Beaming like a proud mother, Lilith Boucher was not about to let something like a pesky stewards’ inquiry spoil the moment.
With her husband and jockey Richard Boucher only a few feet away giving his take on Pamzine’s win in the $20,000 Dale K. Thiel maiden claiming hurdle, trainer Lilith Boucher said she could live with whatever ruling came down from the stewards’ tower. Nothing was going to ruin this feeling.
Pamzine, a 7-year-old gray mare owned by John C. Gregory, Marlou Gregory and Why Not Racing LLC, was making her first start in exactly 17 months and two weeks. She had an excuse better than most horses for her time away from the track. Call it the equine equivalent of maternity leave for the first time jumper who broke her maiden at first asking Saturday at the Springdale Race Course after having gone through a series of life and professional changes.
“She’s had a baby,” Lilith Boucher said with an ear-to-ear smile when talking of Pamzine’s colorful past.
“She was a very nice flat horse for Mike Moran. He gave up training and we ended up training her. She had a little problem and he gave her to us and, in between giving her to us, she got sent to a high-level dressage, three-day event lady. She didn’t quite suit that program so she came back to us. So, this is her fourth career.”
Boucher ran Pamzine on the flat at Laurel Park in an allowance race on October 16, 2017. The daughter of Dunkirk finished seventh that afternoon. That effort came 17 days after her third lifetime win in a claimer at Delaware Park.
After motherhood, taking a shot in the show ring and having four wins on the flat from 16 starts, who could have imagined a trip to the winners’ enclosure on a sun-splashed Carolina Cup day?
That vision started taking shape when Richard Boucher, who trains horses in Camden as well as rides them in races, let his daughter, Camden High sophomore Mell Boucher, hack Pamzine through the woods. Even then, Lilith Boucher said with a laugh, even she could never have imagined this almost surreal situation taking place given Pamzine’s minor setback after delivering her foal.
“We never thought we would do this because her milk didn’t dry up. They said to ride her for 30 days so that her milk would dry up. She has a beautiful baby,” Lilith Boucher explained. “Mell was fooling with her down here and was jumping her in the woods and we said, ‘Huh, she jumps good.’
“What a good job Richard’s done with her down here.”
In her new jumping gig, Pamzine bided her time for all of two jumps as she sat in third in the field of seven for the first half-mile of the 10-fence, 2 1/8-mile race. Richard Boucher brought his mount to the front at the third fence and the pair stayed there through the second last fence in which she jostled Sim Card and Bernie Dalton, leading to the foul claim after Dalton was unseated.
Pamzine continued on, holding off Hepcat and Thomas Garner to win by a length in a time of 4:11.60 over the firm going at Springdale. Tiepolo and Sean McDermott were another length and a half back in third as seven of the eight starters finished the race.
The end result, following the wait for the final verdict from the stewards, could not have been more warmly received by the Bouchers who had been on the fence as to what to do with Pamzine. Saturday proved they made the right call as to her career.
“We got her back here and had her in training and said, ‘Well, we don’t know,’” Lilith Boucher said as to the career options for Pamzine. “So, we bred her and she won a race last year when she was pregnant. She foaled the baby and we were going to breed her back, but she foaled kind of late and you have to wait a month. We just decided to wait a year … she’s young.”
A young Pamzine, however, might have added a few years to her connections lives … stewards’ inquiry notwithstanding.
“I say that it’s easier than childbirth,” Lilith Boucher said with a laugh. “Steeplechasing is hard, but it’s easier than childbirth.”