Monthly Archives: January 2009

More Mainstream Media Madness

Corey Nakatani at Del Mar ( raymond )

It’s a weird time right now. Hipsters are feeling patriotic, horse racing is woven tightly into the American experience via backdrop for TV shows and now jockeys are gossip fodder!

Equidaily pointed to an item on Corey Nakatani on AOL’s mega gossip site TMZ. Did he beat his wife? Get caught shoplifting? Have plastic surgery? Is there a picture of him spitting out of his car window? No. Apparently he’s annoyed about a 3 day suspension for cutting off another rider.

My guess is someone involved with the production of Jockeys, Win or Die Trying knows someone at TMZ and is trying to get Jocks firmly ensconced in potential viewers’ minds. The item seems right in line with how they’ll be portraying the Jocks.

One of the world’s most famous jockeys is more pissed than a race horse — claiming he’s been saddled with an unfair suspension for allegedly trying to screw up a race.

Judging by the 8 measly comments, they’ve got a long way to go…

Is he a celebrity? Hey, I know a shoeshine guy who lost his wax last week. Maybe you could do a story about him? He once auditioned for a movie and he seems like he could be important. I mean, after all, anyone counts as a celebrity on this site – even some jockey no one has ever heard of except the gamblers.


3 day suspension and he’s crying?? GEEEZ, grow up man. Obviously DMX shud be his role model. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time!

I would have to agree with that one! But it wasn’t all haters at celebrity “news” central, a couple of “the gamblers” even chimed in!

if any of you played the ponies you would know who nakatani is. has been around a long time and won many races. i’ve never seen him be unsporting but hey, you never know. i’d rather not believe it considering his record.

I saw that race, he didn’t just cut off the horses but he used his horse to ram the other one which was passing him. A 3 day suspension I think is being to nice to him.

Indeed! The other 4 comments don’t seem related to the post at all.

Compare that with a post on GbG fav celebrity Susan Lucci, speculating on whether she’s aging well or surgically enhanced. That item has garnered 60 comments so far but perhaps it’s not a fair comparison. After all, as one TMZ commenter points out, “she’s ERICA KANE bitches!”

New Poll, Jock Series Good for Racing?

It’s a mainstream media extravaganza for horse racing these days!

A few weeks ago there was Leverage and the Real Housewives of Orange County.

Already this week there was a CSI Miami episode and tonight features Churchill’s marketing coup of American Idol auditions, no doubt to help bolster some of their new lines of business.

And then there’s the upcoming series Jockeys on Animal Planet. The news has been out about it for awhile but beyond little clips and sound bites we haven’t had a chance to see what they’re gonna do with it.

The wait is over, hat tip to Powercap for finding an embedable promo with some substance. The full site is finally up too… Jockeys, Win or Die Trying.

They weren’t kidding, that’s their angle! We all know danger is a part of the game, we all know breakdowns are a part of the game but I’m not entirely sure I wanna to see 2.5 breakdowns per scene under of the guise of the breakdown being glamorized.

There’s no doubt there’s a market for this angle, as Powercap points out, this series has the potential to “convince that masses that racing is more exciting than team sports and more extreme than the X games”. On the other hand, it also has the possibility of alienating potential fans who might already be uneasy with the danger associated to the game or worse yet, inflame those who already think horse racing is dog fighting for white people (one of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog’s best lines!).

Commenter Gib pointed out the approach of the CSI Miami episode did racing a disservice, reinforcing stereotypes that racing is always fixed (and that CSI Miami is a horribly acted show!). On the other hand commenter Walter pointed out the “out of site out of mind” principle and that having racing front and center can’t be all that bad.

Perhaps this sneak isn’t totally indicative of what’s to come for Jockeys, Win or Die Trying… it is marketing after all. But let’s say the majority of the series is like the sneak peak. Is this good for racing? Some will love it, some will hate it (and us) even more.

I know I’ll watch the show and probably love it, but I’m not going anywhere. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not Animal Planet’s job to market racing but the series won’t exist in a vacuum either. I’m curious to know if you think it will help or harm racing… or potentially worse, do nothing!

And They’re Offed – TV Alert!

Breaking mainstream media alert… Swifty just emailed me the following:

Also, just saw a promo for CSI: Miami (tomorrow night on CBS)… looks like the whole episode takes place at a racetrack.

A quick trip to the CSI Miami site confirms it:

January 19, 10pm et/pt

And They’re Offed

When a murder occurs during a horse race, Horatio discovers that Ryan has a personal connection to the case.

I’m a little surprised that they don’t have any promo video of the episode on the site, perhaps they will tomorrow? Either way, the episode title is certainly chuckle worthy. I’ll definitely DVR & watch it, thanks Swifty!

You may remember that just last month the show Leverage on TNT had a racing themed episode. Perhaps all of the former turf writers are ending up in TV? However it’s working out, I think it’s a great sign that racing is showing up in the mainstream media with some frequency.

Who knows, people might even remember that racing exists and show up at the track, unless the show scares them in to thinking they might be murdered. I guess we’ll just have to tune in and see!

Nutty News Day

Tiznow, awaiting his date with Pepper’s Pride (jeandiva)

Seems like a bit of a nutty news day today. Storm Cat will be starting a new career as a Quarter Horse stallion. While it may seem like an odd drop in class, apparently it’s not unheard of.

Storm Cat, 28, is not the first Thoroughbred stallion to sire foals from Quarter Horse mares. Leading sire Alydar did so when he stood at Calumet Farm near Lexington.

“I was told that Hennessy (by Storm Cat) had two stakes winners out of five Quarter Horse mares,” Waldman said about the deceased stallion.

And taking a jump in class in the shed is the recently retired and undefeated record holder Pepper’s Pride, who’s booked to the talented Tiznow. The internets had something to say about both of these news items!

Filed under “this should happen more often” it was announced again that Proud Spell would be returning to training! Since it happens so infrequently I found it just as exciting the second time it was announced as the first!

From the “Hey, wasn’t I just whining for something like this” department, it was announced that CHRB is launching what looks to be an expansive and potentially thorough pilot study of the synthetics surfaces.

“The plan is to have a team to collect data on a daily basis,” Breed said of the pilot study, which he said would involve CHRB investigative staff, track stewards and racetrack maintenance personnel. He said the collection has already started.

“The idea is to find out what the tracks are doing throughout the year,” Breed said.

A soils scientist/engineer, working with veterinarians and in cooperation with horsemen and racing associations, will test the racing surfaces. Synthesizing the results with current research and studies of tracks in other jurisdictions, standards that can be measured and compared would be developed.

A track steward in charge of safey [sic] would be responsible for seeing that the standards, once developed, are enforced.

According to a staff report, the pilot study will address areas of concern such as permeability, absorption of impact at various temperatures, and the effects of climate change and organic contamination.

I wonder if they knew of the dog that did not bark?

And from the “ghosts of Derby’s past” department, Peruvian mystery horse Tomcito from the 2008 derby trail showed up on the work tab yesterday at Palm Meadows Training Center! Ok, I read it today so it seemed like a news item from today.

You may remember that Tomcito did not have enough earnings to make the Derby and had drop out of the Belmont due to congestion. Since then it’s been nothing but silencio hasta ahora.

Albeit, none of these stories are as nutty as a commercial flight landing in the Hudson River around 48th street with only one injury… now THAT’S nutty!

Update: Tomcito worked again today, just three days from his first work in several months. You guessed it, nutty!

Indyanne, Helping Us Take a Longer View

A couple of comments and a post have jarred me back in to the land of wanting to blog about an “issue”. In a comment and then a a post, Joe of Michigan-Bred Claimer rightly questioned, without accusing, the connections of Go Between’s decision not to do an autopsy. He points out that by not getting questions answers about the cause of the death, it leaves room for people to draw their own conclusions. Not really something racing needs any more of.

GbG pal, commenter and photographer Jason expressed outrage over Indyanne’s death in relation to synthetics being touted as the safer surface.

Just a quick caveat before I get started, I try very hard not to be an “either/or” person…. bloggers vs. journalists, fans vs. players, synthetic vs. dirt. These issues are too complex to be boiled down to the kind of name calling or sweeping pronouncements we frequently see in posts and comments as of late. With that in mind, please don’t read this as straight up synthetics bashing.

That being said, I caught myself wondering if Indyanne should become the poster-filly for NOT rushing to synthetic surfaces? It’s the understatement of the decade to say that Eight Belles has become synonymous with racing’s need to clean up it’s safety act and many good things have come out it. Why shouldn’t some good come out of the death of Indyanne?

During my all too brief daily lunchtime twirl around the internet, I happened upon a post entitled “Catastrophic Racetrack Injuries and Breakdowns: The Dog That Did Not Bark” on site called Horse Racing Business by way of Paulick. The post talks about looking at ALL the factors that could possibly be contributing to breakdowns, not just the low hanging fruit.

The author provides some examples of factors not seriously being considered such as weather, field size, temperature, precipitation and distance to name a few.

These kinds of queries are suggestive of potentially fruitful lines of inquiry. They can be quantified and subjected to statistical analysis to search for answers upon which solutions can be based. My guess is that no one variable by itself comes close to accounting for breakdowns, but rather, synergy is involved.

The current approach of addressing safety issues seems somewhat similar to how medicine is practiced, looking at isolated factors without stepping back to determine how they effect one another. Addressing only the surface or steroid use or shoe type doesn’t seem too far off from “take a pill”. And what happens when the quick fix starts to show signs that indeed it’s just that?

If it were up to me, when we think of the loss of Indyanne we would think of the need for data, transparency and cooperation to solve our problems, not reacting quickly so it looks like we’re doing something. Granted, we all want action and results, but we should also be patient enough to have the work done that would yield real lasting results.

RIP Indyanne

Indyanne leading into the stretch in the La Brea (Charles Pravata)

Direct from the UGH department, news of that Indyanne has been euthanized is now out as well. Apparently she was not responding well to treatment and would not have been able to live a pain free life.

A top sprinter, Indyanne won her first four starts by a combined 32 1/2 lengths, including the Azalea Stakes (gr. III) by 9 1/2 lengths at Calder Race Course and the Bay Meadows Debutante Stakes. After winning the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (gr. III) this fall at Keeneland for owners David and Jill Heerensperger, she was purchased by Sikura. The La Brea was her second start for Sikura. For her career, she won five of eight races and earned $449,870.

It’s a shame that she couldn’t be saved, and it makes me wonder how Springside, winner of the Demoiselle, is healing. Although today might not be the day to ask.

Many condolences to the connections of Indyanne, and let’s hope this run of sad news is officially over.

Jen at Down the Stretch and The Turk both have nice tributes as well. Mary Forney also has a video of Indyanne not too long after the injury.

2008 Azalea:

2008 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes:

RIP Go Between

Go Between and Garrett Gomez winning the 2008 Pacific Classic at Del Mar (Charles Pravata)

Sad news from Payson Park Training Center as 6yo Go Between died after a work out of an apparent heart attack.

A 6-year-old son of Point Given trained by Bill Mott, Go Between won eight of 27 starts, with 13 second- or third-place finishes, while earning $2,908,880. With his trademark late-running style, Go Between also won the Virginia Derby (gr. IIT), Fayette Stakes (gr. III), Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT), Sunshine Millions Classic, Unbridled Breeders’ Cup Handicap, and Cherokee River Stables Classic Stakes.

To me Go Between was a staple of the older horse division, you could almost always count on him to be entered. I always found him to be a wild card that I was never sure how to factor.

Here are a couple of his winning efforts, both from last year. Rest in Peace Go Between, and many thanks and condolences to his connections.

2008 Sunshine Million Classic:

2008 Pacific Classic:

Bargain Hunting

Azeri winning the 2004 Go For Wand at Saratoga (Walter Kobbe)

When times are tough there are bargains to be had. Tomorrow is no different at the January Keenland sale! Let’s say you have a few million sitting around, you might want to snap up the 2002 Horse of Year, Azeri.

She had a stellar career that included winning the Apple Blossom 3 consecutive years, winning the Distaff in the 2002, winning the Milady, the Vanity and Clement L. Hirsch in both 2002 and 2003, 2002 HOY and Champion Older Female 2002-2004.

She’s only the third female to win HOY since voting began in 1971 and the only to to not win against males. Perhaps she’s about to have company, but let’s not change the subject!

Still not convinced? See for yourself. Vic Stauffer summed it up best in his stretch call for the 2003 Milady. Happy bargain hunting!

The speed of Ruffian, the class of Lady’s Secret, the heart of Personal Ensign, one of the greats of all time… this is AZERI.


Apple Blossom:

Clement L. Hirsch:



Apple Blossom:



Apple Blossom:

Go For Wand:


A Little Catch Up

Very little in fact, but here it goes… a big, BIG congrats and shout out to GbG pals the Hennegan Brothers on their Eclipse Award for The First Saturday in May (buy the DVD)!

Recently I noticed that Breeders’ Cup posted this clip, created by the Hennegans, to their YouTube channel. I knew about it, but never saw it and am still not clear on where it aired. I love their sensibility and it instantly made me excited for the BC even though 1) it already happened and 2) it wasn’t all that exciting.

In photo news, you have until the end of tomorrow to go vote in round one of the TBA photo do over. Also, GbG regular rotation photog Raymond is on fire as of late over at Aqueduct… check him out too.

And speaking of being on fire, there was plenty of chatter over at Twitter during the races, much of it about Jones. (That should be *greet* Just Jenda… sadly Twitter does not have an edit function).

As if all that weren’t enough, there are plenty of new kids in town at the TBA… most recently Chalk Eating Weasel, Amateur Capper, Michigan-Bred Claimer, Keiblog Racing and Gallop France. In the recent past Thoroughbred Brief, Triple Dead Heat, Turk and the Little Turk and Mary Forney have also joined the growing ranks of people willing to spend their spare time writing about the game that they love. Good for them, and good for us!

1994 Part 3 – Older Horses

Colonial Affair winning the 1994 Jockey Club Gold Cup (Jason Moran)

The 1994 Series continues with the Older horses of 1994. You guessed it, the same caveats apply as before, let me know if something doesn’t look quite right or if you can shed some light on actual race order. I’ve created a section on the side bar over there to the right that handily links to each post in the series.

Older Males

Many talented horses returned in 1994. Champion Older Horse Bertrando and stakes winners Devil His Due, The Wicked North returned as 5yos. California gelding Best Pal returned as a 6yo. Sea Hero, the 1993 Derby and Travers winner, and stakes winners Colonial Affair and Pistols and Roses also returned as 4yos.

On the west coast no one swept the Strub Series, but Pistols and Roses started his year off with a bang (har har) by winning the Donn for the second straight year. He’s one of only three horses to win it twice. Check out his win in 1993 where he breaks a 7 race losing streak by winning at 44-1!

The Wicked North, who recently arrived at Old Friends, kicked off his year by winning the San Antonio as a prep for the Santa Anita Handicap. While he finished first in the Big Cap, he was disqualified and placed fourth (see the footnotes… too bad there’s no replay!).

Before the end of the spring The Wicked North had also won the Oaklawn and the Californian, Devil His Due took time away from his busy schedule of biting tax collectors to win the Brooklyn and the Suburban and Colonial Affair won the Excelsior.

Pistols and Roses, Devil His Due and Colonial Affair got their summer under way in the Whitney at Saratoga. Coming into the stretch all three of them looked to be in contention, but it was Colonial Affair with 4 wide move who came on strong to take the lead. Devil His Due went with him and they battled down to the wire with Colonial Affair winning it in a photo. Pistols and Roses didn’t fire (sorry). Old Friends resident Williamstown was also in this race.

Back on the west coast Best Pal, Bertrando, Slew of Damascus, who won the Hollywood Gold Cup, Stuka, who won the Santa Anita Handicap when The Wicked North was DQ’d, and Tinner’s Way, who had yet to win a stakes race as 4yo met up in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

Front running Bertrando and Slew of Damascus promptly started a suicidal speed duel and Bertrando only held on for about half of the race. Slew of Damascus held on for a bit longer, but was done going into the stretch. Best Pal and Tinner’s Way sat well off of the insane pace and started their runs as Bertrando faded, coming wide into the stretch. Both were strong but Tinner’s Way held on for his only stakes win of the year.

Going into the fall, Bertrando set the pace again in the Goodwood but was the lone speed. He looked done going into the stretch as Dramatic Gold came wide with a strong move and Toss of the Coin moved up between them. Just when it looked like Bertrando had thrown in the towel he found more and gutted it out to win.

Back on the east coast the Woodward was shaping up to be one of the best races of the year with the kind of deep field we only see in Breeders’ Cup races these days. Holy Bull, Go for Gin, Pistols & Roses, Colonial Affair, Tinner’s Way, Brunswick, Devil His Due and the 93 Woodward winner Bertrando made up the field. It seems like only Tabasco Cat and Concern were missing!

According to this article from the Sports Illustrated Vault, Holy Bull was so on the muscle in the week leading up to the Woodward that he kicked a hole in his stall! As fate would have it, it was to be Holy Bull’s last race of the year as owner/trainer Jimmy Croll apparently made some sort of clerical error that precluded Holy Bull from being entered in the Breeders’ Cup.

The Woodward was Holy Bull’s last race of the year. Because of a clerical error, Croll didn’t nominate him for the Breeders’ Cup, which will be held on Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs. Croll could supplement him to the $3 million Breeders’ Cup Classic for $360,000. But he won’t—not because of the money, he says, but because the colt has been training virtually nonstop for a year and a half, and Croll feels the Bull needs a rest so he can come back strong as a 4-year-old next season. “You could give me a half million dollars tax-free, and I wouldn’t run him in the Breeders’ Cup,” Croll said. “This horse has been good for me, and now it’s time for me to be good to him.”

The Times says it better than I could:

In a smashing performance that ended his racing year and may have won two championships in less than two minutes, Holy Bull dazzled a field of seven all-star rivals at Belmont Park yesterday as he swept to a five-length victory over Devil His Due in the Woodward Stakes.

In addition to the race below there’s also a clip of the post race broadcast. Holy Bull wasn’t the only 3yo to do well with the older horses, in a muddy Kentucky Cup Classic Tabasco Cat beat Best Pal, who was a lackluster third.

For those going on to the Breeders’ Cup there was still Jockey Club Gold Cup, which also drew a competitive field including Pistols and Roses, Colonial Affair, Tabasco Cat, Devil His Due and Go For Gin. Derby winner Go for Gin and Pistols and Roses set the pace. Go for Gin was going backwards before they even got to the stretch but Tabasco Cat and Devil His Due came for their try at Pistols and Roses. Colonial Affair, the 1993 Belmont winner, came 4 wide around all of them, got the lead and never looked back avenging his loss to Miner’s Mark by a nose in the 1993 Jockey Club Gold Cup.

93 Derby winner Sea Hero didn’t win any stakes races in 1994, but he placed in the Bowling Green and showed in the Brooklyn. And after showing up for a lot of dances, the hard knocking Best Pal finally got a stakes win for 1994 in the Native Diver at the end of the year.


Pacific Classic:



Kentucky Cup Classic:

Jockey Club Gold Cup:

Older Females

The Distaff division saw a lot of talent returning in 1994 as well. Champion Older Female for both 92 & 93, Argentinian born Paseana, returned for her 7yo campaign. She absolutely romped in the 92 Distaff and placed by a nose in 93 to Hollywood Wildcat, 1993’s Champion 3yo Filly, who also returned as 4yo.

Sky Beauty, the last filly to win the Triple Tiara also returned as a 4yo. In 93 she won the Acorn, Mother Goose, Coaching Club Oaks, Alabama and the Rare Perfume. She showed in the Distaff, which was probably the only thing that kept her from winning the Champion 3yo Filly honors. According to Wikipedia:

In 1993-94, the filly dominated the New York distaff scene as a 3- and 4-year-old. She won 10 graded stakes races, eight of which were Grade I events. She took the three Grade I races that made up the former Triple Tiara—the Acorn Stakes and Mother Goose Stakes and the Coaching Club American Oaks. As well as these, she won the Grade I Alabama Stakes and the Grade II Rare Perfume Stakes. Sky Beauty seemed destined for a 3-year-old championship, but lost out to Hollywood Wildcat after that filly clinched it with a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita Racetrack.

Dispute, winner of the 1993 Oaks, Beldame, Bonnie Miss, Test and Gazelle also returned as a 4yo as did stakes winner Nine Keys, who passed away this year due to foaling complications, and yet to be stakes winner Supah Gem. Exchange, a 6yo multiple stakes winner on both surfaces, spent most of her year on the turf.

Supah Gem got right down to business winning her first graded stakes in the El Encino in early January and promptly followed it up with a win in the Santa Margarita where she beat super filly Paseana. Paseana didn’t waste any time coming back to win the Santa Margarita for the second time, having won in 92. She also won the Chula Vista, now known as the Clement L. Hirsch, in an exciting blanket finish.

Nine Keys also started off the year with a bang winning the Rampart at Gulfstream and then going on to take the Apple Blossom by sitting mid-pack and make a nice move going into the stretch. Hollywood Wildcat did not start her year off with bang, showing in the La Canada.

Sky Beauty, having already won the 7f Vagrancy, continued what would be a 5 race winning streak in the Shuvee winning by 9 lengths. In the Hempstead, now known as the Ogden Phipps, she only won by a neck but came back to crush the Go For Wand field by 10 and half lengths.

In the Ruffian, she met up with Exchange, Dispute and Educated Risk. Educated Risk lead the pack with Sky Beauty and Dispute not far behind. Sky Beauty came up to take the lead at the quarter pole but Dispute offered a challenge in the stretch with a late run. Sky Beauty held on to score her 5th consecutive win.

Hollywood Wildcat switched to the turf for 3 races following her 4yo debut in the La Canada. She did well, winning one race and placing by a head and a neck in the other two. She returned to the dirt in the fall in the Lady’s Secret where she met up with another turfer, Exchange. Her return was triumphant as she wired the field, but not without having to work for it, as Exchange was right there with her in the stretch.

After placing in the Ruffian and showing in the John A. Morris Handicap, Dispute finally gets her stakes win of 1994 in the Spinster with a hand ride. And speaking of hand rides, talented 3yo Heavenly Prize took a break from her busy schedule of knocking around 3yos to win the Beldame over Educated Risk and Classy Mirage, both of whom will be covered more in the upcoming Sprinters/Milers post.

Apple Blossom:

Go For Wand:

1994 Chula Vista (Clement L. Hirsch)


Lady’s Secret:



In the final post of the series, Breeders’ Cup / Eclipse Awards / where are they now, we’ll see how everyone faired. As always, I want to know what you thought of these horses. I know some of you were there… share your memories! Was the handicap division really that deep? Did I miss it not being able to see Sky Beauty? The next post in the series will be the Turf horses of 1994.