Every racehorse is different, and what works for one doesn't always work for another.
Totally Boss, for instance, performs at his best when he splits his time between Margaux Farm and trainer Rusty Arnold's barn at the track.
“He seems to be thriving,” said Jim Hill, who owns the colt and Margaux Farm along with his wife, Susan. “We keep him at the farm about half the time. He'll spend at least four hours a day outside, and it's just more quiet, but we're also maintaining his fitness because he stays in training in the mornings.”
This unique arrangement is definitely working for the “Boss,” as the 4-year-old demonstrated with a `1 ¼-length win in Saturday's Grade 3 Turf Sprint at Kentucky Downs. The powerhouse victory, his first in graded company, also earned Totally Boss an expenses-paid berth to the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint this November at Santa Anita Park.
It will be the Hills' first trip to the World Championships since Grand Arch ran third in the 2015 edition of the Mile at Keeneland, but the couple from Calgary has only been in the Thoroughbred business for just over a decade.
It was in 2005 that an art connection, Leonard Zenith, first convinced Hill to buy in to a four-horse partnership. One of the four, Storm Caller, won at first asking and became a decent runner. He garnered several graded stakes placings in his 29-race career, tallying earnings of $246,051. The Hills were hooked.
The couple has since found success with Grade 1-winning millionaire Grand Arch, as well as graded stakes winners Solid Appeal, Go Blue Or Go Home, Sharp Sensation, Daddy Is A Legend, and Tizahit.
They first purchased a share of Margaux in 2012, and bought out the remaining partners in 2014. The Midway, Ky. facility features 640 acres with three training tracks (two synthetic and one turf), 200 stalls, and the team even added former WinStar stalwart Richard Budge to its staff in early 2019.
Totally Boss particularly likes the farm's Aqua-Tred and the cold saltwater spa, Hill said.
Hill purchased the Mike Pressley-bred son of Street Boss for $180,000 at the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling sale. Out of the winning Elusive Quality mare Totally Tucker, he is a half-brother to G3 winner Super Steed from the family of Grade 1 winners Majestic Harbor and Danza.
“He always looked racy; he was never very stout or tall,” Hill said. “We tend to stay away from the bigger horses, because we don't think they hold up as well.
“We always had a lot of hope for him, and his first trainer in Ocala was very high on him. Then he kind of disappointed us in the beginning. He didn't really settle and would burn out really quickly.”
Totally Boss finally broke his maiden in May of his 3-year-old year, putting the pieces together in his fourth career start. He also won an allowance at Indiana Grand last season before Hill brought him home to the farm for the winter.
This year, Totally Boss has really matured as the Hills and Arnold have figured out the training routine that works best for his personality. In five starts he has four wins and a second by a short nose for earnings just shy of $600,000.
The colt's breakthrough race came at Ellis Park, when he won his first stakes race in the Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Sprint.
“The race at Ellis was huge for us,” Arnold said. “Originally we were going to take Totally Boss to Saratoga to try to win a graded stakes in order to get in the race at Kentucky Downs. Mr. Hill said, 'They put up a “Win and You're In” at Ellis for that race. If he's good enough, he'll get in.' That changed our whole plan. It was a big deal for us. It was one of those times when a plan actually works out.”
Wheeling back in a month to win Kentucky Downs' Turf Sprint, Totally Boss has earned a short respite at the farm. While the Hills love to race at their “home track” at Keeneland, they're likely to wait until the Breeders' Cup for his next start.
“He's really turned it around, figured it out,” Hill said. “He's having a great time.”
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