Jungle Racing LLC

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Mizdirection, Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, 2nd November 2013

Trained by Mike Pupye, Sire: Mizzen Mast. Dam: Deceptive

Much like Groupie Doll, Mizdirection, also a back-to-back Breeders’ Cup winner of the Turf Sprint, was sold just days after her victory for $2.7 million to Al Shaqab Racing at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November Select Mixed Sale.

Knowing that her sale was imminent, Mizdirection’s rather famous co-owner Jim Rome, who hosted the ESPN TV show “Rome Is Burning,” and now hosts a syndicated radio show which was originally called “The Jungle,” addressed the issue at the Breeders’ Cup press conference after her second consecutive victory. Rome, who races under the name of Jungle Racing LLC, said, “The Miz ride has been one of the great experiences of my life, but I wanted to see her go out a champion. I wanted her off the track. I wanted her to have a good life as a mama, and I think the time is right to sell. It’s gut-wrenching. It’s tearing me up, but from a business standpoint, and this is a business, it’s something we need to do.”

Rome, a 49-year-old native of Tarzana, California, retains 13 Thoroughbreds, including his broodmare Surfer Girl, whom he visits regularly at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Ky., where his retired gelding Gallatin’s Run, also lives. Rome lost Gallatin’s Run when he was claimed at Del Mar, then reclaimed him at Churchill Downs. “We claimed him to get him off the track, and give him the retirement he earned,” Rome said. “He always ran his guts out for us. He’s an awesome, awesome horse.”

Jen Roytz, marketing and communications director at Three Chimneys, said of Rome, “He’s got the most wonderful, authentic love for his horses, He comes all the way from California just to visit his broodmare, treats in hand, and the absolute first thing he does when his plane lands is rush to the farm and throw his arms around her neck. You’d think it was his first grandchild.”

This from a man who used to bash horse racing on his shows?

“I didn’t know what it was about,” he told Teresa Genaro in her post-Breeders’ Cup story in Forbes. “Everybody likes to throw it in my face.  ‘Weren’t you the guy that dogged the sport back in the day?’  I’ll say, `Guilty, yes, I did.’

“But I’d never spent time around the barns or the animal or the jockeys or the trainers; then I started to come around and I got to know the horses.  At the end of the day, the biggest reason we’re in this is we love the horses.  It didn’t matter if it was a stakes horse or a Breeders’ Cup or a claimer.  They’re all different, they all have a different story, and I think they’re fascinating animals.”

Rome and his wife Janet bought their first horse in 2007. “Janet said, `You need a hobby. All you do is work,’” Rome related. “And Billy Koch, owner of Little Red Feather Farm, had approached me once to buy into a horse and it never really interested me. And Janet said, `You need to get out of the house. Let’s do this. It will be fun. You’ll like this.’ And the worst thing that could have happened to me did happen to me.”

That “worst thing” was their first horse, Wing Forward, winning his first start. “He went from last to first at 15-1,” Rome said. “And I’ve been hooked ever since. Had that horse finished middle of the pack, I probably would have lost interest right away.”