- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick - Nearing $1 million in earnings, Chindi's days as a runner may be numbered, but they aren't over yet.
By Ray Paulick - Nearing $1 million in earnings, Chindi's days as a runner may be numbered, but they aren't over yet.
By Victor Zast - To men who are true horseplayers, racing is a daily passion that starts with a scan of the entries and ends with a reading of the results.
By Evan Hammonds -- A pat on the back goes to all involved at the National Thoroughbred Racing Association for putting together a smooth and slick presentation of the 34th Eclipse Awards Jan. 24. A special nod should be given to Debbie Blair, the event coordinator and vice president of customer service at NTRA/Breeders' Cup.
By D.G. Van Clief Jr. -- The charges outlined in the federal indictments in New York point out the immediate need to improve our wagering systems and the pre- and post-race security of our horses. They are a stark reminder that, as an industry, we must accelerate the pace of the steps we have taken over the last few years to upgrade these areas.
By Dan Liebman -- In Smarty Jones and Ghostzapper, Eclipse Awards voters were faced with two clear and deserving choices for 2004 Horse of the Year. Now they have spoken.
By James E. Bassett III -- When one thinks of Charles J. Cella, a myriad of descriptions flash by. "Indescribable" comes easily to mind, overshadowed by "indomitable" or perhaps "indestructible," followed by "unpredictable" or almost surely "unpersuadable." But lest we overlook the obvious, certainly it would be "unforgettable."
By Ray Paulick -- Getting caught is no picnic, but occasional fines, suspensions, and hefty legal bills are included in the price some horsemen have been willing to pay to live on, or over, the edge of the game's rules and regulations.
By Joe Hickey -- Bonds made as classmates, teammates, roommates, shipmates, and soulmates often last a lifetime. And so, too, can bonds made among stablemates.
By Ray Paulick - It is probably an understatement to say that 2005 is going to be a challenging year for the National Thoroughbred Racing Association/Breeders' Cup. The direction and mission of the organization could be subject to change as it navigates crossroads on the near horizon.
By Cot Campbell - Our Code of Ethics, presented to the world in mid-December, has been received agreeably. Predictably, there has been commentary on what "they" should have done. I have waited until Jan. 15--when my duties as chairman ended and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association took over--for any personal observations.
By Ray Paulick -- Racing will be saying farewell this year to a man who has had an enormous influence on the sport over the last decade, as Carl Pascarella retires as chief executive officer of Visa USA.
By Dan Liebman -- Numbers. This business is about numbers. Big numbers... dramatic numbers...incredible numbers. The wildest number of 2004, and in fact perhaps the wildest number ever in the history of this game, is the number of stakes winners sired by Danehill. With only 19 stallions having sired 100 or more stakes winners in their entire careers, Danehill, by Danzig, was represented by 51 in 2004.
By Ray Paulick -- There was something a bit unsettling about how the California racing industry began a crackdown in February 2004 against the use of "milkshakes"--the loading of bicarbonates through a stomach tube as a performance-enhancing aid in Thoroughbreds.
By Lenny Shulman -- For the past few years, Michael Paulson has been busy watching a reality show on TV in his Las Vegas home. His tastes don't necessarily run to "Survivor," "American Idol," or the other garbage that passes for entertainment in the 21st century. Paulson's viewing has been taken up by a horse--Azeri--whom he's watched race by race, frame by frame; remote in one hand, stopwatch in the other.
By Ray Paulick - Some unsolicited advice for Cot Campbell, chairman of the Sales Integrity Task Force: Get an unlisted telephone number. Campbell's stewardship of this most difficult issue was inspiring, and his phone soon should be ringing off the hook with inquiries and job offers from scores of failed committees, task forces, and do-nothing organizations within the Thoroughbred world and beyond.
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.
By Ray Paulick - The execution of Magna's vision has been difficult given its isolationist philosophy.
By Steve Haskin -- When it came to sheer toughness, Broad Brush was in a class by himself.
By Ray Paulick - In many ways, the Japan Racing Association is the envy of the racing world. As a branch of the national government's ministry of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, the JRA controls all facets of the industry, including racecourse management, scheduling, marketing, licensing, drug testing, and pari-mutuel operations.
By Pete Spanos - With the leaves still falling from Keeneland's splendid 2004 fall meet, it is appropriate, perhaps obligatory, to offer a fan's salute to the old guard's open minds, adventurous spirits, and free-thinking ways. Yes, I said Keeneland. Who would have thought they could be such radicals?
By Ray Paulick - Though its brightest days may be in the past, the Japan Racing Association has decided to allow a little more sun to shine on a sport and industry that for the past 50 years has virtually been closed to outsiders.
By Victor Zast - Why has Thoroughbred racing decided to put its future into the hands of a public relations agency?
By Ray Paulick -- The Kentucky Equine Education Project is critical to the future of all horse breeds in Kentucky.
By Dan Arrigo -- When I became involved in Thoroughbred racing in the 1950s, it was a sport of numbers. Now, it seems to be more of a business of numbers than a sport, but most racing fans still spend more time looking at the figures on a tote board--or on TVG--than they do admiring colorful silks or counting horse's legs in the post parade.
Ray Paulick - David Guillory has never watched a replay of the race that ended his riding career. He's never wanted to. Guillory remembers turning into the stretch, seeing a horse just in front veering in on him, and yelling at the horse's rider. He doesn't recall what happened next, but he doesn't need to see a videotape to remind him.
John W. Greathouse Jr. - The jockeys at Churchill Downs and Hoosier Park who recently chose to sit out the meet over insurance issues have made a grievous mistake. And don't think for one second that the trainers and owners will soon forget what these riders did.
By Ray Paulick - The Nov. 7 dispute between a group of riders and the management of Churchill Downs was not the first and surely will not be the last time jockeys have taken action to express displeasure with their plight.
By William Keith - Each year, the Thoroughbred industry has a great championship day--the Breeders' Cup. At the end of the big day, we have winners, but NO champions. Instead, that determination is put on hold. The fans are asked to wait. Three months later, in the middle of winter, last year's champions are finally announced. By then, it's stale news.
By Ray Paulick -- Lone Star Park was a sight to behold Oct. 30 when the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships came to town. An enthusiastic crowd of 53,717 horse lovers from around the world was on hand to take part in the most important day in the history of the Texas racing industry.
By Gary West -- The message echoed through the grandstand and spread through the crowd. In the stable area, people from Europe, California, Kentucky, and New York gladly picked up the message and passed it along. Now, if only the so-called leaders in Texas aren't deaf.
By Ray Paulick -- Comedian George Carlin would have you believe that "paper or plastic" and "aisle or window" are the only real choices in America these days. With important national, state, and local elections coming up Nov. 2, I beg to differ.
By Barry Irwin -- Racing is at a crossroads on many fronts these days. The New York Racing Association has its back up against the wall. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association is in a leadership transition. The Thoroughbred Championship Tour is trying to get off the ground. Purses face erosion from off-shore betting schemes. But the single greatest problem facing the game--how to restore integrity to the race itself--is not receiving the attention it so desperately requires.
By Dan Liebman -- In Florida for a few days this past winter, Gulfstream Park was an obvious place to spend a couple of hours. Keeping in mind Florida is a leading retirement center, it was no surprise that the average age of the patrons at the track that day was similar to that necessary to receive a "Here's Your Medicaid Card" welcome.
By Gary West -- So far it has been very amusing--all these folks boarding up the windows of their prejudices and then fleeing to the mountains of their preconceptions. And it could be entertaining indeed Oct. 30 when they have to scurry to escape the avalanche.
By Dan Liebman - For whatever reasons--there are surely many--this could be the first time in the history of the Breeders' Cup that no starter that last raced in England makes the trip for one of the event's turf races. If that is the case, it will be a shame.
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.
by Dan Liebman -- In a feature story in last week's issue of The Blood-Horse, Airdrie Stud owner and former Kentucky governor Brereton C. Jones said he is personally against slot machines. If truth be told, there probably isn't a single horse breeder who actually hoped the day would come when slots would be necessary for the survival of racing.
By Jay Stephens -- This year's opening day of the Keeneland fall meeting--Oct. 8--features a long overdue salute to Whirlaway. The "Calumet Comet" was the first Triple Crown winner to prep at Keeneland, and the opening day festivities will celebrate that fact. But there is much more to celebrate with regards to Whirlaway than simply his preparation at Keeneland or his victorious run at the Triple Crown in 1941. Whirlaway was a true equine hero.
By Dan Liebman - An article about Dubai published in the Chicago Tribune travel section July 4, 2004, states that the ruling Maktoum family's oil riches bring in about $250 million a day, or roughly $1 billion every four days.
By Evan I. Hammonds - Gonzo journalist Dr. Hunter S. Thompson coined the phrase, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." The wacky, win-at-any-cost world of sports today is plenty weird and offers multiple examples on a weekly, if not daily, basis that make the phrase one of fact, not speculation.
By Dan Liebman - William S. Kilroy was racing a small, modest stable in Louisiana 30 years ago when he decided he wanted to enter the breeding side of the business. He approached a family friend with whom he had much in common, and the two hatched a plan to execute Kilroy's wishes.
By Lucy Young Hamilton - Many causes connected to racing deserve our best efforts and generosity. I am personally connected with several, and believe in each of them, but the work of Grayson-Jockey Club is special. Here the good graces of those in racing directly benefit the animal that makes it all possible.
By Dan Liebman - Journalists live for good stories. More so, good quotes. So, when British jockey Kieren Fallon said the following, it was like music to a columnist's tone-deaf ears: "We all know you can't fix races. It doesn't happen. It does in a fairy-tale world but not in the real world."
By Joe Hickey - Of all the great memories bequeathed to me by my boss, the great breeder E.P. Taylor, none is more special than those of accompanying him on many one-on-one after-hour visits to the Windfields Farm barns during "evening stables."
By Dan Liebman - If only the Aug. 21 ESPN telecast of the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I), Alabama Stakes (gr. I), and Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) had followed the baseball game between Colorado and Montreal rather than Richmond and Redmond.
By Dr. Ted Hill - Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as phenylbutazone and Banamine, and some prednisone or similar steroid to reduce inflammation in aching joints, tendons, and ligaments, the supporters argued, would simply help horses withstand the rigors of frequent racing.
By Dan Liebman - In early September, the first meeting is scheduled to be held of the new task force examining the Thoroughbred sales arena. The group is being organized by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and is in response to the questions raised by the Alliance for Industry Reform (AIR) and its founder, Satish Sanan.
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.
By Dan Liebman -- There are so many interest groups involved that this is probably not even a realistic vision. Sure, at such events as the Jockey Club Round Table and Arizona Symposium, many of racing's leaders do assemble. But after a few meetings, they return to their own little worlds.
By Steve Haskin -- Cries of "Smarty! Smarty!" and "We love you, Smarty," poured out from the large crowd gathered along the rail from one end of the stretch to the other. It was one final burst of emotion from an adoring public who opened their hearts to this dynamo of a horse.