Sunday, September 29, 2013

Weekend Recap: Super (Surprise) Saturday

Yesterday, Super Saturday  was something of a coast-to-coast Super “Surprise” Saturday as current favorites fell and old ones fought their way out of long losing streaks. Click the links for videos.

Royal Delta after the 2013 Fleur de Lis (Gr. II)

Belmont Park, Beldame Invitational Stakes (Gr. I): Dubbed the “Royal Rumble” or “Royal Showdown”, the Beldame was the hottest race of the day. Already well on her way to champion 3-year-old filly honors, Princess of Sylmar attempted to cinch the championship by skipping the richer Cotillion Stakes (Gr. I) at Parx in favor of taking on older mares for the first time, including reigning queen Royal Delta. Last out, the Princess had captured the Alabama Stakes (Gr. I) on August 17 while Royal Delta delivered goosebumps with her runaway win in the Personal Ensign Handicap (Gr. I) on August 25

Most, including myself, believed Royal Delta to be the superior horse, if only by a couple lengths. But with a deep pool of talent to draw upon, Princess of Sylmar was not to be underestimated.

Royal Delta bobbled out the gate and initially swapped turns at the lead with Roman Invader while Princess of Sylmar settled into a stalking position. On the sweeping Belmont Park turn, Royal Delta’s ears were up but it was too early to tell whether she could hold off Princess of Sylmar, who was beginning her move on the outside. Royal Delta pulled away from the field by several lengths but the Princess was right with her. It was shaping up to be the race everyone had hoped for!

Princess of Sylmar then powered past Royal Delta with relative ease, winning the Beldame by two lengths, with Royal Delta second, 6-3/4 lengths ahead of third-place Centring. Both Royal Delta and Princess of Sylmar returned to applause from the appreciative crowd. 

Belmont Park, Kelso Handicap (Gr. II): Graydar remained unbeaten for 2013 after capturing the Kelso. A winner of 4 of 5 starts, the last in the New Orleans Handicap (Gr. II) in March, the son of Unbridled's Song was returning from a long layup.

Belmont Park, Vosburgh Invitational Stakes (Gr. I): In May 2009, my husband and I were at Arlington Park for a beautiful day of stakes races. In race 9, the Matron, we watched in horror as the A.P. Indy filly Born to Be and jockey Rene Douglas went down after clipping heels with Sky Mom. Neither horse nor rider got up again. The accident ranks as the worst my husband and I have seen in person, and since then I've quietly cheered for Rene Douglas as he endured rehabilitation then re-entered the racing industry as an owner.

One horse Douglas owns in partnership is Private Zone. Once deemed crazy, patience and time have molded the colt into a stakes winner. Earlier this month, Claire Novak wrote a great article on the relationship between Private Zone and Rene Douglas; you can read it here.

In the 6 furlong Vosburgh, Private Zone faced the good sprinter Justin Phillip and The Lumber Guy, winner of the 2012 Vosburgh. Leading from the gate, Private Zone set quick fractions of :22.62, :44.86, and :56.26. Mid-stretch, he was headed by Justin Phillip but the horse's heart wasn't finished and he fought to regain the lead. He succeeded and won by a head in the near stakes-record time of 1:08.02. An inquiry went up but the order of finish was unchanged. One thing is for sure: Private Zone is a courageous horse with a courageous owner.

Belmont Park, Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes (Gr. I): Laughing (IRE) and Tannery (IRE), entered as a coupled entry, finished 1-2 in the Flower Bowl. Laughing, who also won the Diana Stakes (Gr. I) is now 4 for 4 in 2013.

Belmont Park, Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes (Gr. I): Winner of the 2012 Breeder's Cup Turf (Gr. I) and 2012 Arlington Million Stakes (Gr. I), Little Mike had been unplaced in 4 starts for 2013 prior to the Joe Hirsch. In a surprise win, he took the Joe Hirsch by a nose over Big Blue Kitten and Real Solution, winner of the this year's Arlington Million.

Belmont Park, Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational Stakes (Gr. I): Winless this year since the Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes in January, Ron the Greek took a cue from Little Mike and shrugged off both his losing slump  and the excellent field of horses behind him. If you've read my previous weekend recaps, you'll know that I'm a big fan of this horse, and was thus thrilled by his victory.

Santa Anita, Rodeo Drive Stakes (Gr. I): Familiar foes Marketing Mix and Tiz Flirtatious dueled again in the Rodeo Drive. Last time they faced one another in the Gamely Stakes (Gr. I), Marketing Mix came out on top. This time the spotlight was on Tiz Flirtatious, who won by a head over a determined Marketing Mix.

Santa Anita, Zenyatta Stakes (Gr. I): The champion 2-year-old filly of 2012, Beholder, proved she still holds her good form by winning gate-to-wire in the Zenyatta, defeating Grade I winners Authenticity, Joyful Victory, and Include Me Out. There were a few cries demanding that Princess of Sylmar face Beholder, but some seem to have forgotten that she already did just that in the Kentucky Oaks (Gr. I), which the Princess won handily.

Santa Anita, Awesome Again Stakes (Gr. I): The final surprise of the day was delivered by Mucho Macho Man in the Awesome Again. A non-winner since the July 2012 Suburban Handicap (Gr. II), Mucho Macho Man dug himself out of a long losing streak just like his slump-cousins on the east coast, Ron the Greek and Little Mike, and handily won the Awesome Again by daylight. Paynter finished second, and with that order of finish the race was a tip of the hat to the blue hen mare Primal Force. It was upon Primal Force's shoulders that Adena Springs was built, as two of her sons--Awesome Again (by Deputy Minister) and Macho Uno (by Holy Bull)--are top stallions at Adena. As Mucho Macho Man is a son of Macho Uno and Paynter is a son of Awesome Again, it was a fitting finish to a fitting race.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sports Illustrated & Secretariat in 1973

I'll admit to not knowing very much about football, baseball, basketball and other sports, but I am willing to wager that little else can inspire a sportswriter like the turf.  And where would horse racing be without the flocks of writers, photographers and artists to sing of the conquests and rivalries on the track? In the older days of the premier sports magazine of the country, Sports Illustrated, one can find many results of this happy union of writer and turf. 

40 years ago, a host of masterful writers chronicled the Secretariat saga of 1973 for Sports Illustrated. Here, I have compiled an orderly list of the articles from this publication on Big Red circa 1973 (minor news blurbs were skipped).

March 26, 1973: Oh Lord, He's Perfect (Pat Putnam)

If God were to make the ultimate racehorse, It would be Secretariat, or so they say at the track. He is the world's most expensive animal, one with ideal form and Derby prospects

For Secretariat, the Bay Shore Stakes was to be a nice little romp across seven furlongs of slop and then back to the barn for a meal and a massage. From somewhere they found five colts willing to run for second money, and they laid 126 pounds on the giant coppery dude to keep it decent, but as John Campo, the trainer of one starter in the race, said, "The only chance we got is if he falls down." Still Secretariat could race five Sherman tanks and he would make it exciting. He is a majestic brute with great rippling muscles and a showman's flair for romping from far back to win.

Continue reading "Oh Lord, He's Perfect" at Sports Illustrated...

April 30, 1973: Putting A New Light On The Derby (Whitney Tower)

It was not just that Angle Light won the last major prep for the classic at Churchill Downs, but the fact that he upset the wondrous chestnut, Secretariat, who had been heralded as another Man o'War

Before the Wood Memorial the 1973 Run for the Roses was being conceded to Secretariat despite the fact that until last week he had never tried running beyond a mile and a sixteenth. He was the big, glamorous chestnut who could do it all on any kind of track. He could run on the pace or come from behind. He could circle his fields or bull his way through them. They gave him names like Sexy or Big Red II, for here was the second coming of Man o'War, another horse of the people like Native Dancer, Kelso and Carry Back. They considered him a shoo-in to become the first colt since Citation in 1948 to capture the Triple Crown.

Continue reading "Putting A New Light On The Derby" at Sports Illustrated...

May 14, 1973: It Was Murder (Whitney Tower)

After an inexplicable defeat, character assassins took pot shots at Secretariat, but the favorite had his revenge in the Derby

No colt in history ever picked a better time or place to line up his opponents and mow them down, one by one, with brutal effectiveness. Before the largest crowd to see a horse race in this country (a squirming, screaming and sweating 134, 476), Secretariat threw a 23-second final quarter at his "grudge" rival Sham and won the 99th Kentucky Derby in the track-record time of 1:59[2/5]. Crossing the finish line, the magnificent chestnut drew a roar of approval. The 3-to-2 favorite on a perfect May day had helped stimulate nearly $8 million into the mutuel windows (including $3,284,962 on the Derby alone). As Turcotte rode back to the winner's circle, doffing his blue cap, the prerace doubters muttered, "Wood Memorial? Throw that race out. We've seen greatness today." 

Continue reading "It Was Murder" at Sports Illustrated...

May 28, 1973: Flying High And Heading For Fame (Whitney Tower)

In a mood to rout any opposition, Secretariat rolled around the field to win a memorable Preakness. At his next stop, a crown awaits

Secretariat's Derby act seemed nearly impossible to follow, but his Preakness was no letdown. True, he broke no track record as he had at Churchill Downs, but he was sensational enough. His Preakness was the third fastest ever, and it demonstrated the tremendous versatility of the colt. In the Derby, Secretariat came from last place to nail Sham in the stretch. This time, just like his daddy Bold Ruler 16 years earlier, Secretariat was allowed to run on his own and he played catch-me-if-you-can masterfully.

Continue reading "Flying High And Heading For Fame" at Sports Illustrated...

June 11, 1973: Boss Tweedy: Lady With A Lot Of Horse (Martha Duffy)

Meadow Stable's director has had a crash education in racing. Secretariat could now confer on her the ultimate degree

Mrs. Tweedy is the most visible owner in racing in a long time, and the closest thing to a new face that settled Establishment has. In manner and life-style she is considerably removed from more flamboyant racing ladies, such as Elizabeth Arden. Penny Tweedy is practical and energetic, as careful with time as with The Meadow budget. When giving an interview she may be sewing on buttons. On Long Island her only help is a part-time secretary and a cleaning woman.
Continue reading "Boss Tweedy: Lady With A Lot Of Horse" at Sports Illustrated...
(Note: as of July 7, 2014, this article has been removed from the online SI vault)

June 11, 1973: Triple Crown Criteria: Secretariat Has The Goods (Whitney Tower)

In this week's 105th Belmont, Secretariat has the best chance at a Triple since Tim Tarn. If he wins he will be called another super horse. If he loses, as he did with such inexplicable and casual indifference in the Wood Memorial in April, this will hardly be written off as "just another race," but it will again emphasize how difficult the Triple Crown is to acquire.  

Continue reading "Triple Crown Criteria: Secretariat Has The Goods" at Sports Illustrated...

June 18, 1973: History In The Making (Whitney Tower) 

Secretariat is 50 feet from the finish line and the race is won—but Jockey Ron Turcotte steals a look at the infield teletimer on his way to a pulverizing Belmont victory and the Triple Crown

The 105th Belmont Stakes will rank among sport's most spectacular performances, right up there with Joe Louis' one-round knockout of Max Schmeling and the Olympic feats of Jessie Owens, Jean-Claude Killy and Mark Spitz. Even in horse racing, where track records are a fairly common occurrence, an animal just does not go around beating an established mark by nearly three seconds. It would be as if Joe Namath threw 10 touchdown passes in a game or Jack Nicklaus shot a 55 in the Open.

Continue reading "History In The Making" at Sports Illustrated...

June 18, 1973: Out Of The Woods And Into The Limelight (Ernest Havemann)

To Ronald Turcotte, first jockey to win the Triple Crown since Eddie Arcaro did it in 1948, the Belmont was a nice little ride in an easy chair. Turcotte loves to get aboard stakes horses. "Ninety percent of them are easier to ride than the cheaper horses," he says. "They're as determined to win as you are." He loves to ride Secretariat. ("That horse is all business.") And he especially loves to ride a horse like Secretariat in a weight-for-age stake like the Belmont, where all the horses carry 126 pounds.

Continue reading "Out Of The Woods And Into The Limelight" at Sports Illustrated...
(Note: as of July 7, 2014, this article has been removed from the online SI vault)

July 9, 1973: Crunch Went The Big Red Apple (George Plimpton)

Just for laughs—and $75,000—Secretariat ate up another field, this time before an adoring audience in the Midwest

Once again, racing has a people's horse. Man o' War was the first of these. As one of the obituaries said of him when he died 25 years ago: "He touched the imagination of men, and they saw different things in him. But one thing they will all remember, that he brought an exaltation into their hearts."

Continue reading "Crunch Went The Big Red Apple" at Sports Illustrated...

July 30, 1973: $16 Million On The Hoof (Ernest Havemann) 

Three of the most expensive horses ever—$6 million Secretariat (left) and the $5 million handicappers Riva Ridge (right) and Key to the Mint—are set to sizzle

This is the year of the Meadow Stud, which owns Riva Ridge (two record performances) and Secretariat (three of them, and a sweep of the Triple Crown). Secretariat has been syndicated for $6 million and last week plans were being completed to syndicate Riva Ridge for more than $5 million. So, side by side in Trainer Lucien Laurin's stable at Belmont Park was over $11 million in horseflesh, the two costliest thoroughbreds in training anywhere and perhaps the two best. But there they stayed last Saturday afternoon, though the $100,000 Suburban, the most prestigious handicap race in the nation, was being run only a few miles away at Aqueduct.

Continue reading "$16 Million On The Hoof" at Sports Illustrated...
(Note: as of July 7, 2014, this article has been removed from the online SI vault)

August 13, 1973: Marlboro Country Is A Vale Of Tears (Whitney Tower) 

Onion left 'em crying by upsetting Secretariat in the Whitney. For Penny Tweedy and some other very interested parties who had banked on the favorite's success, it turned out to be close, but no cigarette

Man o' War lost the only race of his career in the Sanford Stakes at Saratoga in 1919. Eleven years later, Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox came a cropper to long shot Jim Dandy in the Travels. That sort of thing could not happen again, said the 30,119 hero-worshipers who congregated to see Secretariat in last week's running of the Whitney Stakes. But it did. Going off at 1-to-10 odds before the largest crowd ever to watch racing at New York's upstate spa, Secretariat labored along the inside of a fast but dull strip and finished the mile and an eighth a length behind a fine horse named Onion, who belongs to stockbroker Jack Dreyfus (absent for the occasion). A 5-to-1 second choice, Onion led every step of the way.

Continue reading "Marlboro Country Is A Vale Of Tears"at Sports Illustrated...

August 20, 1973: Scorecard – Sick Secretariat (Robert W. Creamer, editor)

When Secretariat was beaten by Onion in the Whitney Stakes at Saratoga, most horsemen and bettors chalked off the stunning upset as just one of those things that happen now and then in racing. After all, Man o' War and Citation lost, too. Then it was announced last weekend that the superhorse would not run in the Travers this coming Saturday because of coughing, and people began to wonder. Finally, it came out that before the Whitney, Secretariat had been under the weather for nearly a week, running a slight temperature off and on.

Continue reading "Scorecard – Sick Secretariat" at Sports Illustrated...

September 24, 1973: They Made Pigeons Of The Field (Whitney Tower) 

Secretariat was the matchless winner and Riva Ridge an imposing second in a smoking-fast Marlboro Cup

Riva took over from Onion, but here came Secretariat. Taking no chances of being caught along the rail by tiring horses, Turcotte ran well outside his rivals. He started a long, gradual move that took him to a head-and-head confrontation with Riva Ridge at the top of the stretch and put him into a clear lead just after the pair had passed the three-sixteenth pole. From there on it was all gravy. Riva Ridge, who had run well himself on a track he did not fancy, was still two lengths ahead of the fast-closing Californian, Cougar, who had nearly seven lengths on fourth-place Onion. Behind the latter came Annihilate 'Em, Kennedy Road and Key to the Mint. The time, nearly a second faster than Desert Vixen's record in the previous race, had been equaled only by Tentam on the turf at Saratoga and never anywhere before on a dirt track.

Continue reading "They Made Pigeons Of The Field" at Sports Illustrated...

October 08, 1973: This Man Is Dangerous! (Whitney Tower) 

As Secretariat's fans well know, Trainer Allen Jerkens, first with Onion, now with Prove Out, is making a career of wrecking the choochoo train

The dangerous man was Allen Jerkens, trainer for Jack Dreyfus. Only a week before the transaction for Prove Out, Jerkens had sent out the lightly regarded Onion to register that stunning setback to Secretariat in the Whitney Stakes. Last week at Belmont Park, Jerkens did it again and in the process convinced innumerable people that if he does not deserve to be called the best horse trainer in the United States, he at least has two-third rights to Secretariat's trainer, Lucien Laurin. A few more victories like Prove Out's over Secretariat in the mile-and-a-half Woodward and Jerkens will own Laurin outright—plus his farm in South Carolina and his house in Key Largo.

Continue reading "This Man Is Dangerous!" at Sports Illustrated...

November 05, 1973: Adieu, Adieu, Kind Friends... (Frank Deford) 

In the gloom and mist at Toronto, in the crisp sunlight of Aqueduct, Meadow Stable's two big horses bid farewell to racing. Only Secretariat won, but a multitude of fans will remember both with fondness

Hard by the hedge, snorting steam in the raw twilight like some mythical beast running across a faded storybook, he drove alone through the mist and almost, it seemed, out of the low lake clouds, and won at his leisure, from here to there. "Thank you," said the jockey. "Hello, you beautiful thing," said the owner. And now goodby, Secretariat.

Continue reading "Adieu, Adieu, Kind Friends..." at Sports Illustrated...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Pucker Up Stakes at Arlington Park, in photos

Pucker Up Stakes (Gr. III) day at Arlington Park lacks the hustle and bustle of Million Day, but as someone that is interested in following turf fillies and mares, the Pucker Up offered a preview of promising candidates in this class.

There was also another preview race of sorts, a maiden special weight for 2-year-olds. It's enjoyable to watch these races in the late summer and fall, and one always hopes to see the beginning of the next good horse.

The first race I was interested in photographing was race 6, an allowance optional claimer.

Rivershire, by Chicago Six

Devil and a Half, by Storm and a Half

Bluedacious, by Bluegrass Cat

Sancerre, Eduardo Perez up, swept wide around the turn...

...and overtook the front-running Bluedacious to win.

Sancerre, Perez up

Race 8 was a maiden special weight for two-year-old colts and geldings.

Son of Dixie, by Dixie Union. He would finish third.

As a fan of Holy Bull and Indian Charlie, I liked Blue Bull, who was by Holy Bull and out of an Indian Charlie mare.

Unfortunately he didn't do as well, finishing next to last!

Cool Cowboy, a son of young sire Kodiak Kowboy, Eduardo Perez up.

Cool Cowboy won drawing away and in near-track record time.

He galloped out well, too. He's one to watch!

Perez shaking the hands of Cool Cowboy's connections.

Two races after Cool Cowboy's runaway victory, it was time for the Pucker Up Stakes. Due to an abundance of entries, the Hatoof had been run in two divisions on Million Day. The winners of each division had entered the Pucker Up, including I'm Already Sexy, a daughter of Ready's Image. 

I'm Already Sexy enters the paddock.

I'm Already Sexy

Although she hadn't raced in either division of the Hatoof, Remember Then (by Pulpit) was one to watch as she was entering the Pucker Up undefeated in three starts.

Phonybooksnrecords, by Tapit, was an eye-catching bay with a large blaze.

I O Ireland was the winner of the second division of the Hatoof. By Giant's Causeway, she is a half-sister to Arlington Park regular Ioya Bigtime.

I O Ireland

Every Way, by City Zip

I'm Already Sexy

Frivolous, by Empire Maker

Miss Scout, by Pleasant Tap

I'm Already Sexy, Florent Geroux up

My Option (by Belong to Me), Eduardo Perez up

Frivolous, Francisco Torres up

Every Way, Emmanuel Esquivel up

I O Ireland, Seth Martinez up

Phonybooksnrecords, Rosemary Homeister up

I'm Already Sexy led wire-to-wire and won easily.

Geroux was all smiles!

The final race of the day was a maiden for Illinois-breds.

Last Nouncer, by Denouncer

J C Fifty, by Dehere

Toews, by Smoke Glacken

Secret Jinn, by Najran

Secret Jinn was a handful for his groom!

Valiant City (by City Zip), Chris Emigh up, wins.

Valiant City and a smiling Emigh in the late afternoon sun.

A railbird at Arlington Park

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Photos from Del Mar, part two

The photos from part one focus on Game On Dude, and you can see them here.

These photos are a mixed bag of morning works, my visit to the backside, and Pacific Classic Day. Enjoy!








So Brilliant

Executivepriviledge, rendered in black and white

Pat O' Brien Stakes (Gr. II) - Goldencents

Pat O' Brien Stakes (Gr. II) - Great Hot (BRZ)

Pat O' Brien Stakes (Gr. II) - Handsome Mike

Pat O' Brien Stakes (Gr. II) - Handsome Mike

Pat O' Brien Stakes (Gr. II) - Goldencents, Patrick Valenzuela up

Pat O' Brien Stakes (Gr. II) -Great Hot (BRZ), Chantal Sutherland up

Pat O' Brien Stakes (Gr. II) -Fed Biz, Martin Garcia up

Pat O' Brien Stakes (Gr. II) -Handsome Mike, Mario Gutierrez up

Pacific Classic (Gr. I) - Richard's Kid

Pacific Classic (Gr. I) -Byrama (GB)

Pacific Classic (Gr. I) -Dullahan

The final race of the day.