Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Courageous Lady Eli back on track...

The magnificent Lady Eli returned to the work-tab for the first time today since overcoming her frightening battle with laminitis!

Those who don't follow the sport closely and/or don't know horses well may not care very much, but this is a significant victory for ANY horse and it should be widely celebrated, not just in our industry but in the sports world as a whole. I know, I know...I should keep dreaming. As long as our sport remains under the radar, so will our athletes and the struggles they face...but laminitis is nothing to take lightly.
photo: BreedersCup.com

Just the mere fact that Lady Eli overcame this horrific condition to begin with is nothing short of, dare I say it, a miracle. Laminitis is the second leading cause of death of horses in the United States, behind only the even more dreaded colic. If you're even reading my blog surely you remember, or at least know of, the late Barbaro...so hopefully I don't have to dive into the tragic story of his losing battle with laminitis in order to demonstrate my point further.

I've experienced the horrors of laminitis first hand, and I know that it takes a TRUE super-horse to beat it. Even if the horse is able to fight through the physical challenges with the help of an amazing team of veterinarians, farriers, technicians and caregivers...often the odds are still stacked against him or her. Lady Eli went into this fight a champion, no doubt...anyone who witnessed her 6-race winning streak can attest to that...but she came out of it an even bigger champ in my opinion.

Whether she returns to her winning form on the track or not is still a lingering question...but the fact that she is even able to attempt a comeback is, I'll say it again, miraculous. No one is exactly raving about her 3 furlong work (:38 and 4/5) at Palm Meadows this morning, but I highly doubt they intended her to tear the track up...it was more about stretching her legs and getting re-acclimated after such a long layoff. To be fair, many horses who return after a battle with something as severe as laminitis just aren't quite the same on the track afterward, and there is nothing wrong with that. We say it a lot about the greatest of horses in so many situations..."she has nothing left to prove..." and it's true. She could end up never crossing another finish line in front again and still come out a hero in every way that matters. Chad Brown and her new owners could have retired her to broodmare duty immediately after her recovery, but they clearly believe she still has something to offer on the track. How awesome would it be if their instincts are correct and she returns even better than ever? Even if she returns on the same level she was at when she was injured last summer, watch out!

Here she is, literally moments before she was injured by stepping on a nail, winning the Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes with EASE on July 4, 2015:

I truly hope her story has much more success and excitement ahead. Oh what a joyous, beautiful comeback it would be to watch!

For more information visit: Lady Eli Records First Breeze at Palm Meadows

Sunday, February 28, 2016

In training...

I'm in the process of making some major changes to my blog...it will now be entirely devoted to horses and horse racing topics, so a total revamp is in order...

Please be patient with me while I get the kinks worked out in order to get it up and running at full speed! 
American Pharoah
Any tips, comments, advice or constructive criticism during this "training" process are welcomed in the comment section.

Thank you!

ETA: Most posts will be about thoroughbred horse racing; past, present and future.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Time to dust off the boots, er...ummm...blog...

Well, 2016 is here... Yes, I'm a little behind the times and it is a little late for a "New Years' Resolution," but I'm here making one anyway, lol. I am going to dust off this good 'ole blog and liven it up a bit, finally... I hope... ;)

Last year was difficult for me in many MANY ways...in fact I think American Pharoah was the only silver lining I was able to find in an otherwise hellish 2015 (and thankfully he gave me enough joy to get through)...but this year is going to be different. I'm facing a lot of changes in my life, all of which I won't go into now, but I do plan to start blogging and I have a feeling this blog will begin to take on a life of its own very soon.

So this serves as my "official" declaration to begin blogging more often, for real this time, about anything and everything. Yes, horse racing included. ;) Although I doubt we'll see another Triple Crown winner, there is always plenty of action and excitement to come courtesy of my favorite sport. :)

So with that very vague and brief update, I'm signing off...for now...but not for long...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Farewell, Cigar...

Today was tough...wasn't able to attend, obviously, but just knowing the memorial was happening meant it was really time to say goodbye to a very special horse. 

Memorial Clip

Meeting Cigar was a highlight of late 2007 for me. I missed my chance to see John Henry one more time...I met him back in '88 when I was just a kid & planned a day trip to Lexington in early October '07 on a day off when I heard he wasn't doing well. Sadly, it wasn't meant to be. I was going to be about a week too late & would have to settle for paying my respects to a fresh grave and his empty stall. 

By the time I got there it was incredibly emotional...his stall & grave were overflowing with beautiful flowers, gifts &cards. People were crying, paying their respects & sharing stories. It was nothing but quiet sorrow on John's side of the barn. 

And then, across the aisle, there was Cigar...somehow he still brought so much light to the barn just with his presence. Can't explain it, really. You just had to smile when he stood tall & looked at you with that big, bright, kind eye of his...almost teasing you before snorting a bit & turning away to look at something that caught his eye outside. 


I tweeted earlier today that he is one of the proudest horses I've ever met...and I think that's the best way I can describe him. 

**He had every RIGHT to be proud...to STAND proud...and dammit, he KNEW it!!!** 

I'm honored to have met him, and as sad as I was to miss seeing John Henry again & to learn of his passing...honestly, I don't know if that can compare to the sorrow I feel at the loss of Cigar. 


I am physically incapable of watching his '95 Classic win without crying, and not ashamed to admit I've shed many tears since his passing. There are a handful of horses in our lifetime who prove to be the best of the best...the true greats...so far I think Cigar is IT in my ~35 years. 


Can't think of any North American racehorses, in my lifetime, who have REALLY matched him, so far. 

A few have been/come very close, John Henry is certainly one & I can probably also mention others like Wise Dan, Holy Bull, Personal Ensign, Curlin... 

Still. To borrow the infamous words of the immortal legend, in his own right, Tom Durkin...there will never be another like the "unconquerable, invincible, unbeatable Cigar!"

Monday, May 19, 2014

Go Chrome!!

Two down! One to go!!!

Belmont, GET READY!! Here HE Comes!!! 

And today NYRA made millions of people sigh with relief by not imposing their "nasal strip rule" for the Belmont, phew! 

I'm not exactly superstitious and at the end of the day those nasal strips aren't a huge deal either way, but still.  

That said, the stars really have aligned for this horse!!  What a crazy, fun ~3 months this has been! 

Haven't had this much immediate confidence in a horse since Barbaro, and to a slightly lesser degree Big Brown. 

After the Santa Anita Derby though, well..I only had one word...WOW!  

As far as I'm concerned, if Chrome stays sound, keeps that annoying throat blister at bay, and he remains healthy and happy with a good appetite...it's all good on his end! And then as long as he gets out of the gate fairly well (the break isn't QUITE as crucial in the 12 furlong Belmont as it is in any other race, but still), Victor keeps him in the clear and just lets him run his race...well, it will be nearly impossible to beat him!  

So...Chrome...please continue to avoid mischievous STARTS like THIS... 


So we can see magnificent FINISHES like THIS! :)

I've literally been waiting my entire life to see a 3yo like Chrome tackle the elusive Triple Crown with a truly great chance at getting it done, and well...it seems like he's finally here! 

Might I also point out, speaking of stars aligning and things like that, it IS The Year Of The HORSE!! ;)

With that said...all that's left is GO CHROME!! #GoChrome #CaliforniaChrome #Belmont #TripleCrown


On a quick side note...I must express my never ending adoration and therefore concern for the brilliant, TWO-time Horse of the Year, Wise Dan!

Just hope Dan is doing ok. Last update I saw was that they were able to graze him today. Gave us all quite a scare yesterday. Colic surgery is no small thing and even if he is eating again (always a good sign) and doing as well as they say, I'm not QUITE ready to believe that he'll return to Keeneland for training anytime soon. If and when he DOES return, he will either be a force to be reckoned with (he is THE CHAMP), after all ... or he might be ready to leave the track behind. Like his connections said though...I don't care if he never races again, just save his life! 

He'll be fine, I'm sure, and knowing Dan he'll probably bounce back better than ever. Like every true champion, he is all heart but most importantly he's a FIGHTER!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Post Breeders' Cup - My Response to Zipse's Eclipse Award Predictions

The Day after Breeders' Cup: Eclipse Award Picks

Zipse's comments are posted verbatim. My responses & comments are in quotes...

Champion two-year-old male: New Year's Day - Yes, I like Honor Code better as well, but this one won the race you need to win ...
"--Fully agreed, and for the record I'd throw Havana in there with Honor Code & New Year's Day as the ones to watch already going into next year...from where I was sitting Havana showed some guts in the Juvenile, even in defeat..."

Champion two-year-old filly: She's A Tiger - She's fast, she's brave, and she was screwed out of a Breeders' Cup victory.
"--Again, agreed..."

Champion three-year-old male: Will Take Charge - Any lingering doubts about whether or not he had developed into the best three-year-old male, were put to bed in classic fashion,

"Agree, but by default, because all season this question has been impossible no matter HOW (or when) you ask it! Too many injuries & early retirements and the rest of the crop was way too evenly matched (only time will tell if that's a good thing or a bad thing)...and let’s face it, the only way this category would’ve been clear-cut was if Will Take Charge had DOMINATED the Classic (or if Palace Malice had, for that matter). Otherwise, it’s been a virtual toss-up since early summer…the only thing I’m certain of is that the vote will be fairly close…and Will Take Charge DID seem strong in the Classic…"

Champion three-year-old filly: Beholder - I love Princess of Sylmar, but I'm afraid that the fleet footed Californian stole her championship in the time it took her to win the Distaff.

"--I  have some issues with this & I've gotta say, I'm not so sure...don't get me wrong, Beholder is a great filly. But I honestly believe Princess was off going INTO the Distaff; I'm talking literally coming out of the paddock! Have a feeling in a few days or weeks we'll learn of a bleed, a split or tear, undetected quarter crack or deep abscess… something to excuse her lack of interest in running on Friday. I'm throwing that race out altogether in the meantime, and of course there is always the probability that beating the likes of Royal Delta really took something out of her. Not willing to ignore all of her incredible accomplishments because of it. Let's just say I'm glad I don't get an official vote because this one would give me heartburn (worse than I already have)!"

Champion older male: Mucho Macho Man - I've said it before, and I will likely say it again ... I want to be a Mucho Macho Man!

"--I've got some definite issues with this one...I'm sorry but Older Male ought to go to Game on Dude. Call it a "consolation prize" because he can't, in good conscience, get HOTY after he failed to show up in the Classic, but he has had an OUTSTANDING year out West & while Mucho seemingly should be rewarded something for his incredible 'comeback' in the Classic, I just don't think he deserves this particular title over the Dude. No way."

Champion older female: Royal Delta - She may have gone out like a lamb, but she showed enough lioness this year to win another championship.

"--No arguments here!"

Champion male sprinter:  Secret Circle -  Only two races ... Am I crazy? I'll answer that with another question ... Do you have a better idea?

"--No, I don't have a better idea, so...OK..."

Champion female sprinter: Groupie Doll - Mizdirection may have a serious beef here, but in America, dirt trumps turf. I'll take the Doll.
"--Groupie Doll would get my hypothetical vote. What a freak she’s become! They don’t run from a fight either, even when she ends up NOT coming out on top, and you’ve gotta love that about her."

Champion turf male:  Wise Dan - Do I need to explain this?
"--Nope! Absolutely no explanation needed, there never is when you're talking about Dan!"

Champion turf female: Dank - I think the American turf mares would be more than happy never to see this Euro monster again.
"--Agreed, but it wouldn't be so bad to see a few votes for the Fugue based on the BC alone...I thought she put in a great run all things considered."

Horse of the Year: Wise Dan - Two years in a row for the fantastic gelding. He's the best American miler we've seen in a long time.
"--Not only the best AMERICAN miler, he's one of the best we’ve seen WORLDWIDE in a long time! No one deserves it more, period!! It’s gonna take a freak, a true superhorse, to take the title from him again next year!"

My prediction ... almost ALL of them are going to be close so every vote WILL count! So please, get to lobbying for your favorite horses! It's never too soon to start looking toward January; it'll be here before we know it!
Cheers to a fantastic Breeders' Cup! Condolences to the connections of Points Offthebench and Secret Compass, may they both RIP...and of course wishing Johnny V a speedy recovery from his operation. All in all, though, it was a lovely Championship weekend! Already cannot wait for next November! :)

So there you have it. It was another brilliant weekend of thoroughbred racing...unforgettable moments that will last a lifetime and beyond. Records broken, runaways, nail-biters, tragedies (human & equine), great comebacks (human & equine), a dead-heat, a DQ, upsets, favorites dominating, emotions running high & low, celebrities, and history being made. That's what the Breeders' Cup is all about & I wouldn't miss, or change, it for the world! That said...I've been awake now for more than 3 days...time to crash; then I'll return to the real world where life sucks and (for now, at least) racing only exists in the background of mine.

I am working on launching my horse related business and, even though I've been working on the business plan for 2 years (came up with the initial idea in October 2011, believe it or not) I'm just starting to REALLY get it moving. If anyone out there is willing/able to help me in ANY way please let me know. Hoping to change the horse industry for the better before I leave this world altogether!

On that note...I leave you with one of the most exciting moments of this weekend... ;)

Wise Dan - 2013 Breeders' Cup Mile

As exciting as the other races were, especially those intense final yards of the Classic (see the photo-finish at right), I swear...out of all fourteen Grade I races I will never grow tired of watching Dan do his thing...he is a FREAK! And they don't come along very often!