Thursday, December 31, 2009

Good Luck Zenyatta

Well, the poll is over and to this blog's readers at least, Zenyatta should be awarded Horse of the Year hands down!

The votes were as follows:

Rachel Alexandra with 8 votes
The Field with a whooping 1 vote
Zenyatta with a total of 75 votes which was weighted at 89% of the poll.

Congratulations Zenyatta! Hopefully the voters of the Eclipse Award will feel the same way as the readers!

The five year-old now retired Mare Zenyatta had an exceptional year. She was 5 for 5 racking up such wins as Grade I Lady's Secret and of course her most impressive win in the Breeders' Cup Classic against the best guys out there. Of course she also left the track with a perfect record and a total earnings of $5,474,580, over 3 million of which she won this past year. I don't know what else a horse needs to be named Horse of the Year, but I would think she has more than enough.

Good luck Zenyatta! We know you deserve the this win too!

Monday, November 30, 2009


Yup, This is definitely a year for the gals. Ventura won 3 of her 6 stars this season, the other three being seconds. Although maybe not as commanding as Zenyatta or Rachel, you have to admit this is pretty good. Wins this year include the Santa Monica Handicap, The Woodbine Mile (against the guys) and probably her 'best' race the Matriarch Stakes.

For those who don't know, Ventura was trained by the late Bobby Frankel. Before his death he suggested to his assistant trainer, Humberto Ascanio, that Ventura should run in this last race before she retired. And she ran. There was no chance of catching that girl once she started going. She reminded everyone that not only is she a great mare, but she was trained by a great man.

Rest in peace Bobby, and enjoy the pasture Ventura.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rachel vs Zenyatta

I want opinions! Take the poll on my side bar about which horse you think should win Horse of the Year! Personally, I have no clue...Mine That Bird maybe...(just kidding...I know he doesn't stand a chance for an eclipse this year). But seriously folks! Who's it going to be? Superstar filly Rachel Alexandra or Veteran Stomper Zenyatta?

Tell me what you think! The filly, the mare, or perhaps the other?

Vote! Comment! Let me know why!

I still Love the Bird though. Maybe next year bud!

And randomly...I got both Zenyatta's and Mine That Bird's pics from this should check it out! Say It Isn't So: Horse Racing.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Negative Internet Nellies and Horseism

~WARNING! THIS IS A BLOG RANT! READ AT OWN RISK!~Have you ever watched a horse video on youtube? Man I have...countless. I love watching all varieties of horse videos. Jumping videos, liberty videos, pleasure videos, horses acting goofy videos, and of course racing videos. But what I absolutely cannot stand is how people bash other breeds of horses or disciplines.

For those who don't know, although I Love Love Love thoroughbred racing, I own and show Quarter Horses in western pleasure and hunter under saddle. With this in mind, it makes sense that I youtube such videos and watch them. You would not believe all the negative and what I have deemed 'horseist' comments! The discipline is dumb, easy, extremely unnatural, ugly, boring, etc. etc. etc. Or worse! These horses are lifeless, stupid, ugly, lame, dull...I was agitated to say the least, as were other Quarter Horse enthusiasts seeing as the thumbs down rating option was over used on some comments...but really! How can people be so negative?
I also tend to watch a lot of gaming videos, because lets face it, high speed horses are fun to watch. Although many people say this is what QH's should be used for, the poor breed doesn't even catch a break there!

Now, although I love QH's, I do watch other breeds as well. Saddlebreds, Arabians, Fresians (me loves me a good Fresian) and the hatred is there as well! Those horses are crazy, will kill you, have no just goes on and on.

Oh, and don't even bother watching a horse racing clip...the comments go on and on about how corrupt the sport is, how the horses don't want to run, how all the trains and all the owners don't give a rats hind end about the horses they work with...just the money. And all the attacks on horses like Barbaro and Eighbelles (Rest their souls). It's a bit ridiculous.

I realize people are entitled to their own opinion...I know I exercise mine enough...but why can't people be open minded and logical at the same time? How can someone say Western Pleasure is any more unnatural than the arched necks of dressage horses? The heavy weighted shoes to make Saddlebreds and such steps higher? The fact that race horses are on meds to keep them from bleeding out during a race? The fact that jumping the height that high competitors do is indeed a wee bit bad for the horses joints? That not all trainers in any discipline beat their horses to get result?

People need to accept the differences of each horse breed and the talent they were born with. Most Thorougbreds do love to run, try telling Zenyatta, Seattle Slew, even friggin' Man O' War that they are being forced to run. I bet you they would disagree. Pleasure horses are being bred to move like that relatively naturally, but like ANYTHING else, they need to learn to control their naturally bred abilities. Can't throw a dressage horse in the ring without extensive training, can't get a saddlebred to rack with training.

Like I warned...this is just a huge rant...because I can't stand people attacking other breeds and disciplines so violently to make extensive fights over such a thing.

We all have are preferences, we all have our opinions (obviously...this entry is proof), but why can't we all just respect the horse for the amazing creature it is?

Or at the very least don't watch youtube videos of horses or horse disciplines you know you hate just to tell everyone how much you hate it! =P

Ranting over. Enjoy your youtube viewing!

Another Legend Lost

I was shocked today when I visited ESPN's horse site...expecting to be greeted with a happy running horse crossing the wire, instead I read: Frankel Dead at 68.

Such a great trainer lost to a a second bout with lymphoma. He was a strong trainer with strong horses, and you could almost place a bet for his horse, merely because he had trained it.

"For more than 40 years, Frankel was one of the top trainers in the sport. He began with claiming horses in New York, moved to California and continued to win at an eye-catching rate, then gradually transformed his barn into one that emphasized quality over quantity. He won at least one Grade 1 race every year from 1988 through this year. In 1995, he was inducted into racing's Hall of Fame." ~ESPN coverage

I've missed seeing him on the scene this year at the Crown and the Breeder's Cup, and will forever miss it. Rest in Peace Bobby Frankel, you were an amazing trainer.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Holy Shib. Just minutes have passed since the Classic...and I'm still didn't think she would win even if I wanted her to...but damn she proved many a people wrong! Way to Kick Ass Girl! You're everything I love in a race horse, huge, dark, late runner, personality, and simply amazing! That was an impressive run beyond words! Even after all that gate trouble, she came from behind to easily win. What a race! Congrats Gal! You're career has been amazing! Overall, glad they challenged you and you proved, it wasn't much of a challenge. Way to Go. Those are the races you will never forget. Horse of the Year should be headed your way. (The crowd thinks so ^_^) As always, what a great weekend! Sorry Mine That Bird, I still love you. Einstein you too! Congrats to Conduit for getting the turf again. Goldikova showed the boys again (that was a fun race...I wish I had the trifecta because I thought Courageous Cat was pretty and I liked Justenoughhumors's name -_-') California flag was fun to watch, loved the jump on the dirt. The Marathon was crazy close! Oi. Too much greatness! I could go on forever! Just a wonderful weekend! Congrats to all the Horses, Jockeys, Trainers, and Owners! Love the Breeder's Cup!!
And if a representative of Breyer is reading...Zenyatta would make a pretty pretty model. ^_^

Friday, October 16, 2009

Don't Be Dumb Girl

Ok...for those of you who don't know...I love Zenyatta. I think she owns her competition even in her 'off' days, is fun to watch, and hands down a true beauty....but I don't think she can beat the Breeder's Cup Boys.

I'm sorry girl, I love ya, but I really hope your racing connections put you for the sure win in the Ladies' Classic. Not saying I would love to see her take on the boys, but now is not the time. This just reminds me a bit too much of Azeri. 2002 BC Distaff...Azeria kicks total questions asked...takes a break...starts a winning streak in 2003....takes on the guys in the BC Classic....performs decently...but loses...I want to say 6th? Anyway, she could have easily won against the gals...I know people want to prove something...but don't be dumb. Race your horse where they should be raced. Maybe it would just be my shabby, inexperienced owning skills...but I would go for the sure thing in the Breeder's Cup...especially this year...there are too many talented colts and horses in the Classic to risk it all.

But maybe that's just me.

Zenyatta...despite where you go...kick ass!

Can't Sea the Stars

*sighs* Sea the Stars, European Turf Champ and quite possibly their best horse, will not be coming to the Breeder's Cup...because he is done racing. Three years old...I know this is typical...but it still depresses the hell out of me.
Money Money Money. Sea the Stars was not injured...not even sore. I can understand giving the boy a well deserved break after a long and great season...but why no return next year? Is it really just because of the stud money?

So many great horses are retired before they get a chance to truly shine, let alone defend all their titles. But oh well. That's horse racing.

Congrats again Sea the Stars, it was a great career, I just wish I could have watched you more.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Summer of the Bird

So wow. I try not to get too excited about a certain horse but this little guy is making it hard. Not many thought much of Summer Bird before he took the Belmont by storm, but now he has proven he needs to be watched after taking the other two hot summer races., The Travers and the now the Jockey Gold Cup. This boy is just peaking at the right time. My only hopes are he comes up happy when they check him a few days and stays happy and healthy so he can take a run at the Breeder's Cup Classic. Although making himself a firm candidate for 3 year-old champ, a decent run let alone a win, in the Classic would almost guarantee a Horse of the Year nomination, if not the title itself. This is just another reason why I love horse racing, one day you are a long shot in the Belmont, and the next you are a contender of Horse of the Year. Good luck to you Summer Bird! On a side note, I would also like to send my congrats to Sea the Stars and Jockey Mick Kinane, who took the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. This makes his sixth consecutive race win, and needless to say he has earned the right to travel across the pond and run against the other great Turf horses out there in the Breeder's Cup Turf. Good luck to him too!! I can't wait for the Breeder's Cup!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Better Talk Now

Before I even start this...I must say that gelding are the best damn thing for the racing world. Not being tied to the breeding world, therefore the major money earners, they are on the track forever! Just to name a few, Funny Cide, Forego, John Henry, Phar Lap, Lava Man, Well Armed, and they new boy on the seen, Mine That Bird. Some great legends or legends in the making were just listed...most of which because they were left on the track to continue their legacy, which they tend to make after there colleagues have been retired for stud. The focus of this entry is another on of those greats, one that I have been watching for what seems like forever. Better Talk Now, the ten year-old gelding has been retired. Just before he was to run his last race, the old guy tore a ligament in a leg. After winning $4 million dollars in purse earning, he's going to retire to a life of being turned out into a paddock and munching grass. I still remember that 2004 Breeder's Cup Turf race where with a visible swish of the tail, Better Talk Now just went for it. Even after a few blunders and mishaps in the stretch, Better Talk Now went on to win in an impressive manner. It was such an exciting day, and I have enjoyed any other time he has set foot on the track, whether he won, placed, showed, or simply blew it, I was always pulling for him and glad to watch him run! Although I will miss him on the racing seen, I am glad that his injury is minor instead of a life threatening problem. I hope the boy enjoys his break as much as we enjoyed his racing!

Save public interest!

Power to the geldings!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My Birthday and Secretariat

First off....It's my Birthday! Yay! But once upon time I was given a book full of 'What happened on your Birthday' events...and frankly...I was uninterested. While cleaning, I came across the book again and while trying to decide whether or not to get rid of the thing forever, I decided to flip through it. Go figure the first page had something to do with a horse...and not just any horse, but Big Red himself, Secretariat.

September 15th, 1973, Secretariat ran a race at Belmont against a horse that had just recently beat him, Onion, and previous Kentucky Derby Winner, Riva Ridge. In the end, Secretariat proved to be the great that he was and won by 3.5 lengths. Also true to fashion, Big Red set a record while schooling the horses too. He ran a mile and an eighth in 1.45. Simply amazing.
Congrats again Secretariat! I'm glad I could share this happy date with you!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Modern Seabiscuit vs War Admiral

As I go by and read my daily articles on ESPN, I found a rather annoying title.

Not that I mind the girl is taking a break, we all know she has more than earned it, but now my dreams of her going to the Breeder's Cup to finally test Zenyatta or go and romp with the boys again is dashed. Perhaps it's just my gut, but if she had one in either race (which she probably would have, synthetic track or not) that could have, would have, secured her with a Horse of the Year, and easily best filly...but she's getting that one anyway.

But anyway...while I was reading this article, something just stuck out that reminded me of those two legends many years ago...

"Now that Rachel Alexandra has defeated older males in the Woodward, Jackson acknowledged that a showdown with the undefeated mare Zenyatta was less appealing to him. "It was never high on my agenda because I don't think Zenyatta wants to run in the East and we're not going to run in the West," he said. "They have a hell of a horse, and if she finishes up never defeated that's a great result to shoot for." The New York Racing Association was trying to stage a Zenyatta-Rachel matchup in the Beldame, by getting Betfair/TVG to sponsor a purse enhancement to the race that would have made it a $1 million race."

Take it how you will, I just experience a little deja vous. Extremely talented young horse owned by well know rich, racing people in the East not really caring to take on another great horse in the West...obviously there are many a differences...but you get my point. A match-up between the two would be interesting, and just like the first race, I don't know whose side I would really be on...cuzz let me tell you...I would have lost two bucks on the Seabiscuit vs War Admiral race...

As it be, I am sorry that she isn't sticking it out for one more Breeder's Cup related race this year, and hope that they decide to run her again as a four year-old. Hope she stays healthy through the winter resting months, and hopes Zenyatta continues to kick total ass in her races.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Rachel Not Running?

What's the real reason Rachel is making a pass at the Breeder's Cup? I cannot make myself believe that something as simple as the Pro-Ride surface stopping this magnificent filly from stomping her competition yet again.
When quoted in ESPN's Article: Who Is Ducking Whom, Jackson says he doesn't want to take the risk with Rachel. That he saw how much Curlin struggled in the synthetic and doesn't want to worry Rachel with it...but the difference is...Rachel has run and won on a synthetic track. Yes, she did it when she was two, but has she not improved since then? With her past two performances I would say she has...wouldn't you? Now there are rumors going around about the the new owners simply not want to damage Curlin's legacy as suggested in Jeremy Plonk's article. Like Rachel winning at Santa Anita's track would make Curlin any less of a horse? Or are they afraid to run her against the mares and take on Zenyatta?

Whatever their reason is...I must admit I am disappointed. I'm sure there will be horses showing up to the Breeder's Cup who are either untested on synthetics or ran poorly on it who will show up anyway. Why not her? Please, if I am missing something, enlighten me.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


I can't lie...I wanted the Bird to win yesterday...and I still feel he could have pulled it off if the race was either a smidge longer or he had not been forced to stop his charge when running into a wall of horses.


I was really pulling for the little guy. Admitedly, this is the first time since I can remember that I have wanted the winner of the Derby to win the Triple Crown, but oh well.

On a brighter note, Rachel you are an amazing animal. Why you were sold between an amazing performance at the Oaks and another great one at the Preakness is beyond research, but dang the girl can run! I'm looking forward to watching both hers and Mine That Bird's careers blossom in the upcoming months.

Back to the Bird though, I'm really glad he ran as well as he did. He at least proved he wasn't a fluke and that alone makes me happy. For me, he is an exciting horse to watch run. Closers always help create that anxious excitement down the homestretch that just makes me love racing that much more. Mine The Bird did not dissapoint in that sense. Yesterday was the first time in forever that I have been cheering for a horse while watching them run on the TV. So thanks for that!
I'm still not sure what keeps happening to my other favorites, Fresian Fire and General Quarters...but I'm sure the excuses will bubble to the surface soon.

Another good Crown race, I just can't wait to see what the Belmont holds!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Kentucky Derby 135

My first Derby in two years did not disappoint!
Although I cannot money was on Fresian Fire and General Quarters...but I have gained major respect for the winner this year: Mine That Bird. His performance was unbelievable! Just when you thought he couldn't go any faster Jockey Calvin Borel asked for another gear, and he got it! Even though this little horse did not gain much attention all day, he earned his win. Maybe it is just my eyes, but he gave one hell of a performance! I, along with the rest of the country, am keeping my eye on this one. I know that many people think his win was a fluke, but I hope he is just hitting his peak at the right time. Mine That Bird needs to prove himself at the Preakness and give another stunning performance.

No matter what he does, I'll still think this win was epic. He just flew!! Congrats again!! Mine That Bird, Kentucky Derby Winner of 2009!

On a related subject, Borel was truly on a roll all weekend. With the a few wins other than his epic Derby today and the Oaks yesterday, his name was being tossed back and forth a lot. Frankly, I haven't heard of him before seeing I was unable to watch his first Derby win with Street Sense, but I already really like this guy. He's always so happy when he wins. With such a hyper little guy in the irons, who wouldn't want his horses to continue to clean up? Even though I wasn't pleased that my horses lost (badly I might add) Calvin Borel got me excited about this win and this horse's future!

To continue with Borel, today I finally got to watch yesterday's Oaks...I knew that Rachel Alexandra had won and won amazingly. The articles didn't lie. That was one of the most impressive races I have ever seen. The girl just ran, not even considering she could lose. I am kind of curious how she would have held up against the boys, but am glad she just trounced the girls! It's going to be an interesting year for Borel.

On a side note...kudos to Einstein for sticking it out in his race today! I was getting a little worried that he wasn't going to make it, but at the last minute he decided to go for it and won. Truly amazing...maybe I am just a fan of the big boy...but it was a pretty impressive show of guts!

Good day full of great races!! Congrats to all who won!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Winding Down With Whirlaway

For those readers who are not in my class I feel you should be informed that this is the last required week I "have" to write entries. Luckily for those who wish to continue reading, I plan and hope to continue this blog's upkeep. The entries will be a little more...spaced...than they would be back when I have a deadline, but they should pop up every now and then. Hopefully there is enough here to distract you while I am waiting for something to write. Although I cannont promise anything too exciting, I know I will get into those moods where I find and article or see a race that I can't help but comment on. I mean could I possibly keep my thoughts about the Kentucky Derby to myself?! 8 DAYS 21 HOURS 30 MINUTES!

Back to what I should be talking about...I am again taking another look at Blood Horse's list of the top 100 horses in the 20th Century. This time around I decided on a horse I have heard countless times, but really don't know much if anything about. That is how I chose number 26: Whirlaway.

The one and nearly only thing that I know about Whirlaway is that he won the Triple Crown in 1941. That alone would earn a horse a spot on the 100 list (all of which eleven are on the list: 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 9th, 12th, 13th, 26th, 28th, 33rd, 49th, 61st).

With this massive accomplishment Whirlaway was given the title of 1941 Horse of the Year, which he one again in 1942. Whirlaway was in the money 93% of the time and won 32 of his 60 starts. Not a bad record to say the least.

Another amazing horse for an incredible era.

Ol' Dan Patch

I take pride in knowing a lot about horse racing in general, it's what I do. So of course when my mom was talking about a horse I have never even heard of, I was beyond shocked. When I voalized my shock, she merely looked at me, cocked her head, and asked, "You never heard of Ol' Dan Patch?"

It soon became fairly obviously why I had never heard of Dan Patch...he was a harness racer. Although I love harness racing, I do not follow it nearly as close as I do Thoroughbred racing. I don't follow it much at all really, I just enjoy being a spectator. But the fact that knew nothing of this legendary pacer was unacceptable!

It turns out that Dan Patch was pretty much the greatest harness racer off all time. The awards given out at the end of the harness racing seasons are actually called the Dan Patch Awards. Even though it has been ages since he was on the track (the early 1900s) Ol' Dan Patch is still admired by racers everywhere and cosidered the best.

When he was racing, he beat the world harness records at least fourteen times and actually set the fastest time for a harness paced mile at 1:55.25 in 1905. Sometimes owners would scratch their horses from a race if Dan Patch was on the card, knowing that nearly no horse could beat him. This didn't stop Dan Patch from pacing the race anyway...he just had to race the clock (and he usually won that too!)

Having never lost an actual race, Dan Patch's undefeated career made him a favorite among nearly everyone. He was endorsed with countless items ranging from toys (I am positive I would have bought one) to cigars and washing machines. His talent brought many fans to the track, and often packed the grandstands with his supporters. Even a United State's President or two stopped by the track to watch his amazing speed.

After earning over a million dollars in race earnings (in the early 1900s remember...that's a lot of cash now!!!) and nine world records, Ol' Dan Patch was retired in 1909 to a life of glory where in his later years he traveled to exibitions so his faithful and adoring fans could visit the legend for themselves.

While searching for pictures of Dan Patch, I came across a blog entry about him.

"Dan Patch was the fastest racehorse of his day, having never lost a race. He also broke the two minute mark 35 times, more than any other horse. He was the Black Beauty of his day. There is still a Dan Patch Historical Society continuing the memory of the famous horse. Even at the Minnesota State Fair, there is a street named Dan Patch Avenue," (The Millennial Freemason).

Besides being absolutely gorgeous, a magnificent racer, and all around amazing, Dan Patch was foaled in the good state of Indiana. Way to make the state proud! Way to go! I know the harness world, my mother, and now I...will never forget good Ol' Dan Patch!

Monday, April 20, 2009


You see them all over the place...those little Jockeys running around in vibrant and colorful shirts looking for their mount in the paddock. But what exactly are the silks for?

Silks are the way horse owners and barns represent. Each owner or stable has a particular set of silks they use for each and every horse they own. This is for those handicappers (betters) out there that swear a horse to win by the stable or the simple fans looking for their favorite barn.

One of my favorite silks is those for West Point Thoroughbreds. I'm not sure why I find their silks so appealing, but I know when I see that black star on the gold torso, I should be keeping my eye on that horse.

Although silks show where the horse hails from, it also is a easy way for spectators to keep their eye and the horse they bet on. The vibrant colors are usually unique to one or two horses in a race, and help the onlookers keep track of where their horse is running. Silks can be seen from the highest seat and from across the track due to their normally bold colors and patterns. Trust me, this comes in handy when watching the Derby which sports a twenty horse field.

Silks are very useful and an important part of racing. Should you want to give designing them yourself, try this link and make your own silks! If you like them you can even buy them!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Track Safety

For those of you who either do not know or have perhaps forgotten about that tragic loss of Eight Belles almost a year ago. The remarkable filly who finished second in the Kentucky Derby only to break down on the back stretch. No one is really sure what happened that day, but no matter what caused the accident, the filly still lost her life that day.

Eight Belles was an amazing horse and had the potential to be the filly of the ages. Being able to hold her own against nineteen of the strongest three-year old colts out there, I was eager for her career. Unfortunately that chance was taken away from her by a freak accident. Memorials of her are all over the Internet as I soon realized as I stumbled over a blog entry dedicated to her memory. Powerful Memory - Eight Belles - Powerful Legacy.

Although breakdowns are not uncommon on tracks, rarely are they viewed by hundreds of thousands of people. The fight for improving track conditions such as switching to Polytrack (synthetic and softer dirt) from the good ol' traditional dirt to banning the plethora of drugs these horses are injected and supplemented with monthly. After this particular accident animal activists such as PETA were on all arms, harassing spectators at the Preakness and the politicians in Congress. Although I found PETA just annoying and slightly disrespectful, they were adding to the masses that demanded Congress to act.

The leaders of the NTRA had already acted before the government could get involved. Although many veterinarians have claimed that a certain type of steroid is therapeutic for horses, it has already been banned from all tracks. The consequence of not banning the drug would be the loss in a graded status. So if Churchill Downs for example did not ban the drug, the Kentucky Derby would no longer be a Grade I race. Naturally tracks obeyed this law along with the many other anti-drug laws passed. But how will this effect the horses?
"Many veterinarians, then and now, consider steroids a therapeutic medication. Dr. Larry Bramlage, a highly respected equine surgeon who is former president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners and was honored in 1994 with the Jockey Club Gold Medal for distinguished service, said during last year's Triple Crown that there were "some good aspects" to steroid," (ESPN: Eight Belles, one year later).

What does this mean? Will the horses truly benefit from losing the drug? It seems we will find out. This is the first Derby and Triple Crown season where the horses are relatively 'natural'.

I am not all against the use of drugs with racehorses, most of our human athletes are drugged why not our equine stars? I do disagree with some drugs though, such as snake venom and other drugs administrated for pain killers. The thought that a horse will continue running when something is breaking or hurting it is just terrible. The horse should know when something is wrong so perhaps it can stop itself before something breaks and the animal must be put down. Jockeys too wish to see the end of pre-race pain killers because they want to have an accurate feel of the horse they are riding at speeds of near forty miles per hour. They do not want to find out about an injury the same time as the horse falls to its knees in the middle of a race; jockeys prefer to know ahead of time so the can save themselves, the fields, and the horse.

Another thing people are trying to change is switching dirt tracks to polytrack. The polytack is much deeper and softer than traditional dirt so it is better at absorbing the impact while horses run. However, the deepness also slows the horses down drastically. Personally I think switching all the tracks of America from dirt to polytrack is nearly absurd. Dirt is not the main cause of breakdowns in racing...horses have been running on it forever! I do however feel that training tracks would be better off as polytrack, so when the horses our at the farms training they build up stamina with less harm to their legs.
There are many more things being done and ideas being tossed around to ensure that a tragedy like Eight Belles will not happen again. No matter whether I like the change or not I am sure that it will be more beneficial to the horses and make the sport that much more competitive. It is all about the horses' safety after all. Because with no horses, there would be no horse racing.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New Derby Spot

A new opening has become available in the Kentucky Derby. Although this is a great opportunity for another horse to get a chance a glory, for Old Fashioned it was a lost chance at greatness.

Unfortunately for this potential legend, his dreams were cut short after his last race in the Arkansas Derby this past Saturday. After the race was called, the connections of Old Fashioned realized there was something wrong. The colt had suffered a fracture in his right knee. Although this is not a life threatening injury, it is usually a career ending one. Later that week the horse was shipped to a farm in Lexington, Kentucky to receive surgery on his knee.

"It's not life-threatening, it should be okay," Jones said. "Career-ending is a possibility just because of the type of horse he is. But we'll see. We'll let them make that call," Old Fashioned's trainer said in an ESPN article on the subject. I was not sure what to make of this statement. I hoped it was not the stereotypical call that a well bred horse automatically makes a great stud, even when untested. I am hoping that they were referring to horses usually being unable to reach the same level of greatness they had obtained when injured. Sadly we will probably never know.

Following the surgery it was decided that it was better if Old Fashioned was retired. Although he would never have recovered in time for the Derby, it is still unfortunate that he will never be able to race again. The colt was well on his way to being considered the favorite for the first Triple Crown race, but now that honor will be passed on to another horse.

Before his career could really start, it was ended. Now this young boy will never again feel the track under his hooves. He will wait in pasture until he is old enough to breed, forever passing down his untested, yet potentially amazing, abilities.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Run for the Roses

The most exciting two minutes in sports, the biggest race in North America, the most sought after win, that coveted blanket, the first Saturday of May.

Yes, here I go again: the Kentucky Derby.

I have said it time and time again, but this really is a very important race. Three year-olds all across North America are pointed in toward this race, but only twenty of them will even get the chance to stand in the starting gates.

The technical aspects of this race have been covered in a previous blog, but just in case you either did not read that entry or have merely forgotten, here is a reminder. The Kentucky Derby is an annual race run at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky every first weekend in May. Fillies or colts are allowed to run in the race so long as the animal is three years of age. The horses also have to qualify for the race for only twenty horses are allowed spots in the starting gates. To qualify horses generally have to either have earned a certain amount of money or have won so many graded (important) races.

Once a horses makes the line-up for the Derby, they are expected to run over ten furlongs which is the equivalent to a mile and a quarter. This race is run over dirt and takes the field around two corners. The two corners and the distance is usually a new thing for these horses as the prep races for the Derby tend to be short and rarely have two turns. This is one of the many things that can cause a horse to experience running problems.

Because of all the problems that can occur, the truly best horse may not win, but the one that does overcomes many obstacles and deserves the honor that comes with that win. In Jeremy Plonk's article, Derby Worries are Multiple, some of the more common reason are outlined.

The problem he focuses on in this article is that more and more tracks are switching to a synthetic surface which is proving to be easier on the fragile horses' legs. However, this new surface also favors a different running style than dirt or turf tracks. The Kentucky Derby is ran on the dirt, therefore many horses are coming into this race without ever running on real dirt. Plonk combats this problem by going into the plethora of other challenges that go hand in hand with running the Derby.

"Last I checked, it takes a great horse — at the very least a great performance — to win the Kentucky Derby," Plonk says in his article, and he is right. There are so many things to overcome besides the surface that a horse has to be focused and at the top of his or her game to win this prestigious race.

Being the biggest single race in North America, the horses in the race are faced with many new experiences all at once. The sheer size of the crowd is enough to get under any horse's skin. The paddocks are packed with spectators while the horses are being saddled. The horses are met by a band and song filled stands as soon as they set foot on the track. The inside of the tracked is crammed with hundreds of drunken partiers. Lastly, the field itself is huge. Twenty horses is more than most race will ever see. Even the Breeder's Cup races at the end of the year average about ten or twelve horses per race.

With all these factors these flighty horses get nervous, and this tends to crack their focus usually resulting in a poor performance. Should the horse somehow manage to stay calm and focused, they still have to fight the other nineteen horses for the lead. As can be imagined, finding that perfect spot or opening is near impossible with that many horses, which is why, as Jeremy, the best horse does not always win. Luck plays a big factor.

All these challenges makes it hard to pick a winner for the Derby, but history has some helpful tips for those new to the game.

Certain colors are more likely to win the Derby. In the 134 runnings of the race, it was won by forty-seven bays, forty-three chestnuts, the remaining few being black, grey, or roan. Although this seems to a good way to pick a winner, generally speaking most Thoroughbreds are either a bay or chestnut. This means they have more horses which means more chance to win. So if you are hoping for a grey to win you may want to consider a bay back up.

Geldings and fillies also tend to be a bad idea for your winning pick. Although fillies have come close to winning like Eight Belles did with her second place finish last year, only three have won in the history of the race. The first filly to win was Regret in 1915. When she was born, her owners named her Regret because they regretted that she was a filly because her bloodlines suggested greatness, which she obviously lived up to. Geldings win the race a little more frequently, but it is still a great feat. This is why Funny Cide in 2003 became such a fan favorite. Everyone loved rooting for the gelding underdog.
Surprisingly Kentucky Derby winners tend to all be from the same state. Not so surprisingly, Kentucky has spawned a hundred of its races winners. The state with the next highest wins is Florida with only six horses to win.

Away from all the technical stuff, the Kentucky Derby has many fun traditions that are celebrated annually.

The Mint Julep is the cocktail of the Derby. The Night before the race and all day during, these yummy drinks are available for all of age to enjoy. Mint Juleps have been the Derby's official drink since 1938 and an average 120,000 will be enjoyed for years to come.
Another favorite Derby tradition is the fabulous hats. Many women wear very elegant hats for the day while many others simply try to create the most absurd hat they can. Each year there is an award for the most beautiful hat, and the most creative and fun.
The Kentucky Derby just wouldn't be the Kentucky Derby without the playing of My Old Kentucky Home. As mentioned, as the horses make their way to the gates the crowd joins in singing of Kentucky's state song. Each year the University of Kentucky lines up near the winner circle and begins to lead the stands in song. For horses this tends to be an unnerving moment, but for trainers and jockeys alike, the song goes right through them, bringing even the veterans to tears.

There is also a special winner circle at Churchill Downs where only the Derby winner and his or her connections may stand. It is a dream of many to have their own horse in that circle. Here horses receive the coveted blanket of roses. Although many big races place a flower blanket over the winning horse, the roses is exclusive to the Derby and only a handful of horses will ever be allowed such an honor.
Opening the infield to spectators is another special thing about the Derby. Usually the inside of the track is off limits to anyone but track hands, but this one day the infield is opened to the public, and so begins the biggest party since Woodstock. Hundreds of people pack into inside of the track to be loud and get drunk. Those who go to the infield party are rarely there to watch the race, just because it is extremely unlikely to see a horse tail, let alone the winner. So if you are looking for fun, try the infield, otherwise stick to the grandstands.

While researching the Derby for this entry I came across a wonderful site for the 135th Kentucky Derby. The site has all the information you could want about Derby past and future. I have been visiting the site daily since I found it. It gives updates of the horses prepping for the Derby as well as videos and horse profiles. My favorite aspect about the site is the silk strand of the horses already excepted into the race. There are currently thirteen horses set to run, leaving only seven spots remaining for other Derby hopefuls.

If you wish to learn more about the Kentucky Derby and its runners, I highly suggest you check out that site. It will answer more questions than I can.
One of these days I will get tickets for the Kentucky Derby, and that will probably be one of the most fun, emotional, and all around best days of my life.

From the time this is posted...there is only...twenty-three days...and fifty-six minutes until the Kentucky Derby...GET EXCITED!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Special Search

As mentioned in my last blog, I feel I need to get to know the great horses in racing better after letting Alysheba's talent slip under my radar for too long.

With this in mind I went back to Blood Horse's Top Hundred Horses in the 20th Century list and chose a name I didn't recognize and liked.

That is how I found him.

Tom Fool. He was a special horse from his first races as a two year old to his last races as a four year old. As a two year old he won five of his seven starts with the other two races being seconds. This sort of record is immpressive for an advanced horse, but for a young kid it is near amazing. Because of this he became top two year old in 1951.

As a three year old year was a little rough. Although he still won most of his races, the colt was pulled off the track for a two month lay off. This happened because after a second place finish it was found he was running a high fever and was rather ill. He came back strong that year and still had an impressive season.

Tom Fool's four year old season was simply magnificent. He won ten races in a row, which also happened to be the ten races he ran that season. Therefore he left the track undefeated, making him 1953 horse of the year.

Yet another amazing horse to become a Champion.

A Legend Leaves Us

Just this past weekend another notable death hits the racing World. Alysheba, '87 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, and '88 horse of the year, unfortunately was euthanized at the age of twenty-five.

In his stall and honored spot in Kentucky Horse Park's Hall of Champion, the beautiful, old stallion fell, injuring his right hind femur.

"Kathy Hopkins, director of equine operations at the horse park, said Alysheba fell due to a chronic degenerative spinal condition." (

The article goes on to say that because of his age, Alysheba was in a lot of pain, so much that the stallion was unable to stand without support. With his pain and pride in mind, the team decided to allow the Champion proper rest.

Through his racing years Alysheba proved to be amazing. He always fought for what he wanted...and he always wanted to win. Alysheba was in the money (1st, 2nd, 3rd) for 81% of his twenty-six starts, earning $6,679,242. Winning eleven of those starts, Alysheba earned a plethora of awards such as top three year old in '87 and Horse of the Year in '88.

In 1987 Alysheba would make an amazing attempt at the Triple Crown. His Kentucky Derby was one of the most amazing shows of heart I have ever witnessed. When the field turned for the stretch, Alysheba was not really in the mix for the win, but he started to make a strong move toward the lead horse Bet Twice. As he was getting close to overcoming the leader, he took a bad stumble. As can be seen in this video, it can be seen that Alysheba was nearly knocked down as he clipped heals with Bet Twice. Luckily for him and all the other horses in the race, Alysheba remarkably recovered. Not only did he get back up, but he was barely bothered by the fall. He got up, turned his head past bet twice and plowed forward to win.

"Falling didn't even go through my mind," McCarron said. "I kept thinking there's only one horse left in front of us that was going to prevent us from getting the roses. He just did an incredible job of righting himself. I was focused on keeping my balance and trying to stay on his back."
Says Alysheba's jockey Chris McCarron as he remembers his magnificent partner.

Alysheba would then go on to win the Preakness as well. Unfortunately for Alysheba, he would take a loss in the Belmont to his rival Bet Twice. Alysheba and Bet Twice would continue to meet over the next year, and the two traded blows with wins and loses. But with wins in other races against other amazing horses, Alysheba came out on top of the rivalry.

As a four year old Alysheba only improved, although continuing his close race trend. It must have been a love for the horse to keep things close, and although he occasionally lost in his photo finishes, he desire to stick he nose in front usually prevailed. Although he lost the Breeder's Cup Classic in 1987, he would come back to win the Classic in 1988. With this win he earned himself the Best Older Horse award and the coveted Horse of the Year.

After his racing career he did what all Champions did, went to a life in the breeding shed. But that can only last so long. Eventually the old man was retired from that as well and was donated to Kentucky Horse Park to live out his days in the Hall of Champion. That is just what he did. He was happy and well taken care of, and allowed the public to get close to such an amazing creature.

With all his talent he was listed 42nd on Blood Horse's list of hundred top horses in the 2oth century. The boy truly deserved it.

I was truly shocked when I heard the news. Although never actually seeing Alysheba run, I have heard his name dropped countless times as they try to give the public some idea of a horse's talent. I'm glad that I got this opportunity to learn more about this amazing stallion, I just wish I had not waited so long to learn about him.

What really depresses me about Alysheba's death, besides losing a legend, is I was going to travel to Kentucky Horse Park again this summer. I would have been able to see this amazing horse with my own eyes, and hear first hand about his greatness. Unfortunately I will never be able to do that, but I still respect his ability.

Because of Alysheba I feel a more motivated to learn about all the great race horse's out there.

Thank you Alysheba. Your memory will live on.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More Than Just Thoroughbreds

Although this blog is mainly focused on Thoroughbred horse racing, I think it is time that I share with my readers that more than just Thoroughbreds run on the tracks.

My personal favorite breed actually got it's name for its running ability. The Quarter Horse, (usually associated with ranch work, rodeos, and pleasure riding) received its name for being the fastest horse over a quarter mile. Humans run a quarter mile usually between one and two minutes, while Quarter Horses run the same distance typically between sixteen and eighteen seconds.

Quarter Horse racing is one of the more entertaining forms of racing to watch. Despite the fact that it is done so quickly, their speed is what makes it amazing. Unlike Thoroughbred racing, Quarter Horses don't have to worry about how many horse widths they are from the rail (which would make their trip slightly longer), how many turns the race has, and whether or not the horse gets their perfect position. This is mainly because Quarter Horse racing is a full on sprint in a straight line from start to finish. Most horses are within a few lengths from the leader, who usually wins by a neck or half a length. If you are worried about getting around other horses you might as well relax because the race is already over.

Although it is not as regal and prestigious as Thoroughbred racing, Quarter Horse racing is a lot of fun to watch because of the intensity to the finish line and their speed.
Another breed of horse that races is the Standardbred. These horses race in an entirely different manor than their cousins the Quarter Horse or Thoroughbred. They are harness racers and race with sulkies which are light weight racing carts.

There are two forms in which Standardbreds can race: Trotters or Pacers. The difference is in gait (speed and movement) in which the horses race.

Trotters are horses that race in a gait known as a trot. A trot is usually a moderate speed where the horse's legs move on diagonals (front right moves with back left and vice versa) in a two beat fashion, but in the case of Trotters the 'moderate' idea is thrown out the window. Although it is not as fast as a gallop, horses do hit some fairly high speeds.

Pacing is similar to trotting in the fact that it is also a two beat gate that is remarkably fast. However, in a pace the horses legs move together on one side (right front moves with right back). Pacers make up a good portion of harness racing and is generally more popular because of it's unique gait. It is also much faster than trotting, and more speed usually means more excitement.

To help show you what I mean (hopefully) here are some prime examples of harness racing.

The first picture is of a Pacer, while the second is of a Trotter.

The differences are subtle, but they greatly effect how the race is run in terms of speed.
My favorite part about harness racing has to be the start of the race.

Unlike Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses, Standardbreds do not use a traditional starting gate. This is mainly because it would be near impossible to get the speed you want without breaking the proper gate. To solve this problem, a Standardbred starting gate moves with the horses. It is mounted onto the back of a truck, and as the truck is in motion, the horses get to their proper position and speed. The truck eventually gains more speed than the horses and the long gates fold around the truck giving the horses room to move.

Sadly, I have only seen Thoroughbred racing live. Although it is amazing and probably my favorite form of racing, I am really hoping to see the other three types.
The sheer speed and intensity of Quarter Horse racing would make for a fun and adrenaline filled day at the track, while the beauty and precision of Pacers and Trotters would simply introduce me into a world I do not know a lot about.

I encourage everyone to watch different forms of racing and find which one they find the most interesting, Whether it be the classic a regal world of Thoroughbreds, the high speed battles of Quarter Horse racing, or the complex sport of Harness racing. No matter which branch or breed of horse racing you choose, you are almost always guaranteed great competition, amazing speed, a grand amount of excitement, and the ability to watch a magnificent animal doing what it

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I Have Found My Derby Pick

As mentioned countless times, the Kentucky Derby is one of the most watched races in North America, and I am one of the millions that tune in for the race.

Each year I usually spend the months before Derby day to comb over stats of all the three year olds on the Derby trails, so come that first Saturday in May I am well prepared with three or so horses to choose from to win.

This year has been no different. For the most part I have been focusing on upcoming filly Stardom Bound and the Louisiana Derby winner, Friesan Fire as my main Derby hopefuls. However, this all changed on a visit to I made not twenty minutes ago.

The new horse on my list is relatively untested in racing, having only run in four races. The only reason he was mentioned on ESPN's webpage was because he had a decent work out on a very muddy track. So what draws me to this horse if he isn't impressive? His name: Theregoesjojo.

Although this may seem insignificant to nearly everyone reading this, the name has some connections to me personally. First off, it isn't unlikely for people in my family to call me Jo, or even Jojo. A primary factor to this was my love of PowerPuff Girls arch nemesis Mojo Jojo.

So what about the first part of the name? Well, I ran track during my secondary schools years, and as good parents will, mine were always cheering from the sidelines. GO JO! And go I did.

So even though Theregoesjojo really has no amazing qualities to speak of, I feel I must root for him come the Kentucky Derby.

I've mentioned before that I often pick horses by whether or not their names sound like they should be called first, so here's hoping that on May 2nd the announcer will yell: AND THEREGOESJOJO! Winning the 135th Kentucky Derby!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Crown of the Kings

When it comes to North American horse racing there is one goal nearly all owners, trainers, and jockeys share: to win the Triple Crown.

Most people only manage to get their hands on one of these races during their entire career. The very talented will gain a few more wins in the Triple Crown series, some winning all three races at separate time, but only eleven teams have had the horse to win all three at once.

The Triple Crown consists of three races, The Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes, for horses of either gender, so long as they are only three years old. Alone, these races are like any other, but combined they present a challenge for even the best of horses.

The races cover three different distances over three different tracks. By today's standards the Triple Crown races are also much closer together than most modern race horses can handle.

The Kentucky Derby is the first and probably most famous of the Triple Crown races. It is held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on the first Saturday of May. No matter the horses in the race, the Derby always pulls in the biggest crowd and the biggest field of horses. On the way to the gates, the crowd sings 'My Old Kentucky Home' to welcome to three year-olds to the track. This race is run on the dirt over one and a quarter miles or ten furlongs. At the end of the race the winner gets to stand in the special Derby winner circle and receive the coveted blanket of roses.

The Preakness Stakes is next on the card, being run at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. With the singing of 'Maryland My Maryland' the horses are guided to the gates for the second leg of the Triple Crown. As the gates open, they take a trip around a dirt track for one and three sixteenths miles or nine furlongs making it the shortest of the three races. With a win here the horse is draped with the next set of flowers, black-eyed Susans.

The third and final leg of the Triple Crown is Belmont Stakes, at Belmont Park Elmont, New York. Depending on the outcome of the first two races the second Saturday in June could be the most exciting race. If a horse has one both the Derby and the Preakness, all that is needed is a win in the Belmont for a new Triple Crown winner. With this hope 'Sidewalks of New York' (the theme from New York New York) rings through the stands while the horses prepare to run for the win. The race will take the horses a mile and half or twelve furlongs on dirt. No matter if it is an upset or a historical event, the winning horse is adorned with the last blanket of Belmont flowers: white carnations.

Plenty of horses have run these prestigious races, but only eleven have ever won the Triple Crown. For this reason, these horses will always be legends. Although all these winners are amazing athletes, two horses in particular stand out in my mind for impressive wins.

The horse that had the most magnificent Triple Crown run was Secretariat. He was a super horse. He won the Derby while setting a record that still stands and has only been challenged once, in the Preakness he won effortlessly, and his win in the Belmont was the most amazing feat that track has ever seen. Secretariat won by thirty-one horse lengths. He was so far ahead his jockey actually turned to look over his shoulder to see just how far back the competition was.

On the complete opposite side of the spectrum was the Triple Crown's best rivalry: Alydar vs. Affirmed. Every time these two horses met it ended in an intense stretch battle, and the Triple Crown was no exception. The two ran their hardest for each race, and each time Affirmed came out the winner. Due to their bitter rivalry Alydar also had a Triple Crown first. He was the first and only horse to be second in all three races. Although this is not quite as impressive as being first, it still shows how amazing he and Affirmed were.

Although these were some fantastic wins, most horses aren't lucky enough to win all three.

To the public, the most disappointing loss is when a horse wins the Derby and the Preakness but falls short in the Belmont. Since the year 2000 four horses (War Emblem '02, Funny Cide '03, Smart Jones '04, and Big Brown '08) have done just that. They get America excited for a potential Triple Crown, only to crash the bandwagon. There are many reasons for losing the Belmont after winning the first two legs.

The most popular reason to blame the loss on is the fact that modern race horses simply don't run as often as the Triple Crown schedule demands. Other reasons for losing this big race is that it is the longest, new and rested challengers, as well as uncontrollable things such as track condition (muddy from rain), or even the horses mood. Big Brown for example, won the first two races easily but failed miserably in the Belmont. There was a lot of fuss about a loose shoe, but I think his head just wasn't in it. He wasn't bucking in his stall that morning like normal and he just looked unfocused on the track. But no matter the reason, horses tend to lose the Belmont.

Although it is very disappointing when a Triple Crown contender loses at the last moment, I am more agitated when the horse loses the Kentucky Derby, but goes on to win Preakness and the Belmont. Luckily for me, this has only happened twice since 2000 with Point Given '01 and Afleet Alex '05. The reason I find this so irritating is simply because when the run in all three races but win the last two that means they have stamina to run and to win the Triple Crown.

There are just as many reasons to fail at the Derby as it there is for the Belmont. For some horses this is the first time they have gone around two turns, others are afraid of the crowds. Not only are the stands stuffed, but the inside of the track is packed as well. Some horses can handle this, but others can't and get nervous. If this wasn't enough to deal with all the people, dealing with all the horses can unnerve even the most seasoned horse.

The Derby is open for the twenty top three year-olds in the nation, and all those slots are filled come race day. On the average, there are usually eight horses in American races, so twelve more horses is beyond frightening for these youngsters. Even if the horse doesn't fear the big crowd, that many horses makes it hard to have a good trip. There is more bumping with this many horses which can destroy focus or even injure a horse. Despite that, sometimes the opening the horse needs just never appears making it almost impossible to get past the field.

With all these factors the Triple Crown truly is the most exciting event in horse racing. If you can only watch three races a year, make them the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. Even if you don't see a Triple Crown sweep, you will surely see some amazing races and some amazing three year-olds.

It has been thirty years since America's last Triple Crown win; will this be the year to break that streak?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Just Wanted to Share

Through the years I have seen some pretty amazing things as far as horses go, and I just wanted to share some of these amazing things with my readers.

Spending hours going through horse racing galleries pays off every once in awhile. Sure, no matter the picture the horses are going to be gorgeous and usually captured in a magnificent action shot or a regal pose, but I have stumbled upon some more unusual pictures that show of the true power of these great animals.

The first picture I have for you is of the late Barbaro just as he is coming out of the gate. He is wide eyed and ready to run as the gates snap open before him.

Here's another picture of the power these animals possess as they literally spring forth from the gate.

This next picture is both amazing and kind of funny. The horse is caught mid jump, giving the allusion of flying. The horse was jumping shadows on the track surface.

The next two pictures show why horses need to be kept calm.

It's likely this horse just got nervous or overexcited while being saddled. Acting up in the paddock is a common thing in the racing world, but never have I seen a horse get this much air.

No one is really positive what was going on in this horse's mind, but he clearly didn't like something that was happening. (And I thought the other horse was in the air!)