*I won exactly half of my lifetime starts, in fact I won half of my starts at two, half at three and half at four.
December 31, 2009
December 30, 2009
No Virginia, racing is far more than the feature race on Saturday. The early races at Santa Anita on Wednesday are the ones peaking my interest. Two-year-olds of limitless potential hit the racetrack today in races number two and three. You never know when a champion will appear, but these races offer more chance than most. Horses like these, replace the staleness of Winter with a refreshing, optimistic air.
December 28, 2009
“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere, It’s up to you, New York, New York!” The lyrics bellowed from the powerful lungs of one of Risen Star’s owners, Ronnie Lamarque. The outgoing Cajon sang his heart out in the Belmont Stakes Winner’s Circle. He had every right, his horse, trained by fellow Louisianan and co-owner Louie Roussel III, had just turned the ‘test of champions’ into a stretch long runway into the stratosphere of superstardom. Risen Star had just won the Belmont by 14 ¾ lengths, with every powerful stride he effortlessly lengthened his lead on his Belmont foes. My partner in watching the Belmont was my father, and I’ll never forget what he said that day. You have to understand, this is a man who does not easily throw flowery adjectives a horses way. He has seen too many great racehorses to become overly impressed without cause. Hyperbole is simply not in his make-up, but as Risen Star cruised by the sixteenth pole, the words came out of his mouth: “He is a superhorse.”
December 27, 2009
Move over Zenyatta, better beware Gio Ponti. There is a new star in California and he is also a new player on the national turf scene. If you do not follow racing in California, this might not be a horse you are familiar with yet, but you should be. I am here to tell you: The Usual Q.T. is the real deal. In a short time the gelded, California bred has become one of the best turf horses in the country. Yesterday, he did it again. The Usual Q.T. won his sixth consecutive start yesterday in the Sir Beaufort Stakes at Santa Anita’s opening day. Ridden with complete confidence by rider, Victor Espinoza, the bay son of Unusual Heat waited until the top of the lane to pounce. Given only slight urging, The Usual Q.T. ambled to the front and easily held sway his overmatched opponents. Dropping down to a mile from a 10 furlong race can give many horses trouble, but not so for this grass star. The grade 3 win was actually a step down from his sharp win in the Grade 1 win in the Hollywood Derby.
December 26, 2009
The festivities begin at Calder Race Course where the headliner is the match up of star geldings Presious Passion and Cloudy’s Knight in the W.L. McKnight Handicap. A full field of 11 will frame the two, but all eyes will be on the speedy superstar and the ageless wonder, and a win by anyone else would be a little disappointing to the majority of fans. Provided the turf course is firm enough, I like Presious Passion as his front running prowess should prove too much, but I have great respect for Cloudy and I expect him to be the one who is closest to the winner at the wire. Presious Passion will soon be seven and Cloudy’s Knight ten, but you would be hard pressed to find a better distance horse in the country right now than either of these two.
December 25, 2009
Who’s that horse? This is a mile and a half marathon, and he’s opening up by ten, fifteen, twenty lengths! Has the rider lost his mind? There is no way he is going to have anything left for the stretch. Here they come, the pack is closing in, the lead is shrinking fast. They’re going to run right by him. Wait a minute, the horse is Presious Passion. They’re not going to get him. This horse has another gear and a deep reserve of heart. There he goes. Presious Passion wires them again!
Photo Courtesy and Property of Sue Kawczynski
December 24, 2009
*I was a classic Kentucky bred with two Kentucky Derby winners in my pedigree
December 23, 2009
One of the fastest three-year-olds of 2009 returns to stakes racing this Saturday at Calder in the Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap. This Ones For Phil, winner of the Sunshine Millions Dash and the Swale Stakes, had been away from the races since the Spring, before returning after nearly six months to win a sharp allowance at Laurel. Trained by Rick Dutrow, the chestnut son of Untuttable flourished for Dutrow in Florida last Winter. I expect This Ones For Phil, a gelding, to be a major player in the big sprints of 2010 and possibly for years to come, but today’s column is not about This Ones For Phil the racehorse.
December 21, 2009
He was not your average two-year-old. Far from it. Pounding the earth with every gigantic stride, Point Given now had his massive frame moving in a fluid motion. His stride was twice the length of any of the other juveniles in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup, but it would not matter, for he was left with far too much to do in the Churchill Downs stretch and was still mired back in 7th at the eighth pole. The classy Canadian colt, Macho Uno had made a winning move and had spurted clear of the rest of the pack. Still I could not take my eyes off of Point Given. He was now in full gear and it had all the look of a Cadillac chasing down a field of Yugos. So big and strong and closing so fast it reminded me of all those times I had seen Forego blistering down the Belmont Park lane. Point Given was flying like no other juvenile I had seen before. It was only a matter of how quickly the wire would arrive. Point Given was gaining half a length per stride, and when he passed Street Cry, I let myself believe for the first time that he may actually pull it off. Macho Uno was still running well, but Point Given was now billowing smoke from his nostrils. They would hit the wire together. On the line was the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and an Eclipse Award as best two-year-old. As the horses galloped past my vantage point, just past the wire, my mouth was ajar and my heart was pounding.
December 20, 2009
December 19, 2009
19 weeks until the Kentucky Derby, let the countdown begin!
December 18, 2009
You ever get the feeling that all the luck in the world is by your side and you can not possibly lose? No…well then, maybe you should make a beeline for the left coast. This weekend at Hollywood Park, all racing fans are in store for a double dose of excellent luck.
Photo Courtesy and Property of Marti Guzman
Standing in opposition to Lookin at Lucky, will be seven other colts, led by Noble’s Promise. The Ken McPeek runner will be the clear second choice in the betting and is coming off an excellent 3rd in the BC Juvenile, where he finished right behind Lookin at Lucky. The two-time stakes winner has run consistently well in five starts and his connections still have hopes for a championship if the son of Cuvee can get the job done on Saturday. I still have doubts about his ability to be a true distance horse, but he has proven tough at the Futurity distance of 1 1/16 miles. Of the rest, longshot Wildlee Special ships in from New Jersey and may be more talented than he looks on paper. With all due respect to Noble’s Promise and the rest of the field, I see this race to be fully at Lookin at Lucky’s mercy, and would be surprised to see anyone but him and rider Garrett Gomez sauntering into the Hollywood Park winner’s circle. There will be many hurdles to clear in Lookin at Lucky’s future, but Saturday will prove no stumbling block culminating his championship season.
Sunday’s Hollywood Starlet boasts a loaded field of seven juvenile fillies. Blind Luck, just a few short months ago, was an unheralded daughter of the sight-challenged, freshman sire Pollard’s Vision, and running in a maiden claiming race at Calder. She won that race by more than 13 lengths and has been climbing the ranks of the two-year-old fillies ever since. Blind Luck was an impressive winner of her first try at two turns in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf and she followed that up with a fine performance in the Breeders’ Cup, where she steadied on the first turn and tried hard down the lane to finish 3rd, beaten less than one length. Blind Luck will have the service of top rider Rafael Bejarano for the first time, and is my pick to snare the Starlet. Her off the pace style should be well suited for the fast early fractions set by a few of her main rivals on Sunday.
Blind Luck will have to be at her very best to win though, as each of the other six fillies has the potential to be a grade 1 winner. Chief among them is Beautician, a physically impressive, gray daughter of Dehere. Beautician ran a bang-up race in the BC Juvenile Fillies, as she split horses and finished second best, while one bettering my pick Blind Luck. A non-winner since her maiden win, Beautician seems too good to have her losing streak continue for much longer. Bickersons, meanwhile was not one of the many competitive runners in the Juvenile Fillies, but she returned from that disappointing 10th place finish, with an eye-catching, front-running score in the 7 furlong Moccasin Stakes over this same strip four weeks ago. Her speed will get a better test Sunday, as the grass loving Rose Catherine figures to contest the early lead. Rose Catherine has been most impressive since switching from dirt to turf, and if she can carry that class over to Hollywood’s synthetic surface, will prove a major threat.
Good luck to all and enjoy Hollywood Park’s excellent pair of juvenile grade 1 stakes. I will be calling Hollywood to find out if I can wager on a most lucky daily double.
December 17, 2009
*I began my career racing exclusively on one coast and finished it running only on the other coast.
December 16, 2009
Belize is a small country located on the Caribbean coast in northern Central America. It is the only nation in Central America where English is the official language. Because of its location and natural beauty, Belize is known as a tourist attraction. The sport of horse racing is alive in Belize, but it is on life support.
My name is Roger Marston of Belize City, Belize Central America. I am 27 years old and have loved horses and horse racing for my entire life. I have been around horses since I was a child here in Belize. I have been actively involved in the sport of racing for about 5 years as an exercise rider, trainer, and owner. It has always been my dream to have become a jockey. I was even accepted at the Frank Garza jockey school however that dream was short lived due to the lack of finances.
Horse racing here in Belize has not made any steps forward since I was a child. Instead it has just been falling and falling and I feel that it is at its point of exhaustion. In the early 80’s the Queen of England had donated a race track, named The Belize National Stadium, to the Horse Owners of Belize to hold their race meets. There they held a lot of great races and at that time we had horses and horsemen alike coming all the way from Jamaica to participate in the local races, but that was short lived. In 1994 that land was taken away from the Horse Owners, by the then Government of Belize, and was relocated to its present location. After the track was relocated it had also changed its name to Burrel Boom Race Track and now to present day Castleton Race Track.
I feel that the reason the sport is dying is the fact that the local Government or the City Council does not support horse racing. We also do not have any pari-mutual betting here. If the racing fans or tourist attend a race meet they either have to bet amongst themselves, or do it with the horse owners or trainers. If we can get pari-mutual betting here it would be an asset for the Country as well as for the race track as money will be generated.
I feel that if the race program is more structured like that of the USA the fans will understand more what is going on with specifics horse identification, as well as rules, regulations and protocol. Here the program is not fully detailed so most of the fans are always asking “which horse is that?” and “who is riding?” or “who is the owner?” Even the announcer, steward and judges can become confused.
With a stallion registry in place we could keep track of horses as they are bred, and so forth. I would love to make the connection that some day we can have international racing, as well as simlucasting being done of our horse racing meets. I would love to have more horses into the country and even have a breeding farm in place so that we can produce our own horses and at some point be able to take them back to the USA and participate in races as well.
I have written all of this above in order to enlist the support of the racing industry within the USA. We are looking for assistance with the following:
• Renovate the local race track to make it a bit more safer for horses and riders.
• If possible to get a new race track bigger and better like that of the USA
• Have a stallion registry
• Have all racing horses in Belize registered
• Racing Board & Commission
• Starting Gate
• Breeding Farm• pari-mutual Betting
• Better Race Program
• Jockey School• Farrier ,Trainers, Jockey, Steward, Judge, Emergency and horse care education courses
• Racing Rules & Regulations
23 Barracat Street
Belize City, Belize
tel: (001) 501-623-7833
I know that many of you will feel for the plight of racing in Belize and would like to help, (and if you can help directly that would be wonderful) but are not sure what to do. Today I ask all of my readers to use the comment page and 'sign in' as a show of support for Roger Marston's cause and for the improvement of horse racing in Belize. This small act could lead to greater recognition, and in the end, lead to something much bigger. Thank you.
December 14, 2009
Relentless. That was the thing about Alysheba, he may not have had the raw talent of his sire, Alydar, he was not an overly precocious juvenile, and as good as he became, Alysheba never overwhelmed his competition with romping victories, but he was relentless. In both his many fine performances on the racetrack and over his three year career, Alysheba would keep on coming with the grim determination of a true champion. By the time Alysheba arrived at the 1987 Kentucky Derby, he was an attractive and promising colt, but still eligible for ‘non winners of one other than.’ His career to that point was littered with near misses and he was coming off a recent disqualification from 1st, after a roughly run three horse stretch battle in the Blue Grass. Flash-forward 18 months later and Alysheba was America’s Horse, the all-time leading money winner, and a respected champion. The legend began with his remarkable run in the Kentucky Derby.
December 13, 2009
American runners found no pot of gold at the end of the Hong Kong rainbow, as all four of our runners failed to hit the board in the rich series of Hong Kong International races held today at Sha Tin Racecourse.
December 12, 2009
A special tribute to the Man in Black, the late, great, Johnny Cash:
December 11, 2009
All of a sudden the city of New Orleans is the place to be for the sporting inclined. Those oft downtrodden Saints, are scoring points by the bushels and sport a spotless 12-0 record. Big news for a team who’s fans wore more paper bags over there heads than most. Across town, a quick glance down the Asmussen shedrow at New Orleans’ Fair Grounds Race Course reveals an even bigger star than Drew Brees, Who dat? None other than the Ragin Cajun, The Queen of Bourbon Street, the Grand Mistress of Mardi Gras…Rachel Alexandra.
The magnificent filly who has stormed through the racing world, with all the subtlety of dear, departed Sam Kinison, in winning the Golden Rod, Martha Washington, Fair Grounds Oaks, Fantasy, Kentucky Oaks, Preakness, Mother Goose, Haskell, and Woodward in succession, is being courted by the good people of New Orleans. If everything goes to plan, their wooing should see Rachel make her triumphant return to the races in the New Orleans Ladies. Mark your calendars and secure your plane tickets now. The date is March 13 and the place is Fair Grounds Race Course. The $200,000 New Orleans Ladies is newly created and a Rachel inspired race. It will be 1 1/16 miles on the dirt. The New Orleans Ladies should fit very nicely into the superstar’s 2010 schedule. A schedule designed to culminate at Churchill Downs on November 6, in the 27th running of the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Now we know the likely starting point for our heroine and the ultimate climax, but what shall be in between? I’d like to take a crack at that right now.
After a score in the New Orleans Ladies on March 13, Rachel will make a return trip to one of her favorite tracks, Oaklawn Park for a start in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom on April 3, also at 1 1/16 miles. The three weeks is a bit of a quick turn-around, but should set her up with a nice foundation for the bigger races to come. Rachel then will head North and take up residence at Churchill Downs. A little freshening should have her razor sharp for her first attempt against the boys in the Stephen Foster. The Grade 1 in June will be 1 1/8 miles over the same strip as the Breeders’ Cup. In July, Rachel will become the greatest horse to run at Delaware Park since Spectacular Bid, when she competes in the million dollar Delaware Handicap. This will give our star her first chance to excel at 10 furlongs.
With four major wins under her belt, it will be time for Rachel to get some more work in against the boys. She will thrill the fans on the Jersey Shore one more time as she cuts back in distance to 1 1/8 miles around two turns in the Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park in August. From New Jersey, Rachel will make the short trip to New York, where she will use the prestigious Beldame Stakes in early October as her final prep for her date with destiny. Belmont is a track Rachel likes, and the Beldame will afford the nation’s largest market another glimpse at greatness. Rachel will then arrive at Churchill Downs as the greatest female horse in history and the most popular thoroughbred since the glorious Triple Crown runs of the 1970s. The world will be watching on November the 6th as Rachel Alexandra makes her final lifetime start.
Here is what the proposed schedule would look like laid out:
March - New Orleans Ladies
April - Apple Blossom Handicap
June - Stephen Foster Handicap
July - Delaware Handicap
August - Iselin Handicap
October - Beldame Stakes
November - Breeders’ Cup Classic
There you have it, a schedule fit for a queen. Seven races and seven more wins. Will this be the path that Rachel the Great follows to immortality? Ultimately that is up to Jess Jackson, as my proposed schedule is only conjecture of course, but isn’t it fun to imagine?
December 10, 2009
*I was born and bred in a country not known for horse racing, which is even more the case now.
December 9, 2009
The Top 10 Horses to run on American soil according to ZATT. Let’s count it down…
December 7, 2009
Things took a dramatic turn one day in the Summer of 1985. I was with my Dad and we were getting ready to see another renewal of the prestigious Test Stakes. To be perfectly honest, I was not there to see Lady‘s Secret. I wanted to see the New England sensation and recent winner of the Triple Tiara, Mom’s Command, up close at the beautiful Saratoga paddock. I had seen many horses in the paddock before, and many since, in which I was thoroughly impressed. Looks, demeanor, and sculptured physique are all things I notice when looking at a horse and I have seen multitudes of impressive horses over the past forty years. Something was different on this day though, I admired the horse I wanted to see, but I could not keep my eyes off one of the other horses in the field. The apple of my eye was a beautiful gray filly, not a big horse by any means, Lady’s Secret was a fantastic sight of alertness, health, and physical prowess. Saying that she had a gleam in her eye and a shine to her coat was an understatement. The Lady could not have impressed me more if she started to glow. To this day, I have never changed my opinion so sharply on a horse after seeing them in the paddock. My more experienced paddock partner agreed, and we watched as Lady’s Secret turned the corner of her career that day. She easily defeated the overwhelming favorite, Mom’s Command, and scored an easy win in the Test.
December 6, 2009
United States racing fans, consider this your warning…Beware the Venezuelan super filly. Bambera is coming!
December 5, 2009
90 years ago, Sir Barton made his seventh start in the Kentucky Derby. Winless in his six previous starts, the maiden won that edition of America’s most famous race, forever becoming the most notorious maiden in the history of racing. Last night, deep down in the Louisiana Delta, a young filly entered the evening a maiden. By the time the night was over, Quiet Temper had become the winner of a half million dollar graded stakes. In smashing style, the Mark Stanley owned daughter of Quiet American, dominated the nine horse field and splashed home nearly eight lengths the best. In the process she earned first prize of $300,000 and now has one win and three seconds, in her four starts. Quite an accomplishment for a maiden, OK maybe not on a scale of Sir Barton, who went on to become our first Triple Crown winner in 1919, but noteworthy nonetheless.
December 4, 2009
The American Graded Stakes Committee announced their decisions for 2010. Rather than putting many of you to sleep by listing stakes that were upgraded and downgraded, let’s liven things up a bit with a little Zipse perspective on the graded stakes list. Which tracks were the winners? Which tracks were the losers?
December 3, 2009
*I am a member of the Hall of Fame and was a Horse of the Year in my home country.
December 2, 2009
The first decade of the 21st century is absolutely sprinting to the finish line. The decade must have set slow fractions, because it is now flying to the wire. This allows me to unveil a very special edition of ZATT. A column so big that I have already notified my server to be ready for the onslaught. A column so important, that I could not wait the final 30 days before publishing. Today I present to my millions of readers (foreshadowing the future of Zipse at the Track) the Zipse Awards. Horses of the decade in each division, I even added one category that the Eclipse Awards should recognize. These only come around every ten years or so, take a deep breath, grab a drink, and enjoy!