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Who were you cheering on when the gates opened that first Saturday in May? My Kentucky Derby horses throughout the years (Tumblr has a dumb limit of 10 photos):

  • 2013: Normandy Invasion (4th)
  • 2012: Union Rags (7th)
  • 2011: Nehro (2nd)
  • 2010: Ice Box (2nd)
  • 2009: Desert Party (14th)
  • 2008: Big Brown (1st)
  • 2007: Street Sense (1st)
  • 2006: Steppenwolfer (3rd)
  • 2005: N/A, I don’t think I followed the race that year for whatever reason
  • 2004: Action This Day (6th)
  • 2003: Empire Maker (2nd)

Not pictured: 2002 - War Emblem (1st), who ran in the first Derby I ever watched.

Racing Beat: December 23

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It’s the last Racing Beat of the year! Thank you for reading my blurbs!

I know he had a fan or two around here: the speedy Jocosity is off the Derby trail with a recent knee chip.

The Pletchers of spring keep coming back! Today Heavy Breathing makes his return in Gulfstream’s 9th.

Thesis: WinStar agrees to expand their roster to the Zayats’ Pioneerof the Nile and Maimonides to a) make nice for future Zayat powerhouses that will retire to stud… Nehro's likely going to have just one more year should he return as expected, and b) because Pioneer's rate is bound to go up some more with his first crop hitting the track in 2013.

I’m thinking about faraway Kentucky Derbies already with G1-winning Tapit daughter Stardom Bound's big, roan, Big Brown colt!

Bloodlines can be overpriced: Empire Way has 1 win to his 12-race record (a 6 1/2 furlong maiden special weight at Hollywood Park over 4 others), but as Royal Delta's full brother, he opens his book at $5,000.

What a perfect present for the racing world: Paynter's been cleared to resume training!

I’m going to make an earnest effort to start painting again. I bought a canvas this week with the decision to try to paint Trinniberg's portrait, namely because I think he's a cool horse and looks like he'd be fun to do with his unique face and the bright red and yellow he has on his bridle.

It was love at first sight and is ironically one of my favorite boys’ names as well: the first racehorse I ever “officially” saw raced on Thursday. Alejandro, a now 4-year-old gelding by Alex’s Pal, ran 3rd in a Gulfstream Park claimer. I saw him as a two-year-old running his race from the Calder parking lot while trying to figure out how the hell to get to the grandstand. He ran last that day.

Lasix is a non-issue. It didn’t impact the predicted results of the Breeders’ Cup juvenile races, just the size of the fields. I don’t see how it’s a voting problem.

I wonder if and when Horse Greeley will get some credit as a sire. Still $2,500.

The squealing three-year-old gelding Sacred Tradition was finally adopted!

With his brother retired, I’m looking hard at Elnaawi, the half brother of To Honor and Serve by Street Sense. He’s been working really nicely for a once-run two-year-old under Kieran McLaughlin so far. Much like his brother, he’s less-than-twelving his eighths without pressure! I hope to see him do well on the New York trail.

It has occurred to me that I should have gone with more of my “heart” picks during the Breeders’ Cup… long-time love “Tap Tap” aka Tapizar won the Dirt Mile, one of the first sons of probably my most UNF-tastic stallions Henrythenavigator won the Juvenile Turf, another Tapit baby nearly knocked off Shanghai Bobby, and Calder pony Trinniberg won the Sprint.

Tweet o’ the Week

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Derby Watch: A Violent Solution

Bluegrass Cat, who ran second to Barbaro in the 2006 Kentucky Derby, was the winner of the 2005 Nashua Stakes in 1:38.02. This year’s champion Violence broke the stakes record, running the mile race in 1:35.32 (a difference of some 14 lengths).

I think post-Breeders’ Cup opinions on two-year-olds are no longer considered “early bird,” so it’s that time again to kickstart the Derby Watch series once again. Last year at this time I recall liking the looks of Street Sense's first crop, Union Rags was my unparalleled Derby favorite from the get-go, and Hansen was humming with early speed. I also liked Alpha fresh off his maiden score and a few horses photographed at the Breeders’ Cup (Sabercat, Majestic City, Optimizer but only as a turf horse!), and that’s about it from there. Who do I like this year so far?

I only discussed a handful of horses in “Early Bird Watch,” and admit I forgot about a couple of them (Sign, Evolutionary) that I know I would have otherwise included. However to start things off, I have to highlight one of the weekend’s best juvie efforts from colt Violence, who I did cover in my Early Bird Watch after a bumpy, but winning debut effort in August.

Stalking pacesetter and favorite big-bucks stablemate Darwin, the Medaglia d’Oro colt trained by Todd Pletcher swerved and wavered in the Aqueduct stretch but managed to snatch the win away from Vegas No Show by 2 lengths while setting a new stakes record. The colt showed remarkable ability early by sitting off the fast pace and coming in wide before showing his inexperience by cutting into his competitor. While he’s got a while to go before he is as good as his Breeders’ Cup winning stablemate Shanghai Bobby, he has long-term potential should he avoid future stewards’ inquiries.

I think Hard Spun colt Vegas No Show could have some ability next year as his older siblings have shown me, starting off somewhat slowly then bursting with talent after the spring. The Nashua (II), despite being a mere mile in distance, has a way of showcasing some good early Derby talent.

Brown Almighty works 5 furlongs on the Keeneland turf in 1:02 3/5 for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (I). He looked eager to be set loose and finished real nice.

Racing Beat: September 30

The nerd in me sighed with glee when I found an article online talking about the effect of blinkers on horses using *gasp* linear regression graphs. I f—king hate you, pre-calculus, but this softens your blow on my leisure time.

GAME ON DUDE!!! My HOTY/Classic pick since January hasn’t changed.

I was having a hard time figuring out which juvie filly I liked most for the Breeders’ Cup, So Many Ways or Dreaming of Julia… luckily Maggi Moss made the decision to keep the former out of the trying Breeders’ Cup, and automatically made me a bigger fan of her.

Black Caviar: the only champ to not retire this year.

There’s no record of an American horse being registered as Jailbait before… no I don’t know why I looked that one up… should be a future Big Brown filly name though, UNF!

I might actually go to the mall near here soon for the first time. Do you think Jo-Ann’s Fabrics would carry giant red pom-poms? I’m still toying with the idea of making a Trinniberg-mobile.

A great must-read that reflects my sentiments about those million-dollar yearlings written by Cot Campbell of Dogwood Stables, one of my favored connections. I mean really, other than A.P. Indy how many of those super-expensive auction horses returned the investment? How many champs do you see this year with less-than-trendy pedigrees AND less-than-perfect conformation (I can think of a few… I’ll Have Another, Little Mike, Dullahan, Fort Larned, Ron the Greek)? Exactly. I guess this is also why Seattle Slew is my favorite Triple Crown winner.

Royal Delta to race for the Classic and Dubai World Cup next year. Smart moves for this classy gal, hope she can kick it all next year.

Once again, we’re in for an embarrassing three-year-old presence in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I’m wagering that Alpha will finish second-last just like Stay Thirsty did… although I will admit, the latter seemed to be through with racing at that point last year while I’m not 100% sure Alpha’s fuel is spent just yet.

Hey, hey guys… remember before Paynter started running he was named M C’s Dream? Yeah, how embarrassing that would have been… IT’S NOT TOO LATE FOR TACO, STONESTREET!

I always wondered if this sort of thing ever happened, and it did this past week at Hoosier Park: the starting gate was immobilized during a route race and was unable to be relocated as the horses rounded the bend. Look at that one jockey vault over the rail!

I am not sure if I can pick between Brown Almighty or Fredericksburg should both go for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. MY HEART WILL SPLIT INTO TWO!

I’m ashamed at the Zenyatta nation dolts who said that Baby Z has that “handsome Bernardini head.” What? No. I think Stay Thirsty and Alpha look pretty similar to each other, but Baby Z looks like Zenyatta… the ears, the eyes, the nose… don’t argue with me!

Afonso de Sousa, a half brother to near-Triple Crown winner Big Brown sired by multi-G1 winner Henrythenavigator, was scratched in today’s first Derby qualifier/Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf berth at Newmarket (and one of the few European preps) won by Steeler, one of the first sons of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Raven’s Pass. Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Afonso de Sousa broke his maiden immediately at Leopardstown by an easy 9 lengths. *adds to the list*

Afonso de Sousa, a half brother to near-Triple Crown winner Big Brown sired by multi-G1 winner Henrythenavigator, was scratched in today’s first Derby qualifier/Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf berth at Newmarket (and one of the few European preps) won by Steeler, one of the first sons of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Raven’s Pass. Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Afonso de Sousa broke his maiden immediately at Leopardstown by an easy 9 lengths. *adds to the list*

Just when I thought I had my shortlist of “wow” yearlings sold at Keeneland September, Wendy Wooley snaps the Big Brown - Cold Awakening (by Dehere) colt that sold for $825,000. I’m already a big fan of the Big Browns, but this one really knocked my socks off! He’s a half to Illinois Derby (II) winner Recapturetheglory, and is likely (unfortunately) to be trained by Todd Pletcher, who will soon send out owner Coolmore’s other 2-year-old Big Brown colt within the next few weeks… no name yet though on that one!

Just when I thought I had my shortlist of “wow” yearlings sold at Keeneland September, Wendy Wooley snaps the Big Brown - Cold Awakening (by Dehere) colt that sold for $825,000. I’m already a big fan of the Big Browns, but this one really knocked my socks off! He’s a half to Illinois Derby (II) winner Recapturetheglory, and is likely (unfortunately) to be trained by Todd Pletcher, who will soon send out owner Coolmore’s other 2-year-old Big Brown colt within the next few weeks… no name yet though on that one!

who do you think will be in the top 3 year old group next year?

Asked by miny00ngi

Right now I don’t really like anyone that much. I don’t think we’ll see anyone amazing until December or January at the earliest, particularly good Triple Crown entries. If I had to pick a few, Brown Almighty, Purple Egg, and Palace Malice for the colts, and for the fillies (a much better group at this stage), Teen Pauline, Kauai Katie, and Maker or Breaker. Most of the good two-year-olds that are blooming right now will either fizzle out or become sprinters, though, so I’m not pinning hopes on anybody.

I think Big Brown and Curlin's first crops will be forces to be reckoned with.

Racing Beat: August 19

I’m going to be deep for a second here: Handicapping is a lot like the weather. Every day can’t be sunny, and even if the forecast predicts no rain, there’s no guarantee it won’t.

Another Dixieland Band bites the dust… er, retires: Simmard was having one hell of a year besting all my choices on the grass (Newsdad, Joinem).

Excuse me while I plan a road trip to/grand equine theft of Lane’s End.

Chantal Sutherland gets a 4-day ban from British stewards for overuse of the whip. At least she won oh wait.

Anyone who had a hunch bet in Friday’s Saratoga R5, Shakeira/Wholelottashakin, must have enjoyed a nice payoff.

I imagine those people who claim to have paid their way through college from handicapping are either a) college grads from the 80s when college was cheap, b) super-omg-awesome at exotics, c) bullshitting me. I’d feel lucky if I could buy a textbook every semester with my winnings.

The Travers looks likely to be laughably awful this year. Again. Time for a hunch bet on Alpha.

I need to write something about how much I dislike the DRF’s handicapping style. To each his own, but I purposely avoid whomever they pick 9 out of 10 times.

Is there anyone out there— still in training, that is— that can keep up with Trinniberg for the King’s Bishop (I)?

I have a new love on the horizon: the chestnut Big Brown colt Mach Seven is out of a City Zip daughter and is trained by Michael Matz. He was second-last in his debut trailing the whole way at Delaware Park though, so it’s a good thing I forgot to bet on that one… ANYWAY, I CALLED HIM FIRST! Looking at his pedigree maybe he’ll like turf…

New two-year-old names to add to the watch list: Sonofasamurai (First Samurai x Midnight Deelite, by Afternoon Deelites), a McPeek trainee owned by Susan McPeek, and Orb (Malibu Moon x Lady Liberty, by Unbridled) under the Phipps colors.

What good is suspending a trainer if they can just give directions to their assistant trainers during their “time-out” period? They’re still getting credit for training, but are basically getting a vacation off of actual work while doing it.

New favorite horse name? (Yes again): Pink Leninade, a filly by Lemon Drop Kid out of Soviet, by Unbridled.

I hope Questing [GB] gets a good, long career. She’s too talented to retire sooner!

Little Mike, you’re just too beautiful a sight… I too prefer running all alone up front.

Joel Rosario is a good front rider while Mike Smith does best with those coming from off the pace. Therefore, I think Atigun's a good match for Smith in the Travers…

Tweet o’ the Week:

Racing Beat: August 14

Gee… should I keep Winter Memories as the Racing Beat mascot horse? I need to revamp the image anyway.

WinStar has announced plans to stand Take Charge Indy when he is retired. Now there’s a horse I fear will retire by the year’s end if he doesn’t step back up again soon.

I gotta admit… cool names have to do a lot with how much I like a certain horse. If it’s a dumb/lazy name, I probably won’t like him as much.

Gosh… I can’t really decide on a select few favorites at Keeneland September… HOW DO THE SHEIKS DO IT? Oh yeah, they have oil barrels of money… surprisingly enough, a lot of big favorites of mine aren’t by Big Brown or Henrythenavigator like I thought!

Shackleford never had a chance on the off-track of the Vanderbilt (I), but could have probably done better in the previous day’s Whitney (I) where the track was fast and speed held well. Derp moment, much?

Stayclassysandiego, wherever did you go?

You know you’re a nerd when… you pronounce Kauai Katie's name (and would have preferred it to be) Kawaii Katie. Uguu~

I picked Wise Dan for the Fantasy Handicapping Challenge because a) it was off the turf and b) he reminds me most of Fourstardave.

Can an American win the Arlington Million (I) on Saturday? How about it, Reinier?

Azeri must be real proud of her kids, though I don’t know how I feel about Take Control yet.

There’s no good reason why Suffolk Downs shouldn’t get that casino license (this is a very big hot issue right now in Massachusetts as casinos have now been legalized). They’re the only ones to formally apply for one on the eastern side of the state not to mention they can probably have a real nice outfit when all is complete… AND MAYBE THEN THE MASS CAP WILL RETURN!

Shack’s little bro Stephanoatsee is coming back soon! AND O’Prado Again! AND Awesome Feather will run again soon.

My insides sank a little with Know More's victory out west. I would really prefer not to have another I’lll Have Another scenario next year.

The Travers is beginning to feel like last year’s where there isn’t much of a headliner fronting the race. All the Triple Crown winners and runners-up are out/retired. I’m particularly miffed because with no Paynter, I probably won’t get very good odds with Street Life OR Nonios. I might have to work Hansen in there somehow, I’m hoping people are doubting him after that West Virginia Derby. (Also, I’m hoping Called to Serve goes in… I got some fan-freakin-tastic show odds on him!). Heart bet goes to Teeth of the Dog or Street Life, though I will of course have to wait and see how the field shapes up…

If the Breeders’ Cup is the “Superbowl of horse racing,” why are we repeating venues, hmm? Looks like I’m not the only one who is pissed and truly believes it will result in biased outcomes.

I hate to say it, but I kind of saw Awesome Maria's injury-induced retirement coming. Looking at you, Todd Pletcher.

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Obsessively providing a comprehensive and personal glance at the sport of kings through original photography, handicapping analysis, editorials, and much more.

Tracks visited: Calder, Saratoga, Belmont, Suffolk, Aqueduct.


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