Ashlie Howell knows her way around a racehorse. That goes for the horses in her stable at the racetrack and the horses she barrel races. For a horse named Ego's Appeal, his talents brought him star status in both of her stables.
Ego was a claiming competitor, typically hovering between the $5,000 and $10,000 range and running in the money a dependable 58% of the time. With Ashlie as his trainer, however, he thrived, winning four of 16 starts and hitting the board 75% of the time.
The two formed a bond that brought them shared success. Ego earned Ashlie her first win as a trainer, and Ashlie helped him achieve his only allowance victory. After he failed to achieve the same results for several other trainers, Ashlie sought him out, retired him, and introduced him to a new kind of racing.
Ego's career had seen him crisscross the country starting in Florida in 2007, and from there moving to Chicago, then to the Great Lakes, onto the East Coast, and north to Canada. Ashlie met Ego in 2010, when he was sent to her stable at Charles Town Race Track from Northlands Park in Edmonton, Alberta.
As a pair, the two clicked. Ashlie galloped most of her own horses, so she got to know Ego both in the saddle and on the ground.
“Even when he was racing, you would have thought he was just a big pony,” said Ashlie. “I would jump on him in the shed row with just a halter and lead rope and we would just mosey around the barn like he'd been a trail horse all of his life. He would go in the starting gate and just stand there like he was asleep and never make a move, but when the gates opened he was always in front. He was so competitive and loved to run.”
It was that combination of the kind heart and tough competitor that drew Ashlie in.
She was the last trainer to get him to the winner's circle, and after the two parted ways, he couldn't seem to regain his form. He ran his last race on Feb. 1, 2014, and shortly thereafter, Ashlie contacted his owner and asked to purchase Ego to have as her personal riding mount.
“I didn't get him thinking about barrel racing,” said Ashlie. “But since I've gotten him back he's been a pony horse, a kid's horse and one fine barrel horse. He's made decent money for me running barrels and he gets faster every time.”
Now based at Oakridge Training Center in Morriston, Fla., Ashlie still trains for Ego's racing owner, who enjoys knowing his old charge is successful and happy in his off-track home.
“If a horse I have trained needs to be retired or isn't cut out for racing, I try to either take them and retrain them myself, or find a home where the horse's personality and the rider's style match,” said Ashlie. “Ego is a good man. I wanted him for myself when he was done racing because I love him, and he has become a huge part of our family.”
Name: Ego's Appeal (a.k.a. “Ego”)
Born: February 19, 2004
Sire: B L's Appeal
Dam: Foolin Ego
Sale History: none
Race Record: 55-11-11-10
Race Earnings: $126,814
If you have or know of a retired Thoroughbred with an interesting story to tell, we'd love to hear about it! Just email Jen Roytz ([email protected]) with the horse's Jockey Club name, background story, and a few photos.
Jen Roytz is a freelance writer and marketing and public relations consultant for various entities, both equine and non-equine. She can also still be found on the back of an OTTB most days.
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