Look for some Horse Play this season at Scioto Downs

Fractional ownership group enjoys fun and wins.

by Jay Wolf

It was just an average Thursday night crowd at Scioto Downs, the sixth race field was heading for home. A large roar came from the crowd as Odds On Serpens and Josh Sutton rallied from fifth at the top of stretch to score a one-length victory in 1:54.3.

Why such excitement for a $5,000 claiming event? A large contingent of the HorsePlay Racing Stable, a fractional ownership group, was in attendance and experienced the thrill of winning for the first time. Included in the crowded winner’s circle photo was long-time Scioto track photographer, Brad Conrad, a member of the HorsePlay Racing Stable since 2014.

“It’s always fun to get your picture taken,” said Conrad. “I am here nearly every night working, and I enjoy race nights even more when a stable horse races.”

The 2017 version of the HorsePlay Stable was one-for-one, but the victory celebration was short lived as track announcer Barry Vicroy announced that the gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere—Odds On Charmaine was reclaimed by his previous owner.

The HorsePlay Stable currently has 25 members (with room for up to 45) and is led by Jessica Schroeder. The stable originally started in 2013 under the banner of Drinkin The Shade Racing.

“Down the street from Scioto in Shadyville is a local bar called the E & R Grille, where a lot of horsemen go after the races,” explained Schroeder. “I wanted to offer the patrons that have met the horsemen a way to buy in to a horse, without shelling out a lot of cash. The slogan for E & R Grille is ‘Drinking in the Shade,’ so the Drinkin The Shade Racing stable was born.”

With some eager clients and a catchy name secured, Schroder hired Scioto’s 20+ time leading trainer and future hall of famer, Virgil Morgan, Jr. The pair was on the hunt for an affordable claimer and they settled on a $5,000 claimer by the name of Mike’s Hope.

The six-year-old provided the new stable with a lifetime of memories in his only start for the new owners. The Cam’s Card Shark—Lasting Memory gelding left from post 10, took the lead before the three-quarter mile pole and cruised to a 17-length victory in a lifetime best 1:51.3. Mike’s Hope was reclaimed by his previous owner and the stable was on the look for another winner.

The inaugural season ended with Catalina Kid, who made 10 starts for Drinkin The Shade Racing. The Damien Seelster gelding won 3 times, including a conditioned event on Jugette day at the Delaware County Fair.

In 2014, Schroder changed the stable’s name to the current HorsePlay Racing Stable. Along with the new name, the stable also had a new trainer, veteran conditioner Mike Medors. The stables’ three horses earned four checks in just eight starts in 2014.

The 2015 and 2016 seasons provided both highs and lows. A 0-for-10 streak, followed by three straight wins in 2015 and a 0-for-10 season last year.

Last fall, Schroeder partnered with trainer Hugh “Sandy” Beatty on Mary Mag Delene, a yearling trotting filly. The Dejarmbro–Marigot Express lass was purchased for $21,000 at the Ohio Select Sale.

“We wanted a yearling for those interested in following a horse in training all winter and the possibility of a stakes horse this summer,” said Schroeder. “Ohio has such a great state-bred program, so we are excited for the summer.”

Schroeder keeps the stable members informed of activities with regular emails and through their HorsePlay Racing Facebook page (@HorsePlayRacingStable).

Two weeks after losing Odds On Serpens after his only start for the HorsePlay Stable. Schroeder and Morgan claimed the gelding back for his original $5,000 tag. Now sporting a four-race win streak, “Serpens” has been entered in-to-go Wednesday (June 7) in the eighth race at Scioto Downs. He has been installed as the 5-2 morning line choice.

So if you are at Scioto Downs this summer, you may want to come down to the winner’s circle to see the excitement, and you may be asked to substitute as the track photographer.