Monthly Archives: March 2008

New Poll, Is R2R a Legend?

What makes a horse a legend? Is breaking a long standing record enough? In my mind, she’s definitely a legend but I don’t have a very expansive sense of the history of the sport… so tell me your thoughts dear readers, is she a legend? And if not, why?

The previous poll on Ladies Day was the most voted on poll so far here at GbG with 53 votes to date. It was a squeaker between “Good god, Ladies’ Classic? Are you crazy?” with 13 votes while “Change Ladies’ Classic name back to Distaff and I’m good” was a close second with 12. “Well intentioned but needs some work!” got up for a show by a nose with 11 while “Love it as is!” came in with 9 and “Feels a bit icky & sexist…” came in with 8. All and all, a tightly bunched pack… well done!

Now a Legend

Rags to Riches, in a league of her own training at Belmont (Jason Moran)

I have to admit, when I checked the TBA RSS late in the afternoon and saw the posts about Rags to Riches retirement, a tear came to my eye. While not a surprise, it is indeed a bummer. Although, if she were my horse, and OH how I wish she was, I would do the same thing.

In my mind, she’s a legend… no question about it. Clearly being only the third filly to win the Belmont and the first in over 100 years to do so makes a compelling case right off the bat. Beating the eventual horse of the year in the thrilling stretch duel makes the case even stronger. But all of her wins were incredible… running 5 wide in the Las Virgenes, winning by at least 5 lengths in the Santa Anita Oaks and the Kentucky Oaks? Legend.

She’s one of the reasons that I count myself extremely lucky that 2007 was my first full year as a racing fan. I had the pleasure of sitting at the top of the stretch at the Belmont when she came roaring around that corner.

At the very least, I won’t have to miss her running the in Distaff in the fall if it doesn’t work out, but I’m sure she would have been running in the Gentleman’s Classic anyway!

Hat’s off to R2R, and many thanks to her connections, particularly for running her in the Belmont. A move that not all would make with a filly.

I’m sure she’s gonna be one of the those cool moms who’s kid’s are really smart AND can kick your ass, until then…

Maiden Race:

Las Virgenes:

Santa Anita Oaks:

Kentucky Oaks:

Belmont Stakes:

Prepping at Nad Al Sheba

Nad Al Sheba (Gary Thorpe)

Handicapper’s Edge has a nice rundown of the other Americans (Curlin isn’t the only American horse running!) prepping at Nad Al Sheba for the Dubai World Cup this coming weekend.

Notional is one of many horses representing the states. Which race he’ll run in is actually up in the air. His most recent race was the Daytona Handicap on the turf where he showed the first signs of life since the 2007 Derby Trail. However the Dubai Duty Free on the turf looks to be “super tough” as his second run on the turf + he hasn’t even secured a spot in it. He is booked for the Godolphin mile yet his connections are not exactly keen to run him on dirt as they already have Barcola in the mile.

“It’s tough,” said exercise rider Tony Romero, who is handling affairs for O’Neill. “This is the race that all the best turf horses in the world come and run in. The Godolphin Mile would have been perfect for him, but Mr. Reddam already has an entry in there.”

Notional is said to be training aggressively, which is a good thing if he gets in that turf race! Either way I’ll be routing for him… AND really looking forward to seeing Premium Tap/Allam in the Classic!

Saturday Snippets

I’m “taking a break” this weekend again. I’m still playing catch up with a bunch of stuff and should probably start my taxes. Blah, blah, blah.

Last night I was watching American Gangster. It was pretty good, no Scarface or Goodfellas but a great entrepreneurial story about drug lord Frank Lucas, if you can look past the product. Very interesting subversion of power.

There’s a scene where a dirty cop answers the door to find a turkey in a cage (it’s thanksgiving) and then his fancy sports car blows up. Prior to opening the door he’s sitting in front of the TV and Trevor Denman is calling a race! His voice is so distinctive that I noticed because of his voice, not because of what he was saying. Note to Swifty, there’s a Samsonite attache prominently featured in this film!

I was going to handicap the Lane’s End given that the morning line favorite is 7-2, but then I noticed that Twinspires is only taking phone bets for Turfway. I would leave the house if I wanted to talk to anyone!

See You This Summer

Sierra Sunset & Russel Baze win the Cal Cup Juvenile (qtfeather2000)


Sierra Sunset was found to have a small hairline fracture in his left front ankle so he’s off the Derby trail. [DRF]

Apparently all he needs is 3 months rest, I hope that’s the case! It sort of reminds me of Notional, turning in a great performance and poof. Speaking of which, Notional breezed 6F in 1:14:40 at Hollywood park earlier in the week.

Best wishes to Sierra Sunset on a speedy recovery!

Coming to a City Near You!

That’s right, mark your calendars y’all because The First Saturday in May will be making it’s week long theatrical run on April 18th in a city near you!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, congrats to the Hennegan Brothers! They’ve partnered with Churchill and Truly Indie to make the distribution deal happen, and if that wasn’t great enough, they’re donating 25% of their box office & a percentage of their DVD sales to Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation.

“Our goal was to make horse racing cool again by telling the stories of the hard-working, dedicated, and resilient individuals who dedicate their lives to the horses they love. As lifelong horse racing fans, the documentation of this film was a true passion of ours.”

    – John Hennegan

I don’t like to bang the old GbG drum too much around here, but check out their new site! One of the reasons I’ve been muttering about being busy is that I redesigned to their site to give them something that had more of the look and feel of the film + something they could update themselves (with my help when they’re busy, like now!). Also, Manny from ThirdEye Design did the two excellent title graphics and Bill Denver of Equiphoto took the photo in the header graphic (which is of Barbaro winning the Derby).

I’m flattered that they asked me to be part of such a kick ass project and honored to have worked with them. They’re as cool as their film and I think one of many signals (such as the TBA), that horse racing in general is undergoing a cultural revival. I know of several folks working on very cool racing related projects! This is just the beginning.

Do yourself a favor, make the effort to go see this film… and preferably more than once!

Derby Dating

(Barking Madcaz)

Bandwagon jumpers, believers, non-believers, and hype haters… we’re all looking for the same thing, right? To fall in love. But we’re skeptics… hurt so many times in the past, afraid to open our hearts again and be made a fool of. So we’re cautious, asking our intendeds to jump through hoop after hoop after hoop before we’ll say with certainty “I love [horse name]!”.

Maybe I don’t believe in monogamy… I believe it’s ok to love one and bet on another, or even multiple others! I like to have an open relationship with a horse. I may love you with all of my heart, but if your odds are too low I’m probably not going to bet on you. Sorry honey!

It’s close enough to the big dance now that I can start to evaluate my Derby suitors. For the most part I’ve seen enough to know who’s just a fleeting interest and who’s got some real potential.

Just a crush? Let’s be friends? Or I really think we could be something special… only time will tell! Until then, here’s how they’re stacking for me.

Like, as in Like Like:


He caught my eye as a two year old, putting in very game efforts in both the Champagne and Breeders’ Cup.

But he really won me over in the Risen Star with his shocking turn of foot and insane final quarter. And just to prove that he’s no one trick pony, he stayed involved in the Louisiana Derby, sitting much closer to the pace and proving again that he can get around those others when he needs too.

Sure, he’s a hype machine and there’s always something, but he’s moved off my “prove it to me list” and on the confirmed “Like” list.

Interested in, if all goes well, next stop Like:

Sierra Sunset:

This guy just turned up on my radar yesterday but I’m definitely interested. Getting away from the polytrack has spiffed up this looker! He improved at a mile at Oaklawn when he placing to the also dreamy Denis of Cork and then stretched out beautifully to win impressively. I’m ready to see some more!

Denis Cork:

And doesn’t Sierra Sunset’s nice performance speak well of this young man? His performance in the aforementioned race was very professional, sitting just off the pace and then powering home. I’m really looking forward to his next outing.

Elysium Fields:

Another new guy on the scene, at least for me, his performance in the Fountain of Youth was full of promise. Just as it looked like Cool Coal Man was going to put some distance between them, he moved to the outside and turned it on… fighting back is a big turn on! Not only does this bode well for the distance but he kept going in the gallop out… this guy is the at the top of the list!

Majestic Warrior:

His performance in the Hopeful was indeed just that! He came out of the clouds to blow past the favorites. In his 3yo debut he ran wide and made big a move on the final turn but failed to fire. I believe in this handsome devil and am willing to give him another chance to prove himself to me.

Cool Coal Man:

As already mentioned, this guy looked very convincing in the Fountain of Youth but I still want a little more convincing before I say yes.

King’s Silver Son:

Here’s another new guy on the scene! He was really game and closing hard in the stretch in the Rebel. With a little more practice he could be a real heart stopper… I’ve got my eye on you!

Fierce Wind:

Obviously, I like to have a lot of suitors on deck… but that’s just because you can never be too sure! I found this guy’s performance in the Sam B. Davis as solid as any and for that I’m willing to keep him on the (apparently not so) short list to see what happens next.

Want to Like but:

Georgie Boy:

Dirt darling, dirt. That’s my only reservation but it’s one I can’t overlook, at least not for the Derby. Too bad too, he could be just the one for me otherwise!


I wanted his Gotham win to impress me more than it did but 1) I couldn’t see what happened and 2) he was shipped there to avoid Pyro. I like a winner and a touch of mystery but I need to see more of what you’ve got before we go any further!

Court Vision:

He could pop right back up on the ‘Next Stop Like” list with ease but I thought he’d do a little a better in the Fountain of Youth… I mean he did close off a slow pace in that rowdy Remsen! Maybe we’ll just be friends, but really good friends!

El Gato Malo:

Hard not to like a bad boy, but this bad boy may not be that bad after all. And what will he make of the dirt? I may just keep him on my “call him when you’re in Cali” list.

Not Sure About:

Colonel John:

Admittedly, it takes a lot for me to pay attention to those Cali boys so perhaps I haven’t given this one a fair shake. He just hasn’t been on my radar.

Tale of Ekati:

I’m willing to give him another start off of his tough debut but Majestic Warrior gave me butterflies the first time I noticed him, not this guy.

J Be K:

He’s fast and I like that but can he stay in for the long haul? I don’t think he got fair shake at it last out as Kent D. didn’t harness his natural speed. I’ll believe it when I see it but think he should get another shot.

Big Brown:

There’s a lot of talk about this late comer, I’d like to get a look for myself before I believe any hype.

Cowboy Cal:

Again, another one from Cali… I can’t keep all you surfer dudes straight!


I’ve been hearing rumors in the hallways that there’s a new student starting soon and he’s really something. You never know when some one exciting can show up and change everything!

War Pass:

Last year’s prom king, and deservedly so. But we’re older now and it’s time to get a little more serious, show that you can handle the distance. Everyone has a bad day… hey, that’s part of growing up. But you’re going to have buckle down and really bring it next time or you may not be the top of your class after all.

Like with a small “l”:


He’s an around the way guy, full of heart and as honest as they come… what’s not to like? I’ll be really happy for him if it works out but if not maybe we can hang out this summer?

Big Truck:

Ditto accept if I had to pick between the two of them, I’d pick this big guy. He’s improved every time since the Hucheson and now we know he doesn’t like slop! Regardless of how it all works out, I’ll be looking for him this summer.

Unbridled Vicar:

He won’t make it to the big dance but I bet he might get better with age!

Blackberry Road:

I dismissed him early because people seemed to think he was the next Street Sense (which wasn’t exactly the kind of thing to get me interested), but as it turns out I think this guy’s got some heart. Check you later on in the year!

Z Fortune:

Sometimes those rich guys are endearing when they mess up a little. Maybe his parents don’t have realistic expectations for him? Just because he won’t be a doctor doesn’t mean he won’t be good at something!

Broken Up With:

Anak Nakal:

I’m sure you’re a nice guy, and I don’t have anything bad to say about you… but from what some of my friends were saying about you I expected a little more. I do wish you the best of luck and maybe our paths will cross again some day.

State Breds, Baby… and a Lady!

Georgie Boy & Rafael Bejarano winning the San Vicente (Charles Pravata)

Well, wasn’t today an interesting on the Derby Trail? All three Derby preps won by state breds, two of the three with failing less than even money honest favorites and one with a Lady Trainer!

I’m really curious to see if War Pass is injured, every one has a bad day but that was a serious clunker. He was never in it.

As for Sierra Sunset, it seems as though Oaklawn has breathed some life into him. I’m interested to see what his next move is. Z Fortune and Anak Nakal were nowhere to be found… I suppose not so surprising given Anak Nakal’s last out but a somewhat surprising for Z Fortune.

And then there’s Georgie Boy and his trainer Kathy Walsh. She’s taken a bit of an unconventional approach with him, foregoing temptation at several turns to, in her words, “do what you know is best.”

There was a nice feature on her and Georgie Boy from DRF published on NBC sports this week:

“You’ve got to realize that these horses can’t dance every dance,” Walsh said. “Horses are bred different from years ago. Their pedigrees are different. The tracks are different. That helps make it so tough. Fortunately, I have an owner that respects me and trusts me. We made a pact that if Georgie Boy ran in the Del Mar Futurity, we’d give him time afterwards. He was all for it.”

Walsh was born into a business, working for her father trainer Jim Walsh.

Walsh has been training stakes winners for more than 30 years, since the days of Auguste in the 1974 Governor’s Handicap at Longacres. She came into the sport both privileged, as the daughter of a trainer, and persecuted, for being a woman in a sport whose latent chauvinism exists today, let alone three decades ago.

Best of luck to her and her very talented Georgie Boy! I hadn’t payed him much attention to him until now but I’m going to start. He’s scheduled to start next in the Santa Anita Derby April 5th, but I wish he was running on conventional dirt just once before the Derby!

Need to Lead?

War Pass leads the field to victory in the BC Juvie, not the case today in the Tampa Bay Derby! (Charles Pravata)

Well, all I can say is “very interesting” until I can watch the replay again and read the results chart for Tampa Bay Derby + you KNOW there’s gonna be a lot of press about.

War Pass just never looked comfortable, that’s for sure and it looked like Cornelio pulled him back when it was clear he wasn’t in it.

I hope he comes out of it ok… both Attoned and Big Truck looked great