Macombers record emotional Crown win
Trainer Jamie Macomber cried in the winner’s circle after her husband, Ricky, Jr., drove Indiana-sired Beckhams Z Tam to victory in front of a hometown crowd.
by Alex Campbell
In her first year operating a public stable, trainer Jamie Macomber recorded her first Breeders Crown winner on Saturday night with Beckhams Z Tam, who upset 3-5 favorite Downbytheseaside in the $527,500 Breeders Crown 3-year-old colt pace final at Hoosier Park, Macomber’s home track.
Beckhams Z Tam sat off the pace early on, while Downbytheseaside assumed control of the race from Miso Fast through the first turn. Beckhams Z Tam began to advance his position behind Mac’s Jackpot along the backstretch, and tipped out three-wide at the top of the stretch to make his bid for the lead. He struck the front in mid-stretch, but Downbytheseaside wasn’t done, coming back on the inside in an attempt to regain the lead. Beckhams Z Tam wouldn’t be denied, however, as he crossed the wire a quarter-length in front of Downbytheseaside in 1:51.1. Miso Fast held on for third, while Mac’s Jackpot was fourth.
Beckhams Z Tam was driven to victory by Macomber’s husband, Ricky Macomber Jr., who also recorded his first Breeders Crown win.
“I was thrilled,” Macomber Jr. said. “Just a big weight lifted off my shoulders. That horse that was first up, I was a little worried that he wouldn’t be able to carry me to around the last turn and I was more concerned about that half being in 56 flat. It was a little slow, but he overcame it.”
Despite finishing third in the Breeders Crown elimination last week, Jamie Macomber said Beckhams Z Tam showed his connections a new element, putting in a solid stretch run after having Art Scene break stride right in front of him turning for home.
“I think he’s as good as he’s going to be right now,” she said. “He showed so much to us last week when he recovered from that colt breaking. I was so upset when that colt broke because I know my colt. And then tonight when he got in for a little bit and was second over. I thought, you know, he’s fit, he’s tight, he can do it.”
Macomber had worked for trainer Ron Burke for the past 10 years before going out on her own this year, running Burke’s Indiana string at Hoosier Park and Indiana Downs. She worked with a number of Burke’s top Indiana horses including millionaire Go On BB, and Hannelore Hanover, last year’s Dan Patch Award winner as the best older female trotter, and the winner of the Breeders Crown Open Trot earlier on the card.
Macomber made the decision to open her own stable last October, with the support of several owners, including Bill Matz, owner of Z Tam Stables LLC, and the stable’s former Indiana trainer Wilbur Eash.
“There’s so many people I can’t thank enough,” Macomber said. “I can’t believe that Wilbur and Mr. Matz put that horse in my hands for the year. It just says a lot about them, they are awesome people. I’m just glad that we could come through for them.”
Macomber’s parents, Ohio-based trainer Tim Rucker and his wife, Debbie, were on hand to watch their daughter’s first Breeders Crown win.
“It just makes me cry thinking about it,” she said. “You know, mom and dad and (older sister) Kelly prepped me for this and I swore my whole life that I wasn’t going to train horses and we’re in the Breeders Crown winner’s circle. So if that says anything, I just hope it gives some other little girl hope to follow her dreams once her dreams are made.”
Beckhams Z Tam recorded his 11th win of the year in the Breeders Crown 3-year-old colt pace, and his first since his victory in the Indiana Sire Stakes 3-year-old colt pace final at Hoosier Park in September. The son of Indiana sire Always A Virgin was one of three Indiana-bred Breeders Crown winners on the night. In 25 career starts, Beckhams Z Tam has raced away from Hoosier Park just three times.
Macomber said Beckhams Z Tam would return to action next Saturday night at Hoosier Park before getting the remainder of the year off.
“He’s got one more start, the Monument Circle coming up next week and then he’s going to enjoy the rest of his year in the field at Wilbur’s,” she said.
Macomber added she would enlist the help of her former boss to plan Beckhams Z Tam’s schedule for 2018.
“I’ve been talking to Ronnie to help me stake this colt because I want to make sure he’s in all the right places,” she said. “So as long as Ronnie plays fair and he puts me on a good path, we’ll figure it out and we’re going to hit the road with him.”