Breeders’ Cup Presents Connections: Memories Of Mom En Route To Kentucky Oaks

The son of a butcher and a baker growing up in Bloomington, Minn., Thoroughbred owner Bob Lothenbach knows how important family is on the road to success. His latest stakes winner, a 3-year-old filly on the Kentucky Oaks trail, is named in honor of his mom, Lorraine, who passed away seven years ago.

Charlie’s Penny was named by Lothenbach’s daughter, who remembers her grandmother exclaiming “Come on, Charlie!” while playing cards for pennies around the kitchen table.

The filly’s 3 ¼-length victory in the Fair Grounds’ Jan. 16 Silverbulletday Stakes came as a slight surprise to bettors (she was 9-1) and Lothenbach alike.

“We didn’t expect it, that’s for sure,” he said. “We didn’t know if she would go two turns, but she made it look easy.”

Prior to the Silverbulletday Charlie’s Penny had only started in one-turn races, and she had a record of two wins from four starts. While the daughter of Race Day will be tested once again in the Feb. 13 Rachel Alexandra Stakes, trainer Chris Block is optimistic about her talent level moving forward.

“(Jockey) Brian (Hernandez, Jr.) did a fantastic job around the first turn (in the Silverbulletday) getting her out and settled in there behind what was a slow pace, which I think benefited us to a degree,” Block said. “In the middle of the turn, I could see that he had a ton of horse. She ranged up there on the outside turning for home, and I’ve seen her level off really well going short. I thought if she could do that going long, we’re going to be ok.”

Charlie’s Penny is out of the unraced Warrior’s Reward mare Sweet Lorraine, also named in honor of his mother. Her full sister, cheekily named Mom’s Red Lipstick, is also a stakes winner trained by Block, but was foaled in Kentucky. Conversely, Charlie’s Penny was foaled in Minnesota as one of Lothenbach’s first crop of Thoroughbreds born in his home state.

Charlie’s Penny winning the Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds

“That’s where I live most of the time, so it just made sense to support my home program,” Lothenbach said. “It’s always been a passion of mine, horses, and then the horse racing itself is just fantastic. There’s nothing better than spending the day at the track.”

In fact, Lothenbach has been supporting Minnesota horse racing since Canterbury Park in Shakopee first opened in 1985. The longtime racing fan called on three of his friends, each of whom put in $1,000 to claim a horse. The partners made money with that first claim, and Lothenbach was hooked.

Before long, he was purchasing racehorses all on his own.

“That’s probably part of the reason I went out on my own, to be able to hear the trainer,” Lothenbach explained, laughing. “I’ve got four different trainers that say I’m their best client because I never call them. They call me, and we’ll cover stuff then. They’ve got their job to do, and I don’t want the communication unless I need it.”

He trusts his trainers and gives them the space they need to do their jobs. That trust has become increasingly important as Lothenbach’s racing and breeding stable has grown to over 150 horses.

Block, for example, is especially good at developing younger horses, Lothenbach said.

“Chris is a great developer of horses,” said Lothenbach. “He takes really good care of them. There’s a lot of guys that push the babies, and Chris doesn’t do that. If they really do show that they have the ability to run at 2, he’ll do it, but otherwise he’s patient with them.”

Another quality Lothenbach particularly respects in a trainer is a strong work ethic. It was something his own parents instilled in him early in life.

“I never heard college mentioned in our household, it was all about work ethic,” he said. “My dad always said, ‘If I teach you a good work ethic, I’ll never have to worry about you being able to take care of yourself.’”

That mantra of hard work paid off for Lothenbach, from working 40-hour weeks during his senior year of high school to building his own major printing company from the ground up.

“I started 30 years ago out of my garage with $1,800 to my name,” said Lothenbach. “Back then, the printing industry was pretty old school, and it could take several weeks to process an order. With my company, I told people, ‘When you need it, I’ll get it for you.’ It single-handedly changed the printing industry in Minnesota.

“It was all about service. If I got an order that would normally take 2-4 weeks to finish, I literally would go pick up the paper. I signed a deal with the paper company that if I ordered the paper by 4 p.m., they’d deliver it that night, or I could go pick it up. I’d print overnight, do the binding in the mornings, and then deliver it.

“There were days when I’d sleep there, work 20 hours, get four hours of sleep, and be right back at it.”

The company grew to over 1,300 employees, and Lothenbach was inducted into the Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame in 2013. He sold a majority share in 2016, and now focuses much of his time on other investment projects as well as his Lothenbach Family Foundation.

“I’m really big on literacy for kids, because when I was a kid I really struggled with school and reading, in fact I still do today,” Lothenbach said. “So the foundation supports literacy programs for kids, as well as veterans and a few other charities.

“People helped me get where I’m at, so I try to return the favor.”

Lothenbach admitted that his challenges with reading may be one of the reasons he worked so hard to build his company, and still tries to stay just as busy today.

“Because I had learning disabilities, and because I was a little hellion, I always tried to prove myself,” he said. “I always wanted to be the best at whatever I was doing, since I wasn’t the best at school.”

One of his greatest rewards, then, was being able to take his parents out of town to the horse races in Chicago for the first time in 1992. That afternoon, a horse he co-owned, Saint Ballado, won the Grade 2 Arlington Classic. His parents joined him in the winner’s circle.

“They just loved it,” Lothenbach said, his voice choking up with emotion. “It was pretty neat.”

Horse racing still brings his family together. Before the pandemic, Lothenbach and his brothers made time to take their 89-year-old father to the races at Canterbury a few times a year.

“He can barely walk, but to be with us and go to the races, he’ll do it,” Lothenbach said.

Last year that tradition had to be adjusted a bit, but the family still connects by watching Lothenbach’s horses race on television. A trip to this year’s Kentucky Oaks with Charlie’s Penny would definitely involve the whole family, if at all possible.

“It would be pretty special,” Lothenbach said.

The post Breeders’ Cup Presents Connections: Memories Of Mom En Route To Kentucky Oaks appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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