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Some of Lou's successes in races during his second venture into the racing pigeon sport. "In 1994, the second year after getting back into the sport, I had three birds on the drop in a big race in China. I won third place in that race. In 1994, I also took second, third, fifth, eighth and eleventh in the Mardi Gras Race in Louisiana. That same year, I also had a good bird in the Snowbird Race flown by Arthur Deluze. My birds also placed fifth and seventh in the IF Convention Race in Arizona that year.

"In 1995, I won the Montana State Race, the Keys Memorial Race, and my bird came in 4th in the IF Convention Race. We won 3rd in the Texas Center Convention ‘B’ Race in 1995, and I had a good bird in the Snowbird that year, too, handled by Marty Ladin. I bred two for John Bellandi that were multiple winners that year. Today, one of my hens in Taiwan is breeding extremely well. And a cock bought by Ron Actis has bred him his second place futurity winner in 2000 in the first year of breeding. And he’s also the father of a couple of foundation breeders. He’s a son down from ‘239’ mated with a cock from Nick Corini that he called ‘Montana.’

"But my big year was 1996. I had the only day bird in the City of Hope Race, a one-loft race with about 300 birds. She was a direct daughter of ‘Coco,’ and I named her ‘Home Alone.’ Now she’s one of my foundation breeding hens. That year I won 3rd and 4th in the IF Convention Race. In 1996, my birds achieved something that had never before been done in the history of the Hayward Green Band Race. I shipped five birds, and all five were in the money, taking 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, & 8th. I won first (with a daughter of ‘Louisa’), second (with a daughter of ‘Judy Hart’ and ‘1180’), third (with a daughter of ‘239’), along with fifth and eighth, with birds from my three foundation pairs." This is a 400-mile young bird race. "We also won the Montana State Race again, and scored high in the CBS Race. In 1996, I was also 4th in the East Meadow Futurity on Long Island.

"In 1997, we took 11th in the Snowbird best average speed. My birds placed 12th and 17th. We won the Louisiana Classic with William Tarver. A bird of mine came in 3rd place in the Montana State Race. Also in 1997, ‘Miss Regret’ off of ‘Dream Girl’ won 2nd Ace Pigeon.

"In 1998, I won 4th in the President’s Cup, and in the Montana Race, I won 1st. I came in 1st and 2nd in the Central Louisiana Classic that year, and won 3rd place in the IF Convention Race.

"In 1999, I had the best loft in the South African $1 Million Race. That year, I also had the 1st Best Ace Pigeon American Long Distance Champion, bred by me and flown by Gayle Renfroe. And I received the 2nd Ace Pigeon Award from The Racing Pigeon Digest. My birds also came in 1st in the Louisiana Classic, and 1st and 2nd in the CBS Race. In the Antioch Futurity, I took 4th. In the following 400-mile young bird races, I took 7th in the Martinez Futurity, 4th in the Martinez Golden Gate Classic, 3rd in the High Sierra Futurity, and 2nd in the Hayward Gold Band Race. That year, in the President’s Cup Race, I took 4th, with four birds coming in on the drop.

"In 2000, my birds came in 4th, 23rd and 50th in the AU Race in Detroit. We also placed 31st in the Las Vegas Million Dollar Race. Also in 2000, I had an AU Hall of Fame winner."

With race results like these, it’s clear that within two years of getting back into the sport, Lou Coletta’s momentum started gaining speed and it has not slowed. He flies only in futurities, where his birds are highly sought after, and he averages $40,000 a year in winnings. He strategically places his birds with different handlers in different climates around the country.

"Fanciers who have purchased birds from me have reported some big winnings in the futurities--the Frank Viola races, the President’s Cup races, the Golden Gate Classic—almost every time the big futurity winners have been at least half of my blood." Lou adds, "Since 1994, the documented feedback that I have had from people who have bought my birds is that my loft has produced breeders that have produced more than 200 winners. Seventy-five percent of them are straight HVR or ‘Super 73’ blood, and 25 percent of them have been crosses or blends. Just a couple of examples are the 1999 1st Ace Pigeon of Gayle Renfroe’s (a long-distance champion in the 301-700 bird division) and the 2000 1st AU Hall of Fame bird, off of ‘Judy’s Best.’"

After returning from a futurity, my birds are quarantined for an entire month. They get a bath three or four times a week, and they’re kept on a strict health program. "I like to give my birds natural products like honey, peanut butter, iodine, garlic and tea, and I use Naturaline (from the Natural Company) and lots of minerals, Biochol from Oropharma and anise oil for good feathers. And the birds are treated with medications only when needed. Droppings are checked monthly while we’re scraping lofts for anything suspicious. Our lofts are very open, airy and very sunny (see photos). We maintain the finest and best of health, and I think this gives the youngsters I send out a huge advantage by being in extremely good health and in tremendous form. There’s no reason to be set back, which puts them ahead of the other birds.

"My motto is to keep the best. All of our breeders have bred winners. Or when being mated to birds that have performed well in the races. I get birds back from various futurities and mate them back to their parents to maintain the lineage and the winning gene. The birds have tremendous muscle and eyes, and tremendous wings and feathers. The bird should not be long- or short-casted, but medium-casted, and with perfect throats. I emphasize that the throat must be perfect—healthy.

"Most fanciers need to learn about their birds’ bodies. I’d bet 99 percent of the guys in the sport don’t know where the oil gland is and that they should massage it. My birds’ oil glands are massaged twice a year to make sure that they’re open, not clogged. And this goes a long way in helping to maintain perfect health in the birds.

"The perfect throat should be pink. The larynx should be oval-shaped, almost like a marquise diamond. If they’re slightly like an egg shape, you know your bird has a respiratory problem. If it’s round, the bird should be eliminated from racing or breeding, because the efficiency in breathing is just not there. There is not enough oxygen going into the blood, and the stamina for racing is just not there."

"I believe in the eye. In years past, I used to teach eyesign, but I’ve sort of gotten away from that. I believe in a strong sphincter muscle in the eye. I like a very small pupil, and I like to see a lot of depth in the iris. The color of the eye isn’t as important to me as the alertness of the sphincter muscle and the size of the pupil. I will mate two birds with similar eyes with no problem. My birds’ eyes run from yellow to orange to green to violet. A lot of the ‘239’ and ‘329’ blood has this rich chestnut eye color, which is really distinctive in my birds. It’s easy for me to spot birds in others’ lofts that are down from my birds. This eye color comes down from the ‘Old 58 Hen,’ who died when she was 22. That year, she laid one egg and we banded the baby with #200. Ciro Cepatano won the 200 mile combine race with that baby.

 

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