By Pete Spanos - With the leaves still falling from Keeneland's splendid 2004 fall meet, it is appropriate, perhaps obligatory, to offer a fan's salute to the old guard's open minds, adventurous spirits, and free-thinking ways. Yes, I said Keeneland. Who would have thought they could be such radicals?
By Ray Paulick - Though its brightest days may be in the past, the Japan Racing Association has decided to allow a little more sun to shine on a sport and industry that for the past 50 years has virtually been closed to outsiders.
By Dan Arrigo -- When I became involved in Thoroughbred racing in the 1950s, it was a sport of numbers. Now, it seems to be more of a business of numbers than a sport, but most racing fans still spend more time looking at the figures on a tote board--or on TVG--than they do admiring colorful silks or counting horse's legs in the post parade.
Ray Paulick - David Guillory has never watched a replay of the race that ended his riding career. He's never wanted to. Guillory remembers turning into the stretch, seeing a horse just in front veering in on him, and yelling at the horse's rider. He doesn't recall what happened next, but he doesn't need to see a videotape to remind him.
John W. Greathouse Jr. - The jockeys at Churchill Downs and Hoosier Park who recently chose to sit out the meet over insurance issues have made a grievous mistake. And don't think for one second that the trainers and owners will soon forget what these riders did.
By Ray Paulick - The Nov. 7 dispute between a group of riders and the management of Churchill Downs was not the first and surely will not be the last time jockeys have taken action to express displeasure with their plight.
By William Keith - Each year, the Thoroughbred industry has a great championship day--the Breeders' Cup. At the end of the big day, we have winners, but NO champions. Instead, that determination is put on hold. The fans are asked to wait. Three months later, in the middle of winter, last year's champions are finally announced. By then, it's stale news.
By Ray Paulick -- Lone Star Park was a sight to behold Oct. 30 when the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships came to town. An enthusiastic crowd of 53,717 horse lovers from around the world was on hand to take part in the most important day in the history of the Texas racing industry.
By Gary West -- The message echoed through the grandstand and spread through the crowd. In the stable area, people from Europe, California, Kentucky, and New York gladly picked up the message and passed it along. Now, if only the so-called leaders in Texas aren't deaf.
By Ray Paulick -- Comedian George Carlin would have you believe that "paper or plastic" and "aisle or window" are the only real choices in America these days. With important national, state, and local elections coming up Nov. 2, I beg to differ.
By Barry Irwin -- Racing is at a crossroads on many fronts these days. The New York Racing Association has its back up against the wall. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association is in a leadership transition. The Thoroughbred Championship Tour is trying to get off the ground. Purses face erosion from off-shore betting schemes. But the single greatest problem facing the game--how to restore integrity to the race itself--is not receiving the attention it so desperately requires.
By Dan Liebman -- In Florida for a few days this past winter, Gulfstream Park was an obvious place to spend a couple of hours. Keeping in mind Florida is a leading retirement center, it was no surprise that the average age of the patrons at the track that day was similar to that necessary to receive a "Here's Your Medicaid Card" welcome.
By Gary West -- So far it has been very amusing--all these folks boarding up the windows of their prejudices and then fleeing to the mountains of their preconceptions. And it could be entertaining indeed Oct. 30 when they have to scurry to escape the avalanche.
By Dan Liebman - For whatever reasons--there are surely many--this could be the first time in the history of the Breeders' Cup that no starter that last raced in England makes the trip for one of the event's turf races. If that is the case, it will be a shame.
By Morton Cathro - The recent death of a world-renowned scientist and the current flap over medications and "milkshakes" have combined to stir memories of one of the more sensational and far-reaching episodes in the annals of the American Turf.
by Dan Liebman -- In a feature story in last week's issue of The Blood-Horse, Airdrie Stud owner and former Kentucky governor Brereton C. Jones said he is personally against slot machines. If truth be told, there probably isn't a single horse breeder who actually hoped the day would come when slots would be necessary for the survival of racing.
By Jay Stephens -- This year's opening day of the Keeneland fall meeting--Oct. 8--features a long overdue salute to Whirlaway. The "Calumet Comet" was the first Triple Crown winner to prep at Keeneland, and the opening day festivities will celebrate that fact. But there is much more to celebrate with regards to Whirlaway than simply his preparation at Keeneland or his victorious run at the Triple Crown in 1941. Whirlaway was a true equine hero.
By Dan Liebman - An article about Dubai published in the Chicago Tribune travel section July 4, 2004, states that the ruling Maktoum family's oil riches bring in about $250 million a day, or roughly $1 billion every four days.
By Evan I. Hammonds - Gonzo journalist Dr. Hunter S. Thompson coined the phrase, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." The wacky, win-at-any-cost world of sports today is plenty weird and offers multiple examples on a weekly, if not daily, basis that make the phrase one of fact, not speculation.
By Dan Liebman - William S. Kilroy was racing a small, modest stable in Louisiana 30 years ago when he decided he wanted to enter the breeding side of the business. He approached a family friend with whom he had much in common, and the two hatched a plan to execute Kilroy's wishes.
By Lucy Young Hamilton - Many causes connected to racing deserve our best efforts and generosity. I am personally connected with several, and believe in each of them, but the work of Grayson-Jockey Club is special. Here the good graces of those in racing directly benefit the animal that makes it all possible.
By Dan Liebman - Journalists live for good stories. More so, good quotes. So, when British jockey Kieren Fallon said the following, it was like music to a columnist's tone-deaf ears: "We all know you can't fix races. It doesn't happen. It does in a fairy-tale world but not in the real world."
By Joe Hickey - Of all the great memories bequeathed to me by my boss, the great breeder E.P. Taylor, none is more special than those of accompanying him on many one-on-one after-hour visits to the Windfields Farm barns during "evening stables."
By Dan Liebman - If only the Aug. 21 ESPN telecast of the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I), Alabama Stakes (gr. I), and Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) had followed the baseball game between Colorado and Montreal rather than Richmond and Redmond.
By Dr. Ted Hill - Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as phenylbutazone and Banamine, and some prednisone or similar steroid to reduce inflammation in aching joints, tendons, and ligaments, the supporters argued, would simply help horses withstand the rigors of frequent racing.
By Dan Liebman - In early September, the first meeting is scheduled to be held of the new task force examining the Thoroughbred sales arena. The group is being organized by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and is in response to the questions raised by the Alliance for Industry Reform (AIR) and its founder, Satish Sanan.
By Morton Cathro - When Golden Souvenir, a maiden, romped home by four lengths Aug. 1in the final leg of the Pick Six to ignite the biggest payoff in California horse racing history, the winner's circle at Del Mar, "where the Turf meets the surf," suddenly was engulfed in a tidal wave of humanity celebrating the $2,100,117 bonanza.
By Gary McMillen -- Sometimes it takes a thorn to get rid of a splinter. Like a Maryland blue crab dropped out of a basket, I scurried to the safety of my office. There were questions I needed to ask myself. Smarty Jones did not give me what I wanted but maybe he gave me what I needed.
By Dan Liebman -- There are so many interest groups involved that this is probably not even a realistic vision. Sure, at such events as the Jockey Club Round Table and Arizona Symposium, many of racing's leaders do assemble. But after a few meetings, they return to their own little worlds.
By Steve Haskin -- Cries of "Smarty! Smarty!" and "We love you, Smarty," poured out from the large crowd gathered along the rail from one end of the stretch to the other. It was one final burst of emotion from an adoring public who opened their hearts to this dynamo of a horse.
By Dan Liebman -- Hall of Fame trainer P.G. Johnson recently died; his plaque doesn't mention he won the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) with Volponi. Johnson not only trained the colt, but he and his family owned and more importantly to many of us, bred him as well.
By Paul Volponi -- Johnson was elected to racing's Hall of Fame in 1997. The honor was a tribute to the trainer's incredible consistency. He was enshrined without a dominating champion. Instead of a Pegasus, he rose on the wings of a work ethic that woke him at 2:30 a.m. each morning as he walked a treadmill and watched tapes of races before heading to the barn.
By Dan Liebman -- About 10 years ago, Robert A. "Cowboy" Jones quit keeping track. But it's safe to say the number is more than 50,000. While others spend billions each year on diet books, diet pills, diet fads, and diet programs, Cowboy Jones lost 50,000 pounds in a sweatbox. Didn't cost him a penny.
By Dan Liebman -- Among the comments heard at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale were two that were neither profound nor lengthy, but nonetheless quite significant. From Patrick Lawley-Wakelin: "People were more prepared this year." From Walt Robertson: "It is a good time to own a horse."
By Lenny Shulman -- The picture lingers in the mind of Trudy McCaffery, and in the memories of racing fans. Two great gray horses thundering down the stretch in the 1997 Preakness Stakes (gr. I), shadow roll to shadow roll, both with one eye on the finish and one fixed on each other, making sure they were running together till the end.
By Ray Paulick -- This is supposed to be the time of year when the racing world starts talking Saratoga and Del Mar, and the search begins for the hot 2-year-olds who look like they could be Triple Crown prospects 10 months from now.
By Steve Montemarano -- His quick sentences are a collage of racing history. Looking into Jimmy Croll's blue eyes, one senses sincerity. He puts you at ease, and his uncomplicated approach to both people and horses becomes clear. When in Croll's company, there's no struggle to make conversation. Heck no. It's a straight-up affair.
By Ray Paulick -- Kentucky's two Thoroughbred auction companies, Fasig-Tipton and Keeneland, were not happy when the subject of ethics in the bloodstock market was broached here in an April 3, 2004, editorial.
By Morton Cathro -- Horse racing's venerable merry-go-round, better known as the Northern California Fair Circuit, once again is on its dizzying summertime whirl through the county fairs of the Golden State.
By Ray Paulick -- A story in the July 3 issue of The Blood-Horse on the resignation of William S. Farish as the U.S. ambassador to the Court of St. James took an unfair and undeserving shot at the master of Lane's End Farm, a longtime friend of the Bush family whose three-year tenure as ambassador came at one of the most trying times for America since World War II.
By Earl Ola -- Thirty years ago, there were 220 racetracks in America; today there are just over 100. Belmont's stands where filled for races like the two-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup, the 2 1/4-mile Gallant Fox, etc. Today the same races are run at 1 1/4 miles and Belmont's stands are mostly empty for those races.
By Ray Paulick -- The intention of the Breeders' Cup to hold the World Thoroughbred Championships at Monmouth Park in 2007 is good news for New Jersey racing and breeding interests, but the industry's economic picture there could be far worse by then than it is today.
By John W. Greathouse Jr. -- It has been a rough time at our family-owned farm recently. My mother, brothers, and I have had to bury the two best stallions ever to stand at Glencrest Farm. Clever Trick was euthanized June 5 and Wavering Monarch had to be put down just 12 days later.
By Ray Paulick -- Currently playing across America's racing landscape are two stories that reflect the difficult decision owners of championship-level racehorses face concerning when to have their stars "call it a career."
By John Gaines -- Kentucky is widely acknowledged as the horse capital of the world, the leading horse state in the United States, and the epicenter of horse industry leadership. Paradoxically, this leadership doesn't extend to our own state capital or to forging an economic partnership with fellow Kentuckians.
By Ray Paulick -- Haven't we been here before? A horse, one that by the first Saturday in June is carrying too heavy an impost--an entire industry--for any Thoroughbred, is caught and passed in the cruel stretch of New York's Belmont Park.
By William Nack -- Of the many images that kept resurfacing in the mind's eye in the wake of Saturday's Belmont Stakes, none was more vividly or repeatedly recalled than the two scenes played out in and around Penny Chenery's set of box seats near the finish line.