Talkin' Horses - Live Discussions

Steve Haskin The Blood-Horse senior correspondent

Thursday, Feb 14, 2008

The Spring Classics are fast approaching, and many horsemen are dreaming of Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown glory. With a near record of 449 horses nominated for the three races, sorting out the contenders and pretenders can be a difficult task.

Steve Haskin, senior correspondent for the The Blood-Horse magazine and an authority on the Triple Crown, will do his best to help during a special Talkin' Horses online chat at noon, Thursday, Feb. 14.

Haskin is an award-winning Turf writer renowned for his Kentucky Derby commentary, with weekly articles, Classic Spotlights, and the "Derby Dozen" all found on the website's special Triple Crown Mania section. Previously, during his nearly three decades at Daily Racing Form, Steve made a name with his "Derby Watch" columns.

Haskin--who has won five Red Smith Awards for his Kentucky Derby coverage--is the author of Horse Racing's Holy Grail - The Epic Quest for the Kentucky Derby and biographies of Dr. Fager, John Henry, and Kelso—all published by Eclipse Press.

Note to all our readers: As many of you know, Steve Haskin is one of our most popular Talkin' Horses guests. He has received a large number of questions, and will do his best to answer all of them. However, he does often get some that are repeats or on the same subject, so if you do not see your specific question answered, please look for one on the same topic.

Louisville, KY:
Thank you for another return to the chats. Although I'm sure you are primarily here to talk Derby trail, I have a Breeders' Cup question. What do you think of the decision to have two consecutive Cups at Santa Anita? Do you accept the marketing reasons offered, or see something else driving the decision? Finally, is Hong Kong next?

I found the marketing comments rather vague, which leads me to believe there was more to it. I can only speculate, but I'm just wondering how many tracks actually are pursuing the Breeders' Cup, especially with Churchill Downs saying they have no interest in pursuing it unless they start showing more of a profit. Belmont likely will get it back after Santa Anita, Del Mar would need a lot of work to become BC doable, and that wouldn't be for several years. Gulfstream has kicked itself off the map completely with its non-fan friendly grandstand accommodations. I thought Arlington was a great place to hold it, but haven't heard them mentioned, as the BC is looking for bigger markets and crowds. So where else is there? As for Santa Anita, I am surprised that BC would commit to two years there, not even knowing what kind of surface they're going to have. As everyone knows, this meet has been a disaster with all the cancellations. We can only hope whatever they come up with will be a monumental improvement. Also, having it there two straight years, are we really ready to crown two years of championships based on performances over a synthetic surface? Horses who don't like it, of which there are many, will be out of luck for two years, which nowadays often amounts to an entire career. All we can do is hope it works out, because if you are going to make a nationwide marketing push, which the BC desperately needs, I guess L.A. is the place to do it. And we need to have the BC shown in the best light possible. John Nerud has always said the BC is an event and needs to be marketed correctly, surrounding itself with pageantry. Right now, no one has the answers, but in a perfect world, the Santa Anita track will be in great shape and all the Eastern dirt horses will love it, and the fans and celebrities will flock to the track in droves. What else can you say? It's done, so we have to think positive...right? Oh, yes, forget about Hong Kong. Let's just say that would be a positive experience in a different way.

Garland, TX:
Steve--Always a pleasure when you host our questions. Would you enlighten me as to the importance of Native Dancer as a sire in thoroughbred racing?

Thanks. Native Dancer has been the most dominant sire line in the country for many years, especially through Mr. Prospector. Consider this: the Native Dancer sire line, mainly through Mr. Prospector, has produced Kentucky Derby winners Majestic Prince, Affirmed, Genuine Risk, Alysheba, Unbridled, Strike the Gold, Thunder Gulch, Fusaichi Pegasus, Real Quiet, Grindstone, Monarchos, War Emblem, Funny Cide, Smarty Jones, and Street Sense. And Barbaro traces to Native Dancer through Mr. Prospector on the female side. You can't get much more dominant than that.

Best of Talkin HorsesTo read the complete transcript of this chat, along with many others, check out Best of Talkiní Horses.

Best of Talkin’ Horses features provocative “chats” with some of Thoroughbred racing’s most prominent names. Adapted from “Talkin’ Horses,” the popular weekly online chat series hosted by, this edited collection provides additional insights by Ron Mitchell, editor and moderator of “Talkin’ Horses."


Editor's Note: moderators retain editorial control over Talkin' Horses discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests; guests may decline to answer questions. Opinions expressed by guests of Talkin' Horses are those of the guest and do not represent the opinions of Blood-Horse Publications, its employees, associates, or affiliated organizations. Guests, dates, and times of Talkin' Horses discussions are subject to change.