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Homeracing

An up close view to a friend's Kentucky Oaks dream

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

May 5th, 2016

I have a lot to thank Terri Burch for.

For nearly three decades the program coordinator for the University of Louisville's Equine Industry Program, Terri was undoubtedly the one who, after I sent a letter requesting information on the program in the early 1990s, mailed to me the literature that convinced me that my goal of having a career in the Thoroughbred industry would be best achieved by enrolling at Louisville.

It was also Terri who, in my senior year and still about eight credit hours short of graduation, assuaged concerns I had and strongly encouraged me to apply for a position as a handicapper in Daily Racing Form's Lexington office. In perhaps a greater upset than Charismatic's in that year's Kentucky Derby (G1), I got the job. Thus began, first at the Form and now at Brisnet/TwinSpires.com, a career as a handicapper and turf writer.

Another thing that happened my senior year was Terri meeting Jim Stone, a trucking company executive just getting started in the Thoroughbred business. Not only has Terri been Jim's partner since those days, but has also served as Stoneway Farm's racing manager.

Stoneway has campaigned four graded stakes winners since 2002, including the Grade 2-winning fillies Proper Gamble, Ahh Chocolate, and Stonetastic, who will seek a Grade 1 score in Saturday's Humana Distaff. But before Stonetastic attempts to stretch her speed over seven furlongs against the likes of Breeders' Cup winner Wavell Avenue, Stoneway's green and gold colors will be represented by Dream Dance in Friday's Kentucky Oaks (G1).

Although 30-1 on the morning line, Dream Dance has done plenty to deserve a place in the Oaks starting gate. She's twice placed in stakes company over the Churchill strip, and was a solid second to Land Over Sea in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) two starts back in her seasonal bow. Trained by Neil Howard, Dream Dance rallied to beat allowance foes at Keeneland last month in her final Oaks tune-up.

Dream Dance's odds in the Oaks may be figuratively and literally long, but being in the Thoroughbred business and living that life is all about dreaming big. I know that, and so does Terri, a native Kentuckian who is going to experience one of the great thrills of her life Friday afternoon by watching her filly run in the Kentucky Oaks before a hometown crowd of well over 100,000.

After being there for me when I experienced several of my life's highs (including my marriage), Terri (with Jim Stone's and Neil Howard's support) is kindly allowing me to join in experiencing one of hers. As part of TwinSpires.com's Kentucky Oaks coverage, I'll be with Team Dream Dance in the lead-up to the Oaks, Periscoping the walk over from Barn 25 to the paddock and capturing the preliminaries and excitement in pictures. Finally, I'll be Periscoping the scene in the owner's box as the Oaks is run.

Follow along on Twitter @TwinSpires in our presentation of this unique look at the Kentucky Oaks from an owner's perspective. I'll be back Friday night to recap the event and, if lady luck shines, describe a tremendous Oaks upset.

(Photo courtesy of Terri Burch)

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