In 2009, things didn’t look good for Telling from the start of the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) at Santa Anita Park, where he finished a distant seventh, beaten 10 1/4 lengths by the winner Conduit.
But this year, after some calming down and sharpening up, the Turf may be a whole different picture for the bay son of A.P. Indy.
“He’s way more settled this year than he was last year,” said trainer Steve Hobby, a resident of Hot Springs, Ark., who had his first Breeders’ Cup starter in Telling. “Last year he was pretty nervous, and he’d get hot in the paddock. I’d gallop him in the mornings, and he’d want to just go; he’d never settle. But now, he’s calmed down all by himself…he’ll stand out there all day, turn and walk off, jog, and he’s not in any big hurry. But then he’ll pick it up. He’ll train hard, but it’s different—he’s way more relaxed in the paddock.”
Bred in Kentucky by Darley, Telling is owned by banking businessman Alex Lieblong and his wife, JoAnn, who are also residents of Arkansas. The horse, who is currently the longest shot in the Turf field with odds of 20-1, will break from post 3 under jockey Javier Castellano.
In Telling’s two other efforts over the Churchill Turf course, he finished fifth in the May 22 Louisville Handicap (gr. IIIT) and third in the 2008 River City Handicap (gr. IIIT). “In the spring when I brought him, it was just his second race of the year, and it was soft, he was fresh, a little rank, and he went to the front and got tired,” said Hobby of the Louisville Handicap. “The year before, when he ran here in the fall (River City), he ran well; he just barely got beat.”
Hobby’s story is an interesting one. Growing up in Colorado where his father, Gerald, was a trainer at the now defunct Centennial Race Track outside Denver, Hobby started out as a jockey, and later switched to training in 1976.
Hobby has trained other graded stakes winners Belle of Cozzene, Brush With Pride, and Chindi. He gallops many of the 40 horses in his barn each morning, including Telling, who represented him with his first grade I victory when winning the 2009 Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes (gr. IT) at Saratoga. The 6-year-old bay horse captured the race for the second year in a row Aug. 14.
“He’s got a lot of personality, but he’s all horse,” said Hobby, who wore leather fringed chaps while evaluating paperwork in his barn office Nov. 2. He had a relaxed expression and demeanor as he stood next to his wife, Metzie, who serves as Telling’s groom and was rolling some leg wraps for the horse.
“My wife is his groom and companion and stays with him all the time; he’s her baby,” said Hobby. “But sometimes he bites her; he’s strong and trains hard. But he’s way more settled this year than he was last year. Also, we don’t have to fly to California; he’s here and likes it here.”