Da Hoss' Miracle Mile

I was looking at some photos of Da Hoss taken recently at the Kentucky Horse Park and was happy to see how physically well and seemingly content he looked, much like he did when he was at Michael Dickinson's Tapeta Farm in Maryland, where he lived a blissful life in that scenic and pastoral environment.

Looking at Da Hoss in these photos brought back memories of 1998 and one of the most amazing performances and training feats anyone will ever see. Having visited Tapeta several times that year I was able to get a first-hand look at what Dickinson and his staff were up against trying to get Da Hoss back to the Breeders' Cup Mile, two years after his victory at Churchill Downs.

Before we get to the events of 1998, it's best to start with Da Hoss himself and the numerous physical ailments that plagued him his entire life. As a foal, he developed an infection in his hoof and it rotted away a quarter of his coffin bone. As a yearling, he developed two bone spurs in his hocks, which eventually became arthritic. Those two problems were the root of most of Da Hoss' future problems.

As a yearling, he sold for a mere $6,000 and wound up at Turf Paradise as a 2-year-old. He showed right from the start he had tremendous speed, blazing six furlongs in 1:07 1/5 in the ATBA Stakes, the fastest time ever recorded by a 2-year-old. At 3, he won graded stakes on dirt and turf on both coasts from six furlongs to 1 1/8 miles, while making three separate trips to California.

As a 4-year-old, he won stakes at Saratoga and Penn National before capturing the Breeders' Cup Mile at Woodbine, defeating the top-class Spinning World, who would win the BC Mile the following year at Hollywood Park. Then, while at the top of his game, Da Hoss disappeared from the racetrack for two years. All the while the gelding was away battling physical problems, Dickinson had dreams of a second Breeders' Cup Mile victory, but this seemed more of a pipedream. Dickinson was known throughout the racing world as "The Mad Genius," and it would take a bit of madness and lot of genius to make it come true.

In 1997, Da Hoss developed a problem with his tendon in March, then ankle problems in June. In September, he went lame behind for two to three weeks. Before Dickinson knew it, the entire year was lost, and it wasn't about to get better. In February, 1998, Da Hoss developed some heat in his tendon, the result of a tear, and Dickinson had to stop on him. He walked him for a month and then jogged him for a month, but when he was just about ready to begin serious training, Dickinson noticed he was moving horribly and had to give him more time let him work his way through it.

All the while, Da Hoss was frolicking about with his best friend Boomer, known in racing circles as Business is Boomin, a 9-year-old horse. Dickinson had already performed a miracle with Boomer, which gave him hope he could duplicate it with Da Hoss. All the Mad Genius did with Boomer was get him to win three straight races in 1997...off a five-year layoff. That was unheard of. On May 8, 1997, exactly five years to the day since his last start, Boomer won a $15,000 claiming race at Garden State Park by 6 3/4 lengths. Boomer and Da Hoss had become so inseparable, Dickinson couldn't afford to risk losing Boomer in a claiming race, so he jumped him up to allowance company and he won both, at Monmouth and Laurel. After a second and a fourth, Boomer went lame again and was on the shelf for another 10 months. Dickinson finally got him back the following June, and Boomer proceeded once again to win his first three races back, all at Delaware Park.

Boomer had such as phenomenal disposition, Michael would let my then 14-year-old daughter ride him whenever we visited. A great deal of the credit for Boomer's remarkable comeback went to Michael's partner in life Joan Wakefield. The horse had such soft bones that every time he'd train over the dirt he went lame. Wakefield turned him into a pony and would ride him to a friend's barn each morning for her coffee break. She began to notice him feeling stronger by the day, and that's when it was decided to try to bring him back to the races.

In April 1998, Dickinson, who patented the first synthetic surface, calling it Tapeta, opened his state-of-the-art, 200-acre Tapeta Farm in North East, Md. for training. Boomer and Da Hoss were stabled next to each other and shared the same paddock. My daughter would go into the paddock and just lie on the grass picking flowers and clover while Da Hoss and Boomer grazed within inches of her. Da Hoss would often come right up to her and check out the floral arrangements in her hand. But one thing was certain, wherever Boomer was, Da Hoss was close by.

"Da Hoss worships Boomer," Wakefield said during one of our visits. "He follows him around like a little dog."

All during 1998, Dickinson kept thinking Breeders' Cup for Da Hoss. The other devoted members of Dickinson's crew who worked feverishly on Da Hoss' aches and pains were groom Miguel Piedra and exercise rider Jon (Jon Boy) Ferriday.

Dickinson has always been a perfectionist and not even the smallest detail escapes him. His vast network of brain cells always seems to be active, and he runs around like a revved up a machine where the gears are in constant motion. No matter how many times Dickinson was told Da Hoss had little chance of making it to the Breeders' Cup, he never gave up hope. This is a man who made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for saddling the first five finishers in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and for sending out 12 winners in a single day.

On April 29, Dickinson had an ultrasound taken of Da Hoss' tendon and did little with him for a week, eventually walking him each day for almost an hour along the tree-lined paths with Ferriday on his back. On May 30, Da Hoss began jogging, and after a week, the jogs were increased to two a day. He finally began light gallops on June 21. Four days later, Dickinson faxed a letter to owners Art, Jack, and J.R. Preston of Prestonwood Farm, which read:

"Da Hoss' tendon was scanned last week and our vet was unable to find any problem...The technician at New Bolton Center says Da Hoss' tendons heal very quickly...I've worked out a plan to get him to the Breeders' Cup with just one race before. I have time in hand if nothing goes wrong."

But those final words "if nothing goes wrong" came back to haunt him. It didn't take long for something to go wrong. On July 10, Dickinson sent the Prestons another fax:

"Dr. Ross examined Da Hoss today, and he thought he had muscle atrophy on the left hind and was moving worse than he had ever seen him...It is disappointing to us all...My goal is still the Breeders' Cup."

All the while, Piedra rarely left Da Hoss' side, working on him constantly, especially the arthritis in his joints, which required extensive massaging. Then there was the hosing of the horse's hocks. Plastic tubes were attached to his knees, allowing for a continuous trickle of water to down his legs. Piedra spent six hours a day in the stall with the horse, rubbing him, giving him physiotherapy, massage treatments, ice treatments, and laser treatments.

Wakefield was the one who was able to get into Da Hoss' head. Like with Boomer, she could read him like no one else and would know if something was going to go wrong two days before anyone else. Ferriday would walk the course every night before Da Hoss breezed, looking for the perfect ground. Once he found it, he would move the cones to the spot where he wanted Da Hoss to be. Also instrumental was farrier Gary Reynolds, who shod Da Hoss and worked on his feet.

Despite all this, the vet reports weren't encouraging, and no one except for Dickinson and his team felt Da Hoss had any shot of making the Breeders' Cup.

One of Da Hoss' problems was that he often was too willing and would do more than he was supposed to. He was competitive in his gallops even to the point where he would try to pass Wakefield's car as she drove alongside the track.

It wasn't until August that Da Hoss was able to begin breezing. It was only three months to the Breeders' Cup. But the breezes continued on a regular basis. He just might make it after all. On Sept. 15, Dickinson faxed the Prestons:

"Da Hoss breezed quite well on Saturday.  He has now had seven breezes and probably will require three more...I feel he's moving as well as he did when he won the Breeders' Cup or maybe even better. He remains as competitive as ever...We all know that he does have aches and pains, and on a nuclear scan he lights up like a Christmas tree...We're all holding our breath at the moment, and it will indeed be a miracle if he wins the Breeders' Cup again this year. But miracles do happen."

Those aches and pains Dickinson referred to would flare up following every breeze and the horse would become stiff. Dickinson was afraid to work Da Hoss long because of his fragility. To get the horse back in a racetrack mode, he sent him to the Meadowlands, where Da Hoss breezed a slow seven furlongs in 1:30. Between the tendon injury and all his other maladies, Dickinson had no way of knowing how fit Da Hoss was. He only knew one thing: he needed to find a prep race before the Breeders' Cup.

He had two races in mind, the Cliff Hanger Stakes at the Meadowlands on Oct. 8 or an allowance race at Belmont two days later. But rain that weekend washed out those plans, as Dickinson did not want to subject Da Hoss to a soft grass course. And even if he wanted to run, there was a good chance both races would be taken off the turf. The only alternative was to go straight into the Breeders' Cup, but Da Hoss had no Breeders' Cup points and no wins. With so many accomplished horses pointing the race, the selection committee was not about to include a horse who had not raced for two years.

A Desperate Dickinson turned to Lenny Hale, racing secretary at the new Colonial Downs in Virginia and asked him to write a race for Da Hoss, which he gladly did, a nine-furlong allowance race on Oct. 11. The race filled and remained on the turf. Da Hoss, after nearly two years, finally made it back to the races. Sent off at 3-5 against five opponents, Da Hoss stalked the early pace under Carlos Marquez Jr. and won by three-quarters of a length.

On Oct. 21, Dickinson, after observing Da Hoss carefully for 10 days, sent a final fax to the Prestons:

"I'm happy to say he came out of his last race as good as we could have expected...Two weeks ago I felt we had a 50-50 chance to make the Breeders' Cup. Now I think we have a 65% chance of being there fit and well on that day."

After two breezes at Tapeta, Da Hoss shipped to Churchill Downs. The Breeders' Cup was eight days away. But Dickinson realized that training at Churchill and training at Tapeta were like night and day. At home, Da Hoss was used to going out at the crack of dawn, but the grass course at Churchill did not open until about 9 o'clock. So, for three hours, an anxious Da Hoss had to remain in his stall, unable to train. Dickinson was not happy and was sorry he had brought the horse so early.

Once on the track, Da Hoss had to wait for others to train first, and Dickinson was worried about the horse having to train over a course that had already been chewed up. When he worked him on the Monday before the race, he realized to his dismay that his two-way radio wasn't working and he was unable to convey instructions to Ferriday. Dickinson came upstairs to the press box porch, where we watched the work together. I could tell he was upset and distressed over the turn of events. After all the work he had put in to get Da Hoss here, he was now in danger of having it all blow up a week before the race. He had no way of communicating with Jon Boy and Da Hoss would have to work over a less-than-ideal turf course.

His worries were for nothing. Da Hoss glided over the course, breezing five furlongs in 1:03 1/5 and did it in hand, striding out beautifully. Dickinson was thrilled with the way Da Hoss went, but fearing he still wasn't 100% fit, he had Ferriday blow him out a bit down the stretch on Thursday.

The night following the Monday work, Dickinson, for the time in weeks, slept through the night.

As he said, "It's been an emotional roller coaster, especially the last six weeks. There were times he was working so well I couldn't sleep with excitement. Then there were times when things weren't going very well and I couldn't sleep with worry."

In 1996, Dickinson had used Wakefield's stiletto heels to measure the softness and depth of the course. This time, he brought a penetrometer as well and was seen out on the course, walking it and testing it on six different occasions, looking for the best ground. As he did with Gary Stevens in ‘96, Dickinson drew a map of the turf course, using different colors for the different paths, designating where he wanted Da Hoss to be at each stage of the race. He brought the map to the jock's room the morning of the race and showed it to jockey John Velazquez.

After the horses were saddled, the Da Hoss team lost track of each other and dispersed in different directions. Dickinson wound up in a small office in the tunnel, Piedra and Ferriday found a place on the apron, and imagine my surprise seeing Wakefield, who took the wrong elevator, standing in front of a TV monitor in the press box.

Of course, we all know what happened after that. Velazquez, unable to follow Dickinson's directions, was forced to move early on the far turn after getting bumped and having to check on the first turn. Rallying four wide, Da Hoss, sent off at 11-1, hit the front at around the three-sixteenths pole. This was too early, and Dickinson was upset, fearing the horse had moved too soon. Da Hoss was on the lead with more than a furlong still to run.

From out of the pack came the Neil Drysdale closer Hawksley Hill, who charged up alongside Da Hoss inside the eighth pole and actually got his head, then neck in front at the sixteenth pole. Da Hoss, with only one allowance race under him in two years, had made a gallant effort, but he was a beaten horse. With no one in the 14-horse field threatening from behind, it appeared obvious Da Hoss would settle for second, a tremendous achievement in itself.

But then the improbable happened. Da Hoss dug in and came battling back, his neck fully stretched. No one could believe it. He could actually come back and win it. Da Hoss kept reaching for more and with one final surge he stuck his head in front right before the wire. A stunned Tom Durkin, calling the race, bellowed: "Oh, my! This is the greatest comeback since Lazarus!" NBC host Tom Hammond was just as excited and surprised. "We said Michael Dickinson was a mad genius," he stated. "How in the world can they have this horse ready with one race in two years to come back and win his second Breeders' Cup?"

A head-on photo of the finish shows the dogged determination of Da Hoss as he crosses the finish line with his teeth tightly clenched. Da comeback was complete.

Dickinson stood on the track as if in a daze, trying, but not succeeding, to hold back the tears. Wakefield rushed down from the press box and she and Dickinson embraced, both now weeping uncontrollably. Nearby, Ferriday could barely get a word out and had to walk off by himself to regain his composure.

"I can't believe it," a teary-eyed Ferriday said. "I can't believe he's done it. He's a machine. Michael, Joan, and Miguel deserve all the credit. I'm just a passenger on him."

With all the pandemonium arround them, all four had to be thinking back to a much quieter time and place at Tapeta Farm where the miracle of Da Hoss' fairy-tale comeback was born. All the frustrations, sleepless nights, and feelings of hopelessness they endured had erupted into one euphoric and emotional moment that will be forever frozen in time in Breeders' Cup history.

Sir Michael Stoute, trainer of also-ran Among Men, walked up to Dickinson, patted him on the back, and said it all with one word: "Maestro."

Dickinson later reflected back to when it seemed all the work would prove fruitless: "I remember saying to everyone after he was so stiff this fall that we're going to have to stop on him; we can't carry on. There were a lot of tears. Miguel has four children and he was crying. Joan was crying. Jon Boy was crying."

Two months later, in the Churchill Downs winner's circle, they all were crying once again.

For more information on Da Hoss, you may be interested in the following video features: Da Hoss and Michael Dickinson and Da Hoss at the Kentucky Horse Park.


Leave a Comment:

Karen in Texas

Wonderful, vivid account of that Breeders' Cup race! I felt as though I was watching it again as it happened! Da Hoss digging in to get that win after two years and Mr. Dickinson's ability to train him to do it make that one of the best races I have ever witnessed. Thanks!

28 Jun 2009 8:27 PM

I can't tell you home much I enjoy reading your articles. Not only are they educational, but they  take me back to so many wonderful memories.

I'd also like to share with you.  I just finished reading your wonderfully written book of Dr. Fager. He truly is one of the all time greats. I can't begin to imagine today horses carrying the weights that he did.  

28 Jun 2009 9:20 PM

He didn't possess his ancestor's soundness, but Da Hoss certainly had some of Secretariat's heart.  What a horse - what a story!

Thanks, Steve - and what memories to carry of your daughter in the field with Da Hoss and Boomer!

One question - did Boomer go with Da Hoss to the Horse Park?

28 Jun 2009 10:14 PM
Umatilla Joe

Steve: Boy do I remember that race. I had Hawsley Hill in the pick 6 which would have paid $38K, and getting beat like that by the mad genius convinced me forever what a magician he was.

28 Jun 2009 10:23 PM

Steve-You put such animation and life into your writing.  I  hope that you enjoy writing these stories as much as the fans enjoy reading them.  I got the pleasure of meeting Da Hoss at the Horse Park last year.  Quite a character! He and Cigar were competing for attention in their stalls from the visitors.  

28 Jun 2009 10:40 PM


Thank you for yet another wonderful story.

28 Jun 2009 11:59 PM

As usual a great story by you about one of my favorite races ever. I ended up with tears in my eyes again just as I did in watching the race almost 11 years ago-can it really be that long? Having visited Da Hoss several times at KHP I can see why you weren't worried about your daughter being in the paddock with him. He is usually the horse that they keep out after the show for people to visit with and take photos of. He seems to love the attention and is never a problem. It's a great place for him to spend the rest of his life.

P.S. I hope you haven't forgotten that we are going to have pancakes at Saratoga some morning this meet.  Richie

29 Jun 2009 12:12 AM

Da Hoss's second BC victory came as no surprise to anyone who knew just how good a trainer Michael Dickinson was.  'Genius' almost seems too simple a word, I was devestated when he left the UK to train in the States as in my eyes he was on a par with Vincent O'Brien.  As with all the best trainers, his horses' welfare came above all else, he had a rapport and empathy with horses like no other.  And perhaps most endearing of all was his complete lack of arrogance, he was always quick to acknowledge the horse and his team.  He's a legend, pure and simple, I look forward to the day he returns to training!

29 Jun 2009 5:21 AM

You promised me last year you'd do a piece on him...with a lump in my throat, thanks...the brave DaHoss, fire in his eyes.

PS You'd better be saving all your stories for a book...newbies should know the greatness and heart of the horses we talk about...human and horse...and oldies...well, we'll just relive it!;-)

29 Jun 2009 6:44 AM
stanley marcinkowski, Plowville, Pa

Of the 23 yearlings sold that were by Gone West in 1993 and averaged $120,000, Da Hoss sold the cheapest-only $6,000! So he must have looked like he had problems. I followed Da Hoss a number of years and I am in winners circle photo of Pa Gov Cup. One of the stories leading to BC Mile is how upset Michael was when Gary Stevens agent would not accept the commitment to ride Da Hoss in 1998 even though Stevens won with Da Hoss in 1996. Michael made a 4 figure bet with Stevens agent stating Da Hoss would finish ahead of Stevens' mount in BC Mile.      Another event is how Joan got seperated from Michael after saddling and ended up in elevator and getting out in press box as the race was in progress. When Joan saw Da Hoss getting to near the lead she started a rallying cry for Da Hoss. Andy Beyer screamed at her-"lady this is the____in' press box you can't root for a horse here"        It takes a VERY SPECIAL trainer to do what Michael Dickinson accomplished with Da Hoss, I don't think any trainers in the Hall of Fame could have done such a fantastic job. Michael is Unique!

29 Jun 2009 7:08 AM
stanley marcinkowski, Plowville, Pa

In 2002 Michael Dickinson won a Grade-1 race with Cetewayo-a complete horse-when he was 8 years old. What is record for oldest 'horse' winning a Grade-1 race?                      Cetewayo also won a Grade-1 race in 1998.        I had forgotten about Boomer, and there was a horse owned by Mark Hopkins sired by Cool Joe trained by Dickinson. Great stories

29 Jun 2009 7:35 AM
Soldier Course


This is just a wonderful article about one of my favorite moments in racing. The backstory is fascinating,especially the details about Boomer.

I have e-mailed you a photograph of Da Hoss that I took at the Kentucky Horse Park last year. It was taken at the entrance to the Hall of Champions, as Da Hoss was awaiting his appointment with the farrier.

This photo was my 2008 Christmas card, with the message, "Let your love flow out to all living things."

Thanks for this beautiful tribute to Da Hoss and his family, Michael, Joan, Miguel, Jon Boy, and Boomer.  

29 Jun 2009 8:00 AM

Wonderful article on my boy Hoss! I have helped care for him going on 4 years at the Horse Park and adore this horse!! He now romps around the paddock with his new buddy Kona Gold. I am so glad this wonderful horse and his magnificent trainer are being recognized in this way. Thanks very much.

29 Jun 2009 8:28 AM
Linda in Texas

A wonderful inside look at just one story about a horse and his heart and the hearts of those around him. He knew what he had to do and he did it. Don't tell me horses don't have any sense and don't have any feelings. Your stories put us all right there in the stalls and on the tracks with each horse you write about. Thanks so much. And keep bringing them. And where is Boomer?

29 Jun 2009 8:53 AM
Greg J.

Mr. Haskin,

      Once Again, Thank You!, What a great story of Determination, Courage, and Belief for this Team, "Da Hoss" and the "Maestro", Mr. Dickinson!  Question, What became of Boomer?, Did Da Hoss get to go back and "Worship" Boomer?, Would love to know, Thanks Again...

29 Jun 2009 9:11 AM


I loved the story and sorry that you included only that one.

Why, not tell Da Hoss entire lifes story......oh, you know, sold at auction and finally rescued by people that love horses that had a horse rescue....such a story for such a great horse....

no offense intended its just that so many great horses are treated this way.....or sent to slaughter and never rescued....

29 Jun 2009 9:29 AM

I can't imagine what this horse would have accomplished had he been sound throughout his career.When buying a yearling the one thing you can't see or know is the size of their heart(don't mean physical size) and their will to win.

29 Jun 2009 9:44 AM

Hats off to the horse and connections who delivered 2 of my toughest beats in BC wagering history.

29 Jun 2009 10:26 AM

Wonderful story, Steve. Michael Dickinson and friends belong at Hogwarts with Harry Potter. He is an acknowledged wizard. The story of DaHoss has to be the most amazing story of all. Why nobody had made a movie to this point is mind boggling.  Nobody could make this up without fearing scorn and ridicule.  As has been mentioned in previous blogs, this isn't the only feat of wizardry Michael has performed. He had a horse named El Huevo or Huevo [cannot remember exactly] that he did miraculous work with.  Perhaps you could tell his story sometime?  Thanks again for an account of one unique horse and trainer.  Incredible!

29 Jun 2009 10:40 AM

With yet another lump in my throat and tears in my eyes from reading one of your wonderful stories, all I can say is Thank You.  Like someone else posted earlier, I hope all of these bloggings are being saved for a book - I love reading them.  As for DaHoss, well, he is one of my very favorites at the KHP and I have enjoyed getting to visit him there.  I could not agree with you more about the utter genius of Michael Dickinson and his absolute devotion to the horse.  That is what makes me follow the trainers as much as the horses, because it's hard for me to understand why all trainers can not be this way.  Again...thank you.

29 Jun 2009 11:11 AM


Oh!you lucky dog working at the Kentucky Horse Park!!! I was there in '05 and was so happy to see John Henry and Cigar and all the beautiful horses of all breeds that are showcased there. Now, you have Kona Gold (the California Hero), give him a kiss for me. We really loved that horse. He always gave his ALL and more...

Mr. Haskin,

Thank you so much for this great article. I didn't get interested in horseracing until 1999, so I missed out on seeing the miracle of DaHoss returning to the track after 2 years AND winning. You made me feel like I was there and give me such an appreciation of the events you describe. Next time I visit the KHP, I will look at DaHoss with even more wonderment. Your words truly showed his heart and the dedication of Michael Dickinson and his team in bringing this wonderful horse back for another taste at glory.

Your story telling talent is simply awesome!

29 Jun 2009 11:21 AM

Thanks for the great story down memory lane! I remember watching my 1st Breeders Cup with my late father. At the time I didn't know this would be our last Breeder Cup together.  I remember I picked Da Hoss that day and my  my fathers horse came in way far back......he just said why him I said he's Da Hoss.

I remember attending to my second Breeder Cup at Churchill downs on a somewhat chilly day and picked again Da Hoss.

My mother, who attends the Breeder Cup events with me now asked when the race was over why did I pick that horse,....I said simply "He's Da Hoss"......

A few years later I got to visit Da Hoss at Kentucky Horse Park.

I asked to see Da Hoss. I was  taken to his stall, I was shocked when they said I could walk over and pet him. I was amazed looking at his hoofs even image that this horse raced little long won 2 Breeder Cups. But the best way to  describe Da Hoss, a big puppy in horses body!

He's still Da Hoss!

29 Jun 2009 11:36 AM
John Boudreau

GREAT Article>> He's the BEST horse EVER to Run at TUP>>>>Flavio MartinezIII was his Rider

29 Jun 2009 11:46 AM

stanley M:

John Henry and John's Call both won gr.1 races at the age of 9.

29 Jun 2009 12:10 PM


I believe A Huevo won the gr.1 De Francis sprinting at age 7 and then won at least a couple of the West Virginia Breeders Classic at 9 furlongs, doing this all through many injuries and extended stints on the disabled list. Unfortunately, I think A Huevo's career ended tragically, breaking down while going for another West Virginia Breeders Cup at a very advanced age. I'm not totally sure about this, though.

29 Jun 2009 12:19 PM


I'm all weepy!  As proud of this horse as I always am, and as much as I realized what an impossibly perfect job the team did with him, reading this makes the story so much more real and powerful.  As I said, I never knew many of the details leading up to the comeback for the ages.  I thank you so much for bringing them to life.  What a phenomenal group of people, and what an amazing horse!

29 Jun 2009 12:21 PM

For those who don't know, Da Hoss has a new paddock buddy at the Horse Park...it's Kona Gold!  Kona adores Hoss the way it seems Hoss did Boomer.  At the Park, fittingly, Hoss is the boss.  They probably aren't as close as Boomer and Hoss were, but they're so fun to watch together!  They really enjoy each other's company.

29 Jun 2009 12:26 PM

Thanks Steve for another great article.

The field for the 98' Breeders Cup Classic was absolutely loaded, but it was Da Hoss in the Mile that stole the show. I too thought he was beaten with an eighth of a mile to go, but his fierce determination carried the day.

Not to take anything away from Da Hoss' great effort, but he also benefitted from the fact that Hawksley Hill was a notorious "hanger". Hawksley did win some nice races, mostly in California, however he always found a way to lose the biggest races.  Hawksley finished 2nd or 3rd, while appearing to be the winner in mid-stretch, in a number of grade 1 and 2 races, and in the grade 1 race in which he crossed the wire first, the Woodbine Mile, he was later disqualified for interference. Heart certainly matters. When a horse with great courage and determination, like Da Hoss, hooks a "hanger" or "herd runner", like Hawksley Hill, the former almost invariable wins.  

Lastly, I want to relate my personal experience concerning Da Hoss. While Da Hoss was a superior turf horse, he was, as Steve mentioned, also proficient on dirt as well. In July of 1995 Da Hoss made one of the three journeys West Steve referred to, running against Thunder Gulch, Mr Purple, Petionville, and Dazzling Falls in the Swaps Stakes; and I was on track to see them all. On a very, very warm afternoon, Da Hoss gave his all against a horse in Thunder Gulch that was a first-rate dirt performer(won Kentucky Derby, Belmont, Travers, Forida Derby, Fountain of Youth, Kentucky Cup Classic, and Swaps) that was almost as game as he was. Even against such an opponent, Da Hoss did not go down quietly, battling ferociously with Thunder Gulch and Petionville to the wire, finishing 2nd to the Derby winner.

How much effort did Da Hoss put into this race? Well, after being unsaddled, Da Hoss suddenly collapsed, and remained on the track for minutes. I feared the worst, and had trouble continuing to watch. Then, Da Hoss rose to his feet, but then swerved and fell again. By now I thought he was gone, but always the fighter, Da Hoss rose once again, a true Lazarus. Fortunately, Da Hoss had suffered from only heat exhaustion, and made a full recovery, returning a few months later to take the Del Mar Derby on turf. As for  the other horses in the Swaps field, Thunder Gulch won the Travers next out, becoming the first horse since Whirlaway in 1941 to win the Derby, Belmont, and Travers, Petionville won the La Jolla on turf at Del Mar, and Mr Purple would go on as a 4 year old to win the Santa Anita Handicap.    

29 Jun 2009 1:10 PM
stanley marcinkowski, Plowville, Pa

GunBow,    I also enjoyed your trainer's work Eddie Neloy.  The horses you mentioned were geldings-Cetewayo is a full horse, one of his offspring is running today in 3 or 4 race at Del Or Philly,goofy name HLJUJU or something like it

29 Jun 2009 1:13 PM

GunBow, I believe you are right about A Huevo winning the DeFrancis Dash at age 7. He was another example of Dickinson's magic at work. As I recall, he was never entirely sound [which accounts for his infrequent appearances on the track]. I don't know of too many trainers - if any - with the ability to extract every ounce of talent out of horses that wouldn't even make it to the starting gate under any other trainer. I would love to see him resume training some day.

29 Jun 2009 1:29 PM

Oh, what fantastic recounts of this fabulous horse by you Steve, of course, but also the horse people on this blog.

I can't wait to see him at Kentucky Horse Park.

What a story, with a great ending, thank God.

29 Jun 2009 2:13 PM
Steve Haskin

One of the main reasons I love writing these historical blogs is to hear everyone's personal experiences with a particular horse and to jog their memory. It seems no matter who I write about, there are people with their own stories and memories. I also love hearing from the people who are new to the sport and didn't get a chance to witness these horses and great races. If these stories can bring a new awareness of horses that were before their time -- what they accomplished and what it was like to experience them close up -- it is a very rewarding feeling. So, I thank everyone for sharing their memories and for expressing their feelings.

29 Jun 2009 2:31 PM
Steve Haskin

The last I heard, Boomer was a pony once again. I e-mailed Michael for an update on him, but he is notoriously bad at answering e-mails and phone calls. If I hear from him I will relay his comments.

29 Jun 2009 2:41 PM
Greg J.

Robin & Everyone,

     Here is Da Hoss & Kona Gold at the Kentucky Horse Park taken May 2, 2009.:


29 Jun 2009 3:04 PM

Kona Gold with Da Hoss at the Kentucky Horse Park! Wow, two amazingly game and accomplished horses! I would put Kona Gold's record as a sprinter up against the record of any other sprinter since Housebuster.

First, Kona Gold was an extrmely accomplished horse, running 1st in the 2000 BC Sprint, 2nd in the 99' Sprint, 3rd in the 98' Sprint, and 4th in the 02' Sprint.  Overall, Kona Gold won 11 stakes and 10 graded stakes, ran 2nd in 6 graded stakes, and 3rd in 2 graded stakes.  Between April of 2000 and July of 2001, Kona Gold won 7 straight races, all either grade 1 or 2 events. Between January of 1999 and July of 2001, Kona Gold ran 1st or 2nd in all 15 of his starts, all of them stakes and all but one a graded stakes.

In terms of Beyer speed figures, Kona Gold was the most consistently fast sprinter since Groovy in 86 and 87.  In 28 of his 30 career starts, Kona Gold earned a Beyer figure of 99 or higher. In 24 of his races, he ran a figure of 106 or higher, with 19 coming consecutively between November of 1998 and June of 2002. So, for almost 4 years straight, covering 19 races, Kona Gold ran a Beyer of 106 or higher. Within those 19 races, Kona Gold had a mini-streak, or a "streak within a streak", in which he ran a figure of 109 or higher in 15 consecutive races. More impressively, Kona Gold ran a figure of at least 112 in 14 of these 15 races, with 9 of those races earning a Beyer of 115 or higher. Overall, Kona Gold earned a Beyer of at least 112 in over half of his career starts, 16 of 30.  His top 5 career Beyers were 123, 119, 119, 118 and 117.

Of the other top sprinters of the last 22 or 23 years, only Artax(who beat Kona a neck in the 99' BC Sprint), Housebuster, and Groovy earned as many high Beyers. Artax, a freak of a sprinter when on his game, earned figs of 124, 123, and 123 in 1999 when breaking Mr. Prospector's 6 furlong track record at Gulfstream(107 and 4), Groovy's 6 furlong Belmont record(107 and 3), and Dr Fager's 7 furlong record at Aqueduct(120 flat).  However, Artax won only 4 of his 15 starts that year, and outside of those 3 top figs, he only ran faster than a 115 on one other occassion.

Housebuster was a two-time Eclipse champion sprinter in 1990 and 91, winning 15 of 22 career starts, with 3 2nd place finishes, and a 3rd. At one point as a 3 year old, Housebuster won 11 of 12 starts, with that one defeat coming in the Met Mile, when he lost to eventual Horse of the Year, Criminal Type, by a head and finished ahead of Easy Goer. However, because all of his other races were against 3 year olds, Housebuster's Beyers were not as strong as Kona Gold's during his 15 race prime(reminder of Kona's stats: 15 of 15 Beyers 109+, 14 of those 15 Beyers 112+, 9 of those 15 Beyers 115+). Housebuster did come back at 4 and run some powerful races, winning the gr.1 Carter by over 2, the De Francis by 5, the gr.1 Vosburgh by 5, and the gr.2 Forego. These performances gave Housbuster about 11 or 12 races in which he earned a Beyer of 110 or higher. However, after winning 11 of his first 13 races, mostly against 3 year olds, Housebuster was somewhat inconsistent, running a badly beaten 6th in the 1990 Vosburgh, running 8th in the 91' Met Mile, and 9th in the 91' Breeders Cup Sprint(after bypassing the race the year before).  Still, Housbuster had a marvelous career, winning 14 stakes, 12 graded stakes(if one includes the then ungraded De Francis Dash), and 4 grade 1s(if include the De Francis).

Over the last 20 years, Housebuster was the most decorated sprinter, winning 2 Eclipse Awards, Kona Gold was the most consistently fast(sustained speed figures and accomplishments), while Artax had the most pure brilliance, as reflected by his 3 Beyers of 123 or higher. As great as Artax's speed figures were, they do not compete with Groovy's best in 1986 and 87.  Groovy is the only horse since Andy Beyer started creating figs in the early 70s to run consecutive figures of 130 or greater. Groovy did this, I believe, in the 87' Roseben(won by over 4 in 108 and 2) and True North(won by almost 6 in 107 and 4). Those two races were part of a 6 race win streak to begin his 4 year old campaign of 1987 after running 4th as an odds-on favorite in both the Breeders Cup Sprint(at Santa Anita) and Sports Page to conclude 1986. As a 3 year old in 1986, Groovy had been re-directed from the Triple Crown series to sprint races after running 3rd in the Wood but 16th in the Derby and 6th in the Preakness.  Later in 1986 Groovy crushed the undefeated California invader, Phone Trick, by over 6 lengths in the Tom Fool, and then beat older horses in the Forego(121 and 1) and Ancient Title(108 and 1) before his Breeders Cup failure.

As stated earlier, Groovy began 1987 by winning 6 straight races, including those monster back-to-back 130+ Beyers in the Roseben and True North.  After those two races, Groovy won the Tom Fool for the second straight year, and again won by more than 6 lengths while carrying 128 lbs. Groovy then carried 132 lbs to victory in the Forego before winning the grade 1 Vosburgh. However, Groovy once again failed out West in the Breeders Cup, this time at Hollywood Park, when he was outrun early by the 3 year old filly, Very Subtle, and ultimately settled for 2nd, 4 lengths behind that rival. Thus, although many consider Groovy to be the fastest sprinter since Dr Fager, he lost the 2 biggest races of his career, both as an odds-on favorite.

Special mention must also be given to the two great female sprinters of the last 20 years, Safely Kept and Xtra Heat.  Safely Kept won 24 of 31 career starts, running 2nd or 3rd in 5 of the other 7.  She won 23 stakes races in her career, and defeated the boys when she won the 1990 Breeders Cup Sprint after losing by a head the previous year.  At one time, Safely Kept won 16 of 18 races. From what I remember, her Beyers from 90 and 91 were consistently between 105 and 116. Safely Kept was also able to carry weight, winning with 130, 128(twice), and 127 lbs.

Xtra Heat won 26 of 35 career starts, 25 in stakes events, and was out of the money only twice.  She won 16 of her first 19 starts, won the gr.2 Barabara Fritchie under 128 lbs and the gr.2 Vagrancy under 127 lbs, defeated males in the gr.3 Phoenix at age 4, and lost 3 races by short margins when spotting significant weight. Xtra Heat also ran a very game 2nd, beaten only half a length, in the 2001 Breeders Cup Sprint as a 3 year old. However, overall, Xtra Heat was only 1 for 4 against males, with a 3rd in the 2002 Dubai Golden Shaheen, and a 6th in the 2002 BC Sprint. In terms of speed figures, Xtra Heat was quite fast, although not at the level of Kona Gold. After not running higher than a 95 in her first 16 career starts, Xtra Heat did conclude her career with 19 straight Beyers of 99+. In 10 of those final 19 races, she ran a figure of at least 106, and 6 times ran a figure of 111+(as compared to Kona Gold who had a streak in which he ran a Beyer of at least 112 in 14 of 15 races). She also had a 3 race span in the fall of 2001 with Beyers of 120, 118, and 117.  

I know it's off subject, but do some of the other, perhaps older or more studied, readers of this blog have information about some of the top sprinters in the 70s and/or before Dr Fager. The history of the top sprinters in the 30s-70s is much less celebrated and detailed than other divisions. I am familiar with the great sprinting mare Ta Wee, but few other sprinters are mentioned from that era. Perhaps Native Diver, although not just a sprinter?

For other readers, are there other sprinters you would place above Groovy, Housebuster, Kona Gold, and Artax over the last 22 years? Midnight Lute or Lost in the Fog(I dont think he either was as consistently fast as Kona), Lit de Justice(too inconsistent although spectacular when on), Caller One(whose career overlapped w/ Kona and Xtra Heat) or those great fillies Safely Kept and Xtra Heat?  How about the sprinters in the 80s before Groovy, like Precisionist and Smile(although neither was really a pure sprinter), Chinook Pass(the horse Pincay called the fastest sprinter he had ridden)?

29 Jun 2009 3:39 PM

bill M:

Sorry, although you clearly were asking about "full horses", I obviously did not read your question closely enough. Yes, John Henry and Johns Call were geldings.

Aside from those 2 geldings, I can't recall any 9 year old horse(as opposed to gelding)winning a grade1. The graded stakes system was only established in 1973, so that only covers 36 years of racing. Maybe there was a horse before 1973 that won a grade 1 equivalent at the age of 9 or older; that would be much harder to research.  Again, sorry for the confusion and making the answer appear much easier than the actual question.

29 Jun 2009 3:54 PM

Thanks Greg J. I love the Kentucky Horse Park and need to make it down there soon.  It is both joyous and touching to see these wonderful horses put on display again. They deserve both the excellent care and rounds of apllause they receive there.

29 Jun 2009 4:04 PM

Greg J,

Thank you so much for the link to Da Hoss and Kona Gold at the Horse Park. You're the BEST!

29 Jun 2009 4:13 PM

I remember looking at Da Hoss at the Arizona Thoroughbred Breeder's Association sale and there was really no question why he was a $6000 purchase. But obviously Kevin Eikleberry saw something beyond a front end that went a number of different directions when he purchased him.  

The ATBA Sale is very late in the year and many yearlings are already broke to saddle - as was Da Hoss.  He was started by an tried and true Arizona horseman who gave his youngsters an excellent early education including having a lariat swung off of them.  A few of us were able to see his way of going when Mike was loping around one of the arenas at the horse show facility at which the sale is held.

It was a long road from roping the burro to two BC wins and a wonderful story to watch unfold.

29 Jun 2009 4:51 PM
Greg B

It was one of the greatest races I have ever seen, knowing he only had that one prep race in 2 years. It was very emotional when he was headed and fought back. Thanks for the great story with all of the details.

29 Jun 2009 4:59 PM
Karen in Texas

GunBow---If Steve doesn't mind being off subject...Terlingua comes to mind as a sprinter in the '70's; her brother, Pancho Villa, also. I remember hearing that their relatives Crimson Saint, Bolero Rose, and Bolero were "fast" horses--don't know how fast or the exact dates of their racing careers. As for Lost in the Fog, some of his lack of consistency may have been due to the presence of his enormous tumors, discovered only after he was hospitalized for "colic". We will never know how truly fast he might have been.

29 Jun 2009 5:06 PM

To Robin:

I had heard Hoss and Kona had become the best of friends. I think that is so cool! I love the friendships these champions make later in life. Even the power struggle between John Henry and Cigar when visitors came to the HOC!!

To GregJ:

Thanks for the youtube link. I haven't been to the horse park since John Henry's memorial service. It's great to see these two guys together! :-)

29 Jun 2009 5:21 PM
Karen in Texas

GunBow---Okay, I found one article in BH stating that Bolero set a world record for 7 furlongs in 1951. The time was not listed.(Sorry, Steve.)

29 Jun 2009 5:36 PM

Does anyone know where Johns Call is now?

29 Jun 2009 7:25 PM

A cold morning after the 2006 Breeders' Cup, I tried with amused frustration to snap Da Hoss looking out of his stall.  The rascal played a hide and seek game with me, but I got the picture.  The horse park lets us go beyond the track and get to know these champs and their personalities.

29 Jun 2009 7:45 PM

Oh Steve! what a great story. If only they were easier to read as it is so hard to see thru all of my tears. I am famillar with alot of the old horses thru books and t.v.of old I have kept up with alot from 2001 to present.My problem is I've never got to see any of them. My dream is to visit Kentucky and visit the good horse farms and see the graves of some of the old ones Secretariat being main one. Of course I want to see some of the great stallions standing now.Not to forget the Horse Park.After working a 36 year job that was very demanding I never took very many vacations now with a few health problems I'm trying to take care of maybe in a year or two I'll make it.Maybe everyone could send some good vibes to Georgia help get me on my way. Thanks to you Steve for keeping me up to date on alot of these great horses with your wonderful stories.

29 Jun 2009 7:52 PM
John T.

Michael Dickinson once stated that

the accomplishment of Da Hoss winning his second Breeders Cup Mile was his greatest training feat,even greater than the year he trained the first five home in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and that is really making a statement.

29 Jun 2009 8:34 PM
Greg J.


    The last I heard about Johns Call(It has to be maybe 9 years ago?) was that he was at Trillium Stables(Pastures) in Nashville where Owner Douglas Joyce said he was going to live a life of leisure, which he had earned, But, like I said that was when he had just retired, I think he would probably be around 16 or 17 years old now(?), I don't know for sure, but I think he raced until he was nine?

29 Jun 2009 9:02 PM
Soldier Course

Does anyone know if Michael Dickinson still owns Tapeta Farm? I've noticed prominent "For Sale" ads for it in the last year or so in The Blood-Horse classified section.

29 Jun 2009 9:38 PM


I'll be praying for your health problems to be alleviated and for you to be able to come to Kentucky sooner than you hope!

29 Jun 2009 10:09 PM

I always loved that horse, and of course the '98 Breeder's Cup was  truly legendary.  I've never seen a horse show more grit.  Now I have the "behind the scenes" scoop on that miraculous feat.  Steve, you are the man!  Keep 'em comin', please.

29 Jun 2009 10:11 PM

Freetex, I think John's Call is at Tommy Voss' place in Monkton, MD. where he has always been.  I think I read something in the Baltimore Sun awhile back about him.  I think Mr. Voss rides him around his property which is beautiful, rolling Maryland horse country. If only all horses lived in such an environment....

29 Jun 2009 10:37 PM

Karen in Texas:

Thanks on the info. I remember reading about Pancho Villa in Carol Flake's book Tarnished Crown. I had also heard of Terlingua, Lukas' super-fast daughter of Secretariat. I guess one could also add Landaluce, given her brilliance at 2 in sprint races.  I was not familiar with Bolero, thanks.

I see now that I did not express clearly why I rate Lost in the Fog below Kona Gold. Lost in the Fog was very consistent, winning the first 10 starts of his career, and although less successful at 4, still won a graded stakes while suffering from a cancerous mass. However, when Foggy was in his prime, winning those 10 races, he just wasnt as fast as Kona Gold. Foggy ran a few figures up above 110, but did not run such figures consistently and over a long period. Thus, I wrote that I did not believe he was as "consistently fast" as Kona. In retrospect, I see it was a poor choice of words, given that Foggy was a consistent winner, particularly since he was gravely affected by disease as a 4 year old. By "consistently fast", I was referring to the Beyer disparity between he and Kona, and Kona's consistently high figs.

29 Jun 2009 11:06 PM
Soldier Course


I shed a tear when I read your comment because I too spent a number of years dreaming about going to Lexington. Finally one day I stayed home from the office and planned the whole trip by nightfall. My issues of The Blood-Horse and its annual publication, The Source, were invaluable.

I would suggest that you book a horse farm tour with one of the local tour companies. The tours last between 3-5 hours, and you get to see and learn a lot without having to worry about driving. Some farms like Three Chimneys, Ashford Stud, and Claiborne welcome individual visitors, but be sure to call ahead to schedule an appointment. This is especially true for Three Chimneys because their tours fill up far in advance because of Smarty Jones.

Get a horse farm map from Lexington Visitors Center so that you can cluster your farm visits by location. The first year I went, I had an 10:00 appointment at a farm in Midway and an 11:00 at Claiborne in Paris, over 20 miles apart!

You didn't mention Keeneland, but you must go there. Plan to have breakfast in the Track Kitchen before heading down the shedrow to the main track. Don't forget about Old Friends Retirement Farm, not far from the Kentucky Horse Park.  

Of course you'll want to visit the stallion cemetery at Claiborne Farm, where Secretariat is buried. And Seattle Slew's burial site at Hill 'N Dale Farm is magnificent.

Stop by Pisgah Presbyterian Church for early Sunday morning services. This lovely church on Pisgah Pike is over 200 years old. All faiths are welcome.

Lexington is not an expensive destination, especially if your focus is on the horses. Tour tickets are reasonable. Farms do not charge visitors for individual appointments, but it's courteous to thank your guide with a small gratuity.

Lexington is the best therapy in the world. As the ad says, getting there is easy, it's leaving that's so hard.

30 Jun 2009 1:28 AM

Greg J. - thanks for the link to the video of Da Hoss and Kona Gold.  Are they doing the Hall of Champions presentations in a larger arena/different area now, or have they enlarged that little pavilion just behind the HoC barn?  Haven't been to KHP since last summer.  Thank you for sharing.

Steve and all - thank you for all the updates and memories shared - I love this blog!

Rita - I hope your health improves rapidly and you will get to Kentucky - especially the Kentucky Horse Park.  It is like nothing else.  I call it Disneyland for horse-lovers.  It's just a wonderful place to admire so much about the animals we love.  The Hall of Champions is my favorite spot, but of course, the museum is wonderful, the breeds barn is educational, the drafters are enormous and well..the whole place is fantastic.  Go!!

30 Jun 2009 8:28 AM

Steve: Do you know where John's Call is? I thought he was in Monkton at Atlanta Hill Farm [Tommy Voss's place], but Greg J. had other information that I wasn't aware of. Freetex, Greg J. and myself are all curious about the whereabouts of this memorable gelding.

30 Jun 2009 8:58 AM
Ann in Lexington

Gun Bow - You left the excellent sprinter Phone Trick off of your list. He was not a champion, because he lost his last race (came out of it with an injury) to Groovy in the Tom Fool. He had been unbeaten until that time, with wins in the San Carlos, Bold Ruler, and True North Hs, all G2. He never got a chance to try the BC Sprint when he was at his peak because of the career-ending injury.

The reason you don't find much about sprinters of earlier days is because being solely a sprinter was not a particularly admired accomplishment. American racing honored the 'all-rounder', horses like Forego, who could beat the sprinters sprinting and the stayers staying. 'Champion' sprinter was generally 1)a consolation prize for milers who couldn't quite stay 10f with the top stayers (Precisionist, Affectionately), 2) an extra prize for the best 'all-rounder' (Forego, Dr. Fager), or 3) went to more obscure sprint specialists with exemplary records (Gallant Bob, Decathlon).  

30 Jun 2009 9:15 AM

May I add to the kudos given you for your marvelous article.  You not only write as an educator, a historian, but, you reach into the heart and soul of the finest in racing.  An incredible horse; An, equally incredible hard boot hands on trainer.

GunBow, thanks for sharing that story about the Swaps.  Can't recall the first in the series at DM?  You know, the split field stakes on the turf for lightly raced 3 year olds on opening day.  Then, the La Jolla follows with the DM Derby capping the series.  A great developer for turfers.

Mentioning Chinook Pass reminded me that he was, luckily, saved from slaughter.  A despicable owner in Washington State almost sold him off.  He still comes to Emerald Downs for mile day.  Did you know, his owner almost put in a match race at SA against a quarter horse, but, he bowed and was retired?  Funny thing about his track record at SA - He, actually, tied the plater Pleasure Shack's time of 1:08, but, SA used his name in the programs for the record.   Pleasure Shack had done it on a sealed track and his legs were never the same.  Another horse saved from slaughter was the "people's horse" Bedoin.  I saw him standing at DM for viewing to inform the public about the need for saving horses.  The stable Jack Kent Cooke bought had run him at 2 and 3.  Pincay rode him in the Derby.  By running in the money in the Hollywood Futurity, his earnings were vastly skewed as he descended into the low claiming ranks.  Pincay came back to ride him at around the 32 claiming level.  He roared from behind and the crowd cheered the mighty gray.  Owned, and, finally trained by Frank Rappa.  Yeah, it brought quite a flow of tears to see that mighty campaigner standing there that day.  I cried as I said, "Old guy, you beat me out of a ten to one, but, you made Craig Phillips' day for hitting that 1.9 million multiple pick".  He just kept on munching as if to say, "All in a day's work; all in a day's work".

30 Jun 2009 9:35 AM

Bedonin was owned by Elmendorf and trained by Mandella during his Road to the Roses days.  That maHvelous Portland based Stumptown Coffee had not kicked in.

30 Jun 2009 10:04 AM
Soldier Course


A Huevo was euthanized at the age of nine after breaking down in the West Virginia Breeders' Classic Stakes.

30 Jun 2009 10:07 AM
Soldier Course


Re your question about the Da Hoss - Kona Gold video:

The arena in the video is at the Breeds Barn, down the path from the Hall of Champions.

This arena is where the "Parade of Breeds" show is presented. Sometimes Thoroughbreds are a featured breed in this show, and when that happens a couple of the guys from the Hall of Champions are brought down to the larger arena.

30 Jun 2009 10:16 AM
Soldier Course


The date when A Huevo was euthanized was October 8, 2005.

30 Jun 2009 10:34 AM
Greg J.

Freetex and Bill,

    Bill, You are right, "John's Call" is enjoying the retired life!, He was in Nashville for a short time, But now He is in Maryland at Tom Moss Farm.  He is their Stable Pony!  A great quote from Mr. Voss regarding "John's Call" from 2001(Borrowed from Satchel Paige), "How old would we be if we didn't know how old we were?", How true...

    Great News to hear, Here are a couple of article's I came across, The First one mentions him being the Stable Pony, The second one is just a great article on this Champion!



30 Jun 2009 12:19 PM
Greg J.

    Sorry, But I just can't get enough of these great stories and articles, Thanks for posting these, Mr. Haskin!, One more on "John's Call":


30 Jun 2009 12:21 PM

Thanks, Greg J., for the articles on John's Call.  What a great gelding he is! There is obviously something very compelling about aged horses rising to the occasion and knocking off the young guys.  Since I'm showing my age here I'll end now.  Thanks again!

30 Jun 2009 1:26 PM
Ted from LA

I think this sport desperately needs a match race.  I vote Arlington Park, three weeks from Saturday, one mile, Jason Shandler vs. Steve Haskins.  This would give the sport the attention it so badly needs.

30 Jun 2009 2:17 PM

Steve you always take us to the very heart of why we love these beautiful creatures.  They (and you) bring out depths of emotion that most people don't like to acknowledge they even possess.  Could you find out something for me?  A horse on the undercard at Belmont on Sat. was injured and taken off the track in the ambulance (Cape Marco is his name, I believe) He was just beserk at the gate and they were barely able to get him loaded.  He came up injured at the end of the race.  Do you know how he is?  My daughter and I are worried about him.

30 Jun 2009 2:34 PM
Scottish Racing

Great article Steve. MD was before my time in racing but his record here in the UK was outrageous. Proabably one of the few mistakes Robert Sangster made was getting rid of him so quickly.

30 Jun 2009 2:41 PM
Soldier Course

Ted from LA:

Hoo boy! Call Mr. D. Tell him to write The Great Shanaskin Match Race.

Can you buy an exacta box for a match race?

30 Jun 2009 2:53 PM
Karen in Texas

Ted from LA---That's actually too funny! Maybe the BH staff could all race for a charity?

30 Jun 2009 3:27 PM
Ted from LA

Great idea Karen.  And naturally they will have to carry jockeys.  If they do it for cancer research I can assure you Arlington would host the event.  We might have to shorten the distance.  1/4 mile seems more realistic.  Post position draw and breaking from the gate is a must.  Arlington Million Day.

30 Jun 2009 4:02 PM
Ted from LA

And those jockeys better not spare the whip... especially on Shandler for all his censorship.  

30 Jun 2009 4:07 PM
Steve Haskin

Terri, thanks for the kind words. Sadly, Cape Marco had to be euthanized. That always takes away from a great day.

Rita, I hope you feel better soon and can make it to Kentucky. If you ever do and need any help getting into the big farms, please let me know and I'll try to arrange it for you.

30 Jun 2009 4:19 PM
Soldier Course

Ted from LA:

There'll be T-shirts:

"Forget Hay, Oats, and Water. Powered by Hot Air!"

30 Jun 2009 4:25 PM
Karen in Texas

Ted from LA---I'm almost serious--I was thinking more along the lines of laminitis research or a thoroughbred retirement fund. Money could be pledged to the entrants per yard/meter run.(You know how they do Jump Rope for Heart in the public schools?) We bloggers would "sponsor" our chosen BH staffer(s). It would be fun! Steve is probably beginning to regret having allowed this particular conversation!

30 Jun 2009 4:37 PM

Thank you for the info, Steve.  It does put a shadow over an otherwise perfect day.  So sad!  We were concerned as we watched them try to load him.  There was another horse that put up a fight at the gate and they scratched him right then.  Do you think that an extreme problem at the gate is a sort of sign (for lack of another term) that something is wrong?

30 Jun 2009 4:45 PM

Thank you so much Greg J for the info on Johns Call.  And you too, Bill.  I also loved watching him race.

To Soldier Course:  Thank you for the information on Lexington.

Steve, your the best. I just watched the video on DaHoss (Bloodhorse) and it was great.  

30 Jun 2009 6:25 PM
Ted from LA

I'm betting on Steve all the way.

30 Jun 2009 6:50 PM

I'm sorry about your choice, Ted from LA, but you'd have to consider weight for age....or is it weight AND age?

30 Jun 2009 7:25 PM
Karen in Texas

I had to stop myself from some sort of "weight for age" quip earlier this afternoon!

Steve, if you were really inclined to have a little Bloodhorse Blog Stable Sprint at a track of your choosing, I bet we posters would pledge per meter to an equine charity. How many of us on these blogs have talked about the need for permanent homes for retired racehorses? How many times have we expressed our thanks for this forum? We could use it to raise a little contribution money, couldn't we?

30 Jun 2009 8:08 PM

Thank you Robin for all your prayers I need them.I've been putting me off because of my sister who is 13 years older than me. She got sick last August and is alot better now but still has a few issues like the skin cancer that has come back on her shoulder it is to be removed this coming month.I have knee problems both have to be replaced or I'll be in a wheelchair doctors have told me this.Also 3 degenerating disc in my back. So I want to get my knees fixed so I can at least walk around when I make the trip.This is the only thing in life I want to do. So thanks again

30 Jun 2009 8:18 PM
Ted from LA

I'm in.  For those of you worrying about weight and age the race will be handicapped.  Steve will be carrying a 5 year-old girl and Jason Mr. T.

30 Jun 2009 8:20 PM

Soldier Course Lexington is exactly where I want to start from since everything seems to be close.Thank you for all the info I've been reading up on alot of the places since about 2003.Since 2002 I've read more books than in all of my life and their all about horses. I can't get enough of them.I really thank you for your thoughtfulness and your feelings. I plan to beat my problems and hopefully head out of here again thanks.

30 Jun 2009 8:40 PM

Steve thank you  for your well wishes and your offer to help.Might take you up on it one day but hope I want have to bother you. That's one big problem I don't know how to go about arranging a trip to cover all I want to see since I'll only have a week. I thought 5 farms 1 a day,Horse Park 1 day and old Friends 1 day. Maybe it will work out. Thanks again Rita

30 Jun 2009 8:53 PM
Soldier Course


You can have a great visit in the Lexington area with 5 days.

1. You can easily visit 3 or 4 farms a day as an independent visitor if you cluster them wisely. For ex., Three Chimneys, Hopewell, Darley, and Mill Ridge around Lexington. Or Claiborne, Adena Springs, and Castleton Lyons in the Paris area.

2. You can do Old Friends and the Kentucky Horse Park in the same day. Old Friends in the am, lunch at Sam's Truck Stop, and KHP in the pm.

3. I like to do the organized horse farm tour bus trip on either the first or last day of my trip, because these are the days that you need to relax the most.

4. Here's another good day's itinerary: Keeneland in the earky am, Ashford Stud around noon, lunch in Midway, Woodford Reserve Distillery in the pm.

5. I always stay near The Mall at Lexington Green, so that I am only five minutes from the Joseph-Beth Booksellers and Artique Jewelry and Gifts. I have all my dinners at the Bistro in the bookstore. Lexington's not a big restaurant destination, so no need for big bucks dining.

6. Sunday early am breakfast at Keeneland Track Kitchen, early service at Pisgah Presbyterian Church (casual attire), drive out to Hill 'N' Dale Farm to see burial site of Seattle Slew (call ahead to let them know you're coming).

Hope this helps. I enjoyed this vicarious trip.

30 Jun 2009 10:19 PM

OK, Ted from La, we're on. Only problem: do you take Canadian dollars at par?  

And Jason: you better be doing some gym work!

30 Jun 2009 11:47 PM
Ted from LA

Do it Rita.  Life's short.  I've known a few people who had double knee replacement and they all were VERY happy they did.  Warmest regards to you.

01 Jul 2009 9:35 AM
Soldier Course


Follow your doctor's advice, so that you can follow your dream.

You have a wonderful goal now - your trip to Kentucky. This goal will give you not only the motivation to get underway with your surgery, but also the determination to get through rehabilitation and recovery.

We're all pulling for you, Rita.  

01 Jul 2009 10:30 AM

Everyone thanks for your great advice and info that I'm writing down so I can check on later. I love this blog everyone just seems so warm and caring. Just wonderful!

01 Jul 2009 6:17 PM

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