "I have a lot of confidence in her."
No matter what happens Saturday, Heiligbrodt is already looking forward to next year.
"She has a lot of races in front of her. There are many races out there for her."
Both of the Heiligbrodt's starters in the Breeders' Cup are 3-year-olds taking on older horses. Posse is a come-from-behind sprinter who needs racing luck, something he has not found in his last three starts.
"He's had very rough trips," Heiligbrodt said of the Amersterdam (gr. II), when Posse was wide, King's Bishop (gr. I), when he closed from way back to finish a solid fifth (beaten just 3 ½ lengths), and Vosburgh (gr. I), when he had to alter course and ran third.
"Let's just hope for a better trip for him," Heiligbrodt said.
And for some better memories.