Jim and Marcia Equils, who have owned Thoroughbreds for less than four years, wrapped up the 2003 Hollywood Park spring/summer meeting as the leading owners. Slew Stew's victory in the fourth race Wednesday gave the Laguna Hills, Calif., couple 14 winners at the meet, six ahead of their nearest rival. the meeting ends Sunday."I'm shocked, to be honest," said Jim Equils. "We're thrilled. It's a tremendous thing. I never thought it would happen."Jim and Marcia decided to take the plunge at Del Mar in 1999 with the guidance of a close friend, the late Doug Atkins. "We had been going to Del Mar for 15 years, and he showed us around and introduced us to a lot of people," said Jim.That initial interest has grown to a 25-horse stable. Four are at Philadelphia Park, but the majority campaign on the Southern California circuit. Twelve are with Jack Carava and nine with Steve Knapp."We have mostly claiming horses, and both trainers do a great job of picking sound horses and keeping them sound," said Jim. Slew Stew, a 5-year-old gelding trained by Knapp, won for the third time in four starts at the meet. Dereck and Yazor have each won twice.
"We mostly claim, but we also buy at sales," said Jim. "We bought two at Del Mar last year, and got a couple each at Florida, Maryland and Kentucky sales. We would like to grow a little more: 30 to 35 horses would be optimal."Entering the final four days of the 65-day meet, the Equilses have recorded 14 firsts, eight seconds and eight thirds with 48 starters.Jim grew up in Norfolk, Va., and was such an avid racing fan in his youth that he and friends would drive 200 miles to the nearest track at Charles Town, W. Va.He found more time to pursue his passions when he retired as a division manager of Kraft Foods after 30 years in 1998.