Greatest Training Achievements

Steve Haskin's Look Back at the Decade 

Editors of The Blood-Horse challenged senior correspondent Steve Haskin to fill in the blanks on several “best of” lists for the decade of 2000-2009. While several of them appear in the Dec. 26/Jan. 2 combined issue of the magazine (mailing on Dec. 29), there wasn’t space for them all.

Over the coming days until the end of the year, all of Steve’s lists will be posted here with readers of encouraged to comment.

Greatest Training Achievements (Individual Horse)

1-- John Shirreffs and Zenyatta; 14 for 14. What made this a truly extraordinary feat was keeping her undefeated despite her come-from-behind running style, which left her at the mercy of the pace every race.

2-- Rick Dutrow winning 2008 Ky. Derby with Big Brown in only the colt’s fourth career start and third as a 3-year-old, while battling foot issues and Big Brown having virtually no serious training in the month of January.

3-- Jay Robbins bringing Tiznow back from a severe back injury to win his second straight Breeders’Cup Classic in 2001.

4-- John Shirreffs giving a textbook lesson on how to get a horse to peak on Derby Day, using every prep race as a small step forward. The result was Giacomo running the race of his life in the 2005 Run for the Roses at odds of 50-1, for his first victory of the year.

5-- Graham Motion keeping Better Talk Now competitive at the highest level (grade I stakes) for six straight years until the age of 10.

6-- Tim Ritchey’s unusual two-a-day training regimen for Afleet Alex and his focus on building up the colt’s stamina, which enabled him to romp in the 2005 Belmont Stakes. Also, getting him to win the Preakness following two lung infections that spring.        

7-- Doug O’Neill getting his $50,000 claim, Lava Man, to win three consecutive Hollywood Gold Cups at ages 4, 5, and 6, and becoming the first horse ever to win the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup, and Pacific Classic in the same year.

8 -- Tim Ice winning the 2009 Belmont, Travers, and Jockey Club Gold Cup with Summer Bird in his first year as a trainer.

.9-- Nick Zito’s management of Commentator’s career.

10 tie-- Bobby Frankel outsmarting everyone by getting Intercontinental to wire her field in the 2005 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at 1 1/4 miles, despite the filly never having previously won farther than 1 1/16 miles.

10 tie-- Bob Baffert getting Midnight Lute to win the 2008 BC Sprint off only a 10th-place finish in the Pat O’Brien Handicap in the previous 11 months, and for having him sharp enough to win the Sprint two years in a row.

Honorable Mention

Laura De Seroux’s handling of Azeri, who won 14 of her first 15 starts, including the BC Distaff and a Horse of the Year title.

Jonathan Sheppard bringing the 9-year-old Cloudy's Knight back off a one-year layoff to win two consecutive graded stakes in 2009 and missing by a nose in the Breeders' Cup Marathon. In addition, Sheppard won the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf and Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint in back-to-back years (2008-09) with Forever Together and Informed Decision. The former has already won an Eclipse Award and Informed Decision likely will join her.

Carla Gaines getting Cal-bred Nashoba’s Key to win her first seven starts, including two grade Is and two grade IIs, after making her career debut as a 4-year-old.

Kiaran McLaughlin winning 2006 BC Classic with Invasor off a two-month layoff and missing the Jockey Club Gold Cup with a virus.

John Salzman getting Xtra Heat, who ran for a $25,000 claiming tag first time out, to win 17 of her first 20 starts, 16 of them stakes, and then getting narrowly beaten in the 2001 BC Sprint.

Greatest Training Achievements (Overall)

1-- Richard Mandella winning four Breeders’ Cup races (4-for-4) in 2003 – Juvenile Fillies, Juvenile, Turf, and Classic.

2-- Bobby Frankel winning 25 grade I stakes in one year (2003)

3-- Todd Pletcher winning a record 93 stakes in a single year (2006)

4-- Linda Rice becoming the first female trainer to capture the Saratoga training title in 2009.

5-- Todd Pletcher setting a single season earnings record of $28,576,097 (2007)

6-- Steve Asmussen winning a record 622 races in one year (2008) and breaking own record the following year.

7-- Todd Pletcher winning the Saratoga training title five years in a row (2002-06)

8-- Bob Baffert winning his seventh straight Del Mar Futurity in 2002, then again in 2009.
9-- Allen Jerkens winning the Suburban Handicap 45 years apart (with Beau Purple in 1962 and Political Force in 2007).

10-- Humberto Ascanio winning two grade I stakes on the same weekend only 10 days after taking over the horses trained by the late Bobby Frankel.


Previous Lists:

12/21/09 - Most Physically Impressive Horses
12/22/09 - Most Memorable Triple Crown Performances
12/23/09 - Most Memorable Breeders' Cup Performances



Leave a Comment:


Among feats with individual horses, I'd include Lloyd Romero, the trainer of Hallowed Dreams, who guided her to the all-time record for consecutive victories.  She was not a top-level horse, but placing a horse so she crafts a perfect record, no matter what her level, is a remarkable achievement.

26 Dec 2009 2:04 PM

i believe peppers pride breaking the record for consistent wins should of been at the top of the list.

26 Dec 2009 2:42 PM

What about Michael Dickinson's training feat on Da Hoss and A Huevo? I think he deserves to be mentioned here.

26 Dec 2009 2:52 PM

Great reading - thank you.

26 Dec 2009 2:57 PM
East Coast Writer

I understand that this love affair with Zenyatta is still on-going due to the fact that she is a synthetic superstar.  But really now, how many of those 14 races that Zenyatta ran in were against serious competition.  It’s kinda beginning to make me sick, let’s be realistic; this is or was a career based on a synthetic experiment that led to her beating who exactly, it is also a career carefully molded to face the weakest of competition at all times, and to win races with the least resistence, thats the beginning and the end of it.  Yes the Classic was impressive but that was 1 race, run on her surface against grass and dirt horses who's form didn’t translate, (Summer Bird wins the Belmont, Travers and JCGC, but then runs 4th in his next race, yeah ok Thats possible on dirt), yes the L.C. was impressive and again that was 1 race, and yes her Apple Blossom was a great race run in her only start over dirt, against a field that included Ginger Punch.  But in the rest of her races the competition was up against it every time.  Tough Tiz's Sis was a dirt horse that Baffert mistakenly continued to put out there on the "plastic" surface, Romance is Diane, Dawn after Dawn, Indescribable, Fleet Caroline, Brownie Points, Lemon Drop Mom, Clever Strike, Kettleoneup, Santa Teresita, Kris' Sis, Double Trouble, Silver Swallow, Silver Z, Sealy Hill, Fleetheart, Andmoreagain, Model, West Coast Swing, Super Freaky, Bear Now, Allicansayis Wow, Gambler's Justice, Champagane eyes, Taste's Sis, Briecat, Hot N' Dusty, Modification, Anabaa's Creation, Lethal Heat, Tidal Dance, Made for Magic.  Zenyatta faced 59 horses before her run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic this year 8 of those horses stand out as Grade 1 quality that’s fewer than 14% of the horses that she ran against.  The fact is due to not facing quality race in and race out, Zenyatta was always the fresh horse and Sheriff's himself even attest to the fact that there wasn’t much training to do with the mare when he said "if we were to run in the Ladies' Classic, she would have just done a regular maintenance work."  This tells me that they recognized that due to her way of running on the synthetics she was basically unbeatable.  So I guess I don’t understand where this big achievement is when looking at her career.  And second, if that was considered peaking when Giacomo crossed the finish line first in the Ky Derby in 05' then that makes Sheriffs an awful trainer.  If you recall Giacomo finished that race in an incredibly slow 26.87 seconds, quoted as being the weakest in a derby held on a fast track since 1971, and as we all remember his Beyer speed figure of 100 is run by 2 year olds.  I realize that writers at times in the national lime-light like to pay tribute to the connections of a certain horse or a certain set of owners but this love affair with the Moss's and the Sheriff's is becoming blown way out of proportion.  It would be much easier to actually go back and look at connections that are impressive for things that were done that were actually impressive not because the big horse in their barn wins a big race.  I don’t know if it’s all political or what but I don’t know how kissing up to certain set of connections will help a person's career out any further.  But the Moss's and Sheriff's certainly seem to have certain writers in their back pocket.

26 Dec 2009 3:21 PM

hey steve not to sound stupid but what about hal wiggins job on training rachel to her ky oaks win?. just thought i put it out there but other then that i agree with every thing. hope we have even better moments in the next decade. Buddy's Saint 2010 triple crown winner??? maybe I hope so lol

26 Dec 2009 3:34 PM

One training feat that was overlooked was the magnificent job Michael Dickinson did with Da Hoss winning his second Breeders Cup Mile (98) with almost a two year layoff. Surely, this has to be considered in the top ten greatest training feats not just of the decade but of all time.

26 Dec 2009 3:34 PM

I'm curious, why include Mr. Dutrow   with his chemical horse Big Brown over hay and oaks Mine That Bird and Chip Woolley?

Not saying either one deserves to be on this list, but at least Woolley keep his horse competitive through the Triple Crown series while the Dutrow trained Big Brown had the biggest meltdown in the history of the sport this decade.

26 Dec 2009 3:45 PM
Laura R

How about a mention for Joel Marr, trainer of Pepper's Pride who retired undefeated after 19 straight races? Just because the races weren't at the top level doesn't lessen his accomplishments.

26 Dec 2009 3:55 PM

John Shirreffs is a No. 1 trainer. He had both Breeders Cup races this year, and he had the first filly to ever win the Breeders Cup Classic. Way to go John, very great resume. You made Zenyatta perfect....

26 Dec 2009 4:33 PM
Mindy C.

Tiznow all the way !!!  Jay Robbins did do a phenomenal job with that horse...

26 Dec 2009 5:37 PM

Steve, each closing of the decade list you've created so far has been a terrific exercise in either a trip down that same memory lane or wishing I had been paying attention.  With the top ten feats of training, I could not agree with you more and it's evident you put a lot of thought into it. Coupled with your depth of knowledge, and personal experiences with some of the horses, makes it a meaningful selection also.  Reading your choices causes me to reflect on those that I do recall and to try to learn more about those that I'm not all that familiar with.  Once more - thank you for helping in the edification of this trying-to-catch-up fan!

26 Dec 2009 6:13 PM

Why you didn´t mention anywhere Michael Dickinson and his wonderful work with Da Hoss?

26 Dec 2009 6:56 PM
sky fire

Richard Mandella is a great trainer - I am glad to see you put his achievement # 1.

I just watched Cloudy's Knight win tonight - J. Sheppard has done a magnificent job!!

26 Dec 2009 7:07 PM
Karen in Indiana

Steve, love this list and agree with every one of them. I do agree with other's comments about Michael Dickinson, though, but then you only could choose 10.

East Coast Writer, I'm in the middle of the country - no coast bias. Another of the things that makes John Shirreffs training job of Zenyatta so exceptional is not only her race record, but she is a big horse and big horses are very prone to leg and feet problems. She compiled her record and did it staying sound. If she has ever had a health problem, I haven't heard of it and at her level of racing, that says a lot about the care she has received.

26 Dec 2009 7:58 PM
Francis J. Stenicka

Official decades go from 1-10  not 0-9  remember the fiasco 2000 &20 01 so 2009 is not the end of the first decade of the noughties ! Lets get it right this time not like 10 years ago. end of decade is 2010 and start of next decade is 2011 !!!

26 Dec 2009 8:06 PM

I don't understand how Dickinson getting Da Hoss to win the BC in 1998 qualifies for the best training feats of the last DECADE?  1998 was MORE than 10 years ago people.  Did you all who just said that read the title of the article?  Geez....

26 Dec 2009 9:15 PM

Well gee, East Coast Writer, if it's so easy to go unbeaten in your career, then how come everyone's not doing it. How come everyone isn't carefully spotting their horses and only runnning on synthetics? How come she's the only one unbeaten on synthetics? It is easy, right?

You know maybe, some of those fields were weaker because she scared the competition away. Life Is Sweet thought it would be easier to take on the boys than face Zenyatta again. You know, maybe Summer Bird got beat in the Classic because he was a 3YO running against elders, not because his form didn't translate. Since when have East Coasters ever come west and dominated the BC -- even when it was dirt?

Sounds like there's some bias alright -- with you.

26 Dec 2009 9:17 PM
Paula Higgins

Greta pocks and ITA Steve with everything you said. Karen In Indiana, good rebuttal to East Coast Writer. Well said. Could East Coast Writer be Mr. Andrew Breyer??? I read his article on  his Eclipse choice and I wanted to s--p him (sorry Steve). I think he has little or no appreciation for Zenyatta and fails to realize she runs equally as well or better on dirt. I really have a problem with professional writers in the horse racing world who disparage one in favor of the other, regardless of who they want to win HOTY. I like writers who make a case for their horse without going negative on the other horse. It CAN be done. They have a responsibility to be fairly objective and maintain their credibility. In short, they need to be like you Steve.

26 Dec 2009 9:24 PM

Steve, I think high on your list of Greatest Training Achievements (Individual Horse) should be Carl Nafzger for his achievement with Street Sense. He programmed Street Sense to win the Breeders Cup Juvenile and the Kentucky Derby. This was a feat deemed to be harder to achieve than the Triple Crown. I do not believe Zenyatta’s 14 wins compare to this achievement. I have far more recognition for champions that raced as 2YO. Bothe Curlin & Zenyatta never raced at two and mature without the level of stress experienced by horses like Hard Spun, Street Sense, Any Given Saturday etc.

26 Dec 2009 9:26 PM

The accomplishments of Dickerson and DaHoss were extraordinary.  However, they were not of this decade folks.

26 Dec 2009 9:28 PM
Brian Appleton

I'm so glad you included Better Talk Now in there!

26 Dec 2009 9:50 PM

Steve, I'm so glad you gave Jonathan Sheppard at least an honorable mention for his training of Cloudy's Knight.  I'd rank it in the top 5; but then, I'm terribly partial to CK. :-)  What a race the old boy ran today!  I dreaded seeing him run against Presious Passion - those 2 being among my top-10 favorites this year - but as it turned out, PP was sadly out of it before CK made his move.

Take a look at Cloudy's pedigree..all stamina and heart... Princequillo top & bottom.  He's a throwback, one of the few remaining that can be called "iron horse." <sigh>  I'm glad he'll be getting a break now because I want to be still watching him run his race at 10. Now that's a horse of the Decade!

I so wish the HOY folks would find it in their speed-loving hearts to honor true distance runners, be it turf, dirt or syn.  

Oh, and -- perfect match of horse & jockey, I think.  Rosemary Jr. and Cloudy's.  What a team!

I'm loving this series.  There are a few I'd have preferred to see included; but I bow to your superior knowledge and familiarity, and hugely respect you for blogging it!

26 Dec 2009 10:12 PM

East Coast Writer,

Wow, you sound like just another hater to me. What happened? Did Santa not leave you any presents under the tree? Or let me guess, he left you a stocking full of willow switches.


Great job. You, my friend, are a class act.

26 Dec 2009 11:33 PM

Paula, I agree that East Coast Writer is most likely Andy Beyer.

Read Mr. Beyer's run-up article to the BC Classic where he "threw Zenyatta out" and consider how the lady made him look the supreme fool and it's clear why he gives Zenyatta no credit.

We should all be thankful for writers like Mr. Haskin who can explain their positions with passion, but without prejudice and always tell a darn good story in the process.

27 Dec 2009 12:28 AM

I think Sherriff's deserves more praise for keeping Z's big body healthy through 5 years than being 14 for 14.

I'd have Tim Ritchey higher. He had a fairly radical change from tradition to fit the needs of a particular horse and he made it work -- with an experienced jockey. Alex should have won the Triple Crown.

Robbins was great but give some credit to Tiznow. He learned when and where to lay it on the line. Credit Chris McCarron too; he had to sit on the horse for 45 minutes while Tiz refused to train. Jay deserves another great horse.

Ask Commentator why we love Nick!!!

What about McAnally and Candy Ride? Candy Ride's feat weren't the best and he needed some work coming from Argentina. He retired undefeated, ran on both turf and dirt, and had the world's highest Beyer. That was an under-appreciated horse and trainer.

27 Dec 2009 1:50 AM

Wonderful list. To everyone who keeps asking about Da Hoss this is about the 2000s not the 90s which is when he ran. I am sure that if this was about the 90s he would be on the list but it isn't so he is not. Look at the top of the article people it says decade not of all time.

I do agree about Peppers Pride I think her trainer deserrves at least an honorable mention for keeping her going for 19 straight wins.

27 Dec 2009 2:50 AM

Xtra Heat beating Susan's Girl's record for all-time stakes wins belongs in top 10.

Pepper's Pride belongs in top 10 or at least an honorable mention.

Tiznow barely able to walk in the spring beating Europe's superhorse that fall is number ONE ;-)

27 Dec 2009 6:33 AM
Don from Delaware

Quite amazing compilation Steve, thanks...

27 Dec 2009 8:01 AM

I like Zenyatta, alot, but one big race doesn't make you immortal. I haven't been excited about racing in a very long time and the horse that brought me out of retirement was Rachel Alexandra. Big, tough and a trier. She needs to be in the top 10.

27 Dec 2009 9:22 AM
Soldier Course

John Servis deserves to be on this list with Smarty Jones.

I was flabbergasted when I saw Dubious Dutrow at No. 2. Battling foot injuries with Big Brown?

How about John Servis' battling a broken skull that nearly killed Smarty Jones, and then bringing him along to be the first undefeated Kentucky Derby winner since Seattle Slew?

27 Dec 2009 9:23 AM
Linda in Texas

Re:East Coast Writer's comments.

Went back and read his article on Zenyatta winning The BC in the Washington Post. 17 people commented, none positive and soon comments were closed. Nuff said. Me thinks he has some resentment someplace. He did himself no bueno either for garnering any savvy, prospective readers. If the BC had been on dirt,slop or nails Zenyatta would have been there. It was a gutsy call to enter her and everyone else had the same chance.  Of course, some chose not to. Call me biased, Zenyatta and team are to be commended for keeping her healthy. And God

Speed to all winners and losers past, present and future, American or European,here now or gone to that great paddock in the sky. Ya' gotta love them all. And i do. Please keep Kip Deville in your thoughts.    

27 Dec 2009 10:03 AM

What about John Servis and his little blue colar team of nobodies coming out of nowhere to send Smarty Jones to the pinacle of racing, the triple crown races?  The little colt kept on pushing and his Preakness was a joy to see.   I admit they miscalculated in the Belmont, they could have done it with Smarty, but to get that far from out of nowhere is a great feat.

27 Dec 2009 10:12 AM

Sorry if I missed it, but did the job Asmussen/Gaines did with Curlin get mentioned?  

He was a maiden on Jan. 1 who went on to win HOY.

27 Dec 2009 10:38 AM


Please, please take Dutrow off the list. I don't care about neutrality and racing being a business, that smug know-it-all pushed Brown way too hard.

Glad to see a couple of lesser-known trainers up there. And Alex's training regimen! Keeping the horse well-muscled. :) Not for every horse, but a message: build our horses better!

27 Dec 2009 12:33 PM

First, I am eagerly anticipating this print issue of The Blood Horse and woinder why the editors couldn't find room for more of Mr. Haskins's work.  It elevates the sport and educates readers at every level of the game.  Thank you, Steve.  Second, to East Coast Writer: I'm an East Coast girl and totally in the tank for Rachel Alexandra as HOY, but seriously, don't be an idiot.  The entire Zenyatta team and their magnificent mare deserve heaps of praise and honor forever for the accomplishments of a horse for the ages.      

27 Dec 2009 1:46 PM
Karen in Indiana

About Michael Dickinson - oops! You're right, wrong decade. I just got carried away.

27 Dec 2009 3:58 PM
Backside Sweetie

I do agree that the trainer of Peppers Pride should be mentioned because keeping a horse sound and most of all,keeping their spirits up and the will to want to race and win is quite an acomplishment.It can only be done by someone who loves not only the game but the horse and sees each and every one as an individual that has different needs and talents.Steve you do a great job,and I am thrilled that you gave my favorite trainer Jonathan Sheppard honorable mention as he has all of the qualitys I've mentioned and more.He has had a great year and he deserves it,as he never forgets the little people behind the scenes,or the horses that he trains that may never win a race.Thanks again Steve for a great job.  

27 Dec 2009 6:16 PM
Lost in the Fog

Probably the most impressive training job in the past decade was the Wiggins/Asmussen job with Rachel Alexandra.  Most of you have no idea how hard it is to keep a horse in top form for that long without a break.  It is still mind boggling that they actually pulled it off.  And what about Greg Gilcrist's job with Lost in the Fog?  That is probably the second best training job of this decade.  Zenyatta is third in my book because it was a light campaign and she didn't travel much.  It's a lot easier to keep a horse in top form with a light campaign in which they don't travel.  Rachel and Foggy traveled all over the country, and still won everything (except for the BC in Fog's case, but he probably had cancer at that point as well).  Also, Asmussen's job with Curlin has to be mentioned.  It was brilliant as well.              

27 Dec 2009 10:30 PM
Mike E.

What great fun to rehash all these great horses, trainers and their accomplishments.

Steve Haskins for Writer of the Year!

28 Dec 2009 6:59 AM

I'd like to second Greg Gilchrist/Lost in the Fog. Can't believe you'd leave them out.

Also, count me as another stickler peeved by this premature 'decade' stuff.  The decade runs from 2001-2010.

28 Dec 2009 8:04 AM
rick mckenzie

Steve,  Bobby Frankel's 25 Grade I wins in 2003 is above all else. This wasn't a one day accomplishment, or a one horse wonder.This is a record that stands tall and all by itself.

28 Dec 2009 11:22 AM

According to Ray Paulick of the Paulick Report, John Shirreffs has ZERO doping violations.   Unlike East Coast Writer, I'm thrilled to see turf writers finally have a "love affair" with such a clean trainer.  I'm sick to death of the trainers with doping rap sheets as long as my arm getting all the accolades and attention.  

28 Dec 2009 12:09 PM
Steve Haskin

Regarding Pepper's Pride, as I stated, because of the number of great individual training accomplishments I had to restrict it to major stakes horses or it would have gone on forever. Same would have applied to Hallowed Dreams.

I agree that John Servis should have been included. That was an oversight on my part. When dealing with so many lists and so many years and horses and performances and accomplishments to go back on, some unfortunately are going to slip through the cracks.

28 Dec 2009 3:06 PM

Steve, thanks for all of these wonderful lists.

I have to agree with some previous commenters for an honorable mention to:

Steve Asmussen/ Hal Wiggins- Rachel

Helen Pitts/ Asmussen- Curlin

Carl Nafzger- Street Sense

Greg Gilchrist- Lost in the Fog

John Servis- Smarty Jones

and 5 not earlier mentioned:

Bruce Headley- Kona Gold(as well as many other veteran horses, most sprinters).  Good to see him win the gr.1 Malibu on Saturday.  A great old-school trainer, who works his horses fast, runs them often, and keeps them sound.

William "Buff" Bradley- Brass Hat(how many injuries has this horse overcome?)

Murray Johnson- Perfect Drift

Helen Pitts- Einstein

Bill Mott- Shakespeare(this horse won the gr.1 Joe Hirsch at age 4 in 2005,  was off about 2 years, then won the gr.1 Woodbine Mile in 2007 over Kip Deville).

28 Dec 2009 4:35 PM
Joe B

I happen to think the Pick Six scandal over shadowed one of the great training feats of our time.


That fiasco did something that in my view is almost criminal. One of the greatest horse men of our time P.G. Johnson did a magnificant training job and won what is considered by many the most important race of the year with a horse many felt didn’t belong. P.G. knew different. As such the glory, attention and the recognition for one of the great upsets by any horse or trainer was over shadowed.

This is a bit personal for me. F.B Lantz, who I worked for for years was an assistant trainer for P.G. before going off on his own. Frank was closer to me then my father ever was and over the years, I learned what a great trainer P.G. was, not only from him but watching after Frank died. He's in the Hall of Fame for a reason!

On top of that, I worked for the tote company involved for 29 years. We are still suffering the effects of that scandal in the industry today with the perception of wagering integrity being questioned every moment.

To this day, all we ever see about that day anymore is “THE SCANDEL” And a great training feat by one of the best goes largely ignored. Again. Criminal!

28 Dec 2009 5:53 PM

One more honorable mention:

Mike Machowsky: Southern Image

Southern Image was one of my personal faves of the decade.  After winning a maiden race and running 3rd in the 2003 San Vicente, he came up with an injury and was off about 6 months.  Machowsky brought him back ready to run, winning an allowance at Del Mar and then, after a 2 month hiatus, taking the gr.1 Malibu in impressive fashion.

After the 7 furlong Malibu, Machowsky stretched Southern Image out to win the 2004 $1million Sunshine Millions Classic.  Machowsky then set an even higher goal, and Southern Image again proved up to the task by winning the 10 furlong Santa Anita Handicap.  Following the Big Cap, Machowsky shipped Southern Image to Baltimore and the colt won the gr.1 Pimlico Special with a 118 Beyer.  Having now won 5 straight races and 3 gr.1s, Machowsky took Southern Image to the Churchill for the gr.1 Stephen Foster.  Facing top horses like Peace Rules, Perfect Drift, and Midway Road on an extremely sloppy track, Southern Image put in a winning performance, fighting off the other speed horses before kicking again in the stretch.  Unfortunately for him, Calvin Borel had the longshot, Colonial Colony, running the race of his life and flying on the outside while carrying 9 lbs less than Southern Image.  After it appeared that Colonial Colony was going to blow right past Southern Image, Southern Image somehow kept finding more on the inside before ultimately losing a nose decision. Clearly, weight was the deciding factor, and it is fairly certain that had Southern Image not had to carry 9 lbs more than Colonial Colony, Southern Image would have won his 4th gr.1 race.  Sadly, the Foster was his ast race.

At the end of 2004, most had forgetten about Southern Image's early exploits, and he finished behind Ghostzapper, Roses In May, and Presently Perfect in the Eclipse voting.  Southern Image remains one of the most underrated horses of this decade.  

28 Dec 2009 6:46 PM

I think that the fact that Peppers Pride beat the records of "major stakes" horses distinquishes her sufficiently for her accomplishment not to be lumped into a list that "would have gone on forever." With all due respect, I think that the lists are simply incomplete without including her &/or her trainer and the rationalization for excluding her is weak. Thanks.

29 Dec 2009 11:15 PM

@ Coldfacts

Mate... Look at the horses you mentioned, "Hard Spun, Street Sense, Any Given Saturday" 6month wonders!!! Maybe (hopefully) better as Stallions. The horses you're knocking lasted longer and actually created a bit of a following, not just P.E.'s like the ones you're pushing!!!

30 Dec 2009 2:51 PM

First, will someone please clarify "decade"?  Personally, I always thought a new decade started with "0" and covered a 10-yr span ending with "9". (same as "century" starting with "00" and ending with "99" - wasn't the Y2K fiasco suppossed to affect computers 1/1/00?).

Regarding the training feats themselves; keeping a horse sound and undefeated over a 24-month period, mostly in graded stakes company is a remarkable accomplishment.  I don't think I'd place John S and Zenyatta first on this list because I think keeping a horse sound from late in the 3rd year to late in the 5th year while running only 14 times is not as great a feat as some others on the list or some others I can think of, but certainly Zenyatta and connections deserve to be on anybody's Top 10 in this category.  Also, if synthetic tracks really are easier on a horse, keeping Z in Cal. may have contributed to this record as well.  Maybe Rick Dutrow's training of Big Brown deserves to be on the list, but I wouldn't rank it nearly as high. Personally, I think Tiznow, Afleet Alex and Laura D's training of Azeri deserve to be way up there.  I would also have included Smarty Jones.  I wouldn't put Giacomo on the list at all.   I believe circumstances more than an extraordinary training job contributed to Giacomo's win in the KY Derby.

Thank you, Steve, for continuing to offer the fans and handicappers a venue to discuss horses and horse racing with other like-minded folks!

30 Dec 2009 9:46 PM

To Backside Sweetie, sky fire, Sherpa and other Jonathan Sheppard supporters, here's an excerpt from the 12/11/09 Chronicle of the Horse about Mixed Up, a 10-yr-old steeplechaser Sheppard trains.  The story was about his win in the Colonial Cup, his 2nd Grade 1 of 2009, "putting himself at the top of the list for the Eclipse Award for steeplechasing...A few years ago, Mixed Up was coming into his own; he won Saratoga's $150,000 New York Turf Writers in 2006 and the Smithwick in 2007.  But by the end of the year he was...saddled with enormous weights, and he just couldn't get it done.  In 2008 he never saw the winner's circle.  So for 2009, after nearly collapsing after a race with a potassium imbalance, Sheppard took him off the drug Lasix...'I hope everyone takes their horses off it now,' Sheppard said. 'It's not always needed.'"  

31 Dec 2009 8:51 PM


I must whole heartedly agree with you about Southern Image. Great racehorse and very underrated. Very hardknocking kind of horse.

I want to thank you so much for bringing Southern Image to everyone's attention for this horse is one of my personal favorites.  He deserves to be reconized. Thanks once again.

By the way, I really enjoy reading your blogs.  You put alot of thought into them, and even though I might not always agree with everything, I thank you for your point of views, facts and wisdom.

Once again, thanks.

01 Jan 2010 5:50 PM
Tim Tecmo

I'd throw a vote at Greg Gilchrist, too. That Lost in the Fog campaign was incredible. That horse was a consummate pro and so is Gilchrist.

03 Jan 2010 2:14 PM

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