Monthly Archives: November 2008

NYRA, No Answers but Cool Videos

I’ve been keeping an eye on the NYRA Facebook page ever since I posted a question over there. No “continuous dialogue between racetrack executives and the racing public” just yet, but a quick twirl over to Raceday360 Wire uncovered yet a new foray for NYRA into “web 2.0″… YouTube!

What they published tonight was a series of videos of jockeys, billed as Video Jockey Cards. They feature several NY jocks answering a standard set of questions set to kind of funny music and definitely funny editing (John Hennegan, did you have anything to do with that editing?). I blew through a bag of popcorn and watched them all… totally enjoyable.

While I’m glad too see them creating fun content, I seriously hope they interact with their fans over at the Facebook group, I’m not the only who posted a question on their wall! Until then…

Mike Luzzi:

Javier Castellano:

Rajiv Maragh:

Eibar Coa:

John Velazquez:

Channing Hill:

Richard Migliore:

BC Wants to Know Your Thoughts

I posted an election inspired piece last week at Bloodhorse about participation in the process affecting change and forgot to post it here!

As mentioned prior to the Breeders’ Cup, Self Appointed Fan Committee was extended an invitation to the New York BC office to discuss/share our feedback on this year’s changes/BC in general. The meeting is this week!

Just because they’ll only be a few of us at the meeting doesn’t mean you can’t share your thoughts. Go to Self Appointed Fan Committee and make a submission (or 12) sharing your thoughts on this year’s BC.

Hate the purple saddle cloths? Love the new Filly & Mare Championship Day after all? Still think the name Ladies’ Classic has to go? Love or hate the amount and type of races? Tell them!

To quote myself from Bloodhorse (is that a sign of insanity?):

To be included in the process, one must actually participate. The door is open and they’re ready to listen, but it’s up to you to shove your foot in the door and make your voice heard.

New Poll, Rabbits

Shake the Bank in the parade for the 2008 Manhattan (Paul Pierson)

Looking around DRF last week I noticed this little piece about Dutrow/Zito – Arson Squad/Commentator and the upcoming Clark. It seems as though Dutrow is considering entering a rabbit to help Arson Squad (who I love).

Dutrow said one of his emerging stable stars, Arson Squad, “is doing unbelievable right now” after romping to victory in the Oct. 3 Meadowlands Cup but “probably will need a little help” if he is to win the Grade 2, $500,000 Clark when running against Commentator.

“I just can’t let that horse go out by himself,” Dutrow said Wednesday regarding Commentator. “I’m going to have to use a couple rabbits to try to beat him.”

Zito was unphased saying that he planned on running Commentator in the Clark regardless of what Dutrow has planned.

The first time I encountered the concept of the rabbit was Better Talk Now‘s rabbit Shake the Bank, who eventually went on to run his own races on occasion! While the concept of the rabbit bums me out a bit, I’ve certainly been able to capitalize on it from a handicapping perspective, particularly when the rabbit helps someone other than it’s entry mate (cough, Tale of Ekati in the Wood, cough).

I did a little research to see if I could track down any information on the history or origin of rabbits. While I didn’t come up a fabulous set of texts that details the origins or uses of rabbits (as I’m sure some of my more history minded blog-temporaries could if they were so inclined), I was able to find some fun stuff.

In a piece for the NY Times published on July 14th 1992, Joseph Durso waxes poetically of rabbits as such:

One of the unsung heroes of racing history is the “rabbit.” He is the speedball who breaks out of the gate and runs like the wind with one mission in life: to set up the race for a stablemate who does his best running late in the race.

The rabbit does this by firing a burst of early pace that forces the other speed horses in the race to run faster and longer than they’d like, thereby setting the stage for his pal to execute his customary finishing kick with drama and effect and with dwindling opposition.

The rabbit does all this without glory or renown. But he is the hero’s hero, the star’s star. And some of the best horses in racing history were abetted by some of the best rabbits in racing history.

Gallant Man had his Bold Nero, whose mission was to wear down the great Bold Ruler in the 1957 Belmont Stakes, and he did, opening the way for Gallant Man to win by eight lengths. Damascus had his Hedevar, who helped the superstar of the stable outrun Dr. Fager in the Woodward Stakes in 1967 and eventually win the title as Horse of the Year. And Buckpasser had his Great Power the same year, which may have been when the racing rabbit reached a historic peak.

He goes on to discuss Zito’s plan to enlist Loach to assist Strike the Gold in a battle with Pleasant Tap and Sultry Song in the 1992 Suburban.

Here’s Loach bravely performing his duty for Strike the Gold:

While it didn’t work out exactly way the way Zito had hoped, at least Strike the Gold placed.

In another piece published in the Times, Joe Drape discusses Tabor/Smith’s strategy of entering Spanish Chestnut in the 2005 Derby to aid Bandini against Bellamy Road.

Spanish Chestnut certainly held up his end of the bargain but Bandini finished 19th and Bellamy Road finished 7th.

Perhaps the most recent, and ridiculous, high profile use of a rabbit was Tabor/Smith’s MAIDEN rabbit Red Rock Canyon for Soldier of Fortune in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Should a maiden really be allowed to be entered in a Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup race?

It didn’t pan out for Tabor/Smith as maiden Red Rock Canyon reported for duty but Soldier of Fortune was MIA finishing 4th. Although, sometimes a rabbit’s hard work is not for naught and the stable mate is able hold up their end of the bargain.

Shake the Bank sets up Better Talk Now for his hard fought victory in the 2005 Man O’War… ah team work.

Whether the rabbit is entered to ensure a strong pace or wear down a front running foe, do you think all is fair in love and war? Should there be more parameters on rabbit entry, such as limiting maiden entries in Grade 1 events?

In our last poll, Most Impressive BC Win 2008, Goldikova romped taking 33 votes, Zenyatta was the next closest with 25, Raven’s Pass had 11, Midnight Lute (last year’s winner) had 10, Ventura, Stardom Bound & Desert Code all had 3, Midshipman & Donativum had 2 and Maram had 1 vote.

As always, thanks for participating!

Papi’s Back in Town

Papi Chullo being groomed prior to the 2007 Whitney (Banamine)

GbG sentimental fav Papi Chullo is back in New York and running in the first at Aqueduct tomorrow, a starter handicap at 1 1/8 on the dirt.

I first became of aware of Papi Chullo in his eye popping victory in the Birdstone on Belmont day last year where he dominated a classy field including Hesanoldsalt and AP Arrow. Apparently I’m not the only one who noticed him as IEAH bought in to him not too long after that.

After his emphatic win in the Birdstone, the next stop was the G1 Whitney. His new trainer, Gary Contessa, had just won the Belmont training title and it seemed that Papi Chullo had finally found the right fit with his new connections. Papi had definitely been around the block and back by the time he made his way to Contessa’s Winning Move Stables.

Papi Chullo, 5, came into Contessa’s barn in a unique way. Following a last-place finish in the Oaklawn Handicap, Papi Chullo was put up for sale in an auction-type format.

“A guy tells us whoever makes the best offer by Wednesday gets him, and he gave us a fax number where to send the offer,” said Contessa, whose owner Steve Sigler made the offer. “We made an offer and on a Wednesday we got a call that we got him.”

In mid-April, Papi Chullo vanned from Oaklawn Park to Contessa’s Aqueduct stable. Contessa found a third-level allowance on May 4 at Belmont Park and told Sigler that though the horse had trained well, “don’t be surprised if he’s second or third.”

The race scratched down to four horses and Papi Chullo rolled to a 7 1/4-length victory, running 1 1/16 miles in 1:39.89, just missing the track record of 1:39.51.

After the race, Contessa told Sigler, “We got us a racehorse here, boy.”

It was not to be in the Whitney as he finished 9 out of 11. His next out was the Iselin at Monmouth where he didn’t fare much better. Not too long after the Iselin he was taken out of training with an injury. While I remember it happening I can’t track down any details on it other than Dan Ilman’s excellent disabled list, which has it listed as “bleeding” on 10/02/2007.

On October 21st of this year, he made his return in $16k claimer at Delaware park and he was in for a tag. I cringed when I noticed and was hesitant to look at the results after the fact. I was relieved to find out that he won AND he wasn’t claimed. In my quest for info on Papi’s post-Iselin injury I did find this convo by Papi Chullo fans at They’re weren’t as jazzed about his comeback win as I was.

Best of luck to Papi Chullo tomorrow, here’s hoping the 6yo horse still has some race some in him… Nostradana believes he does.

Update: Papi didn’t do so hot, saved ground nicely but couldn’t make a run of it. Fingers crossed that he’s not tossed back in for a tag.

Build It and They Will Come

( raymond )

As Moran put it, NYRA is trolling the web with the addition of new Facebook and MySpace pages. I don’t disagree with the commenter who is pleased to see NYRA take this direction, but as someone who has never received an email reply from NYRA, color me cautiously optimistic.

“Developing these pages are part of a viral marketing strategy we’ve recently implemented that targets a demographic of racing fan that NYRA has not effectively and actively communicated with in the past,” said Neema Ghazi, NYRA’s Director of Marketing.

I “became a fan” (which is what they call the action one takes to follow a page on Facebook) and so far so good. They’ve created a fair amount of upcoming events (but haven’t invited the 551 current NYRA fans: note to NYRA, pushing content to fans is good!) and added a good amount of photos.

“These platforms are excellent mediums through which NYRA can engage its fans,” said Ghazi. “A website like Facebook can serve as a useful feedback mechanism that inevitably encourages continuous dialogue between racetrack executives and the racing public.”

Feedback mechanism and continuous dialogue between racetrack executives and the racing public… funny you should mention that. While at work today, I received this tweet on my phone.

From DRF (last section, bottom of the page):

The stewards fined jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr. $500 for striking his mount, Hanna Can Fly, twice in the face with his whip in Wednesday’s ninth race. Hanna Can Fly was on the lead early in the race, then backed up through the field to finish 10th.

The incident wasn’t that much different than the one for which Jeremy Rose received a six-month suspension last summer at Delaware Park. That suspension was reduced to three months.

After having a bit to eat this evening while watching a familiar Law & Order re-run, I clicked right on over the NYRA’s page to hopefully start a continuous dialog with some race track executives by way of their feedback mechanism.

Posted to the NYRA wall (which is the one of the main “feedback mechanisms” of a Facebook group):

Question. I read the following in DRF today:

“The stewards fined jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr. $500 for striking his mount, Hanna Can Fly, twice in the face with his whip in Wednesday’s ninth race. Hanna Can Fly was on the lead early in the race, then backed up through the field to finish 10th.

The incident wasn’t that much different than the one for which Jeremy Rose received a six-month suspension last summer at Delaware Park. That suspension was reduced to three months.”

Can you please explain this ruling? I watched the race replay at Twinspires and could not see the incident. If it is similar to Jeremy Rose’s incident, in which he was suspended for 3 months (reduced from 6), can you also explain why Arroyo was only fined and not given any suspension?

Here’s hoping NYRA’s foray in social media elicits better results than that old fashioned contraption known as email. Will keep you posted!

Keep it in the Family

Jackie Davis, apprentice rider ( raymond )

Congrats to New York Bug Jockey Jackie Davis who got her first win today on a 64-1 shot Blue Hill Bay.

Jacqueline Davis, the 21-year-old daughter of retired jockey Robbie Davis, earned her first career victory at Aqueduct on Wednesday, guiding Blue Hill Bay ($131) to a front-running victory in a $35,000 claiming race on the turf. She won her first race in her 33rd mount.

Davis is a graduate of the inaugural class of Chris McCarron’s North American Racing Academy, based in Lexington, Ky.

Be sure to check out this set of photos on flickr of her and her family preparing for her first race this summer at Saratoga. Highlights include Castellano and Johhny V helping her out with her silks, chatting with The Chief on his golf cart, posing with the gang before the race and being congratulated by dad after the race. Great stuff!

Better Than Honour, 14M!

Better Than Honour at Fasig Tipton

Better Than Honour in the ring at Fasig Tipton’s November Sale

Not much to add at this point except for “wow”. The auctioneer mentioned that he believed the price to be new world record for a broodmare. I was starting to wonder if she was gonna go higher than the Green Monkey! No doubt there will be plenty of details later on.

As anticipated, Foolish Pleasure has a great wrap-up.

Stardom Bound Goes for 5.7M to IEAH

Stardom Bound at Fasig Tipton

Stardom Bound in the ring at Fasig Tipton’s November Sale

Big shout out to Jessica for the info re: IEAH!

Apparently, they have Babe to thank:

Michael Iavarone, co-owner of IEAH Stables, said it was a little more than he wanted to pay, but trainer Rick Dutrow, who was sitting beside him during the Fasig-Tipton sale, wouldn’t let him stop bidding.

”Rick wouldn’t let me say no,” Iavarone said. ”I guess if you were going to spend $5 million, you can spend $5.7 million.”

As noted during the auction, Stardom Bound was a pro in the ring. She stood quietly while the bidding went on around her. Best of luck to her with her new crazy family. My only question is, what if she doesn’t like dirt?

Flash poll (sans polling widget), will Better Than Honour go for more?

Next Time You Need Picks, Try the TBA


Just when you thought you’d heard all the stories there are to be told about the Breeder’s Cup, here’s one more… the TBA is full of kick ass handicappers!

We have an evolving tradition of posting our picks for big events. For last year’s BC we posted them on Patrick’s blog (I picked 3 winners). I believe we posted our picks for the Derby card by way of Google docs but can’t find them (does anyone have that link?).

This year, we posted our BC picks on the TBA homepage (permalink here). We picked a winner for each race and used a mythical $2 WPS bet to track how we faired.

At first I was bummed, using this method I didn’t break even. Then I realized that I picked FOUR winners, which is not too shabby. In fact, not only did I pick 4 winners, so did 4 other folks AND Michael of Gathering the Wind picked FIVE winners! This prompted me to look around a bit to see how fared against others.

The NTRA posted, in their words, Expert Picks, which indeed did include many an expert. How did we do compared to them? Pretty damn good! None of the experts at NTRA picked 5 winners and only Larry Borstein and Mike Watchmaker picked 4!

Let’s look a little closer at the TBA picks. Not only were we impressive in the straight up picking winners department, but our In the Money (ITM) percentages were pretty darn good too. Kevin of Colin’s Ghost was 9/14 ITM for a whopping 64%… take that Pletcher, Asmussen, Dutrow! Also, 17 of the 18 TBA handicappers were 29% or above ITM!

Google docs spreadsheet didn’t let me link the blog name but you can link directly to them by using the TBA navigation to the right, except for the Magic Beer Bottle, which you can find here.

Congrats TBA handicappers, I’d say we did as well as fillies and Euros this year!