P. F. Quadrato’s Starship Nova excelled at Calder Casino & Race Course during her run with trainer Monte Brinsley beginning in 2011, and went into retirement in 2014 on a winning note as a 9-year-old mare. She now awaits a new career as a broodmare.
After her last win at Calder, which came on February 2 in her 9-year-old debut, the decision to retire Starship Nova was made so that she could retire sound and have enough time to settle into becoming a broodmare.
“The owner retired her because she wanted to keep something in reserve,” said Brinsley. “The way she saw things, four foals is better than four more wins. It's tough to retire Starship Nova when she was practically guaranteed to win her next start, but I fully support the decision. It showed a lot of wisdom and it showed a lot of restraint. You don't need to squeeze out the last dollar. Being good to them can pay off in unexpected ways later on.”
Brinsley, who maintains a barn of older horses that he has claimed during the years, claimed Starship Nova on January 23, 2011, for $10,000 out of a 6-furlong claiming race at Gulfstream Park in which she finished second from owner Starship Stables and trainer Steven Dwoskin. Starship Stables bred Starship Nova, and thus her name holds the Starship moniker.
Since entering the Brinsley barn, Starship Nova finished in-the-money a spectacular 14 out of 17 races between Calder and Gulfstream Park, with six wins, four second place and four third-place finishes. All of Starship Nova’s wins came at Calder, including the four-straight that she went into retirement with. Starship Nova could have had six straight if not for a second-place finish in May 2013 when she lost by a mere head after winning earlier that month.
“I think she felt safer and more familiar at Calder, so we kept her here,” said Brinsley. “I give a lot of credit to Steve Dwoskin. He always stopped one race short, gave her the time. Look at the statistics and you won't find many 9-year-old mares that win four in a row. Genetics help, but I think management was the key.”
Starship Nova ran in claiming, starter optional claiming, and starter allowance races while with Brinsley as well as an allowance optional claiming race. While horses who often do well with their statistics are typically claimed by other owners and trainers fairly quickly, Starship Nova’s pre-race reputation of being a bit of a handful to be saddled assisted in her being able to remain with the Brinsley barn for such a long successful run.
“She was nearly impossible to saddle, but if you got her saddled, she was extremely hard to beat, especially if she got ahead,” said Brinsley. “I like the challenge of talented, difficult mares. This gave us another advantage. She was a claiming horse, but we treated her like a stakes horse. I will miss her very much.”
While Starship Nova had one reputation trackside on race day, her reputation in the Brinsley barn on a daily basis is completely different.
“In the barn on a daily basis she is very quiet, walks around with her head down low,” said assistant trainer Sherri Matlock. “She is a different mare in the barn. The littlest guy I’ve got in the barn is the one who’s rubbed her all this time. He’s the one that’s taken care of her from day one. He’s a quiet guy, and she loves him.”
Groom Sergio Sanchez and exercise rider Brian Lynch have equally been a part of Starship Nova’s caretaking family since she first entered Brinsley’s care. Jockey Luca Panici, who was aboard Starship Nova for her four-straight victories, rode the mare in the afternoons more than any other jockey, having rode her nine out of her 17 races, with six wins, two seconds, and one third-place result with her.
The connections of Starship Nova feel confident that the mare will put as much heart and determination into being a mother as she did on the racetrack.
“She proved that she was a consistent mare and she knew how to win,” said Matlock. “It was her drive and her determination which always got her there. You can’t teach a horse the desire. They have to have that already, and she has the desire. It didn’t matter how the race set up. She wanted to be the one in front at the finish line, and you have to respect that in a mare. There are certain mares that you think, ‘This mare would make a really awesome momma.’ With the determination that she had when she ran every single time, that’s going to be a trait that will be in her babies.”
Since her last race, Starship Nova has maintained a routine somewhat similar to when she was in training. Shoes off and dappled on her body, she wakes up, eats her breakfast, walks the shedrow early each morning, then grazes, before returning back to her stall and snacking on peppermints, and resting. Matlock said that Starship Nova still knows when it’s race day, and wants to head on up to the track to run and win some more races. Only now she must watch from her stall as her stablemates head to their races as she readies to begin her new career as a broodmare.