In our 50th race as owners of Red Rabbit Racing, we watched with sadness as

Our Workin For Hops was claimed

for $20,000 following a mediocre 4th place finish this past August 18th. Like in our last race, we had dropped the Hopster down in search of a win, but came up empty.

We went off as the second favourite, in this Mile on the turf. Eddie, as usual was in the irons. He hustled him out of the gate well enough, but didn't engage the leaders in the blistering speed duel that ensued.

The opening fractions were scalding hot at 22 and 46 in change, while we laid back fourth or fifth in this field of 9. At the head of the stretch, Eddie went to work, but the Hopster produced his rally too late against the tiring leaders and finished fourth, just a length and a half off the lead.

The final time was 2/3rds of a second slower than the track record for that distance, which is astounding considering everyone in this race was for sale for a paltry $20,000.

Within 30 seconds after the Hopster crossed the finish line, my phone rang in the distinctive ringtone reserved for our trainer, Chris Block. I knew before I answered that the Hopster was gone. I answered the phone with the words "We lost him?" And Chris quietly confirmed we did. A single claim was entered for him and he now was owned by someone else.

As the Hopster disappeared into the tunnel, headed to his new barn, we called his name out to say Goodbye.

But he was already gone.

Further attesting to our wretched racing luck since April, we were told by a reliable source that the Hopster was missing a front shoe as he was walked back through the Paddock to his new barn. Obviously, he tossed it somewhere during the race.

Pretty tough to beat everyone when
one of your shoes is on Euclid Avenue

Truth be told, we had mixed feelings about this turn of events. On one hand we had all bonded with this horse, who was full of heart and gave it his all in each and every race. He had run 10 races for us and 5 of them he placed in the money - a win and 4 thirds. In his March win for us at Gulfstream, he had blistered his way around the track, cutting the heart out of runnerup Dark Cove, who later went on to win 2 Graded Stakes races in a row.

We thought we had caught lightning in a bottle with him.

But over the last couple months, the Hopster seemed to have entered into a period of decline, as evidenced by his last couple races, where we had dropped him $80,000 in value and still couldn't secure another elusive win. What is probably most sorrowing to us Rabbits, is we now enter another period without a horse. It took 16 months to find the Hopster and none of us want to wait that long again. But this is the Claiming Game in Horseracing.

In my e-mail to the Rabbit Nation announcing the race, I mentioned a 42 year old grudge I'd held with another owner who had a horse in the race. For those who don't know what I'm talking about, the e-mail is at the bottom. By the way - his horse, Exchanging Kisses, finished dead Last! So....

Note to the Bear- "You're Forgiven. We're Quits!"

We had alot of company again that came and cheered us on which makes this venture so fun. There must have been 50 people - family, friends and the like that watched us saddle in the Paddock and walked the tunnel with us to see the race. That is so much fun. Picture upper left is of Ben in the Silks with Brett & girlfriend Mary in matching Red Rabbit Racing t-shirts. Picture above right is of Chris legging up Eddie to our hero in the paddock.

Below is some video, first of Kathy with her Rabbit Cam, showing the throng in the Paddock, with video of the race directly beneath that.

We shall all remember the Hopster with Love, Thanks and with a wistful feeling of

What Might have been.

Farewell, Workin For Hops


Video From Kathys Rabbit Cam

Official Race Video

Helmet Cam!

From: Rick Johnson []
Sent: Saturday, August 17, 2013 10:23 AM
To: ''
Subject: Red Rabbit Race Alert - Sunday 18-August!

Racing Raging Rabbits,

Fresh off our dominating Last Place finish a couple weeks ago, our Workin For Hops steps  back onto Arlington Parks Turf Arena competing in the 6th race tomorrow – Sunday August 18th at 3:00PM.  We are entered in a field of 9 and have drawn the Lucky 7 hole to launch from.  Jockey Eddie Perez will be back aboard the Hopster riding in this 2 turn mile.

Usually I spend a few sentences chatting up the capabilities of the Hopster – but today, let’s look at some of the delicious plot twists regarding a couple of our competitors we hook up with tomorrow.   One of them  is Mr. Mischief, an 8 year old Illinois bred gelding who is known for his early speed.   Well, the Mischief boy stole a race from our own General Charley back in 2010, when Charley was vying for the record tying 6th straight win in a row during  that magical summer.  Denying us that win still leaves a bitter taste in our Rabbit mouths – so revenge would be sweet should the Hopster be able to deliver it.

However, the 2nd sub-plot in this race is a bit more personal.  Launching 2 holes down from us will be Exchanging Kisses, another capable 8 year old with demonstrated success on Arlington’s lawn.  However, forget the horse as my quarrel is not with him - but with his owner Craig Glander! 

You see, back in 1971 I was a buffed, chiseled, ripped 15 year old  defenseman patrolling the blue line for the Arlington Jaycees Hockey Team.   In early October of that year we were locked in a Crosstown battle with our rivals, the Arlington  Ladies, at the old Polar Dome at Santa’s Village in East Dundee.  The Arlington Ladies were led by none other than Craig Glander, nicknamed  the “Bear” cuz he looked just like one since he was a yearling.   Well, the Bear was about the best Hockey Player I’d ever played with, or against, in my entire life.   He was big, skated like hell, his shot could take your head off & like most great athletes had a mean streak too.

On that night, yours truly was on his own Blue Line, stickhandling out of his own zone, with my eyes locked on the puck, when the Bear hit me so hard he knocked me out for a minute or so.   One second I’m carrying the puck and the next I’m on all fours without my gloves on and the Bear is already in the penalty box.  Probably for roughing, charging, high sticking, anything could have been called because he just laid me out.   Made me look bad in front of my babe girlfriend, Linda. (I still miss her) & my Dad.  Gave me a headache for a month.    Well hockey players are known for not only getting mad – but for getting even.

The problem is that then and now, he is still too damn tough for me to kick the shit out of on my own. 

So here’s the plan.  If we beat Exchanging Kisses, I promise to draw deep upon my Christian faith and after 42 years finally forgive the Bear for knocking me out.  

But should Exchanging Kisses finish in front of us – or perish the thought even win- then I’m gonna need some help as we’re going to rip that Bear apart right in the Winners Circle-  spoiling his picture and finally squaring the score.  Watch out Bear, I’m Coming and Hell’s coming with me!   (Click here for that moment in Tombstone via YouTube ) I’m your Huckleberry!   You’re no Daisy! You’re no Daisy At All!

Whew, how’s that for Drama?

Plenty of complimentary tickets thanks to Arlington Park and our buddy Steve T.   Just go to the West entrance Will Call and say either “Red Rabbit Racing”   or “I’m Here To Help Rick Kick The Crap Out Of The Bear” and they’ll will hand you free tickets.

Good Luck & Good Racing,
Rick Johnson


"The Horse Is Made Ready For The Day Of Battle, But Victory Rests With The LORD."
Proverbs 21:31 (Inspired by God Almighty, scribed  by King Solomon, discovered by Uncle Roy)


Red Rabbit Racing is a family thoroughbred horseracing partnership created in 2004.     The initial investors were the late Richard Johnson, Peggy (Johnson) Lenz, Jean (Johnson) Gallo, Jeff Johnson and Rick Johnson.  We have as goals of this adventure to have fun as a family and take forever before the damn money runs out.   Red Rabbit Racing is proud to have world renowned Chris Block and Neil Pessin as our trainers.

The name Red Rabbit comes from the nickname of the late Russell Johnson, who was father to Peggy & Richard and grandfather to Jean, Jeff & Rick.  Stay tuned to all Red Rabbit Racing info at   Should you wish to unsubscribe to this newsletter – send a mail to