Morton Cathro

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Remembering Betty Mabee

Remembering Betty Mabee

Betty Mabee believed a Thoroughbred should bear a name commensurate with its stature as one of God's noblest creatures. Read Blog

Commentary: Farewell to the Meadows

by Morton Cathro - Bay Meadows, California's pioneering racetrack, has been this aging fan's delight for nearly my entire lifetime. Now, barring an unlikely last-minute reprieve, it is marching inexorably toward May 11, the final day of its final meeting.

Commentary: Surfaces and Shut-downs

By Morton Cathro - Santa Anita's wet-weather woes flooding its synthetic track remind a dwindling number of oldtimers of the rain-soaked, not-so-grand opening a half-century ago of Golden Gate Fields and its clay-like racing surface that doomed the track to temporary oblivion.

Commentary: More is Less

By - Morton Cathro - With the dust -- pardon, mud -- hardly settled from the first-ever two-day Breeders' Cup, the powers that be already are talking of further expanding racing's annual championship event.

Commentary: Weighty Issue

By Morton Cathro - Now that synthetic surfaces appear to be doing the job they were designed to do -- that is, prolong the lives and limbs of Thoroughbred racehorses -- it may be time to act on long-sought legislation that would prolong the lives and limbs of the athletes who ride those horses.

Commentary: Legend Of The Bitterroots

By Morton Cathro - For the first time in anyone's memory there'll be no horse racing this summer at the Ravalli County Fair in Montana's beautiful Bitterroot Valley. And the good folks of Hamilton (population 4,443) are, if not bitter, mighty unhappy.

The Decline of the Sport

By Morton Cathro - Too many days of racing. Too many short fields. A multitude of breakdowns. Too many drug issues, with prominent trainers under scrutiny. Too many top horses retired prematurely to the breeding shed. Squabbles, lawsuits, and the ethics of dual agency...Are these and other concerns threatening the viability of racing and the loyalty of its fans?

Phar Lap Redux

By Morton Cathro - News reports from Australia alleging that the country's legendary wonder horse, Phar Lap, died not of colic but of deliberate arsenic poisoning, has thrust affluent Atherton, a secluded enclave on the San Francisco peninsula, into the limelight once again.

I Declare

By Morton Cathro - If recent action by the California Horse Racing Board should become permanent and be embraced by other states, racing might well see the return of the old, largely forgotten "declaring to win" rule invoked by the umbrella-wielding gentleman of yesteryear--with the unintended consequences it sometimes brings.

In Perfect Harmony

By Morton Cathro - Nineteenth century philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche said, "Without music life would be a mistake." It's a sentiment with which many passionate music-lovers would agree. Folks passionate about horses could well express a similar sentiment: Without horses life would be a mistake, or at least devoid of meaning.

Bon Appetit!

By Morton Cathro - Would you like a steak? Or a hamburger or bowl of chili, perhaps? For dessert we suggest a banana split, strawberry waffles, a slice of cherry pie, or donuts...and would you like a cold beer with that?

Hellion on Horseback

By Morton Cathro - In the early months of World War II, before the horse cavalry became fully mechanized, young equestrians such as Paul Mellon, George "Pete" Bostwick, and Oleg Cassini, among others from the Eastern establishment, converged on Fort Riley, Kan., to hone their riding skills and earn commissions in the United States Army cavalry. Into this temporary bastion of fox-hunting, polo-playing blue bloods rode another officer candidate, jockey Ralph Neves.

The Power of Ten

By Morton Cathro - When owner Jerry Moss attached his green-and-pink colors to slot 10 during the post-position draw for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), he unwittingly was saddling Giacomo for a wild ride through storied Derby history.

Hollywood Ending

By Morton Cathro - Racing is full of unlikely scenarios, few of which have been more unlikely than the one featuring Hollywood screenwriter Ethel Hill and War Knight, the Thoroughbred she called "Tuffy."

A Worthy Calling

By Morton Cathro - Sports history is replete with "the streak," that strung-together necklace of accomplishments proudly worn by great teams and legendary athletes: Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak; undefeated heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano's 49 straight victories; golfer Byron Nelson's 11 PGA tournaments in a row; Michael Jordan's seven consecutive NBA scoring records; Citation and Cigar's sweet 16s.

Milkshakes and Miracles

By Morton Cathro - The recent death of a world-renowned scientist and the current flap over medications and "milkshakes" have combined to stir memories of one of the more sensational and far-reaching episodes in the annals of the American Turf.

Bold and Daring

By Morton Cathro - When Golden Souvenir, a maiden, romped home by four lengths Aug. 1in the final leg of the Pick Six to ignite the biggest payoff in California horse racing history, the winner's circle at Del Mar, "where the Turf meets the surf," suddenly was engulfed in a tidal wave of humanity celebrating the $2,100,117 bonanza.

Fairly Spectacular

By Morton Cathro -- Horse racing's venerable merry-go-round, better known as the Northern California Fair Circuit, once again is on its dizzying summertime whirl through the county fairs of the Golden State.

Never Say Die

By Morton Cathro -- Like Ralph Neves, the jockey who was pronounced dead after a spill, only to come back to life and ride there again, aging Bay Meadows, the grand dame of California racetracks, is proving once more that reports of her demise are, as Mark Twain once observed, greatly exaggerated.

Siding with Swaps

By Morton Cathro -- As Hollywood Park prepares to honor the greatest of all Cal-breds with the 28th running of the $500,000 Swaps Stakes (gr. I) on July 15, a fresh look at the controversial duel and its aftermath seems apropos.

Press Box Reveries

By Morton Cathro -- After an absence of 50-plus years, I recently paid a visit to my old haunt, the press box at Golden Gate Fields. But the fresh paint and fresh faces of the new generation of writers couldn't prevent a wave of nostalgia from sweeping over me as I remembered the many oldtimers, and gazed down from the privileged perch at the track where, in my salad days, I had witnessed Turf history in the making.

The Great Equalizer

By Morton Cathro -- Regardless of size, location, or caliber of horses, racetracks long have served as a microcosm of society, holding up a mirror to humankind.

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