Monday, September 22, 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 |

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

Vaca Christian hits FM airwaves

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Popeye’s seeks Fairfield site

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
North Bay Pediatrics celebrates anniversary

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B8

Sutter Solano has new leader

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B8

 
.

US / World

More drought forecast next year across West

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
2016 may loom, but Jeb Bush is focused on business

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

North Korea powerful temptation for some Americans

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
.

Opinion

Thanks go out to Telstar Instruments

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
.

Living

.

Entertainment

TVGrid Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

 
TVGrid Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

.

Sports

Donaldson’s walk-off HR powers A’s past Phillies

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Penalty nixes Raiders rally, Patriots win 16-9

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Giants swept by Padres; fall 4 ½ behind Dodgers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Stanton leads Cardinals past 49ers 23-14

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Armijo boys run to 2nd-place finish in Irvine

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Hamilton wins in Singapore, takes F1 title lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Ex-Titans kicker Bironas killed in car crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Seahawks hold off Broncos 26-20 in overtime

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

NFL roundup: Cowboys erase 21-point deficit, beat Rams 34-31

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Hur pulls away for LPGA Tour win in Alabama

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

Logano wins at New Hampshire in 2nd Chase race

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10 | Gallery

 
.

Business

 
Native Americans getting final settlement payments

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

5 ways to protect yourself from data breaches

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Dilbert Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
B.C. Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Beetle Bailey Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sally Forth Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard of Id Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Frank and Ernest Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Rose is Rose Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Pickles Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baby Blues Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Zits Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Word Sleuth Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Cryptoquote Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sudoku Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Bridge Sept 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Get Fuzzy Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
B.C. Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Dilbert Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Wizard of Id Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baby Blues Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Blondie Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Beetle Bailey Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Peanuts Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Zits Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Frank and Ernest Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Pickles Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
For Better or Worse Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sally Forth Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Cryptoquote Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Sudoku Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Word Sleuth Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Crossword Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Bridge Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7