*I was beaten in my lifetime debut, and in my career finale, but never in between.
*My first stakes victory came in California, but my biggest win came at the spacious surroundings of Belmont Park.
*I gave it my all in my final career race, coming up just short, but I was still named champion.
*If you are trying to think of the great colt that I might be, you are already on the wrong track.
*I was an Eclipse Award winner in the only year that I had a chance.
*Despite the shortness of my career, (only seven races) I was a grade 1 winner on both coasts.
*I often received compliments on my name; I always liked it.
*I was always happy to make beautiful music for my owner.
*My only career losses came first when I got off to a slow start in a maiden and then when I was out battled in a Grade 1.
*I only had two jockeys in my career, and both are stars.
*All of my stakes wins came at different racetracks.
You should know by now … Who Am I ???
June 30, 2010
June 28, 2010
Prediction #1 – The three-year-old male division remains undecided until the Eclipse Awards announcement in January. In the end, the winner of the race with the strongest field of the season, takes home the hardware. The race is the August 28 Travers, and the winner is Exhi.
June 27, 2010
|Think back about a month and a half…Garret Gomez, two-time Eclipse Award winning jockey, was being pulled off Lookin at Lucky in favor of Martin Garcia. It was not a shock, as Gomez and Lucky had found themselves in the middle of rough trips every time they hit the track together this year. To many though, the rider who picked up the mount on the about-to-be Preakness winner, was a bit of a surprise. The casual race fan knew very little about this 25-year-old jockey from Mexico. Flash forward six weeks to present day, and Martin Garcia is a bona fide star. |
Winning the Preakness changed his national notoriety, but Garcia has been rising up the ranks for several years. Since emigrating to the United States in 2003 and taking a job at a deli in Pleasanton, California, Garcia has taken the fast track to the American success story. From slicing prosciutto, Garcia soon began working at the track as a stable hand and an exercise rider in Northern California. There he galloped horses for six months before starting to race ride at Golden Gate Fields. On August 17, 2005, Martin Garcia won his first race aboard Wild Daydreamer at the Bay Meadows Fair. Since then it has been a steady climb up the ranks.
Now he may be America’s hottest rider, winning stakes at an alarming rate and traveling all over the nation to win them. A quick look of major stakes around the nation this year reads like a Martin Garcia highlight reel. Kinsale King wins the Palos Verdes, Jeranimo wins the Strub, Conveyance wins the Southwest, Game on Dude wins the Lone Star Derby, Champagne d’Oro wins the Acorn, Switch wins the Hollywood Oaks. Garcia was on them all. Throw in the Preakness, and you can see that Garcia is simply having a whale of a year. Each week brings another big win, and last night at Prairie Meadows, Garcia was at it again. Riding for his number one client, Bob Baffert, he blitzed the Iowa Derby field aboard the suddenly exciting prospect Concord Point.
I am not sure who he will be on next week, but with Martin Garcia in the saddle, whoever it is, has a big chance to take home first money.
June 26, 2010
What a night to be in Iowa, and more specifically at Prairie Meadows. One night after the second biggest card of the year, in which we saw a new sprint star being born in Majesticperfection, (can’t wait to see the Beyer he gets in that one) the Midwestern track takes it up another notch. Their three biggest stakes of the year, and they will be run consecutively this evening. Starting with the Iowa Oaks and ending with the Cornhusker Handicap, Prairie Meadows will be teaming with excitement. I also see their excellent card as an opportunity to make a few dollars in the process, with vulnerable favorites throughout.
June 25, 2010
June 24, 2010
There are four types of racing fans. There is the fan who loves the horse and loves the thrill of the race foremost, but also enjoys to test their abilities to pick a winner and make a few bucks in the process. I happen to be that type of fan. Then there is the fan who loves the handicapping aspect, and is always looking for ways to make money betting the horses. They enjoy watching the racing, and it has proven to be their favorite form of gambling. The third type of fan, is the person who falls in love with the horses, and racing is a way to see them doing what they do so beautifully. They are only there to see their heroes, and betting is rarely, if ever, even considered. Finally the last fan is a gambler. Racing is one of a long list of ways to place a wager. This fan is more likely to know the number of a horse, rather than their name.
June 22, 2010
Expecting Winslow Homer to be ready for the Midsummer Derby in only two months, might seem a bit ambitious for a horse who has only made four lifetime starts, and is returning from a stress fracture in his cannon bone suffered only four months ago. Then again talent can overcome a lot, and talent is something that Winslow Homer has in spades. After convalescing, the three-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song has been working well at his home base at Delaware Park. Conditioner Tony Dutrow believes his star pupil is doing well enough to place the Iowa Derby on Saturday, the Jim Dandy on July 31, and the Travers on August 28, on the big gray’s immediate dance list.
When last seen, Winslow Homer displayed both his talent and class as he made his first try in stakes company, an impressive victory in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes on January 23, defeating Jackson Bend in the process. The victory thrust the sophomore colt on everyone's list of potential Kentucky Derby winners.
The win was his third in a row at three different racetracks, after being an unlucky loser in his racing debut last July. His other wins included a sharp maiden victory at Saratoga over Blue Grass winner Stately Victor, and a romping win in an allowance race at Philadelphia Park, with graded stakes winner Afleet Again far behind, that caught the attention of a national audience. Clearly not afraid of travel, Saturday’s attempt at victory at Prairie Meadow’s Iowa Derby will be the fifth different state that the long-legged colt has run in his five lifetime starts.
A $310,000 yearling purchase for owner Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farm, the Kentucky bred is out of the grade 3 winning Summer Squall mare Summer Raven. While Summer Squall is one of my favorite broodmare sires, the fragility passed on by sire Unbridled’s Song scares me. Undoubtedly, Unbridled’s Song consistently sires brilliant runners, but I honestly worry about their propensity for serious leg injuries.
Godspeed Winslow Homer, you are unique talent that we all see want to do what you were born to do; run fast, but please, stay safe and sound.
June 21, 2010
Like a shot he is off. And then, he is gone again. Blink your eyes and you may miss him. I was able to catch a glimpse of him on Preakness Day, mind you, it was only a glimpse. Who is that Horse? This horse who is lighting up tracks both day and night. Zipping through sophomore stakes as if they are his own personal playgrounds. Some lucky fans in West Virginia were lucky enough to see him on Saturday night. If only briefly. The horse is Comedero, and he has done it again, routing six rivals in the $400,000 Red Legend Stakes on Saturday at Charles Town Races & Slots.
June 20, 2010
|I have news for you folks, the colt who came within a whisker of finishing second in the Kentucky Derby is not a dirt horse. That same horse, who finished second in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes is also not a synthetic horse. His name is Paddy O’Prado and he is a grass horse, and oh baby, what a grass horse he may be. |
After the Blue Grass, Kentucky Derby, and a 6th place finish in the Preakness in his last three starts, trainer Dale Romans had his star back on his preferred surface and it resulted in an explosive performance. Showing a turn of foot reserved for superstars of our sport, Paddy O’Prado stalked the moderate pace set by Two Notch Road and quickened to join the leading pack in what seemed like a matter of strides. From there, the American colt, with the Irish name, easily loped away from his competition to an authoritative score in yesterday‘s Colonial Turf Cup. Coasting home under rider Kent Desormeaux, he finished clear by three lengths stopping the timer in a strong 1:54.20 for 1 3/16 miles as the 3-to-2 choice. The win was Paddy’s second straight visually impressive score on the lawn as he also decimated the field in the Palm Beach Stakes in March. In that victory, he became a graded stakes winner despite entering as a maiden.
While the win in the Colonial Turf Cup was only his second win in nine starts, it is clear that Paddy O’Prado has developed into a real talent. A talent that becomes magnified on the lawn for the great looking gray colt. The son of El Prado, out of the Prized mare, Fun House, will now be pointed for the Virginia Derby and then the Secretariat Stakes in August. So turf will now be the focus for Paddy, and an ultimate destination of the Breeders’ Cup Turf in November is in the cards. American three year-olds do not have a great history in the Breeders’ Cup, but this may be a colt up to the task.
It is a rare three-year-old turf horse that looks like he will be able to compete with his older contemporaries at this point in the season, but Paddy O’Prado gives me every indication that he is becoming that type of horse. Obviously, he has a long way to go to be considered as the top turf horse in the nation of any age, but his performances on grass recently rank up there with great turf horses like Mac Diarmida, Manila and Kitten’s Joy at the same time in their career. Those three were all horses who I admired early in their turf careers who were good enough to go on and become champion turf horses at the young age of three.
Can Paddy O’Prado follow in their footsteps? I’ll be watching.
June 19, 2010
Looking at today’s Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park, I can not help but think of deceased comic Andy Kaufman. One of Kaufman’s funniest skits ever was his rendition of the Mighty Mouse theme song. As the record player played the entire theme song, Kaufman waited to belt out the key line, “Here I come to save the day!” Funny stuff. Rumor has it that the modern day Mighty Mouse, Jackson Bend, has been heard exclaiming the same thing as he uncoils his rally in major races up and down the Eastern Seaboard. Whether or not the mighty little chestnut colt actually says it, few know for sure. If he does not actually do it, maybe rider Jose Lezcano should, to strike fear in the competition…”Here I come to save the day!” I know if I was another horse in the race hearing that, I might become a little intimidated. Wouldn’t you?
June 18, 2010
Watching Thoroughbred horse racing gives the viewer continuous opportunities to see something marvelous. These athletes, with their grace and power, speed and determination, are born to thrill. When a horse exceeds all others in each quality, they are called great, and on those rarest of occasions when a great horse has the chance to display everything they have, we are left to watch in awe. I have been lucky enough to see many truly awesome performances over the years. Few, if any, were more memorable than what a plucky little bay colt was able to do on May 21, 2005.
June 17, 2010
This week’s future star is the juvenile filly, Dawnie Macho. The chestnut daughter of Macho Uno blazed to a track record setting performance in her first career start at Arlington Park on Saturday. Ridden by Michael Baze, Dawnie Macho led from the start and pulled clear of her eight competitors in the stretch to win the maiden special weight race by five lengths. Final time for the 4½-furlong contest was :51.16. The final time broke the existing record set by My Dominick James of :51.22 in 2008. The effort earned a lofty 90 Beyer figure which is extremely high for a first out juvenile. Bred in Florida by Maurice Miller and owned by Wayne Granger, Dawnie Macho is the first starter out of the unraced Montbrook mare Blush of Dawn. She failed to garner much interest from buyers as a yearling and even this Spring at a two-year-olds in training sale in April, but after her eye-catching debut, the potential buyers are flocking to trainer Wayne Catalano’s barn in droves. Whether or not she stays in Catalano’s barn and at Arlington Park is a big question mark, but one thing is for sure, you better keep an eye on Dawnie Macho.
Photo Courtesy of Four Footed Fotos
June 15, 2010
|Like a steam locomotive rolling down the track, Zenyatta’s patented closing kick is as sure a thing as you can find in the world today. She has the size, power, and the ability to sprint home like Forego, only with the consistency of the rising sun. Zenyatta getting to the wire first has become as inevitable as death and taxes. 17 times she has stepped into the starting gate, and each and every time it was Zenyatta who was the one to celebrate in the winner’s circle. She has terrorized grade 1 filly and mare races on the West Coast like no one has ever before. With major tests still on the horizon, Zenyatta will have to be as great as ever to retire undefeated, but looking at her career to date, I believe it is time to ask the question…Is Zenyatta the best racehorse of all time?|
Heady stuff, but a reasonable question nonetheless. The most popular choice for anyone in their 60’s or younger is Secretariat. Big Red graced the cover of Time Magazine during his heyday, and now 37 years after his retirement will be featured in a major motion picture this year. Can Zenyatta possibly stack up against Secretariat? Let’s take a look…
Secretariat officially won 16 of 21 starts, although he was disqualified once after an easy win in the Champagne Stakes, meaning that he finished first in 17 of 21 starts. A great record, but obviously Zenyatta’s unblemished record is untouchable. Consistency advantage - Zenyatta
Zenyatta has won all of her races, but often she comes along just in time to win the race in the final sixteenth. Her times are consistently strong, but track records, or even world records are not her forte. Secretariat meanwhile, on his best, ran superior times like the 1:45 2/5 in the Marlboro Cup, and the 2:24 in the Belmont Stakes. In that Belmont, Secretariat ran what I consider the greatest race in history, winning by an incredible 31 lengths. Brilliance advantage - Secretariat
While both stars announced their great ability early in their careers, it has been Zenyatta who has carried her superiority over a longer period of time. Secretariat’s racing life lasted just under a year and a half in 1972 and 1973, while Zenyatta is closing in on three years of sustained excellence. Longevity advantage - Zenyatta
Secretariat and Zenyatta both graduated quickly from the maiden and allowance ranks to run strictly in major stakes for the rest of their careers. While Zenyatta has stepped out only once from running in races restricted to females, in winning the BC Classic, Secretariat stepped up to take on older males in his final five races on both dirt and turf. Couple that with his sensational series of races in America’s Triple Crown, and you would have to say Secretariat ran against more good horses in his career than Zenyatta so far. Quality of competition advantage - Secretariat
Food for thought. Who would you favor Secretariat or Zenyatta? Neither answer is wrong, but whoever you favor is certainly in the argument for the greatest Thoroughbred racehorse of all time. Heady stuff indeed.
Zenyatta Photo by Cecilia G. Felix
June 14, 2010
Do you realize how good this year‘s Breeders‘ Cup Classic could be?
June 13, 2010
I regret that I was not at the Fair Grounds for the New Orleans Ladies, and at Churchill Downs for the La Troienne, but I was there yesterday, and it was special.
41 years of life, and I have been following this sport for all of that time, or at least that is what my parents tell me about my earliest years. After this many years of watching the horses, I should be hard-boiled, and impervious to the fanatical trappings of the sport. I am not. Rachel Alexandra has proven that to me in the most obvious and wonderful ways.
I watched her enter the paddock with a combined sense of admiration, awe, and affection. As I spoke with colleagues, only yards away from her, I could not let my eyes stray away from every little move that she made. Her tongue was out, her mane was elegantly braided, and the look in her eye was uniquely Rachel. No figure eight noseband, but Calvin was still there to answer the call for riders up. Rachel had the body language and that look in her eye that I had become so familiar with in her historical 2009. Today was the day, I was there, today would definitely be the day.
Luckily I was grabbed for conversation by a few friends leading up to the race, or surely my pounding heart would have burst through my shirt. The horses were in the gate, and the real nerves began. “Come on Rach.” “Come on Rach.” “Come on Rach.” They were my words coming from trackside, but I might as well have been floating above the Churchill Downs track. I was lost in the race. “Let her go Calvin.” “Let her go Calvin.” “Let her out Calvin.” They turned for home, and my out-of-body experience was becoming more tangible. Rachel was running away from the field. My raw nerves went from extreme nervousness, to complete joy. My entire body smiled. “Go Rachel.” “Yes.” “Go Rachel.” The race went by so quickly, but as Rachel passed in front of me, she seemed to move in slow motion. Victory yesterday was sweet.
It was beautiful and powerful. Vindication. Sublime and superior. She brings out such emotion in me, and for that, I thank her. Finally, let me express the ultimate complement on what I saw yesterday…Rachel Alexandra was Rachel Alexandra.
June 12, 2010
Darren Rogers, the personable media director at Churchill Downs, walked into the press room this morning a little tired, but ready for another big day at the Downs. He proclaimed to me what a huge success the previous night’s Downs after Darks had been, “A big disco party at the racetrack!” and was already grinning about the big day of racing we are in store for today. My early morning hesitation was gone, and I became more pumped for the day after our one minute conversation. It’s great to be at Churchill Downs, plus I have a little announcement….
June 11, 2010
Saturday’s closing added money event of five straight graded stakes at Churchill Downs promises to be the best race of the weekend. A field of 11 solid older males is set to slug it out in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster over nine furlongs. In recent years the Foster has become one of the most important handicap races of the year, and this year’s edition will be no exception. It appears to be one of those fun races, where almost any horse in the race is good enough to win. In these types of races I generally look for some horses that will not be favored to use, but not always. If you simply like the favorites best, you should stick with them, and in a race like this, the exotics, even using the favorites, should still be worthwhile.
June 10, 2010
The Kentucky Derby may be over for 2010, but this weekend at Churchill Downs, the atmosphere will be electric. And electricity is just what the venerable Louisville oval will need to light up the night sky on Friday, as the track rolls out the first of several after dark racing cards. Last year's immense popularity of night racing, in which the track averaged over 30,000 in attendance, prompted a $4 million permanent lighting system to be erected. Friday’s theme will be Disco at the Downs, so polyester should be seen in abundance, as costume contests and dance competitions spice up the live racing. Churchill Downs will offer free parking and shuttle service, and gates will open at 4 p.m. with the last race scheduled for after 11 p.m. The on-track party will continue in the paddock past the witching hour. The partying should be over in time to welcome a daytime card on Saturday afternoon, and what a card it is.
June 9, 2010
|*My first major stakes win came after the fireworks.|
*I was an East Coast horse; the only time I went west, I lost a grade 1 race in a photo finish.
*Dirt was my surface; I never raced on anything else.
*I was never a champion, but I defeated three of them during my career.
*My first two victories came after the sun had gone down.
*The biggest win of my career came at the same track where I once won a race by 15 lengths .
*My name was derived in equal parts from my mother and my father.
*Unfortunately, my trainer, my most regular rider, and I, have all passed away.
You should know by now … Who Am I ???
June 8, 2010
|Who can ever forget the top-notch runner and superior sire, Storm Zatt, or the brilliant Horse of the Year of 2004, Ghostzatter? Tale of the Zatt was a huge talent and is now the sire of a champion, while Zatt Daddy was a major winner and one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby before his early retirement. The D. Wayne Lukas trained, Zatt Thief won the big one in the 1999 Breeders‘ Cup Classic, and Any Given Zatturday routed two-time Horse of the Year, Curlin, in the Haskell. The Haskell was also won impressively by his older stablemate, Bluegrass Zatt.|
ZATT and racing have gone hand in hand for years, and will continue to do so. I doubt I could have possibly picked a better name.
June 7, 2010
That is the question. I am heading down to Churchill Downs this Saturday for two somewhat disproportionate reasons; to see what should be a strong edition of the Stephen Foster Handicap, and to get my first glimpse of Rachel Alexandra this year. Sure the Foster is a big race, but truth be told, this is a Rachel trip. But will I see her? Trying to get info out of Jess Jackson can be tougher than hitting a two-iron to an island green. The Foster, the Fleur de Lis, (both at Churchill on Saturday) the Ogden Phipps, and the Obeah Stakes, have all been mentioned as possible starts for my heroine. Secretive to a fault, Jackson leaves us with four races, three tracks, and two regions of the nation where she may appear in five days. Come on Jess, tell me, will I see her?
June 6, 2010
|Play the horses long enough and you will always find new and exciting ways to be humbled. How about watching and touting a horse the entire Spring only to be disappointed time after time. Then as soon as you say, "I need to move on and stop the madness," the horse goes and wins one of the most important and historic races in the United States. Yes, my friends, this sport that we love, is quite a game! The horse of whom I speak, of course, is Drosselmeyer, and yesterday he was able to fulfill all the promise that many, including me, saw in him before he had ever run in his first stakes race.|
Much like last year's winner Summer Bird, Drosselmeyer is a strikingly handsome chestnut colt who made the Test of Champions his first career stakes win. The son of Distorted Humor, out of the stakes winning Moscow Ballet mare Golden Ballet, won for the third time in nine starts with a nearly one length win yesterday at Big Sandy. In winning, Drosselmeyer gave his Hall of Fame trainer, Bill Mott, his long awaited first Triple Crown victory, and also carried his popular new rider, Mike Smith, to his first ever Belmont Stakes victory. It was nice to see two of the sport's good guys collect their first Belmont Stakes win. The win also marked the second Crown victory of the year for owner WinStar Farm, who also own Super Saver.
Wrapping up coverage of the Triple Crown, that saw three different winners, yesterday's race for 2nd place behind Drosselmeyer, saw Fly Down nip the pacesetting First Dude near the wire. Incredibly, it was the same trainer photo finish as the Kentucky Derby, in which Ice Box passed Paddy O'Prado at the wire, and the Preakness when First Dude just held off Jackson Bend for 2nd. Once again it came down to the last few jumps to see if it would be Nick Zito or Dale Romans who would train the classic's 2nd place finisher. Zito made it two photos out of three when Fly Down passed Roman's First Dude late.
June 5, 2010
By Michael Horvath
June 4, 2010
One day before this year's Derby, Fame And Glory, last year's Epsom Derby favorite and runner-up to superstar Sea the Stars, won his third straight this season with a strong win in today's Coronation Cup. Returning to the top form that he seemed to lose at the end of last year, the Aidan O'Brien runner has now established himself as the top older male in Europe. The four-year-old son of Montjeu was sent off as a heavy favorite, despite the presence of top older horses Youmzain, Calvaryman, and the excellent filly, Sariska.
June 3, 2010
|Nine starts and out. Summer Bird, the finest sophomore male in the nation last year, has been retired after X-rays taken this week showed that he has not properly healed from a cannon bone fracture suffered while preparing for the Japan Cup Dirt last Fall. |
The news comes just two days before the Belmont Stakes, a race that served as Summer Bird's coming out party last June. Sent off at 11-1 that day, Summer Bird impressively won the final leg of the Triple Crown in impressive style. The classic victory was followed by a 2nd place finish to horse of the Year, Rachel Alexandra, in the Haskell, before winning back to back major races in the Travers Stakes and the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Those grade 1 victories, in which he defeated Quality Road both times, cemented Summer Bird's championship season.
Summer Bird had been galloping daily for new trainer, Tim Ritchey, at Delaware Park when the news was announced. He will remain there until his owners, the Jayaramans, finalize his stud plans. Summer Bird is a son of another Belmont winner, Birdstone, out of the Summer Squall mare Hong Kong Squall. He will enter stud in the 2011 breeding season.
Like all twelve entrants in this year's Belmont, Summer Bird entered last year's Test of Champions far from a star. He had raced only four times, with only a maiden victory to his credit, but with his win in the Belmont last year, Summer Bird proved he was a horse on the rise and ready to step up to the elite level. This year's field will be trying to emulate the excellent example set by the late blooming star of 2009.
It is always sad to see a star leave the races, and in Summer Bird's case, it clearly comes far too early. He ran only nine times in his career with four wins and over $2.3 million in earnings. Who knows how good the big, strong chesnut may have become, if not for his ill-fated trip to Japan, and the early retirement that followed. Bye Bye Birdie...you will be missed.
June 2, 2010
I have been watching The Test of Champions for the past four decades, and I know it takes a unique kind of horse to succeed over a mile and a half at Big Sandy. The Belmont Stakes is a race that will underscore the greatness of a champion, but it also is one that tends to point out the deficiencies of a lesser horse. Over the years, I have learned to look past the favorites who will be beaten at Belmont. The average winning payoff for the Belmont winner over the last decade is a hefty 40 dollars, and I expect more of the same this year, so my money will be on the live longshots over the clear favorite.
June 1, 2010
Part 2 ( Game on Dude)
Special thanks to Joel and Ethan Coen, whose film The Big Lebowski, was a not so subtle influence on this piece, and were responsible for some of the quotes of both First Dude and Game on Dude.