Talkin' Horses - Live Discussions

Steve Haskin

Friday October 27, 2006

Talkin' Breeders' Cup 2006

Senior correspondent for The Blood-Horse since 1998, Steve Haskin is an award-winning Turf writer renowned for his Kentucky Derby commentary. During his nearly three decades at Daily Racing Form, Steve made a name with his "Derby Watch" columns.

Also a keen observer of the Breeders' Cup scene, Steve loves to take your questions about how he thinks the races will play out and which horses he has that special feel about as BC Day approaches.

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.

Join Steve now for this special edition of Talkin' Horses.

Pilsen, IL:
Hey Steve- You are the best, without question, but I must disagree with you on a statement you made recently regarding George Washington running in the Classic. This is not good for racing but rather a group that's looking at this horse as an investment rather than making a rational decision that's good for the horse, the sport or the fan (although for the gambler it may not be so bad- he will take money in the classic but he shouldn't). He has SOLELY a grass pedigree and is a miler and has never even attempted a distance further. We here in the States would LOVE to see him take on the best (why is Aragorn vs. G-Wash a bad thing?) in the world in a race he actually has a legit chance of winning. He's supposed to be a freak and now we'll never get to experience his greatness. He is going to get trounced in the classic (Dylan Thomas anyone?) Is greed what this sport is all about? Thanks, Emil

Thanks, Emil. I'm not sure what you mean by what's good for the horse. I don't think George is going to suffer physically or emotionally from running in the Classic, just as a horse in general doesn't care one way or the other whether he or she is voted champion or is perceived as a great horse. All the emotions and reasoning and perceptions surrounding a horse are through people's eyes, so if Coolmore wants to take a chance and try to make him one of the great modern horses I have no objection to it, and if it benefits them should he pull it off, all the power to them. Sure, he has a much better chance of winning the Mile, but winning the Mile doesn't mean nearly as much to an operation like Coolmore, and they do have three contenders in the race anyway. Remember, they almost pulled it off with Giant's Causeway. As for having solely a grass pedigree, Danehill just hasn't had that many horses run on dirt, and who knows why Dylan Thomas ran so poorly? Danehill is by Danzig, out of a His Majesty mare, and George's dam is by Alysheba. I don't see that as a solely grass pedigree by any means. It is everyone's right to strive for greatness and everyone's right to do stupid things. If their move proves to be stupid (and they are fully aware that there is a good chance it will) , they will live with their decision, just as they did with Dylan Thomas. And if anyone betting the race feels it is stupid, they can just throw him out. If Coolmore's decision proves to be the right one, then they will be considered geniuses and have a megastar on their hands. As for what's good for the horse, if he comes back in good shape, win or lose, he'll go to a top-class farm, get plenty of top-class mares, and hopefully live a happy life.

Lexington, KY:
Steve, I would like to know your opinion on how you think the Polytrack will affect the BC contenders who have either been training or racing over the surface. Are these horses at an advantage (they might be fitter after performing on a deeper surface), or at a disadvantage (they did not have their last prep on dirt)? How will you be handicapping these Polytrack horses?

Not having any way of knowing how it will affect the BC, I will pay no attention to horses that won over Polytrack unless they won major stakes before that, and I will be inclined to wager on horses who didn't run well over it, but whom I liked before. To me, on this level, there is no form on Polytrack, and it seems to favor grass horses. So, a horse like Happy Ticket or Spun Sugar, who were out of the money in the Spinster, could be big overlays in the Distaff. I don't believe that Polytrack winners and horses that trained over it will be at an advantage or a disadvantage at Churchill. Look at this year's Breeders' Cup as a testing ground. We'll know more afterward.

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.