|Contact: Graham Ross
Friday, August 25, 2000
LAKE LISADA MIGHT BECOME RON ANDERSEN'S 'CLAIM' TO FAME
Resurfacing after an extended hiatus from his younger years on the backstretch, trainer Ron Andersen brought a small string of horses to Chicago this spring.
Early in the summer at Arlington International, Andersen saw some things about a bay six-year-old named Lake Lisada that appealed to him, and put in a claim for the Illinois-bred when the horse was entered June 21 for a $10,000 tag.
Lake Lisada won that afternoon for trainer Leslie Ahrens, but there were three other claims in the box. An initial stroke of luck for Andersen came when the trainer was the winner in a four-horse shake for the horse.
"He looked like he could run a little, so I took a shot," Andersen said of the claim. "But when I took his shoes off I realized he had torn part of his heel off.
"The first time I shod him, I put a plastic pad on his foot to protect his frog," Andersen said. "It's called an orthopedic pad and it molds to the bottom of his foot.
"When I ran him back for $14,000, I almost half-expected to lose," Andersen said. "You pray. You hope. But it surprised me when he won as easily as he did."
The margin of victory in that July 6 outing was almost five lengths, so Andersen ran him back July 15 for an $18,000 tag, and Lake Lisada won again by a half-length margin. Back in for that price August 3, Lake Lisada won again, this time by a length and quarter. Finally, in a start last Wednesday, when once again in for $18,000, Lake Lisada visited the winner's circle still another time, and became the first five-time winner of the Arlington season following his neck tally.
This time, however, Andersen lost the horse to trainer Tommy Tomillo, who put in a claim on behalf of owner John Luxem.
"You love 'em to death, but you can't run 'em over their head," Andersen said of his victory skein with Lake Lisada. "He's a great horse, but he's a great horse at his own level. In that last race, I knew enough about him that I really expected him to win.
"I love my horses," Andersen said. "Every one of 'em is an individual. Yeah, you get attached, but there aren't any hard feelings (about Wednesday's claim). That's how I got him. Leslie Ahrens showed a lot of class when I claimed him. He wished me a lot of luck. He was a real gentleman about it, but it's got to bother him a little, too. It's sad, but it's a business. Moneywise, Lake Lisada is the best claim I ever made."
Andersen's own training career has had two distinct phases. As the son of long-time Nebraska horseman Roy Andersen, he was born and raised in the business, learning first under his father and later as an assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg.
While still in Nebraska, Andersen trained horses at Madison Downs with another young trainer named Bill Mott, also just beginning his career. Later, the two young horsemen worked together as assistants for Van Berg. Now 49, Ron Andersen was first here on his own in the early 1970s, and believes he put jockey Randy Meier on his first winner at Arlington. In those days he also used Ray Sibille, who was to ride Lake Lisada for him 27 years later.
Andersen got out of the business of training horses to raise his daughter Tiffany, not realizing how much he missed training until he visited Gulfstream two seasons ago and saw the bronze statue of Cigar in the paddock. Cigar, of course, was trained by Mott throughout most of his career. In the intervening years, Mott had joined their mutual mentor Van Berg in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame.
"I took one look at that statue, and I thought of those days when Billy and I used to race for those $500 purses at Madison Downs," Andersen said. "If you won a race there, you lost money because you had to take everybody out to dinner.
"I realized how much I missed the business, and how much I loved horses," Andersen concluded. "If you don't really love horses, you shouldn't be in the business."
On Sunday's Arlington program, there will be nine live thoroughbred races, one live quarter horse race, and a simulcast of the Remington Park Derby as part of the program. The Remington Park Derby will go off at 4:43 p.m. between the eighth and ninth races, and will feature Illinois Derby winner Performing Magic.
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