Monthly Archives: September 2009

New Poll, Lava Man

Didn’t think I’d be using this photo again anytime soon! (Charles Pravata)

I love Lava Man. I have the above shot of him by Charles Pravata (from the 2008 DRF Calendar) up in my office where I can stare at it at length. If hard pressed, my answer to the question “who is your all time favorite horse” might be Lava Man as I arrived on the scene just as he was at his height. And to be honest my initial thought when I saw the crazy news about him was “heck yeah!”.

Like everyone else I went to the initial post (dated September 21st) and there weren’t a lot of details (that have since been added), which lead to speculation on the worst… the worst motives, the worst outcome, the worst everything. But then reports starting pouring out with details about crazy things like stem cell therapy and donating winnings to retirement funds.

From the Thoroughbred Times:

“He had to continue training at Magali as part of the stem cell treatments,” O’Neill said. “They found they were able to actually grow back cartilage. No one knew that was possible, so it’s exciting that this treatment may be able to help other equine athletes in the future.

“He really took to the treatment and it has done wonders for him. The doctor said that he is and will be the strongest horse in my barn. I couldn’t put into words how good he looks and how happy he seems to be back in training.”

If and when he runs, all of the trainer earnings will be donated to CARMA (California Retirement Management Account) so people don’t think this is all about greed.

And then there was his crazy first reported work out. Maybe there is something to this stem cell business or as a friend emailed to me upon reading the initial news “That poor horse. His ankles are like glass and he is DONE being a racehorse”.

So, what do you think, is it cool or alarming… or a little of both? I come down somewhere between “Concerned but hopeful” and “Stem cells? Very Cool!”. Of course, if it ends like it did for Gorgeous George there will be plenty of anger and hate to go around. They do seem to love him and want him to be happy so let’s just all keep our fingers crossed that Lava Man has an enjoyable and SAFE stay at fantasy camp.

For some back story on the story, namely how the heck does a horse like Lava Man go under the radar with something like this, check out Ed DeRosa’s account at his Big Event Blog. And on a Jockey’s note, Corey Nakatani must be happy with this news!

And finally, in our last poll, Fav Summer Racing, our east coast bias was showing!

I was too lazy to type all that out, but thanks as always for participating!

While I Was Out

Pyro and Kodiak Kowboy in the Forego (Adam Mooshian)

Yours truly has been under the weather the past few days, and is now playing a little catch up. What did I miss? Stuff you already know and possibly even forgot about such as the fabulous come backs of Ventura, Regal Ransom and Theregoesjojo(?). There was also a timely reminder about not getting carried away plus the return of one of my favorite tweeters!

Filed under “not more of the same”, Breeders’ Cup 360 launched late last week, a site designed and developed by Jessica of Raceday 360. Congrats to the BC and Jessica on the launch and be sure to check out the stats section!

While no doubt folks can still find things to grouse about re: the Breeders’ Cup, they’ve been making a nice effort this year to not only include fans and players in the feedback process, but to cater to them with things like evening out the two days a bit and creating two all BC Pick 6s, creating a site specifically for players and announcing a Friday TweetUp (or Tweeters Cup as Ernie calls it). While I still hold out hope that by this time next year the Ladies Classic will be renamed the Filly & Mare Classic, I’ll also give them props for listening and starting to make changes.

The R2 Collective, brain child of Dean from Pull the Pocket, quietly launched last week. Dean’s idea is to have a specific place to discuss marketing, technology and new media as it pertains (or doesn’t yet!) to racing. I have a few ideas for posts kicking around but Dean is on fire, check him out!

Also notable, pals and former colleagues from the TBA have taken up over at the NTRA to cover the Breeders Cup. Val of Foolish Pleasure & Fillies First wins the best author photo!

And finally, War Echo returns! The stunning 3yo 3/4 sib to my beloved Pyro (a.k.a. the new Kodiak Kowboy) made a triumphant debut as a 3yo in the Silverbulletday (who was inducted in the Hall of Fame this year). Shortly after she was sidelined with an injury. She jumped out at me in the parade and looked a lot like Pyro in that long Fairground stretch.

Back before Rachel Alexandra unleashed her torrent of kick ass on the racing world War Echo seemed like a promising up and comer. Will she be able to put it together in time to get to the 2009 Breeders’ Cup? Check her out in the 3rd at Belmont tomorrow and then stay tuned!

In Case You Just Can’t Wait


Those of who have become fans of Chantal Sutherland by watching the show Jockeys no doubt will be pulling for her to improve her place in the jockey standings at her home track of Woodbine in Canada.

The most recent episode featured Sutherland pulling out all the stops to get Smith to propose, and therefore give her a reason to stay in SoCal. Smith didn’t take the bait and advised her to do whatever it is that she needed to do (i.e., go back to Woodbine where she can get better mounts and make more money). After toiling on claimers to be with her beloved she decided to back to whence she came in search of the big bucks. But how has it worked out?

Currently Chantal Sutherland is 2nd in the Woodbine jockey standings behind Patrick Husbands. As of September 12th she’s had 608 mounts, won 88 times, placed 89 times and showed 89 times. Her earning so far are $5,028,992.

Compare this to how Sutherland did at Santa Anita where she ended up 11th (not 10th!). She made just 155 starts, won 18 times, placed 21 times and showed 19 times. Her win percentage was 12% compared to her current 14% but no earnings were available.

Obviously it’s not an apples to apples comparison if you look at the number of starts the top riders at Woodbine have compared to the number of starts for the top riders at Santa Anita but I think it’s safe to say that things have worked out for her!

You can keep track of Chantal’s current place in the Woodbine standings here and keep track of her race results here by scrolling down to Woodbine.

The Invincible Sword Goddess

(Sarah K. Andrew)

While channel surfing on Travers night I ultimately settled on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on IFC, the martial arts sensation film of 2000 responsible for igniting a flying choreography craze. I had never seen it and have never been one to watch martial arts films (although that could change). As I was enjoying the stunning fight choreography and excellent cinematography, one scene stood out to me.

One of the film’s main characters is Jen, who is “destined for an arranged marriage and yearning for adventure“. In short, she steals a fancy powerful sword called the Green Destiny and becomes a kick ass martial artist. Naturally when she shows up at Wudan Mountain (kick ass martial arts academy), all the other kick ass martial artists want to challenge her.

There was one scene in particular that had me laughing out loud because it reminded me of Rachel vanquishing her male challengers one after the other. I thought about that scene so much in the week leading up to the Woodward that I bought the DVD and made my first humble attempt at video editing. Without further adieu, I give you Rachel Alexandra, Invincible Sword Goddess:

Be sure to check out Pull the Pocket’s excellent channeling of The Onion and if you haven’t already, Ernie’s Woodward day video.

Did Everyone Just Now Notice?


I’ve noticed several comments, tweets and at least one post about Calvin’s use of the whip on Rachel. My only question is, what took you so long? Did people just now notice that American jocks whip horses too much?

Check out Calvin’s ride of Lady Joanne in the 2007 Alabama (not on YouTube, sorry!) or Mike Smith on Tiago in the Santa Anita Derby:


And these are just two that came to mind immediately. AND how about all those horses who aren’t Rachel Alexandra, Lady Joanne or Tiago?

If Rachel can get some meaningful discussion going about use of the whip it will be one more stellar accomplishment for her to add to her impressive resume. It’s easy to blame the jocks, lord knows I’ve done it, but the issue is bigger than that. We have vague rules that are hard to enforce which makes it that much harder for stewards to actually do something about it.

I’m a huge fan of whip reform. Sadly as regular fans and players we’re all used to it but commenter ljk summed it up nicely on a post last year when he said:

I’ll say it again: to newcomers our sport looks like people with sticks beating horses to make them run


Birthers, Deathers and Now Zenyattaistas

Last night I got a comment on my Zenyatta vs. Rachel Alexandra poll post (that’s the first search result for “Zenyatta vs Rachel Alexandra“) that said:

The fact that Rachel is ducking the Breeders meant Rachel’s handlers are not confident Rachel can beat Zenyatta. All other speculations are fluff

I forwarded this comment on to pal Jessica with a note:

Just got this. Will they ever give up?

She wrote back:

Ha! We need a name for this phenomenon, along the lines of Birthers and Truthers. The Deniers? Zenyattaistas?

Indeed. Duckers and BCers also come to mind, but since it seems rooted in that pesky and previously discussed sports fan behavior, Zenyattaistas seem most appropriate.