With eight victories from their last 19 starters, few barns were hotter at Los Alamitos Race Course in the spring than the stable of the Blane Schvaneveldt Ranch, LLC. Their wins have come in races like the trials to the Kindergarten Futurity with Mark and Peggy Brown’s promising duo of Kissed By An Eagle and Bos On Times and with horses like the sophomore filly Secondswitch, which has won twice during that span, and with 6-year-old gelding Follow The Dream, which has also scored two victories for the Schvaneveldts and co-owner Brad McKinzie since April 17 .
It’s been a fun time for Brenda Schvaneveldt Figueroa, the person in charge of the Schvanveldt barn and the daughter of the legendary trainer, and also for trainer Rafael Orozco, who first began working for Blane when he was just a teenager some 35 years ago.
“It so much more fun when you’re winning races,” Schvaneveldt Figueroa said. “There’s nothing like winning and it makes things more exciting.”
It has not always been fun and victories for the team. There have been some dry spells in the win column along the way, but through hard work and love for Quarter Horse racing, the Schvaneveldt stable in enjoying a great run of victories at the Orange County oval.
“A horse like Secondswitch is a morale booster for all of us,” Schvaneveldt Figueroa added. “She’s a homebred that (husband) Roman Figueroa and the team raised and got her going at the ranch. Now when she’s in a race the whole ranch is excited to come out and watch her run. Follow The Dream has also been so good to us for so many years. He’s won a lot of races and kept us going for so many years.”
It would have been easy for the Schvaneveldt to close up shop after Blane’s death on July 5, 2010 of complications from a heart arrhythmia. Brenda, her mother, Shirley Schvaneveldt, and the rest of the family would hear none of it.
“He died so suddenly,” said Schvaneveldt Figueroa of her dad’s passing. “We had a family meeting and we asked ourselves, ‘How do we keep the business going?’ We were not going to close the barn and we wanted to keep the ranch going, but it was difficult. We helped Rafael get his training license and went to work. It’s been hard work and we’ve shed a lot of tears, but we’ve made it work.”
Schvaneveldt Figueroa credits Orozco and right hand man, Guillermo Macias, for their dedication and loyalty to the operation.
“Rafael and Guillermo had been with dad since they were both in their teens,” she continued. “They’re both really smart, know a lot about racing, but most of all they’re both stellar men. I can’t say enough about them. They’ve stuck with us through some hard times. When I took over the barn they treated me with nothing but respect. With the horses, Rafael and I make all the decision together.
“My two boys always came first, but after getting them ready for school, I would come to the track each morning. My oldest, Brayden, is now in college, but I still have my youngest that I take to school. After dropping him off, I come to the track every day. I watch our horses gallop and I’m out there by the gate when the horses are schooling.
“My sister, Shonna, and I grew up at the racetrack,” Schvaneveldt Figueroa continued. “I used to come here when I was seven-years-old. My dad was strict and he was all business. We would work at the track all summer long. When I got married I took over the books for the ranch. It was an opportunity to learn all sides of the business. It’s not an easy business and it takes a lot of work, but it’s fun.”
Brenda also acknowledges the support of several other important people.
“Mom has been our biggest supporter,” she added. “We couldn’t have kept the barn open without her. She was in Idaho last week visiting her family, but she would be calling us as we were in the winner’s circle. This is still a family business, which is the way it was with dad.”
And of course, the owners.
“Mark and Peggy Brown have been so great to us. We have Kissed By An Eagle for them in the Ed Burke Million Futurity trials on Sunday and we’ll get Bos On Time back for the Wild West Futurity trials. He’s getting ready for the Bitterroot Futurity trials right now. Abigail Kawananakoa has always stuck with us and we appreciate her so much. George and Judy Weldon have also been great to us, as well as Gregorio Aguilar. We had fun training (winning Thoroughbred) Whats A Rebah for Gregorio.”
It all adds up to a tremendous period in racing for the Blane Schvaneveldt Ranch with trainer Rafael Orozco shining brightly statistically since April 3. With seven wins, the trainer ranks eighth in Quarter Horse victories during that span plus he’s doing so with an impressive winning ratio of 39%. He’s in the money percentage during that time is also an outstanding 72%, while his average odds per winner comes in at an impressive 22-1.
Here’s one more stat. Orozco, whose top Quarter Horse stakes finishes during his career as trainer have included Ynot Walk’s victory in the Los Alamitos Winter Derby and Unchangeble’s runner-up finish in the Ed Burke Million Futurity, is now only four wins shy from saddling his 100th winner at Los Alamitos.
It’s a great accomplishment for Orozco and also a tremendous one for everyone involved with the Blane Schvaneveldt Ranch.