The Horse of Tomorrow

With many of our top 3-year-olds being retired and deprived of a 4- or 5-year-old campaign, and with so many major races taking place on synthetic surfaces, you have to wonder what the horse of tomorrow will be like; the ones the fans all over the country will get to see run and become familiar with on a long-term basis.

Most likely, he will be an older horse, who either is a gelding or not marketable as a stallion, or who is owned by that rare breed of sportsman who enjoys watching his or her horses run. Yes, there are some left.

Although this looks like the profile of the horse of tomorrow, that doesn’t mean he is not already among us.

At this time I’d like to introduce you, or I should say re-introduce you, to Student Council. Take a good look at him, because he is the long-term star of the future; the horse who meets all the criteria, and who we should all be rooting for in the upcoming stakes. No, he’s not as talented as Curlin or Big Brown; he doesn’t have the brilliance of Commentator; and he loses more than he wins. But, you have to love him.

Student Council is a 6-year-old complete horse by Kingmambo, out of the Kris S. mare Class Kris, winner of five graded stakes. He was bred by William S. Farish and is a half-brother to Farish’s graded stakes winner Gradepoint. Surely, he’d make a fine addition to anyone’s stallion roster. Yet, here he is still racing for his new owner, Ro Parra’s Millennium Farms.

So, why is Student Council the horse of tomorrow? Because he has finished first, second, or third (mostly in stakes) on dirt at Churchill Downs; on grass at Saratoga; on Polytrack at Turfway Park; on dirt at Fair Grounds; on Polytrack at Keeneland; on dirt at Sam Houston; on dirt at Pimlico; on Cushion Track at Hollywood Park; on dirt at Oaklawn Park; on dirt at Hawthorne; on Polytrack at Del Mar; and on dirt at Saratoga.

He’s won on fast, wet fast, good, muddy, and sloppy dirt tracks, and on three different Polytrack surfaces.

At ages 5 and 6 alone, he’s managed to win the grade I Pimlico Special and Pacific Classic, grade II Hawthorne Gold Cup, and the listed Maxxim Gold Cup, and placed in the grade I Whitney and Hollywood Gold Cup, and grade III Alysheba Stakes and Razorback Handicap. During that time, he’s also been to Japan and has been trained by three different trainers, while changing barns four times.

In short, he doesn’t give a hoot about anything, except to go out there and run as hard as he can, regardless of what surface he’s running over. That’s all anyone can ask for.

Racing fans have fallen in love with old warriors like Commentator and Evening Attire this year, and rightly so, because they have provided us with something special that we can’t get from the younger horses – longevity and the ability to keep bouncing back year after year and still show the enthusiasm of a 3-year-old. There’s also Better Talk Now, one of the great iron horses on the grass, who still has not lost his explosive stretch kick at age 9.

And you even have to admire a horse like A.P. Arrow, a 6-year-old complete horse by A.P. Indy, and his owner Michael Paulson, who is still trying to land a grade I victory with him. You’re not going to find many A.P. Indy horses running at age 6, so it is only deserving that he returns to form and gets that grade I before retiring, only for the perseverance shown by Paulson. Yes, there will be some who say he’s doing it to get a better stud deal, but who really cares what his reason is? And at A.P. Arrow’s age, it’s still a gamble keeping him in training this long when he could have gotten a good enough deal for the horse in 2006 and 2007. He is after all a graded stakes winning son of A.P. Indy. The bottom line is, it still was sporting of him, and we need horses like A.P. Arrow to stick around and owners like Paulson, who also kept Azeri in training long after most owners would have retired her.

The horses mentioned in the previous two graphs have all excelled on one type of surface. Student Council on the other hand should be the poster child for racing in the 21st century. This is the type of horse we will be embracing in the years to come, which is why we have to appreciate him and give him the kudos he deserves before his retirement in 2009, when he will take up residence at Parra’s Millennium Farms.

Another who fits the horse of tomorrow mold is the 5-year-old Awesome Gem, who is heading to the Pacific Classic and will be seeking to avenge his narrow defeat to Student Council in last year’s running.

Awesome Gem, who unlike Student Council is a gelding, didn’t break his maiden until late September of his 3-year-old campaign. He also has been, well, a gem, on all kinds of surfaces, finishing first or second on Cushion Track at Santa Anita, dirt at Santa Anita, grass at Santa Anita, Polytrack at Del Mar, dirt at Del Mar, grass at Del Mar, Cushion Track at Hollywood Park, and was third on a sloppy dirt track in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Monmouth Park.

As a gelding, he’ll be around longer than Student Council, barring anything unforeseen, and the feeling here is that his best days are still to come. It is hoped he will venture out of California on occasion, especially considering his only stakes victory has come on the dirt.

We can even add Tiago, who has won major stakes on dirt and synthetic surfaces and was third in the Belmont Stakes, and Well Armed, who loves the synthetic, but ran a good enough third in the Dubai World Cup to suggest he is adept on both surfaces.

No one is claiming Student Council or Awesome Gem or Tiago or Well Armed are world beaters, but let’s welcome them with open arms, at least as rehearsal for their successors in the years to come.

Of course, you’re going to get an occasional superhorse like Curlin who does stick around at 4 and shuns the synthetic surfaces. We certainly are going to embrace them as well, for they may be a final reminder of the horses of our past and of racing the way it used to be.

In the meantime, here’s to horses like Student Council, who will be around to help us across that unsteady bridge to the future. 


Leave a Comment:


I really wonder what the great horses of the past like Secretariat, Kelso, Round Table, Dr. Fager, etc. would have been able to do on synthetic tracks?  All four of the above demonstrated super form on turf [it took Kelso awhile, but he got there]and it's anybody's guess how they would have adapted to synthetic tracks.  Student Council is certainly an admirable horse and deserves much respect.  I just don't enjoy watching most races on most synthetic tracks.  You don't often see the type of explosive move that you see on dirt or turf. Zenyatta is an exception: she made a move the other day which was truly exceptional - last-to-first sweeping by the entire field.  Haven't seen that too often.  Usually, as we all know the synthetic specialists appear to be grinders who keep plugging away.  I have to agree with Zito insofar as his opinion that a properly constructed and maintained dirt track will prove to be as safe as the best synthetic track.  Time will tell.

13 Aug 2008 10:35 AM

To me the triple crown races are basically an exhibition for stud fees.  Horses that do well in them tend to be retired early and thus I have little interest in following a horse who will be breeding at 4.    There are very few true race horses out there these days, like the hard campaigning type with extrem talent, i.e Black Tie affair. I love the Student Council types but the true talent will always be breeding way before their prime.    

13 Aug 2008 10:44 AM

With respect Bill I disagree. I watch Woodbine all the time and the track players fair. Come from behinds have the same chance as a speed ball. I've seen some big moves on poly there.The other great thing about it is that when a race comes off the turf theres less scratches. Trainers like the option of trying poly with those turf pedigrees.They do have to tweak it somewhat depending on the weather but I think in the long haul it will be the surface of the furture.

13 Aug 2008 10:47 AM

As usual, an excellent piece of writing.  I am amazed at how often my meandering thoughts are mirrored by someone more able to organize and articulate them. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.  

13 Aug 2008 10:53 AM

Unless the horses you mentioned where precocious two year olds it is unlikely they will be supported by the top breeders.Rather, they will take a "wait and see" attitude.

13 Aug 2008 11:33 AM

And as you were writing this, Student Council will be retired to stud. Still, I enjoy the insights you put forth. Let's hope that Evening Attire continues to carry the torch with pride and dignity while he can.

13 Aug 2008 11:47 AM

I like Student Council, and the's right to applaud SC because of his graded versatility...I hear over and over "the GREAT ONES run on all surfaces"...well that was true in their day...dirt and we have the synthetics and we have not had a "great one" that has run on all three at the level of the 2 big reds, the Dr, etc. to even be able to make that comment.

I've gone this year to just enjoying the horses like SC, Gem, the girls, rooting for Evening Attire, BTN, especially if they belong or are trained by one of the "good guys".;-)

13 Aug 2008 11:49 AM

Thank you for jumping on "my" bandwagon.  Let's get back to appreciating the individual horses instead of worshipping the money won( often inflated) The Tin Man is my favorite of the old fellas.

13 Aug 2008 12:00 PM

Bill, I agree with your opinion on properly constructed dirt tracks. I've seen more than a few breakdowns on the supposedly safer all weather tracks (including one I had across the board that broke down in the stretch at Holiwood not so long ago).

Steve, do you think Dreaming of Anna fits the category?

13 Aug 2008 12:10 PM
Steve G

Can anyone think of a more drastic change to the overall personality of thoroughbred racing than the advent of synthetic surfaces here in the US?

Breeding for precocity & speed has had a big impact but certainly developed in a gradual way...the impact of the widespread use & misuse of medications has been a decades long phenomenon culiminating in an ugly mess...that's pretty simple to see.

But, synthetics literally appeared overnight & changed the game from the inside (for owners, trainers, horses & jockeys)and the outside(for fans & especially for handicappers)

As tradition-bound as racing is, it's no wonder that something so drastic would result in passionate responses, again, from both within & without...the business model would have to techniques would have to evolve & handicappers would need to learn how to play (if they choose to play at all)

A horse like Student Council, racing through his 6th year, is rare enough these days. To display the versatility, adapability and competitiveness you detail about him, does bode well for his progeny in the brave new world these synthetic surfaces have created.

I'm almost certain that if other horses were given the opportunity to race beyond their 3rd year (imagine the impact a horse like Hard Spun would have as a triple-threat runner, for example)and given the opportunity to run on synthetics, what Student Council has accomplished would be far more commonplace (not to denigrate his accomplishments at all, btw)

The simple fact seems to be that synthetics are here to stay & we should be past our shock at their appearance.  It seems to me that those people inside & outside the ropes who take a proactive, open-minded approach to the fact of their existence stand the better chance of succeeding at winning races and cashing bets than those who yearn for a return to dirt, refuse to race their horses on artificials or to handicap and wager on races run over them.  I don't dispute their right to that position but I wonder if that hardline stance will cause alot of missed opportunity.

As much as the synthetics have compromised the performance of some horses, they have provided career resurrection for others...those trainers who have horses that are not successful runners on dirt, often try those horses on turf, yet some eschew the opportunity to try the same horse on artificial. I wonder why other than a predisposition to dislike the stuff...

Steve, you've provided lots of food for thought.  Thanks.

13 Aug 2008 12:45 PM

The Horse Of Tomorrow ....... now there's a good question. Seems somewhere along the line , people have decided that horse's should adapt to the human way of thinking .... people telling horse's what is good for them.  All these year's , horse's in the wild have done okay without human intervention ... no one feeds them , no vets to look after them , and all in all horse's have survived. Along comes man ... he says horses should eat this .. horse's need this medication ... horse's should run on this surface ..... this is who you should mate to.

Geeze, makes you wonder if the stallion in the wild had a little " black book " .... LOL.

How is it , someone decided what was best for the horse ;  did someone think a horse had no brain ( perhaps as a child they watched The Wizard Of Oz too many times .. LOL ).

The horse of tomorrow will just be what someone ( human ) devises based on their way of thinking. As I wrote this , I wondered ; is there a horse out there saying :  "  if they ( man ) only had a heart " .

And for those of you that might be wondering .... I can tell you, not only have I thought about the horse of today, but I have indeed thought about the horse of tomorrow ; I have found out the horse does in fact have a brain and I do have heart .... I do what is best for the horse .. not myself ... that takes courage. And yes, as a child I did watch both the black & white and color version of The Wizard Of Oz.

P.S.   I'm still looking for the yellow brick road that leads to The Emerald City ... LOL.  

13 Aug 2008 12:48 PM

It is fun to watch the hard knockers and the hard triers who come running every race. I'll add Dreaming of Anna to your list. Who can imagine a 2YO Eclipse winner still running and running well (although I'm not sure she's run on synthetic).

13 Aug 2008 12:57 PM

What will the horse of tomorrow look like ?  Steve ... please tell me your joking ?  The horse of tomorrow is here !  Big Brown wins on dirt, turf, and when he wins the Breeder's Cup on the synthetic there will be no doubt who the best in the world is... Big Brown.  Hard Spun was another talented dirt and Poly horse.  Steve, Jackson tried to goat Mike into the Woodward but Mike had the perfect response.."If your horse is all that come prove it with a full field of the best from around the world."  A field of 4 isn't going to prove anything at the Woodward.

13 Aug 2008 1:07 PM

I think it's safe to say that money has shaped the makeup of your "horse of tomorrow", more than any other factor.  It doesn't take the chairman of the Reserve, to decide whether it is better to take $50 Million dollars and retire your horse to stud duty, or take your chances and race him to maybe make $5 million for the year!  Add in the fact that your horse (Big Brown for my example) has a father who only ran 8 races before being forced to retire and grandfathers who both only ran 3 races before being forced to retire, and it is not even really a question that needs considering.

    It's a sad state for thoroughbred racing when you look at the fading longevity of the Thoroughbred race career.  The Blood Horse's, Iron Horse was a great discussion on the matter. Some blame it on shear economics, others on inbreeding.  In truth it is probably a mixture of the two, with many more variable mixed in.  Take for the moment, what I consider a partial determining fact...these horses were all first cousins...Their Paternal Grandsire is Nearco....

Bold Ruler

Northern Dancer


Red God

Grey Soveriegn


Indian Hemp

Fleet Nashrullah

Never Bend





Try finding a pedigree with out several of these prominatly listed!! Throw in the Native Dancer line and you cover over 95% of all horses racing in the States.  Breeders have seemed to have limited the US thoroughbred Gene pool, by all jumping on the popular stallion bandwagon.  

Thing for a moment about the great stallions whose bloodlines have almost become extinct.  Can anyone name a current Stallion whose sire line runs directly to Bull Lea?  He sired 6 of the top 100 Thoroughbreds of all time, yet his gene pool is almost nowhere to be found. Several other horses sired two, and Nashrullah sired 4, but shouldn't we consider Bull Lea to be the greatest Sire of all time? Where has his bloodline gone?

So my thoughts on the thoroughbred of the future, would start with a HEALTHY bloodline, one filled with runners that stayed around long enough for us to get to know(Thank You Jess Jackson and Michael Paulson).  It would be diverse, bringing back into prominence the bloodlines of greats like Man O War (thanks Tiznow), and Ribot( thanks Pleasantly Perfect) Rough n Tumble (thanks Holy Bull), Tom Fool (thanks Montbrook), and Ack Ack (thanks Include).  By putting some divesity into the gene pool to mix with the greatness already there from the Native Dancer and "thirteen Cousins" lines, the thoroughbred of tomorrow should be both sturdy and diverse.  It should be able to excell on dirt, turf and poly, over routes and sprints.

Or maybe we just need to breed more owners like Michael Paulson and Jess Jackson??

13 Aug 2008 1:40 PM

Steve, I love reading your articles, you are always right on. Everything I want to see but can never find the right words. A amazing piece.

13 Aug 2008 1:54 PM

The only thing I hate about synthetics is that they are all different. if there was one uniformed synthetic that was agreed to be safe, then I think there would be far fewer issues.

Running the Breeders Cup on an unknown surface (TWICE!!) is one of the worst things the thoroughbred industry has done in ages.

13 Aug 2008 2:26 PM

We live in a synthetic world these days and unfortunately I am fast loosing my interest in racing because of the surface issues that keep coming up among other things. There are enough races available on all surfaces and I believe the choice is still up to the trainer/owner where and when his/her horses will compete. In the early 50's I watched Native Dancer on TV.  When I was old enough to drive I spent time at Saratoga seeing horses like Secretariat, Riva Ridge, Key to the Mint.  I spent time at Hialeah, Tropical Park, Gulfstream, and Calder watching some of the best compete. I spent time on the backside at Belmont one summer.  A horse doesn't have to win every race to be considered "great".  In fact, some of my favorites have been those competing in Canada for $1,500 claiming tags.  Many were older horses coming from the "big" tracks and no longer as fast as they had been but still had the heart to win or try.  The Breeder's Cup races are just another gimmick that some buy into. You don't have to run in those races to be a champion.  It is what a horse accomplishes in the whole of the career that counts.  It is very sad to see sound young horses being retired before their time because of the almighty dollar and depriving the racing public of seeing their favorites continue with their racing careers. Thank heavens for those few trainers/owners who  are keeping their horses in training even though they could make a fortune by retiring them.  As far as the synthetic surfaces go, I can liken them to a drug manufacturer who spends millions developing a medication to help mankind only to find out years after it is marketed that it creates more problems than it resolves.  Sometimes we are too quick to try to fix things that may not be broken and end up with a really big mess.  So let us not belittle each other regarding the choice of surface we decide to use.  There is room enough for all.

13 Aug 2008 3:17 PM

No offense to draynay, but Big Brown is not the horse of tomorrow- and to say that he is means you are still dillusioned by that horse.  I am not saying that he isn't a good, as he has one a big race since the Belmont, but he nothing more than a decent stakes horse.  And as for the tomorrow part?? He's being retired after the Breeder's Cup, so how can fans get to know him if he's shuffled off to breeding shed before we know what he can do at the age of 4?

That was the point of this article, that most horses are retired at 3 and no one gets to know them, how they run, to root for them as they age and show us what they can do later in their careers.  We get to do that with Evening Attire, with Lava Man and with the horses that were mentioned above.  A perfect example of a horse for tomorrow was Silver Charm, who had a bid for the Triple Crown but still went on to race as an older horse.  So don't tell me that Big Brown is "the horse of Tomorrow".  Neither was Hard Spun either- just another stallion for someone's already swollen stallion roster.

13 Aug 2008 4:25 PM

Steve, I guess I was born after my time because I love the old traditional racetracks, Saratoga my all time favorite and all the horses from days gone by. I have all of your books, Dr. Fager, Kelso and of course John Henry, loved the old guy. I re-read the books at least every six months and some of them are so well worn I need to get new ones. There have been a few recent horses that have grabbed my attention like Evening Attire, anyone who doesn't think he loves his job is nuts. All the talk about the iron horse I remembered a comment long ago from a real oltimer in racing, I mean like there is dirt younger than he is. He told me that in the 60's a horse had to have broken their maiden by age 5 and no horse over the age of 10 was allowed to run on most tracks. I read somewhere that horse hit their prime at 5-12, I have a rodeo friend who won't put the stress of rodeo on them until they are 6 and then ride them until they are about 16 although there are some super barrel horses 18 and up. (yes we have rodeo in Cal).

My thought about driving by SA was to see if the polytrack is still in a pile in the parking lot or if it's made it to the track yet. Never did figure out your saying from the other blog hoit- to leap(?). Please splain if you would.

13 Aug 2008 4:48 PM

Kayte... the horse of tomorrow will continue to be retired at 3 because the owners do not care about what is best for the sport they care about money.  This whole industry continues to step all over itself and why ? Because it lacks central leadership. No one is in charge.  Football has had great leadership over the years and look what it has done for the sport.  Marketing and promotion is the key to any business and who is in charge of that for racing?  Lol... they can't even manage to get the two top horses to race against each other.

You have to protect greedy owners from themselves and not let horses retire and breed until they are 5. You also need to put one man in charge of racing and its promotion until you do that you will continue to see the best and brightest retired at 3.

13 Aug 2008 4:59 PM

Why is all the focus on male horses?  The horse of the future may be a distaffer, as more of these fillies/mares are being kept in training through their four/five year old careers.  The Ladies Classic is the race I'm most looking forward to at BC this year.

13 Aug 2008 4:59 PM
Steve Haskin

Brad, if your books ever wear out, let me know. I'll take care of you. I have to make sure such a dedicated reader has decent books. My saying isn't worth splaining. You were referring to the Yiddish "oy." So, I replied in such -- Cen't hoit was the Brooklyn Jewish way of saying can't hurt. See, I told you it wasn't worth explaining.

13 Aug 2008 5:20 PM

Another spot on blog, Steve.  Thanks for giving Student Council the props he deserves.  Just hope it wasn't your article that got his stud deal done.  :)

The Tin Man, Sandpit, Gentlemen, just to name a few...I miss them  and their competitiveness at an "old age".  

13 Aug 2008 5:37 PM
Katherine in Sugar Land

Steve, Once again you have expressed my feelings so eloquently. I always read your articles as soon as they come out.

I wanted to mention Mr. Bob McNair, owner of Stonerside, and Congaree. Mr. McNair is relatively new to racing but is a true sportsman. He raced Congaree (who has a lovely pedigree) through his five year old year. Congaree retired sound and is now producing some very nice horses.

We need more owners like him. I would love to see Curlin raced through his five year old year too!

13 Aug 2008 5:54 PM

Steve, no it is worth it, I'm a curious guy and love languages. Thanks for the offer on the books. I think they're good for a while of course I have my favorite stuff bookmarked. I read parts of it to everyone in my life frequently, they think I'm eccentric. I love to read any racing book (or any book for that matter), just have some favorites I go back to over and over. I read em to the mini me's and they love to listen to the stories, not sure they understand what I'm saying but they like it.

13 Aug 2008 5:57 PM

Boy, horseracing theory and yiddish too, Who knew?

Love this blog, can't get enough. I agree with your thoughts Steve, but I was wondering about how you see the stallion of the future. Right now I think that title should go to Street Cry. With all his different sons and daughters doing so well on all different types of surfaces he is my choice for that title. (and did ya notice how his really good ones come swiping up from behind with that heart pounding finish, going short or long.) Gotta love it !

13 Aug 2008 6:08 PM
Julie L.

Draynay - keep up with the news, Mr. Jackson just informed the Big Brown camp that they will be running in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, what excuse are they going to use this time for not showing up? Mr. Jackson has said that the Breeders' Cup is not a possibility so now they have more than enough time to prepare for the Gold Cup. Whom is running from whom and Draynay let's try not to explode too loudly at me as I am only saying what others are thinking.

13 Aug 2008 6:41 PM

I'd just add one more your list -- Go Between.  He's a 5 year old full horse (I think) who has a couple of Grade III wins on both turf and synthetic, plus a bunch of placings in Grade I's and Grade II's.  He's won million dollar races on both turf (Colonial Downs) and synthetic (Sunshine Millions Classic at Santa Anita).

He's not fancy and I know that you have issues with horses that perform better on synthetic rather than dirt (which is cool, just an observation not a criticism), but Peter Vegso and Bill Mott have done a good job keeping him running and generally running pretty well.

13 Aug 2008 6:45 PM
russell maiers

Great article Steve, Student and the others deserve admiration. Reminds me a little of the biggest day of racing at Canterbury, the claiming crown. The day when the hard working not so famous are treated as if they are kings and queens. The horse in my opinion that would of,could of, should of run on any surface, any distance, and against any great ones now or from the past is the forgotton Afleet Alex.

13 Aug 2008 7:05 PM
Mike S

I don't know why they're so afraid of running CURLIN on synthetic, and in the Breeders Cup Classic. I am going to guess that Asmussen was so traumatized by PYRO's 11th place finish in the Blue Grass, in his first start on synthetic, that he really is freaked out by the notion that CURLIN will run that kind of race too. I think CURLIN is far superior to PYRO.

And don't you think it's time for BIG BROWN - you know, "one of the greatest of all time" (LOLOLOL!!!) to face CURLIN either in the Woodward or Jockey Club Gold Cup? SPECTACULAR BID didn't dodge AFFIRMED. And a 3 year old AFFIRMED didn't dodge SEATTLE SLEW and EXCELLER!  So it's time for BIG BROWN to man up!

Regarding "The Horse of Tomorrow" I think it's going to be the horse that blazes 1 furlong in :9-4/5 at the 2 year olds in training sale and then is retired to stud, with a $250,000 stud fee, "because he has nothing left to prove."

13 Aug 2008 7:52 PM
Steve Haskin

Sorry, Erica, Go Between has never done a thing on dirt.

Dreaming of Anna has never done a thing on synthetic, so neither of those two fit the bill.

I was aware Student Council was being retired, but for a complete horse to race thru his 6-year-old year is more than enough.

Thanks all for your comments.

13 Aug 2008 7:58 PM

Julie, I think we're talking about the horse of the future, but Iavarone already said no to a meeting in the Woodward, I guess no period. I'm with Brad, I love the horses of the old days. Steve's blog about Big Red was classic.

STEVE, I'm one of the guys he quotes passages from books to. His favorite Aunt gave them to him so they will turn to dust before he gives them up.

13 Aug 2008 8:43 PM
Kelly S

Kudos on a great article once again, Steve!  Here's to all horses like Student Council, from the stakes runners to the claimers, who embody the spirit of the thoroughbred.  They just seem to want to run, no matter the surface or conditions.  They are truly a joy to watch.

13 Aug 2008 8:49 PM

Steve, This is a duplicate of the blog entry I tried to submit not more than 5 minutes ago. My computer has been acting funny lately, so I'm not sure the original transmitted correctly or not. If so, there's surely no need to publish it twice. Some would argue, that once is too often.

The Horse of Tomorrow? I nominate six and second Draynay's nomination. 1) The Green Monkey purchased for $16 million and compiled a racing record of 3:0-0-1, $10,240 before getting shipped off to stud earlier this year. 2) Seattle Dancer purchased for $13.1 million and compiled a racing record of 5:2-1-1, $164,728 racing in Ireland and France before retiring to stud mostly in Europe. 3) Snaafi Dancer purchased for $10.2 million and never raced and was a total bust at stud siring only 4 offspring, three named and one un-named. 4) Ron Bob, a 4 year old Dumaani (Danzig) gelding purchased for $2,000 as a weanling and has compiled a record of 17:1-6-4, $42,408 including yet another runner-up effort in the 4th at Del Mar today (8/13/08) even though he led from the top of the backstretch until passed in “deep stretch”. 5) The horse that beat Ron Bob, Dry Man’s Gulch, a 3 year old gelding and a son of Gulch (Mr. Prospector) whose racing record is now 7:2-1-0, $33,100. As geldings I suspect these two will be earning their keep on the Southern California circuit until Del Mar, Santa Anita and Hollywood go the way of Bay Meadows up north. I think the bulldozers are already humming in the Hollywood Hills in their eagerness to bring us yet another Southern California strip mall or subdivision.

Both Ron Bob and Dry Man’s Gulch were appropriately dosed with Phenylbutazone (bute) and furosemide (Lasix or Silex). I believe these fashionable American “vatamins” were unavailable until the 1980s as race day medications. Absolutely none of our fabulous Triple Crown Champions raced with these medical marvels in their systems. The first Kentucky Derby winner known to have raced with Bute in his system was Dancer’s Image in 1968. Instead of receiving a lifetime of adulation and being hailed as a true pioneer of this sport, he was disqualified and his due was awarded to a runner-up. No Kentucky Derby winner until Alysheba is known to have had vitamins B and L in his system on his great day. Since then only Sunday Silence’s Derby in 1989 may have been free of these chemical enhancements. Beginning with the chart for Sea Hero’s 1993 win published by Churchill Downs in its 2005 Kentucky Derby Media Guide, the ‘B’ signifying that a horse used Bute during the race disappears. I assume the use of Bute had become so widespread that it was no longer considered important information.

So I invoke my rights as an old codger, to retroactively nominate Dancer’s Image to the Horse of Tomorrow Wall of Fame. I also agree with Draynay that Big Brown is a true Horse of Tomorrow. In my mind, he earned this honor when it became public knowledge that Dutrow routinely gave his horsey hunk a monthly dose of steroids. True there seems to be a strong backlash against equine steroid use currently, but we’re talking tomorrow, not today. With Dancer’s Image as our model, who can safely predict what steroidal marvels await us in 20 years?

13 Aug 2008 10:34 PM

The Phipps' Stable is the best in the business. If they can get a hold of a star 3 year old or older colt, you can guarantee they aren't retiring him right away. The Phipps' go about it the right way, and one can only hope they get their hands on a star colt, like Easy Goer, again.

13 Aug 2008 10:50 PM
Secretariat's Secretary

Steve, I know you have not been a great endorser of synthetic surfaces.

What are your thoughts on possible dirt modifications to improve safety and consistency?

13 Aug 2008 10:50 PM



13 Aug 2008 10:56 PM



13 Aug 2008 11:01 PM
Will W

In this era of unbridled, deregulated free market capitalism where greed and mammon are  paramount and rule the day, the former "Sport of Kings" needs regulatory mechanisms and a central governing board that will keep it from further degenerating into purely an industry run by CEOs who value the lucrative breeding stall over the enjoyment and excitement of watching their horses compete on the track. Steve's suggestion that horses be prevented from breeding - if they keep their soundness - until age 5 has my wholehearted support, but I think other more drastic measures are needed to save thoroughbred horse racing from itself. Something akin to wage and price controls that would limit stud fees for stallions as well as the prices on yearling sales would go a long way to curb greed and keep horses on the track and the fans coming through park gates. With all due respect to the horses Steve named as the horse of the future I don't get too excited about that caliber of horse. I'm spoiled by the fond memories of the day when racing was truly sport and was beloved by the fans. I grew up in Louisville and my father owned a few racehorses. I remember well sitting in an upstairs box and watching Damascus run in the 1967 Derby. So I yearn for the days of the great handicap horse like Damascus, Dr. Fager, and Buckpasser and without regulatory mechanisms enforced by a central governing body there's about as much chance as the Sahara turning into a great inland sea as the era of the great handicap champions returning. Let the horses by their performance tell their owners and trainers when they are ready to retire. Curlin could well be a throwback to the great handicap horses of the 60s and the 70's if Jackson followed that dictum and Curlin excites my interest in a way Student Council and A.P. Arrow never can or will. As for synthetic surfaces, they are horse racing's overkill in the interest of safety. In a sport there are always injuries and it's no different with racing. No real pressing need exists to drastically alter racing surfaces and, as fallout, forever transform the nature of a thorouhbred's performance by going synthetic. The dirt and turf are sufficient. If safety is really the concern, then get rid of the medications and quit breeding essentially for speed and maybe again we can see horses race every two weeks or less as did Citation in the 1940s.

14 Aug 2008 4:26 AM

This is for Mike S .... Aug 13 ...... his comment :

I don't know why they're so afraid of running CURLIN on synthetic, and in the Breeders Cup Classic

Mike, very simply put ..... Curlin does not have the pedigree suitable for the synthetic surface, Big Brown does. If I was the owner of Curlin, I would never let him step foot on an artificial surface. It has nothing to do with being afraid, it's about knowing the pedigree of your horse , Curlin does NOT belong on an artificial surface. I wouldn't risk my horse being injured / getting a leg problem from running on a track he is not suited for. In this case, it is not about the money or the prestige, but the welfare of your horse ; something we've been discussing on these blogs , reducing the amount of injuries to a horse.

In MY opinion , I think it is a very wise choice NOT to run Curlin in The Breeders Cup. If the public wants to see Big Brown and Curlin in the same race, then it should be a fair play ground for both horse's .... a dirt track. To run on an artificial surface would give Big Brown an unfair advantage , not to mention the risk of an injury to a horse that has already made a good reputation for himself ( Curlin ).

14 Aug 2008 9:22 AM
Steve Haskin

ShamFan, nothing wrong with sarcasm, but I don't believe you know as much about the Dancer's Image case as you think you. There is a book that's due out in the near future that will enlighten you to what really happened to Dancer's Image.

Brian, all I can say is amen.

Sec's Sec, I've been saying all along we should have spent the money to put in safer dirt tracks. Everyone in the game says it can be done at the same or less cost than synthetics. Oaklawn proved that this year. My main problem with synthetics is that we rushed into them without proper study and we saw the result of that at Del Mar last year and Santa Anita this year. I also find the overall quality of racing on them poor compared to dirt tracks. But I know they are the future, and I do have an open mind, and I certainly put safety above all else. I just want to know that they are indeed safer, because there are still plenty of injuries, many of which go unreported, especially at Keeneland, which owns their surface, and trainers are afraid to say anything in public for fear of losing stalls.

14 Aug 2008 9:38 AM
Steve Haskin

Sorry ShamFan, as you think you do. I hate typos.

14 Aug 2008 10:05 AM

I know this is off topic but others have posted about the race schedule going forward for Big Brown. Its very simple. For some physical reason BB is not comfortable anymore on a dirt surface. That was obvious in the Haskell. Dirt horses usually run on turf and poly because they have physical issues that effect their performance on dirt and the other surfaces are kinder on a horse.

14 Aug 2008 10:22 AM

Steve, you are preaching to the choir as far as me and my buddies are concerned. We've all said what we think about Del Mar & SA, how we prefer Saratoga. We also love Oaklawn. We aren't alone in the world of handicappers and fans. Yes, the safety of the animal should be put first, but how about a little bit of research. The injuries are still happening and probably always will just because of the physics of it all. I just think we may be exchanging one type of injury for another. I guess the thinking is as long as it reduces on track fatalities the off track ramifications don't matter, IMHO. The whole thing reminds me of astro turf in football. I personally think it IS harder to handicap and I think those of us betting are pouring a decent portion of the money into the support of the game. A few more DM,SA deals not sure too many tracks could survive that.

Just curious who's writing the book about Dancer's Image? Have seen reviews of one in May, not sure it's the same (Thornton)

14 Aug 2008 10:36 AM

UCLinden:I respectfully disagree with your comment that Curlin is not bred for poly.There is no poly breeding.Curlin has run on all kinds of "dirt".I said this on another blog site that there are differint types of dirt.Tampa Bay for example is almost pure sand. So one would think Dubuai is as well.Some east coast tracks are deeper with a different mixture of dirt sand and even shavings. My husband is the race operations foreman here and depending on the time of year he may add any of the above to the surface. I'm sure that's true at many tracks where the weather may change.The old saying horses for courses is still true. Have you ever seen a horse run super at one track then bomb out shipping to another? Saying that, the good ones ship and run on anything. This horse ran second in a grade one his first start on turf after running on 2 different tracks in the spring. Is he turf bred yes. Can he run on any surface yes. I think they are looking at the bigger picture. He's won the Classic and now they want to try Europe. I think that's very sporting of them.

14 Aug 2008 10:42 AM

A hypothetical... the Jockey Club regulates breeding for registry, what would it take for a shift to a minimum age of 5 y/o stallions?

As to Curlin, he already proved he was the best in an international field at the Dubai WC and this week's ranking. Traditionally, it's not the champion's job to follow the challenger to a field the challenger chooses - the challenger goes to where the champion is!  

The endearing love the fans show for Funny Cide, Evening Attire and others shows how much fans adore these long-career warriors. These horses get a chance to develop personality, skill and intelligence not ready yet in a 3 year old.

We're not much different than  baseball fans, we want to follow athletes for more than a few months. Can you imagine (we're having this conversation every day at the Spa) if we had last year's 3 year olds - Street Sense, Hard Spun, etc. - more mature, smarter, to handicap and support?

If the stallion registry can't be held back to 5 or 6, then the suggestion by Jess Jackson for  bigger purses for older horses sounds like a winning idea for horses and fans alike.

14 Aug 2008 10:58 AM

Thanks Steve for checking my spelling!

14 Aug 2008 11:14 AM
Steve Haskin

I think we've gotten off topic here. I dont think this is the right place to continue the Big Brown and Curlin debate. This particular blog is not about them. If anyone wishes to continue going over the same things please do so in the last blog, which you can easily access in the blog stable. You can still post comments on there.

Mike R, I handle very little of the moderating on here, but I did have them allow your last two posts just to ask you, and anyone else, to please stop throwing in personal digs at people. They sound degrading and this should be lively and sometimes controversial discussion without going over the line. Thanks.

14 Aug 2008 11:16 AM


This is pure ego talking here but if I was one of the super rich like Paulson and Jackston et al. I would love to be the owner of a colt who could run on poly, dirt and turf win G1's I'd run him until age 6 or beyond if he was healthy and still on top of his game. When you have the kind of money those guys do it behooves one to keep a high profile superstar in the game to promote it. I hope one of the good guy owners finds one like that.

14 Aug 2008 11:42 AM
Kelly E.

Shame on you Steve for omitting Dancing Forever from mention in your blog list.  Another AP Arrow?  Perhaps.  However, I appreciate horsmen like Shug and Mr. Phipps.  In order to have "horses of tomorrow" we need to have more "horsemen of tomorrow."

14 Aug 2008 11:48 AM

Sorry, Steve.  I didn't realize that you were only focusing on horses that ran on dirt and synthetic.  I was just thinking of Go Between as a semi-rarity in that he's 5 year old full horse who has won graded stakes (and million dollar races) on two different surfaces (turf and synthetic) and is still running.

14 Aug 2008 12:10 PM

Working from home (well my own company so) anyway, No offense to the ladies in my post about the super horse and saying a colt, just looking at it from stud potential which seems like the impetus for early retirement.

14 Aug 2008 12:12 PM

How about if the Jockey Club conducted a keuring for thoroughbreds?  This kind of judging would consist of racing success, soundness, and conformation.  The horses would not be judged fit for breeding until 5 years old.  The keuring would assign points (stars if you will) based on how close the horse met the ideal.  Those that did not meet the minimum points would be gelded.  Mares would be judged on their offspring and if three offspring did not meet the minimum, the mare would not be able to produce any more registered foals.  I love the old warriors and count it a great blessing to have seen Better Talk Now run on Belmont Day 2007.  The fact that Funny Cide still has a job to do at the track is also keeping those old guys visible to their fans.  In sum, I feel that 5 years should be the minimum age for retirement and any retirement due to "injury" needs to be verified and the injury needs to be serious enough to affect the horse's career not just require several months to recuperate.  And Susan, you are absolutely right that it's the challenger's job to meet the champion so Big Brown should be meeting Curlin rather than stick to the Breeders Cup (which Curlin has already won).

14 Aug 2008 12:25 PM
Steve Haskin

Kellie, did you really read the story or any of the questions and responses that followed? What did Dancing Forever do in his two allowance dirt starts, in which he was beaten 8 1/2 and 16 lengths, to merit inclusion on a list of horses who have run big races on dirt, turf, and synthetic surfaces? That is the entire point of the story.

14 Aug 2008 12:32 PM
Steve Haskin

Sorry, I meant to say Kelly, not Kellie.

14 Aug 2008 12:35 PM

well on spelling I meant Jackson, not Jackston. Seems to be contagious.

14 Aug 2008 12:48 PM
Kelly E.

Steve, I guess that I figured your article's point is the horse of tomorrow.  You mentioned longevity.  You mentioned spectacularly bred horses being kept in training longer than the norm (for whatever reason) thanks to fine sportsmen.  These factors apply to Dancing Forever.  The fact that he hasn't had the chance to prove himself on multiple surfaces YET is no reason to snub him.  I agree that the horse of tomorrow is going to have to adapt to different surfaces.  However, if the horses are retired at the end of their 3yo year, how can they prove adaptability?  I thought you were pointing to the fact that horses need to stay in training longer to be given the chance to adapt.  Am I so far off your point?

14 Aug 2008 1:14 PM

Wanda ........ your reply Aug 14th ........

" UCLinden:I respectfully disagree with your comment that Curlin is not bred for poly.There is no poly breeding "

You are most certainly allowed to disagree with me , as is anyone else. If I did not know my pedigree's, I would not make a blank statement.  I " think " I have done enough research on pedigree's to make a valid point about horse's that can run better on poly / artificial tracks than other horses. I did not only scour thru thoroughbred pedigree's but also those of equestrian horse's to help me in my research, as some equestrian horse's are the result of crossing a thoroughbred with another breed of horse. I wanted to know why did they decide to use a thoroughbred to breed to , since equestrian as you well know differ's from horse racing.

Wanda, since you brought up the fact "My husband is the race operations foreman here" , I have a question for either you or he. I have wondered and looking for someone's opinion. I have to trust your judgement on this one. Would it make a difference if any of the following were incorporated into the racing surface .......

" shredded coconut hulls" ,  " shredded bamboo " or " pulverized / crushed nut shells ". Also, how about the addition of perlite?

Let me give you an example of pedigree breeding. I happen to have a broodmare who has the thoroughbred horse " Russia " , which not many of you have heard of.  Here is a little something about that horse ......

"Russia was a notable Australian thoroughbred racehorse. He was a chestnut son of Excitement from the mare Lady March.  A hardy competitor he competed for seven seasons over distances from 5 furlongs (1000m) to 2 ¼ miles, starting 89 times for 22 wins. His biggest win was the 1946 VRC Melbourne Cup which he won by 5 lengths in a time of 3 minutes 21.25 seconds that equalled the then race record set by Wotan ten years earlier. He won a further 10 races following his Melbourne Cup win before his owners sold him to American interests.

Russia can be found in the pedigree of Hill Rise (1961 ) , who just happens to be in pedigree of this broodmare.

This broodmare also happens to have Bernborough .....which again many of you may not heard of .......

1946 brought to the public eye the 'Toowoomba Tornado,' Bernborough. For reasons too complicated to unravel here, Bernborough was barred from racing anywhere else in Australia except in the Queensland provincial city of Toowoomba, until he was 6 years old. After he resumed unplaced in Sydney, the horse, in six short months, strung together such a remarkable series of victories that he was given the rating of super champion by the handicappers, when they framed the weights for the spring events of 1946. Given 10.10 for the Caulfield Cup and 10.9 for the Melbourne Cup, he was, at the time, considered the equal to Phar Lap.

Bernborough sired the horse Berseem, who also is in this broodmare's pedigree.

One last item .... this broodmare also happens to have the horse " Hillary " who was the sire of Hill Rise. Russia was the dam sire of Hill Rise. Hillary can be found in the pedigree of Sunday Silence.

Hopefully, I am breeding " tomorrow's horse ".  This broodmare does NOT have .... Northern Dancer , Native Dancer , Raise A Native , Seattle Slew or Mr. Prospector.

Steve, forgive me for getting off course and making this so long ; didn't want anyone to think I had no clue about pedigrees ... LOL

14 Aug 2008 1:21 PM
Steve Haskin

Kelly, yes you are far off the point. Longevity was only a minor part of it. You will see the horses I wrote about -- mainly Student Council -- and to a lesser degree Awesome Gem -- have proven themselves on all surfaces, and have stayed around. The horse of tomorrow is going to have to handle synthetic and dirt, and grass would only help, if he is going to be embraced by the public all over the country -- not just in California or New York. Racing fans all over the country have gotten to see Student Council run in person because he is able to ship to any track, regardless of what surface they run on. You use terms like "shame on you" and "no reason to snub him." Dancing Forever is an East Coast grass horse, one of dozens. He in no way can be compared to a horse like Student Council. No one is snubbing him.

14 Aug 2008 1:48 PM

Steve, with all due respect, I do not now nor have I ever claimed to know anything more about the Dancer's Image situation than I stated above. According to the note for Dancer’s Image on, he “Won KY Derby but was DQed for traces of Bute, which was not allowed at the time.” He is not included on any list of Kentucky Derby winners, that honor goes to runner-up Forward Pass. At best there is a note about the disqualification. The chart for that race published by Churchill Downs in its 2005 Kentucky Derby Media Guide contains the following note: “The foregoing is an unaltered reprint of a copyrighted record of Triangle Publications. Dancer’s Image finished first. Forward pass (sic) second but because of the finding of prohibited medication of Dancer’s Image, except for pari-mutual pay-offs, Forward Pass was held to be the winner and first purse money and gold cup trophy were awarded to its owner, Calumet Farm, by orders of the Kentucky State Racing Commision.” I made two alterations to this quote. The text I copied was printed in italics, my quote is not. I entered the ‘(sic)’ after their typo. I have not read anywhere that the decision of the Kentucky State Racing Commission was ever reversed or altered. For those interested more information can be found at's_Image. I am glad to learn that a book is in the works, and look forward to reading it.

14 Aug 2008 1:57 PM
Kelly E.

I just have a soft spot for Dancing Forever.  I was only teasing you with the "shame" and "snub" comments. :)  Recently Dancing Forever has a 2nd against the well-respected Einstein in the GI Gulfstream Park Handicap...a win in the GII Elkhorn at Keeneland...a 1st in the GI Manhattan at Belmont...and if he beats Red Rocks and Better Talk Now this Saturday in the GI Sword Dancer at Saratoga...he will have done what the magnificent CURLIN could NOT do!  

DF has travelled (admittedly East Coast) a bit this year, too.  He is a 5yo, not a 3yo, so should be also given respect for staying in training despite set-backs.  

Steve, does this mean you don't think Curlin is the "horse of tomorrow" (just HOTY)?  He has stayed in training, yes, but apparently is not able to adapt (though a 2nd is respectable!).  He has travelled (to Dubai in particular - running against overmatched rivals), yes, but will you call him out for not competing in California for the BC Classic on synthetic surfaces (if he doesn't go)?  Just curious.

14 Aug 2008 2:14 PM
Rebs Policy

Nice article Steve.

People may sometimes offer the "fuzzy end of the lollipop" when it comes to praise for a horse like Student Council as he and his record may seem comparatively drab when thrown up against the current achievements of a horse such Curlin. IMO, Curlin would generally appeal to more people, including the uninitiated, simply due to his more dramatic coloring and looks. (Charles Hatton, when waxing poetic about Secretariat, noted that chestnuts seem to have a more visceral appeal than your average dark bay/brown. I agree with him wholeheartedly.) That being said, I can't think of anyone who would not be thrilled with owning a animal like Student Council. Even if it may be for the most shallow of reasons and or sound perfectly vulgar, but S.C. is a 'cash cow'.

He sped ('crawled' if you consider the final time) into the limelight at Del Mar in last year's Pac.Classic but he was none to beloved because in doing so he defeated CA's grand ol' man du jour, Lava Man. Also the 'play' of the polytrack at DM in `07 was goofy. Student Council is a tough sell emotionally beginning with his first big success. I loved his win in the Special this year and (I felt) he was an easy pick to prevail in that race.

Had Heatseeker not been injured, I conjecture that we would be mentioning him in this company in a heartbeat. (His sire, Giant's Caueseway, was not referred to as an "Iron Horse" for naught.) Heatseeker had dad's looks and an apparent nonchalance about surface changes.

Heatseeker MAY be a bargain these first few seasons as a stallion for those who don't have the ducats to pony up for Giant's Causeway.

I personally can't wait to see how the Hard Spun offspring fair. handled dirt with aplomb & certainly had no reservations about synthetics. (...well, at least Polytrack)

Just some (fast)food for thought.

All the best,


14 Aug 2008 2:42 PM
Steve Haskin

Kelly, I have all the admiration for Dancing Forever and his whole family history, but again you are mentioning only grass races -- by the way, he was second in the GP Turf Handicap, which is on grass, not the Gulfstream Park Handicap, which is on dirt. No one is direspecting him. He simply doesnt fit the profile of the horses I am talking about. I dont know how else to say it. And to answer your question, no, Curlin is not the horse of tomorrow. I am not in position to call out anybody. In my last blog I stated that I have mixed feelings about Jackson's decision. I would like to see him run in the Classic, but I can understand his reluctance to run on an untested synthetic surface. Student Council will run anywhere, on any surface, and will run well and give 100%. That is the horse of tomorrow.

14 Aug 2008 3:46 PM

I can't wait for Dancer's Image book to come out. I ride by Runnymeade farm a lot...I will always agree with the billboard sign right out front by the road proudly stating "Dancer's Image, winner of the 1968 Kentucky Derby"...right beside Mom's Command!

14 Aug 2008 4:03 PM

Hey Steve, I'm rooting that BB and Curlin do go to the BC and SC blows the door off both..;-0

14 Aug 2008 4:05 PM

Once upon a time the iron horse/the triple crown winner rose through the 2 year old ranks STEADILY like Secretariat, Affirmed/Alydar and the Bid, or suddenly, making opposition inconsequential: I recall CBS's 1976 Champagne coverage and the buzz about Seattle Slew.  As the bulbs flashed in the winners' circle, he appeared unnerved; Frank Wright or Jack Whittaker remarked "He'd better get accustomed to photographers!"  Now two year olds are trained toward ONE race, the BC Juvenile.  And what have the results been?  Early injuries and/or early retirements.  Steve, I loved your chapter on a horse whose Belmont win thrilled me:  Afleet Alex.  I can't argue with his early retirement, or sturdy training schedule-probably kept him up at the Preakness.  Among Juvenile winners Street Sense gone too soon but healthy; Timber Country and Unbridled's Song injury plagued.  Breeding?  Or a change in training direction toward one race/one championship?

14 Aug 2008 5:31 PM

UCLinden: It was not my intention to question your knowledge of pedigrees, I'm sorry if you took it that way. Again I feel bad about that.

14 Aug 2008 5:39 PM


Regarding your comments about my responses being degrading I wanna say that many individuals who read and respond to your blog are far more degrading. First,I never use curse words when I'm "calling someone out". my point is you have many readers as you well know that  have no clue what they are talking about! Not only that,but I feel it's degrading for anyone to disrespect the race horse. For example,one of the individuals that I directed my attack   critized War Emblem and I felt compelled to point out that how could he win the Belmont when he almost fell to the ground coming out of the starting gate. I've read many responses far more critical than mine. Also,I own a couple of horses that race in Fla. where I'm org. from. I feel that I possess knowledge regarding racing.That's not to say I'm an expert,of course I'm not. I don't own horses for an economic means to an end. I have them for fun. Years ago while in college I didn't know someday I would ever own racehorses'. As I stated,I have a career already. I believe that the horse comes first. At least from my perspective mine do. I admire you as a great writer and enjoy reading your blogs. I'm also a huge Invasor fan and recently read your book on the great Kelso. Out of respect for you I will curtail my remarks in my future responses on your blog,but I feel without a doubt other readers should follow suit as well.

14 Aug 2008 5:54 PM

Mike Relva,

Dude, I have agreed with you on some things you have said in the past and we all have mutual feelings about Draynay. Some things you can get away with on other blogs on BH, don't fly on here. Things got carried away on his other blog. Don't hate on my man Steve, I'm waiting for his next book, whenever that may be.

14 Aug 2008 6:51 PM
Steve Haskin

Mike, I only mention it because our moderators had pulled your last two comments, so obviously they found certain things in bad taste. I had them publish it, because you made some good points. I just thought I'd say something, so the moderators dont yank future things of yours. And the same goes for others who get too personal in their attack. For example, "If you had your facts in order," "To knock him shows just how much you know," "Thats what anyone with any sense would read into it," "Every response you write is like a broken record." All I'm saying is that you can make your points without getting so personal. I tell you this because I dont want our moderators to have to remove your posts.

14 Aug 2008 6:52 PM

The horse of tomorrow better be able to run on synthetcs because that is where the industry is headed. When Churchill downs changes surfaces it will cause a cascading effect. Oaklawn has a great dirt surface. And Oaklawn has always been about developing 3 year olds into stakes contenders. Look at the distance progressions of their stakes schedule. 6 furlongs then mile then 1&1/16th then 1&1/8th, which lead to the 1&1/4 mile derby. They have emulated Churchill downs from the beginning by copying their surface so that the Arkansas Derby winner will always have the best chance, and I believe this is a good thing. But they will also change their surface when Churchill does and so will Gulfstream and Fair Grounds. Its all about giving the youngsters the best chance at winning the derby.

So when the change is made at Churchill the horse of the future (I believe in ten years) will be on synthetic and the dirt horse that hates synthetic will be stable ponies.

14 Aug 2008 8:25 PM

Steve, you seem to have access to some insider information about the forthcoming Dancer's Image book that I do not. Would you kindly forward its author my e-mail address so that I can be first in line for an autographed copy? Thanks in advance.

On another note, my previous post contains a typo. I actually mistyped the same word twice. I caught the second, but not the first. The word ‘Commission’ appears 2 times. The first time it’s missing an ‘s’. I regret the error.

14 Aug 2008 9:18 PM


I understand and will tone down. The reason I make remarks like those is to make an impact,call it shock value. I know it's not the correct approach I should be taking,but it feels good @ the time,lol. Thank you for publishing my responses,I hardly ever miss reading your blog.

14 Aug 2008 9:54 PM
Steve Haskin

Mike, you're not the only person who gets more hostile than normal on these things, because your words are directed at a faceless person. When you get your points across, try to picture a person's face on the other end, as if you're talking to them in person.

ShamFan, I know there has been a bit of a delay in the book; it's going to be pretty controversial in its depiction of a main character in the Dancer's Image case. You can send me your e-mail address ( and I'll forward your comments to the author.

15 Aug 2008 12:24 AM

The Horse Of Tomorrow :  A  filly that wins The Triple Crown ....... now how exciting would that be ???  Can you imagine the interest / excitement that would generate across the nation ?  I  believe it's that far off either.

Here's a thought for you to ponder. It's based on the comment that  " Clay ...... Aug 14th "

made .......  "  The horse of tomorrow better be able to run on synthetics because that is where the industry is headed. When Churchill downs changes surfaces it will cause a cascading effect. "

Now if Churchill Downs does change over to synthetic ...... do we put an asterisk next to The Kentucky Derby to signify race was run on different surface ? Now, if that is the case , when the change is made to the surface , why not also go ahead and change the number of weeks between each race. .... make a total change ..... that would make sense. As I mentioned in a previous blog ....... the change will come after 2010.

To Wanda ( Aug 14 ) .....  no harm ... no foul ....... understood ...... don't feel bad ....... keep on smilin.

15 Aug 2008 5:25 AM
Ro Parra


Let me begin by assuring you that this will be far the most biased response to your blog posted on August 13th titled THE HORSE OF TOMORROW.

While I was well aware of STUDENT COUNCIL’s accomplishments, I never thought of them in the context of “The Horse of Tomorrow”.   Judging by reading other responses, some people agree, some disagree and others have opinions of their own.  I, as expected, am in agreement with your assessment and very excited about Student Council’s prospect as a stallion.  My hope is that he will be able to pass on (to his progeny) the very qualities you so eloquently outlined.  

As his owner, I can’t begin to tell you the thrill of owning a horse like him.  Yes we could have retired him last year and I am sure he would have been an exciting stallion prospect based on being a G1 and G2 winner on 2 different surfaces.  While I could lead you to think the reason for keeping him in training was entirely altruistic, there were also financial considerations for deciding what we did.   He was VERY sound and both Vladimir Cerin and Steve Asmussen believed the horse had several good races left in him and could accomplish even more in 2008.  Our goal was to add to his racing resume, and in hindsight, it was a good decision.  Incidentally, Student Council has not asked to re-negotiate his contract.

As a fan, I am awe-struck every year by the horses that provide us with so much excitement.  Before I became an owner, I could only dream what it might be like to own a super star like Seattle Slew, Genuine Risk, Affirmed, Sunday Silence, Paseana, Easy Goer, Lost Code (one of my favorites).  Now that I am involved in the business, I am still in awe of the likes of Curlin, Zenyatta, Big Brown, Ginger Punch (even though she beat my filly Copper State in the Go For Wand) and of course our big horse, STUDENT COUNCIL.  

When I make my first visit to Del Mar for the Pacific Classic on Sunday, August 24th , I am not sure if Student Council will win or lose in the 30th start of his career.  I am also not sure if the Whitney took too much out of him.  I am not sure if we are doing right by him by “dancing every dance”.  I am not sure if we will have enough horse left for the BC Classic.  What I am sure about is that STUDENT COUNCIL will run his heart out and that in victory or defeat and that he will make all of us that have connections to him very proud.

In closing, STUDENT COUNCIL may or may not be the HORSE OF TOMORROW.  He may or may not be THE HORSE OF THE YEAR in 2008.  What I do know is that to me, he is “THE HORSE OF A LIFETIME” and that I may never own another one like him.   Therefore, I am just “enjoying the ride” and the content of your column was a very much appreciated “icing on the cake”

Thank you.

Ro Parra

15 Aug 2008 8:59 AM
Steve Haskin

Hi Ro, talk about eloquent. I think you expressed the feelings of what it's like to own a horse like Student Council, or any horse that gives you 100% every time, as well as anyone can. I thank you for expressing those feelings on here and wish you the best of luck with him the rest of the year and as a stallion. Although in my mind he is the horse of tomorrow I'm sure he has several todays still to come.

15 Aug 2008 9:59 AM

Mr. Parra thanks for giving us a glimpse of what it feels like to own a really good one who's honest as the day is long.

UCLinden thanks for comeback. I'll think a bit harder before I put comments on blogs in the future. If I may, here's the pedigree of a horse we just bought to run on the "B" tracks here: Madraar/Starlight Stella by Saint Ballado. Your thoughts?

15 Aug 2008 10:28 AM
Alan Odenthal

I was in attendance for Student Councils thrilling victory in the Pimlico Special. I had been following his exploits and began paying close attention when he became a permanent fixture in Steve Asmussen's barn.

The victory in the Pimlico Special sold me on the talent and grit of this 6 year old. Find a clip on youtube, and you'll see the same. He came on like a freight train, and would not be denied victory. You could see it in his eyes as he drove to the finish line. It's a race I'll never forget!

15 Aug 2008 11:07 AM

I hope this is not off topic, but if indeed Student Council represents the horse of the future, then Lava Man is the forefather.  As someone

here posted, Student Council did not endear himself initially to the racing public in springing on the scene by beating our beloved King of

CA racing out of his second CA triple crown.  In fact I used to refer to Student Council as "That Creep" until a friend slapped me out it.  

Horses aren't creeps, it's not his fault.  Although Lava Man fits most of the criteria of horse of the future, being the first, and only, horse to

win grade 1 races on all three surfaces, he falls off the beam when it comes to travelling.  I wonder how different it might have been if

Steve Asmussen's technique of acclimating Curlin to different tracks by taking him there a month or more in advance wouldn't have made a

difference in Lava Man's legacy (sigh).

I hope I'm right about this Steve, but my nomination for horse of the future is one of my favorites, Montery Jazz.  Here's hoping he comes

back stronger than ever.  

15 Aug 2008 7:18 PM

Wanda ....... Not a horse that I would of bought

Here is the broodmare which has the pedigree I pointed out in my Aug 14th writing ......

Desert Gift ...1993 ...Messenger Of Song / Gift Of Luck

If you take a close look at pedigree will notice the full brothers Nasrullah & Nizami .....yes Nasrullah has a brother ....also you will notice also the full brothers Count Fleet ( Fleet Nasrullah ) and Count Speed ( Curious Clover ). If you open the pedigree of Run Of Luck will see them both.

Desert Gift has a yearling ( gelding ) by Hay Halo. Take notice NO ....Northern Dancer ....Native Dancer .... Raise A Native ... Mr. Prospector or Seattle Slew

Desert Gift had a filly this year ( 2008 ) by R S V P Please ( 1993 by Black Tie Affair )

Desert gift is in foal now to Runaway Macho ( 1992 by Runaway Groom ) .... again , NO Northern Dancer , Raise A Native , Native Dancer , Mr. Prospector or Seattle Slew.

One very unique thing about Desert Gift's pedigree ....... NO Man O' War Blood !!!

16 Aug 2008 8:34 AM

UCLinden: he's sound and has made 100,000 thou. Thought I'd take a shot cause he's only 5.

17 Aug 2008 8:12 PM

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