Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer Racing Plans / East vs. West

While some of us are making plans to visit Saratoga, others are making plans to visit Del Mar. And despite the many ongoing problems facing racing ( and New York and California certainly have their share), it's a sure thing that those fortunate enough to find themselves at either of these sacred tracks, will be witnessing some great racing this summer. Being an East Coaster, I have spent at the very least a weekend or two, many times the entire meeting, at the Spa, since I was five. That's a lot of racing , folks! Even when I had a horse in at Rockingham for night racing, I would leave Saratoga after the 5th race, drive to "Rock", then drive back, so as not to miss a single minute of what keeps me coming back, year after year, to the Adirondacks.
One of my favorite things to do, and there are many, is to just sit by the clocker's stand at the Oklahoma Training Track and watch the morning gallops. Twice a week you can watch horses gallop over the turf track, something you don't get to see very often. It you are in the mood for some breakfast, you have a couple of choices. Breakfast trackside, though a little pricey, is fun and you need to do it at least once. But even better than that, grab a coffee and a bagel on the first floor of the clubhouse and find yourself a seat in the deserted boxes upstairs and enjoy all the sights and sounds that makes the racetrack the special place that it is.
Saratoga mornings are really what is right about racing. And I would guess mornings at Del Mar are too. I always thought that one summer I would make plans to get to the other coast. It won't be this year, but someday I will. I just hate to give up my Saratoga days.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

It's Official !

A big Thank You to the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance for inviting me into their community. I am passionate about the Thoroughbred Industry, and I am happy to be able to write, report, review and reflect on both the day to day events, as well as the big picture of our sport. My experience and perspective comes from a lifelong, hands-on participation in many facets of the racing and breeding business.

I am committed to keeping it positive, informative and civilized ; sometimes with a different spin and hopefully, overall, enjoyable! And I will always be on the lookout for "a Saturday Afternoon Horse" If you spot one, don't hesitate to come on by and chat.

Friday, June 25, 2010

One Fast Horse

It's nice to see that Churchill has honored the crack sprinter Kelly's Landing with an overnight stakes. It runs tonight and it's the 10th race on the card, under the lights. Wonder if he will make an appearance? Last I heard, the gelding is enjoying life as a lead pony for his trainer Eddie Kenneally. I remember watching him break his maiden, late in his 3 year old year. He was running away from his field, in the middle of the racetrack, looking pretty green, but ultra impressive. Even on the tv screen , you could see what a big horse he was. I quickly added him to my "horses to watch " list, never thinking he would later turn out to set a track record at Churchill for 6 furlongs in 1.07 and change and go on to win the richest sprint race in the world, the Dubai Golden Shaheen in 2007. I got to see him at the barn at Keeneland one year, and it was easy to see why he had a hard time fitting into starting gate. For a rider, he always looked liked the kind of horse you'd want to swing a leg over. Hope your retirement is going well, buddy!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

43 Candles and Another Grade I ?

Saturday's Mother Goose at Belmont could give Todd Pletcher a nice birthday present with another Grade I win. Three out of the 5 three-year-old fillies entered, are trained by him. The class of the field looks to be Devil May Care, who faced the boys in the Derby and was in contention till the top of the stretch, to then simply, flatten out. To come back and work a half mile three weeks after the first Saturday in May, tells me that the Derby took nothing out of her and she has continued to train forwardly. Will the mile and 1/16 be too short for her ? And by the way, why DO they change the distances on some of these races? This was always a prestigious race for fillies and also part of the Triple Tiara. This race has been 1 1/8 since 1959! Who does these things, and why? Anyway, I'm curious about another of the Pletcher horses in here, and that is Katy Now. A speedy daughter of Tiznow, she is stepping up into Graded Stakes company for the first time, and she deserves a longshot look. I love her ascending numbers and I think she should have no problem stretching out. If she relaxes on the lead, and she may just have the class to prevail. It's a short field for the Mother Goose, but still a very nice group of Saturday afternoon fillies.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer means Saratoga

For any horselover or racing fan, the beginning of summer means it's time to think about Saratoga. Opening day at the famous summertime track is Friday July 23rd, and this will be the 142nd year for the historic race meet. There will be 40 days of quality thoroughbred racing, four days longer than any other year, ending on Labor Day, September 6th. Saratoga offers 17 Grade I races during this short meet, and the most famous of these races is the Travers Stakes for 3 year olds, also known as the Mid-Summer Derby. Check websites to the right for more Saratoga details, history and news. Look for more on the Spa, here, special events, Saturday Afternoon horses to watch, and fun things to do as we get closer to Opening Day!

Friday, June 18, 2010

What My Father Taught Me

I'm guessing it's odds on that if you are a racing fan, you were probably introduced to the wonderful world of horse racing by your dad.
At least that's the case with most of my racing friends. And it was certainly the case with me. My dad loved racing, but more than that he loved researching pedigrees, and following the sons and daughters of great racing families. He loved the big races, the Triple Crown, the filly Triple Crown, the DC International, the Marlboro Cup, and as an owner-breeder, he took great pride in watching his own horses run too. He taught me how to read the Racing Form and I inherited his enthusiasm for the Sport of Kings. My dad taught me that if there was Relaunch, In Reality or Mr. Prospector in the pedigree, then take a second look on a rainy day. My dad taught me that sons and daughters of Mill Reef, Vaguely Noble and Riverman would love the turf. My dad taught me if a first time starter showed some speed, then go to the windows next time out. My dad taught me that two sprints to a route was the best time to cash in on a maiden going long for the first time. My dad taught me that balance was the key to good conformation in a race horse. My dad taught me how to look for a good flat hip in a racehorse. My dad taught me that families matter, and good classic pedigrees always "show up". My dad taught me that mornings on the backside were far more enjoyable and a world away, from afternoons in the grandstand. My dad told me to keep my eye on that young Pletcher kid who worked for Wayne Lucas. My dad showed me me that Saratoga was the August Place to Be.
My dad taught me how to find a Saturday Afternoon horse!
And he taught me how to be a generous winner if I cashed a bet, and well, a gracious loser, if I didn't.

In addition to all the other life's lessons my father taught me, I will always be grateful for his passion for racing and the positive effect that it has had on me.
Thanks Dad !!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Another Queen / Goldikova Wins

Royal Ascot started it's five day race meet today, with a courageous win by the extraordinary mare Goldikova in the Group I Queen Anne Stakes. Ridden by Olivier Peslier, and trained by Freddie Head, Goldikova held off Paco Boy, to win by a long neck. Hopefully we will see her yet again this year at the Breeder's Cup, where she will defend her '08, '09 wins in the Mile.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

ZENYATTA - 2010 Vanity Handicap

To quote Todd Shrupp from TVG, " Zenyatta makes Horse Racing matter again ."

Take another look at the brilliance that is Zenyatta.Watch it again, you know you want to.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Seventeen for The Queen ?

This Sunday at Hollywood Park, Zenyatta, The Queen of Racing, will attempt to extend her winning streak to 17 wins in 17 starts. The amazon 6 year old daughter of Street Cry out of the Kris S. mare, Vertigineaux, will also be looking for an unprecedented 3rd win in the Grade I Vanity H. She will carry 129 pounds against 5 other opponents, including her stablemate Zardana (BRZ) a Gr. II winner who beat Rachel Alexandra in March in the Ladies at Fair Grounds, and the very game (though tough to watch) St.Trinians, also a Gr.II winner.
Though not a lot of speed in the Vanity, Zenyatta always seems to rise to the occasion. She will play her favorite game, with her favorite rider, Mike Smith, give them all a head start and come flying in the end. Should she show up as she always does, this remarkable mare will surpass Citation, Cigar and Mr. Frisky, all of whom won 16 in a row, to claim the record for most victories by a modern day thoroughbred in non-restricted races.
Sit back and enjoy Zenyatta. We may never see the likes of her again. It IS Zenyatta's world and we are privileged to be living in it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

No Surprise...Rachel Runs in the Fleur de Lis on Saturday

Rachel Alexandra, the reigning 2009 Horse of the Year, will run at Churchill this Saturday. Though her connections indicated weeks ago there was a chance she would run in the feature, the Stephen Foster, against colts, it is not surprising that they picked an easier spot. She was also nominated for the Ogden Phipps at Belmont, ( against Unbridled Belle ) and the Obeah at Delaware, on the same day. Why all the need for drama in picking the appropriate race, who knows? Rachel has had trouble getting her top 3 year old form back, but her last 3 workouts indicate that the Rachel from last year should show up.
She has too.
What is surprising is the fact that they have retained her regular rider, Calvin Borel. There was some speculation that Steve Asmussen's regular go-to rider, Shawn Bridgmoan would be aboard, as he has been working her of late.

Good Luck Rachel !

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Classy Trappe Shot

The 7 furlong allowance race on the Belmont Park undercard last Saturday, showcased the classy Trappe Shot. A son of Tapit, out of Shopping, he was the sales topper ( $850,000) at the 2009 Fasig Tipton Spring 2 year old sale, and is a 1/2 brother to SW millionairess Miss Shop, and the stakeswinners Bought in Dixie and Shop Again. Owned by Mill House ( Nicholas Brady, former US Secretary of the Treasury) he is trained by Kiaran Mc Laughlin. The deep, sandy Belmont oval was a little slow on Saturday, but he still managed to run 7/8's in 1.22 and earn a 105 Beyer. But it was the way he did it that caught the eye. He was geared down near the finish and won by 4 lengths. It was his first attempt against older and it was an absolute ROMP. Connections are looking ahead to Graded Stakes at Saratoga for his next start.
And being by Tapit, he could be a monster on turf, should he ever try it.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Two Jewels for WinStar

Drosselmeyer's win in the Belmont Stakes, together with Super Saver's Kentucky Derby win, gave WinStar Farm 2 jewels of this year's coveted Triple Crown. The beautiful Versailles, Kentucky breeding farm owned by friends Bill Casner and Kenny Troutt, stands a stellar group of important stallions including Tiznow, Colonel John, Sharp Humor, Bluegrass Cat, Speightstown, Spring at Last and the sire of this year's Belmont winner, Distorted Humor. The farm breeds to race, and though in business a mere ten years, their success has been extraordinary. Visit their website, www.winstarfarm.com While there, don't forget to visit their store for WinStar merchandise. All proceeds from store sales go to equine industry charities.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Taking a shot in The Acorn Stakes

There are some salty races on Saturday's Belmont Stakes' undercard. One of them is the Acorn, now named the Betfair TVG Acorn, and it looks like a good one.Thirteen 3 year old fillies will go a one-turn mile in pursuit of a Grade 1 win. The Acorn is the first race of a 3 race series known as the Triple Tiara or Filly Triple Crown; the second leg is the Coaching Club American Oaks at a 1 1/8, also at Belmont, and ending with The Alabama at 1 1/4 at Saratoga Race Course. This 2010 configuration is new this year.
The lukewarm morning line favorite is Tidal Pool, who finished 3rd in the Kentucky Oaks to the winner Blind Luck and the nose-beaten Evening Jewel, two top notch fillies based on the West Coast. With those 2 girls staying home, the competition opens up dramatically.Two fillies worth a long shot look are Streaker and Much Rejoicing.
Phipps Stable's Streaker, undefeated in 3 starts and her last against older, has done everything right. A half sister to the Grade 1 millionaire, Pine Island, she is trained by Shug Mc Gaughey who specializes in bringing fillies along just at the right time.
The other filly to take a look at is Much Rejoicing. Also undefeated in two tries, her last race turned into a "key race", with three of the fillies winning their next starts, all three is Stakes.Though her dam, Soaring Softly was a millionaire champion on the grass, this filly looks like she could be something special. And her trainer, Jimmy Toner has a way with good fillies too.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Saturday Horse and A Saturday Jock

For the most part, you can't really get to the Grade 1 Belmont, unless you are A Saturday horse. Though the distance of a mile and a half, is a distance that many will never want to see again, it is still, in this writer's opinion, one of America's most prestigious races. Just ask Woody. ( Oh don't worry, he'll be watching)

My choice for the Preakness, did not disappoint at Pimlico. He didn't win, but his performance showed me he was a horse to watch for the future. First Dude, not only looks the part and has the pedigree to go the distance but also has tactical speed and stamina, two traits you want plenty of, to win the Belmont Stakes.

Ramon Dominguez is a Saturday Jock that is the current rising star on the NYRA circuit. He is the leading rider at the Belmont meet, and in addition to being familiar with First Dude, he is familiar with Belmont's Big Sandy. This is a big edge when riding the huge Belmont oval. You really need to know where those poles are, and not move too soon. So I will be off to races this weekend for the traditional third jewel of the Triple Crown. I will be rooting for First Dude to shine and for Ramon to get his first Classic. Lots of good racing luck and a safe trip to all.