Wednesday, April 16, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Winning thoroughbreds find ‘Victory’ in Solano County

horse trainer, 12/14/13

Ellen Jackson checks the running times of two of her horses during a recent early-morning practice run at Golden Gate Fields in Albany. (Brad Zweerink/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | December 26, 2013 | 1 Comment

VACAVILLE — On a recent morning, about the only thing not going like gangbusters at Victory Rose Thoroughbreds in the 20-degree weather was the pipes.

They were frozen.

That meant no horse baths. Check one chore off of a long list that owner and trainer Ellen Jackson, 59, and her crew do each morning.

On this particular morning, Jackson and Monica Jordan-Romero checked the horses that raced over the weekend, ensuring soundness. Lauren Aitken practiced trailer etiquette with some yearlings. At the same time, a few other horses exercised on the six-horse Equi-Ciser. David Martinez, Jackson’s exercise jockey, worked with the young horses – first in the ring and then on the half-mile dirt track on the 63-acre property. Later, Jackson, on her horse nicknamed Pony, paired with Martinez on the track to teach the yearlings that passing head-to-head wasn’t as scary as the big bad wolf.

“That’s a really scary thing for babies,” she said of passing head-to-head. “They’re horrified. In a herd, they never pass head-to-head. I’d rather (they) were horrified here and not at the track.”

It was a hubbub of activity for some horses – while others lazed and relaxed either in barns or pastures separated by stallions, yearlings, weanlings and pregnant mares.

Victory Rose is a working thoroughbred racehorse training and breeding facility tucked off Allendale Road. It’s a piece of Kentucky situated in California, with 170 horses of all ages in various stages of training, racing, retirement and breeding. Jackson owns some of the horses, either fully or in partnership, and others belong to owners spread out through the area. She also has another 22 horses at Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley.

One of those owners is Fairfield resident Kevin Nish – the former part-owner of Mizdirection, a two-time Breeders Cup winner – who happened to be out visiting several of his horses on Jackson’s spread that frigid morning. After becoming interested in racing and ownership, Nish bought his first group of horses from the farm. He said he comes out to Victory Rose once a week to check on his horses.

“It’s stunning to me that we have this . . . a working-level training and breeding facility right here,” he said of Victory Rose’s location.

While this is a business for Jackson, with the horses earning their keep, she said she doesn’t lose sight of the fact that the horses will have a second life after racing. Those that aren’t used for breeding go to private homes, so Jackson makes sure they’re acclimated to people. Aside from a couple of the high-strung stallions used for breeding, most of the horses have an innate curiosity about who is in their barn or pasture. Give a scratch or two in a favorite place and their eyes will follow if left alone – they’re hoping for another scratch or two.

“It’s important they have people skills,” Jackson said. “And (they have to get) used to doing other things besides go.”

She also realizes that not every thoroughbred is cut out for racing – and talent is nothing without the desire.

“It’s not the talent, it’s the heart,” Jackson said. “It doesn’t matter (what) talent they have. They have to have both. The horse has to like the sport.”

Jackson’s origins in the horse business were in Grass Valley. She started rehabilitating horses that came off the track and realized that if she didn’t diversify, she wouldn’t survive. She got a stallion for breeding purposes.

“Once the stallions came, the mares came, then the babies came,” she said. From there she started training.

“That was the natural extension,” she added.

Jackson was introduced to horses when a cousin came to live with her family. The cousin came with a horse. She was given a foal – a leopard Appaloosa named Felina – by a former publisher of Horse & Rider magazine who she befriended as a young teen. Since her parents couldn’t afford the horse’s upkeep, he then gave her a job stuffing envelopes to pay for the horse. She had the horse through college and began to wonder, she said, “What I could do to support my (horse) habit.”

That’s when she started lay ups, or rehabilitating horses from the racetrack.

She has since paid it forward to others who want a chance in the race or horse world. Both Martinez, 22, and Aitken, 24 came to her with very little experience. Martinez came from Guatemala and cleaned stalls for several years just to save money for riding lessons near his Woodland home. He knew he wanted to ride, but had to wait to take the lessons until he could afford it. These days he has his sights set on being a jockey.

“That’s my dream,” he said.

Aitken started as a volunteer and now has a paid position working at halter training.

“I stuck around until she gave me a job,” Aitken said, laughing. Jackson told her, upon her hire, “I know you don’t know anything, but you’ll learn.”

Jackson also opens up her facility University of California, Davis, veterinary students. When the students come up with a project – anything from muscles to reproduction –they come to the farm and use Jackson’s horses.

The pay-it-forward attitude, like she was helped many years ago, is her philosophy, she said.

“I’m a big proponent of paying it forward . . . and not just in business,” she added.

Jackson took a chance – a single mother, with two young children – coming to Vacaville 23 years ago. She took out a loan to by the property, which wasn’t much all those years ago, she said. She then took out a second mortgage for the down payment.

“I owned an old Chevy and a horse trailer – that’s all I had to my name,” she said.

Her goal was to have a birth-to-retirement facility where horse owners didn’t need to take their horses anywhere else. She looked around her 63 acres as her employees departed for their homes. She has everything from pregnant mares to stallions to retirees waiting for a home. The foals will come in mid-January when breeding season starts.

“To think, I get to do this and get paid for it,” she said.

Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or swinlow@dailyrepublic.net. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • valerie footeDecember 27, 2013 - 5:17 am

    I was glad to read about an inspiring and hard working single mother. Thank you.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
 
 
Solano Jews gather for start of Passover

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
 
Suisun police ID shooting victim

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3, 6 Comments

 
County discusses consolidated dispatch

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

Miner Slough Bridge to see repairs

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
Easter hunt set for Mare Island

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5

 
‘Heaven is for Real’ opens Wednesday

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B5

 
 
Fiesta Days pageant organizers seek contestants

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

Coakley joins Solano fair board

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6

 
Crews make quick work of vehicle fire

By Glen Faison | From Page: A6, 6 Comments | Gallery

 
Paper Clover Campaign supports Solano County 4-H

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A6

 
Hundreds flock to Krispy Kreme as it opens doors

By Susan Winlow | From Page: B9, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
County to honor Solano educators

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A14, 1 Comment

.

US / World

Officials: Huge San Francisco blaze was accidental

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
‘Shrimp Boy’ pleads not guilty in corruption case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

Solemn tributes mark Boston Marathon bombing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Immigration activists urge Obama to act boldly

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

First women move into Army platoon artillery jobs

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Final deadline arrives for health exchange sign-up

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

New LA newspaper embraces print in digital world

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Congress is giving states the transportation blues

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14, 2 Comments

Police: Suspects in killings wore GPS devices

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14, 1 Comment

 
DNA alternative to Pap smear sparks medical debate

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Robot sub returns to water after 1st try cut short

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Supremacist faces murder charges in Kansas deaths

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Ukraine: Military secures airport from attack

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Democrats have outside money advantage – for now

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14, 3 Comments

Hamas praises deadly West Bank shooting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A15

 
2 dead after ferry sinks off SKorean coast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A15

.

Opinion

Oh, for the days of Dr. Welby

By Dan K. Thomasson | From Page: A13, 13 Comments

 
Poor Judgement in Flight 370 column

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A13, 1 Comment

 
Senseless babble that hurts

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A13, 2 Comments

Expand Red Top Road

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A13, 2 Comments

 
Editorial cartoons for April 16, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A13

 
.

Living

Today in History for April 16, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

What love gives you

By Barton Goldsmith | From Page: A2

 
Saving carrots from their usual sugary Easter fate

By Sara Moulton | From Page: B6

Sweet pairings for grown-up Easter treats

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
A matzo ball soup fit for a weeknight dinner

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

My husband still pays his 45-year-old unemployed son’s bills

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B7

 
Horoscopes for April 16, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

.

Entertainment

Boston Globe wins Pulitzer for bombing coverage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Lindsay Lohan’s mom pleads guilty to DWI in NY

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Strahan’s ‘GMA’ side job confirmed with his visit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

.

Sports

Cal hires Tennessee’s Cuonzo Martin as coach

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Warriors trying to move on without Andrew Bogut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Sharks’ Torres uncertain for playoff opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Indians shut out Mustangs

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Ex-Minnesota State, Mankato coach returning to job

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Panthers jump Sabres to win NHL draft lottery

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

More former players sue NHL regarding concussions

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
49ers sign WR Brandon Lloyd to 1-year deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

MLB marks 67th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
.

Business

Twitter buys data analytics partner Gnip

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Yellen signals more aggressive stance toward banks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

.

Obituaries

Carolyn McClelland

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Evonne Medina

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

.

Comics

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7