The Aug. 29 Shadwell Travers Stakes (gr. I) lost some of its luster hours before entries were taken Aug. 26 when it was announced that Mine That Bird, winner of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), would not run in the "Mid-Summer Derby" at Saratoga Racecourse.
Mine That Bird, winner of the 2009 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), will have surgery Aug. 18 to correct an entrapped epiglottis, trainer Chip Woolley said. The son of Birdstone will still be pointed for the $1-million Shadwell Travers Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga on Aug. 29.
Jockey Rene Douglas, seriously injured in a May 23 racing accident at Arlington Park, suffered a setback in his recovery process June 21 when he was transferred from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago back to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Eibar Coa splits with agent Matt Muzikar, hires Drew Mollica to handle his book.
Jockey Channing Hill, a regular on the New York circuit since 2005, will shift his tack to Southern California after riding the March 18 program at Aqueduct.
Former jockey Parker Buckley, an exercise rider for trainer Steve Asmussen, died Aug. 19 at Albany Medical Center in Albany, N.Y., following an Aug. 18 accident on the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga Race Course.
Parker Buckley, a former jockey who was working as an exercise rider for trainer Steve Asmussen, is in critical condition following an Aug. 18 accident at Saratoga's Oklahoma training track.
In the back of the courtyard at the Lane's End stallion barn, a new equine figure has been given permanent residence. It is a life-sized bronze of the farm's greatest stallion, A.P. Indy, commissioned by co-breeder William S. Farish.
She may have been Miss Preakness 2008, but Maggie Wolfendale spent more time on Pimlico's backstretch than she did around the grandstand in the days leading up to the Preakness Stakes (gr. I)
On the morning of April 30, as the eyes of the nation turned to Churchill Downs for the upcoming running of the 134th Kentucky Derby, a Brook Ledge horse van arrived at Stephens Thoroughbreds in Ocala, Fla.
After the fourth race, a ripple of excitement goes through the paddock area. Curlin, the 2007 Horse of the Year, is about to make a red carpet entrance.
The best drama in Louisville today takes place in the racing office on the backside at Churchill Downs. It's the pill pull to see what order post positions will be drawn later this afternoon in the made-for-television post position show on ESPN.
To say that Robert Colton is back in the saddle could be slightly misleading, since he never really left. The 51-year-old jockey has been galloping horses since he stopped race riding in 2002, but now he's donning silks in an attempt to reach a specific milestone. Colton wants to ride 4,000 winners.
- By Claire Novak
Mike Eckman says there will always be a place in his heart for horse racing.
Robert LaPenta's Eclipse Award-winning War Pass, champion 2-year-old in 2007, will make his first start since an emphatic victory in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) when he runs in a $60,000 allowance event at Gulfstream Park Feb. 24.
It has been nearly 20 years since one of the most notorious identity mix-ups in American Thoroughbred racing raised eyebrows.
By - Claire Novak - Members of the racing industry noted Bill Hartack's Nov. 26 death at 74 with more sorrow than one would expect, given his enigmatic reputation.
- By Claire Novak
A federal agency published a paper Oct. 29 on its Web site that raises concerns about new occupation health risks for jockeys.
Gerald Errichetti, Laura Von Glahn, and Connie O'Connell stop by the clubhouse dining room to inquire of the guest list. Volunteers with the Breeders' Cup VIP Escort Team, they're getting their assignments straight.
BloodHorseNOW.com writer Claire Novak interveiws Joe Bravo, hometown jockey at Monmouth Park, who has three Breeders' Cup mounts.
On the chute, trainer Graham Motion is on his pony, circling his John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) runner Better Talk Now. They're waiting to go onto the soggy turf course for a last-minute tune-up.
Claire Novak interviews Turf Contender English Channel's owner James Scatuorchio, asking him about his chances against the highly touted Dylan Thomas and having the Breeders' Cup in his home state of New Jersey.
Manning the Otis Elevator that serves as the stewards elevator at Monmouth Park is Ed Thayer. He knows the equipment....he's been operating the elevator for the past 11 years.
It's 10 a.m. Time for the first group meeting of the "Big Event Team" put together by the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau. In all 22 agents are prowling the backstretch of Monmouth Park 24/7 looking for evil doers.
After the post position draw, which clocked in right at one hour to introduce all the dignitaries and draw 11 races, trainer Todd Pletcher takes a seat at table. He's quickly surrounded by a circle of cameras, tape recorders, and notebooks.
Walking in through the main gates at Monmouth Park, it's amazing the transformation that has taken place here. We take in a deep breath. What's that familiar aroma? No, it's not New Jersey...its fresh paint.
Starting Monday, Oct. 22 and running through Saturday, Oct. 27, The Morning Line returns to bloodhorse.com. The feature, now in its second year, offers a colorful, behind-the-scenes look at the participants and players of the Thoroughbred industry during racing's major events.
Spend an afternoon with the boys from Boston, a group of not-quite degenerate 30-something horseplayers who bet the races with varying degrees of success each time Saratoga is in session.
"I like the winners circle! I want to put one in my house!" - hotwalker Iain Holmes after visiting the one at Saratoga with a Michael Matz winner.
It begins as the horse vans start rolling and the racegoers consider filling their suitcases once again. For now, on the final dark day of the season, we contemplate the week ahead and savor every thought of Saratoga.
The Travers blanket - red and white carnations, white "T" in the middle - hangs in front of Street Sense's stall at the barn of Carl Nafzger and Ian Wilkes. The bright colors are still vibrant, and Nafzger is still savoring the victory this morning
The canoe in the infield pond has been painted in James Tafel's colors of yellow and blue. Street Sense is safely recovering from his exertion. Another Travers is in the record books. Talk about feeling the air go out of the balloon
Saratoga fans are the real deal. No irate ripping of tickets and cussing of jockeys here, at least, not often. The fans come to eat, to bet a few races, to catch a glimpse of great horses, to have a good time. They are a mix of partygoers, vacationers, tourists, and backyard barbeque chefs, with a few serious horseplayers thrown in for good measure.
The gates at Saratoga open promptly at 7:00 a.m., and five seconds later the picnic areas are flooded by a rush of running fans. WIth limited space, the sections fill up quickly, and the mad dash to claim a table or a section of lawn looks like the beginning of a wild frat party.
The much-anticipated career debut of Todd Pletcher trainee The Green Monkey will not occur at Saratoga this year, Pletcher confirmed Aug. 24.
Down at the front of the chute between the paddock and the racetrack, the pony boys sit and smoke and kill time between races. Theirs is the unenviable job of escorting the normally fractious and wired-up Thoroughbreds safely to the gate; their ponies, thus named because they are not racehorses, provide a calming presence for the high-strung starters.
In an Aug. 23 presentation at the Saratoga Hotel and Conference Center in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Capital Play CEO Karl O'Farrell called Saratoga Race Course the "crown jewel of New York racing" and pledged his company's commitment to maintaining the historical significance of the track should Capital Play gain the governor's recommendation for the 20-year franchise to operate Belmont, Aqueduct, and Saratoga race courses.
Carl Nafzger says he does not worry about the competition going into a race, because you can only train one horse, and that's your horse. Were he concerned about a specific runner for Street Sense to beat in Saturday's running of the Travers (gr. I), however, it would be the Phipps Stable's Sightseeing, who is coming into the Aug. 25 race in what trainer Shug McGaughey terms the "best mental condition" this year.
While slightly difficult, it is entirely possible to come to Saratoga without watching a horse race. You can come, for instance, to enter the hot dog eating contest Ã¢â‚¬" and if you are like Crazy Legs Conti from New York City and can consume 21.5 hot dogs as he did yesterday, you can also win.
D. Wayne Lukas pauses from his morning duties to give his view on the Travers. The well-spoken Hall of Fame trainer has, as always, an insightful opinion on the race.
Wednesday morning, the cameramen are in full swing at Saratoga. In the paddock, they cluster around for the Travers draw, tripods balanced like long-legged storks. In the winners' circle, they form an orderly line for Senator Bruno's conference on the fight against horse slaughter. Down near the rail, they lift cameras to shoulders and zoom in for local track reports.
Street Sense, winner of this year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), will start from post position number four in Saturday's running of the $1 million Travers Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course.
Yesterday, after the Saratoga winners' circle had cleared following the first race celebration, jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr. stood and watched the replay. He held his 18-month-old son, Norberto Arroyo III, and smiled as he watched the image of his winning mount flash across the screen. It felt good to be back.
The New York Racing Association has replaced starter Richard Brosseau and has promoted Roy Williamson to the position of starter following a rash of starting gate incidents at Saratoga Race Course.
Cut the audio on a day at the races, and you'd still have a completely interpretable scene. The bettor, slumping his shoulders and running a worn hand over his worry-creased forehead, equals losing. The trainer, leaning forward in his box and jumping to his feet, beaming, as his horse crosses the wire, equals winning.
- By Claire Novak
For days, reporters have been asking Bill Mott about his successful season at Saratoga, where he leads all trainers with a 16-6-10 standing from 53 starts. For days, Mott has been realistic about his chances; he's seen other horsemen hit unexpected winning streaks, has known the dry spells that can suddenly hit a leading trainer's string. Just because he was ahead at week one, or week two, or week three of the meet doesn't mean he'll be the last man standing when they run the last race on the last day, and this is what Mott has been quick to say.
A collection of noteworthy quotes from last week's backside meanderings...
With one week remaining until the $1-million Travers Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course, top trainers in New York are aiming for a single target in the stalwart form of Street Sense, who will head up the field of the Aug. 25 "midsummer Derby" with a solid bullseye on his back.
In the stable yard in front of Todd Pletcher's main shedrow, blacksmith Ray Amato is fitting Octave with a new pair of racing plates in preparation for her start in this afternoon's Alabama (gr. I). The gray filly stands draped in a black blanket, four white bandages encasing her delicate legs. Her ears slump sideways, eyelids droop at half-mast. She yawns and rests, quietly at ease.
Workers come out after the break, when the track is freshly harrowed and smooth as soft brown sugar. Most are ridden by jockeys dressed in trendy casual-wear, shiny helmets, spiffy vests. They stride onto the surface, jog up the wrong way, turn, gallop into it, get set down, and - boom - kick into high gear.
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