Tim Hamm developed a business plan when he became a trainer in 1996, and he showed uncommon discipline in adhering to it.
When horses got very good, he typically got out.
Too Much Bling provided the greatest example of that. When the youngster displayed abundant speed for Hamm in its first two starts, Hamm sold a majority interest to Stonerside Stable. Too Much Bling became part of Bob Baffert’s perennially powerful barn and advanced to the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, where he finished sixth.
Hamm’s plan served him well. Each profitable transaction allowed him to continue to develop his operation to the point where he has more than 100 horses in training in the Midwest with approximately 80 yearlings based at Blazing Meadows Farm South, his farm in Ocala, Fla.
The Ohio native retains a financial stake in many of the horses he oversees. He has made his greatest mark with Ohio-breds, with more than 25 of them going on to be champions within that state’s program.
The man with a plan finally changed his ways when Dayoutoftheoffice came along. He co-owns the 3-for-3 filly with Siena Farm, which bred her in Paris, Ky. He became enthralled with her when she arrived at Blazing Meadows to be broken.
“She looked like she had a lot of size and scope, a very athletic filly,” said Hamm, 54. “Those are the kind that tend to get you excited early on, and every step along the way she kept improving.”
Dayoutoftheoffice already has taken Hamm where every trainer wants to go. She provided him with his first Grade 1 victory when she won the Frizette Stakes on Oct. 10 at Belmont Park. The long-awaited breakthrough was accompanied by a fees-paid berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on Friday at Keeneland Race Course.
“When you do something this long, it’s not like it’s an accident,” Hamm said. “We always thought it would come at some point, and it felt great. It gets the monkey off your back.”
Dayoutoftheoffice handled the one-turn, one-mile Frizette as well as anyone could have hoped, staring down accomplished rivals and winning by a 2-length margin in 1:35.82.
“I knew the ability was there. Then you’ve got to see whether they have the heart and mentality to do it,” Hamm said. “That was my only question. When they looked each other in the eye, which filly had the heart to do it? And she showed that.”
He has seemingly done everything possible to give the filly every chance to succeed in the Juvenile Fillies. He took care to provide ample time to recover after each race.
She debuted with an eye-opening 4 ¾-length score on May 14 at Gulfstream Park. She did not return to competition until the July 16 Schuylerville Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. Sent off at 19.80-1, she proved all of the doubters wrong with a six-length romp.
Dave Pope, co-owner of Siena Farm, has delighted in Hamm’s success throughout the campaign.
“He’s been in the business a long time, but he’s done it the hard way. He’s done it the blue-collar way,” Pope said. “To see him having this success with this filly, it’s like watching magic occur.”
Pope would like to see Dayoutoftheoffice become a difference-maker for Hamm.
“You never know what could happen when you have a special horse like this. It gets you noticed,” he said. “People all of a sudden start thinking about sending you better horses. People who haven’t used you in the past are calling you. It does give him an opportunity to enhance his training program.”
Siena also stands to benefit.
“It kind of validates the hard work we put in,” Pope said. “We started the farm in 2008. We said we were going to breed world-class horses, but that was all talk then.
“We understand you have to have luck on your side, but you have to be skillful to put yourself in position to be lucky, and I hope we’re doing that. I hope that’s what this is.”
Dayoutoftheoffice produced her lone work in advance of the Breeders’ Cup when she drilled five furlongs at Keeneland in 1:00.40 last Friday. She galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.80 with a clocking of 1:27 for seven furlongs.
“I thought it was a phenomenal work,” Hamm said. “She did everything right. She accelerated toward the end of the work and galloped out strong. She came back good.
“She’s right where we want her to be.”
And, after years of striving, her blue-collar trainer is right where he wants to be.