The Brock Talk

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Charitable Man (in the pink silks) wins the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park in preperation for the Belmont Stakes.
Many owners and trainers try to win the Belmont Stakes with invaders. That is they try to bring a horse into the Belmont from outside the grueling Triple Crown to defeat the likes of a Mine That Bird who will be making his third start in just five weeks.

Perhaps the most dangerous of those horses is Charitable Man, shown above winning the $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park on May 9. The Peter Pan is the local prep race for the Belmont and has produced Belmont winners such as A.P. Indy in 1992 and Danzig Connection in 1983.

He was a promising 2-year-old last year winning the Futurity at Belmont Park, but an injury kept him from racing until April when he finished a dissapointing seventh in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. Trainer Kirian McLaughlin then pointed Charitable Man toward the Belmont using the Peter Pan as a perfect springboard into a showdown with the Derby-winning Mine That Bird. The fact that Charitable Man is by 1999 Belmont winner Lemon Drop Kid may have also been a factor is McLaughlin's decision.

Charitable Man appears to have enough tactical speed to be close to leaders in case of a slow leasurly pace and notice how he appears to get stronger through the stretch and even accelerates away from runner-up Imperial Cloud. That's a good sign of fitness in a horse at the end of a 1-1/8 mile race and stamina is of course paramount in the 1-1/2-mile Belmont Stakes.

Charitable Man may need every bit of that energy to hold off a late charging Mine That Bird and perhaps the onslaught of Dunkirk and others as well.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

McCoy's New York Cheesecake For Your Belmont Watching Pleasure

What better way to celebrate one of New York's greatest sporting events than with New York Cheesecake. Our chef Michael McCoy gives you his twist on a classicly good dessert - his White Chocolate New York Cheesecake.

Crust - Simple:
2 Cups of Graham Crackers ground up in food processor until
fairly fine. Melt 1/4 pound of butter and mix. Press into a 10 inch
springform pan. Bake JUST the crust at 350 for 10 minutes. Pull out and

Cheesecake ingredients-
3 pounds cream cheese softened
2 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup flour
Pinch of salt
1 Tbl Vanilla extract (get the good stuff)
12 ounces of Ghirardelli White Chocolate (look people, if we are going deep
please use the good stuff here and don't skimp)

Blend cream cheese in mixer until smooth. Add sugar. Add egggggggs one at a
time while mixing. Add heavy cream. Add flour. Add salt. Add vanilla. At
this point drink some wine so you don't pass out from excitement. Relax and
continue. While the mixer is a go'in, add melted chocolate. Pour into crust.
Bake an hour or a little more (when center sets). Remove from oven, and
loosen edges with a knife. Cool completely.

Rachel Alexandra Decision Will Be Boost To Game

The decision not to run Rachel Alexandra is a dissapointment. It appears obvious though, it is the best decision for the filly in both the long and short run. Based on her work Monday at Churchill Downs and reports from the barn area, she looks as regal as ever in the morning - on the track and to and from her barn.

What most racing fans may not realize, however, is that this should also be the best decision for us as racing fans as well. Sure it would have been thrilling to have a replay of the Preakness with Rachel running on the lead down the stretch in apparent control with Mine That Bird rallying from "no-way" land to "can he catch her?" ville.

One of the effects of owner Jess Jackson' decision not to run Rachel is that he has now placed more national attention on more races. Instead of experiencing any kind of post-Belmont syndrome, we can now all look forward to June 27. That day two major filly and mare races will be run on each end of the coast and where the Rachel Alexandra v. Zenyatta debate will be stoked to the enjoyment of us all.

At Belmont Park, some of the best 3-year-old fillies will convene in the $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes (gr.I) and it may mark the return of Rachel Alexendra to racing and her return to the filly ranks. If she wins that race, then it will only add to the anticipation of possibly watching Zenyatta later that afternoon in the $300,000 Vanity Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr.1) at Hollywood Park. Both races are at 1-1/8 miles on the main track and both races are against the best in each of their respective divisions.

Then there is the $700,000 Hollywood Gold Cup at Hollywood Park on July 11 for older horses (the big boys) at the classic 1-1/4 distance. Not likely either of the female superstars will be in that race, but the winner is sure to face the question of whether he can beat Zenyatta or not. The same questions will likely apply to the winner of the Pacific Classic at Del Mar in August. Great victory in a grade 1 race. But....

After the Belmont, the best of the 3-year-old colts will be heading to the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Aug 2. Without Rachel Alexandra, all we may have is a race with Mine That Bird, Dunkirk, Quality Road, Pioneerof the Nile, Muskat Man and the likes. The Jim Dandy at Saratoga on the same day will attract some from this group, but it's still going to be fun. I love Rachel Alexandra as much as anybody other than possibly Calvin Borel, but the law of diminishing return applies when evaluating her addition to that quality of race.

I just got my chrystal ball back from Emmitt at the Mayberry Alarm and Lock Company and just plugged it in before I wrote this. But if it's working, can you imagine races like the Travers... not to mention the Breeders' Cup.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Rachel Removed From Belmont Picture

Statement by Jess Jackson on behalf of Stonestreet Stables and Harold McCormick
“Rachel Alexandra is an incredible thoroughbred who has proven to be the best three year old in racing today. We are elated by all the attention her wins in the Oaks and Preakness has garnered the sport. The many letters and emails we have received from young girls and racing enthusiasts lets us know that many fans are proud of Rachel. When we purchased Rachel, our goal was to restore the sport’s vitality and grow its fan base by extending the racing careers of its stars.

After careful consideration, we have decided not to run Rachel Alexandra in the Belmont Stakes next weekend. We have advised Calvin Borel, Chip Woolley and Belmont of our decision. We thank them, the media and the fans for their many courtesies and patience while we pondered.

We know the media and many fans would have liked to see her run in the Belmont Stakes — we feel the same. But all of us sincerely interested in the horse must agree that we only want to see her run when it is best for her. While she is in great shape, having strong works, and recovering well from her amazing performances, we feel Rachel deserves a well-earned vacation. Since March 14, Rachel has won four graded races with just two weeks rest between her last two victories. We will always put her long-term well being first. And, of course, we want to run her when she is fresh.

Rachel, her owners, her trainers and her fans can continue to anticipate an exciting campaign. All major races will be considered as we look to the rest of Rachel’s racing career.”

Belmont Stakes Fun Facts.

Besides being the longest of the Triple Crown races at 1-1/2 miles, the Belmont Stakes has a long and illustrious history and is the oldest of the three races. First run in 1867, the Belmont Stakes is the fourth oldest stakes race in North America, but because it was not run in 1911-'12, the Kentucky Derby is the oldest continuously run sporting event in North America having been run every year since 1875.

There are two significant Belmont records that fit the "it'll never be done again" bill. Trainer Woody Stephens won five consecutive Belmonts Stakes from 1982 through 1986 with Conquistador Cielo, Caveat, Swale, Creme Fraiche and Danzig Connection. The seemingly unbeatable standard is Secretariat's world record performance in 1973 when he finished the race in 2:24, a full two seconds faster than Easy Goer in 1989 and A.P. Indy in 1992 who both stopped the clock in 2:26.

Two jockeys have won six Belmont Stakes. Eddie Arcaro accomplished the feat from 1941-'55 and James McLaughlin won six Belmonts between 1882-'88. Julie Krone won the Belmont Stakes on Colonial Affair in 1993 to become the only female jockey to ever take a Triple Crown race.

The Belmont Stakes is perhaps one of the most formful stakes in North America as 60 of the previous 140 winners were favorites. Twelve of those favorites have been odds-odd (less than even odds), with the last two odds-on winners being Affirmed in 1978 at 3-5 and Secretariat who went off at 1-9.

So you're one of those people who like to bet on the grey horse. Good luck in the Belmont. Only two grey horses and one roan have taken the Belmont compared to 53 bay winners and 51 chestnuts.

Alphabetical fans will be interested to know that 20 winner's names began with the letter C. Seventeen horses whose name started with an S have won the Belmont followed by P with 11.

If the long Belmont Stakes exemplifies any quality among it's winners it's stamina. And stamina is one of those mysterious traits that is widely believed to be passed down from generation to generation. So it is worth noting that 15 Belmont winners have been sired by Belmont winners. The great Man o' War leads the list among sires as three of his sons have won the Belmont including 1937 Triple Crown winner War Admiral. A year later War Admirabl became infamous when he was defeated by Seabiscuit in the match race made famous on the big screen.

Cammando, the 1901 winner, sired Belmont champions Peter Pan (1907) and Colin (1909), two great Belmont winners who now have significant stakes named for them with the Peter Pan being the local prep.

If Rachel Alexandra had run in the Belmont, she would have tried to become only the fourth filly to win the race. Ruthless took the first running in 1867, Tanya won in 1905 and Rags To Riches won a stirring stretch running battle with eventual Horse of the Year Curlin in 2007. Only 22 fillies have tried the Belmont, with Rags to Riches the first since Silverbulletday finished seventh in 1999. The Belmont is a race that Kentucky Derby winning fillies Winning Colors and Genuine Risk could not win.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mine That Bird Jockey Can Take Page Out Of Rene Douglas Belmont

We are now just nine days away from the Belmont Stakes and we don't yet know if the Preakness winning filly Rachel Alexandra is going to run. After a nice work over a sloppy track on Monday at Churchill Downs, owner Jess Jackson said he will wait until later this week before making a decision.

If you think you're anxious for a decision, just think what jockey Calvin Borel and his agent Jerry Hissam have been going through this week. If Rachel goes in the Belmont, they'll be aboard. If not, they will likely return to the Mine That Bird Camp. That is if Bird's trainer Chip Woolley doesn't decide on a jockey for the Belmont before Jackson decides on what to do with Rachel Alexandra.

Once all these decisions are made, we racing fans can all relax and begin to enjoy the days leading up to the third leg of the Triple Crown.

But the anxiety will only begin for whomever the jockey will be for the late running Mine That Bird. Despite what most might think, the long 1-1/2 mile distance of the Belmont Stakes can be a henderance and not a help for a stretch-runner like Mine That Bird. True, a little extra distance in the 1-3/16 mile Preakness and Mine That Bird may - I repeat may - have caught and passed Rachel Alexandra. The Belmont gives Bird that extra distance. But it rarely provides the most important ingredient for the success of any closer in any race. Pace. And pace makes the race.

Jockeys will ride entire careers and may not ride races further than 1-1/16 miles. If so, it happens only a few times-a-year at best. About 99.99% of all thoroughbreds will never approach a race at that distance in their racing life. Americans like speed and speed doesn't usually fly for a mile and-a-half. Not unless the frontrunner gets an easy, early and unchallenged lead.

This is where the Belmont gets tricky for a jockey though. Many times in the Belmont, regardless of company, the jockeys on the early leaders will keep the pace at a pedestrian level - knowing full well they have a long road to travel before crossing the wire. They want to keep as much gas in the tank for when they hit the top of the stretch and the late runners come calling.

To illustrate this point, I thought what better race to feature than the 1996 Belmont Stakes won by the late running Editor's Note. Notice the fast early pace. They run the first quarter of a mile in 23+ seconds and the first six furlongs (3/4 of a mile) in 1:12 and change. Both rapid fractions for the Belmont. Also notice how far back Editor's Note is in the early stages. He doesn't really appear in the picture until the race is about a third of the way complete. This is a very similar running style to Mine That Bird.

Jockey Rene Douglas eases Editor's Note into contention approaching the far turn then begins to circle the field and put's his horse in a position to win at the top of the stretch. Notice that Skip Away appears to be the winner heading for home, but that's when Douglas flips the switch to the auxillary gas tank on Editor's Note.

Mine That Bird's kick is a little more patient, but dramatic and sudden when he fires. But whomever rides him in the Belmont would do well to study this Douglas masterpiece.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Permanently Disabled Jockeys' Fund

For those who may have friends who would like to mail contributions or learn more about how to help Rene Douglas and many of the other disabled jockeys, I have posted this from the PDJF Website. You can click directly on their link on this page as well:

The NTRA Charities - Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, a special division of the NTRA's nonprofit 501 (c) (3) subsidiary NTRA Charities, has been established to receive contributions to aid the nation's 60 permanently disabled jockeys with their health care and daily living expenses.

Contributions can be made immediately via mail to:
NTRA Charities -- Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund
c/o NTRA
2525 Harrodsburg Road, Suite 400
Lexington, KY 40504

All contributions are tax deductible. Questions regarding the fund can be directed to the NTRA's Lexington office, (800) 792-NTRA (6872).

A Message from the Theriot Family

Author's Note: This message was sent to the Rene Douglas Get Well Card by Dawn Theriot, the wife of jockey Jamie Theriot. Jamie Theriot has been suspended for 30 days for his role in the accident.
Dear Rene and Family

Jamie and I are deeply sorry for what happened Saturday...Our hearts go out to you and your wife Naty. I spoke with her on Saturday after this happened and she was very distraught and all I could do is cry for her because being a jocks wife I feel her pain.

On Jamie's behalf this was never done intentionally like everyone is saying. I tried to reassure your wife that but that was the last thing she wanted to hear and I completely understand where she was coming from. I know you and Jamie had your differences but Jamie always thought of you as a great guy and awesome rider.

Please keep your chin up Rene and I pray for you everyday and every minute that goes by...You are a very strong guy and you will come out of this. I have faith in you and you have a strong back up YOUR WIFE!!!!
Once agian we are so sorry

Dawn Theriot

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rene Douglas Update

In response to the many members of the Rene Douglas Get Well Card group on Facebook, my e-mail and on this blog, we have spoken with many people and groups to determine where best to offer support for jockey Rene Douglas, who suffered neck and back injuries Saturday at Arlington Park.

Today we have either spoken to or corresponded with Anthony Granitz, the President of the Illinois division of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America, and sources with the Jockeys' Guild and the Permanently Disabled Jockeys' Fund. All have ask that you direct you support to the Permanently Disable Jockeys' Fund of which we have posted a link to their web-site on the upper right hand section of this blog

At this time the jockey colony and other officials at Arlington Park are coordinating efforts to organize a fund raising event specifically for Rene Douglas and his family. However, those details have yet to be formulated. We will keep you appraised of any such event or fund raiser here at The Brock Talk.

At the time of this posting we have had more than 1,700 members join the Rene Douglas Get Well Card group on Facebook. There you will find a discussion group and an opportunity to leave your comments and good wishes for the family.

We are in the process of determining the best and most appropriate way to make sure the family knows of everyone's support, intentions and prayers. You may leave additional comments here on The Brock Talk in the comments section below, and we will see that they are seen by the family and Rene.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Rene Douglas Update

Author's Note: From the Chicago Sun-Times, May 26, 2009

Sources reported that jockey Rene Douglas has remained paralyzed from the waist down in the intensive-care unit at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The champion reinsman was hurt when his Born to Be clipped heels late in the Arlington Matron on Saturday.

He underwent seven hours of surgery to repair injuries to his back and neck. Hope remains that he may regain the use of his legs.

Arlington stewards announced that Kentucky-based Jamie Theriot -- the jockey who allegedly prompted Douglas' fall -- will be suspended 30 days. An appeal remains possible.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Jockey Rene Douglas Facing Possible Paralysis

Author's Note: The following was taken directly from the Sunday edition of Daily Racing Form and was written by Marcus Hersh. To read the complete article, click on the Daily Racing Form link under "Other Horse Racing Sites" on The Brock Talk.

I have also created a Get Well Card for Rene Douglas and the family on Facebook. In the first 30 hours, we have had support from more than 1,000 fans and the group continues to grow. You may become a member by searching for the "Rene Douglas Get Well Card" group on Facebook @ If you do not have a Facebook account, you will never have a better reason to sign up.
CHICAGO - Jockey Rene Douglas, injured badly in a spill Saturday at Arlington Park, underwent what was termed successful surgery to repair back and neck injuries early Sunday morning at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. But Douglas remained paralyzed in the lower part of his legs, the long-term repercussions of his injuries may not be known for two weeks, and Douglas's prognosis is day-to-day, according to Doreen Razo.

Razo, the wife of jockey Eddie Razo, and a good friend of Douglas's wife, Natalie, was at both Northwest Hospital in Arlington Heights, to which Douglas was taken after going down in the Arlington Matron, and with him at Northwestern, where the surgery was performed between 2:30 and 9:30 a.m. Sunday.

Douglas responded well after coming out of sedation following his surgery Sunday afternoon, said Razo, and squeezed hands with others in his intensive-care-unit room when prompted to do so. Douglas is fitted with a breathing tube because of several broken ribs, and so cannot speak. But Razo said Douglas was "as responsive as they wanted him to be" when assessed by medical personnel after his surgery before being sedated again Sunday night.

The surgery, which required an incision from neck to buttocks, took seven hours, but had been expected to last as much as 2 1/2 hours longer. Screws were inserted to stabilize two fractures in vertebrae at Douglas's neck; that injury is serious, but it was Douglas's other spinal injury, to the thoracic discs lower on his spine, that is the more consequential. Razo said that Douglas had compressed the T-5 and T-6 vertebrae in his back.

"The T-5 got jammed into the T-6, and that put pressure on the spinal cord," Razo said.

With three doctors present during the surgery, the vertebrae were decompressed and then fused. This procedure was deemed successful, but until inflammation and trauma to the area subside, long-term assessment remains difficult. Douglas will spend two weeks in the ICU before being transferred to a Northwestern rehabilitation clinic.

Affirmed vs. Alydar in the Belmont Stakes

Authors Note: The 1978 Belmont Stakes is another installment in our series of great Belmonts in History.

One of the greatest rivalries in Thoroughbred racing began on June 15, 1977 when a 2-year Affirmed made his second start in the Youthful Stakes at Belmont Park. He was fit and sharp coming off a four-length victory in his first start over maidens. He would win the Youthful by a neck over Wood Native. A green and immature Alydar was making his first start and finished five lengths back in fifth.

The two met again just three weeks later at Belmont again in the Great American Stakes. The lean and fit Affirmed had trained up to the Great American, but trainer John Veitch sent Alydar back into the maiden ranks to instill confidence. Alydar came out of that six-length win with a victory and a whole different attitude. He came out of the Great American the same way, defeating Affirmed by three and a half lengths.

Affirmed would win the Hopeful and Belmont Futurity over Alydar who came back to win the Champagne. At the end of their 2-year-old year, the score was Affirmed 3, Alydar 2.

Fast forward to the first Saturday of May, 1978 and Affirmed again won over Alydar in second in the Kentucky Derby and then again in the Preakness. When the Belmont came three weeks later, nobody was ready for what they were about to see.

What Secretariat's Belmont was in defining dominence the 1978 Belmont defines determination. By the time the Belmont came, Affirmed looked tired and less charasmatic in the morning. While Alydar seemed to be improving.

After just a half-mile, just one-third the distance of the Belmont, Affirmed and 18-year-old sensation Steve Cauthen found themselves in an apparent suicidal speed dual with Alydar in one of the fastest half-miles in the race's storied history. As they turned for home, Affirmed appeared to find another bit of energy and began to pull away from Alydar and jockey Angel Cordero Jr. But the long campaign seemed to be eroding away at Affirmed on the inside as Alydar quickly ranged up along side as they approach the top of the stretch. What remains has been called one of the greatest stretch runs in the history of the Triple Crown.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Let The Debate Begin: Zenyatta vs. Rachel Alexandra

I have some bad news for Rachel Alexandra fans. The Preakness winning filly may not be the fastest Thoroughbred in the land. I have some more bad news. She may not even be the fastest female Thoroughbred.

Saturday Zenyatta and jockey Mike Smith walked from behind the Triple Crown curtain onto the Hollywood Park stage and gave us a Milady Stakes performance that is already getting rave reviews. It was the tenth career victory for the undefeated mare that was making her first start since winning the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic at Santa Anita last fall. She gave Horse of the Year Curlin a run for his money for that honor and is now stepping into the relm as one of the greatest racing Thoroughbred racing mares of all time.

And now I would like to introduce our newest member to the racing world's most glamorous society. Madaam Regret, Madaam Ruffian, Ms. Paseana, Ms. Lady's Secret, please welcome Zenyatta. Rachel Alexandra has her application in the mail - signed and endorsed by Mine That Bird, Pioneerofthe Nile, Muskat Man and Friesan Fire.

What makes this rivalry even more intriguing are the similarities and differences between Zenyatta and Rachel.

Both are big, royal looking dark bay mares. (Technically Rachel Alexandra is a filly until she turns four). Both appear to toy with their rivals and gallop to the wire with ears pricked up as if posing for their subjects. And both of their jockeys' politely stepped off Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird to remain loyal to their ladies. Calvin Borel chose Rachel Alexandra over the Bird in the Preakness. Mike Smith is so loyal to Zenyatta that he chose to ride her stablemates, Madeo, at Hollywood Park on the day of the Belmont instead of Mine That Bird.

In disclosure, Smith said it was his loyalty to Zenyatta's owners Jerry and Jan Moss and trainer John Sheriffs that made him unwantingly leave Mine That Bird. That is a very powerful group with a long history of success including winning the Kentucky Derby with Smith and Giacomo in 2006. But if the Moss/Sheriffs barn was filled with cats and rats and eliphants plus Zenyatta, he probably would have made the same decision.

The contrasting running styles are reminiscent of the great Chris Evert, Martina Navralitova tennis rivalry that pitted poise against power. Rachel Alexandra with her natural front-running speed and Zenyatta with her relaxing come from behind and late swooping move similar to Mine That Bird.

Because Rachel Alexandra is a filly and Zenyatta is a mare, the two will likely remain in their respective age divisions until at least the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic at Santa Anita in early November. Unless of course, the connections of Rachel Alexandra decide to take the unlikely course of shipping her to California to race against older mares on an artificial surface.

Or a match race...

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Greatest Belmont Stakes

Ask just about anybody: What was the greatest race of all time? You will get people that will say the 1938 match race at Pimlico between Seabiscuit and War Admiral. Others may respond Dr. Fager's 1968 Washington Park Handicap, citing his ten length victory and a world record mile in 1:32.1. A record that stood some four decades. You might hear Man o' War and his 1920 Belmont Stakes which he won by 20 lengths. The list and arguement is endless.

But my favorite is Secretariat's 1973 Belmont Stakes. He was trying to become the first Triple Crown winner since Citation 25 years earlier and did so with a historical performance. I will just tell you, everytime I hear track announcer Chick Anderson say that Secretariat is "running like a tremendous machine" I get choked up. Tears and all. The heck with it! I said it.

But my favorite part of this race is at the wire, when jockey Ron Turcotte looks back over his left shoulder, apparently in an effort to see how far behind the other horses were. But for years, I had thought he may be looking at something else. I thought I would never know until I met Ron Turcotte at Lone Star Park in 1998 and asked him where he was looking. Turcotte vindicated my theory by saying that he was looking at the infield toteboard and waiting for the official time of the race to flash on the teletimer. "I just wanted to see how fast he was actually running," Turcotte told me. He said he just couldn't believe a horse could run that fast.

Sham, who finished second in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness to Secretariat by just over 5 combined lengths, faded to last after trying to keep pace with Secratariat early in this Belmont. He never raced again.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Belmont Stakes Notes

Travel accomodations for Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird have been upgraded from coach - or horse trailer as it were - to first class. Trainer Chip Woolley said that he will be making arrangements to fly Mine That Bird to New York from his temporary base at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

Previously Woolley had transported Mine That Bird by pulling him in a horse trailer behind his pick-up truck. Woolley was behind the wheel when taking Mine That Bird from Sunland Park near El Paso, Texas, more than 1,600 miles to Churchill Downs for the Derby. The little brown colt with the striking late run, also traveled with Woolley to Pimlico Race Course near Baltimore for the Preakness, then made the 10-hour drive back to Churchill Downs.

Woolley said that he has been advised by other trainers not to drive Mine That Bird through New York City because of traffic concerns.

There is one airline, Tex Sutton Forwarding Company, with one 727 cargo jet that carries a great many of the race and show horses throughout North America. They are the only North American based airliner exclussively for horses although can be shipped via Federal Express or another major cargo carrier.

Woolley also said that he will be making a decision regardng Mine That Bird's jockey no later than Monday. Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra has not been committed to the Belmont and a decision is not expected until after the filly works on the track Monday. That leaves jockey Calvin Borel and his agent up in the air a bit. Should Rachel Alexandra run in the Belmont Borel has said he will prefer to ride her. However, if she does not run, it is expected that Borel will get the return mount on Mine That Bird.

Peter Pan Stakes winner Charitable Man has been committed to run in the Belmont Stakes according to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "We have a lot of respect for [Rachel Alexandra], and Mine That Bird, but we think we want the mile and a half, we're here, we're doing great, we don't have to travel, and we're 2 for 2 over the track," McLaughlin said.

Seven Peter Pan winners have come back to take the Belmont, the most recent being A.P. Indy in 1992. Colonial Affair (1993) and Lemon Drop Kid (1999) both won the Belmont after running second and third, respectively, in the Peter Pan.

Alan Garcia, who rode Da' Tara to victory in last year's Belmont at 36-1, will ride Charitable Man.

Expected to return to the Triple Crown trail after missing the Preakness are Kentucky Derby sixth-place finisher Summer Bird and Mr. Hot Stuff, who was 15th in the Run For The Roses.

The Official Drink Of The Belmont Stakes

Not to be outdone by the Mint Julep of the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness official drink, the Black-Eyed Susan, Belmont Park created the Belmont Breeze, the official drink of the Belmont Stakes. Actually, this drink was developed by noted New Yorker Dale DeGroff in 1998. It is believed that prior to that the official drink for the Belmont Stakes was the White Carnation, named for the flowers that make up to the blanket presented in the winner's circle and draped over the victory for the famous "winner's photo."

Often referred to as the “King of Cocktails”, Dale DeGroff developed his extraordinary techniques and talent tending bar at great establishments most notably at the famous Rainbow Room where he was one of the first to pioneer a gourmet approach to recreating great classic cocktails, inventing hundreds of his own using fresh squeezed juices and exotic ingredients.

Drink Fun Fact: The profile of the Belmont Breeze comes from the colonial recipe: one of sour, two of sweet, three of strong and four of weak.

The ingredients are:

1 1/2 ounces of a good American blended whiskey
3/4 ounces Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry
1/2 ounce of fresh lemon juice
1 ounce of simple syrup
(1 ounce of sweet and sour mix may be substituted for the lemon juice and simple syrup)
1 1/2 ounces fresh orange juice
1 1/2 ounces cranberry juice
1 ounce 7-Up
1 ounce Club Soda

Shake first six ingredients with ice, then top with 7-Up and club soda. Garnish with mint sprig and lemon wedge.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


So Pimlico management has announced that despite organized Preakness boycotts at college campuses throughout Maryland, Virginia and Delaware; and countless scathing editorials and columns they are going to keep their infield policy of not allowing fans to bring in beer and charge them $60 admission at the Preakness next year.

Churchill Downs seems to have few problems with their infield crowd, but I guess partiers in Maryland are more wild, drunken and violent.

Nearly every week of the year, NASCAR tracks across america hold similar accomodations but with much larger crowds, much more beer and for days at a time before their races. But Pimlico can't do it for the Preakness.

Pimlico is talking about the positive feedback from the decision.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Who Should Be The Jockey For Mine That Bird In The Belmont

Now that Mine That Bird has lost another jockey, please give us your thoughts and ideas about who should get the mount to ride the Kentucky Derby winner in the Belmont Stakes.

Mike Smith Defects Mine That Bird Camp

Now we don't know again.

In my previous post below on The Brock Talk, I suggested we were getting to know Mine That Bird and his team. Well, I wasn't exactly right. Last night many industry publications including Daily Racing Form (, and reported that Mike Smith has decided not to ride the Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness runner-up in the Belmont Stakes.

Instead, Smith will ride Madeo in the Charlie Whittingham Stakes at Hollywood Park on June 6, the same day as the Belmont Stakes. Riding the probable favorite in the grade 1, $1,000,000 Belmont Stakes as opposed to riding in a grade 1, $300,000 Whittingham seems an obvious choice for Smith. But apparently loyalty and character - and perhaps good business - have trumped prestige and money for Smith who has a long relationship with Jerry and Jan Moss, the owners of Madeo. Racing fans may remember that Smith won the 2005 Kentucky Derby with Giacomo at 50-1 for the Moss team that also includes Madeo's trainer John Sheriffs. Jerry and Jan Moss' teal and pink silks have for decades been among the most successul on the southern California racing circuit of Santa Anita, Hollywood Park and Del Mar.

According to Steve Haskin on, Smith explained on “At the Races with Steve Byk,” “(Jerry and Jan Moss and trainer Sheriffs) are my first call people, and they have done so much for my career. This is an important race (grade I) for Madeo, and I need to be there. I would never ask them to get out of my commitment.”

The factors Smith and his agent Brad Pegram used to make their decision are even more convoluted than simple loyalty and illustrate well the often complicated decisions jockeys and agents make every morning at racetracks across the globe. This decsions just happens to be in racing world's spotlight. And a spotlight turned on high beam after jockey Calvin Borel ditched Mine That Bird for Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness.

There may be no hard feelings between Borel and the Bird camp however, as Rachel Alexandra's owner Jess Jackson has not committed to the Belmont yet. Should they decide not to run her in the third leg of the Triple Crown, Borel would become available to again ride Mine That Bird.

If he and agent Jerry Hissam pull this one off, I say we start a campaign for Arizona State to give them both honorary degrees.

Mine That Bird trainer Chip Woolley Jr. however, has said that the search for a new rider has begun and that he will not wait to see whether Rachel Alexandra runs in the Belmont.

"It's kind of funny," Woolley said Monday. "You'd think if you get a horse this good, you'd keep (a jockey), but apparently not."

Monday, May 18, 2009

We Now Know Mine That Bird And The Boys.

Two weeks ago I, like many of us, was sitting at my computer googling, Facebooking, Tweeting and e-mailing in an effort to learn more about the folks that brought Mine That Bird from Sunland Park near El Paso, Texas to Churchill Downs to win the Kentucky Derby. I was also trying to figure out who Mine That Bird was quite frankly.

I knew a little about co-owner Dr. Leonard Blach because of the long and storied history of his Buena Suerte Farm near Roswell, New Mexico. But I had never heard of Blach's partner Mark Allen nor trainer Chip Woolley, Jr.

In the two weeks since, Allen has pretty much revealed who he is when he tried to develope a way to exclude Rachel Alexandra from Preakness. Add that to his connections to oil and political corruption in Alaska, his stories about bar fights and we pretty much know Mr. Allen now.

Woolley, despite the new found spotlight and glamour of being a Kentucky Derby winning trainer, continued to quietly train Mine That Bird in preperation for the Preakness. The more we became familiar with Woolley, the more he looked the part of an old throwback cowboy horsemen who reminded us of more of the quiet and unorthosox Tom Smith who trained Seabiscuit. But we really didn't know if he could train horses like Smith. We were still thinking Mine That Bird was more probably a one-hit wonder than a Triple Crown winner.

That is until jockey Mike Smith pushed the "go" button on Mine That Bird about a half-mile from the finish line in the Preakness and the little, homely brown gelding started passing horses so quickly that if you looked away momentarily, you lost him because he was moving so fast through the field. He then got stopped by traffic, started his run again, stopped again and swung out wide as they turned for home. He then turned on the afterburners for the third time in less than 25 seconds. F-16 fighter jets can't do that.

And while Rachel Alexandra appeared to be the winner in gallop, here came Mine That Bird and Mike Smith in a furious and determined pursuit. The two were foiled by simply running out of ground before Rachel Alexandra reached the finish line ahead of him.

So now we know Mine That Bird. He's no one-hit wonder. And if Rachel Alexandra goes to the Belmont, she better be at the top of her game if she is to hold him off in the 1-1/2 mile marathon. Judging by the way he strutted onto the Pimlico turf course to be saddled for the Preakness, it looks like Mine That Bird knows he's something special now too.

And we know enough about Chip Woolley Jr. to summize he's no drugstore cowboy. He's probably got more than one pair of spurs, more than one pair of chaps, at least two or three cowboy hats and as many pairs of boots. We also know he can care for and train a race horse.

We know Dr. Leonard Blach a little better after he recalled the Derby experience during the NBC Preakness telecast, repeatedly pausing from the emotions. Relatively quiet during the previous two weeks, Dr. Blach spoke and acted like a horseman while holding a grazing Mine That Bird during the interviews on NBC.

Mark Allen is who we thought he was. Bad grammar, poor judgement, and dresses like he may have robbed the Cavendar's Boot City in Alamagordo for his Triple Crown ensemble. But he mustered enough class to somewhat apologize for his plan to keep the filly out of the Preakness and seems to understand that he's not in West Texas anymore. He needs to watch his words and actions a little more carefully when the world is watching and listening.

Every sport needs a bad guy. Baseball has the Yankees. Pro football has the Cowboys and college football USC. The NBA had Dennis Rodman and now thoroughbred racing has Mark Allen. And quite frankly I hope he pulls another gaff or two in the coming weeks befoe the Belmont. He's colorful, if he's nothing.

What's most important to me and horse racing though, is that he has one heckuva nice race horse. And we now know it.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Quick Preakness Thoughts

My first thought is that it's going to be a fun three weeks until the Belmont. We thought the stories were good coming into this race, if the Belmont rematch materializes look out... NBC got a A++ for their Preakness telecast. Taking the documentary approach to the Mine That Bird and Rachel Alexandra stories was both effective and entertaining. Gary Stevens was at the top of his game in the telecast telling story after relevant story to help the audience understand the sport from the jockeys' perspective. Thank goodness they got the blimp back in time for the race so we could see Mine That Bird's big move again... Speaking of that move, to bad it got stopped for the better part of a sixteenth of a mile... The filly gave us that great of a performance in winning the Preakness and she wasn't comfortable running on the Pimlico track according to Borel moments after the race... Any questions about whether MTB trainer Chip Woolley is a horseman?... Class overcomes eloquence. Jockey Calvin Borel while returning to the winner's circle aboard Rachel Alexandra, tells Donna Brothers how thankful he is. He just wins the Preakness Stakes and he mentions helping the race track chaplaincy with a cancer victim. His quote was awkard, but typlified Calvin Borel's character and class... Brilliant move by Rachel's new trainer Steve Asmussen to saddle her in the paddock located under the grandstand and away from all those colts. Because she was the thirteen horse, she left the paddock almost stealthly and slipped in behind the boys to join the post parade. They never saw her coming until it was too late... Cuddos to trainer Steve Asmussen for giving RA's former trainer Hal Wiggins credit deserved... Freisan Fire looked like a calf roping horse trying to keep up with Alexandra's gallop into and around the clubhouse turn. He was done before the first quarter of mile... Thank goodness Mine That Bird is a gelding. It will be very fun watching this horse run for a long... Any question about whether Texans can train race horses? Wiggins, Asmussen and Woolley all hail from the Lone Star State. D. Wayne Lukas, who finished fourth with 50-1 shot Flying Private, trained Quarter Horses in Texas before pari-mutuel wagering became legal. He has since become a Hall of Famer and a legend in the sport... Why is Pimlico going bankrupt? Times are tough sure, but you don't get through them by banning alcohol in the infield and raising the price of infield admission to $60. Results: 2008 Attendance 112,000+. Today at Pim. 77k with a race in which money bet was $86,684,470, up from $73.5 million last year. Can you imagine being in that meeting? "Let's do something to drive away young racing fans. We have too many college kids having fun in our infield with their beer?"... And finally, maybe I shouldn't be telling people how to bet trifectas...

What They're Saying About Rachel And The Bird

Andrew Beyer, Washington Post
Borel's performance at Pimlico on Saturday may have looked relatively undramatic, but his tactical perfection more than accounted for the one-length margin by which the filly beat Mine That Bird.

Gary West, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Everybody knew she was a stunning, wasabi-up-your-nose, once-in-a-lifetime filly, and now she’s a jewel thief, too.

Rachel Alexandra won Saturday’s Preakness Stakes at Pimlico, the second of horse racing’s Triple Crown jewels. She beat the "boys" and befuddled the doubters, she dispelled the skepticism as if it were an annoying fly, and she gave horse racing a resplendent moment. She has her jewel, and so now she can pursue a larger prize: the golden Eclipse Award symbolic of being Horse of the Year.

Beth Harris, AP Racing Writer
Girls rule! The best 3-year-old in the land just happens to be a filly named Rachel Alexandra.

Calvin Borel - Rachel Alexandra Jockey
"She had to struggle the last 40 yards, I had to hit her twice. She couldn’t get into the rhythm. God knows how good she is."

Steven Asmussen - Rachel Alexandra Trainer
"The race didn’t unfold like we expected and she still won a classic,”

Jess Jackson - Rachel Alexandra Owner
"It will depend on her," he said of the Belmont. "The horse always tells you whether they're ready. ... We'll wait for three, four days, see how she comes out of the race. Then we'll give her the same scrutiny we did with the vets.

"Would we love to run? Yes. Could she win? We think so. We've already shown she can run with the colts."

Mike Smith - Mine That Bird Jockey
"If we could have gone another sixteenth of a mile, I think he would have tackled her. On the backstretch, I tried to duck back in, but there was a lot of traffic. ... [Rachel Alexandra] beat the greatest colts in the country today. You have to take your hat off to her. I thought she'd come back to me, but she kept on going."

John Pricci - Horse Race Insider
As it turns out, it was (Rachel Alexandra). And here comes the Derby winner on the far outside! Are you kidding me?

Could it possibly have gotten any better than this?
Brock Talk Note: Read John Pricci's Column under "Other Horse Racing Links"

Saturday, May 16, 2009

New Racing Blog by Maddy Arnold

My 9-year-old niece has taken a page out of the Rachel Alexandra book and has decided she can blog as well anybody about horses. If you or one of your children is interested in going to this blog, please e-mail me at and I'll give you the address.

My Actual Preakness Trifecta Ticket

I'm hesitantly keeping to my confictions and trying to beat the favorite Rachel Alexandra. Although I just don't have enough courage to leave her completely off the ticket. Keeping Pioneer out of 1st and 2nd is also a tough one, but unless you want to play a bigger, more expensive ticket... you have to take a shot.


Total Cost = $24 (For a $1 trifecta.)

If you like the filly, don't hesitate to play the "all" button we have talked about. That ticket look would look like this perhaps.

13 (Rachel Alexandra) Must finish first.
3-5 (Friesan Fire, Muskat Man) Must finish second.
All - Anybody else can finish third.

Total Cost = $22 (For a $1 trifecta)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Preakness Thought, Comments and Questions

In Post Position order:
1 - Big Drama: Has only been defeated twice in seven career starts. Once in his first race against maidens. Again in his last race by track stewards who disqualified him from first and placed him second for bumping another horse in the stretch.
2 - Mine That Bird: Kentucky Derby winner at 50-1 is now the second choice in the Preakness at 9-2. What a difference a historical stretch run makes. Roswell, NM owners lost thier jockey Borel for this race but get Hall of Famer Mike Smith (also from Roswell) to pilot this one-time Derby UFO. (Insert Close Encounters Tuba here)
3 - Muskat Man: The third place finisher in the Derby and Illinois Derby winner. A good price at 10-1. Ready, aim, and they're off in the Preakness.
4 - Luv Gov: Trained by D. Wayne Lukas who has won the Preakness five times. Longshot named for former New York governor Elliot Spitzer. I'm glad he's in here if for no other reason than that.
5 - Freisan Fire: Derby favorite who took much the worse from his Derby trip. Any kind of clear path here would make him very dangerous - especially at 10-1.
6 - Terrain: Has a mountainous task against this group.
7 - Papa Clem: Another who looks like he could improve in the Preakness after a trouble-laden fourth place finish in the Derby. The winner of the Arkansas Derby is a very popular choice among many horse players.
8 - General Quarters: Even if you throw out his tenth-place finish in Kentucky, he looks to be a notch below some of the best in this race. Outranks Flying Private though.
9 - Pioneerof the Nile - Derby runner-up should be among the leaders heading for home and in contention. Popular trainer Bob Baffert has four Preakness victories and top jockey Garret Gomez is a subtle genius during a race.
10 - Flying Private: Watched 'em all cross the wire as the last place finisher in the Derby. Another Lukas longshot.
11 - Take The Points: Didn't appear to like the artificial racing surface while chasing Pioneerof the Nile at Santa Anita this spring. He may be able to beat the spread after a little vacation and the return to racing on dirt.
12 - Tone It Down: The Preakness often has an apparently over-matched local hero for the Baltimore fans. Sometimes these Maryland runners surprise us with their home track advantage.
13 - Rachel Alexandra: The filly is taking on the boys after she won the Kentucky Oaks by a record 20 lengths. Jockey Calvin Borel chose to ride her over the Derby winner and other Preakness owners tried in vain to keep her out. Look for her to be in the mix early and trying to leave the pack leaving the far turn. Take a close look at her in the paddock and post parade. There may be subtle but stong indications of what's to come.
Selections: 13-5-3

The Brock Trifecta

I just have an aversion to putting the favorite at the top of my trifecta unless I have to. So, as much as I hate it... I'm going to try to beat Rachel Alexandra at the windows. Here's two different trifecta tickets for two different budgets.
$12 Ticket

$40 Ticket

If you have questions, please feel free to ask them by clicking comments below. Type your question, select Name/URL and type your name then post it.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Meet The Pimlico Track Announcer

I first met Dave Rodman in 1982 at the old Jefferson Downs near New Orleans. It was my first full time job in racing, working as a racing official, and Dave was in his first full season of calling races. We later worked for four years together at Louisiana Downs before Dave became the track announcer at Pimlico and Laurel Race Courses near Baltimore. I still have his handwritten recipe for Red Beans and Rice which is as good as Red Beans gets.

It's a shame that the networks bring in Tom Durkin to call the race for television while Rodman calls the race live. It's been one of my pet peaves about horse racing television coverage for years. Durkin is great, but listening to Rodman call races is like walking into a theatre nine or ten times a day without any idea what show is playing - and walking out with a smile after every performance.

From the official Preakness website at Read more about Dave Rodman by clicking the link under "Other Horse Racing Links."

Our Preakness Daily Double: McCoy's Preakness Crab Recipes

Today we start a new feature on The Brock Talk by welcoming our "Guest Chef" Michael McCoy. The Preakness is famous for crab cakes, but Mike and taken it a step further and has given us two great recipes for crab. Bon Appetite!

It is a two Crab race with a surprise finish.......

Crab Cakes-
Sauté some onions, bell pepper and celery (1/4 Cup each) with a pinch or two
of Cayenne. Let cool completely.
Fold one pound of lump crabmeat into veggies gently and add 1/4 cup Mayo,
one egg beaten, and Parmesan Reggiano (I like a lot. Some like a little. Do
what makes you happy).
Lightly coat cakes in flour and let rest.
Cook cakes until golden brown in Olive Oil.

Marinated Crab Claws-
Some really GOOD Extra Virgin Olive Oil (1/3 cup)
Lemon Juice
Teaspoon of Dijon
Basil, Tarragon & Parsley (1/4 cup total)
1/2 Tablespoon of fresh Garlic
Sea Salt
Fresh ground Pepper
Teaspoon of sugar
1/2 cup Red Onion (chopped)
1/2 cup Roma Tomatoes (chopped)
Cup Artichoke Hearts drained and thinly sliced
Pound or more of cooked Crab Claws
Mix together and chill for AT LEAST 4 hours

The finish...
In a food processor, blend lemon juice (1/4 cup), Olive Oil (3/4 cup),
onions (half cup), celery (1/4 cup), Garlic (2 tablespoons), horseradish (2
tablespoons), Creole Mustard (3 tablespoons), Yellow Mustard (3
tablespoons), Ketchup (3 tablespoons), Parsley (3 tablespoons), salt/cayenne
and ground pepper to taste. Make a day in advance and chill.

I like to use cold and warm Remoulade for Crab Cakes and also dip Claws in
cold. If you are looking for another use for Remoulade, sauté some shrimp
and then finish cooking in Remoulade and serve over rice.

Michael McCoy has spent the majority of his professional career as a sports marketing and sales executive with Lone Star Park, The Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League and the Major League Baseball Texas Rangers. He is currently the vice president of business development with Stewart Title in Scottsdale, Arizona where he prides himself on his personal client relationship skills of which his culinary talents are an integral part.

Preakness Picks

We would love to hear from you and your pick for the Preakness. Post your pick here in the comment section.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

This Preakness Is Crazy Good

In 1989 two thoroughbreds hooked up at the top of the stretch and the battle began. On the outside, jockey Pat Day on the beaten Derby favorite Easy Goer, kept Pat Valenzuela and Derby winner Sunday Silence pinned down on the rail. Just as it appeared Easy Goer would get an edge, Sunday Silence would seemingly push back and accelerate. And so it went for more than an eighth of a mile. Heads up and heads down. As they said back in the day, "a ding dong battle to wire" with Sunday Silence coming out on top by a nose in one of the greatest races of our generation.

Twenty years later a classic battle is not promised. The challenging filly Rachel Alexandra may run off and leave these boys behind. She is the 9-5 morning line favorite after all. Or Mine That Bird may amaze us again if he recreates the last 3/8 of a mile run he gave us in the Derby. If he runs back to that form he may pass the filly so fast that jockey Calvin Borel will barely have time to regret his decision to not ride his Derby horse back in the Preakness.

Don't forget about the Bob Baffert trained-Pioneerof the Nile. He won four convincing races in California before finishing second in the Derby. And you can bet that Nile's jockey, Garret Gomez will not be allowing Mine That Bird a path on the rail this time. In fact, every jockey in the race will be looking for Mine That Bird over their left shoulder as the horses head into the second turn. A dream trip for Bird in the Preakness will be more difficult now that everybody has seen what he can do.

Have you ever heard of trip handicapping? It is the horse players' art of looking for horses who had traffic or any other kind of trouble during the course of race. The thinking is that with an easier trip, the horse could vastly improve in his next race. Insert Freisan Fire here who finished 18th in Kentucky.

While obviously not suffering anything more than superficials scrapes and bruises, some say the Derby favorite looked more like he had played in a rugby game than run a mile and one-quarter race at Churchill Downs. Reports are that he had so much contact during the race that they had to remove the torn fabrics of another horse's running bandages from between Friesan Fire's hoof and shoe. If we see the same Friesan Fire we saw in the gr. 3 Louisiana Derby, the others may only see him from behind at the wire.

Would anybody be shocked if invader Big Drama won? Surpised maybe. But this horse had won five consecutive races before being disqualified from first and placed second in the gr. 2 Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park. What about gr. 2 Arkansas Derby winner Papa Clem who was fourth in the Derby with a less than glamorous trip?

You don't think Derby third-place finisher Muskat Man has a chance? Don't forget about General Quarters and his septagenerian co-owner and trainer Charles McCarthy. If that story is not good enough for you, add to it the fact that General Quarters was in a minor traffic accident as his van pulled into Baltimore and got lost on the way to Pimlico.

And there is the jockey Mike Smith angle. The Hall of Fame Smith takes the mount on Mine That Bird after Calvin Borel defected the Bird and ensecure men around the world when he chose to ride the filly. Smith, like Mine That Bird owners Dr. Leonard Blach and Mark Allen, is a native of Roswell, New Mexico.

I may have seen more than a quarter-million horse races in my lifetime. I've read dozens of books on the subject, studied with some of the most gifted horse players of our time. Don't remember a race with a UFO angle.

The 134th Preakness Stakes

One Mile and Three-Sixteenths
3-Year Olds

Post Horse, Jockey, ML odds by Daily Racing Form
1 - Big Drama, John Velazquez, 10-1
2 - Mine That Bird, Mike Smith, 9-2
3 - Musket Man, Eibar Coa, 10-1
4 - Luv Gov, Jamie Theriot, 50-1
5 - Friesan Fire, Gabriel. Saez, 10-1
6 - Terrain, Jeramy Rose, 30-1
7 - Papa Clem, Rafael Bejarano G. Stute 8-1
8 - General Quarters, Julian Leparoux, 20-1
9 - Pioneerof the Nile, Garret Gomez, 5-1
10 - Flying Private, Alan Garcia, 50-1
11 - Take the Points, Edgar Prado, 30-1
12 - Tone It Down, Kent Desormeaux, 50-1
13 - Rachel Alexandra, Calvin Borel, 9-5

Welcome Unbridled Racing

We would like to welcome Unbridled Racing to The Brock Talk networks of blogs. You can visit Unbridle Racing's blog by clicking on the link under Other Horse Racing Links on the right side of this page. You can also visit them directly at:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Funniest Horse Racing Call Ever

This race call comes from race caller and impressionist Frank Mirahmadi at Turf Paradise in Phoenix, Arizona. Enjoy.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Dumb Decision Club Welcomes Derby Owners

Well that's over now. You know what I'm talking about. It looks like the much heralded filly Rachel Alexandra is going to get into the Preakness. As of Monday night, there are 13 horses likely to be entered into the second leg of the Triple Crown when the Pimlico racing office opens entries Wednesday morning for Saturday's races including the gr. 1 Preakness Stakes. The Pimlico starting gate holds 14 runners so it looks like she might even get in uncontested. So the plot by Mine That Bird co-owner Mark Allen and Pioneerof the Nile owner Ahmed Zayat failed.

After Zayat leaked the story on HGTV in a Sunday morning interview, the two owners were barraged with any number of unflattering noun modifiers in every media. It has also been reported that racing officials from Pimlico Race Course contacted both owners Sunday and informed them that it might not be a good idea. If that telephone call was made, I'd bet a dollar to a donut that executives from ESPN and NBC were listening in via speaker phone or conference call.

Zayat and Allen abandoned their plan before nightfall.

The Chicago White Sox wore uniforms that featured shorts during the 1976 season. The Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1919. The Portland Trailblazers took Sam Bowie in the 1984 NBA draft over Michael Jordon. Mark Allen and Ahmed Zayat proudly unveiled their plans to keep Rachel Alexandra out of the Preakness in 2009. One claimed it was a business decision - the other that the filly didn't belong in the race.

If Rachel Alexandra should win the Preakness Saturday afternoon, why do I have this vision of 100,000 race fans at Pimlico saying in unison, "AWK-ward!"

But as much as we all hate to admit it, we enjoy watching rich people make fools of themselves.

Excuse me Ms. Rivers - Ms. Joan Rivers - yes ma'am. Ms. Rivers I'd like to introduce you to Mr. Allen and Mr. Zayat. They just joined. They're new members to the club.

And to the relief of us all, there will be no legal challenge, even if somebody does decide to enter two or three more horses in the Preakness before Wednesday. It seems that one of colaborators of this plan was reading the conditions of the Kentucky Derby that state a supplemental entry, as Rachel Alexandra will be at an addition cost of $100,000 to her new owners, will not take preference over a horse that made the original nomination deadline in March.

Pimlico's top racing department executive and racing secretary Geoganne Hale reiterated that no such condition exists in the Preakness conditions. So the contriver(s) of this plot based their entire plan on the conditions of race that had already been run and at a different track.

Just so you know, each track publishes individual condition books for their respective races. These different books are published at three different times by three different racing secretaries. And they are different colors with different pictures too.

In the end, we dodged what Daily Racing Form columnist Jay Privman called "one of the more embarrassing scenarios in the history of the Triple Crown." And like many of you, after getting over my initial anger and disgust; and after we realized that Zayat and Allen had ditched their plot, we enjoyed the carnival. I just wish we would have had time to let Simon Cresswell or Seth Myers give their commentary.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Busting Preakness Myths

Two of the biggest questions asks every year before the Preakness revolve around the Pimlico track surface and layout. So I asked turf writer Gary West of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram to give us his insight on the subject and some additional thoughts on the Preakness. Following are those comments:
Brock Sheridan

The Preakness is one of those races that expose the ersatz experts. They often talk about the “tight turns” at Pimlico. In truth, the turns aren’t any tighter than Churchill’s. (The Pimlico track is narrower and so the turns may appear to be tighter, but they’re about the same; after all, the circumference is still a mile, and if the turns were tighter, wouldn’t the stretch have to be longer?)

And then you hear that Pimlico and the Preakness favor speedsters because, well, this is the shortest of the Triple Crown races. But it’s still 1 3/16 miles, considerably farther than most stakes races, and it doesn’t necessarily favor speed. Remember Bold Forbes? He led throughout to win the 1976 Derby and Belmont, but he finished third in the Preakness, the race that presumably favors speed. As usual, the pace more than anything else determines the successful running style.

The circumstances of the Preakness differ, of course. The large Derby field always compromises some horses. And this year it compromised Friesan Fire, who had a terrible trip. Pimlico, like Churchill, can smile on athletic horses who run the turn well, and I look for Friesan Fire to run well at Pimlico.

I’m very fond of Pimlico and, of course, love the Preakness. Some of my most memorable afternoons in racing have been spent at Pimlico on Preakness day: the Sunday Silence-Easy Goer Preakness remains eternally my favorite race, and I’ll always cherish the memory of Risen Star winning. But I also had my worst day at Pimlico.

In 1998, the power went out, and the grandstand went dark, but the racing continued. Worst of all, the betting windows were down. And I watched, unable to wager, as horse after horse that I would have bet won. The Texas-bred Thomas Jo won the Sir Barton, as I recall, and one of my favorite horses at the time, Yagli, won the Dixie, and Acceptable won the Schaefer. It was as if I were watching a feast through a window but unable to reach out for any of the food. I even thought of venturing into the infield jungle, where the betting windows were operating, but reassurances that the power momentarily would come on kept me in the grandstand, and so I waited and watched winner after winner go by. Temperatures soared, a man passed out in the stairwell, and I wasn’t feeling very well myself after the eighth -- or maybe it was the ninth -- race. I had looked forward to investing in a long shot named Bubba Higgins, but I watched in frustration as he won without me at 22-1.

Frightened Owners' May Try To Keep Rachel Alexandra Out of Preakness

Just over a week ago, shortly after Mine That Bird crossed the finish line at Churchill Downs, many of us were wondering who these guys were that brought this longshot to the Derby. We're beginning to find out.

On Sunday, Ahmed Zayat, owner of Kentucky Derby runner-up Pioneerof The Nile, said in an HRTV interview that he had received a phone call from Kentucky Derby-winning owner Mark Allen. Zayat said that Mine That Bird owner Mark Allen suggested a scheme to keep the Kentucky Oaks winning filly Rachel Alexandra out of the Preakness.

Because she was not nominated to the Triple Crown, Rachel Alexandra will have to be supplemented for $100,000 to enter the Preakness by her new owners. The entry conditions of the Preakness state that no supplemental entry will be allowed to run at the exclusion of a Triple Crown nominee regardless of earnings.

With a full field of fourteen expected, it may be possible for Allen and Zayat to enter other Triple Crown nominated horses they own for the sole purpose of excluding the filly from the field.

Owners paid $6,000 to nominate their horse to the Triple Crown on March 28, 2009. It then costs $10,000 to enter a horse in the Preakness and an additional $10,000 start in the Preakness.

Zayat suggested Allen had said he will enter a winless colt named Indy Express, in addition to Mine That Bird, in an attempt to to keep Rachel Alexandra out of the field.

Zayat also admitted that he may enter a second horse alongside Pioneerof The Nile.

The Mark Allen camp issued a press release later Sunday in response to the above comments by Zayat and reports by other media. You can read the full release here Under "Other Horse Racing Links > Mark Allen Press Release"

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Preakness Winners Usually Come From Churchill

Wouldn't we all like to know what would happen if we stuck the same 19 Kentucky Derby starters in a gate at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday and see if Mine That Bird could do it again. Instead it appears as though seven Derby alumni will be going at it again in the gr. 1 Preakness Stakes joined by seven new invaders.

So how do we evaluate these seven Triple Crown rookies who are trying to capitalize on the toll the Kentucky Derby may have taken on those horses and hope to bounce into Maryland on four fresh legs and win the Preakness.

While it has happened twice in the young milleneum, only one other horse has won the Preakness without running in the Kentucky Derby in last 26 runnings.

The most infamous winner in recent memory was 2006 victor Bernardini. As good as his performance was that day, it will be forever remembered as the race in which undefeated Derby winner Barbaro suffered a catostophic injury and left the track in a equine ambulance after being pulled up early in the race.

Red Bullet also won the Preakness after skipping the Derby in 2000, but we have to go all the way back to 1983 winner Deputed Testamony before we find a Preakness winner that did not participate in the Run For The Roses.

While Bernardini went into the Preakness starting gate in the handicapping shadows of Barbaro, the striking son of 1992 Belmont Stakes (gr. 1) winner AP Indy certainly had the credentials of a qualified challenger. While he only had two previous career wins in three starts with one coming against maidens, he had taken the gr. 3 Whithers Stakes at Aqueduct Race Track in New York in the week before Derby. Not only did he easily win the Whithers by almost three lengths, but sizzled the mile race in 1:35 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 104.

Red Bullet also came into the Preakness somewhat undercover as impressive Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus looked difficult to beat after winning the Derby as the 2-1 favorite. Red Bullet had won the first three races of his career, including the gr. 3 Gotham Stakes, but in his fourth start was no match for Fusaichi Pegasus in the gr. 2 Wood Memorial in April, losing by more than four lengths as the runner-up.

Deputed Testamony used the local gr. 3 Fredrico Tessio Stakes as his springboard to the Preakness in 1983 when he was entered against Arkansas and Kentucky Derby winner Sunny's Halo. The Derby winner sputtered in the Preakness and finished sixth while Deputed Testamony took his place in history.

Any connection of dots between these three Preakness winner and invaders in 2009 is a long line indeed, but a few have some interesting traits.

Hull is perhaps the most intriquing. A son of former Kentucky Derby favorite and sire Holy Bull, Hull meets the "lightly raced" profile of Red Bullet and Bernardini having only three career races so far. He has won all of those three races by a combined 15 lengths including the gr. 3 Derby Trial at Churchill Downs on April 25. He appears to have the talent to challenge this field, but will have to continue to improve to defeat the likes of Pioneerof the Nile, Friesan Fire, Rachel Alexandra and Mine That Bird. But his Beyer Speed figure of 92 in the Derby Trial indicates he may not be that far off.

A dot connector of even greater length exist between Deputed Testimony and this year's local invader Tone It Down. While both ran in the Fredrico Tessio Stakes at Pimlico in their starts just prior to the Preakness, Deputed Testimony had won that race while Tone It Down was third in this year's version. Tone It Down's level of competition has been against much easier than what he'll face in the Preakness and I would think it's a stretch to think he can be competitive Saturday.

Afterall, horses just don't jump to the world class level of the Triple Crown off of a losing effort in a minor stake and a Beyer Speed Figure of 80 and expect to win. Heck, he'll probably be 50-1 in the Preakness. Tell me the last time a horse pulled off something like that?

The Brock Talk Now On Twitter

You can now follow The Brock Talk on Twitter at

Friday, May 8, 2009

Preakness Eye Test

Take a look at the photos of Rachel Alexandra and Mine That Bird to the right. Now pretend that money is no object and your bloodstock agent has recommend you buy one of these horses. The challenge... you know nothing about either horse. All you know about them is what you see in these photos.

Which one would you buy?

Taking closer look at the field in the saddling paddock or post parade can be a valuable tool for picking winners. Test your eye during the Preakness telecast next Saturday on NBC. You might be pleasantly surprised at your new found talent.

Preakness Probables

One of the benefits of a longshot winning the Kentucky Derby is a big field in the Preakness. If a big favorite wins the Derby and appears difficult to beat, he may scare away many probable challengers who have many other options this time of year with races like the Lone Star Derby in Texas, the gr. 3 Ohio Derby, and the gr. 2 Swaps in Southern California.

And while the trainers of many of the horses listed below have expressed concern about the possible sexual assault by Rachel Alexandra, none have defected. In fact, Derby favorite Friesan Fire, who was listed as doubltful by trainer Larry Jones in the days following his 18th place finish in the Derby, is now on track for the Preakness.

There have been Preakness' past that have provided some very compelling pre-race stories, but this year's version has more than a little bit of everything. If this race featured only the seven Derby alums, it would be a compelling event. But there are seven qualified Triple Crown invaders in here as well. We'll be talking about them more in depth in the days to come.

Rachel Alexandra was not nominated to the Triple Crown by her previous owners, which means her new team will have to pay $100,000 to enter her into the race. Another significant story-line is that of the delima of jockey Calvin Borel who has been the regular rider for Rachel Alexander this year and also won the Derby with Mine That Bird. Her connections have said that Borel will ride the filly for the remainder of her starts this year.

The decision by Borel to stay with Rachel Alexandra means he will become the first jockey ever to take off a Derby winner to ride a different horse in the Preakness. The last jockey not to ride a Derby winner in his next start was in 1985 when jockey Angel Cordero Jr. rode a major stakes race at Belmont Park, the day Spend A Buck won the gr. 3 Cherry Hill Mile in New Jersey instead of running in the Preakness.

Mine That Bird trainer Chip Woolley, who said shortly after the Stonestreet announcement came out that Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith is "one of a few guys we're taking a look at" to replace Borel.

In another Preakness news: After his 50-day suspension from the Los Angeles Dodgers for steriod use, Manny Ramirez considered running in the Preakness but did not have the graded stakes earnings to make the field.

As of today, here is your probable Preakness field.

Horse, Jockey, Last Race, Finish
Big Drama, John Velazquez, Swale Stakes, 2nd
Conservative, Kent Desormeaux, Lexington Stakes, 2nd
Flying Private, Alan Garcia, Kentucky Derby, 19th
Friesan Fire, Gabriel Saez, Kentucky Derby, 18th
General Quarters, Julien Leparoux, Kentucky Derby, 10th
Hull, Marcos Mena, Derby Trial, 1st
Mine That Bird, undecided, Kentucky Derby, 1st
Musket Man, Ebar Coa, Kentucky Derby, 3rd
Papa Clem, Rafael Bejaramp, Kentucky Derby, 4th
Pioneerof the Nile, Garret Gomez, Kentucky Derby, 2nd
Rachel Alexandra, Calvin Borel, Kentucky Oaks, 1st
Take the Points, Edgar Prado, Santa Anita Derby, 4th
Terrain, undecided, Blue Grass Stakes, 4th
Tone It Down, Marcos Pino, Fredricko Tesio Stakes, 3rd

List Compliments Daily Racing Form

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Super Filly Sold for $10 Million. May Be Headed To Preakness

Yesterday The Brock Talk posted a comment by Michael Cusortelli in which he desribed his winning ways in the Derby. Included in his yarn was a somewhat overlooked comment he made in which he referred to gr. 1 Kentucky Oaks winner Rachel Alexandra as "arguably the best filly of our generation."

Well somebody agrees with him because we found out late yesterday that Rachel Alexandra sold for a reported $10 million to Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stables and Harold T. McCormick of Birmingham, Alabama.

The story gets even better as there is now speculation that her new owners will point her toward the gr. 1 Preakness Stakes, making her the first filly since Excellent Meeting in 1999 to take on the boys in the second leg of the Triple Crown. Even more intriguing is the fact that jockey Calvin Borel rides both Rachel Alexandra and Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird. So if the filly enters the Preakness, who will he be aboard for the May 16 Preakness?

There must be something to the speculation, because more than one racing publication is reporting that Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will ride Mine That Bird should Borel defect. I don't have the data base to do the research, but I certainly can't remember or even remember reading about a jockey that took off of the Derby winner in order to ride another horse in the Preakness - much less a filly.

Smith, who rode the last 50-1 longshot to win the Kentucky Derby in 2005 when Giacomo shocked us all, guided Chocolate Candy to a 5th place finish in this year's Derby. Chocolate Candy will skip the Preakness and instead train for the gr 1 Belmont Stakes from his home-base in California according to recent reports. No word on if New Mexico residents and Mine That Bird owners Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach have considered Smith their alternate selection because he too is a Roswell, New Mexico native and began his riding career in "The Land of Enchantment" in 1982.

Should Rachel Alexandra race in the second leg of the Triple Crown, she would be only the 53rd filly to start in 136 runnings of the Preakness. Only four fillies have won the Preakness with Nellie Morse being the last to accomplish the feat in 1924. Flocarline (1903), Whimsical (1906) and Rhine Maiden (1924) are the others.

Rachel Alexandra, who won the Kentucky Oaks by a record 20-length margin the day before the Derby at Churchill, was not nominated to the Triple Crown by her previous owners and would have to be supplemented by her new connections. At approximated 5:15 this morning she made the walk through the Churchill Downs stable are from trainer Hal Wiggins barn to the stable of her new conditioner Steve Asmussen. Asmussen won the 2007 Preakness with Curlin, who is now a stallion at Lane's End Farm in Kentucky and is also owned by Jackson. The two-time Horse of the Year currently demands a $75,000 stud fee and plans are to breed Rachel Alexandra and Curlin when her racing career concludes.

Prior to Excellent Meeting, the two previous fillies to start in the Preakness were Kentucky Derby winners Genuine Risk in 1980 and Winning Colors in 1989. Genuine Risk was second in the Preakness behind the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Codex and Winning Colors was third behind winner Risen Star.

The last filly to win a Triple Crown race was Rags To Riches when she took the 2007 Belmont Stakes for trainer Todd Pletcher.

In addition to the Oaks win, Rachel Alexandra’s graded stakes victories include the 2008 Golden Rod Stakes (gr. 2), 2009 Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. 2), and 2009 Fantasy Stakes (gr. 2). Bred in Kentucky, the 3-year-old filly has won five of seven starts and has earnings $958,354.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Other Great Invention Of The Wheel

Its not easy finding people that made money wagering on the Kentucky Derby this year. That’s what a 50-1 longshot will do. But Michael Cusortelli of Albuquerque, New Mexico sent me an e-mail with the following inclusion:

“By the way, I hit the Oaks/Derby double, but only because:
a) the Oaks was won by arguably the best 3-year-old filly of our generation (a single) and
b) the beauty and convenience of the "all" button
Keep in mind, though, it doesn't always work this way. I can't tell you how many times I've hit the all button, only to have the favorite win.”

A $2.00 win ticket on Mine That Bird paid $103.40. A $2.00 win ticket on Rachel Alexandra, the heavily favored winner of the gr. 1 Kentucky Oaks run the previous day at Churchill Downs for fillies, paid $2.60. The $2.00 Oaks/Derby Double ticket paid $248.40.

So what kind of crazy, whacky complicated wagering system gave Mr. Cusortelli this big pay-off. Well, it’s neither crazy, whacky or complicated. And it’s as old as the daily double wager itself.

First, let’s define what the daily double wager is. The objective of the Daily Double bet is to pick the winners of two separate races. Back as recent as the 1980s, most tracks in North America offered only win, place, show and a daily double on the first two races. Today there are early doubles, late doubles, Pick 3s, Pick 4s Pick 6s… you name it. And Churchill Downs has the Oaks/Derby double where players try to pick the winner of the Kentucky Oaks with the winner of the Kentucky Derby on the same ticket.

A common and effective strategy with any exotic wager (a wager with two or more horses involved) is to find one horse that you think can win one race and play that horse with two or more horses in the other race. It’s called a “wheel.” And while the other wheel was perhaps man’s greatest invention, this wheel isn’t that bad either.

All Mike did was “key” Rachel Alexandra in the Kentucky Oaks and wheel her with every horse in the Derby. Then hope the heavily favored Rachel Alexandra wins the Oaks like she’s supposed to and pull for any longshot two win the Run for the Roses. Since this is technically 19 different daily double tickets, (because there were 19 horses in the Derby), the cost was $38.00. Nineteen Derby horses times $2.00 = $38.

The risks: Rachel Alexandra gets upset in the Oaks or one of the favorites wins the Derby. If one of the favorites win the Derby and the Oaks/Derby Double pays less than $38 it’s a loss.

But as Mike mentioned above, Rachel Alexandra ran like she is arguably one of the best fillies (a female horse less than 5 years old) of our generation. Mine That Bird didn’t run like a 50-1 shot and Mike got to watch a mutuel teller at the track count out $248.40 for him before he went home Saturday night.

And the beauty is there are variations of this strategy that are just as easy. You can use your one key horse in one half of the double with any number of horses in the second. Or you can use a key horse in the second half with any number of horses in the first. You can also have more than one key horse – key two horses in the first race with five horses in the second for example. The cost is easy to calculate (2 horses in one half x 5 horses in the other half x $2 = $20.) And when you key or box in any bet, the $1 ticket becomes available. So the above example costs $10.

This is just another example that illustrates the beauty of betting on horse racing. A little knowledge about something as simple as odds and the “wheel” strategy can pay-off.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Derby Question of the Week

Occasionally I get a good question regarding horse racing that may not have been asked on this blog, but illustrates a good point. Following is a comment and query from Daniel Rhine of Portland, Oregon.

"I can't fathom many making money off this year's Derby. Did the house make off with it big time?"

Brock: No. One of the great advantages horse racing has built in from the standpoint of the player or bettor, is the pari-mutuel wagering system. When you bet a dollar on a horse race, the track takes out approximately 20 - 30 cents. They then give a portion of that money to the state in the form of taxes, give a portion to the horsemen in the form of purses and keep the rest of the take-out. They then give the 70 - 80 cents remaining to divide among the winning bettors. So the track has virtually no interest in the outcome of a race.

I say "virtually" no interest, because track management in fact likes to see favorites win. That means there are more winners at the track and those winners are more likely to wager those winnings again. So favorites create churn.

A longshot creates only a few winners who each take a large share of the pot and are more likely to take a larger portion of that money home - decreasing churn.

Understanding this concept will eventually work to the advantage of the horse player and in particular the horse player who is mathmatically inclined.

Each wager at the track has it's own mutuel pool. There is a seperate pool for win wagering, a seperate pool for place, show, trifecta, exacta, etc. That's the reasons Giacomo wins at 50-1 and the $2 trifecta pays $133,000 while Mine That Bird wins at 50-1 and the $2 trifecta pays just over $41,500.

The win odds can be a good indication of a probable pay-out on other bets, but not a calculator.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Worth Repeating

From Steve Haskins' Kentucky Derby review in Blood-Horse magazine
"We have learned that (Mine That Bird's) two owners have farms in Roswell, New Mexico. As far as we know there have been no sightings of equine aliens, until now."

Gary West, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
"Appalachian State is never going to win the Rose Bowl, Liechtenstein is never going to win gold in the Summer Olympics and I’m never going to win the Masters, but a little horse from New Mexico just won the Kentucky Derby."

Ray Paulick, Special to
"Mine That Bird not only won the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby, but won it going away under Calvin Borel by 6¾ lengths. That's a bigger margin than any Derby winner since Triple Crown winner Assault in 1946 -- bigger than the margins of victory in the Derby by Triple Crown winners Secretariat, Affirmed and Seattle Slew COMBINED!"

NBC and top industry race announcer Tom Durkin in the brief moment when Mine That Bird took the lead

Preakness Official Drink: The Black-Eyed Susan

Named for the official flower of Maryland, the black-eyed Susan is the cocktail of choice on Preakness day.

Ingredients (Makes 10 large or 20 small servings.)
1 1/4 cup vodka
1 1/4 cup light rum
3/4 cup triple sec
Juice from one lime
4 cups orange juice
4 cups pineapple juice
Lime slices or maraschino cherries (optional)

Chill all ingredients. Combine in a punch bowl. Serve over crushed or chipped ice in tall glasses or punch glasses. Makes 10 large or 20 small servings. Garnish, if you prefer, with a slice of lime and/or a maraschino cherry.

Per serving (based on 20 servings): 144 calories, trace gm protein, 15 gm carbohydrates, trace gm fat, 0 mg cholesterol, trace gm saturated fat, 2 mg sodium, trace gm dietary fiber.

Mine That Bird Is Preakness Bound

Reports this morning out of the communications department at Pimilico Race Course say that Kentucky Derby longshot winner Mine That Bird will be going to Baltimore for the gr. 1 Preakness Stakes, the second leg of Thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown.

The Preakness will have a maximum of 14 starters, unlike the field of 19 that raced in this year's Derby. I expect a full gate in two weeks because I don't think Mine That Bird is going to scare a lot of folks away including Derby second and third-place finishers Pioneerof the Nile and Muskat Man respectively, who are now also in the Preakenss mix according to their trainers.

Other possible Preakness starters from the Derby as of this morning are Join in the Dance (seventh), and General Quarters (10th).

Four potential new shooters are Big Drama, winner of the 2008 gr. 3 Boyd Gaming Delta Jackpot; Mr. Fantasy, winner of the gr. 3 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct in New York; Take the Points, fourth in the gr. 1 Santa Anita Derby and Miner's Escape, winner of the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico May 2.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Where Do They Go From Here?

The 135th Kentucky Derby has been run and won by 50-1 longshot Mine That Bird but it can hardly be said that this story is in the books. I somehow think there's a few more yarns to be spun by and about trainer Bennie "Chip" Woolley Jr. and Mine That Bird's ownership team of Dr. Leornard Blach and Mark Allen. Whatever we get to learn from and about these connections in future days and weeks, what we now know was perhaps best said by Derby runner-up trainer and Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. "These cowboys brought a good horse."

From their barn 42 at Churchill Downs this morning they said a decision will be made in the next day or two about taking the Derby winner to the gr. 1 Preakenss and a chance at the Triple Crown.

Meanwhile, othere Derby runners already have their plans made, others not...
(From and Churchill Downs Publicity.)

Trainer Gary Stute said Derby fourth place finisher Papa Clem is a definite for the Preakness. Baffert is taking a wait and see approach for Pioneerof the Nile and will leave the colt at Churchill Downs as will trainer Derek Ryan with Derby show horse Muskat Man.

Meanwhile, Cindy Jones, assistant her trainer-husband Larry Jones, said Friesan Fire, who finished 18th as the Derby favorite, came out of the race with cuts and abrasions on at least three of his four feet and legs. He grabbed a quarter in the left front, had a cut on the tendon in the right front, and a cut on his right rear back foot. He also had some leg webbing, apparently from another horse, embedded in one of his hooves.

While she did not know what Jones or the owners would decide about the Preakness, Cindy Jones said all of the cuts were superficial and would heal quickly.

Here are some other comments from Derby participants, (finish of the horse is in parentheses):

CHOCOLATE CANDY (5th) – Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer was on a plane Sunday morning jetting back to California, but his right-hand man – Galen May – was keeping a watchful eye on his Kentucky Derby runner Chocolate Candy, who had finished fifth. “He was trying to bite me this morning, so you know he’s fine,” May said.

May said the horse had come back without any nicks or cuts and had no problem cleaning his feed tub Saturday night. He also noted that he was likely to head back to California shortly and train up to the Belmont Stakes on June 6. “His breeding and style say he should like that mile and a half,” May said.

SUMMER BIRD (6th) – K.K. and Vilasini Jayaraman’s Summer Bird was scheduled to ship Monday morning at 5 a.m. to Louisiana Downs, according to trainer Tim Ice. “We have never thought about the Preakness; maybe the Belmont,” Ice said. “I have no interest at all in the Preakness because that track doesn’t suit his style of running.”

JOIN IN THE DANCE (7th), DUNKIRK (11th), ADVICE (13th) – Trainer Todd Pletcher reported some minor wounds, but no major damage, to Dunkirk, while stating at the same time that his other two competitors – Advice and Join in the Dance – had come out of the eventful renewal none the worse for wear.

“Dunkirk took the worst of it,” the five-time Eclipse Award winner said. “He’s got his share of nicks and cuts and he also grabbed a quarter on his left hind (leg). I think someone had to do it to him during the running. Where it is, it isn’t likely he did it to himself.

Pletcher said Dunkirk and his stablemate Take the Points would ship to his barn in New York at Belmont Park. Dunkirk’s next start was up in the air at the moment, but Take the Points, who was eligible to run in the Kentucky Derby but took a pass, would be prepared for a go in the May 16 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

REGAL RANSOM (8th), DESERT PARTY (14th) – Both of the Godolphin colts, Desert Party and Regal Ransom, were fine Sunday morning, said Henry Spiller, an assistant to trainer Rick Mettee. The colts are scheduled to be shipped back to Belmont Park on Tuesday. They are not being pointed toward the Preakness.

WEST SIDE BERNIE (9th), ATOMIC RAIN (16th) – George and Lori Hall’s West Side Bernie and Atomic Rain were scheduled to return to Monmouth Park on Sunday after their Kentucky Derby efforts. “They came out of the race fine,” Breen said. “We are going to regroup and see what happens, but we are not looking at anything in two weeks.”

GENERAL QUARTERS (10th) – Owner/trainer Tom McCarthy said that General Quarters came out of Derby 135 in good order, but with no plans to continue on to the Preakness. “The only excuse I can find for him was that he was not getting over the ground good,” McCarthy said. “I think we will go ahead and regroup and see what direction to go in. The Northern Dancer (on June 13 at Churchill Downs) is a possibility.”

HOLD ME BACK (12th) -- Elliott Walden, vice president and racing manger for WinStar Farm, said Sunday that Hold Me Back was fine and would be given a break. Walden wasn’t sure whether the colt would stay with trainer Bill Mott or be sent to the farm during his hiatus. “He’s good,” Walden said. “We’re going to regroup and go from there. He’s had a pretty solid six weeks.”

MR. HOT STUFF (15th) – “He was OK after the race; no cuts or bruises. He ate all his food last night,” said groom Martin Rodriguez, who added the dark Tiznow colt would be headed back to his Southern California base “in the next day or two.”

NOWHERE TO HIDE (17th) – The Nick Zito-trained Nowhere To Hide wasn’t feeling any negative effects on the morning after his 17th-place Kentucky Derby finish. “He came back perfect,’’ assistant trainer Stacy Prior said. “The jockey said after the race that he was just spinning his wheels out there.”

FLYING PRIVATE (19th) – The D. Wayne Lukas-trained Flying Private was reported to have come out of his last-place finish in the Kentucky Derby in good order Sunday morning. “The horse came back fine,” assistant trainer Gary Neece said. “He’s no worse for the wear.”

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Not My Best Derby Day

After suffering through food poisoning last night, I awoke when I heard my wife saying from the living room, "I Want Revenge is scratched." I have tried for weeks to try to find the horse to keep him out of the Derby winners' circle, only to be trumped by a sore ankle. Top that off with the fact that in order to hit my $12 trifecta, I've got to hit a cold exacta on top with Pioneerof the Nile and semi-longshot Hold Me Back.

Because I was still recovering, I slept through what I think is coverage by the best broadcast team in horse racing on ESPN with Kenny Mayne, Randy Moss and Jerry Bailey. Further angst.

Once the NBC telecast started, the satellite signal began to sputter. We caught the race but not much else because shortly after the race, the storm that had given us viewing problems had converted the Dallas Cowboys indoor training facility into an outdoor training facility with rookies, free agents, staff and coaches inside. Local NBC affiliate cut to that coverage moments after the horses crossed the wire.

One saving grace however, is that jockey Calvin Borel won his second Kentucky Derby in three years. He is one of the most pleasant and genuine people I've ever had the pleasure to know. His agent, Jerry Hissam, ranks very high on my list of folks as well.

So now what do we have ahead of us? The gr. 1 Preakness Stakes of course and let the questions begin about the legitamcy of Mine That Bird. It's a good thing he's a race horse, because he wouldn't win any halter events with his looks.

But he is of course, the winner of the Kentucky Derby. And for that he deserves our respect. Just how much he gets will be reflected in the media during the next two weeks and on the odds board at Pimlico Race Course as they load for the Preakness.

I'm looking forward to blogging about it.