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Challenge Championships: Yin to Win

Yin Your Eyes is hoping for a repeat win in the Red Cell Distance Challenge Championship.

By Andrea Caudill
Q-Racing Journal
October 23, 2012

yin your eyes

Yin Your Eyes

Trainer Bill Hoburg has always been pretty fond of Yin Your Eyes.

Hoburg bred the Eye Yin You gelding in partnership and the little gray colt was born on his Vancouver, Washington farm. When Yin Your Eyes was only a week old, he got dysentery and was critically ill.

“I was holding him in my lap, telling him ‘Don’t you die on me!’ ” Hoburg recalls, as he watches the now-strapping son of Eye Yin You cool down from his mid-morning workout.

Obviously, Yin Your Eyes recovered and prospered. It was the first, but not the last, time he has proved he's a fighter.

“I always thought he’d do well at 870, since he was out of a Snowbound (TB) mare,” Hoburg says. “I figured he probably wouldn’t do too much as a 2-year-old.”

But the gray gelding would do pretty well – he won three of eight starts and finished third in the Bitterroot Futurity (RG3), earning $15,572 in the year.

“That was about $10,000 more than I expected,” Hoburg says with a smile.

In his sophomore season, Yin Your Eyes continued showing promise, and finally got his chance to try the turn.

“I let him breeze around the corner, and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I have a nice horse!' ” Hoburg says.

Yin Your Eyes won his first start at 870 yards, and then finished second in the 2010 Red Cell Sandy Downs Distance Challenge.

But that early illness was not the only time that Hoburg saved Yin Your Eyes. The gelding also had a major colic – so major, in fact, that it required surgery. However, it was caught so early the surgery was successful and he fully recovered.

“I didn’t care (about the cost),” Hoburg said. “Even if he never raced again. I really like this horse. I spent the money – and he sure has paid us back.”

His 4-year-old season was the breakout year for Yin Your Eyes. He won six of eight starts, beginning at Portland Meadows and ending with a hard-fought nose victory in the Red Cell Distance Challenge Championship (G1). After running third in his season debut, he reeled off five consecutive wins, including the Red Cell Sandy Downs Distance Challenge. He then rested over the summer, and prepped for the Championships with a fourth at the regional race in Turf Paradise before heading to Los Alamitos.

“They didn’t give him much credit (before the Championship),” Hoburg says. “Halfway down the backside, I could see his silver tail sticking out the back and thought, ‘Oh boy, we’re in trouble.’ But the jockey (Luis Torres) dropped him on the fence and I thought ‘He’ll be third or second’. . . and then, right at the last, he won it! It was one of the funnest wins we ever had.”

Yin Your Eyes is owned by Hoburg’s girlfriend, Rene Laatsch. He has won 13 of 30 career starts and earned $125,994.

This year, Yin Your Eyes has won two of seven starts. He opened the season at Remington Park, where he finished sixth in an 870-yard allowance on April 22. He was then third to De Passem Okey in the May 6 Red Cell Remington Distance Challenge (G3). He then won two consecutive races, including the July 6 Red Cell Les Bois Distance Challenge, at Les Bois Park. In August, he came to Prairie Meadows, where he has started three times and been fourth in each race, including the trial and final for the September 15 Red Cell Prairie Meadows Distance Challenge (G3) and the October 6 Covered Bridges Stakes (G3).

“About everything that could go wrong has,” Hoburg said. “But it hasn’t bothered him. He’s ready to go again.”

Yin Your Eyes will face one of the deepest divisional fields of the night. Among his competitors are two-time champion distance horse De Passem Okey, who won this race two years ago, three-time stakes winner All About Larry and the sophomore filly Call Her Hero.

The 20th Bank of America Challenge Championships are October 27 at Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Altoona, Iowa. Watch the festivities live on Q-Racing Video at www.qracingvideo.com and stay tuned to complete coverage from the Q-Racing Journal at www.aqharacing.com.