I’m cramming one more blog in this week, as I’ll be taking a Saratoga break over the next week and a half.
So, enough about Big Brown and Curlin for now. It’s time to delve into something much lighter.
Every so often starting now, just to break up the monotony of my often long-winded comments, I will toss in 10 trivia questions. As soon as you know the answer or think you know the answer to a particular question, send it in, because the first person to send in the correct answer gets a point. The person with the most points by the end of the year will receive...oh, I guess now I have to come up with something. Hmmm. OK, it may sound a bit vain, but considering I have nothing of value or interest, I can send the big winner autographed copies of my bio books on Dr. Fager and John Henry (I've been trying to figure out how to get rid of them). I know it's pitiful, but it just goes to show you how little of value I possess. I also will throw in three baseball caps (unworn, I promise) from the hundreds I’ve accumulated over the years of famous and not-so-famous horses, big races, farms, etc., and, yes, you’ll get your choice of what’s remaining. I also will proclaim the winner the King of All Trivia.
OK, here goes:
1-- Name the only horse to win the two-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup and be voted champion sprinter the same year?
2-- Name the first horse ever to win group/grade I stakes in five different countries?
3-- What horse ran the fastest mile and a quarter by a 3-year-old in the history of New York racing?
4-- Name the filly who made her career debut going four furlongs at Fonner Park in Nebraska and went on to win an Eclipse Award and defeat a Kentucky Derby winner in the process. She also defeated a Jockey Club Gold Cup winner in another race and was second, finishing ahead of a Preakness winner, in yet another. In all, she won 24 of 36 starts.
5-- What horse broke or equaled 15 track records in his career, nine of them carrying 130 pounds or more?
6-- Two part question -- What filly won the NYRA Filly Triple Crown – the Acorn, Mother Goose, and Coaching Club American Oaks, as well as the Alabama, Cotillion, and defeated older fillies and mares in the Ladies Handicap and did not receive a single vote for Champion 3-year-old Filly? Who beat her out, getting every vote?
7-- Hall of Fame trainer Elliott Burch won three Belmont Stakes with horses who competed in all three legs of the Triple Crown, and each time he used the Met Mile as a prep. Name the three horses (two won the Met Mile and one finished second).
8-- What Horse of the Year/champion older horse won four consecutive grade I stakes at four different distances and four different racetracks?
9-- What horse broke or equaled three track records that had been held by Dr. Fager (broke his record), Groovy (broke his record), and Mr. Prospector (equaled his record)?
10—What 2-year-old champion (winner of the Hopeful, Futurity, and Champagne Stakes) and 2-1 second choice in the Kentucky Derby (after winning the Bahamas, Flamingo and Florida Derby) ended his career racing for three years (at ages 7, 8, and 9) in allowance company at Narragansett, Lincoln Downs, and Suffolk Downs in New England? Hint: His two main competitors on the Triple Crown trail are both in the Hall of Fame.
Now, for an extra bonus of trivia. Everyone talks about the tradition of the Triple Crown. Well, it is interesting to note that when Sir Barton, Omaha, Citation, Count Fleet, and Whirlaway won the Triple Crown, there was a gap of four weeks between the Preakness and the Belmont, and each horse had a race in between. When Gallant Fox won the Triple Crown, the Preakness was run eight days BEFORE the Kentucky Derby. When War Admiral and Assault won, the Derby was run only one week before the Preakness. So, actually it was Secretariat who was the first horse to sweep the Triple Crown in the format and the spacing it is run today. So much for tradition.
You’ve heard the term clubhouse turn used often, but do you know how that term originated? In 1870, Pimlico Race Course built a small Victorian-style building for its members that eventually housed the National Jockeys Hall of Fame. Located on the first turn, it was called the Clubhouse. From then on, the first turn at Pimlico became known as the Clubhouse turn, and the term stuck. In 1966, the Clubhouse burned down.
While on the subject of Pimlico, is anyone aware that the Preakness is named after the track’s first stakes winner? But that actually wasn’t Preakness’ main claim to fame. He had a far more profound effect on history.
Preakness won the Dinner Party Stakes on opening day, October 25, 1870. He eventually was sold to the Duke of Hamilton and sent to the Duke’s stud in England. The only problem was that Preakness had a pretty nasty temper that may have been surpassed only by his owner’s. One day, the Duke went in Preakness’ stall and was run out by the cantankerous stallion. Having come out on the short end one time too many, the Duke went into his house, grabbed his gun and went back to Preakness’ stall and killed him. The incident caused an uproar in England, with protests by animal activists. As a result, Parliament passed the first ever animal rights bill. To this day, that bill protects all animals, and is now taken so seriously, we’ve had one of our most prominent professional athletes sentenced to serious jail time for animal abuse. And it all started with Preakness.
OK, one little mention of Curlin. How revealing is it that in Stonestreet’s fan poll on where Curlin should go next, 89% of the fans who voted came right out and said that he should not race on synthetic surfaces, which means he should not run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic? What does that tell you? The majority 52% so far have voted for him to stay on the grass. Now they should have a poll asking: grass in the U.S. or grass in Europe? It is obvious that the fans applaud Jess Jackson’s decision to scale new, unconquered peaks rather than attempt to win the conventional dirt races, which has garnered only 31% of the votes.
Let’s face it, if Big Brown for some reason doesn’t make the Breeders’ Cup, the Classic will be virtually a replay of the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup, and Pacific Classic. There are four horses (other than Big Brown) who would give the race appeal and meaning: Zenyatta, Divine Park, Duke of Marmalade or Henrythenavigator, and Casino Drive. Would John Shirreffs change his mind and go for the glory? Will Divine Park, arguably the best miler in the country, be able to stretch out that far? Will Aidan O’Brien, despite the terrible memories of George Washington, continue on Coolmore’s quest to win the Classic and send the leading mile and a quarter horse in Europe or the leading 3-year-old miler? And will Casino Drive return to America and finally get to show how special a horse he really is on the world stage?
With the Whitney and the Hall of Fame inductions next week, congratulations to the old-timers committee for electing Ancient Title into the Hall of Fame. This Cal-bred son of Gummo was as tough and game as they come, and it is only appropriate that he gets inducted on almost the same day (Aug. 4) that he won the Whitney (Aug. 2) 33 years ago. In that race, he set all the pace, while under pressure every step of the way, and battled his way to a gutsy neck victory over the Allen Jerkens-trained Group Plan, the eventual Jockey Club Gold Cup winner to whom he was conceding 13 pounds.
When Ancient Title ran, it wasn’t easy to stand out because of the wealth of talent around, but for six years, he raced competitively on both coasts against the likes of Forego, Foolish Pleasure, Wajima, Linda’s Chief, Group Plan, Crystal Water, Vigors, Royal Glint, Quack, and many other grade I horses. He won at distances of 5 1/2 furlongs, 6 furlongs, 7 furlongs, one mile on dirt and turf, 1 1/16 miles, 1 1/8 miles, and 1 1/4 miles. He ran seven furlongs in 1:20 4/5 as a 2-year-old, and 1:20 2/5 as a 4-year-old, and ran 1 1/4 miles in 1:59 1/5. In the twilight of his career, he ran six furlongs in 1:08 1/5 and set a track record for 1 1/16 miles in 1:40 1/5, both at the age of eight.