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“The Golden One” Saved the Ranch

Friday, January 4, 2013

Golden Receiver is the story of a horse that keeps on giving, and breeder and co-owner Nina Simmonds still marvels at how her prized son of Village Jove turned her life around. 

  

The eight-year-old millionaire pacer has risen from humble beginnings to Open class superstar and fan favorite at the Meadowlands Racetrack. 

  

Golden Receiver makes his 2013 debut from post four (program number five) in Saturday’s featured sixth race, a $30,000 Free For All, Presidential Series Eligibles Preferred.  Tim Tetrick will drive for trainer Mark Harder. 

  

In 2012, Golden Receiver paced the fastest January mile ever (1:48), was voted the Horse of the Month by the USTA and swept the Presidential Series.  He won the $110,500 final in 1:49.1.  His other major victories came in the $126,250 Spring Championship at Woodbine in 1:49.2, the $180,000 Graduate in 1:48.2, the $242,250 US Pacing Championship in 1:48 and the $431,400 William Haughton Memorial in 1:48.2.  He was also second in the $500,000 Breeders Crown Open Pace. 

  

Last season, Golden Receiver won 13 of 25 starts, including nine tallies at the Big M, and banked $941,025 for Our Horse Cents Stable of Clifton Park, NY and Simmonds of Binghamton, NY.  He pushed his lifetime bankroll to $1,594,758 and has 49 career wins. 

  

Back in the early eighties, Simmonds decided to quit her job as a real estate agent and pursued her dream of working with horses by purchasing a 60-acre farm in Binghamton, NY. 

  

“I was a Navy brat and I met my husband when he was vacationing in Florida,” recalled Simmonds.  “His family was from the Finger Lakes region.  He was a lawyer and we both hated our jobs.  I wanted to work with horses desperately, so we bought Windy Hill Farms.  It was a breeding farm, and the breeding business had slowed down, so I got into training and racing horses.  We hired a few people, but I did most of the work myself.  They were cheaper horses.  We didn’t have any money and we were just trying to pay off the mortgage.  At least I got to do what I loved to do.” 

  

“I got very attached to my horses, and fortunately, nobody claimed horses off of me,” she noted.  “I actually wasn’t very much into the racing game, but I had to do it to pay the bills.  Despite working 20 hours a day it got to the point where we were spending our retirement money and we had to try and sell the farm.  We did everything we could, but we couldn’t sell it, and we were still $75,000 in debt.”      

  

Simmonds continued her account of her lean years and how Golden Receiver kept her dream alive.  

  

“It’s a Cinderella story,” said Simmonds.  “Everything completely changed with Golden Receiver after 25 years of working myself into the ground.  I knew he was special from Day One, yet I probably would have sold him with the farm.  He was a beautiful foal and he just had this wise spirit about him.  I owned Golden Receiver’s dam, Royal Gold, and her dam, Assunta.  Royal Gold had the same phenomenal speed at the gate.  In a few steps she was out in front of everybody.  She made me enough money to build us a house on the farm.  We lived in the barn for about eight years.  We’d race her at Yonkers and down the stretch I’d yell, ‘C’mon honey, momma needs a new heating system!’” 

  

Golden Receiver won his second lifetime start as a three-year-old at Vernon Downs and paid $286.00 to win.  He won his next start by more than 20 lengths in 1:52.4 and went on to set a track record of 1:51.4 at Tioga Downs in New York Sires Stakes.   

  

“I didn’t race him at two because his knees weren’t developed, but the way he covered the ground would take your breath away,” she noted.  “When he started to win, that’s when things turned around financially.  Now I have 60 horses that are all paid borders on the farm.  After just making do with what we had to survive now I was able to hire people, buy trucks and a tractor.”   

  

Eventually, Simmonds realized Golden Receiver deserved a chance under a bigger spotlight, but she didn’t want to totally give him up. 

  

“I was training horses for other people and I just couldn’t give him the attention he deserved,” she admitted.  “I also couldn’t walk out on the farm to race this horse.  He was out of my class.  I had an offer from a guy in Canada for $80,000.  My late husband told me to sell him to this other group for less and keep ten percent without the bills.  So, the horse went to Mark Harder at the end of his three-year-old season.  I also have it in the contract the horse will come back to Windy Hill Farm when he’s finished racing. 

  

“I can’t believe I would’ve sold him for maybe $1,000 or $2,000.  He truly is an amazing animal.  I was at the Meadowlands for most of his wins last year.  I brought my whole family.  The horse still knows me and recognizes my voice when I come into the paddock.  Plus, what’s so perfect is he’s getting the absolute best of care.  His confidence just grew with every win.  He was tired at the end of last year, but we’re expecting another big season from him.  

  

“What’s cool is he’s a backyard bred and the racing fans love him.  He’s one of their own.  He shows up every week and works his heart out.  He’s a real Prince and the Pauper story.”  

  

Simmonds uses a portion of Golden Receiver’s earnings to fund a charitable organization called Equitarian Initiative.  The group unites veterinarians, blacksmiths and caregivers to provide medical assistance and transportation in the developing world.  Simmonds and her colleagues recently returned from missions in Costa Rica and Mexico. 

  

“I’m also starting to become involved in the New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program.  They take racehorses, retrain them and give them a new life.” 

  

“They also discovered my farm is sitting directly on top of the Marcella Shale natural gas source,” Simmonds revealed.  “It’s the mother load.  So, I could’ve been working in a Quick Chek down in Florida after selling the farm for peanuts along with Golden Receiver.  I’m so grateful the universe didn’t test me that way!  Now I’m just trying to share what’s been given to me.  Things are looking Golden.” 


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