Party of Eight Wins Her 82nd & Final Race
February 1, 2012 – Tampa Bay Downs
Owner: Arbywood Stable
When Sharon and David Hinsley inherited a few horses upon the death of their friend Lucy Woodard, they never imagined the journey on which one would lead them.
Party of Eight, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Evansville Slew-Believe Teenie, by Believe It, broke her maiden at Tampa Bay Downs in a $7,500-$6,500 maiden claiming race as a 4-year-old on March 5, 2005.
On Wednesday, the now-11-year-old mare made her 82nd and final start a winning one, rallying under jockey Pablo Morales for a 1-length victory in a five-and-a-half furlong sprint for $5,000 claiming horses at odds of 6-1.
In between those bookend victories, Party of Eight rewarded the Hinsleys and their partners (the horse was named for the eight original syndicate owners comprising Arbywood Stable) with her durability, honesty and persistence.
"She has meant more to us than I could ever tell you in a million years," said Sharon Hinsley, who announced plans to retire Party of Eight and send her to Ocala to be bred to a Stonewall Farm stallion, possibly Greatness.
Trained her entire career by David, Party of Eight leaves racing with 16 victories from 82 starts, along with six seconds, 19 thirds and career earnings of $201,487.
"When we inherited her, it was a partnership of friendship more than anything," said Sharon Hinsley, who added that one partner has since dropped by the wayside. "We enjoyed some really happy times with her, some when she more than paid for herself and a few when she didn't quite do so.
"We thought 11 seemed to be a good age to race her through. But emotionally, there is going to be a void with her leaving the (13-horse Hinsley) stable," Sharon Hinsley said.
Amazingly, Party of Eight was probably at her best at 9, winning seven races in a row - the first four at Tampa Bay Downs and the latter three at Arlington outside Chicago. Her late-career success came on the heels of the David Hinsley-trained Rumor Has It winning the Grade III Kentucky Cup Turf in 2008 at age 7 at odds of 59-1 and two additional stakes the following year.
Although Mike and Judy Crowe are listed as Party of Eight's breeders, Sharon Hinsley said Ronnie and Lucy Woodard of Zionsville, Ind. were the de facto breeders. Both now deceased, they owned Lost Run Farm in Zionsville, where they raised Thoroughbreds and German Shepherds.
Lucy Woodard's father, Dr. Goethe Link, was a pioneering hot-air balloon pilot and an amateur astronomer. Ronnie Woodard was an amateur race car driver and part-owner at one time of the Indiana Pacers basketball team.
Ronnie Woodard's big moment in racing came in the Grand National at Aintree, England in 1964. He was the principal owner of Team Spirit, who captured the famous steeplechase race by a nose.
Sharon Hinsley kept thinking of the Woodards Wednesday, as their gift of Party of Eight went out on top. And she wondered aloud about the role of Providence in the mare's career; she was eligible to be claimed in more than 50 of her starts, yet raced exclusively for the Hinsleys and partners.
"I think it was one of those 'meant-to-be' things, that we were meant to have her and somebody above was making sure we took good care of her," Sharon Hinsley said.