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Tragedy in the Bay State


An image of Carcava’s Hunt from my first visit to Suffolk Downs, a place of small-time local trainers.

The last time I felt this way was when it was announced that dear little Paynter had laminitis. But in a way, this feels worse— since it has to do more with money than with heart, it is that much more hopeless.

I’ve been following the fight for Massachusetts casino licenses since the push for it began several years ago. Mohegan Sun signs popped up around neighboring towns where I currently call home around the western part of the state. They said that at least one casino license would be granted for both the western and eastern part of the state should it be voted to allow casino gambling and if the proposed towns were okay with it. Local votes gave a nod to Springfield, not far from where I live now, and up until recently, a battle waged for a casino either in Everett or in Revere, which would share grounds with the struggling Suffolk Downs. A casino license to the Downs would buoy the historic establishment for at least 15 years, but would also grant Mohegan Sun controlling power of both the already-approved Springfield facility as well as the Revere one. The state gambling commission which approves proposals upon the local voters’ nod, announced it today— Everett wins, Suffolk loses. The track, which is one of the oldest in the country, is all but dead.

I have had a profound sense of pride about my home state for my whole life, even more so after I packed my bags to head to Florida for three years. We are a place of acceptance, of revolutionary idea, and of great respect for history. As I watched the teardown of the historic Orange Bowl in Dade County, Florida, I thought to myself that this was the sort of thing that wouldn’t happen in Massachusetts. They would never do that to one of Cigar's battlegrounds, where he won after shipping in from New York complete with a police escort. They wouldn't do that to the place where Skip Away skipped away, where Commentator romped, where War Relic, Whirlaway, Menow, and Stymie all flew home in front and where Tom Smith discovered Seabiscuit walking through the fog one morning. 

This wasn’t the first track to die nor will it likely be the last, but it is the last of its kind in Massachusetts as well as New England, which has played host to so many great sporting events including those within Thoroughbred racing. 


Suffolk standout sprinter Classic Speed, who quickly became my buddy when I met him. Such a sweet little gelding.

All in all, I have tremendous mixed feelings about the track’s closure. I’m sad to see it go in my home state. Angry about the decision, which could have benefited so many hard-working track employees who will now have to look elsewhere. Worried about the fate of New England racehorses who will likely be sold, and hopefully into caring, cautious hands. Annoyed, because I’m convinced more could have been done to make the Suffolk Downs proposal a lot better in the eyes of the state commission. In November, I get to vote as to whether or not I want casinos at all in Massachusetts courtesy of a referendum ballot. After months of flying the “Vote Suffolk Downs” sticker from my car, I’m not sure which box I’ll check.

Thank you to everyone who worked to make Suffolk Downs what it was as I knew it and what I’ll remember it for.

Here’s hoping the footage came out okay

As you guys may know, I was in East Boston earlier today shooting video and photos of CANTER New England’s Suffolk Showcase adoption event. While not everything went perfectly, I did get some good stuff, or so I hope. I haven’t a clue where my USB cord is for my video camera so I have to order a new one and wait for that sucker to come in the mail…

Other than that, it was a good day. I got to meet/chat with Susan Salk from the Off-Track Thoroughbreds blog and jockey Janelle Campbell. The CANTER crew was quite nice and appreciative of my presence, too.

Racing Beat: October 20


More Suffolk Downs sibling royalty! Jo Jo is a half to graded stakes-placed gelding Setsuko, who is best known as one of Game On Dude's most fierce rivals and a habitual runner-up in the biggest G1 races out west.

Dullahan retires with a tendon injury and curiosity as to whether or not the U.S. market supports synthetic breeding. The Unbridled’s Song in him should help him move a bit in attracting interest. Weeps for a Dullahan-less future… RIP buddy, it was a pleasure seeing you at Belmont.

Rest in peace, Hoofit [NZ]. Game all day, and a source of “pick a horse based on their name” joy. Also RIP to Take Control. And Formulaforsuccess, who I saw race this year/photographed.

I get ridiculously starstruck in horse racing… the guy photographer who pointed out Honor Code to me at Belmont goes by “Easy Goer” on Flickr. Had I known that I would have tensed up just like I did when I was in line at Saratoga next to “Rock and Racehorses.” >.> #incurable

Already interested in what the headlines might say when Flashback comes back, er or returns? What sounds better?

An anti-casino protester broke the nose of a 60-year-old supporter/track employee at a Suffolk Downs rally this past week. Not great press for them. Polls currently show 49% of East Boston voters support a casino at the Downs— which will be receiving a city vote on November 5— while 43% dissent. The vote will be even more intriguing now that Suffolk has dropped Caesars as a management partner after finding out they had history of criminal activity overseas. THE PLOT THICKENS!

If only we could bet on who we think will finish last. Alpha's a near-lock in the Dirt Mile!

Don’t let me down Joe Talamo, Moreno has been doing surprisingly well every time out and needs an A+ ride to stay alive in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

I’m glad I got to see Mizdirection in the flesh before she retires as a broodmare prospect selling at the November sale. She had one of my favorite Breeders’ Cup performances from last year— 2nd just to Calidoscopio [ARG]— and is just such a cool mare.

I’m beginning to sense that maybe it’s not such a grand comeback story that Point of Entry is returning straight to the Breeders’ Cup Turf after a 5-month layoff and dozens of pins in his leg. Let the man go into retirement peacefully!

Another cool mare set to retire: Include Me Out. Includes are pretty darn cool by nature.

Tweet o’ the Week: I get jealous of these people who get to go on multi-farm tours


A smackerel of good news

This Sunday (October 20) I’ll be at Suffolk Downs shooting footage of CANTER New England’s Suffolk Showcase as part of a video project I’m doing for them about CANTER and adopting off-track Thoroughbreds. I’ll be shooting interviews with people too, and hopefully I’ll be able to rent out an EX-1 camera from school (if not though, no big deal, my gear is more than good enough!)

Come out to East Boston if you can! It’ll be a good day to browse for ponies and a rare opportunity to walk around the backside!

News outlets will probably skip over this tidbit

If you follow Suffolk Downs at all, you will know of the friendly rivalry between the two turf sprinters Swampy Town and National Hero, a two-time New England Turf Horse of the Year winner. The two “iron horse” geldings clashed multiple times over the Boston track in recent years and several times in 2013, with National Hero more often than not getting the better finish of the two, including one victory in June coming from off-the-pace.

Unfortunately, it was announced yesterday that National Hero had a mishap at the start of the eighth race; he became “entangled,” lost his rider, and went through the rail. He was euthanized afterwards, sustaining “catastrophic injury” and declared a non-starter. Swampy Town was not in the field.

I’m a little disappointed with outlets not covering this sort of news right away. Still a winner at 11 years old and a son of El Prado [IRE] with 45 races under his belt and a fan base to boot, he deserves more attention.

CANTER Spotlight!: Adorable bay mare

Since someone STOLE MY GHOSTZAPPER FILLY I thought I would do another one of these. Kidding… sort of… that post got more notes than I thought, so I figured I would spotlight another OTTB listed at CANTER New England under the notion I am helping!

This is Carcava’s Hunt:


Mind you, she’s a small Thoroughbred at 15.2 hands, but when I met her last year (when she was 4, now she’s 5), I don’t think I’ve seen a sweeter, calmer horse.


As her connections explained to me at the time, Suffolk Downs doesn’t have the greatest turf course, so her turf abilities were never fully realized or nurtured if they were present, so she’s unable to race that well while being a racehorse there. She’s very sweet and seems to really love people— and apparently will follow you around all day with no shank needed!

Her price was recently cut in half to an adoption fee of $800… and I for one would definitely like to see her have a good home. Hit up her CANTER listing if you’re interested!

Hey hey guys, it’s my 24th and in case you’re looking for a gift idea


Purty three-year-old Ghostzapper filly at Suffolk Downs is for sale. She’s not running that well and they’re looking to rehome her through CANTER. I think she’d do better on turf considering Suffolk doesn’t have much of a grass course and her pedigree reads like she would. All I need is $4,000. SIIIIIIIIGH.

This blog is more “fan” than “handicapping”

So it’s fitting for me to take pause and gush over all the pony-related things I have coming up and going on:

  • In 6 days, I get to start my Saratoga trip, something I’ve been waiting to do again since last summer. I hope I get to meet new people there, get great photos and a little video possibly, and top last year’s good day at the windows.
  • One week from today I get to meet Funny Cide, my favorite Kentucky Derby winner
  • Tomorrow I’ll be at Suffolk shooting pony footage. It’s a pretty pivotal day for me to shoot, and I do believe Golden Ticket's claimer brother is set to race that day.

As for handicapping:

  • HAD MY HEART IN MY THROAT and I’m still proud of Moreno who is still improving and was stubborn as heck in yesterday’s Jim Dandy. Ghostzappers only get better with age. As for Palace Malice, he was a clear winner but I’m still trying to decide how good he is in comparison to Orb and Oxbow. I admit, I felt biased to not include him in my Early Bird Watches last year because I felt Todd Pletcher would have ruined him by the time May rolled around.
  • Cashed a little win bet on that-gray-pony-I-saw-and-petted-on-the-backside, Classic Speed, who gunned to the front and never looked back in a sprint yesterday at Suffolk Downs. Yay heart picks.
  • If there was a horse who had to beat Paynter, I’m glad it was Kettle Corn. I do like him a lot and he’s an ace on synthetic.
  • I was right to doubt Kauai Katie, and it looks like my “BET ALL THE SPEIGHTSTOWNS!” strategy is wise already after the Prioress (I) fell to Lightning Bay.
  • One bet I was livid I wasn’t able to make on time: 19-1 Bio Pro, a War Front colt, racing at Del Mar. Ffffffuuuu— this always happens to me.

Racing Beat: July 14


Sounds like the DRF is going to be not-free anymore. Out of all the handicapping sites you could possibly pay for, I would highly recommend against it. Hell, I recommend against using it while it’s still free!

Happy 78th birthday to Suffolk Downs!

A two-year-old colt by my 2009 Derby pick Pioneerof the Nile (who is turning out to be a good sire already!) named Boston Strong will contribute 10% of his earnings towards the One Fund.

I’m not sure less than a month after a serious racing schedule counts as “time off” for Orb, who is already breezing 4 furlongs at Fair Hill.

Remembering the little people who mattered on the back side: rest in peace to Groupie Doll's regular hotwalker, Jerry Click.

My newest betting strategy: when your pick loses, bet him again next time out. They just keep winning after they lose for me the first time from what I’ve noticed… the most recent example being Bad Hombre, who ran 3rd in a show bet for me on Belmont Day and won next time out.

Fastnet Rock boasted a book of some 400 mares in his most recent season. Now I feel even worse about my non-existent romantic life!

Recent Royal Heroine (II) winner Schiaparelli has been retired perfectly sound. Not a terrible choice for a 5-year-old, but right in the middle of the season feels kind of odd.

The internet erupted with talk of Ellis Park track recorder breaker Ride On Curlin, a two-year-old who broke the 5 1/2 furlong mark going 1:03 flat in his second start. He’s been rocking in his workouts, too, and he’s reading like a hot juvenile with both parents being good two-year-olds. Good to note the second-place finisher Union Hall is bred similarly to Union Rags.

Tweet o’ the Week: I SAW HIM FIRST!


Anyone have jockey-related questions?

I’m fleshing out the interview outline for Lipsticks & Longshots. Do you guys and gals have anything in particular you’d like to know about race riding, becoming a professional jockey, or anything related to that?

Going to the Thoroughbred races, keeping "track" of the memories. 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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