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.
WinStar Farm's Colonel John, one of the favorites for Saturday's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), solidified his status with a scintillating five-furlong bullet work over the main track at Churchill Downs Sunday morning.
Mike Barnes is a big LSU fan. He can't help but hide it. The exercise rider's helmet has the distinctive "LSU" logo that adorns the Tiger's football helmets. "I bleed purple and gold," the Louisiana native says. "I've been a fan since birth."
Trainer Joe Orseno added another notable accomplishment to his resume Monday at Gulfstream Park, sending out five winners on the nine-race card.
Darley Stabe's Little Belle battled back in the stretch to fend off Bsharpsonata to capture Saturday's Ashland Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland by a hard-fought neck.
By Evan Hammonds - The casino bill's chances in Kentucky aren't necessarily a longshot, but aren't exactly 2-5, either.
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.
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.
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.
It's not surprising a Todd Pletcher-trained filly was made the favorite for the Oct. 27 Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I), it's just a little surprising which one.
The condition of Monmouth Park's turf course Oct. 27, with rain in the forecast for the middle part of Breeders' Cup week, is a major concern for horsemen with runners in the $2-million Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT).
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.
By Evan I. Hammonds - The Triple Crown races of the spring are in the books, and the summer races at Saratoga and Monmouth have been run. The true test of sophomore runners comes in the fall, when they take on older horses for the first time.
By Evan I. Hammonds - One thing we should already know about next year's round of yearling sales is that there will be changes to the conditions of sale. The Sales Integrity Task Force has until the end of the year to come up with recommendations to the Kentucky legislature to address several issues involving the sale of horses in the Bluegrass State.
By Evan I. Hammonds - Advance deposit wagering, which most sources agree accounts for about 10% of handle on Thoroughbred racing, is the sport's latest battleground.
The untimely loss of Hennessy will not only leave a void at Coolmore's Ashford Stud, but for breeders in both hemispheres looking for speed and versatility.
Coolmore's talented stallion Hennessy reportedly died of an apparent heart failure Aug. 9 at Haras La Mission in Argentina. The 14-year-old son of Storm Cat had shuttled to South America for the Southern Hemisphere breeding season.
Five of the eight runners in Saturday's Diana Stakes (gr. IT) not only have names that start with the letter "M"; they all have a big chance in the first "Win and You're In" race from Saratoga.
Fans are trickling into Belmont Park through the grandstand entrance. Out back by the picnic area, there are a few spots still available, but there won't be for long.
On the third row of Section G on the third floor of the clubhouse sit two yellow plastic bags. Labeled Adelman's Deli, the bags are stuffed with pastrami sandwiches, knishes, latkes, and pickles.
The paddock opens at 11:30 for schooling. One of the first to arrive is Belmont (gr. I) entrant Tiago. Trainer John Shirreffs, his stepson David Ingordo, and Frankie Herrarte, a member of his crew, follows the Pleasant Tap colt, who is led by Frank Leal.
A movie about the life and times of Secretariat, with the backing of Walt Disney Studios, is in the works. Filming for the major motion picture could begin as soon as the end of the year according to principles tied to the project.
Standing outside the Gold Room on the sixth floor of the clubhouse of Churchill Downs is Lisa Underwood. Underwood is the executive director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority.
Trainer Forrest Kaelin is moving quickly through the second floor clubhouse section. The local legend has seen a lot in his years training under the Twin Spires at Churchill Downs.
The scene at the racing office is pretty quiet. Only jockey agents Steve Bass, Joe Ferrer, and Jerry Hissam are present, chewing the fat with retired rider Bobby Ussery.
The connections of Storm in May will have first choice when post positions are selected later this evening thanks to pulling the No. 1 pill during the pill pull at the racing office. In all 22 horses were entered. Reporting for Duty and Delightful Kiss did not draw into the body of the field due to lack of enough graded earnings.
Three Kentucky Derby contenders will be a few days shy of their actual third birthday prior to the First Saturday in May.
The pill pull at the racing office for the Derby is one of the most dramatic moments of the week.
It wasn't quite like a scene from Noah's Ark, but four of trainer Todd Pletcher's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) contenders arrived Tuesday afternoon two by two in separate vans.
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas holds court for an assembling of media in front of his spotless barn. He's the only trainer without a Derby horse who can still provoke a good half-hour worth of questioning.
Welcome to Derby Week, or week 11 of the "Starting Gate," one person's look at this year's Kentucky Derby lineup. As we approach Wednesday, entry day, this how we would handicap the top 20 contenders for the May 5 Run for the Roses. Actual entry into America's greatest race is reliant on graded stakes earnings -- this lineup is based on some speculation, past performances, and potential performance on Saturday.
Yum! Brands, presenting sponsor for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), announced Monday, April 30, that it will offer a $1-million to the connections of any horse that wins this year's Derby and beats Barbaro's winning margin of 6 1/2 lengths.
Dominican, surprise winner of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) two weeks ago, worked five furlongs Sunday morning at Churchill Downs in :59 3/5.
The weather today in Louisville couldn't be better. A good-sized crowd has amassed under the Twin Spires.
Street Sounds, making her first start for trainer Michael Matz since winning the Selima Stakes last November on the turf at Laurel, stayed well off the rail at Keeneland Thursday afternoon, scoring a neck victory over favorite Forever Together in the $250,000 Stonerside Beaumont Stakes (gr. II).
Street Sense drew post four for Saturday's Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland. James Tafel's homebred champion was also made the 4-5 morning line favorite for the nine-furlong race. Great Hunter, the 9-5 second choice, will break from the outside seven post.
By Evan Hammonds - During this year's Preakness weekend at Pimlico, the "Magna Entertainment Experience" surrounding the second jewel of the Triple Crown will not be nearly as enriching. On Jan. 25, the Maryland Jockey Club stuck a fork in the Pimlico Special (gr. I) for 2007.
If I had to watch Bernardini get beat, this was the way to go.
Right before the draw of the Breeders' Cup races takes place on the fourth floor of the clubhouse at Churchill Downs, Lisa Underwood surveys the scene. She's not eating breakfast from the buffet, but that's not to say she doesn't have a lot on her plate.
By Evan I. Hammonds - We're pretty sure there are no guarantees in Thoroughbred racing. However, let's step out for Breeders' Cup XXIII at Churchill Downs Nov. 4. There are a few "automatics." I guarantee it.
This year's 3-year-old crop can been dubbed the "Killer Bs" with the likes of Bernardini, Barbaro, Bluegrass Cat, and Brother Derek. After it is over, this year's cast for the Nov. 4 NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) might be called the "Amazing As" with a fearsome foursome of the pre-entered Ad Valorem, Araafa, Aragorn, and Aussie Rules.
By Evan Hammonds - Major League Baseball just celebrated its All-Star Game last month in Pittsburgh, representing the traditional midpoint as "America's Pastime" heads into its second season and hits the turn on its run to the World Series in October. So, too, is Thoroughbred racing entering its second season.
By Evan I. Hammonds - I don't recall the meeting when it was first discussed, but I remember volunteering. Looking for new avenues of coverage for racing's big events--the Triple Crown, the Breeders' Cup--on bloodhorse.com, the idea of a "blog" came up. "Blog," short for "Web log," is a relatively new concept and is still subject to debate for its actual purpose and application.
The National Turf Writers Association's Charitable Foundation voted to pledge $1,000 toward the "Barbaro Gift Fund" set up by the University of Pennsylvania and named in honor of injured Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Barbaro.
Morning Line returns this week as Evan Hammonds pokes around and peaks under the covers at the site of the third leg of the Triple Crown classics.
The Morning Line continues this week, with an insider's view of all things Preakness.
Beginning May 1 and running daily through Derby Day, bloodhorse.com introduces Morning Line, a new feature designed to bring the horses, people, and places of Thoroughbred racing closer to racing enthusiasts.
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