Breeders' Cup Presents Connections: 'Wild' Bullards Alley Rewards Glyshaw's Patience - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
Closex

Breeders’ Cup Presents Connections: ‘Wild’ Bullards Alley Rewards Glyshaw’s Patience

Tim Glyshaw and Bullards Alley at Churchill Downs after their first graded stakes victory

He may be a bit blunt, often sarcastic, and disparagingly enough in Kentucky, an avid Indiana University fan, but Tim Glyshaw is a trainer that takes time to understand and appreciate each of the horses in his barn. Moments after achieving his long-time goal of winning a graded stakes race, Glyshaw took to Facebook to acknowledge not only 4-year-old Bullards Alley, winner of Churchill Downs' Grade 3 Louisville Handicap, but also the two claiming horses from his stable who ran valiant seconds on the same afternoon.

“We don't care if they run for five,” he said. “If they run hard, and especially if we've had them a while, we love them all.”

Perhaps harder to love, at least early on, was the hero of Saturday's card. Though he granted Glyshaw the first graded victory of his career, Bullards Alley required the trainer's entire team to re-evaluate their definition of the word patience.

“He was wild,” recalled assistant trainer Natalie Glyshaw, daughter of former jockey Ronald Ardoin (winner of over 5,000 races), and also Tim's wife.


As a 2-year-old, “Bullard” was entered in the Fasig-Tipton Summer Selected Horses of Racing Age Sale, consigned by Taylor Made. The son of Flower Alley was part of long-time Kentucky breeder Eugene Melnyk's dispersal.

Frank Taylor told the Glyshaws the horse had shin-bucked, a condition similar to shin splints in humans, after going through his first two three-eighths of a mile workouts in Florida. Turned out at the farm for a time, the colt had just started galloping under tack in the field again. Owner Wayne Spalding was able to purchase him for the bargain price of $11,000.

That's when the trouble began. Bullard was terrified of the horse trailer, and it took “quite a while” to load him that evening, said Natalie. Once Spalding had the horse at his farm, intending to let him down from the sale process, he was unable to corral the colt in the field for three days. Spalding finally captured Bullard and dropped his new purchase off at a juvenile training facility. Early the next morning, he received a strongly-worded phone call regarding the colt's manhood.

Once gelded, Bullard settled down. Somewhat. After two months of jogging to build up his foundation, he joined the Glyshaw string at Churchill Downs.

“He was still wild when he got here,” said Natalie. “Every day, it's 'what can he see.' He's like a big dumb kid. As Tina, (part-owner) Faron (McCubbins') wife, calls it, he's got the 'people eye.' It's like he's looking at you, but he's looking right through you.”

Galloping on the track was a challenge for Bullard, a furry, chubby, rangy-looking 2-year-old. He was terribly unsure of himself, spooking at the horse next to him, as well as anything else he could swing his head around to see. A set of blinkers and a large shadow roll finally managed to settle him down in the morning, for the most part, though the Kentucky Derby week's activity still flusters him each year.

In November of his 2-year-old year, the time arrived when Glyshaw felt confident enough to enter Bullard in his first race. In a $30,000 maiden claiming event on the dirt at Churchill, the gelding hopped at the start of the six-furlong race and trailed behind the field early, head high and ears pricked, looking confused. A couple of reminders from his jockey, and Bullard jumped into the race at the three-eighths pole, making up nine lengths down the middle of the stretch to finish sixth in a field of 12.

Unfortunately, he came out of the race with a hairline fracture on one of his shins. Never really lame, Bullard still required time off. After several weeks of walking the shedrow as the Glyshaws moved the string to Louisiana, and a fresh set of x-rays, Bullard spent the next few months jogging each morning at Fair Grounds.

“He enjoys training so much,” Natalie said. “If you could gallop him three or four miles every day, that'd be fine with him.”

Back to the races in May, it took Bullard three more starts to break his maiden.

“You just had to figure him out,” said Tim Glyshaw. “He used to take himself out of contention and then he'd run at the end, but it would be too late.”

Bullards Alley matured mentally and physically between his 3-year-old season (left) and this year
Bullards Alley matured mentally and physically between his 3-year-old season (left) and this year

It took Bullard until November of that year, and a lot of additional ground, to really figure out that he was supposed to be a racehorse. Entered in a 1 1/4-mile allowance race on the dirt at Churchill, he was never worse than fifth early on, and rallied down the stretch to win by three-quarters of a length.

“That's when the light really came on,” said Glyshaw. “He just needs a more aggressive rider.”

The next time Bullard won was at Churchill in an allowance taken off the turf, nine days before the Louisville Handicap. At a mile and an eighth, a bit shorter than his optimum distance, Bullard showed grit to get up and win by a nose over the “good” main track. Then, Glyshaw entered him in the big race, hoping for a bit more rain.

“We entered with the idea of running main track only,” Glyshaw said, as Bullard had shown good form over a sloppy track. “The owners wanted to give him a try (when the race stayed on the turf), which I was a little apprehensive of because he's the best horse in our barn, we weren't going to know what type of shape the turf course would be in and we didn't know what would happen with all the rain we got. At the end of the day, I made a deal with the owners that I would call (jockey) Francisco (Torres) and tell him that if the horse doesn't like what it feels like and was not handling well to just get him home safe, but by all means if he's liking it to try and win.”

He must have liked the soft turf course: Bullards Alley came home 2 1/4 lengths in front of the competition, despite the fact that he'd never won over the turf before. To win a graded stakes race with a horse that required so much time and patience was elating for the Glyshaw team, especially Bullard's hard-working groom, Oscar Contreras.

“We came really close (to a graded stakes win) with Taptowne. He finished second four times and third once in graded stakes company, and that was really good,” Glyshaw said, recalling the gray son of Tapit he trained to earnings of nearly $500,000 in 2013. “But it's nice to finally get it done. I hope that there's more to come.”

Glyshaw didn't start out dreaming of the winner's circle. He graduated from Indiana University, then taught high school for a couple years in Illinois. Unsatisfied with his career choice, he took a leap of faith and entered an internship program with Taylor Made Farm in 1995. In the barn of the late Robert Holthus, Glyshaw worked his way up through the ranks of hotwalker, groom, and eventually assistant trainer. Later, he spent two years as an assistant to Cole Norman, before going out on his own in late 2004.

One of a select number of Thoroughbred trainers today with a totally clean record, Glyshaw hopes that never having had a positive test will help drum up some business for his mid-sized stable, which has amassed 378 wins and more than $9 million in earnings.

“I would think that it would mean something to an owner,” Glyshaw said of his record with no medication/drug violations. “I don't want to take away from the accomplishment of the horse or our barn. I would like to be known as somebody who's honest, somebody who doesn't over-treat horses. We help them how we can, but we're very strict, and very stringent to do it at the proper time.

“It's been frustrating,” he admitted, especially as the industry as a whole has struggled to recover from the 2008 recession. “You can't turn down a horse. You don't know which one will be the next big horse.”

In the meantime, Glyshaw is busy charting out a summer campaign for his long-winded stable star between Indiana Grand, Ellis Park, Kentucky Downs, and possibly even Santa Anita in late October.

“He needs to go to purse races between $100,000 and $300,000; that's his gig,” he said of Bullard. “As a general rule, you don't get those horses that he can't beat in those races… I'd love to run him in the Marathon (formerly the Breeders' Cup Marathon, over 1 ¾ miles on the dirt) as a long-term goal.”

Paulick Report Icon
GET OUR NEWSLETTER

Receive daily headlines, breaking news alerts, promotions, and much more!

Subscribe
Ask Ray?

Have a question for Ray that you'd like answered? Have a news tip? Ray will go to his network of sources in pursuit of an answer.

Ask Ray