I will never forget the afternoon when Wajima and Forego came together in a furious stretch battle during the 1975 Marlboro Cup. They turned the race of the year into their own personal dual. Top horses Ancient Title, Foolish Pleasure, Avatar, Royal Glint, and Step Nicely were left far behind as these two champions had at it. The five-year-old Forego carrying ten more pounds than his younger rival, gave Wajima everything he had, but could not get by. It was striking for me to see the big, beautiful son of Bold Ruler almost dwarfed by the monster that was Forego. As they sprinted home to the wire he simply would not let the giant horse win. Wajima had beaten Forego for the second consecutive race, this time by looking him in the eye and battling to a hard-fought, head victory. It may not have been the result that the majority of the Belmont crowd wanted that day, but I went home happy.
August 31, 2009
August 30, 2009
A sea of slop and a soft turf course were the stage yesterday for some of the best horses in America. Travers Day is an important one, not only for the 3-year-olds, but also for many other divisions as well. I had my thumb at the ready to dish out some approval or some disappointment to the performers. Here is what I saw.
August 29, 2009
Ahh … Travers Day. One of my favorite days of the year. The Travers itself is always great, throw in a bunch of other very good stakes at Saratoga and you have yourself one of the best racing days of the year. Unfortunately, this year looks like it might be a little wet. I will not let that dampen my enthusiasm though. What I will do, is alter my selections accordingly for the wet track. Here is what I think:
August 28, 2009
Dominic Terry has been riding horses since he was four or five years old. His mother, Elizabeth Kirkland, who was also was a jockey, brought him around the track as a young boy. He remembers loving to ride the stable pony at the barns where his mother worked. His first riding job (he will not say how old he was at the time) was for Bill Badgett, the trainer of the great Go For Wand. From these beginnings, it was only natural for Dominic to go on to a career as a professional jockey, but in 2003 and still a teenager, he was seriously injured in a race at the Fair Grounds. It was a terrible fall and caused him eleven months away from the races. Horse racing is clearly not a game for the faint of heart and the accident left him with a nine inch scar on his neck as a reminder.
August 27, 2009
If you are looking for my critique on another rousing rendition of “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, you can find it a few blogs over at the Totowa High School 45th Reunion Page. But…since I have you here, why don’t you stay a while. I have a story to tell.
August 26, 2009
I’ve been waiting. We all have been waiting. The Alabama, The Travers, The Woodward, The Personal Ensign, or The Pennsylvania Derby all seemingly or supposedly had a chance to attract the mega-star filly. Turf writers, like myself, Rachel Alexandra’s legions of fans, and pretty much anyone connected to a horse that was considering any one of those five races were waiting. Tick-tock Jess Jackson, tick-tock. Why must you make us wait so long? Don’t you know we just want to see her run?
August 24, 2009
I will never forget the moment when Angel Cordero perpetrated one of the greatest crimes against the fans of thoroughbred horse racing. Racing fans everywhere had adopted a new hero, or should I say heroine. Genuine Risk was everything the public wanted in a new star. She was elegant and fast, she was feminine and tough. A lovely filly who could fill the void left by Ruffian’s death five years earlier. Her win in the Kentucky Derby had been one of the most popular in history. Genuine Risk was a powerful example for women libbers everywhere. In Genuine Risk, Girl Power was alive.
August 23, 2009
The New York Racing Association has found sponsors in TVG and Betfair to add another $400,000 to the purse of the Beldame, raising the kitty of the Grade 1 affair to a cool million. The purse raise is dependent on the entry of both Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. After yesterday’s Alabama, there is reason to hope for some competition for the big two.
August 22, 2009
Don’t look now but the first decade of the 21st century is winding to an end. Four months and a few days and we will be entering the 2nd decade…where did the time go? With the end of the decade speeding towards us, I have decided to get a jump on things for a change. I am previewing the Zipse Awards, which will be awarded to the best horses of the decade in their respective divisions.
August 21, 2009
The Canadians have captured the airport! We have got to get organized! Just don’t panic! The Canadians have landed! Hide the women and children! We haven’t got a chance! This could be World War III! OK, maybe I’m overstating things just a little bit, but in looking over the past performances of Saturday’s Grade 1 Alabama, I fear for the chances of our poor, little American fillies against the Canadian invasion.
August 20, 2009
Seattle Slew was a winner. In 17 races, he won 14 times. The Slew won racing’s greatest achievement, the Triple Crown. He also won the hearts of millions of devoted fans. These wins are not the topic of the day, but rather one of his losses. Seattle Slew’s performance in the Jockey Club Gold Cup displayed everything you could ever ask of a racehorse. I was lucky enough to be in the stands at Belmont Park that October day and I will forever remember the greatest loss there ever was.
August 19, 2009
Well maybe as humans we would not want to go back to being two years old again, but for a thoroughbred race horse, this is when all the running begins. As fans we get a whole new crop of horses to follow, anew and fresh, the possibilities are limitless. Anyone of these youngsters could be the next Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Ruffian, John Henry or fill in the name of one of your personal favorites. Future titans of the sport. Then you see them break their maiden and look out. You begin a journey with that horse to see what heights they can reach, for you will be forever intertwined with this magnificent horse because you were there when it all began. You can say “I was there“, or “I knew she was going to be a good one” adding joy to your bond with this horse. Most of them will not go on to be champions, but that’s OK. They will still be your ‘friends’, you will always look at them fondly and there is always the hope that the next one will become truly great. It all begins at 2.
August 17, 2009
I will never forget the look in his eye as he turned to eyeball his great rival Silver Charm coming down the stretch of the 1997 Preakness. It was like he was telling his adversary to bring everything you have, because you are in for the fight of your life. Never mind the two other great horses on either side of them, Captain Bodgit and Touch Gold. This was all about two great rivals giving their all to get to the wire first. It was the fight of both of their lives as they battled to the wire in a head-bobbing, too-close-to-call finish. That was the day my appreciation grew into a real love for Free House. Oh, those long white legs and those expressive eyes.
August 16, 2009
Uh-oh. Right after I did some serious Euro-Trashing. France's Goldikova, the glorious female turf miler, ran what may have been her best race to date. She trounced a full field of Group I winners in winning the Prix Jacques le Marois today at Deauville in France. Winning by six lengths, Goldikova flashed her amazing turn of foot to leave the boys in her dust. Final time for the Group I race was a brilliant 133.50 as the 4-year-old daughter of Anabaa prepares for her ultimate gooal, defending her title in the Breeder's Cup Mile.
August 15, 2009
The year was 2002 and I just started following a lightly raced 3-year-old who had recently switched to turf. I saw his first race on the lawn, after four unsuccessful dirt tries, which was a maiden special weight at Churchill. He exploded with a electrifying burst to go from near the back of the pack to a nine length romp. I checked the breeding and I liked what I saw with turf on both sides. His grandsire was one of my favorite turf horses, With Approval. This was one horse I would need to watch. His next race was also on the turf at one mile. An allowance race at Saratoga and I was ready, but at 11-10, I decided to be only a spectator. I am glad I did not bet him, because it was one of the worst trips I had ever seen. He literally was bottled up the entirety of the far turn to the finish line. The horse simply never had anywhere to go. He finished eighth, beaten by less than 2 lengths. In my mind and in my heart, I knew if he just had any opening at all he would have blew past this field.
August 14, 2009
Are you like many of us who are disappointed that Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta are likely not to race each other this year? Two great horses, one a 3-year-old filly and the other a 5-year-old mare. Why can’t something be done to get them on the track together and further prove just how great they really are? How unsatisfying! Well if you were around in 1953 you might have had the same unsatisfied feeling, maybe even more so.
August 13, 2009
I am getting a little tired of the disrespect shown to American racing by blokes on the other side of the pond. Timeform, out of England, creates their own Global Ranking while The International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, based in France, puts out the World Thoroughbred Ranking. Both lists are an insult to the very best of the American horses. Too much emphasis is placed on the Breeder’s Cup and the Dubai World Cup and not enough is placed on all of our other races. If an American horse doesn’t compete in the BC or Dubai, than they are barely a blip on the world radar. Also, they place far too great an importance on the results of last year’s Breeder’s Cup where European horses had some solid success.
August 12, 2009
Miss Woodford, Beldame, Regret, Busher, Twilight Tear, Gallorette, Gamely, Dark Mirage, Gallant Bloom, Shuvee, Susan’s Girl, Desert Vixen, Ruffian, Genuine Risk, Princess Rooney, Lady’s Secret, Personal Ensign and Go For Wand. The greatest females of American racing. These fillies and mares so dominated their competition at classic distances on the foremost surface of United States racing, that they will be forever remembered as all-time greats. Who is missing from the list?