Historical Hiatus

Rather than just have them disappear from the blog, I want to let everyone know that I will be concentrating on my Ky. Derby Trail columns and Derby Watch and Derby Spotlight features and am putting the historical blogs on hold for a while.

I want to thank everyone for their support and encouragement regarding those blogs and for all the kind words. There were all greatly appreciated.

The behind-the-scenes historical blogs seem to have been well received, and I hope to continue them at some point on a regular basis. They might even pop up now and then in the near future. I have so many other stories of well-known and lesser known horses that I feel would be of great interest to the readers – stories, like the previous ones published, that have been compiled over the years.

As for the upcoming blogs, they will contain a few paragraphs about the Derby trail and various other topics, and will link to the Ky. Derby Trail column that appears weekly on BloodHorse.com. In this way, you will be able to comment on the column.

So, thank you again and enjoy the 2009 Derby trail.


Leave a Comment:

s lee

Ah, the KY Derby Trail is upon us.  That means spring is coming.  And on a day when the wind chill is -25, THAT is welcome news!

15 Jan 2009 11:42 AM

I couldn't possibly give you a top 10 list! So many wonderful horses have yet to start. :)

I will say though to keep an eye on Dogwood Stable's Tippity Tap. He finished second in his debut after traveling very wide the whole way. Also, I believe another horse of theirs, Kickapoo, will be making his return to the races fairly soon.

15 Jan 2009 11:55 AM
Kathy Kranz

Dear Mr. Haskins:

I just read your (semi-) Derby Dozen introduction.  Looks like another interesting year will unfold.

What do you think of Old Fashioned?

I, too, am a dirt purist, even with the limited amount of live racing I'm able to attend.  I still think its the underfooting that matters more than what's on top, with dirt being the best top layer.

Thanks for your written words; I love your writing style!

15 Jan 2009 11:57 AM
Midwest Luck

Watch out for the midwest invader,

Loch Dubh the Turfway Park preveiw winner. Looking at the Southwest at Oaklawn Park in Feb. Loch Dubh has won three races in a row, two with the talented Jeff Talley as the trainer. ( Watch )

15 Jan 2009 12:02 PM
Real Fans Speak Up

Thank you Steve for all of your good work!  We can never have too much Derby info and insight into the horse's and their connections.  It's not enough to get all of their stories via a Derby day telecast, please tell us everything along the way!  The more info the better! Let America fall in love with the horses and racing through your awesome writing.  The pen is mightier than the sword!

15 Jan 2009 12:02 PM
Real Racing Fans Speak Up

Follow up to my last comment- I just read your new Derby list and blog.  Case in point- Patena.  I have been tracking juveniles for awhile and have read almost nothing about him until now.  The more info the better.  Racing would be a better sport if we could just multiply Haskin x 1000.

15 Jan 2009 12:17 PM


I love this time of year and reading your columns each week are a big part of the fun.

I wanted to throw out 2 comments.

One is that I agree with you that we know little about the Dubai horses. However when I look at how the trip to Dubai has affected U.S. based horses in the past, I have to take the position that I'll believe it when I see one win the Derby. I'm sure that eventually it will happen.

Second, I am rooting for Old Fashioned this year. I love his breeding for the Derby classic distance.  After coming so close with Hard Spun and the tragedy of Eight Belles, no one deserves it more than Larry Jones.

As you have often said, if there are Derby Gods out there....

15 Jan 2009 12:18 PM

 The Derby Trail is definitely something I'm looking forward to with temp -24 in Aurora here this morning. Can't wait for those warmer days that spring beings and trips to Arlington.

 I couldn't agree with OLD TIMER any more. I anyone deserves to win the Derby it is Larry Jones.

Hopefully the Derby Gods will smile down on him this year. Hopefully with Old Fashioned or Friesan Fire.

 Looking forward to all your articles this year Steve. I enjoyed every single one of them last year. What a gifted writer you are.

15 Jan 2009 12:39 PM


Here's my short list

1) Old Fashioned (appears to be any kind of horse)

2) Danger to Society (impressive last out)

3) Breakwater Edison (looking forward to debut)

4) Beethoven (same as #3)

5) Indygo Moutain (needed his last)

6) Pioneer of the Nile (dirt ability is the question)

7) Chocolate Candy (ability is there, surface is the question)

8) Big Drama (class question looms large)

9) Friesan Fire (done nothing wrong, but will reserve final judgement after Risen Star)

10) Haynesfield (question the class of horses he's beaten)

15 Jan 2009 12:39 PM
Jeane W


Here's my list published on Tue.  Obviously the bottom horse is out.  I'm not using the Dubai pair even though they were clearly the best we had last year.

15 Jan 2009 1:11 PM
Steve Haskin

Anna, I just found out that Tippity Tap suffered a minor knee fracture and is out several months.

Kathy, Old Fashioned looks to have as much raw ability as anyone out there. It's just a question if he can go 1 1/4 miles on the front end or if Larry can teach him to rate. Being out of a mare by Meadowlake doesnt help him, and you never know about soundness when it comes to the Unbridled's Songs.

Old timer, if it's not Old Fashioned, Larry also has Friesan Fire, whom he has always thought very highly of.

Real fans, thank you for your kind words, but I dont think the world could handle 1,000 of me :).

And thank you, Donna. I appreciate it.

15 Jan 2009 1:26 PM
Karen in Indiana

Thank you, Steve, for the historical blogs. I've enjoyed them immensely & look forward to them again. Would you have anything to write about Cetewayo? :-) I ran across something about him & he sounded interesting.

You posted on another blog something about Cribnote possibly being injured, do you have any more info?

15 Jan 2009 1:26 PM

Stardom Bound is missing from your list - I think she is as good if not better than any of the colts.

Is she missing because she is a filly or only because she has never run on a dirt track.

15 Jan 2009 1:59 PM
Jen in NY

This time of year is best...even if last year's colts proved great, there may be still be one which comes from obscurity!

I really like Old Fashioned, Beethoven, Friesan Fire and Breakwater Edison. I also like Haynesfield, but unfortunately, he'll have to prove himself one or two more times. I'm not too hopped up on the West Coasters either going a first time on the dirt. They, too, will have to prove themselves.  I noticed, in your column you forgot to mention Stardom Bound and what you think might happen if she goes to the Derby. The KD website already has her listed there.

Speaking of fillies, I'd like to see a top 10 for the Oaks! There were quite a few dominent fillies this past year! The Oaks this year should prove just as interesting!

Thanks for the column! I look forward to more KD talk!  :-)

15 Jan 2009 2:13 PM

NO HORSE has shown more talent up to this point than Vineyard Haven.  Until I see a horse who can stay with him or one that can match his 2 Grade 1 wins it is crazy to leave him off any top ten list.  Vineyard has proven himself much the best amongst the best.

15 Jan 2009 2:24 PM
Karen in Texas

Looking forward to the new blogs! So far, I like Old Fashioned, but it is early in the Derby Trail and lots can happen in several months.

15 Jan 2009 2:32 PM
Steve Haskin

Solid list, Jeanne. I like Giant Oak a lot.

Anne, are you referring to my list? I stated this is an unofficial list consisting only of horses who have not run in stakes yet -- under the radar type horses.

15 Jan 2009 3:05 PM
Steve Haskin

Sorry, Jeane for the extra 'n.' Cant misspell a Facebook friend.

Just a reminder, my official Derby Dozen list that appears in the BH magazine and on the website will be posted around Feb. 2. However, for this blog, the weekly list will be extended to 20 or 25 horses.

15 Jan 2009 3:12 PM
Steve Haskin

Karen, Cetewayo is a very interesting horse with an interesting story. I could team him up with Da Hoss. I have tons of stuff on him when he was trying to make the BC off the 2-year layoff. That is a good story about perseverence and dedication by the entire Dickinson team. One of these days.

15 Jan 2009 3:22 PM
Abbie Knowles

Dear Steve,

Thanks for all your brilliant articles which I thoroughly enjoy and agree with real racing fans speak up that we do need more like you and that the pen is mightier than the sword!

My list would be 1st in a dead heat Midshipman (really want Sheikh Mohammed to win the Kentucky Derby with a horse prepared in Dubai) and Stardom Bound (fell in love with her, as i did with her sire Tapit, at first sight!)

Friesan Fire 3rd

Beethoven 4th

and anything with Seattle Slew anywhere in the pedigree in the nerxt 6 slots - you know what a big fan of Seattle Slew I am !!!!

His great grandson My Indy was most impressive when winnig round 1 of the Maktoum Challenge for Godolphin tonight at Nad Al Sheba.  Frankie did not have to get too serious with him!  My Indy's is a name to note amongst the older horses on sand/dirt etc!

God Bless

Best wishes


15 Jan 2009 5:02 PM

It has been educational and enjoyable to be able to read your historical stories, so I know I will miss them.  I feel like I have gained a better knowledge and a deeper appreciation for the horses of the past that I missed out on, and I thank you for bringing them to life for me.  It's been several years now that I've been avidly reading your Derby columns and printing them out to study so I will be definitely looking forward to those.  Hmmmm.  That sorta sounds like I pretty much read and enjoy everything you write.  Thank you!

Oh, my favorite for the Derby so far is Old Fashioned as many others have mentioned, but Friesan Fire has it, too.

15 Jan 2009 5:41 PM


I too will miss your historical stories, but I am excited about what is to come.  Any word on Charitable Man as of yet. I don't want to give up on him, but I haven't heard a blessed thing, good or bad. From reading other blogs and lists, I know I am not the only one who would like some kind of update on him if it was available.

Thanks for all your hard work all last year. It made many sad moments bearable and many great ones even better.

15 Jan 2009 6:07 PM
tee ky

i also fav dirt efforts munnings/chairable man/old fashion/not on the page/vineyard haven/rockland/big drama/square eddie/stardom bound   rockland,turf,ploy,dirt

15 Jan 2009 6:48 PM

Steve, I saw a drop dead gorgeous Officer colt at last year's Barrett's two year olds in training. He was out of a mare named Rovie Wade and was purchased by John Ferguson for Sheikh Mohammed for $1.4 million. The horse has since been renamed Noble Lad. He has run a couple of times but not really done much. His work for the sale was really fast. Do you or anyone on the blog know anything about him?

Sure am looking forward to your stories this year.


15 Jan 2009 7:12 PM
Steve Haskin

It seems like Old Fashioned is going to be the consensus #1 on here. Larry and Rick Porter have a nice colt running at Oaklawn Saturday named Dr. Large. It's a one-mile allowance race. He just broke his maiden going a mile and 40 yards at Fair Grounds. Son of A.P. Indy out of a Mr. Prospector mare. He's in against a real good Lukas colt by Fusaichi Pegasus named Flying Private. He can run.

Txhorsefan and everyone, thank you again. You're all very kind. I'll try to get back to the historical blogs as soon as I can. Lots of magazine features and Derby stuff going on now.

I have a call in about Charitable Man and as soon as I hear something I will post.

Katherine, I dont know anything about that horse, but one of these days buyers are going to wise up and stop paying big money for 2-year-olds just because they work fast with the aid of all kinds of stimuli. Most trainers tell me it often takes them 6 months to get a sales 2-year-old straightened out because of all they do to get them to work in :09 and change, which is obscene.

15 Jan 2009 7:35 PM

Steve I read your other column in which you decided to ignore the Dubai horses, but do you think that Sheikh Mohammed is going to bring any horse to the Kentucky Derby that is not 100% fit and ready to compete?  If the Derby Dozen is intended to be a forcast of your top twelve contenders (from which the Derby winner is most likely to emerge) then you should probably reconsider setting apart 3 spots for Vineyard Haven, Midshipman and Jose Adan or even Desert Party.  Remember that Godolphin has previously shipped in Discreet Cat to perform incredibly in America and they have won the Epsom Derby in the past with horses wintered and trained in Dubai.  This year is their best chance to succeed in America.  I believe that Big Drama, Breakwater Edison, Old Fashioned and Notonthesamepage(if he gets beyond a mile) are presently the most formidable obstacles to Godolphin this year.  What do you think?  

15 Jan 2009 8:13 PM
Matthew W

Draynay agree that Vineyard Haven looked real good---Also thought Midshipman was awesome in Breeders Cup as the only wire to wire winner--indeed, the only horse to win from anywhere near the pace! That Santa Anita track seemed to take a lot outta horses so I think his win was very legit---So I'll go right now with the Godolphin tandem as my top two-----#1 Midshipman/#2 Vineyard Haven----Also remember that the Dubai track surface was modeled after Churchill---sooner or later they're gonna bring home The Roses....

15 Jan 2009 8:27 PM

Under the radar horses: Saratoga Sinner and Bear's Prospector, both ran 1 1/8 last weekend looked good ran first and second Mdn Allow. Of course Danger to Society is no longer under the radar but he's still my top pick. GO HARLAN'S HOLIDAY'S!

15 Jan 2009 8:28 PM
Dreamer's Mom

Abbie Knowles-you and I need to do lunch!  I am hopelessly in love with the Slew line and root for them every year.  Last year was Ferragamo, but that didn't go so well.  On to this year!!!!

15 Jan 2009 8:31 PM


Just completely curious- what do you think of Stardom Bound? She has 3 G1 wins and seems to be a really nice filly so far. Do you think she can take on the boys?

Just curious!

15 Jan 2009 8:38 PM

I'm surprised that no one mentioned Kopitar.  He won a 7 furlong MSW at Keeneland in his first start, easily beating Indygo Mountain, Au Moon and Uno Mas.  His next start was an easy win on the grass in a one mile NW1 race at Churchill.  He seems very tractable, with speed to stay with the pace, and also the ability to rate. He is out of Military (Danzig) and the unraced mare Vindicate (Quest For Fame).  Has great grass breeding and should only get better as the distances get longer.  Running in the Dania Beach ( 1 mile turf) at Gulfstream Sat Jan. 17.  I don't know what the long term plans are for him but if he takes to dirt...watch out.

15 Jan 2009 10:06 PM

deff looking foward to square eddie! love pioneer of the nile, i also like chocolate candy, old fashioneds and fresian fire. and hopefully nicanor will do well. i'd also keep my eye on stardom bound she's great!=]

15 Jan 2009 10:20 PM
Brian A.

I am so excited Steve, this will be my second year to follow the Triple Crown trail from the very beggining!!

 I love Old Fashioned and Stardom Bound, but I'm really interested to see what Stimulus Plan could turn out to be (third to Big Drama last out). He closed super impressively from dead last way back to get third, beaten by about a length.

Plus Square Eddie, anything that resembles Curlin!!  (-:  Can't wait to read your blog!!

15 Jan 2009 10:56 PM
The Deacon

I hope I am wrong but Vineyard Haven could be last years War Pass. Time will tell I suppose. I know it's early but this years crop doesn't look too strong on paper.

15 Jan 2009 11:47 PM

Steve, It seems way too early to begin Dreby talk but I guess it has to start somewhere.

First, two real good posts from Matthew W. on Midshipman who he sharply noted was the only horse to win on BC day from on the pace - very impressive. But I have to take your stance that the Dubai trail presents a lot to pitfalls.

Wanda also brought up a great "under the radar" horse in Bear's Prospector - watch out.

Your first pick on the list is certainly my number one under the radar horse - Imperial Council. This is a typical bring em along slowly Shug horse that has it all. He is working super at Payson and looks better every time he sets foot on the track.

One quick question: What has happened to Larry Jones prospect Oconee Gold?  

16 Jan 2009 7:43 AM

Oh, thanks for reminding me about Dr. Large!  I had been intending to keep an eye out for him, too.  This getting old can really do things to the brain cells - ha!

16 Jan 2009 9:01 AM
Karen in Indiana

Thank you, Steve, I'll look forward to that. And now on to the Derby!!!

16 Jan 2009 9:39 AM
Steve Haskin

Some updates from your comments. Charitable Man has just started back in light training down in Ocala. I certainly wouldnt be thinking Derby with him -- too far behind. But if he's ready to run in early March you never know. Still playing catch-up but we'll keep following him.

Stimulus Plan suffered an injury to his pastern and is likely out until summer. Looks like your'e all getting the news first before I put them in my next column.

Wanda, I've been following Saratoga Sinner since his good third to Danger to Society last year. He'll love a distance. We just have to see how fast he is.

Jay, I mentioned Kopitar in an earlier column. Not sure yet if he's strictly a grass horse. They keep working him on grass.

mg, I'll try to find out about Oconee Gold.

16 Jan 2009 10:14 AM

Steve are you a Harlan's Holiday fan? I seem to remember you liked Dennis of Cork last year. I think HH is sitting on a big one, 2nd leading first crop, 3rd leading second crop and did you see the amount of winners vs total crop?

16 Jan 2009 10:58 AM

mg: He {Bear's Prospector} had an terrible trip running second, expect him to improve off that one. Got to cheer for the home boys. The owner darn near won the BC Sprint last year.

16 Jan 2009 11:03 AM
jonny k


you have not mentioned that your pick checklist is by the same people who brought harlan's holliday,ashadoo, octave.

16 Jan 2009 11:57 AM

Wanda, A terrible trip would be a mild understatement, however, he still picked it up and finished with a heck of a turn of foot. He'll be awfully tough in his next trip but I won't get that price again if anyone other than you or I was paying attention. He's got a bright future. Best of Luck with your home boy.

16 Jan 2009 12:06 PM

Thanks mg I'm headed to Vegas in 3 weeks and for sure I'll be making a few future wagers on him and the two HH's.

16 Jan 2009 12:53 PM

Steve thanks for finding out about Charitable Man. I am hoping things work out for him time wise, but if not 1) there are lots of exciting three years olds to keep me busy, and 2) I doubt his trainer would rush him and I think with his pedigree the fall and turf races will be just what he needs to make his mark.

Thanks again for the news.

16 Jan 2009 12:54 PM


Thank you for all of your great work and your perspective.  This is a great time of the racing year and in part because of your columns and insights.  I agree with you on your assessment of the Dubai colts.  Along with all of the reasons you mentioned, I believe the calendar works against then when you consider all that is involved in shipping half way across the world and back.  I'll take a stand against until further notice.  I have some reasonable prices on a short list; all of which need to show something:

- Imperial Council

- Map of the World

- Hello Broadway

- Quality Road

- Majormotionpicture (needs to get back to the track soon)

- Capt. Candyman Can

- Idol Maker

Thanks again!

16 Jan 2009 1:21 PM
Steve Haskin

Jonny, I mentioned it in my previous column.

Wanda, I think Harlan's Holiday is a terrific sire and he seems to have good solid horses every year.

16 Jan 2009 1:36 PM

Glad to see your Derby Trail column, I love this time of year.  Wondered if you have taken any notice of Mr. Fantasy.  Half brother to Tin Cup Chalice who won the Big Apple Triple.  He was a buzzsaw in his debut at Aqueduct 12/28 winning by 10 1/2 lenghts and earned a 97 beyer and 107 bris.  Worked this week 4f in 47:63.  Sired by E Dubai out of a Spectaculer Bid mare.  I know it's very early, we know he has speed, do you think he can get distance?

16 Jan 2009 5:50 PM

Steve, do you have a formula for narrowing down the over 30 odd Derby hopefuls to 12 from which the winner will likely come?  I think that a system could be crafted from looking at the Derby winners of the last ten years.  Eight out of the ten (the exceptions being Charismatic and Giacomo) were part of the elite group of 3yos, that is, those proven to be a cut above the rest as 2yos or based upon early 3yo performances.  It is probably still too soon to construct such a list (remembering Big Brown's meteoric rise last year)but already there are about seven such horses which every knowledgeable fan should admit to being top-of-class at this moment.  The remaining five on the list could be put into two groups:3 on the borderline of the elite and 2 very promising-likely to improve contenders.  An approach like this would certainly eliminate the "Monba" kind of hype of last year in the Derby Dozen.  We forgive that one but it is hard to forget it ...sorry Steve.  

16 Jan 2009 7:39 PM

So excited to be back on the Derby Trail.   Have been

high on Friesian Fire, but after seeing Patena running up next to him in the Lecomte, my loyalty is divided.  Patena has a beautiful fluid stride and would have won (I think) given a longer distance.

16 Jan 2009 7:54 PM
Steve Haskin

Yes, I've noticed Mr. Fantasy, especially having just done a feature on Lecesse and Vanlaer, the owners of Tin Cup Chalice. He looks like he could be a good one. I know the barn really likes him.

16 Jan 2009 8:46 PM
Steve Haskin

Dont worry, Ranagulzion, I havent forgotten Monba. It was a pick based on the wrong things, trying to have a horse I had been high on right from the beginning. Never too late to live and learn. If I ever start to rely on formulas and stats to pick a Derby horse thats the day I'll stop doing it. I use many different methods, most of all visual. What horse leaves the biggest impression from a visual standpoint is usually the horse I'll pick.

16 Jan 2009 8:50 PM

I think TIZNOWS PRIDE will be the horse to watch in 2012.  (the first offspring from Peppers Pride.)

17 Jan 2009 1:53 AM

Old Fashioned or Fresian Fire. Both are legitimate candidates - and, as several people observed, no one deserves this more than Larry Jones. He's done everything right and came so close with two of the best I've seen in many a year - and there really isn't a better hand with a horse. Now you know where my money's going.

17 Jan 2009 6:21 PM

i try to never be prejudiced toward a horse because of the name someone decides to pin on him, but i'm going to have a hard time rooting for one named The Pamplemousse....

18 Jan 2009 7:21 AM

...I forgot to add, I could learn to like it.

18 Jan 2009 8:50 AM
Karen in Indiana

Especially when you find out pamplemousse is french for grapefruit. LOL! I'm rootin' for the Grapefruit! Just doesn't sound right.

19 Jan 2009 12:22 PM
Abbie Knowles

Agree about Tiznow's Pride!!!!  As a big fan of the redoubtable TIZNOW and the indomitable PEPPER'S PRIDE i am hoping that if all goes well the foal will be a champion!  Glad there are other big fans of Seattle Slew out there!  He never seemed to get the recognition he deserved as a racehorse or a stallion and that is a shame!  He is THE GREATEST!!!

God Bless

best wishes


19 Jan 2009 7:11 PM
TK in Texas

Might need to look at Poltergiest from an ALW Race at Oaklawn last weekend....dusted a decent NWx bunch in impressive fashion. The son of Tapit won by 5-6 & galloped out really strong. Could be any kind!

21 Jan 2009 1:09 PM
The King of the Derby

I have been thinking about the Holy Bull and West Side Bernie. What is it with his trainer? Why does he feel like he has to put so many bullets into him? The biggest hinderance to this horse may be the trainer. What do you think?

28 Jan 2009 9:10 PM

Recent Posts



Social Media

More Blogs