Ramonan’s Lucky Student wins at Santa Anita
By Bill Tamburrino
Longtime Ramona resident Larry Samovar of Academic Farms in Ramona proved that one does not have to run a billion dollar horse business to participate and be successful in the Sport of Kings — thoroughbred racing.
His 3-year-old filly named Lucky Student broke her maiden Friday, Oct. 4, at Santa Anita Park after nine races and four second-place finishes.
Going into Friday, the filly by Game Plan (Danzig) had earned $41,110. She more than doubled her earnings on Friday. She took her share of a $48,000 purse and an incentive bonus of $17,500 from the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association and the Thoroughbred Owners of California.
“See, doing business in Ramona does pay off!” said Samovar with a smile. The 50-year resident of Ramona has given much of his business to the community’s equestrian industry.
When Samovar arrived at the Santa Anita track in Arcadia last Friday morning, he was walking on pins and needles until the sixth race. Then his feet quit touching the ground. Like Samovar, Lucky Student is hyperactive. She had to be saddled in an enclosed area in the paddock. The morning line had her at 3-1 but she was bet down to 7-5. It was apparent in the paddock that she was ready to run. She broke cleanly and led wire to wire. She was ahead by a neck rounding the turn and going into the stretch and then jockey Edwin Maldonado gave her a hand ride to at least a 10-length victory going away.
After the race, Samovar shook hands with Maldonado while the jockey was still on the horse.
Samovar said the race was not about him, but about the horse and the horse people in Ramona.
“We have a great community with some great horse people and some great horses. I am sure that I am not the only small farm (eight acres) in the thoroughbred business,” he said.
Samovar is not a native of Ramona but he is not a newcomer by any stretch of the imagination.
He grew up in Los Angeles and attended Fairfax High School where he played football and baseball.
“I was a punter so I only played on fourth downs,” he said.
In baseball Samovar had some very successful teammates. Jack Kemp, who was an original Charger and a presidential candidate, was a football and baseball teammate of Samovar. Larry Sherry was the World Series MVP in 1959 and was also a teammate of Samovar. Sherry won two games and got two saves in the 1959 October classic.
Samovar received his undergraduate degree from Los Angeles State College and earned a Masters degree and a doctorate from Purdue University where he taught for five years. He moved to San Diego State College and took up residence in Ramona in 1963. He has written 14 texts with 45 editions that have been published in several languages in 11 countries.
At the age of 4, he started riding horses and that is the reason that he moved to the Valley of the Sun.
Twenty-five years ago Samovar teamed up with three other professors and a pediatrician to get into the thoroughbred business. All were doctors; hence the name, Academic Farms.
“At first we claimed horses. We claimed some pretty bad horses. We even claimed a horse from England. We claimed cheap horses and some expensive horses. We finally realized that there was a better chance of getting a good horse through breeding than from claiming,” he said.
“We claimed Corissa’s Birthday for $50,000 and she broke down in her first race for us. So we decided to breed her.
“We have never left our roots in Ramona. We bought our first horse from Clark Quisenberry, a Ramona resident who worked at Golden Eagle Farm. Sherrie Songer, a Ramona resident, trains our horses until they are ready to race.
“We get our sires from the farms in Ramona. We have used sires from E.A. Farms, Golden Eagle and Ballena Vista,” he noted.
Samovar and his doctor friends use puns in some of the names of their horses.
“We learned our lesson with Our Road Scholar. We ran her in a claimer and she was claimed. She went on to win over $200,000 dollars. We don’t run our horses in claiming races anymore,” he said.
Samovar is a very loyal individual. He has used the same trainer, Eddie Truman, and the same assistant trainer, Joel Salas, ever since he started racing horses.
As Lucky Student goes on to allowance races and possibly stakes races, the horse will represent Ramona in the sport of kings.
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