Tami Bobo ready for second shot at Kentucky Derby with Simplification

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Despite being around horses her entire life, Tami Bobo is in the midst of one of her biggest learning curves to date: managing a Kentucky Derby contender.

As the owner of Simplification, the 3-year-old, Florida-bred bay colt who earned his Derby berth in January by winning the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes, Bobo admits she didn’t have much Thoroughbred experience. Despite being on a horse at age 2 and showing horses all over the country while growing up in Ocala, Fla., Bobo’s foray into horse racing started just 12 years ago.

However, Bobo has made her livelihood in the horse industry since she was a teenager. She was just 17 when she became a single mother, and she continued riding and showing Arabian horses for a nearby Ocala farm to make ends meet.

When she was able to save money, Bobo would head to the local auction barn and began buying Quarter Horses that most people didn’t want. These “rejects” were considered “problem horses” or horses that weren’t yet broken or fit to ride. She would train and resell them, usually turning a modest profit.

“(Horses) are like humans: We’re not perfect and neither are they,” Bobo told NBC Sports ahead of the 2022 Kentucky Derby. “You learn to live with the imperfection and if you feel that that horse can overcome that imperfection, give that horse a shot.

“That horse doesn’t know that its front legs are little crooked, technically. It didn’t get a memo. That horse knows those are the four legs God gave him, and that’s how that horse goes through life. So, if you don’t create an issue for an animal, chances are, they’re gonna run through it.”

MORE KENTUCKY DERBY NEWS: Lindsay Schanzer makes history as first woman to produce Kentucky Derby telecast

With every resale, Bobo was able to save money and eventually able to buy better quality of horses through the years. By her late 20s, she was able to move into the higher-end Quarter Horse market, eventually showing her horses at places like the Quarter Horse Congress.

The American Quarter Horse Congress, known as the world’s largest single-breed horse show with more than 25,000 entries, was a jumping off point for Bobo, whose entrepreneurial spirit led her to combine her knowledge of horses with web development. Bobo began buying and selling horse-related domain names, developing equine information centers for local businesses.

It was from those earnings that Bobo was able to make the transition in 2010 from Quarter Horses to Thoroughbreds. She struck gold with the first Thoroughbred she bought, Take Charge Indy, a well-bred colt sired by A.P. Indy – the 1992 American Horse of the Year – and successful broodmare Take Charge Lady, whose Grade 1 victories included the Ashland Stakes and Spinster Stakes.

Bobo found Take Charge Indy at the September 2010 Yearling Sale at Keeneland, where he failed to reach the $80,000 reserve price due to a conformation issue and short stride. Bobo believed the colt could overcome his deficiencies over time and seized the opportunity, purchasing the horse privately.

Trained by Patrick Byrne, winner of three Breeders’ Cup races, Take Charge Indy won the Grade 1 Florida Derby by a length under Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel. That win earned the colt his spot in the 2012 Kentucky Derby, but Take Charge Indy underwhelmed at Churchill Downs, finishing 19th (out of 20) by 50 lengths.

More disappointing, however, was Bobo’s experience at the Derby, where she and her daughter, Brittney Polite, looked on from the stands after selling to Chuck and Maribeth Sandford.

“I was the working-class girl that brought the horse up to find the wealthy buyer to buy him, and that was my Indy story,” said Bobo. “We didn’t experience any of the Derby (that owners do). We experienced, you know, sitting there together for the day – which is invaluable – and being there, but we had no interaction with the horse, the people, anyone involved.”

Bobo credits her time with Take Charge Indy as invaluable to her development and knowledge within the Thoroughbred industry. And she’s already planning for a very different experience when she and Simplification make their way to Churchill Downs this weekend.

“I want to share anything that I can share with someone,” she said. “So, for me, making a difference in anyone’s life is important to me. So, my family’s coming, my friends are coming, and I just want to enjoy it for what it is, and I just hope that Simplification has a safe trip. And if we’re blessed with anything better, fantastic.”

Since that first Derby trip 10 years ago, Bobo has had multiple graded stakes winners and Grade 1 winners come through her farm in Ocala, called First Finds Farm, which she and her husband Fernando De Jesus purchased in 2016. They run boutique pinhooking operation, purchasing racehorse prospects as foals and nurturing them for resale as yearlings.

“I think what maybe makes our program different than the majority of others, Fernando and I are hands-on daily with these horses,” she explained. “I think being in the barn with these horses for hours on end and just spending the amount of time with them is probably somewhat different than others.”

Simplification was originally bought as a weanling-to-yearling pinhook, however, when the horse showed evidence of sesamoiditis (inflammation of the proximal sesamoid bones, which are in the ankles) Bobo says they opted to keep him.

“Sesamoiditis, to me, is part of growing pains,” said Bobo. “It’s part of Thoroughbred horses. It’s just part of growing. So, I didn’t find it to be significant when we X-rayed the horse to buy him for ourselves. He had it. We were aware, and we didn’t find it to be alarming.”

As for Simplification’s development into a racehorse, Bobo said she relied on her experience and instincts after first impressions also let her to describe the colt as “kind of tough.”

“He had an edge about him, so Fernando and I just decided if this colt can channel this, he might be a heck of racehorse,” Bobo explained. “We just bypassed the 2-year-old sales and decided to take a shot, and we’ve been blessed.”

Regarding the takeaway she hopes people will glean from her story, Bobo believes her journey can serve as an inspiration to others who have similar passion and drive.

“I want people to see that it’s anyone’s game,” she said. “You don’t have to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth to get to the highest places in life. Stay humble, be kind, work hard and you’ll get there.”


How to watch Simplification race at the 2022 Kentucky Derby:

The 2022 Kentucky Derby will air on Saturday, May 7, from noon-2:30 p.m. ET on USA Network and from 2:30-7:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Coverage is also available to stream live on NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app, and Peacock.

2022 Rivalry Series: USA extends lead to 3-0 over Canada in women’s hockey showcase

Hilary Knight #21 of Team United States reacts after scoring a shorthanded goal in the second period during the Women's Ice Hockey Gold Medal match.
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Hilary Knight had two goals and one assist to lead the U.S. women’s hockey team to a 4-2 win over Canada on Sunday, extending Team USA’s series lead to 3-0 in the seven-game 2022-23 Rivalry Series.

Savannah Harmon and Abby Roque also scored for the U.S., which has notched three consecutive wins against Canada for the first time since 2019. Goalie Nicole Hensley made 22 saves in front of a record-setting crown at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, where fan attendance totaled 14,551.

Marie-Philip Poulin and Sarah Nurse scored for Canada, which captured gold \at both the IIHF Women’s World Championship in September and the Beijing Olympics in February.

Knight has enjoyed a standout 2022-23 Rivalry Series to date, registering six points (three goals, three assists) in the first three games including the game-winning goal in a shootout victory in Game 1 of the series on Tuesday and the game-winning assist in Game 2 on Thursday. Prior to the puck drop in Seattle on Sunday, Knight was presented with a golden stick to commemorate her record-breaking 87th career point in world championship play. Knight became the all-time points leader at the IIHF Women’s World Championship in September, when the eight-time world champion recorded one goal and one assist in Team USA’s 12-1 quarterfinal win over Hungary.

Sunday’s matchup between the U.S. and Canada marked the third game of the 2022-23 Rivalry Series and was the third matchup between the two teams in five days. The U.S. came in with a 2-0 series lead following a 2-1 victory on Thursday in Kamloops, B.C., and a 4-3 shootout victory — the first shootout in Rivalry Series history — in Kelowna, B.C., on Tuesday. It also was the first game for the U.S. national team on home soil since Dec. 17, 2021, when the team hosted Canada in St. Louis (Canada won 3-2 in overtime).

The 2022-23 Rivalry Series continues next month with two games in the U.S., set to be played in Las Vegas on Dec. 17 and Los Angeles on Dec. 19.


2022-23 Rivalry Series schedule, results

DATE TIME/RESULT LOCATION NETWORK
Tuesday, Nov. 15 USA 4, CAN 3 (SO) Kelowna, British Columbia NHL Network
Thursday, Nov. 17 USA 2, CAN 1 Kamloops, British Columbia NHL Network
Sunday, Nov. 20 USA 4, CAN 2 Seattle, Washington NHL Network
Thursday, Dec. 15 10 p.m. ET Henderson, Nevada NHL Network
Monday, Dec. 19 10 p.m. ET Los Angeles, California NHL Network
TBD TBD TBD NHL Network
TBD TBD TBD NHL Network

What is the Rivalry Series?

The Rivalry Series was introduced by USA Hockey and Hockey Canada during the 2018-19 season and designed as an annual showcase of the highest level of women’s hockey at various locations in the United States and Canada. The first series comprised three games between the two national teams, with Canada winning 2-1. Team USA took 2019-20 title, winning the expanded five-game series 4-1 and wrapping with an overtime win in the finale in front of a then-record-breaking total of 13,320 fans in Anaheim, California.

Following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic and preparation for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, the Rivalry Series resumed this season with seven games over three months: three in November, two in December and two in February.

The U.S. and Canada have battled in the gold-medal game of six of seven Winter Olympics and 20 of 21 IIHF Women’s World Championship, with the two exceptions being the 2019 World Championship and 2006 Olympics. The Canadian women are the reigning Olympic and world champions.


2022-23 Rivalry Series rewind: USA takes Games 1-2

Game 1 recap: USA 4, CAN 3, SO (Nov. 15): The series kicked off Tuesday with Team USA grabbing a 2-0 lead off goals from Hannah Brandt and Hilary Knight. But Canada battled back with three unanswered goals and held a 3-2 lead with 13 minutes to go in the third. With just 1:29 remaining in regulation, Alex Carpenter tied it for the Americans, sending the game to overtime. The U.S. ultimately won in a shootout, with Knight and Carpenter scoring while U.S. goalie Nicole Hensley made two key saves.

Game 2 recap: USA 2, CAN 1 (Nov. 17): Canada was first to get on the board Thursday when Marie-Philip Poulin capitalized off a penalty shot opportunity in the second period, but USA’s Kendall Coyne Schofield knotted the score just 1:12 later. Alex Carpenter scored the go-ahead tally with 6:36 remaining in the third to give the U.S. a 2-1 win and a 2-0 series lead. U.S. goalie Maddie Rooney recorded 19 saves in net.


Who’s playing in the 2022-23 Rivalry Series?

Team USA’s roster — led by coach John Wroblewski — for the November Rivalry Series games features 23 players, 16 of whom were part of the silver medal-winning team at the 2022 IIHF Women’s World Championship in August:

  • Hannah Brandt (Vadnais Heights, Minn.)
  • Alex Carpenter (North Reading, Mass.)
  • Kendall Coyne Schofield (Palos Heights, Ill.)
  • Jincy Dunne (O’Fallon, Mo.)
  • Aerin Frankel(Chappaqua, N.Y.)
  • Rory Guilday (Minnetonka, Minn.)
  • Savannah Harmon (Downers Grove, Ill.)
  • Nicole Hensley (Lakewood, Colo.)
  • Megan Keller (Farmington Hills, Mich.)
  • Amanda Kessel (Madison, Wis.)
  • Hilary Knight (Sun Valley, Idaho)
  • Kelly Pannek (Plymouth, Minn.)
  • Abby Roque (Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.)
  • Hayley Scamurra (Getzville, N.Y.)
  • Maddie Rooney (Andover, Minn.)
  • Lee Stecklein (Roseville, Minn.).

Team Canada’s 23-player roster, selected by coach Troy Ryan and director of hockey operations Gina Kingsbury, features 16 players who were on the gold medal-winning team at the 2022 IIHF Women’s World Championship and the 2022 Beijing Olympics (Canada beat , including:

  • Erin Ambrose
  • Kristen Campbell
  • Emily Clark
  • Ann-Renée Desbiens
  • Renata Fast
  • Brianne Jenner
  • Jocelyne Larocque
  • Emma Maltais
  • Emerance Maschmeyer
  • Sarah Nurse
  • Marie-Philip Poulin
  • Jamie Lee Rattray
  • Ella Shelton
  • Laura Stacey
  • Blayre Turnbull
  • Micah Zandee-Hart

Rivalry Series history

Following Sunday’s victory, the U.S. holds a 6-2-1-2 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record over Canada all time in the Rivalry Series. Canada won the 2018-19 Rivalry Series with a 2-0-0-1 record, while the U.S. won the 2019-20 Rivalry Series with a 3-1-1-0 record.

2019-20 Rivalry Series results

DATE RESULT LOCATION U.S. PLAYER OF THE GAME
Dec. 14, 2019 USA 4, CAN 1 Hartford, Connecticut Alex Cavallini
Dec. 17, 2019 USA 2, CAN 1 Moncton, N.B. Alex Carpenter
Feb. 3, 2020 CAN 3, USA 2 (OT) Victoria, B.C. Hilary Knight
Feb. 5, 2020 USA 3, CAN 1 Vancouver, B.C. Katie Burt
Feb. 8, 2020 USA 4, CAN 3 (OT) Anaheim, California Megan Bozek

2018-19 Rivalry Series results

DATE RESULT LOCATION
Feb. 12 USA 1, CAN 0 London, Ontario
Feb. 14 CAN 4, USA 3 Toronto, Ontario
Feb. 17 CAN 2, USA 0 Detroit Michigan

Atthaya Thitikul takes LPGA rookie-of-year honors in stride ahead of Tour Championship

Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand smiles after the birdie on the 6th green during the second round of the TOTO Japan Classic.
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To say that Atthaya Thitikul has enjoyed a breakout rookie LPGA season is a bit of an understatement, but keeping things low-key is exactly how 19-year-old “Jeeno” likes it.

As the 2022 season concludes this week at the CME Group Tour Championship, Thitikul has already captured two LPGA titles, held the No. 1 spot in the world rankings and collected the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year honors. But the current world No. 2 displays a wise-beyond-her-years ethos when she says what she’s most proud of this season is her mindset.

“[I’m]19 years old — I think I’m still young to handle all the things that I have now,” Thitikul told On Her Turf ahead of this week’s season finale in Naples, Fla. “I didn’t say that I handled it well, but I’ve just said that I think I can handle it. I can do it. And yeah, it’s turned out to be pretty good this year.”

To keep herself in check, the Thailand native keeps her philosophy posted on her Instagram profile, which reads, “Be you, be happy and everything will be fine.” Thitikul, who on Oct. 31 joined 18-time LPGA winner Lydia Ko as the only players in tour history to reach No. 1 before their 20th birthday, said she took stock of poor performances on the golf course and found they all had one thing in common: She wasn’t being herself.

“I didn’t have fun,” she says of those unsatisfactory rounds. “I was expecting a lot of results on the golf course, not really talking, not really enjoying it. So I think being myself, have fun, keep smiling, keep laughing and talking with other players or talking with my caddie, joking around — I think it’s the best that I can do.”

Golf has always been fun for Thitikul, who grew up in northeast Thailand and was introduced to the sport at age 6 through her father and grandfather, both of whom were not golfers themselves but recognized the opportunity that golf might provide. Thitikul teases that her grandfather was enamored with Tiger Woods, but after her first golf experience with a professional in Bangkok, she was hooked, too.

“They asked me when I finished practicing, do I like it? And I say, ‘Yeah, I do.’ Because [there were] a lot of friends and when I practice, it seemed fun and it seemed not like other sports that I have been watching on TV,” she recalls.

Thitikul’s ascent to the top of her sport was swift: In February 2017, just three days after her 14th birthday, she made her first LPGA tournament appearance at the Honda LPGA Thailand and finished 37th out of 66 players. Just five months later, Thitikul made headlines when she became the youngest person ever to win a professional golf tour event at age 14 years, 4 months and 19 days old, winning the Ladies European Thailand Championship on the Ladies European Tour (LET).

RELATED: 2022 CME Group Tour Championship — How to watch, who’s playing in LPGA’s season finale

For three more years, Thitikul resisted turning professional, racking up multiple international amateur victories and plenty of tour experience, notching her first LPGA top-10 finish in March 2018 at the HSBC Women’s World Championship (T-8) and earning low amateur honors that same year at two majors, the ANA Inspiration (T-30) and Women’s British Open (T-64). The following year, she won the Ladies European Thailand Championship for the second time in three years, earned low amateur honors at the British Open (finishing T-29) for the second straight year and was No. 1 on the women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking.

In her first year as a pro, during the pandemic-impacted 2020 season, Thitikul broke through for her first professional win in July at the Thai LPGA Championship. She finished the season with five Thai LPGA wins and topped the money list.

Thitikul moved to the LET in 2021, winning the Czech Ladies Open in June, and just a month later she moved into the top 100 on the world rankings for the first time at No. 89. She finished 2021 with two wins, three runner-ups and nine additional top-10 finishes, securing the LET Order of Merit and Rookie of the Year titles and becoming just the fourth player to win both awards in the same season.

After finishing third at LPGA Qualifying School to earn her card for 2022, Thitikul didn’t miss a beat in her meteoric rise this season. She posted two top-10s in her first four starts before striking a staff deal with Callaway, which she followed up by winning her first LPGA title in March at the JTBC Classic. She carded an 8-under 64 in the final round to force a playoff and Nanna Koerstz Madsen on the second extra hole. She earned her second LPGA title in September at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, tying the tournament record of 61 in the second round and beating Danielle Kang in a playoff.

As for the pressure of being a teen phenom, Thitikul admits she can’t ignore it but has figured out how to turn it around to her advantage: “It’s still so hard because I think as players want to be on top and we put the pressure on ourselves, and there’s a lot of eyes on us. … But at the same time, it’s kind of like you couldn’t win every week, you couldn’t have a good day every day. It’s golf. I like to think of pressure as a challenge. I put a lot of pressure on myself, but I think of it as challenging.”

Away from the golf course, Thitikul enjoys spending time with friends, watching Korean television dramas and indulging in Asian food (Chinese and Korean are favorites). Although she doesn’t have a pet, she says she’s a dog person, and prefers the mountains to the beach, as she loves to hike.

But don’t expect too much lounging, hiking or other non-golf activities on Thitikul’s itinerary after this season wraps on Sunday.

“This offseason, we have a lot of work to do,” she says.” There are a lot of things I still have to learn – not just for next year but for [beyond.] … But hopefully next year, it’s going to be nice and good for me as well. I really want to have a major win in my career. I don’t know if it’s going to happen next year, but hopefully.”