Good Governance a Healing Influence for Trainer Anna Meah
Recovering from Shoulder Surgery, Has Contender in Pegasus Turf
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – From competing on the rodeo circuit to riding one of the most famous Thoroughbreds in the world, Anna Meah’s racing career has been quite a ride, one that will continue Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
The 30-year-old Meah trains Foxbrook Farm’s Good Governance, who will make the biggest start of his – and her – career in the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) presented by Qatar Racing, one of the richest and most prestigious grass events in the U.S.
In its fifth year, the 1 1/8-mile Pegasus Turf is part of a blockbuster 13-race program featuring nine stakes, seven graded, worth $5.4 million in purses that includes the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) presented by Baccarat and $500,000 TAA Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf Invitational (G3) presented by Pepsi.
Good Governance is a multiple graded-stakes placed 7-year-old seeking his first stakes win in the Pegasus Turf. It will be just his 11th career start and second for Meah since she and her husband, David, purchased the 7-year-old for Foxbrook’s Jason Tackitt for $55,000 at Keeneland’s horses of racing age sale last November. Originally on the reserve list, he drew into the 12-horse field following the Jan. 19 retirement of two-time defending champion Colonel Liam.
In the first start for his new connections, Good Governance ran fourth – beaten less than two lengths – in the Dec. 31 Fort Lauderdale (G2), Gulfstream’s local prep for the Pegasus Turf.
“It’s so cool. It’s a once in a lifetime thing,” Meah said. “You just never know when you’re actually going to get the chance to be back in there. We secretly were kind of dreaming of it after the Fort Lauderdale but we weren’t going to get our hopes up. I’ve had a good feeling about this horse. It’s just pretty amazing how it all worked out.”
Meah was born in Portland, Ore. and raised just across the border in Battle Ground, Wash., getting her introduction to racing at age 7 on a trip with her father to Portland Meadows. For Meah, it was love at first sight.
“I’ve been a 100 percent horse girl since I was born,” said Meah, who traveled and competed all over the Northwest with the equestrian drill team, Latigo N’ Lace, for seven years as well as the Washington National Barrel Horse Association. She ran track competitively for 13 years, graduating from Battle Ground High School in 2010. Meah went on to study animal science with an equine option at Montana State University.
Still unsure where she wanted her career with horses to go she worked for veterinarian Solomon Benneroch, which later led to a grooming job and breaking babies before beginning to exercise racehorses in 2011 at Portland Meadows, Kennewick, Grants Pass and Emerald Downs.
“I grew up doing rodeo,” Meah said. “I didn’t really know anybody in the racehorse industry but I was shadowing and kind of interning [Benneroch who] worked on the track, so he kind of got my foot in the door at Portland Meadows and it hooked me right there.”
When the future of Portland Meadows became cloudy before it eventually closed in 2019, Meah was faced with a decision of where to take her burgeoning career. She got in her car and drove to southern California in December 2012 and by the next spring had secured a job riding horses for trainer Art Sherman.
Around the same time, a California-bred of modest lineage came to Sherman’s barn – one that would change Meah’s life: California Chrome.
“I thought, ‘Heck, you know what? The big leagues are in California and if I want to pursue it then I’m going to go south. And it’s warmer. I was riding in the rain and snow every day, so I was really happy to go to California,” Meah said. “How lucky am I to be there such a short amount of time and get to be a part of Chrome’s whole career? It was pretty fairy tale-like, to be honest.”
Meah worked her way up in the barn to become Sherman’s assistant and the exercise rider for Chrome, the 2014 and 2016 Horse of the Year that still has a rabid following six years after he last raced. He won 16 races including the 2014 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) and 2016 Dubai World Cup (G1) and earned more than $14 million in purses.
When California Chrome made his career finale in the inaugural Pegasus World Cup in 2017 – he’d finish ninth behind Arrogate’s track-record performance and ultimately exit the race with a knee injury – Meah stayed behind in California to run Sherman’s barn.
“The whole experience with Chrome was amazing,” Meah said. “At the time I was a little disappointed to miss out on that, especially because it was going to be his retirement at that point. I had to really be at the barn to keep things going. I look back at it and it’s one of those things that I’m thankful for now because it’s taught me a lot about how to run my own barn and handle situations that arise every day.”
Meah spent six years with Sherman and then worked for Richard Baltas, exposing her to such notable stakes horses as Gas Station Sushi, Goodyearforroses, Madam Dancealot, Midnight Crossing, Queen Blossom, Gato Del Oro, Insta Erma, Tapped, A Red Tie Day, Secret Spice, Kathy’s Song, Next Shares, Lucy De, Princess Princess, Ms. Bad Behavior, Miss Boom Boom, Pantsonfire, Navajo Dreamer, Okinawa, Del Mar May, Lady Prancealot, Quebec and Rijeka.
Grade 1-winning millionaire Next Shares is the only horse to run in the Pegasus Turf three times, from 2019 to 2021, his best finish being a sixth in his final appearance.
“I was with Richard Baltas for a year. That was a stable that really prepared me to go on my own, just because I traveled alone a lot,” Meah said. “[Art] Sherman’s was, too, because I got left behind a lot so I was given the whole entire run of the barn and [able] figure it out. They both were really good stepping stones for me. I learned a lot there.”
Meah took out her trainer’s license in October 2018, her first runner being Sekhmet’s Revenge owned by William Marasa and her husband, David. The horse ran second and was claimed for $20,000 out of the Oct. 25, 2018 race at Santa Anita in a 10-way shake.
In November 2018, Meah-trained Excellent Sunset finished first in the Kathryn Crosby at Del Mar but was disqualified to second for interference in the stretch. She recorded her first training win with Stringent Jan. 19, 2019 at Santa Anita. Meah’s first stakes win came with Abby Hatcher in the 2021 Chicago (G3) at Arlington Park.
By the spring of 2020, Meah and her husband relocated to Kentucky, where they are based year-round. This is their first winter in South Florida, with a nine-horse string at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.
“Training wasn’t really what I was aiming for, to be honest with you. I don’t really know what I was aiming for, but the opportunity arose and with my husband being in bloodstock we had a lot of mutual friends and clients,” Meah said. “They were like, ‘Hey, if you want to go out on your own we’ll support you.’ We decided we might as well take this leap of faith. We’ve got people to back us up so let’s give it a try. We’ve hit a lot of rough patches, but we’ve had a lot of fun and success along the way too. We’ve been very pleased to have good owners and some fun horses.”
Good Governance is the latest of those horses. Originally purchased as a yearling for $167,290 at Tattersalls in England, he won four of nine races for Klaravich Stables and trainer Chad Brown and ran second by a neck in the 2019 Saranac (G3) and third by 1 ½ lengths in the 2020 Bernard Baruch (G2), both at Saratoga.
“We didn’t even have him very long before we brought him to Florida,” Meah said. “I really liked him. Sometimes when you’re around certain horses they just have a sort of class about them that makes them feel different than others. When we got to Florida, I didn’t have an exercise rider for about a week so I was getting on the horse myself. He just gives you a different feel that a lot of horses don’t give you. [He has] so much class. There’s something really, really special about this horse.”
In the Fort Lauderdale, also run at 1 1/8 miles, Good Governance was bumped early and raced along the rail before making a seven-wide rally to finish in a dead-heat for fourth, 1 ¾ lengths behind City Man. Both the winner and runner-up, Grade 1 winner Decorated Invader, return in the Pegaus Turf for trainer Christophe Clement.
“We knew he was going to run good in the Fort Lauderdale, but, man,” Meah said. “We were only beaten a length and three-quarters, which is amazing. It was unreal.
“Once that race happened we were like, ‘Oh my gosh, how cool would it be to actually get the opportunity to run in the Pegasus?”she added. “We had nominated to a couple other stakes just because we weren’t getting our hopes up. We weren’t real high up there on the list; however, we were going to train and be prepared for it in case the opportunity did arise and, thankfully for us, it did.”
Good Governance has continued to flourish since the Fort Lauderdale with two sharp half-mile breezes at Palm Meadows, going in 49.80 Jan. 13, fourth-fastest of 22 horses, and 48.10 Jan. 20, ranking eighth of 39. Shaun Bridgmohan, up in the Fort Lauderdale, is set to ride back from Post 2 at morning-line odds of 15-1.
“Honestly, he couldn’t be doing any better,” Meah said. “I wouldn’t trade this horse for any other horse right now. I really wouldn’t. I’m just so happy with the way he’s training and eating, his appetite and energy. He looks so happy. He just is such a dude, really. For being an older colt, he’s friendly, happy and there’s not a mean bone in his body. He’s really a cool horse.”
For now, Meah is in Kentucky recovering from Jan. 20 shoulder surgery to repair an injury suffered in a horse accident a few years back. Unlike California Chrome, she is hoping to be at Gulfstream this time to see her horse run.
“That was the first thing I asked my surgeon when he came in before my surgery. He was like, ‘Do you have any questions?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, what about traveling next weekend?’ He kind of thought I was a little bit crazy,” Meah said. “He said, ‘You’re probably going to be in a lot of pain but I’m not going to tell you no as long as you’ve got your compression socks and you keep up on your medication.’ He said, ‘Don’t be going to the barn with your open wounds, because you’re not going to have your stitches out yet.’ I said, ‘That’s fine. I just really want to be there for my race.’
“I just have this feeling there’s something telling me I need to be there,” she added. “It’s just so cool. It’s not a race that comes up every day. It’s something we were kind of dreaming of secretly but not getting too excited about, but it’s turned into the reality so I kind of feel like I need to act on it.”