Final Turn

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Have Horse, Will Travel

By Victor Zast - Observers believe there are so many rich purses in America that traveling overseas is a needless risk. Still others blame the medication, quarantine rules, and a fear of the region by Americans for a reluctance to ship. Whatever the reason for some to stay put, people with a sense of adventure will travel.

Give Mom Her Due

By Steve Haskin - Mom's Command has slipped through the cracks again. After having her name on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2005, the 1985 New York filly Triple Crown winner was conspicuous by her absence this year.

Question Yourself

By Deirdre B. Biles - It's inevitable. Every year when the sales of 2-year-olds in training start revving up and the babies start working fast, The Blood-Horse receives a flurry of letters and e-mails. Angry writers, many of them breeders and owners, complain about how detrimental it is to the Thoroughbred breed to make young horses breeze at high speeds.

Belly-to-Belly Business

By Dan Liebman - You may think it is ludicrous to spend $16 million for an unraced horse--any unraced horse--and for 99.99% of the buyers in the world, you would probably be right. But for the buyer and underbidder on this colt, Coolmore and Darley, respectively, it can make sense.

Read All About It -- Or Not

By T.D. Thorton - It was no surprise the Thoroughbred industry went into its well-practiced "wounded party" act when the Boston Globe and Washington Post both recently announced that statistical racing coverage--those several-inch squares of abbreviated agate type--would be slashed from each paper's sports section.

Butt Out

By Lenny Shulman - The rumors of Gulfstream Park's demise, happily, are vastly exaggerated.

Oh for the Yesteryear

By Eugene Levey - Change is inevitable and necessary, but it should be made for the right reasons. Unfortunately, most of the changes in recent years have robbed racing in general and racing fans in particular. I speak of the abbreviated careers of modern-day racehorses compared to their counterparts of yesteryear.

Head Injuries to Jockeys

By Edward S. Bonnie - Why do I care what riders wear on their heads, whether jockeys, exercise riders, or just people who ride horses for pay or pleasure? I was, and am, one of them. And, it finally happened to me.

Breeders' Cup to Lead Way

By Fred A. Pope - A number of us have tried to find a workable, national structure to package and present racing. Times change. Situations change. A situation analysis today reveals the Breeders' Cup is the right organization to execute a vision for racing's rebirth.

Entry-Level Error

By Terese Karmel - Whenever I visit my family, who are scattered up and down the East Coast and as far west as St. Louis, I invariably touch down at Baltimore/Washington International Airport. There, like a strong wind, the tug of my Washington, D.C., roots pulls me back to the more than two decades I spent in that city. I relish the chance to read the Washington Post, the paper I was raised on; the paper that, as a journalist, has always been my standard.

A New Era

By Bill Casner - The recent Breeders' Cup board meeting that resulted in the adoption of a new set of governance by-laws is the beginning of a new era that will allow for more inclusivity, transparency, and accountability.

I Contain Multitudes

By Phil Combest - There are men and women who, when they pass, leave a hole in the universe. Bob was one of those people. I'm certain anyone who ever spent any time with him would agree.

Opportunities Ahead

By D.G. Van Clief Jr. - For those inclined to look on the bright side, present company included, 2005 was a challenging year for Thoroughbred racing. As one Turf writer pointed out, even the best on-track performance was fraught with peril, as Afleet Alex and jockey Jeremy Rose overcame near disaster in the Preakness (gr. I).

Pledge of Allegiance

By Chris McCarron - I was a jockey for 28 years and I will always think like a jockey and do what I can to support my brethren. I consider my allegiance to the jockeys very important and I trust the jockeys who know me feel I have lived up to that.

Good-bye to '05

By Evan Hammonds - Against my mother's "if you can't say something nice" advice, I'd like to rip into my own personal list of the seven most annoying things about 2005--some serious, some with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

Not In Our Stars

By Larry Levin - The recent retirement of Afleet Alex has produced the usual frustration when a rising star leaves for the breeding shed. As was the case with Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex's last race was the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). The Triple Crown series, which used to showcase future talent, has become more of a swan song.

A Time to Give

By Victor Zast - People in racing are the most generous on earth, but now is the season to be sharing, and the less lucky in life are hoping that we, the more fortunate, won't forget them. So overwhelming is the power of fund-raising initiatives dedicated to saving our horses that often the efforts devoted to helping humans in need are unseen.

Reunion Time

By Tom Gallo - I just finished reading The Blood-Horse's article on ReRun's brilliant initiative to save retired horses from slaughter and reunite them with their original breeders. According to the article, ReRun has created stickers for use on The Jockey Club foal certificate to provide contact information for a subsequent owner who is unable or unwilling to provide a retirement home for a Thoroughbred.

Hope Remains

By Tom LaMarra - Safe Place was a big, lumbering gelding who, after seven starts, was still learning the ropes. He had broken his maiden in his second start, but then registered several frustrating near-misses.

Lady Mouse

By Joe Hickory - Silhouetted against the expanse of sun-dappled Leadenham Creek, the tiny figure sweetening the hummingbird feeder casts a long shadow. Beckoned inside, and straightening as best arthritis would allow, she extended a hand. "Welcome. Welcome to Tench Tilghman's house."

International Flavor

By Dan Liebman - Standing outside the quarantine barn at Belmont Park a week prior to the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, Nick Clarke, retired head of the International Racing Bureau, was reflecting on the foreign participation over the history of the event.

An Artist and A Gentleman

By Jacqueline Duke - Like those of his spiritual ancestor Edward Troye, Reeves' painterly qualities and gentlemanly demeanor were intertwined.

Oh So Close

By Steve Haskin - When Afleet Alex returned to Belmont Park July 28 following surgery to repair a small hairline fracture of his ankle, it was concluded by most everyone that two possibilities existed regarding his future: he either would recover sufficiently to race as a 4-year-old, or his career as a racehorse was over.

Set of Cups

By Victor Zast - If one is willing to view demise as a positive force, then it becomes easy to reckon with change. Racing should consider conducting three World Thoroughbred Championships in the course of the year, not one.

Bon Appetit!

By Morton Cathro - Would you like a steak? Or a hamburger or bowl of chili, perhaps? For dessert we suggest a banana split, strawberry waffles, a slice of cherry pie, or donuts...and would you like a cold beer with that?

Sucker Punched

By Gary McMillen - Enough Doppler radar. It was Saturday afternoon when I drove out to Lake Pontchartrain to gather my thoughts and make a decision. Sitting on the seawall, listening to the splash of waves on the concrete steps, I noticed there were no seagulls. That's when I decided to evacuate. If the birds didn't want to be in New Orleans, I sure as hell didn't want to stay, either.

High Drama

By Dan Liebman - Keeneland sales director Geoffrey Russell said the action during the select sessions of the September yearling sale was "like theater, the best theater anybody's seen in a long time."

The Nuckols Brothers

By Alfred H. Nuckols, Jr - On Sept. 2, an era in the history of Central Kentucky Thoroughbred breeding ended with the death of Charles Nuckols Jr. "Uncle Chas" to me and "Charlie" to his many friends, he was the last of a generation of Thoroughbred breeders known throughout the industry as "the Nuckols Brothers."

Lengthening the Short List

By Dr. Jeffrey T. Berk - Aside from the winner's circle, there is no place more exciting in the Thoroughbred world than the public auction, where buyers congregate at the sale ring in an attempt to purchase the next "big horse," whether it be designated for resale or racing.

Silent Movie

By Larry Levin - Racing has developed a murky way of doing business. Concealing troubling information does not protect the sport--it allows the problem to grow. Nor is keeping the process hidden going to silence the growing number of people who have had enough. As New Orleans musician Dr. John put it, "If ignorance is bliss, why ain't more people happy?"

Dream Works

By Joe Hickey - Fanciful locker room tales aside, grown men are prone to sports fantasies worthy of young boys: catching a Tom Brady spiral to win the title game; walking into the clubhouse at Pinehurst or Torrey Pines with a two-stroke lead; crushing Randy Johnson's high heat for a walk-off home run; or hoisting the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trophy aloft for all the world to covet.

Ageless Passion

By Victor Zast - It was good that I got to Lisa Sammons on the Tuesday that I did. A couple days later, she was flat on her back in bed. It turns out the dentist extracted her wisdom teeth. Luckily, I was the one to extract a bit of her wisdom.

Due Day

By Dan Liebman - Countless times that patented Pat Day ride has been witnessed and marveled at--that uncanny ability to give a horse a breather on the turn for home so there would be enough in the tank for the stretch drive.

A Level Field Within

By Fred A. Pope - The Holy Grail in competition is a level playing field. It is natural for people to try to gain an advantage. A jockey "race riding" to advantage is acceptable. Giving a horse a performance-altering drug is not.

Oklahoma OK

By Jeff Wise - Twenty horses pounding down the stretch at Churchill Downs in May, or perhaps half that number taking Saratoga's clubhouse turn with the famous grandstand roofline as a backdrop, are the sport's defining pictures. But there are other, more obscure, and unanticipated moments. Their obscurity and their surprise make them just as special.

Derby Doc

By Barry Irwin - Alex Harthill never wanted to be the author or the subject of a book about his life, preferring to protect his friends, dead or alive. "Doc" passed July 16, but versions of his tales will be told as long as racing offices crank out overnights.

Hellion on Horseback

By Morton Cathro - In the early months of World War II, before the horse cavalry became fully mechanized, young equestrians such as Paul Mellon, George "Pete" Bostwick, and Oleg Cassini, among others from the Eastern establishment, converged on Fort Riley, Kan., to hone their riding skills and earn commissions in the United States Army cavalry. Into this temporary bastion of fox-hunting, polo-playing blue bloods rode another officer candidate, jockey Ralph Neves.

Last Call

By Joe Hickey - John S. Covalli, 78, who had ridden Miche to win the 1952 Santa Anita Handicap (upon disqualification of Intent) was about to rejoin Sally, his wife of 51 years. Nary a blood relative present; funeral home staff matched mourners: two dolls and a pair of track-sore old-timers. The one on the gimp read committal prayers from a book borrowed from a priest.

BET On It

By Pete Lang - The Triple Crown season is a whirlwind for people in the Thoroughbred industry, especially when you're right in the middle of it.

Attached to Lyphard

By Marion Gross - I don't know anywhere else you can go and see a 35-year-old horse. I would like for Stop the Music to eat more but he seems happy and healthy. Guess he eats as much as he wants. Older people don't eat as much either.

Measure of Greatness

By Dan Liebman - Perspective may be needed to realize something is indeed great. That is why it is commonly written that men are best judged after death. The time to reflect by future generations helps identify and define those who were great.

Uniform Rules Needed

By Laura de Seroux - In regard to uniform national medication rules, at this point it looks like Kentucky is leading the way in establishing the tough policies we need to clean up racing.

Be Like Mikey

By Roberta Smoodin - If Mike's Thunder could talk, the stories he would tell. About his race career, during which the now 8-year-old gelding earned more than $375,000 and had 15 wins in allowance and claiming races, showing the kind of heart and fortitude that define what is best about the Thoroughbred horse. But the more interesting part of his story remains a mystery: What happened to Mikey in retirement?

Riders Up

By Dan Liebman - A politician wins the primary but is defeated in the general election. A pro football player on a winning Super Bowl team is traded to the worst team in the league. A rider wins the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), and then two weeks later loses the Preakness (gr. I).

The Power of Ten

By Morton Cathro - When owner Jerry Moss attached his green-and-pink colors to slot 10 during the post-position draw for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), he unwittingly was saddling Giacomo for a wild ride through storied Derby history.

Reality: Vegas Style

By Bill Nack - For a fleeting instant, as the leaders powered off the final turn at Churchill Downs and Afleet Alex appeared to be threading his way through horses to the lead, a tremendous roar burst forth from the throngs surrounding me and suddenly, even magically, it was as though I'd been transported back to the River City and were seeing the spectacle first hand.

Won't Get Fooled Again

By Lenny Shulman - In its first big test under the new, open, responsive management of executive director Ingrid Fermin, the California Horse Racing Board proved itself quite capable of continuing the Keystone Kops routine perfected by the regime of former executive director Roy Wood.

Big Numbers

By Evan I. Hammonds - There have been some gaudy numbers put up over the last couple of weekends by horses and humans alike. Some add spice to the coming Kentucky Derby (gr. I); some show a renewed vigor in the sport of Thoroughbred racing.

New Dawn at the Downs

By Dan Liebman - On May 7 in Louisville, Ky., when the most famous race in the land is run at the most famous track in the land, the race will look the same as it did a year ago. The Kentucky Derby (gr. I) is still for 3-year-olds, still at a mile and a quarter, still the first Saturday in May, and the winner still gets a garland of roses.

Triple Threat

By John Angelo - My wife, Lorrie, and I have danced the same dance every spring for the decade we've been together. She discovers me late one night with the VCR remote in hand watching "The Life and Times of Secretariat" or "Jewels of the Triple Crown."

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