Friday, December 31, 2010

Food For Thought

Who Doesn’t Want A Little Good Luck This Year?
Horseplayers seemed to be more aware than most people of how much “luck” can affect the outcome of life in general and a horse race in particular. We talk about blind luck, luck of the draw,out of luck, gettin’ lucky, lookin’ at lucky, can’t get lucky, Lady Luck, bad luck, good luck and no luck at all.

Well did you know there are “lucky” foods? As you usher in the New Year, there are traditional foods that you should eat, and whether it’s based on folklore or history, cultural or religious beliefs, it’s certainly worth taking a shot. Can’t hurt, right?

There are six major categories of “good luck” foods and they include grapes, greens, fish, pork, legumes and cakes. If you want to get an “edge”, the specifics are in this interesting article at Epicurious.

I knew about some of these foods, but what I did not know was that there are some foods that are unlucky! Lobster is a bad idea because they move backwards, and that could lead to setbacks. So thanks but no thanks, I’ll pass on the lobster. Same thing with chicken, because they scratch BACKWARDS, and eating anything with wings could mean that GOOD LUCK could FLY AWAY! So NO hot wings now and maybe ever again.

Plan your New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day dining with care.What’s in the feed tub could make an impact on what’s in your pocket. We all want to be on the winning side of all those inquiries and photo finishes!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Factor is on The Factor

Once again, Horseracing has gained national media attention. Love him, or not, Bill O'Reilly's immensely popular show on Fox ran a replay of The Factor's ( by War Front) record breaking maiden race from  Santa Anita last night in his "Pinhead or Patriot" segment.
Don't be a pinhead, race on over there and vote "patriot" for The Factor. It's another vote for Horseracing.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Blizzard Blues

The blizzard that blew up the East Coast in the last 24 hours, wreaked havoc on at least one horseplayer, and probably a whole lot more. Did it impact the handle for Santa Anita’s Opening Day… doubt it, but who knows?

A good friend, who shall remain nameless, still likes to visit the local gambling venues almost every Saturday and Sunday throughout the year, with the exception of the weeks that he spends at Gulfstream, Keeneland and Saratoga. There are 3 within a 40 mile radius of where he lives. He’s an old fashioned guy who still likes to have the Form in his hands.He has worked on the track, been an owner, breeder and has been betting for 35 + years. He likes to hang with his buddies, and mostly bets New York, or whatever high profile track that’s running. My guess is that he will go for a few hundred on any one day. Not a high roller, but probably around the median level for a lot of people.

With the storm hitting New England late Sunday morning, he decided to lay low and use his ADW account and watch from the couch. Not the way he likes to bet races, but it seemed to be his only option. But he still needed a Form. He ventured out as the storm escalated, to the local newspaper store never giving it a thought that they may be sold out. And they were. No Forms, not a one, not even those silly programs.

So at about 12:30, I get a frantic phone call. He was in a panic! He needed PP’s!!!! I laughed …it was ( I suppose) like a druggie looking for crack. Where do I get them? Could I print them out for him?( Well, I could if my printer was working) …. So I made a few suggestions, one, that he could get them through his account ( duh)… And then in the time it took The Factor to run 6 furlongs, my friend was able to enjoy opening day at Santa Anita. That is, while keeping up with shoveling, of course. What about all his other friends? What did they do?

My guess is that lots of horseplayers, up and down the east coast, who would  normally have been out at their favorite venue, were stuck in the house yesterday, and shut out. But maybe Mother Nature’s intervention is just what was needed to get some of the 50 and over crowd, the typical and  traditional racing fans, (who BTW, I think is STILL  the age that makes up the majority of racing fans ), to get more tech savvy so they can still get their dose of racing even when the weather throws them a curve.

If you are reading blogs, then you are somewhat Internet savvy. But there are still so many people who do not have the time, or don’t want to take the time to taste all that is offered to the racing fan by way of the Internet. And they are missing out on so much.

Believe it or not, I actually know people who still do not use a phone or Internet betting account and that is mind boggling! Nor do they take advantage of all the up-to the-minute information that is free on the net. For those who live too far from live racing, it’s the only way to survive. For those who prefer not to venture out to a “gambling parlor” every weekend, then watching one of the racing networks with phone or computer in hand, is a good alternative. It’s not ideal I know, but I for one, prefer it. Especially for the days when a blizzard blows through, “snowed in” doesn’t have to mean “shut out”.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Santa C and Santa A

You have Santa Claus arriving sometime tonight and you have Santa Anita’s opening day on Sunday. Shhhh….I think I’m a little more excited about opening day!

I love the fact that they are back to dirt at Santa Anita because I enjoy the challenge of handicapping an “off” track once in a while. But Southern Cal has had way more than their share of rain there recently. Let’s all hope that going back to dirt was the right thing to do and that the track is as safe as it can possibly be. There are four  stakes on the opening day card, including the Grade1 Malibu and Grade 1 La Brea (both at 7 furlongs.) plus the Grade 2 Sir Beaufort, which is on the turf ( But will it be?).

In the Malibu, I like Noble’s Promise. He has had one very good race back from a freshening, and that was 7 weeks ago, He has had 4 works in between and he’s seems to be a sturdy little horse that tries every time. I am curious about Setsuko, because I had my eye on him this spring. He was put on the shelf then, but has been working steadily for his return. I think he will prefer the switch to dirt. There are a couple in here coming back from their Breeder’s Cup races. I have to take a pass, as I have fallen for that angle so many times before, yet few perform at their best so soon after a Breeder’s Cup effort. And how good is Alcindor? I will wait and see.

In keeping with the Christmas spirit, this seems like a good time to thank you all for visiting my blog. I appreciate that you have taken the time to give your opinions, make comments and share information. Blogging is even more fun than I thought it would be and I have learned a lot in the 7 short months that I have been part of the blogosphere. I am thrilled to have a format where I can write about anything and everything to do with horses. My goal is to continue to learn, to improve and to evolve, while providing my insight and perspective on our Sport of Kings.

To all my friends, both old and new, I wish you a joyous holiday season!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Free At Last and a Few Airs Above the Ground

Yesterday, December 20th, Zenyatta got her first taste of freedom in her paddock at Lane’s End. She arrived 14 days ago, but the icy, frosty conditions slowed down her transition to farm life. Letting down a horse off the track requires patience and several gradual changes. Horses being “unwound” have different nutritional needs. You want “low energy” not “high energy” feeds. Pulling their shoes is always a good idea too. Being in a new environment, they need careful observation. And attention to every detail is important. It can be a stressful time for some, as the racetrack and its rigorous routine is all they know.

Is Zenyatta’s case, Mother Nature let everyone know she was still in charge. Kentucky has been cold and snowy. It’s not so much the cold, because most horses love the cold, but it is always about the footing. If the ground is icy and rutted, there is always a chance of a trip and a fall, especially for a horse that gets to running just out of sheer excitement and pent up energy. So this is what you want to avoid at all costs. A little low level tranq is always a good idea too, as it takes the edge off. I’m not saying they used it on Zenyatta, but it is usually the prudent thing to do.

Once a horse gets acclimated to their news surroundings, then you can gradually introduce other situations for them to experience. Most likely, what will be next for Zenyatta, in the upcoming days and weeks, will be to gradually introduce her to one or two other mares, until she is comfortable with them.Ultimately, she will be part of the broodmare band. This is the norm.

Pictures taken by photographer Barbara Livingston, show a happy, healthy horse. Zenyatta is now able to do “airs above the ground”… are we surprised? No, this mare can do it all! I think if you set up an oxer, she would just sail right over it, and look around and say “What else do you have for me?” Videos of her should be appearing soon on her Facebook page.

Friday, December 17, 2010

'Tis The Season to Make Some Christmas Dough

Christmas Day is a week away. For some last minute gifts for either horse lovers OR racing fans, check out the online gift shop at Keeneland. They're having a 25% off sale on clothing, with free shipping, if you spend over $75. I must admit, when shopping at Keeneland it’s hard not to say “Merry Christmas to me.”

If you need a little break from the hustle and bustle of the Holiday Season, check out Equibase. They're having a free handicapping contest tomorrow.

Squeezed in between all the shopping, decorating, holiday preparations and of course, partying (!) racing fans are always on the lookout for some interesting racing and betting opportunities. Cashing a bet at this time of year is somehow, always a little sweeter.

The Mc Knight at Calder looks like a good race to bet, at a mile and a half on the Calder turf. There are several horses in here that are coming out of the Breeder’s Cup, are they “throw outs” or what? Could it be Rescue Squad’s day?

Two year old colts run for $750,000 in the Grade I Cash Call Futurity at Hollywood. Dutrow and Ramon ship in with Rustler Hustler off a sharp bullet at Gulfstream and experience on synthetic. Gourmet Dinner has 4 wins from 5 starts, the last with blinkers added, but has only run on dirt. Who’s the best of this bunch?

Turfway has a little $50,000 Stake, the Prarie Bayou, at 1 1/8 on the Polytrack. Stately Victor is the class of the field and gets back to his preferred surface. But it’s a full field and there are some other interesting contenders in here. Timeless Fashion LOVES this track. And Mint Chip has a long shot look in here. He has performed well on the surface and just throw out the last two, where he was over matched.

Fair Grounds has a nice card too, but the race that interests me is the 5th. It is a maiden event on the turf, and I am going to take a shot with Newsdad, by Arch out of a Pulpit mare. The dam’s side has had a few decent turf winners, and I think this colt might like the turf. If he does, he will light up the tote board like a Christmas tree. That’s a way to make some extra “Christmas money”.

Good Luck with all your shopping and wagering!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Your Kodak Moment

Your picture could be worth… praise, notoriety and recognition! Enter the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance 2010 Photo Contest. Photos must be submitted by this Friday, and must be about horseracing!
TBA Photo Contest

2010 Contest Rules:

Submit up to 2 photos taken this year; subject matter horse racing.

Submissions: email the photo to

Submissions due by 12/17/2010 (Friday)

Voting for top ten will be 12/18 through 12/24 (Saturday through Friday)
Only 1 photo from each photographer will go into the final 10
Top 10 photos will be chosen to enter the final round.
Voting on winner will be 12/26 through 12/31

Winner announced 1/1

Prize = The picture will be featured on the photo page, and the photog given the opportunity to link to anything they want and to say whatever they want (provided it abides to civil discourse).

Open to everyone from Amateurs to Professionals

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Farewell to a Class Act, Hello to a Classy Filly

Class can “walk with kings and keep it's virtue, and talk with crowds and keep the common touch”

This is what I thought of when thinking about Mack Miller.

Such a sad, sad day for the Horse Industry to hear about the passing of the “Gentleman Trainer” Mackenzie Miller, at 89. Though I never met Mr. Miller, I was always “starstruck” when I saw him in the paddock, mostly in NY . Not only known as a gentleman and a class act, he was also referred to as a “Master of the Turf” for his successes in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s with champion turf horses, Assagai, Winter’s Tale, Snow Knight and Hawaii. I had forgotten that he trained  Halo too, but he always said his best horse was Java Gold. Most will remember him for his 1993 Derby/Travers winner Sea Hero, who he trained for his main client at that time, Paul Mellon. They do not seem to make them like Mack Miller anymore. A Legend, a  Hall of Fame trainer, but more importantly, a treasure of a man.

To quote Nick Nicholson, President of Keeneland, "he was an old-fashioned gentleman, living in modern times. He was very honorable, and a very, very special person."

A classy two year old filly emerged yesterday at Hollywood Park. Turbulent Decent won her third in a row, with a decisive and somewhat easy win in the Grade I Hollywood Starlit. The plain bay, by top freshman sire Congrats, answered the two turn question, and showed maturity and class while beating some nice fillies. Her style is to rate kindly and explode in the stretch .We will be looking ahead with enthusiasm to her next start as a three year old.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Zenyatta Sighting

Just when I was starting to wonder if they had a camera over at Lane's End Farm, I have found out that there are three short videos that have popped up on Zenyatta's Official Facebook page. You can see her in her new stall, and as she takes a short walk outside the barn. It does not show that she has been actually turned out yet. Perhaps if the weather in Lexington warms up a bit, the Big Girl will start getting a little turnout. The Facebook page is here. Then click "video."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Thank You Zenyatta, for the Ultimate Ride

One chapter in the legendary life of the Queen of Racing is coming to an end tomorrow, as Zenyatta boards a plane for Lexington Kentucky. It’s where she was born, and undoubtedly where she will reside as a broodmare for the rest of her long life.

Turning 7 next month, ( but really not till April 1st), the Big Mare has taken her family, friends and fans on the most awe-inspiring , drama filled, extraordinary ride. For me, it started as I watched her very first race, Thanksgiving 2007. Her breeding caught my eye and when I saw her presence in the paddock, I was even more interested. When she broke from the gate, I immediately thought, “hmm…no speed, well she needs to go long, anyway”, but by the ½ mile pole, I started to see her stride grow longer and stronger, her momentum building, and I thought,” this could turn out better than I thought". At the top of the stretch and in the middle of the racetrack, her big ears flopping, the big filly cruised effortlessly towards the wire, passing all her opponents like it was a walk in the park. I immediately put her in my Virtual Stable, though I knew the cat was out of the bag, for whoever saw this performance would not soon forget it. My ride with Zenyatta had begun.

Then I started to ask myself…Who IS this horse “Zenyatta?" Where has she been all year? How good could she be? When will she run back? All the things that go through your mind when you think you’ve found the next “big horse”. One of the things that is so exciting about the horse business is the anticipation of finding “A Saturday Afternoon Horse.” It’s the hope, the dreams, the optimism that fills you up when you breed one, buy one, claim one, race one, or even bet on one. That day in November 2007, I knew I witnessed something very special. Did I know she was a star in the making? Yes, but I did not know the magnitude of how illuminating that star would be.

And the rest, as they say, is history.What Zenyatta has done for racing is immeasurable. The Zenyatta phenomenon, the excitement and positive energy that has surrounded her has been astonishing. She is a legend and we will never see anything like her again. You can absolutely bet on that.

So this is my heartfelt thanks to her owners, her trainer, her riders, her groom, her hotwalkers and all of her family of caretakers and friends who have allowed us to share this phenomenal journey with the great Zenyatta.

But most of all Thank You, Zenyatta, for taking us on the ultimate ride. It’s been a blessing and a privilege and one we will never, ever forget.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Stars of 2011?

Who can resist a whole card full of two year old races? It’s a tradition at this time of year, at the end of the Churchill fall meet. While it’s not for everyone, I love it. Not only can you catch some longshots you might see some future stars. There were several eye catching performances on Saturday that are definitely worth watching for the future.

One of the colts I was anxious to see Saturday was Brethren, the half to the Derby winner, Super Saver. A big, good looking colt by Distorted Humor, he has a lot more size to him than his brother did at this time last year. Coming off his maiden score at Belmont he stretched out nicely to the mile distance, while being wide most of the way. Looks like there’s some definite talent there.

In the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club, three colts dueled to the wire. The winner, Santiva, (Giant’s Causeway) prevailed while being in tight, sandwiched between the other two, and showed a dimension of gameness that you don’t see too often. Already stakes placed on synthetic and now a stakes winner on dirt, this could be a very versatile and useful colt.

Tapizar broke his maiden in the last race of the day in his 4th career start. The son of Tapit romped by 10. Not sure what was behind him, but he got the job done and looked good doing it. His time for the mile and 1/16th was faster than the Ky. Jockey Club, a half hour earlier. He was the second Tapit to win on the card, the other was Winchill.

Kathmanblue, the (Bluegrass Cat) filly that won the Grade II Golden Rod, proved she can run on anything. Having just finished 3rd in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Fillies on turf with a troubled trip, she was wheeled back on 3 weeks rest. Switched back to dirt, she ran away and hid from the rest of the field and in a time faster than the colt’s race. How would you like to have her in the barn?

Another horse that bears watching for next time is First and Ten ( Forestry), another WinStar horse trained by farm trainer Richard Budge. The colt did nothing wrong, and just looked like he needed the race. Look for him to graduate soon.

You never know when you will find A Saturday Afternoon Horse, but there were definitely a few on display at Churchill over the weekend.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Double DQ and Saturday Stakes Action

Don’t mess with Dan !
The Clark Handicap at Churchill yesterday was one of the most roughly run Grade One’s I have seen in sometime. Successful Dan was rank throughout, but still had something left to hold off Giant Oak. Unfortunately, he was DQ’d from first to third because of his bearing out and slamming into Redding Colliery inside the 16th pole.At the same time, Demarcation who was up front, interfered with stable mate Dubious Miss, and was placed last for that infraction. Are you  still with me on all this? It took the stewards at least ten minutes to sort it all out. Congrats to the winner, Giant Oak, who ran a big race,stayed out of trouble and had a dream trip. A Grade One is a Grade One win anyway you can get it and I am happy for the horse and his connections.

But the real story was the out-of-control Successful Dan. Usually when horses are this rank, they never finish up. This horse seemed to be loving all the trouble he gave Leparoux, and didn’t mind intimidating Redding Colliery either. He was just full of himself the whole trip and as trainer Charles Lopresti said after the race “It was a winning race” It sure was. You don’t want to get in a fight with this horse. He is a warrior. We’ll just file this away for next time.

Aqueduct is full of stakes action today. In the Grade I Gazelle, I like No Such Word. Another win machine, she has certainly kept good company this year and is the class of the field. It would also be nice if Cindy Jones finishes up with a nice win here, while handing the reins back over to Larry.

Looking at the Grade I Cigar Mile, I am all about Bribon. He loves to win, and he loves the Big A. I am taking a stand against the 4 horses in here who last raced 3 weeks ago in the Breeder’s Cup, though 3 of them have worked since then.

In the Grade II Remson, I am going to take a long look at Bandbox. I know, I know, To Honor and Serve is the “now” horse, and I will go back and take a look at the replay. But it was a 5 horse field. And he will be odds on. I like Ramon on Bandbox, I like that he has already won on two surfaces, and I like the bullet at Laurel. He may be outclassed, but I may take a shot. Another horse in here that’s interesting is Mountain Town, who ran a big one to Uncle Mo, who will be this year’s 2 year old champ.

Over at Churchill, in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club, I like Cane Garden Bay. He will appreciate the added distance. Of course if To Honor and Serve blows away the field earlier in the day in NewYork, then I will be forced to re-evaluate just how good Astrology is.

Enjoy the good racing this weekend and good luck if you are playing in the NTRA/West Point Handicapping Contest.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A BIG Thank You

The big day is almost here. My stuffing is ready, and it’s the best! Give me stuffing and cranberry sauce, and I'm happy.Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I am grateful for so many things, and that list gets longer all the time.

One guy who seems to have his “gratitude attitude” working just fine is horse owner Mike Repole. After reading this enlightening interview at the Paulick Report, you can’t help but root for him and his horses. If you didn’t know much about him, you will after reading this piece. In it, he reveals his enthusiasm and passion for horse racing, his competitive nature, his solid family values and a gratefulness for friends and associates. If you were a “class” handicapper, let’s just say, you would be taking a long look at him. Here’s a horse owner with a conscience. Though a professed “winaholic”, and very competitive, what is very apparent, is his serious concern about what happens to horses when their careers are over. After winning the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile with Uncle Mo, he made a very generous donation to several equine retirement groups. He’s doing his part.

A big Thank You to ALL the Mike Repoles out there, for not forgetting about our retired friends.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Jackpot Day

I found myself in a little jackpot yesterday about something I said, so the only sensible thing to do is to move on to another jackpot.

Today is Delta Jackpot Day! Here’s a little track I have never been to, but someday would like to get to. It is six furlong oval with two chutes, one for QH racing and one for TB racing with a stretch of 660 feet. Don’t really follow it enough to know how it plays, but my guess is the turns are tight and good speed prevails more often than not.

The Delta Jackpot has a million dollar purse, and for anyone that has a 2 year old that wasn’t good enough or maybe wasn’t ready for the BC Juvenile, this is the spot. A win here is the best way to secure a spot in next year’s Derby. The earnings will assure it. A field of 10 will go postward, and I believe it is the first time that the race has been held during the day, and not under lights. I could be wrong about that, but at least there's no snow, like last year.

I like the fact that Kelly Breen has had Sweet Ducky there getting accustomed to the surface, and has a nice bullet move over the track. He is also a horse that has won going two turns . He seems to have had issues at the start, perhaps being mostly down inside so I think he make appreciate breaking from the outside.

Blue Laser will probably be favored in here, as he has just come off a win in a Grade III at Woodbine. He is untested on dirt though, but looks to be the class of the field. Interestingly, Rockin Heat, second to Blue Laser in both of his last starts, is running today at Woodbine in a MSW ( dropping from Stakes Company) He is 9/5 in the 5th race. Not sure why he has not broken through yet. But he has been on my watch list, and I think today will be his day.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Schooling Travis Stone

I almost signed up on Facebook today, just to comment on Travis Stone’s blog. I said ”almost”. I don’t really have a need for Facebook, so my comments will appear in this format.

Mr. Stone,
It is astounding to me that you describe Zenyatta’s finish in the Classic, as “she ran her race, but she came up short." Yes, in one sense, saying she came up short is a nice way to say that she lost the race. And maybe that's what you meant.
However, it’s interesting , that as a race-caller, you think this. Because in true racing terms, coming up short has always meant that a horse did not have the fitness, the conditioning, the “bottom, or the “air” to persevere to the finish line.
Zenyatta most definitely finished up strong, with her sustained and powerful long strides - one long stride to Blame’s two; she was getting to Blame - she just ran out of racetrack.
Blame was courageous to hang on, but Mr. Stone, I know as a racecaller you have watched a lot of races, but you need to go back and take another look. Zenyatta was NOT a short horse.

Ok, so in a fantasy world, let’s pretend both horses were running back in a few weeks, under the same conditions and you were handicapping the race. Who actually finished up stronger ? From watching the Classic, who do you think would have "more in the tank"? I know who my money would be on.

Blame prevailed by inches; Zenyatta needed  those few inches to grasp victory.  The race is over. Blame got there first. It's one race .It's inches.
And because everyone's perception of reality differs, the debate will rage on.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I Miss Bobby Frankel

Almost a year has gone by since the passing of Bobby Frankel. I never met Bobby, but I knew several people who knew him from his days in New York. I think I would have liked him though, a consummate horseman with an edge. From what I’ve always heard, not an easy guy to get to know, but all I know is he appeared to love his animals. Who can forget the year he missed the Breeder’s Cup to stay home with his beloved dog, “Happy ?”

I miss reading about Bobby and his Juddmont stars, I miss that his horses always seemed to be live, I miss that he’s no longer part of the racing scene, because he left it way too soon.

This summer while at Saratoga, I made a visit to Cabin Creek Farm, the Bobby Frankel Division of Old Friends. And the spirit of Bobby Frankel is very evident there.

From what I’ve been told, Bobby was very concerned with the plight of the retired race horse and he was very generous with Old Friends.

The sign you see here was made by Bobby because he grew tired of people parking in his spot at his barn at Saratoga. He “borrowed” a NYRA sign and customized it with red tape letters. My guess is he got his point across. At Cabin Creek you will also find his original Eclipse Award. As the story goes, this was the one handed to him on stage that night. But he had them make another one that read “Robert” instead of “Bobby.”

Cabin Creek is a 40 acre facility, located in Greenfield Center, NY a 20 minute ride from the center of Saratoga Springs. It is run by Jo Ann and Mark Pepper, who are dedicated to the health and welfare of retired Thoroughbreds either off the track, or retired from the breeding shed. Travers winners Thunder Rumble and Will’s Way reside there, as well as the infamous maiden Zippy Chippy.

We can’t forget the many horses and places like this that could use our help. It’s tough times for everyone, but even a little bit helps. As a horse owner I have always believed it is imperative to be responsible for what happens to horses we have owned and raced and trust me, it’s not always easy. As a racing fan, I think it’s important to remember how much pleasure we get out of this game because of the horses. It is always about the horses

If you get the chance to visit Old Friends either in Kentucky or New York, take the time to go. You won’t be sorry .Take a look at that homemade sign of Bobby’s. He left his mark on racing, and he won’t let us forget that if we are a part of the racing game in any way, retired horses need our help.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Kentucky Weekend Reflections - Part Two

 Pictures from Louisville and Lexington last weekend.

                                                              Zenyatta Saturday morning

                                                              Zenyatta before the Classic

Winter Memories in the Paddock


Goldikova Sunday Morning

Tiznow at WinStar

Rock Hard Ten at Lane's End

A.P.Indy at Lane's End

Rockport Harbor's Dapples at Darley

Old Friends

Lane's End

Derby Winner Super Saver

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Horse of the Year Should Be a Super Star

As much as I like Blame, and I have followed, bet and won on Blame, I honestly don’t think he comes close to Zenyatta for Horse of the Year consideration. And it really surprises me that so many people think otherwise.

Blame is a very talented horse. He got good this year, especially on his home track. In his first race of the year, in mid May, he won the Gr.III Schaeffer at Pimlico, beating No Advantage and Timber Reserve (huh?). Bullsbay was also in the field of 7. He then beat Battle Plan (who unfortunately came out of the race with an injury) and General Quarters (gotta love the old guy) in the Gr.I Steven Foster. The Whitney was another 6 horse field and he JUST GOT UP to beat the brilliant miler Quality Road ( I said “miler”), while giving weight, and Musket Man. Mine That Bird and Haynesfield were “also rans” Believe me, I would love to own ANY one of the above mentioned horses, but are any of them great? Are any of them mile-and- a-quarter- Breeder’s Cup Classic horses???

What does it say about a horse that could not close any ground to a loose-on-the-lead Haynesfield in the Jockey Club Gold Cup? Sure, we see it happen a lot. But we are talking about a horse that some people think should be a Horse of the Year. You’re kidding me, right? Haynesfield “crushed” his short field of opponents; Ramon was “like a statue”, never moving in an absolute romp. Just where were the challengers? Blame was hard ridden from the ½ mile pole to the wire and never made up any ground. Did he have a bad day? Did he not like the track? Did the speed get away? Did his jock misjudge the pace? Was that a race we expected from a Horse of the Year candidate?

Now people spot their horses where they think they can win. Not all graded stakes are created equal but you run against who shows up. I just look at the races that Blame has run, and honestly, they weren’t that tough. I’m not really seeing any “super star” quality here. Yes, he was first at the wire in the Breeder’s Cup Classic. But he had the perfect trip. There was not a straw in his path. He was life and death to hold off Zenyatta. For Blame, the wire came up just in time. And for Zenyatta, she needed one more stride to get there.

You could make part of the same argument for Zenyatta’s campaign this year. She raced in short fields, with opponents of questionable class. But for a different reason. Several owners and trainers were on record as saying they wanted no part of facing Zenyatta. I don’t recall anyone saying they didn’t want to run against Blame. His opponents were just the best of a very average group of males.

Let’s get back to the Classic. Coming from a long way back, struggling with the track, having a horse back up into you… any one of those excuses could prevent a good horse from getting to the wire first. And though she fell short by mere inches, what Zenyatta did in defeat, only cemented her greatness in my mind. Zenyatta has never failed to fire in 20 starts in 3 years. Biases, loose-on-the-lead speed, traffic trouble, different surfaces ( yes, Oaklawn dirt, Churchill dirt and several synthetic surfaces) pilot error, you name it… Zenyatta runs her race. A few inches short of perfection, and while it may have tarnished her perfect record, her star shines even more brightly on what she has accomplished. No matter what, she has been brilliant every time. Her consistant, explosive rallies show a tenacity, an intensity, and her resolute will to win. This is the hallmark of greatness. This is what makes her a Super Star.

The Horse of the Year should be all about the BEST HORSE of the Year. It’s not really that complicated. The Horse of the Year should be a Super Star. And there should be no question, that Super Star is Zenyatta.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Kentucky Weekend Reflections - Part One

My 5 days in Kentucky is in the books.With exciting Breeder’s Cup racing on Friday and Saturday, I made some new friends at the paddock fence, but can’t really say I made any money with my handicapping choices. In addition to Apart, I had the Distaff exacta with  Unbridled Belle and Blind Luck…and I got some show dough with Wilcox Inn and Rogue Romance across the board in their respective races on Saturday. Should have had Chamberlain Bridge (!) and skipping a few races here and there turned out to be a good thing. As for the jockey drama, I am still wishing that Calvin had waited ‘til he got to the Jock’s Room and maybe he could have cooled down a little, and I guess maybe he’s wishing he had waited, too.

Probably my luckiest moment of the entire weekend, though, was on Saturday morning when I saw the Big Mare outside her Barn, happily grazing in all her splendid glory. And on Sunday morning I was able to see and photograph the amazing Goldikova, also outside in the morning sun.
I was back in Lexington on Sunday and Monday, where I attended the BBQ Fundraiser at Old Friends. Michael Blowen and his gracious volunteers put on a nice event with music, good Southern food and lots of auction items. All the horses looked happy and healthy and enjoyed an afternoon of treats and lavish attention. The weather couldn’t have been better.
Many of the farms have Open Houses this time of year, either to promote new stallions or to just promote, in general. Of the 3 that I attended, the best one by far was Lane’s End. This was a lovely catered event, with a very friendly tone towards fans and owner/breeders. Stallions were brought in and out numerous times; questions, comments and photo opportunities were encouraged.
Darley’s Open House was a bit more business orientated, and many of the Farm’s stallions have shuttled and were not there.
It is always a treat to visit WinStar. Though a little late for the “tour” I did get to see all of the stallions including 2010 Leading Sire, Distorted Humor; Tiznow, Colonel John, and the two newly retired colts - Derby winner Super Saver and Hold Me Back. Colonel John has grown a lot, and both Super Saver and Hold Me Back will look a lot more like stallions by next year. WinStar has finished their new training facility ( 7/8ths with a polytrack surface) and I believe the official workouts are now appearing in the Form.
It was great to hear that Well Armed is training well with sights on another Dubai World Cup at age 9! Endorsement is on his way back too!
Lunch at Wallace Station on Old Frankfort Pike is always a treat; try to catch Food Network’s Guy Fieri’s visit there last Spring, on his Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
Took in some of the Keeneland Sales on Monday and watched Coolmore purchase the Grade I winner Society Selection, in foal to Medaglia D’Oro for 1.85 million. Money is still flowing at the Sales, but there are almost 5000 horses for sale there in the next few weeks.With so many horses, there will certainly be some bargains there this year.

Friday, October 29, 2010

If You LIKE Blame, Then You Have To LOVE Apart

Working together last Sunday, the two stablemates went virtually stride for stride every step of the way for the 5/8ths of a mile in a very zippy 58.80 and galloping out 3/4s in 1.11.6 over the synthetic surface at Keeneland. Breaking off ahead of Blame, Apart seemed a little keyed up for the first few strides and then settled into a very nice rhythm. Both horses then went very smoothly, without being urged in any way. Both riders had a lot of horse underneath them. Apart did switch leads at the wire but it he galloped out very nicely ,in hand and still staying with Blame. Both horses looked enthusiastic, healthy and were hitting the ground as good as you would like to see. Apart is nominated to the Ack Ack Handicap on the Breeder’s Cup Friday under card. There are 31 nominations, and he will get a break in the weights as will all other 3 year olds.
If Blame is dominant in this year's ultra tough Classic, then what do you think of Apart in the $100,000 Ack Ack Handicap?
Click here for the nominations to the  Gr III Ack Ack Handicap.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

BC Classic - Does Witnessing History Trump the Score?

Do you want to look back on this Classic as the Coronation of the Queen?
Will you be rooting for Zenyatta or just hoping to make a score?

Do you want to have that ultimate feeling that you have witnessed the campaign of a very special race horse, a horse that with the win in the Classic, will remain undefeated, unrivalled, and without a doubt one of the best horses you have ever seen?

OR, are you looking to make a score in the Classic, by trying to outsmart the next guy; by picking some sleeper to upset the field; to hope for a loose-on- the- lead- type, who can steal the race; to hope there is a traffic jam and maybe the best horse doesn’t win, and because of any of those scenarios, you prosper?

Bottom line, if you bet against Zenyatta in the Classic, how will you feel when she wins?

Of course, I have no doubt in my mind that Zenyatta will once again show us her dominance and greatness. I also think that the dirt will move her up. And though there will be a handful of horses in the field that in any other year could win a Classic, I really do think that everyone else is running for second money. So, without seeing the entries and still 10 days out, Zenyatta is my key. If the Queen has an off day, which can always happen in this game, I will have an off day too. I’ll get over it. That’s racing.

There will be plenty of gambling opportunities to make money during the 2 days of Breeder’s Cup races including the Classic. But, it’s not about the “score” in that race. It is about way more than that. It is about the Coronation. Is this my heart talking? Is this a case of not being able to separate my emotions from my handicapping skills? Maybe, but I will be rooting for the Queen because I truly believe she can and will win, and because I want that ultimate high knowing that I will have been a small part of the ride into racing history. To me, that trumps the score every time.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Back On Track

It’s been 10 days, and I am finally back to my blog. My computer had a serious breakdown and has now been retired to greener pastures. It could have been worse. It could have happened this week, and that would have been a disaster, as we are 11 days from the biggest two days of racing in North America.

Just some random thoughts…

Congrats to John Sherriffs on his first win at Keeneland. That was a stellar performance by Harmonious in the QE ll, and I look forward to her next start.

Kudos to George Strawbridge ( Augustin Stables) in getting the coveted gold tray for winning 8 Graded Stakes at Keeneland. Not easy to do. Only 16 other stables have won this prize in the history of the track.

I like what I’m hearing from the Zenyatta camp. She is happy, fit and enthusiastic.

This picture of First Dude’s work the other day is impressive. His stride is huge. Thanks to Reed Palmer/Churchill Downs for the shot.

I’m excited about “The Works” coming back to TVG. The visual of the horses in the days prior to the big day is invaluable to those of us not on the scene that week. I also like Mike Welsh at the DRF. He has a good eye and has started to report on daily workouts. I think that his reporting will also have some video with it starting today.

Louisville has been under drought conditions for months. If it stays this dry, I’m wondering what the turf course will be like?

I thought the Secretariat film was wonderful. Many of my non-horsey friends let me know that they enjoyed it. Right there, it has brought more positive interest to the sport. Yes, the film was not totally accurate. And it didn’t bother me at all.  I was AT Secretariat's Belmont that day. Even if the race was re-created at the site, there was no way they could have depicted what went on that day. So it was best not to try.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Easy Breezy, with a Little Zoom-Zoom

Zenyatta worked yesterday morning for the first of 3 works in preparation for her big dance on the 6th of November. The Thoroughbred Times reported the work in splits of  24.80, 38.40, 51.20 and the last eighth in 11.40. ( 5/8's in 1.02.6). She galloped out 6 furlongs in 1.16 and 4. A few quotes from her handlers:

John Shirreffs: “Nice work for her first one back. It was just to get her focus back on a routine. It’s not how fast. It’s about getting back to work and letting her know that another work will be coming. It’s about getting the proper spacing.”

Mike Smith: "It was perfect for what you want first work back.  Not too fast. Not too slow. Her energy level is great. I tipped off the turn there and kinda let her run. Two jumps and she caught him [stablemate El Vino]. Whooo! She’s like driving the most incredible sports car and today we didn’t even need to get out of second gear. I let her run. She got past [El Vino] and then she just went right back to cruise control. Just incredible!”

Anne Moss: "I'm excited every time I see her. She's from beyond the beyond. Every day is a celebration. It's hard to keep describing her. They should come up with a new word in the dictionary to describe her."

It appears that the Big Girl is feeling fine and happy. You love to see a nice maintenance work, relaxed  yet, enthusiastic. That last eighth of a mile shows me she still loves what she's doing. Incredible for a six year old.
Two more works are planned, most likely October 22nd and October 30th. She will ship to Louisville November 2nd.

The Breeder's Cup has just created a "Zenyatta focused" website, and she also has her own official site.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bid on Zenyatta's Halter

You can own a piece of horse racing history and at the same time make a contribution to a very worthy cause. TROTT ( Training Racehorses Off the Track) is a racehorse adoption program in California, which “provides at risk racehorses with opportunities for new careers beyond the track.” It was launched in January of this year and is a 501 (C) (3) nonprofit organization.
Adoption programs such as TROTT are a great resource to the racing industry because not only are they a safety net for horses that might otherwise slip through the cracks, but in addition to R&R, many times horses are rehabilitated and re-schooled which gets them ready for their next life in non-racetrack homes.
It is a win-win for everybody.
The bad news is there is already a starting bid of $3000, so you need deep pockets or at least a nice score to participate, but for those who can it’s a good way to give back.
To bid on the halter, you can find the form on their website.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Grass is Green, But...

The only bad thing about Keeneland’s opening day was that I wasn’t there. Going to Churchill in 4 weeks, is keeping me from making the annual pilgrimage this year. None the less, I had a good first day, catching Wise Dan in the Phoenix. One has to wonder if he and Here Comes Ben have ever worked together in the a.m.? Anyway, it's always a good feeling to cash on the first day of the meet.

Read an interesting quote from the track super about the turf course.

Just one Friday race, the seventh, was scheduled for the turf course, which was looking particularly green and lush – especially in contrast to the Keeneland infield, where the grass has been burned to a premature brown by the exceedingly dry conditions that have marked the summer and early fall in this Bluegrass region.

“We’ve watered the heck out of this course,” said Mike Young, the longtime track superintendent at Keeneland. “As dry as it’s been, I don’t know how much of a root system we’ve got left under there right now. The grass has just been growing straight up. If we get some nasty weather, I hope it doesn’t get too torn up.”

The seventh, was an allowance race for f & m, who had not won $7500 twice, other than, or which had never won three, and it was run in a very quick 1.34.02. To put this in perspective, in the 22 runnings of the Grade l Shadwell Mile, there have been 5 horses that have run faster.

Keeneland and Mother Nature have given us a very firm turf course for the Fall meet. Turf players take note!

Don’t forget the dime supers at Keeneland, there were some good payouts yesterday. In addition to the dime supers, Keeneland is also offering 50 cent trifectas,  and 50 cent Pick 3’s and Pick 4’s. With those types of bets, you can bet a little and win a lot!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Watch Her Roll

Winter Memories was a very impressive winner of the Miss Grillo on Sunday, on the yielding turf at Belmont. Relaxed down the backside, she wanted to go when Lezcano showed her daylight. After taking another hold, she responded kindly, till he wheeled her out at the top of the stretch. Then she was allowed to role, and just inhaled her competition. Were the Euros watching? Cuz this strapping filly can give them a go, on that first Friday in November.
The gray filly is by El Prado ( Sadler's Wells), out of the Grade I winning millionairess, Memories of Silver (Silver Hawk). She is trained by Jimmy Toner, and owned by Phillips Racing. She carries the very classic bloodlines of Darby Dan Farm on her dam's side.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I Laughed, I Cried, I Cashed

But it was all good. The family tradition keeps winning. Little Act Won, whose mom and grandmother I bred and owned, did the family proud with the gamest of wins at Suffolk Downs yesterday. She was sitting on a good effort and she didn’t disappoint.
I laughed, I cried, I cashed.

On the other Coast and on the BIG Stage, Zenyatta did what she was born to do. Win, yet again, stay undefeated and show the world that she is and always has been, the Queen of Racing.

I laughed, I cried, well I didn't cash, cuz I didn't play....

Colizeo, Ave, Changing Weather, and Girolamo put some change in my pocket. Blame took a little out.

I laughed, I cried, I cashed.

I played the Equibase Handicapping Contest and was tied for third until the last two races. Grassy ran a big one, but not good enough. I dropped to a 12th place finish.

I laughed, I cried, and didn’t cash …but it was a great DAY OF RACING, and one to remember.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


The big mare never ceases to amaze me. She is historically reaching new heights every time she performs. One wonders where it all comes from. She gives consistency a whole new meaning. She is the epitome of what we all look for in a race horse. She is the gold standard , the yardstick, the barometer of the
ultimate race horse with a will to win.

Extraordinary outstanding PERFECT spectacular unrivaled awesome PERFECT unequalled PERFECT unsurpassed amazing ultimate perfect incomparable unparalleled unmatched PERFECT inimitable consummate PERFECT matchless faultless PERFECT  unspoiled stunning impressive PERFECT brilliant magnificent perfect  peerless celebrated  PERFECT illustrious famous exceptional PERFECT gifted  incredible  fascinating unbelievable PERFECTcharismatic magical PERFECT great accomplished PERFECT remarkable phenomenal PERFECT rare unbeaten perfect astonishing breathtaking

How do you describe Zenyatta ?

A Holiday for Horseplayers and Belmont's All Stakes Pick 4

Is today a holiday? Because it sure feels like one to me.This is the kind of day racing fans and horseplayers live for.There’s great racing everywhere you look today, and the results will have a huge impact four weeks from now at Churchill. While a win today for any future Breeder’ Cup contender is not a MUST, a very good effort will be needed to set up for November 5th and 6th.
Not all the races today are wagering opportunities, from a value standpoint. Lookin at Lucky stands out in the Indiana Derby, so best to hope for bombs to fill out the tri.
Zenyatta, will again be a joy to watch, and that’s all I’ll be doing for the Ladies Secret.
Though I hate to say it, the little turbo-charged Blind Luck looks a tad bit vulnerable in the Cotillion. Not because she’s NOT the best horse, because I believe she is, but she is giving a lot of weight to a couple of nice horses, AND she once again, has to ship. But I will be rooting for her just the same.
But I will be taking a shot in the All Stakes Pick 4 at Belmont, so here goes...

Flower Bowl #3 & #5
#3 Changing Skies – loves to run fresh, she’s consistent, and likes a cut in the ground
#5 Ave – throw out last, she is rounding into form

Beldame #4 & #6
#4 Unrivaled Belle – loves Belmont,  and has had a freshening,
#6 Persistently - improving and has a good late kick

Joe Hirsch Invite # 1 & #9
#1 Grassy, yes, I think Grassy has a chance to upset in here… but he needs a good trip. He likes it soft, I think the distance will suit him, he has a nice bullet coming in and it could be a Claiborne win parlay to the JCGC, however...
#9 If Paddy likes  soft turf, then it’s all over

JCGC #1 & #2
#1 Fly Down - definitely has a shot to upset, but I think it’s all about….
#2 Blame - the one to BEAT !

Good Luck with all your wagers and a safe trip to all!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Horse That God Would Want To Ride

There are any number of Saturday Afternoon Horses that have converged in Lexington, Kentucky for the World Equestrian Games. The horse I have been waiting to see, lived up to every and all expectations. Moorlands Totilas, a ten year old Dutch bred, black stallion, ridden by Edward Gal, got a score of 84.043, clinching the Team Gold Medal for his team mates and for the Netherlands. "Toto" has been breaking records every where he goes, and he is the only horse to ever own the World Record for the Grand Prix, the Grand Prix Special and the Freestyle, all at the same time. While I am probably not going to run out and buy his book , I am in awe everytime I see this horse move. Here is a video of some of his test in the team competition on Tuesday. Towards the end of the video, watch his tempi changes. At the collected canter, you can really get a feel of how a horse changes leads.
It is an international cinch, and odds-on, that this horse will win the Gold this weekend , in the Special and the Freestyle. Someone said, if God wanted a horse, Moorlands Totilas would be that horse. I can add a few more to that list, but, I'm sure God would love to throw his leg over Toto. And so would I.  

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It's Just Curious To Me

Jess Jackson decided to retire Rachel Alexandra a day after she worked a bullet on the Saratoga training track. That was a sparkling work, as a 48 on the training track is a 46 and change anywhere else. I know when I got my Virtual Stable notice, I thought “hmm…she’s ready to rumble.” So the only logical conclusion is that she didn’t come out of the work in good shape. I mean, a bullet is an indication that a horse is sharp, enthusiastic and sittin’on go. So perhaps something is amiss, something went wrong, maybe something’s been brewing, and the work exacerbated it…we will probably never know. It’s a tough job to keep horses sound and happy, as things can go wrong in a New York minute. 
But maybe now, finally, they are really listening to Rachel. I say finally, because what Rachel has been saying for some time now, has fallen on deaf ears.

And that's always been curious to me. 

What is true, to quote Mr. Jackson, is “it’s time to retire our champion, and reward her with a less stressful life”.

Is it just me, or maybe Rachel should have been rewarded a year ago, after her amazingly successful, yet highly stressful, very ambitious and  maybe borderline reckless, campaign? After all, Mr. Jackson, did she not reward you enough last year? Ok, maybe it made sense to give the Horse of the Year 4 months stall rest and try to bring her back as a 4 year old. But if you understood horse talk, you could hear her saying all year , “Maybe this isn’t working out like we all wanted it to... I’m  just not really feelin’ it this year”

But at least now they’re really listening to Rachel. Finally.
It’s just curious to me.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Maria and Nobby beat Shiekh Mo

The 100 Mile Endurance event was completed yesterday at the World Equestrian Games, in Lexington Kentucky. The team Gold went to the team from the United Arab Emerites, comprised of Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum ( Darley Stud), his son, the crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan Mohammed al Maktoum, his younger son, Sheikh Majid Mohammed al Maktoum, and a cousin, Sheikh Rashid Dalmook al Maktoum. The event lasted close to 11 hours, which included all the mandatory rest periods. Actual time on the course was 7 hours, 35 minutes, 44 seconds.

Out of 100 entries, 55 horses completed the course. Riders and team officials hailed the 100 mile course around the Kentucky horse Park, which crossed land owned by 26 different land owners, a great success.

The Individual Gold Medal, however went to Maria Mercedes Alvarez Ponton, with her 15 year old French bred horse,Nobby. Maria’s husband, is one of the Shiekh’s top trainers. And it’s a good thing too, because though Maria rode for the first 5 months of her pregnancy, her husband took over and kept Nobby fit. Maria gave birth to her daughter, also named Maria, just 7 WEEKS AGO! And she got back in the saddle just 2 weeks ago.

Maria also won the Gold at the 2008 World Championships and the 2009 European Championships. This trifecta has never been accomplished before.

Some of the Gold Medalist’s quotes after her victory:

“It’s been really difficult to train and feed the baby and everything,” Ponton admitted. “Last year when I got pregnant, I thought I could do [the 2010 World Games]. But everybody kept telling me it was impossible. I feel well. It’s like it never happened, having a baby.”

“I feel really well, I just want to go back to the hotel and see the baby”

‘[The course] was really, really difficult. Really fast for me and really difficult. People say it is flat. It’s not flat at all. It was the most difficult race I’ve won with Nobby,”

“The only difference was that I could not sleep all night because I had to feed the baby.”

Ok, let me get this straight… You have a baby 7 weeks ago… you start back riding TWO WEEKS ago… you don’t sleep the night before the big event, because, hey the baby has to eat, right?… and then you are in the saddle for over 7 hours, you ride in a 100 mile endurance race, probably the most difficult Endurance Race in the World, and you WIN, beating all the members of the Gold Medal Winning Team from the UAE, the best team in the world…. AND as you cross the finish line, you don't even look tired! 
Whatever this woman eats and drinks, well I want some of that, too!

 All I can say is ... WOW ! Way to go, Maria! Congrats to you and your great little horse Nobby!!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Coolin' Out... taking a look back at a not-so-quiet-Saturday

Congratulations to Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard on his 1000th training win over fences. On the flat, or over fences, he can do it all. He is in a class by himself.

Nice job from Nick Zito on his 3rd Pennsylvania Derby win, to tie Woody Steve’s record. Morning Line, hung on gamely through the mile and 1/8th, to hold off another good effort by First Dude.

But the Dude did not disappoint. Taking a little longer than most to put it all together, he showed another dimension. After attending the pace the whole way, he looked to be tiring, when he got squeezed inside the 16th pole, and then swung to the outside, not easy for a big dude, and re-rallied to almost get the win. Have to give him credit for trying. Maybe now, he has the game figured out.

Good looking win by the home bred Apart, in the Super Derby. No doubt about it, the patient Al Stall and owner/breeder Adele Dilschnieder have another good one.

My Jen ( Kenneally / Leparoux) ran a big one at 12 to one to win the “Win and Your’re In” Gallant Bloom at Belmont.This was her first stakes win. Sarah Louise finished third in a good effort after a long layoff.

Kudos to HRTV for their interview with Rene Douglas. Some very positive energy there, with the paralyzed rider, who is  slowly putting his life back together. He was instrumental in finding Golden Moka, who although, OTB in the Super Derby, will make some money for his owners, Good Friends Stable.

Zenyatta worked Saturday, with Mike Smith aboard, in her final prep for next week’s Lady Secret. She worked ¾’s in 1:13 & 4/5ths, in company.

Looked like an easy win for Frankel in the Group ll Royal Lodge Stakes at Ascot. Khalid Abdullah’s 2 year old, named for the Hall of Famer, coasted in the 1 mile event, by 10. Trainer Henry Cecil, has high praise for the colt, but questions whether he will get the Derby distance.

Poet’s Voice got up to beat Rip Van Winkle in the QE II, by just a nose. He is looking ahead to the BC Mile. Where Rip will go is anybody’s guess.

The WEG games started at the Kentucky Horse Park, yesterday with the Reining competition. The opening ceremonies included dignitaries, celebrities and of course, horse entertainment. An introduction was given by the HRH Princess Haya, president of the International Equestrian Federation. There is some live coverage, online at USEF Network.

John and Gina Greathouse, owner of the filly Devil May Care, selected the Gluck Center for Equine Research, at the University of Kentucky, to receive a nice donation, sponsored by Bet Fair TVG. The donation was a result of DMC winning the most points in the BetFair TVG Triple Tiara this year. Kudos to all involved.

And many thanks to The Knight Sky Racing for providing weekly, cyberspace contests for handicappers. I got lucky this weekend with my exacta box in the PA Derby. Not how I planned it, but a win is a win!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Will This Be The Dude's Derby?

This Saturday's Pennsylvania Derby could belong to First Dude. Though he is still looking for his second lifetime win, and I see no reason why he shouldn't get it over the Philly Park oval, and in a million dollar race. He is the class of the field, is turning back in distance, and he is in with 114 lbs, if  rider Robbie Albarado, doesn't eat a lot for dinner tonight. That means he is dropping 12 lbs from his third place finish in the Travers!  His last 6 races were all Grade One's, and he has been competitive against the very best. I think the 114 lbs will be a huge advantage in here, and I look for him to bounce right out of his outside post and go gate to wire. I don't see anyone catching him.
The Kent Stakes at Delaware, is a Grade II for 3 year olds, going a mile and 1/8th over the turf.There's a nice field assembled here, with Hall of Fame Stakes winner, Interactif, winner of the American Derby, Workin for Hops, Lentenor ( Barbaro's little brother) and the ready-to-step-into-stakes-company, They Call Me Giant.
I like this improving colt, and I look for a good effort here. Workin For Hops is another in here that looks tough. He is very consistent, is trained by the always under the radar, 30% trainer Mike Stidham, and also has good karma in his corner. If you don't know anything about the owner/breeder, Estrorace LLC, have a look. And don't miss their "latest news".  A horse that throws a party? Now that's my kind of horse.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Man that Gallops Zenyatta

Found a very interesting piece on Steve Willard, Zenyatta's exercise rider, who will be retiring along with her, after the Breeder's Cup in November. The article was written by Stephanie Diaz, for The Pilot, out of Southern Pines, North Carolina. ( Great job, Stephanie !)  Stephanie writes about Steve's background, his character and his various experiences at the racetrack. She details how he started with horses, and the ups and downs of his life. She talks about the many good horses that Steve rode before he  became Zenyatta's regular rider by the "process of elimination". She also describes the physical problems that  older exercise riders like Steve deal with and how they cope.  Steve seems very humble about his part in Zenyatta's life. It's nice to see how much respect he has for John Shirreffs ( whom he calls "the Nebraska farmer") and Mario Espinosa, and all who are involved in caring for the big mare. It has certainly been a team effort, and  I hope he knows just how extremely important he has been in all of this too.  
While the primary story is Steve's, there's lots of insight and details about Zenyatta's personality that I had never read before. And you know, I just can't get enough of that. So have a look, you will enjoy it.
Click here to read "An Affair to Remember "