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Seven reasons to love Gold Cup winner, Hot Rize

Tuesday, May. 6 | By Betsy Burke Parker
Hot Rize crossing the finish line at the 2014 Gold Cup Timber Steaks Race.
Photo by Douglas Lees
Defying skepticism of bettors and competitors, longshot Hot Rize gutted out victory in steeplechasing's premier spring classic, fighting off a determined challenge from Organisateur to win the $75,000 stake before a capacity crowd at Great Meadow Saturday.

Holston Hall’s Hot Rize took the lead before the final fence in the four-mile marathon and fought off a determined challenge by Organisateur to win by three-quarters of a length.

Seven reasons to love Hot Rize:

Hot Rize is a working-class horse.
Born in the hills of far northeastern Tennessee, Hot Rize was brought into the world by Bruce and Anne Haynes. He was a big foal, Anne recalled, and “it took the both of us giving a pull.”

The Haynes family managed every step of Hot Rize's career. Anne Haynes pored over bloodlines and selected stallion Sultry Song to pair with Desert Wine mare Donesia. She and Bruce took turns sleeping on a hay bale in the stable on foal-watch when the birth was near. They helped him take his first steps, introduced him to saddle and bridle at age 2, taught him to walk, trot, canter and gallop later that year, and added jumping at 3.

Bruce trained the horse up to his first starts on the turf that fall – Russ rode, and his hurdle debut at Camden that November. “Dad knew he'd be good,” Russ said.

When Bruce died of a heart attack suddenly and with no warning at the family farm in 2008, Russ and Will took over farm operations, and Russ began training. “This was a special win,” Russ said. “For so many reasons.”

The ownership syndicate is named for a remote, dark hollow in Appalachia.
The Holston Hall partnership includes Anne and Russ Haynes plus Great Meadow Foundation president Rob Banner and a few others. The group takes its name from the Haynes' longtime base of operations near Bristol. Tennessee's Holston River is a world-renowned hotspot for trophy rainbow and brown trout. Holston Mountain north of Johnson City is a 4,100-foot ridge in the Cherokee National Forest best known for a mysterious 1959 commercial plane crash that killed all passengers and crew.

Between the two, deep Holston Hollow nestles snug against Thomas Creek, a hidden jewel of fertile pastures, rolling hills and thick woodlands.

It's a lonely place where daylight arrives late, departs early. “When the fog rolls in it's pretty spooky,” Russ said.

The horse's name is a cultural double-entendre.
Sired by Sultry Song, the name Hot Rize is an insider reference to a bluegrass band formed in the 1970s. Active today, Hot Rize is still a hot act. Hot Rize the band was named after Hot Rize the leavening product trademarked by the Tennessee milling company that created Martha White's signature self-rising flour.

His favorite treat?
Hot Rize loves peppermints, according to breeder and part-owner Anne Haynes. “He comes running when he even hears you crinkle the wrapper.”

Hot Rize was tabbed as a Gold Cup wannabe early.
Haynes family friend and the horse's one-time trainer Karen Gray told Russ and Anne six years ago that the horse would be a top timber horse. As did jockey Gus Dahl, one of eight pros to race Hot Rize.

“A lot of people had a lot of faith in him for a lot of years,” Russ said. “All the stars aligned for us this week. There was some magic at work.”

The similarity between the Gold Cup winner and Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome are uncanny.
Like California Chrome a homebred by his owners, Hot Rize is from a tiny outfit, the only horse in the partnership’s stables. Trainer Russ Haynes – who trains exactly one racehorse and who’s in his first season of training on a national scale – actually worked alongside Derby winning trainer Art Sherman one summer. Haynes worked for Dan Hendricks at Hollywood Park in 2006. Sherman shared the shedrow, Haynes said. “Really nice guy, hard-working, really cared about his horses. And now he hit it big.”

It’s been done before.
Though it doesn’t happen often on ‘chasing’s biggest stage, the mother/son Gold Cup link has been done before. In 1980, Turney McKnight won with Tong, bred by his mother June McKnight. McKnight also bred, owned and trained 1993 Cup winner Kuujjuaq.

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