Monday, May 26, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Dutrow suggested that he is eyeing two more races for Big Brown: the Travers Stakes on Aug. 23 at Saratoga and the Breeders Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Going right to the front under regular jockey Willie Dowling, Good Night Shirt set a relaxed pace and turned aside several challenges to win by 4 1/2 lengths over Best Attack with Sweet Shani third in 5:47 3/5 for the 3 miles and 18 jumps. Trained in Maryland by Jack Fisher, the winner improved to 2-for-2 this year and won for the fifth time in his last six starts. He leads all 2008 steeplechasers with $150,000 in earnings.
More importantly, he was flawless in a convincing victory.
“The boy became a man,” said Dowling. “He was more professional today – no mistakes, nothing sloppy. He’s got an engine that just allows him to keep going. He’s the best horse I’ve ever ridden.”
Good Night Shirt opened his 2008 campaign with a Grade I win at Atlanta April 12, but had to overcome a sloppy jump at the last fence to get the win. At Nashville, the 7-year-old gelding set a relaxed pace while getting pressure from Sweet Shani and Bow Strada early. Still in front on the final turn, Good Night Shirt got a brief breather which helped him hold off Best Attack in the stretch.
There were no mistakes this time as Good Night Shirt was perfect throughout the marathon Iroquois, thwarting Sweet Shani’s pressing style early and saving plenty for Best Attack in the stretch.
Fisher joked that his horse would next take a trip “to Disney World,” but will instead give the Maryland-bred an extended break before preparing for a fall campaign. Major goals will be the $300,000 Breeders’ Cup Grand National in October and the $150,000 Colonial Cup in November. With the victory, Good Night Shirt increased his career steeplechase bankroll to $598,973 (sixth on the career earnings list). He also became the 13th horse to win back-to-back runnings of the race – no one has ever won the Iroquois, run for the 67th time this year, in three consecutive years. – Joe Clancey, S-T Publishing.
All Giving, 4-for-4 in her lifetime starts on off tracks, carried jockey Erick Rodriguez under the finish line in 57.46 seconds for the five-furlong distance. She won by five lengths. Speedy Cat On A Cloud shot to the lead after a scramble at the start but could not hold off the winner and finished second. Smart And Fancy was third.
By Noles, out of Succubus by Cozzene owned and bred by Sarah Warmack.
By Mighty Forum (GB), out of Girlie Attitude by Slavic owned and bred by Sarah Warmack.
In the first decades of the Twentieth Century, racing and breeding took on a truly international flavor. When gambling was outlawed in New York in 1908, many of the leading owners in the U.S. shifted a large part of their racing and breeding stock to England and France to compete. French bloodlines became more familiar to American breeders, who appreciated the Gallic fascination with stamina; and the French didn't snub American strains that were considered "impure" in England. There was a healthy play back and forth between the continent and America, and few horses epitomized that more than Teddy and his sons.
Teddy was purchased by Americans F. Wallis Armstrong and Kenneth Gilpin and he stood at Gilpin's Kentmere Farm, near Boyce, Virginia. He was joined there by another great French horse with a tie to Edmond Blanc, the mighty Ksar, who arrived in 1935 at the age of 17, and died in 1937. Teddy passed in 1936 from a twisted gut aged 24 years, and was buried near the house at Kentmere. His gravestone has since been lost, but the memory of the great stallion from France remains a legacy of the place.
The whole story can be found here:
Here’s a preview:
The Kentucky Derby is like a cross between the circus and the opera for rich people, only with more drinking and less-tasteful nudity.
Ron Martin of Tabernacle, N.J., looks over the Preakness Day entries from the Pimlico Race Course grandstand. Martin says he's been coming to the Preakness with friends for the past 20 years. (Baltimore Sun photo by Robert K. Hamilton / May 17, 2008)
Can Big Brown end the 30-year drought and lead the industry out of the storm caused by the Eight Belles breakdown in Louisville?
(Photo by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)
Monday, May 12, 2008
It seems to generally be good policy to let the dust settle before opining on controversial issues. The loss of Eight Belles in the Derby is just such an issue, and, to no one’s surprise, it has generated a great deal of dialog.
Interestingly, NTRA CEO Alex Waldrop almost immediately posted a statement on the NTRA web page with a “safety first” message. The comments he received to his post were amazingly consistent.
Of course, the overwhelming majority of folks were distraught over the loss of such a courageous filly who had so valiantly battled the boys on racing’s biggest stage. A few, simply said that accidents were a part of racing, move on.
Others proffered potential solutions to what they perceived to be an increasing problem: catastrophic injuries and deaths.
The solutions offered for how to best fix the racing industry ran consistently down five paths: 1) switch from dirt to synthetic racing surfaces, 2) fundamentally change the breeding industry, 3) stop whipping, 4) advance the racing calendar forward one year so four-year-olds compete in the Triple Crown and 5) ban all drugs.
Starting with the switch from dirt to synthetic surfaces -- there is a study that says catastrophic breakdowns are reduced on polytrack and the like, but the jury still seems to be out. California tracks have rushed head long into the brave new world of synthetics with mixed results. The January 2008 issue of Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred featured a very comprehensive and lengthy article about the issues surrounding artificial racing surfaces. Not too many conclusions were drawn, but many trainers seemed to believe that they were generally beneficial although they seemed to cause more problems behind than dirt. Score this one: A good idea, keep working on it.
As far as fundamentally changing the breeding industry, that’s a tough one. Many of the folks responding to Waldrup were racing fans and not breeders. They seemed to incorrectly believe that breeding is much more predictable than those of us on the inside know it to be. However, they did point out that speed over stamina is contributing to faster, but more fragile horses. That position seems on point.
If one examines photos of horses from earlier times, be ready to see more bone and more substance. A good bit of that came from Europe following one world war or another, but even back in the early 1900’s horses simply had bigger bones. It would appear through simple historical translation that they were sounder (longer races, multiple heats). Surely, there were breakdowns, but without the 24 hour news cycle and the internet, it was more difficult to track.
Score fixing the breed difficult at best. Where do we get new blood from bigger, stronger, sounder horses and who takes the hit when they are slower? How can the market be organized to endure a change from speed to stamina. The answers won’t be easy, but it’s something to think about.
That brings us to whipping. Surprisingly, whipping got a lot of play. Many young people (potential fans) are appalled by whipping. In many cases, they were bothered more by the whipping than Eight Belles’ ultimate demise. It is simply fascinating that the perception (and, yes, in today’s world perception is every bit as important as reality) of whipping is more distasteful than that of catastrophic injury and euthanasia.
Score this one fixable. Last week there were conversations in the VTA and VA HBPA offices about Virginia taking the lead on the whip issue. Racing folks in the Commonwealth, be it horsemen, breeders or regulators, aren’t shy about taking the lead on national issues. We were the first state to run the overwhelming majority of our races on the turf, to require telephone wagering companies to get a license to guarantee purse contributions, to prohibit steroids, to prohibit drug offenders from holding a jockey’s license (since changed – the Pat Day Rule) and the first to pay a 100% owners bonus. So, Virginia isn’t afraid to take a stand or to swim upstream.
Why not follow suit with the National Steeplechase Association and require the use of a softer-kinder whip similar to the one’s used in England? Why not have a week or two where the use of the whip is prohibited unless it is needed to keep the horse on a safe course or from interfering with others? Why not run the whole meet that way?
Would it complicate things for trainers, jockeys and betting fans? Yes, but they will figure it out in short order and the positive public relations would be good for Virginia and the entire sport. Paycheck manipulation is a wonderful motivational tool for education, so the jocks will figure it out in no time. Would such a rule make the steward’s job harder? Of course it would, but we have smart stewards who know what they are doing. They will figure it out too.
A popular thread was from those who advocate simply doing away with two-year-old racing and making the Triple Crown a series for four-year-olds. Opponents to such thinking quickly point out that there is no empirical evidence that shows that a horse that doesn’t race at two and who starts racing at three is less likely to breakdown.
In fact, many vets will tell you that exercise at two is critical to healthy bone development and that three-year-olds' skeletons are mature. There is also info out there that shows that horses that start at two win more and make more starts than those that don't. Of course, that could be partially because they were superior athletes and sounder to begin with. The industry needs to study this and take a position one way or the other.
Again, perception is more important than reality. The world is changing. The children born today or more likely to be urban than rural. The connection with the horse is waning in many ways. People don’t sit around talking about animal husbandry and our sound byte world isn’t conducive to reading the Daily Racing Form on handicapping. More and more people are able to empathize with the animal rights groups. Simply put, these are troubling times.
So why not try a rash experiment? If it doesn’t work, go back to the old way. Why not simply move the calendar? For the foal crop of 2008, the yearling sales will sell two-year-olds, and the two-year-old sales will sell three-year-olds. Juvenile races will now be written for three-year-olds and the stakes calendar including the Triple Crown will shift up one year.
So far so good, but what about the lost year? Good question. Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton would have to forego yearling sales' revenue for one year. No Keeneland September and no Saratoga. Will corporate profits be down for the year? You bet, but Keeneland and the new Fasig owners from Dubai can no doubt weather the storm for the long-term good of the industry.
Another issue is short fields, especially in 2010 and 2011. Racetracks would be short one whole crop of three-year-olds and that seems like the toughest problem to overcome. We don’t have a solution to that one just yet. In addition, folks who make a living training young horses may or may not be negatively impacted. Some breeders/owners will leave them in the field a year longer to the yearling breakers detriment, but others will still break them in the fall of their yearling year and bring them along nice and slow.
Now, we come to the record book. All sports cling determinedly to their records and are subsequently reluctant to change the variables. They like things to be clearly defined and consistent – it’s called tradition. There is nothing wrong with that, but records are ultimately about people. The horses don’t care about the record book, only the owners, trainers, jockeys, breeders and fans care. But the question is why? Would you be any less excited if your four-year-old won the Derby? Any less excited if you hit the Derby triple? Would you discount your Derby winners’ stud fee because he won at four not three? How about probably not, no and NO!
Ultimately, most statistics in the horse racing world are utilized to determine future value in the breeding shed and to measure one generation’s best against another. Simply put, that won’t change. The best of a generation is the best of the generation no matter what year the test is taken. So whether they run in the Breeders Cup Juvenile at two or three seems irrelevant to the horses and to market value.
Baseball which has been wracked by a steroid scandal has been forced to take a long hard look at their record book. NBC’s Bob Costas, who studies the game as hard a anybody, suggested they put an asterisk in the record book for the “steroid years.” Racing could do the same, the asterisk is simple “* in 2009 the racing calendar was moved up one year for all horses.” Could you then compare Man O’ War or Secretariat to the four-year-old winner of the 150th Kentucky Derby? Probably not, but does that really matter?
Finally, there were many who advocated the prohibition of all drugs pointing out that many other major racing markets get along just fine without a zillion permitted medications. Of course, there are arguments about the health and welfare of the horse, but other racing countries don’t seem to have the same concerns.
Breakdowns in other countries with dirt racing are less frequent, and many people point to our heavy reliance on various drugs as the reason. Again, drug free racing would cause short fields as it did in New York causing them to abandon their “hay, oats and water” policy some years back. But when all is said and done, a rule that impacts everybody the same way (be it whipping or drugs) is a fair rule. A level playing field is level whether or not one likes what makes it so…
So, when all the dust clears, consider a continued pursuit of new and better racing surfaces, a ban of whipping except for maintaining course, a prohibition of drugs and a change in the racing calendar to eliminate two-year-old racing and yearling sales, etc.
See, that wasn’t so hard...
The agreement was made shortly after Big Brown’s dominating 4 3/4-length victory in the Kentucky Derby on May 3 at Churchill Downs. Desormeaux carried the UPS logo during the 134th Kentucky Derby aboard Big Brown. Desormeaux, IEAH Stables, and Big Brown will continue to carry the UPS colors throughout the Triple Crown.
"This is such a thrilling time for our entire ownership team and we are extremely honored to have a company like UPS along for the ride," said Michael Iavarone, co-president and chief executive officer of International Equine Acquisitions Holdings Inc., which owns IEAH Stables. "Having a Kentucky Derby winning-horse is a dream come true. Competing for a Triple Crown title is the thrill of a lifetime and we'll be supporting 'Brown' all the way."
Big Brown was named by his original owner Paul Pompa Jr., who co-owns the Boundary colt, after he renewed a contract with UPS Freight in 2007 for his Brooklyn New York-based Truck-Rite Corp. Pompa named Big Brown in honor of Atlanta-based UPS, the world’s largest package delivery company.
“The Big Brown story is a compelling one that has resonated globally across UPS with our more than 425,000 employees worldwide," said Ron Rogowski, UPS's director of sponsorship. “We've enjoyed some tremendous associations through our sponsorship platforms and to be able to be linked to a Kentucky Derby champion is an honor for our company and our employees. We look forward to supporting Big Brown in his Triple Crown quest.”
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
(Photos by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images and Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Whitely’s Preakness winner was bred by Raymond R. Guest, the father of longtime member of the Virginia General Assembly Raymond R. “Andy” Guest, Jr. The younger Guest died of cancer at home at Rock Hill Farm in Front Royal in 2001. A Yale graduate, Guest was highly regarded by his colleagues and served as Minority Leader from 1986 to 1992.
He is best remembered by Virginia’s Thoroughbred industry for his support of the 1988 pari-mutuel betting bill that made possible Colonial Downs and its pari-mutuel betting parlors elsewhere in the state. The bill passed and was approved in a statewide referendum. Guest had sponsored similar legislation 10 years earlier.
Both the bill and the referendum faced stiff opposition from groups opposed to state-sanctioned gambling.
Neiman's vibrant portrayal captures the speed, beauty and grace of Secretariat and jockey Ron Turcotte as they near the finish line beneath the legendary Twin Spires of Churchill Downs. Secretariat's brilliant final time of 1:59 2/5 for the 99th Run for the Roses established a track record that still stands today.
Neiman's 35th Anniversary Commemorative Prints are available in three editions, all measuring 18x24". The Offical Edition Poster retails for $40.00. An Artist Signed Edition personally signed by LeRoy Neiman is $125.00, and a Triple Signed Foil Stamped Edition personally signed by Neiman, owner Penny Chenery and jockey Ron Turcotte is available for $250.00.
The image can also be found on bottles of Woodford Reserve bourbon.
A percentage of the proceeds of the art sales of these commemorative editions will be donated to The Secretariat Foundation. The mission of The Secretariat Foundation is to assist and support various equine charities and causes within the thoroughbred racing community.
For more information go to: http://www.cobaltart.com/se35an.html