Monday, June 4, 2012

"Another" Chance

Just One More for I'll Have Another

            It has taken some time, but after watching the Preakness, I feel like it is time to do what everyone else is doing about now, jump on O’Neill’s band wagon and root for I’ll Have Another in the Belmont stakes. The beautiful chestnut colt has shown that he is versatile, running down his main rival, Bodemeister, in both the Derby and Preakness. I’ll Have Another is more capable than Big Brown, the last horse who was up for a triple crown, for several reasons. First of all, Another defeated the best three year old crop we have seen in awhile. He won easily in both races, and he has been sound throughout his career. The rivalry between Bodemeister and I’ll Have Another reminded me, and several others, of Affirmed and Alydar. Unfortunately, that rivalry is now over as Bodemeister will not run in the Belmont. I have a few things to say about Bodemeister. He is a brilliant horse. A horse who would have been up for the Triple Crown if I’ll Have Another had not raced in the Derby. However, if it had been Bodemeister at the wire in the first two jewels of the Crown, we would have another year without a Triple Crown champion. Bodemeister is a quick horse with good stamina, but the Belmont is the test of champions. With the fractions set in the Derby and the fact that well rested horses will be running, Bodemeister would not have enough in him to be victorious. I’ll Have Another will have the same challenge. Dullahan was a fast closing third in the Derby, and has been resting since that exciting race. Union Rags will also enter the Belmont well rested and ready to deny Another the Triple Crown. Yet, as I said earlier, I’ll Have Another is a versatile runner. He hung back in the Derby, stalking the blistering pace before making his move. In the Preakness, he chased Bodemeister and ran past him to the wire. If I’ll Have Another breaks well, he could indeed bring rain to the drought that is the Triple Crown.Other than tiredness, well rested horses, and the mile and a half that face I’ll Have Another,a few more things stand in his way. Thoroughbreds these days are not conditioned to race three times in five weeks. They do not have the stamina or recovery required to run grueling races so close together. I’ll Have Another is definitely an amazing horse and he faces a daunting task, but I’ll root for him because I want him to win. A Triple Crown winner will revitalize horse racing in the public eye, which is a good thing. It won’t fix the problems that horse racing has or faces, but it will bring hope to a sport that desperately needs it, a hope that is lives in a horse named I’ll Have Another, and hopefully he will. Even if he falls short, he will still be remembered because he gave us another chance.

As always check out ESPN or Blood Horse for more information.
Also, you may want to watch  this year's Derby and Preakness again before the Belmont:
Kentucky Derby

Photo: Rick Samuels

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Kentucky Derby (A Week Later)

They call it the greatest two minutes in sports, and this year’s Kentucky Derby almost didn’t live up to it, not because the race wasn’t brilliant, but because the running time was 2:01.
Bodemeister is undoubtedly one of the greatest horses I have seen run. Now, I admit that I haven’t been around the racing world for long; it has only been eleven years since I fell in love with the sport, but I know brilliance when I see it. Not only did Bodemeister set a blistering pace, but he held it from gate to finish. Even in defeat, he proved that we will see some great things from him in the future. I have no doubt that since he came out of the Derby well, then it is Bodemeister we will see at the wire in the Preakness.
Bodemeister Blasts Off in Arkansas Derby
Photo: Coady Photography/Oaklawn Park
Bodemeister Arkansas Derby
            Now, I should take nothing away from the winner. He ran a clean race, broke well, settled nicely, and then powered past the exhausted Bodemeister to win the Race for the Roses.  I’ll Have Another showed his grit and deserves his victory, but the three year olds this year are just too good for us to get a Triple Crown winner. Interestingly enough, despite the fact that it was I’ll Have Another at the wire, Bodemeister has received more focus. Probably because the fractions he set were some of the fastest in Derby history. Spurred on by Trinniberg, Bodemeister ran brilliantly. He is amazing and even in defeat, he is a champion. I am sure that we will see more from him in the future.
Now for some other ponies:
Dullahan’s show was another impressive run, in fact, if the race had been longer, he might have been second instead of Bodemeister, but Dullahan will be skipping the Preakness to run in the Belmont.
Hansen’s run was honestly disappointing. He was within striking distance, but didn’t have enough in him to take the lead and faded. Hansen will be skipping the Preakness and will also not run in the Belmont, opting instead for a shorter race, which is probably better for him.
Bumped at the start and squeezed back, Union Rags had a troubled run, but rallied to place ahead of Hanson. One of the favorites in the Derby, Union Rags is a good horse, but I didn’t think he could win the Derby, but it was a wide open field, too many good horses. Union Rags will also be skipping the Preakness.
In other news:
Take Charge Indy was injured in the Kentucky Derby and will be having surgery to remove a bone chip in his right front ankle.

More Reading:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Two Weeks to Post

          Until last Saturday’s Arkansas Derby when Bodemeister wired the field to win by 9 ½ lengths, Hansen, and Union Rags were the two front runners for Kentucky Derby Favorite, and when Dullahan scored in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, he made himself a contender as well. This year’s Kentucky Derby field is no doubt one of the strongest we have seen in a while, so picking a winner becomes difficult. For the longest time, Hansen was my favorite, but Dullahan passed him easily in the Blue Grass, showing that Hansen might not go the distance. Bodemeister dominated the field in the Arkansas Derby, even defeating Secret Circle, who was a contender for the Kentucky Derby and has since been withdrawn due to injury. In the Kentucky Derby, Bodemeister’s inexperience might work against him. He has raced only four times, winning only twice. The twenty horse field in the Kentucky Derby could be overwhelming for such a horse, no matter how talented, but if he gets a good post, he may surprise us. Union Rags has a lot of fans, he isn't my favorite and probably still won’t be on the morning of the Derby. I think there has been a lot of talk about this horse, but he hasn't impressed me yet, who knows, maybe he will take my breath away and run a great race.
            But there are other horses in the race who may surprise us, every single one has proven himself to be capable on the track. The undefeated Gemologist is being sent out by Todd Pletcher and then there’s I’ll Have Another, Creative Cause, Alpha and several other talented horses will be breaking from the gate in the Kentucky Derby two weeks from now. It will be a jumble of horses, all trying to make the lead and take it to the wire. Fans will be cheering their favorites on as Jockeys maneuver their mounts to victory or to defeat and in the end only one will cross the wire and be written down as a Kentucky Derby winner. But the question remains, which horse will it be?

For more see:
Rewriting History: Bodemeister

 And of Course, you can always visit these sites for more information:
Blood Horse
Thoroughbred Times

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Gold Fated

The Dubai Gold Cup, a two mile race recently added to the Dubai World Cup card, was stained by tragedy, marring the otherwise marvelous day of racing. The first time the horses broke from the gate, not a single one crossed the finish line. Fox Hunt, a Godolphin horse, broke down soon after the race started, tossing his rider, Silvestre De Sousa, who was later said to have been uninjured. Fox Hunt attempted to get up after falling but was unable. He was euthanized on the track. Meanwhile, race stewards called off the race because Fox Hunt was in the way and couldn’t be moved in time. The other horses were pulled up and the race was rescheduled for after the Dubai World Cup’s $10 million main event. Personally, I have a problem with this decision. It seems as though the race was called off late in the stretch, meaning that the horses running were already tired when they were pulled up. Racing is exhausting for the horses; they just aren’t built to run more than once every few weeks anymore, much less twice in one day.
            The second time the horses broke from the gate, their exhaustion was evident. Two horses were eased and US bred Bronze Cannon and Grand Vent never even finished the race. Bronze Cannon, like Fox Hunt, broke down and was euthanized, Grand Vent was sent to a nearby equine hospital. This raises the question of why they even decided to rerun the race. In my opinion the race should have been scratched from the card and the entry fees and bets returned. Yes, that would have been a difficult feat to accomplish, but their decision put the horses in danger, as evidenced by the death of Bronze Cannon and the injury to Grand Vent. Accidents in racing do happen, Fox Hunt was such an accident and thus somewhat forgivable, but I feel that Bronze Cannon’s death really could have been avoided. This is one of those instances that gives racing a bad name, deciding to run already tired horses lead to one fatal and one potentially fatal conclusion. It was a bad call.

For further reading:
Ill fated Gold Cup from Blood Horse

Update: According to an article from the Thoroughbred Times, Grand Vent has been euthanized. That brings the death count in this race to three, I find this unacceptable. The deaths of Grand Vent and Bronze Cannon could have been prevented, it was irresponsible to rerun this race.
The article is here

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Opinion: Girl Power

Leon: Royal Delta Has 'Real Shot' to Win Cup
 After Rags to Riches’ victory over Curlin in the 2007 Belmont Stakes, a wise man, who had met the great Ruffian, told me that I needed to watch the mares because “In the next couple years you are going to see something that horseracing hasn’t seen before.” He was right. The following year I watched Zenyatta win the Breeder’s Cup Ladies Classic and never looked back. The last three Horses of the Year have been mares, something that racing has never seen before. Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra, and Havre de Grace have taken the last several years by storm, dominating their divisions and winning against males. I am a believer in girl power and the fact that the mares have been making more of an impression than the males says something. Now, that doesn’t mean that the males are weak, the up and coming derby contenders just haven’t had a chance to prove themselves quite yet. Yes, Hanson, Union Rags, Alpha and several others look promising, but the last couple years, the derby favorites just haven’t been able to hit the mark. The females of racing have outshone the males because the boys have been inconsistent in their victories.
It doesn’t help that some of the males in the spotlight have been plagued by injuries, such as Algorithms, now off the derby trail due to a fractured splint bone, and Animal Kingdom, no longer headed to Dubai because of a stress fracture, his second career altering injury. Fed Biz, a Baffert hopeful, is also off the derby trail due to an unknown ailment in his hind end. Last year it was Uncle Mo and Tapizar, years prior also show many hopefuls that never make it to the Derby because of soundness issues.
The tendency of the younger males to be unsound really makes it difficult for horse fans to rely on such an inconsistent bunch. But the mares in the spotlight have shown themselves to be sound and more consistent than their mare counterparts. Is is genetics? Maybe. Even if Animal Kingdom returns to racing, eventually he will be retired to stud. He has had two soundness issue, namely stress fractures, that have taken him out of racing for an extended amount of time. There is no doubt that he is a good horse, but as a stud he may or may not produce sound offspring. Although that seems to be a common problem these days.
As for me, I will continue to watch all both the males and females with great interest, but if it ever come down to male versus female, the female always has my support. Royal Delta, another filly, is headed to Dubai to take on the males in an attempt to become the first female racehorse to win the $10 million Dubai World Cup. Such a victory could bring us another female Horse of the Year. Of course, there are several good males in the Dubai field, and several good horses back here in the USA, but unless the three year olds can bring it, or Game on Dude wins the Dubai World Cup over Royal Delta, it is possible that the mares will once again dominate this racing season. 
For more information check out these article from Blood Horse:

Photo by Malthea Kelley from Blood Horse

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Amazing Grace

Reigning Horse of the Year, Havre de Grace was victorious in her first start of the year, the $150,000 New Orleans Ladies Stakes.  She broke smoothly from post position 2 and quickly settled into 3rd, behind Sterling Madame and Juanita. Havre de Grace made her move with three furlongs to the wire, coming up next to Juanita and Sterling Madame. Havre de Grace swung wide around the turn and Juanita came up to challenge her, but the outmatched Juanita soon dropped behind as Havre de Grace charged the wire. Her amazing 2011 season, highlighted by a victory over males in the Woodward Stakes, ended with the title of Horse of the Year and hopefully, her effortless 4 ½ length victory over four rivals is just a glimpse of what we will see from this fantastic mare in the months to come.

For more information check out the Bloodhorse article here.
Photo: Hodges Photography/Lynn Roberts 

Friday, March 9, 2012

It's a Prince

 Around 10 pm ET on March 8, Zenyatta gave birth to a beautiful, healthy, dark bay colt with a white star. The foal, by Bernardini, winner of the 2006 Preakness Stakes, has been eagerly awaited by hundreds of fans who no doubt had been checking in as often as they could for updates.  He weighs 130 pounds and both Zenyatta and her foal are doing fine. According to the March 9th diary post from, the foaling went smoothly and Zenyatta and her foal are bonding well. For those of you who don’t avidly follow horseracing, Zenyatta, known as the Queen of Racing, is the winner of 19 races out of 20 starts. Her most memorable victory was the 2009 Breeder’s Cup Classic, when she became the first female to ever win the prestigious race. She was the 2010 Horse of the Year, won numerous awards and inspired hundreds of people. Zenyatta’s owners, Ann and Jerry Moss, trainer, John Shirreffs, and Jockey, Mike Smith, count the mare as one of the best they have ever been associated with.
            The birth of a colt opens up so many possibilities. In three years we may see this beautiful boy break from the gate in the Kentucky Derby. His career will be eagerly followed, just like his mother’s. The as of now unnamed colt carries a heavy burden, he will have to outrace the shadows of Zenyatta and Bernardini to make his own name as one of the “greats” of racing. I eagerly await the day when he will first step onto the track, but for now I will watch his growth with joy at the continuation of Zenyatta’s legacy. Who knows, perhaps one day I will eagerly follow one of his sons or daughters as they race, writing stories of their feats on the track. 

Photo by Ann Moss from
Read the Diary Post for more information.