Claire Novak

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Mine That Bird Out of Travers Stakes

Mine That Bird Out of Travers Stakes

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.

Surgery for Mine That Bird; Travers Still On

Surgery for Mine That Bird; Travers Still On

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.

Exercise Rider Parker Buckley Dies

Exercise Rider Parker Buckley Dies

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.

Inside Track: Tribute to a Champion

Inside Track: Tribute to a Champion

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.

Inside Track: A Natural

Inside Track: A Natural

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)

Inside Track: Great Expectations

Inside Track: Great Expectations

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.

Morning Line: It's All in the Draw

Morning Line: It's All in the Draw

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.

Inside Track: Colton Riding for 4,000

Inside Track: Colton Riding for 4,000

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.

Commentary: Genuine Talent

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.

Saturday Morning Line: The Elite Eight Awaits

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.

Video: Interview with Joe Bravo

Video:  Interview with Joe Bravo

BloodHorseNOW.com writer Claire Novak interveiws Joe Bravo, hometown jockey at Monmouth Park, who has three Breeders' Cup mounts.

Friday Morning Line: A Brand New Day

Friday Morning Line: A Brand New Day

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.

Video: Interview with James Scatuorchio

Video:  Interview with James Scatuorchio

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.

Thursday Morning Line: The Final Countdown

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.

Tuesday Morning Line: Getting a Bead on the Draw

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.

Morning Line: Monday Monday

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.

Breeders' Cup Morning Line Begins Monday

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.

A Day At The Spa: Aug. 27, Sweet Sense

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

A Day At The Spa: Aug. 26, Let it Linger

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

A Day At The Spa: Aug. 25, Happy Travers

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.

Morning Line: Aug. 25, Travers Day

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.

A Day At The Spa: Aug. 24, Pony Boys

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.

Capital Play CEO: Saratoga is Crown Jewel of New York Racing

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.

Sightseeing Seeks Travers Showdown with Street Sense

Sightseeing Seeks Travers Showdown with Street Sense

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.

A Day At The Spa: Aug. 23, And They Race Horses, Too

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 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.

Morning Line: Aug. 23, Time Flies

  • News

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.

A Day At The Spa: Aug. 22, Newsday

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.

A Day At The Spa: Aug. 21, Arroyo's All Right

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.

A Day At The Spa: Aug. 20, Story Without Words

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.

For Trainer Bill Mott, Reality Seems Sweeter

For Trainer Bill Mott, Reality Seems Sweeter

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 Day At The Spa: Aug. 18, Shoeing Octave

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.

A Day At The Spa: Aug. 17, Workers

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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