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Galloping ghost of Nebraska past: Another horse named Amadevil is tearing it up

Galloping ghost of Nebraska past: Another horse named Amadevil is tearing it up

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Amadevil is owned by Rick Shaneyfelt, who grew up near Fonner Park and has fond memories of the horses who ran at Nebraska tracks. “I’m Nebraska all the way, so it’s fun to name these horses after some of the greats and relive the past.”

Here are things you should know about betting at racetrack casinos in Nebraska.

Local horse racing fans might be surprised to know that Nebraska legend Amadevil is back at the track.

The second coming of the horse might prove to be as good — or perhaps even better — than her namesake.

The original Amadevil was one of the most successful Nebraska-breds ever. The gelding foaled in 1974 raced for seven years and won 33 of 93 starts and more than $653,000 — third all-time on the state-bred money list.

Another horse named Amadevil — this one a 3-year-old Ohio-bred filly — has run two huge races in her young career. She won a five-furlong maiden race June 21 by 24 lengths, narrowly missing the track record, and rolled to a 12-length victory in a six-furlong allowance race last week.

Both races were run at the Ohio racetrack Thistledown in suburban Cleveland, leading local race fans to dub her “The Buckeye Beast.”

Owner Rick Shaneyfelt is the person who resurrected Amadevil, or at least the name. He grew up not far from Fonner Park in Grand Island and has fond memories of the horses that ran at Nebraska tracks, including Omaha’s Ak-Sar-Ben.

“I’m a Grand Island High grad and an NU grad,” he said. “I’m Nebraska all the way, so it’s fun to name these horses after some of the greats and relive the past.”

Shaneyfelt worked at area ranches, including the Kemling spread in nearby Aurora. Paul Kemling and his brother Orville owned and trained the original Amadevil, along with talented stablemate Roman Zipper.

“They were really nice people,” Shaneyfelt said. “Amadevil was one of my favorites because he won all over, not just in Nebraska.”

A 2006 inductee into the Nebraska Racing Hall of Fame, Amadevil was one of the nation’s top sprinters from 1976 to 1982. He won 20 stakes races while running in Nebraska, New York, Kentucky, Arkansas, Illinois and Michigan.

Shaneyfelt now owns some horses of his own along with trainer David Wolochuk as part of Blue Snow Racing.

“I don’t think David ever raced a horse in Nebraska,” Shaneyfelt said. “I’m teaching him about some of these legends.”

Shaneyfelt asked if he could name some of the yearlings that Wolochuk had purchased, and the trainer agreed. That’s how Amadevil and other horses from Nebraska's past — Queen’s Turn and Explosive Girl — came back into play.

Queen’s Turn was named Ak-Sar-Ben’s filly or mare of the year in 1973, while Explosive Girl earned that honor in 1987.

Wolochuk bought Amadevil and another horse for $30,000 from a breeding group in Florida. She had shin problems that kept her away from the racetrack last year, but she’s healthy now.

Shaneyfelt said it’s fun to name horses after his past favorites, though it can create a little confusion. That was the case when Wolochuk exercise rider Kevin Lintner, a former jockey on the Nebraska circuit, was told that he was riding Amadevil.

“He about died,” Shaneyfelt said. “It’s obvious that a lot of racing people remember that horse.”

Some might wonder how it’s possible to have two horses with the same name. That’s explained in the lengthy list of rules for the Jockey Club registry, where the names of all racehorses are submitted.

There are 17 do’s and don’ts for naming a horse, and some are obvious. Names can’t be vulgar, must be 18 letters (spaces also count) or fewer and can’t be named after horses that have won Triple Crown races or other high-profile stakes races.

Foals can be named after past horses that haven’t won Grade I stakes races in the past 25 years — sort of an equine statute of limitations.

That allowed Shaneyfelt to name the filly Amadevil, and she’s lived up to the hype. Her debut was a stunner, and her second race against tougher foes was equally impressive as she went off at the minuscule odds of 1-9 and paid $2.10 to win.

As she was rolling to her second victory, the track announcer brought Amadevil home with these superlatives:

“This is a very fine filly that’s posted consecutive crushing victories. She’s the real deal.”

Shaneyfelt, an investment manager, said he plans to keep the talented filly in Ohio for the time being. Others have inquired about buying into Amadevil, though the price has gone up after her most recent performance.

As for naming more horses after former Nebraska stars, Shaneyfelt said he’s going to keep it going. But there is one horse that you might never see again at the races — Ak-Sar-Ben fan favorite Who Doctor Who.

“I don’t think I could do that,” Shaneyfelt said. “If that’s going to happen, it will have to be someone from (owner-trainer) Herb Riecken’s family.”​


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Mike covers high school sports, primarily volleyball in the fall, girls basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring and summer. He also reports on horse racing for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @MPattersonOWH. Phone: 402-444-1350.

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