Horse Racing

A Tale of Two Apple Blossom Winners, by Catherine Riccio

In the 1980s, horse racing was awash with white reins, and D. Wayne Lukas only won every weekend racing from coast to coast. The slogan used by people with disabilities is “D. Wayne out of the plane,” referring to the ability to take horses to different tracks and receive winnings.

Some of Lukas’ slots include Landaluce, Terlingua, Lady’s Secret, Life’s Magic, Family Style, Lucky Lucky Lucky, Miss Huntington and the list goes on. When I think back to my first years on the track, two things come to mind: Heatherten and Sefa’s Beauty. Both mares at the same time were trained by Bill Mott, Hall of Fame trainer.

One prestigious thing both athletes have in common is that they are both GI Apple Blossom H. winners at Oaklawn Park. Apple Blossom has been known to attract the best mares and mares to the Hot Springs racetrack. The race typically produces several champions, including Horse of the Year in honor of Zenyatta and Havre de Grace.

What’s also interesting is that neither of these mares [Heatherten nor Sefa’s Beauty] has been featured in the National Museum of the Track of Fame. Unfortunately, their career was before the internet so there are no charts to see how they performed. Do they prioritize speed? Deviating speed? No pictures or videos. The only photo I found was one I bought on eBay from Sefa’s Beauty that won the Fair Grounds award. Also, I’ve reached out to Barbara Livingston, who has a photo of Heatherten and her groom Randy.

What I have are some disturbing statistics. Both fillings made over 50 start with [combined] 44% win on average.

Sefa’s Beauty is a bargain for $30,000 and was purchased at a hot sale in Fasig-Tipton Kentucky. She’s Lieutenant Stevens’s in Delightful Vie. Sefa’s Beauty’s record is 52 starts, 25 wins, 7 seconds, and 8 thirds with a run of $1,171,628.

Mott started coaching when she was 4 years old and she won 11 races before winning the Sixty Sails H. at Sportsman’s Park in Cicero, Ill.

Sefa’s Beauty races under Farid Sefa’s shirt. Jockeys Pat Day and Randy Romero pilot the mare while in the care of Mott.

Sefa’s Beauty has only two ponies, both by Fappiano. One of them, Sefapiano, attended school in Michigan for a while, but was later transferred to Louisiana. Sefapiano’s best offspring was Jonesboro, the ranked and number one multi-bet winner in Arkansas.

Unfortunately, she died prematurely on October 25, 1989 at Taylor Made Farm. Sefa’s beauty is buried at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. She was owned by Farid Sefa until her death.

And then there’s Heatherten. A large, beautiful gray mare of Forceten off The Ax II’s Heather Street. In 1984, while working at Churchill Downs, I remember walking through the barn area after feeding and would pass Mott’s barn. You can’t miss the tall mare in the corner stall weaving back and forth like it’s listening to a 70s disco.

Heatherten was purchased for $29,000 in 1980 at a September sale in Keeneland. In 53 starts, Heatherten won 21 races, with 7 seconds and 4 thirds with a run of $1,022,699.

She raced from 3 to 6 years old and had 4 different coaches: Robert Holthus, John Palmer, Jack Van Berg and finally Mott. From what I can see thanks to Daily race form and Equibase, John Franks had her until she was sold to [Fontainebleau Farm] for $650,000 for a foal in Theatrical (Ire).

On June 2, 1984, Heatherten defeated Locust Grove S. at Churchill Downs. Just eight days later, on June 10, she traveled to New York for GI Hempstead H. at Belmont Park and she won. And 20 days later, she returned to Louisville and won Fleur de Lis H. again at Churchill Downs. Talk about difficulty! In total Heatherten won five Class I bets. And to this day, some 38 years later, Heatherten’s name can be seen on the Oaklawn show as she remains the 1 1/ track record holder. 16 miles in 1:40.20, set at Apple Blossom in 1984.

She has had several winners in Japan. Her best runner-up is Three Diamond (Jpn) (Theatrical {Ire}) with earnings around $441,667. Heatherten was sent to Japan in 1991, while in the stables to the Theater (Ire). On June 20, 1999, the great mare died.

Overall, both fillings are three times ranked in the prestigious Apple Blossom.

Sefa’s Beauty came in second in 1983; She won the Apple Blossom Award in 1985 and came third in 1986.

Heatherten’s search for Apple Blossoms began in 1983, but she placed 10th; In 1984 she finished first and in 1985 she finished second.

This week, Oaklawn honored members of the National Racing Museum and Hall of Fame and a special coach arrived, William I. Mott. I had the opportunity to sit and talk about both legends. Mott often gallops the horses he trains, and he rides both Heatherten and Sefa’s Beauty in the morning. Sefa’s Beauty he says is easy to train, while Heatherten is a mare who worries that you have to prepare for her next move. Both girls are groomed by Randy, one of Bill’s coolest grooms, who will always wear a vest when he brings his full stake to the lawn on race day.

I had previous performances of both mares to show Bill. He looked at them in amazement and asked, “Did I?” Yes, Mr. Mott, you certainly are!

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