Rome touts Thoroughbred ownership on "The Jungle"

Saturday, March 01, 2008

by Frank Angst
Courtesy of Thoroughbred Times

The enthusiasm poured through the radio on Monday, when, despite a busy sports weekend, nationally syndicated sports talk host Jim Rome talked about Thoroughbred ownership on his show.

As part of Little Red Feather Racing, Rome owns part of Wing Forward, who won his North American racing debut in dramatic fashion on Saturday. The Arch three-year-old colt rallied from last in a field of 12 to win a one-mile allowance race by a neck on the turf at Oak Tree at Santa Anita Park.

“It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had,” Rome told his listeners.

Rome, who has offered more horse racing coverage on his radio show than most national hosts, said he has considered horse ownership for years. Billy Koch, managing partner of Little Red Feather, approached Rome about Wing Forward and the host of “The Jungle” took the plunge.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Rome said. “I talked it over with my wife, Janet, and she was enthusiastic about doing this.”

Koch joined Rome on the show and the two talked about the joys of winning a Thoroughbred race.

“Because it’s so tough to win, anytime you win it’s exciting,” said Koch, whose Little Red Feather Racing campaigned 2004 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) winner Singletary. “You get that feeling every single time.”

Rome said he thoroughly enjoyed the day of racing, especially walking into the paddock, meeting the other syndicate owners, trainer Mike Puype, and jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. He admitted to having some doubts when Wing Forward raced last through a half-mile in :48.05.

“In that first half-mile I was on my cell phone trying to get a hold of the bank to put a stop payment on that check,” Rome joked. 

The host also kidded Koch about taking things to another level, mentioning the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum Brands (G1). 

“I don’t want to sound like a pig, but now that we have this horse, can you get me a Derby winner? Heck, forget that, get me a Triple Crown winner,” Rome said.

Rome declared Wing Forward, The Jungle Horse, and promised to update listeners on his progress. Always a fan of horse racing, Rome has joked over the years about it being more of a gambling venture than a sport. His mind has changed.

“I really had an epiphany on Saturday,” Rome said. “It’s such a great experience. I was all fired up.”

Koch credited Puype with discovering the horse in Argentina, where he finished second in his debut and won his second start. He also credited Puype’s patience as a key for Wing Forward’s successful North American debut.

Frank Angst is a Thoroughbred Times senior writer