The Invisible Horse

What an array of stakes and talent we saw this weekend. When you have the winners of all three Triple Crown races, and the Dubai World Cup, and the Breeders' Cup Mile and Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, and the Florida and Arkansas Derby winners, and the Beldame winner, not to mention one of the greatest fillies of all time, you know you're in for a special weekend of racing.

The Remarkable Rachel will be discussed in our Countdown to the Cup column this week. But there was one horse who ran last weekend who will receive little attention, and understandably so, as he could finish no better than fourth in a grade II turf stakes. But if you can look beyond the brilliance and true greatness of Rachel Alexandra and focus on a horse who tries hard every race, then you might want to pay closer attention to a 7-year-old horse, yes horse, named Cosmonaut, despite his fourth-place finish in the Fourstardave at Saratoga Saturday.

Horses like Cosmonaut often go overlooked, because their record is not that of a champion, and their victories do not come with great frequency. These are the blue-collar horses who go out race after race and run their heart out. They don't win consistently enough to be Eclipse contenders or possess the brilliance of the sport's major stars, but they quietly build up an impressive record over the years, with each victory and placing coming from the gut.

Their past performance lines are not scrutinized over, so their accomplishments normally go overlooked. One might look at Cosmonaut's record and ask, "How did this horse manage to earn almost $1.4 million?

Well, here's how he did it. Since being put on the grass for good by trainer Phil Serpe in July 2006, he's run 22 consecutive races without finishing worse than fifth. In 18 of them, he finished fourth or better. Of those 22 races, 19 were graded stakes and two were listed stakes. In all, he's started 29 times on the grass and has never finished worse than fifth, meaning he's brought back a check every time he's run. Considering how often horses get in serious trouble on the grass that is a remarkable record of consistency.

And he did it at 12 different racetracks in eight states from coast to coast, ridden by nine different jockeys, while undergoing seven trainer changes. He has finished in the money in stakes on firm, good, yielding, and soft courses.

To demonstrate further how tough and consistent he's been, he won the grade III Fort Marcy Stakes over a good course at Belmont, the grade III Arlington Handicap over a good course at Arlington, another Arlington Handicap over a soft course, the Tampa Bay Stakes over a soft course at Tampa Bay, an allowance race over a firm course at Keeneland, and he even won the grade III Golden Gate Fields Handicap off the turf on a good dirt track at Golden Gate.

He was second, beaten a neck, in the grade I Shadwell Turf Mile over a firm course at Keeneland; third, beaten only two lengths, in the grade I Breeders' Cup Mile over a soft course at Monmouth Park; second in yet another Arlington Handicap over a soft course; third, beaten 1 1/4 lengths, in a fourth Arlington Handicap; second, beaten three-quarters of a length, in the grade II Dixie Stakes over a firm course at Pimlico; and second, beaten a half-length, in the grade III River City Handicap at River Downs.

He was beaten three-quarters of a length in the grade I Manhattan Handicap, 2 1/2 lengths in the grade I Arlington Million, 4 1/4 lengths in the grade I Man o'War, 2 3/4 lengths in the grade I Citation Handicap, three lengths in the grade I Maker's Mark Mile; two lengths in another Shadwell Turf Mile, and 2 1/2 lengths in the grade II Bernard Baruch Handicap.

He's earned a triple-digit Beyer figure 17 times. Among the major stakes horses who have beaten him are Kip Deville (by two lengths and three lengths), The Tin Man (by 2 1/2 lengths), Better Talk Now (by three-quarters of a length), Thorn Song (by a half-length), Gio Ponti (by 4 3/4 lengths), Ashkal Way (by 2 3/4 lengths) and Purim (by a neck). And he was two lengths behind Einstein in the Maker's Mark Mile. In summation, despite the stiff competition he's faced race after race, he has been in every race, his worst defeat being six lengths in the grade I Hollywood Turf Cup. He has also defeated top-class horses such as Go Between, Artiste Royal, and Tam Lin, just to name a few.

In the Fourstardave, in which he was beaten 3 3/4 lengths, he ran hard every step of the way and simply was outrun by faster, much younger horses. He's not a horse you tend to notice, but it's time we recognize horses like Cosmonaut and appreciate all they give of themselves race after race.


Leave a Comment:



03 Aug 2009 12:28 PM

I watched Cosmonaut run and enjoyed the have a way of bringing a person out of the stars.. back to the reaility of horse racing...this is truly a remarkable story about

"what horse racing is all about"..

I love Rachel Alexandra and you made me forget her while I read your story...

03 Aug 2009 12:46 PM

What do you think of Kip Deville's recent race record? He seems to be moving in the direction of a horse like Cosmonaut- consistent, but not often a winner. What's going on with him?

03 Aug 2009 12:48 PM


03 Aug 2009 12:53 PM
sweet terchi

Invisible horses are the backbone of horseracing,IMO. Too bad there isn't a universal PR dept to laud the accomplishments of these horses.

03 Aug 2009 12:59 PM
Soldier Course


Thank you for this beautiful tribute.

Most of us are like Cosmonaut in this life, if we are lucky. We "quietly build up an impressive record over the years, with each victory and placing coming from the gut".

My father passed away recently. He accomplished a lot but never called attention to himself. He taught me the value of a life lived in quiet dignity. This article brought my father to mind.  

03 Aug 2009 1:02 PM
Blue Blue Sea

Thanks for putting the spotlight on Cosmonaut. I've always liked this horse.

03 Aug 2009 1:08 PM
Brian A.

I was at Belmont this May on Derby Day to see him win.  I've thought the same thing for awhile but had no idea how amazingly consistent this guys been!

03 Aug 2009 1:08 PM

Cosmonaut must be a joy to race for his owners and trainers. Everyone wants a horse with heart for the game and Cosmonaut's heart fills his chest.

03 Aug 2009 1:11 PM
Karen in Indiana

What impressed me the most about Justenuffhumor's win was not that he beat Kip DeVille, but that he beat Cosmonaut.

03 Aug 2009 1:15 PM

That's why I still love MtB. He's not really in the category, but almost, with the praise being heaped upon Rachel, and finishing third at a little-known track at a minor GII "prep" for the Travers. He skips along and does what he's told.

I want him to go to the Travers and beat Rachel. I don't want HER to go to the Woodward. She's amazing, I have to eat my words, she's gorgeous, athletic, is saving racing in her own way...but I still want a rematch!

03 Aug 2009 1:27 PM

 Thank you for a wonderful article. Nice to see an honest horse with heart recognized.  He may not be brilliant but he is obviously a good horse and he is SOUND at seven...I'd say that is worth a great deal.  I wish more people would value that and not the horses who run brilliantly at two and for a few races at three and are then retired, sometimes displaying unsoundnesses that may well be passed down to their offspring.  

03 Aug 2009 1:30 PM

Thank you for article! Many people always focus on just the winners all the time and not the hardknocking runners who try out and out every time they race!

03 Aug 2009 1:36 PM

EXACTLY!!  You said that so perfectly and it needs to be said.  Superstars are grand, glorious and breathtaking - and rare.  But horses like Cosmonaut are the heartbeat of racing.  I was trying to say something like that about Mine That Bird on the other blog.  This says what I tried to say (very poorly but sincerely).  A horse who gives you all his heart every time is a quiet treasure.

03 Aug 2009 1:44 PM

sounds like every owners dream. love horses like this they have the biggest hearts ever. kinda sounds like Mine that Bird. I just thought that i would mention that since many people are being really mean to MTB because he's not winning. Cosmonaut and MTB both true blue good guys. Very much like you Steve.

03 Aug 2009 1:47 PM

One of my favorite all time hardknockers was Red Scamper.  He first came to my attention because Red Scamper was ... a very light gray.  He raced for 9 years on the New York circuit, starting 112 times and finishing in the top 3 61 times. Running in mostly claiming company, after trying a few stakes races as a 2 year old, he had earned over $445,000 before he was retired at age 11.  He was retired to stud.  He is still standing at stud in Massachusetts. His bookings are pretty small, the Jockey Club only shows him being bred to 3 mares in 2008.  (One of his sons, Silent Scamper, won the 2006 Massachusetts Stallion Stakes.) Still, after 9 years on the track and over 100 races, the game old guy deserves his reward.  If nothing else, soundness should not be a problem in his get.

03 Aug 2009 2:37 PM
Paula Higgins

Steve, I think I love you. You write the moste eloquent pieces going. Thank you for highlighting these wonderful horses who aren't shooting stars but instead little rays of sunlight.

Lucy, you are dead right. They have the genes that keep them sound over a long period of time. Reminiscent of how it used to be.

Soldier Course, your comment about your father was perceptive, heart warming and showed a ton of character. It's what life is about and you get it. What agreat analogy to these horses.

03 Aug 2009 2:40 PM

I've been following Cosmonaut for years. I was hoping for a top 3 finish, but I always check on his races. How can you not love him? He's out a Capote mare, which makes him a 'slew' to me, and he has the most beautiful coloring. All dark with a few lighter dapples on the face & the gray streaked tail.

03 Aug 2009 2:42 PM
Pam Graham

I thought I was out of tears after the happy ones spent on Rachel's beautiful move this weekend.

But I guess I was wrong.  It was wonderful of you to do this.  And your timing was perfect.


03 Aug 2009 2:42 PM

Media brings these accomplished horses to light. Stories like those you share, Steve, are like an oral tradition. Stories keep them alive.

Are there awards for these horses? Is a Commentator a candidate for HOTY based on longevity and cumulative win/placings to starts ratio?

The flashy celebrities bring on the spotlights, but everyone can benefit--if the stories are told.

Good job again.

03 Aug 2009 2:51 PM

Your article totally captures my feelings about a lot of horses I have became a big fan of. They are OLDER and STILL running. Don't get me wrong, I love Rachel and am a big fan of Quality Road, but I always have a special feeling when I see a horse like Brass Hat or Cosmonaut or even Einstein running. I think it helps the sport, in this trying time with all the highly publicized breakdowns the last few years, to show that a horse can be kept sound and still love to run.

03 Aug 2009 3:34 PM
Cosmonaut Fan

Love the comments on Cosmonaut.  Not enough can be said about the older horses who show up and run their hearts out everytime. I hope you will continue to write  articles on our "older" athletes. Lest we forget. May God bless'em.

03 Aug 2009 4:09 PM

It's great to see Cosmonaut get his due.  Thanks!  I show up for every race he is in, love to watch him, and always hope he hits the board (actually I hope he wins!)  Keep him running.  He looks like he loves it and it preserves the balance in this sport.  I think he is more in the hearts and minds of the fans than one might think.

03 Aug 2009 4:11 PM

forgot to say that I was hopeful,wishing that Cosmonaut would win that race but, twas not in the stars that day....

everyone loves a winner... but please.. dont blame Rachel... because she is above the rest in her abilities .....she's just a young.. little girl...remember.....

Mine that Bird supprised me.. I thought he would win...Summerbird I knew he would not win.....

so be it...

03 Aug 2009 4:24 PM

Soldier Course:::: yes, what your saying defines most all folks...thank you ...

03 Aug 2009 4:33 PM

I always wish I knew the back story on why some owners keep their horses running when most other owners would have retired them. I think it's great that they do run them on, but Cosmonaut isn't badly bred, so it makes it somewhat suprising that he is still on the track. Almost as surprising as the fact that Champs Elysee is still running and not in the breeding shed.

I've gotten so used to seeing every decent colt getting retired at three or four at the latest, that when I see one running at five, six or seven I automatically assume that it's

A- really badly bred, or

B - there's something wrong with it reproductively. Sad.

03 Aug 2009 4:36 PM

May I also say, "thanks Steve!" I always look forward to reading your columns because you talk about "the horses." I especially liked the one about Damascus because I am a admirer of Frank Whitely. I spent my life on the racetrack and my one regret is I never worked for or even met this guy. He was something! Shoemaker told me he was the best trainer he ever rode for.

03 Aug 2009 4:59 PM

I have been a fan of Cosmo's since minute one, Steve....thanks for catching everyone else up! :-)

03 Aug 2009 5:06 PM

And Pyro was forgotten too! He ran his first race of the year under the colors of Goldolphin Stables and finished second. No news coverage on his return at all. He deserves better and had a big fan base for a while.

03 Aug 2009 5:12 PM

These everyready diehards are the lifeblood of the industry.  Their

character and personality shows through in their racing style and I am so glad you gave recognition -

it is truely deserved.

03 Aug 2009 5:26 PM

Couldn' agree more, horses like Cosmonaut deserve much more press.  Most of the general public thinks they all stop racing at three or four.  Love his dark, dark dappled gray color.

03 Aug 2009 5:50 PM

Bravo! You are so right in saying we are so easily dazzled by the latest, greatest, hottest, newest stars who shine on the track for a short period of time and there is not as much appreciation of these working horses like Cosmonaut.  Our tv decided to crash yesterday, so I wasn't able to watch the race other than the bumpy replay on this site, but yes, Cosmonaut was working hard every step of the way - what a horse!  Thank you so very much for telling his story with such eloquence - he is a gem and his connections are to be commended also for keeping him going.  These are the true stars of the sport.

03 Aug 2009 6:07 PM
Judy B

Thanks for recognizing an old hard knocker-they are the heart and soul of our sport!

03 Aug 2009 6:28 PM
Pat in Florida

Thanks, Steve.  When I saw Cosmonaut entered in the FourstarDave, I was rooting for him.  He's as honest as they come and a wonderful horse.  I hope he stays sound and is retired to a place like Old Friends.  He deserves it.

03 Aug 2009 6:29 PM

Yes!  I was so excited to see your article about Cosmo!  I follow his races and root for him every time.  I didn't know, of course, all of the brilliant details you bring out.  I just know that he's an older horse who always runs game, and those are my favorite horses.  

I'd love to see a feature about less "famous" horses too, those hard knockers who have run 60, 70 times, be it in the claiming or allowance ranks. These guys deserve their kudos too!

03 Aug 2009 6:58 PM

You know what else, I wish we had a Breeders Cup race just for the "veterans".  Oh I know, there are probably too many BC races now as is, but wouldn't it be charming to have a race for 7 year olds and up??

03 Aug 2009 7:02 PM
Ida Lee

I like Cosmo too.  Thanks for your article. I do have a soft place in my heart for the older guys, Commentator, Einstein, Better Talk Now. I'm starting to worry about Kip Deville. Maybe it's time to retire this beautiful boy. I adore him and I can't stand to see him in the back of the pack. And I also like Magnum very much and he's been losing pretty badly lately. Maybe, he should be retired too. I'll miss him but I don't want him humiliated. Right now, Queen Rachel is soaking up all the oxygen in the racing world. She's just so spectacularly beautiful and such an incredible athlete, and what a show she puts on, that it's hard to see the other great athletes out there. Please keep writing about them. They don't deserve to be lost in what has become Rachel's world.

03 Aug 2009 7:28 PM

You bet Steve, Cosmonaut is an incredible horse. You also mentioned another great horse in Better Talk Now!!!!

03 Aug 2009 7:47 PM

Great article!

I love the older horses as well, but I admit I worry about them.  I enjoyed reading and learning about Cosmonaut.  More, please, Steve.

03 Aug 2009 8:04 PM
Greg J.

      Mr. Haskin, Thank You, Horses like "Cosmonaut" are often lost in the shuffle and don't get the attention they so rightly deserve. Thanks for showing him the respect he has earned, A hard working consistent race horse.  Like you said about "Lawyer Ron"...

"Cosmonaut" loves to run....

03 Aug 2009 8:15 PM

Oops--that's not too good of me. I meant to type Cosmonaut earlier. Are there any awards given to recognize horses like Cosmonaut? Are they ever considered for champions or other awards?

And if not, what would it take to put them in place?

03 Aug 2009 8:41 PM
Antonius Pius

Cosmo a good olde chap sometimes we forget they are special too

03 Aug 2009 8:54 PM
Lynne Veitch

Thanks, Steve.  One who gave everything in spite of the worst management possible on major circuits was beloved Papi Chullo.  Like Cosmanaut, this one became a crowd favorite everywhere he went. I know he was mentioned by you on Jason Shandler's blog some time back.  I hope Cosmonaut will fare better as time goes on.  Papi did not, being asked for more endlessly until he had no more to give.  So many people wanted to help him but the greedy people just wanted one more dollar out of him with no respect for his big hearted efforts.  Now he has died at an obscure farm in Jamaica, W.I. rather than being given a home at Old Friends as Michael Blowen had offered.  Fortunately this won't happen to Rachel.  As for Mine That Bird, Kip Deville, & many more like them, it is a matter of into whose hands they fall.  Lynne V.

03 Aug 2009 9:04 PM
Abbie Knowles

Thanks so much Steve for doing an article on another beloved from Seattle Slew's dynasty!  The gallant Cosmonaut!

Pyro would have won had he not fought with JV for much of the race.  He is clearly no easy ride so I do hope Robbie Alborado or Shaun Bridgmohan (when he is back riding) are entrusted with this great but quirky horse by GODOLPHIN!

God bless all true horse lovers nd racing fans

kindest regards


03 Aug 2009 9:13 PM

Thank you for the beautiful article on Cosmonaut.  I've been at Arlington the past two years on Million Preview Day, and have LOVED watching him do his thing there.  What a beautiful horse (who always seems to be the picture of composure and professionalism in the paddock too!).

03 Aug 2009 9:15 PM
Steve Haskin

You can bet Better Talk Now will be another subject at a later date.

03 Aug 2009 9:21 PM
Virgil Wolfe

I also would love to see horses like Cosmonaut and all the others mentioned get more press and attention.  They earn our respect and admiration with their heart and their athleticism and durablility.  They bring the excitement the moment to every race they're in. I'd take that anyday over a three year old we never hear from again.  Thanks, Steve, for the story and everyone else for your comments.

03 Aug 2009 9:33 PM

Mr. Haskin,

Thank you for another beautiful article. You are a true horseracing fan, you appreciate all horses, not just the superstar of the year. If it wasn't for these tough warriors there would be very little or no horseracing. Thank you for putting into words what most of us think:

Give us good horses who come back year after year! Give us horses that we are like old friends who give it their best shot, even if it is not always, a winning one!

03 Aug 2009 9:38 PM

You are just wonderful with words. Cosmo is just a wonderful horse I have always liked to watch and root for. To often people today forget these true blue collar runners that give all their heart every time they run for the latest hotshot.  RA looks to be a great one and QR looks to reestablish himself as major 3yo theat but its the Cosmo's, Better Talk Now's, Commentator's and Brass Hats that drive the sport.  I agree with the person above about the other blog being mean to MTB. I see him as very good horse that brings his game every time but may not win as often as other stars. People calling him a fluke and not deserving are so dead wrong.  Being a gelding we should see him for many years to come and unlike some have said I think he'll win many more races as long as he stays sound.

03 Aug 2009 9:47 PM

If I owned a broodmare and wanted to get a foal to keep and race, Cosmonaut is the type of stallion I'd want to breed her to: sound, consistent, never gives up. Thanks for another great story!

03 Aug 2009 10:18 PM
A Pinch of Luck

It's horses like this that you hope don't trickle down the ranks and end up forgotten.  I retrain and rehome these guys and ones like this are truly the ones you want to find homes for.  I am a lifetime fan of racing who also makes a living from it... but not from winners.  My winners come in their next careers.  I hope someone remembers Cosmonaut when he's through!!!!!  I'd be honored to have him in my stable!!

03 Aug 2009 10:22 PM
Driftin Sage

Good article!  It's so nice to read all of your articles and especially the blogs.  There is another blog that just stays stirred up all the time with the bloggers continually arguing with each other.  Geeez!

This is heart warming!

03 Aug 2009 11:02 PM

This reminded me of a poignant moment I witnessed at Hollywood Park.  No, I wasn't watching the winner's circle where Greinton and Charlie stood, but, from the infield, I saw the tenderness and love shown by Chris McCarron to Precisionist who had just lost by inches.  Now, Chris had ridden many of the 20 victories by Precisionist.  He once said, that of all the horses he had ridden, Precisionist had given him 100% 100% of the time.  That day, with higher weights, they had dueled Greinton nostril to nostril.  Both had dug in and wouldn't give an inch.  But, at the wire, Greinton prevailed by the narrowest of margins.  I watched Chris when he pulled up in the back stretch.  They stopped and Chris leaned over his withers and caressed the great steed.  It appeared he was talking softly to him.  I would like to think he was saying "You gave it your all, Big Guy, you gave it your all."  Chris sat quietly for a long time aboard him, then, they softly galloped back to the dismount.  There was an incredible bond between those two, that day, and from what Chris said upon the death of Precisionist, it was a timeless bond.

Precisionist won 20 out of 46 races, came in 2nd twice, and 3rd four times.  Earning well over 3 million for Hooper, he won not only the 6F BC Sprint in 1:08.2, but, set two mile records, one at HP and the other at DM.  In the Swaps, he ran 1:59.4, while he won a stakes at about a mile and quarter at DM running away.  That day, I saw him standing outside his barn almost an hour after the race.  He looked as though he could have gone around again with ease.

But, it was that precious moment which will remain etched in my mind.  Two champions - Precisionist and McCarron.

03 Aug 2009 11:25 PM
Tom Zabinski

I have seen Cosmonaut run and I don't think there's any question he always tries hard. He must be a very laid back horse to train and be around or he probably would have been retired or gelded.

He probably is the kind of horse all owners and trainers dream about, in that he most always earns a paycheck. When you consider the cost of keeping a horse in training about $30,000 a year, a horse like this is very special.

I hope he runs a few more seasons, and that when it is time to retire him,  the owner and trainer do right by him and give him a great retirement. Because he is a horse, just think of the trait of the will to win and be competitive, that he could pass along to his offspring.

You're a great competitor Cosmonaut. I wish I owned you. You would always be a winner to me in every race.

04 Aug 2009 12:02 AM
Soldier Course

Paula Higgins:

Thank you for your kind words, so much appreciated at this time.

04 Aug 2009 12:24 AM

hi! Steve you hit the ball out the park good comment about cosmonaut,

04 Aug 2009 1:56 AM

I must have seen Cosmonaut run in person a handful of times here in the Midwest. Since I typically only travel from my Ann Arbor residence to see elite races, I haven't seen Cosmonaut win in person, but like Steve wrote, he has always run credibly. His 3rd in the 07' Breeders Cup Mile(turf) was definitely the best I have seen him run. His gray/silver color makes him standout, and he such exciting, unbridled early spead.

I was unaware until reading this piece just how consistent Cosmonaut has been. The fact he has never finished worse than 5th in 29 turf races testifies to his quality and heart.  

04 Aug 2009 4:50 AM


Having become interested in racing in 1989, Precisionist and Greinton were before my time. But in my research, I have concluded that their rivalry just may be the most underrated in history.  From looking at Precisonist's past performances, it looks like they met 8 times over a 15 month period between January 1985 and April 1986. In 7 of these 8 meeting they ran 1-2, with each winning 4 races.  What is more,  Precisionist and Greinton ran extremely fast in these 8 races, with the winner recording times of 1:47 and 2 (Precisonist), 2:00 and 1 (Precisionist), 1:47(Greinton), 1:32 and 4 (Precisionist), 1:32 and 3 (Greinton), 1:58 and 2 (Greinton), 2:00 (Greinton), and 1:47 and 3 (Precisionist).

Fortunately, Precisionist's exploits finally landed him a spot in the Hall of Fame. However, Greinton largely remains an "invisible horse", even though he defeated Precisonist 4 times, won 3 grade 1 races(including the Hollywood Gold Cup and Santa Anita Handicap), and was grade 1 placed on turf(2nd in the 85' Arlington Million).  

04 Aug 2009 5:07 AM
Abbie Knowles

Precisionist and Chris McCarron were certainly two of the greats!  Wonderful article and blogs on here.  Good to read about what real racing fans think!

Many thanks

God Bless you all

Best wishes


04 Aug 2009 5:56 AM

Steve, amen. I try to always keep these guys in my heart, the "factory workers" who try so hard but don't have the talent to excel. (Their odds pay the same at the window, though)

Like Mi Rey, who lived and died his whole young life on the track, at 8, just when most horses begin their careers in other major disciplines.

04 Aug 2009 6:43 AM

It looks to me and maybe some of you will agree with me that Mind That Bird runs just as good if he runs every 4 weeks or less than if he runs with more time off in between races.I love them all, but this little fella has a heart and determination and manages to come in the money everytime.

04 Aug 2009 8:12 AM
Lynne Veitch

I agree with you, Joe.  I just hope he will be properly provided for if/when he begins to fade.  If, because he's a gelding, he should be sold off, filtered down the ranks, & used until he's ruined, then something is very wrong with racing.  Being a Ky. Derby winner, he'll receive some protection, but what of all the others, who don't have that protection.  Even stallions  & fillies/mares who have given everything but do not have grand pedigrees are not safe.  Once again, Papi Chullo comes to mind.  You seem to love MTB whether he wins or loses.  Good for you.  Same goes for the Cosmonaut admirers.  They know how hard these horses try.  Lynne

04 Aug 2009 8:55 AM

It is always good to read about the horses that consistantly show up each race, even if they dont always win. You hear how wonderful and perfect the horse of the moment is(cough,cough Rachel), but the unsung heros that are knocking around the tracks and still hitting the boards long after the pampered princes and princesses are gone are the real deal.

Ah, the Tin Man was mentioned...I miss him!

04 Aug 2009 8:56 AM

My comments about Precisionist were not meant to overshadow the performances of Cosmonaut, it was a combination of the human side brought out so well, above, by Soldier Course and gallant running by horses who did not end up in the winner's circle.

Gun Bow, you won't find it, but, in those Greinton-Precisionist duels, it was Charlie who, always, played the Racing Secretaries to give Greinton a weight break.  Then, he would tell reporters, at a later date, how little weight mattered (except for the week before any big race for any of his steeds).

Another hard running horse before your time was Flying Paster, who had the misfortune of running in the same duels with the Bid. Always second, but, a fierce competitor.

04 Aug 2009 10:10 AM

Berttheclock - your post about Precisionist and McCarron made me cry because it's the love of the horse that keeps me watching. It's so rewarding to learn when  the people actually involved with the horses really do care about them.

04 Aug 2009 10:26 AM

Steve, I cannot wait for your homage to Better Talk Now as I know you will be able to give us more inside information on the incredible Blackie.  Is there any possibility that Bloodhorse will ever make reprints of your bloggings available?  There are often stories that I'd like to print out and save, but when all the comments add on, which are also valuable, it's just that my printer can't take it - lol!

04 Aug 2009 10:30 AM

Steve - I have to give credit to my dad for this one...if you want to settle the score between Zenyatta and Rachel, have a two race series between them (and possibly a 3rd race as a tie-breaker); 1 each at the location and surface of each camp's choosing. Perhaps Zenyatta heads east for the Alabama later this month at Saratoga for Rachel's camp and Rachel heads west for the BC Distaff (I'm old school!)for the Mosses and Zenyatta. The Clark at CD could be used as the tie-breaker if the series is tied at 1 heat apiece. Steve - What do you think?

04 Aug 2009 11:04 AM

This is actually a comment on your other column (I couldn't find a place to comment there), but I was just wondering: does Quality Road get credit for the six furlong record also, or only the six and a half furlong record?

04 Aug 2009 12:25 PM
Karen in Texas

Thanks for another story that gets to the substance and heart of racing through a current performer like Cosmonaut. He is certainly no longer invisible to those of us who read your insightful words!

Lynne Veitch---I share your sadness for Papi Chullo. It is difficult to predict what will happen to some of today's racing geldings, but I feel reasonably sure that Mine That Bird has a secure future. One of his owners is an equine vet with a ranch and breeding facility, and the other is a rancher as well. My guess is that MTB will retire to the life of a little king in his own back yard when his racing days are finished. They will cherish his place in history and treat him accordingly.

04 Aug 2009 12:42 PM

Steve, I just read  your article, "Countdown to the Cup".  The way you analyzed each race of the weekend, especially the West Virginia Derby was so literal and just made sense.  You have my deepest appreciation for the integrity you bring to racing.  Thank you so much.

04 Aug 2009 1:33 PM

Steve, Great blog, as usual. And I, like txhorsefan, am eagerly awaiting your homage to Better Talk Now. I adore him.

Berttheclock...Great post about P & CM. It brought a tear to my eye.

Sodfather...The Alabama is for 3 y/o fillies, Zenya is 5. Perhaps the Beldame for your scenario.

04 Aug 2009 1:37 PM



04 Aug 2009 3:01 PM
Mike Relva


Did you receive my email a couple weeks ago regarding a particular subject matter?

04 Aug 2009 3:02 PM

Hats off to ya Steve.  I'm a big fan of Cosmonaut and love Better Talk Now to peices.  As I tell everyone (that'll listen that is), Belmont Park will never be the same fo me when BTN retires.  These are the stories the general public needs to hear more of..these are the horses that build the fan base at local tracks and in the local media.

04 Aug 2009 4:13 PM

Without these horses, we wouldn't have the superstars. These horses are the clearly the life blood of this industry. I truly love every one of them.  I was not dissapointed in MTB at all. He ran his heart out. He was given 11 pounds more and still was only beaten by a small margin. I would like to see RA run with equal weight as the boys. Thank you Steve, for simply being you. I am in awe of your knowledge and genuine love for these horses.

04 Aug 2009 4:21 PM

I know this is the wrong place to post this question, but where is I WANT REVENGE? Have heard nothing about him. Is he going to come back or is he retired?

04 Aug 2009 4:24 PM

I feel very lucky to be able to read the words of such a great writer as Steve Haskin.  He's a genius with words!

04 Aug 2009 4:30 PM

Interesting that Cosmonaut is inbred 3X3 to Seattle Slew.  Guess he's one example that close inbreeding doesn't necessarily mean unsoundness!

04 Aug 2009 4:47 PM
Steve Haskin

Only a final time can be considered a track record.

Please, if you have comments about Rachel and Zenyatta, Jason has another blog where that is the topic.

Mike, I don't know what the particular subject matter is you're referring to. Refresh my memory and I'll let you know if I've received it.

04 Aug 2009 5:03 PM

Another beautiful piece of writing!  Thank you Mr. Haskin.

04 Aug 2009 5:42 PM
Steve Haskin

I can't tell you how happy I am to see this kind of response for a blog on Cosmonaut. I was afraid there would be little interest in a horse like this, but you people are great. Thank you for your interest and your kind words.

04 Aug 2009 6:47 PM
Tim G

Steve, love those horses like Cosmonaut keep on running and almost always in the mix.

Just seeing some pictures from back home, Louisville is under water. CD is a mess. Like I sent in a comment to Jason's blog (not sure if the storm hit Lexington, know it wasn't as severe), anyway, everyone please keep all the residents of Louisville in your thoughts and prayers. Lots up in Saratoga have their homes there and we're all worried.

04 Aug 2009 6:49 PM

Cosmonaut, Brass Hat, Better Talk Now-- I love all three of them and always root hard for them to do well-something about an older guy and the older horses? BTW Berttheclock--that was a tremendous response about the great Precisionist and Chris McCarron gave me goosebumps andteary eyes. Let's not forget the great Evening Attire also.

Back to Cosmonaut (this is his thread, right-lol) I was at Saratoga for the Fourstardave (wow-another old superhorse) and watched Cosmo all the way around as I figured he might have some kind of shot. You know he just runs his heart out-not wonder he has never been worse than 5th in all those graded stakes. Coming home it was obvious he was not gonna win but he sure didn't quit--hats off to you buddy-can't wait to see you run next time.

Years ago in Maryland and Delaware when I worked for the late great Dicky Dutrow we had a horse named Lexington Park that I'm sure nobody remembers. "Lex" ended up running about 150 times in his life. Another great story if I have more time.

Anyhow, as always Steve you are the best-these columns about the old horses bring back so many great memories for me. As someone else said I wish there was a way to copy them without all the responses. I love reading them but the one time I tried it took 32 pages.  

04 Aug 2009 7:39 PM
Linda in Texas

I agree with Ms. Veitch, when the time comes that he cannot race anymore, he deserves a paddock, a stall and some respect as he lives out his life. He is all heart and losing does not seem to dull his spirit. He is truly in it for the race. And again thank you Mr. Haskin.  

04 Aug 2009 7:50 PM
Abbie Knowles

Thanks for this Steve!  Great writing again.  Of course inbreeding to SEATTLE SLEW is ok.  But some inbreeding is not!

COSMONAUT rules ok!

04 Aug 2009 7:57 PM
Laurie K

Horses like Rachel are like caviar and champagne.  A wonderful treat, but can they really sustain you?  Horses like Cosmonaut are meat and potatoes runners -- not flashy, but there's something wholesome, and satisfying and stick-to-your ribs about the way they do what they do.  Wonderful horses like Cosmonaut, and Better Talk Now, and, in a few years, I hope, Mine That Bird, are the real sustenance for true race fans, IMO.  They are for me, at least.  

04 Aug 2009 11:00 PM

thank you steve so much for always bringing attention to those (horses and humans)that are so deserving but are sometimes just plain overlooked. I made the mistake of visiting that "other blog" (you know who you are)and was completely deflated. I have learned my lesson.

04 Aug 2009 11:30 PM
Matthew W

Steve how 'bout one, two, RING-A-DING-DING!....Beldame Zen/Rachel---never say never cuz I can tell you this--They WANT to dirt her--I know this for a cold fact! They are "painting themselves into a corner" with "having" to beat older males at 1 1/4---something not done for over forty years ! Recent happenings at Del Mar, I tell ya, That is one unbelievable looking mare, seems a waste not to dirt her again, seems a waste not to try Rachel, believe me if she's my horse I fear no horse/no track---but I still don't need to see a female take on older males at 1 1/4...also Summer Bird totally didn't run his race on speed track---but he did battle and I love him in Travers if he's ready!...I "can't wait" to bet against Rachel again, just like throwing away money, like the four or five times I bet against Big Z and never cashed---I WOULD bet on Big Z against Rachel at Belmont---BUT--both horses would remain great, even in defeat--THAT is what a great horse is--great in defeat as well as victory---I just wanna see it!!!

04 Aug 2009 11:42 PM


I noticed in the pps that Precisionist was almost always giving Geinton weight.

Yes, I am definitely familiar with Flying Paster. He dominated Cali racing at 2, in the winter/spring of his 3 year old season, and again at 5. He would have been dominant again at 4 if not for The Bid, who the Paster finished 2nd to in 4 straight races. Fortunately, I was living in Cali during the prime of the Paster's stud career, and was able to see most of his top offspring run, including a personal favorite, Flying Continental(I saw him win the 90' Strub).

05 Aug 2009 12:37 AM
Mike S

COSMONAUT is a tough customer and he's liable to win from time to time so you really always have to consider him, because he can pop up and beat if you don't!

05 Aug 2009 1:25 AM

Richie - remember, Dick Dutrow (Senior) also had the "King of Aqueduct," the old battler, King's Swan.  He retired at age 10 after 107 starts, 31 wins, 19 place and 18 shows with career earnings of $1,924,845.  At age 10, King's Swan won his second Aqueduct Handicap. In all, the King won 12 stakes and placed in 21 others.  Dick Sr was in tears during an interview regarding the King's retirement - he said that he just didn't want to see the old horse whipped anymore. King's Swan retired to his exercise rider's farm where he lived until the age of 26.

05 Aug 2009 2:42 AM

It is usually the stars that bring visitors to the track, but for the true fans it is also the blue collared horses who try hard every race.  I have a few of my own and one of my hometown heroes lit up the season in 08 to my surprise:)

05 Aug 2009 3:53 AM
Kevin Stafford

I've always loved "Cosmo." I recall back in 2007 he and another blue-collar horse (Dreadnaught) were both at Pimlico for the Preakness undercard.  

Always a gamer...and despite the fact that his wins are few and far between, he seems to always come up in my handicapping picks in the top 3 selections.

Admittedly, I've got a soft spot for him and part of me wants to be on board whenever he does win again.

Our turf division is filled with such competitors who receive our love and affection even without racking up the victories.

Better Talk Now also comes to mind. True, he's a former turf champion, but it's been a while for the old guy since he's won - but he's aguably one of the most beloved horses in all of racing.

05 Aug 2009 9:42 AM
Matthew W

Fitting that Russel The Muscle won a couple of the Claiming Challenge races overe at Canterbury--and at nice prices...I remember Hap Logue winning 12 or 13 races in a row, cheap claimers/starter alw races, back in early 70's up in the Bay Area...They cheered him like a star and he was!...

05 Aug 2009 9:50 AM

Steve, you have no need to thank us for responding to your words about Cosmonaut, because it appears to me that you are feeding a hunger within us and allowing us a space to be able to express our joy and appreciation of these mighty warriors who continue to rock along past their 3 year old season.  Since Cosmonaut is only seven, he still has hopefully more years of racing and then perhaps another career.  When we seek to retire our race horses so young, I'm always reminded of the show jumping competition I was watching when the announcer was surprised at the horse's ability because it was *only* twelve years old - a baby!

05 Aug 2009 10:22 AM

Gun Bow,  thanks for your comments about Flying Paster.  Just one short tale.  I was standing near the winner's circle at the rail for one of his last races.  He had the lead, but, Eddie D and King Go Go started passing him on the outside.  I swear FP glared at the King and seemed to say, "Not today, Buddy", dug in and hurled himself and Lipham over the wire just nipping Go Go.

05 Aug 2009 10:46 AM

Hi Steve,

Thank you for continually bringing the stories of these unsung heroes to our attention.  Have you thought of putting together a book highlighting their stories?  It would be nice to have their memories live on the printed page.


05 Aug 2009 10:49 AM

Steve, thank you for giving us the stories on so many horses...I would have never learned about some of them had you not written your are very kind...thank you......

all prayers and thoughts go to Louiville,Kentucky and all of the people during this trying time...


05 Aug 2009 11:44 AM


You always have away of bringing out what makes this game so great. Thanks for the nice perspective. The public always hears about the Rachel's and the Big Brown's. It is nice to give credit to the working class horses who never have won Eclipse awards but ran their hearts out. Like Cosmonaut. Some of my favorites included: Perfect Drift; Frisk me Now; Evening Attire; Bet on Sunshine; etc.

05 Aug 2009 12:19 PM

Another "Invisible" lost...5 year-old Finallymadeit broke a cannon bone and was euthanized Tuesday.

"He was an iron horse," Owner Rodriguez said. "He was part of the family. We called him the 'running heart'.(DRF)"

Won 16 races (12 stakes) from 47 starts: $1,026,640.

5 years old, he barely had gotten all his adult teeth.

05 Aug 2009 12:21 PM
Greg J.

    I am sorry, Off subject here, But I needed to post this..

    "Finallymadeit" Had to be euthanized Tuesday after breaking his cannon bone on tuesday at Saratoga, He was training for this weekend's Whitney, While he just ran last week. I loved this guy, He ALWAYS gave his all, This is just terrible news, He deserved better...

"Finallymadeit", 46 Starts: 16 - 7 - 4, $1,019,245


05 Aug 2009 12:53 PM

I loved Wandering Boy, thanks to you Steve.  He was spectacular.

Sick about Finallymadeit.

05 Aug 2009 2:38 PM

Greg J.,

As you posted on another blog, sometimes I wonder why I love horseracing...It doesn't make any sense, since I love all animals so much...One of these days, it will be one horse too many. Rest in Peace to all the horses who have died recently (and in the past)due to racing or training accidents. They ALL deserved better.

Sorry to be so down...I'm really sad right now. There's been so many injuries this really makes me question myself.

Thank you Mr. Haskin for this blog where the people share in the appreciation of all horses, superstars or not. It's a haven from the bickerings of other venues.

05 Aug 2009 3:37 PM

THANK YOU SOOO much for the wonderful story on Cosmonaut!!! Although I appreciate the beauty of the "stars" of horseracing my heart has been with the older handicap type horses that continue to give their all each time they run and usually don't get the well deserved recognition

05 Aug 2009 5:25 PM

Go Commentator...Run, Baby, Run...another "Invisible"...

05 Aug 2009 6:51 PM
Matthew W

Maybe with the economy in the tank, horses will stay on the track longer...I remember Cougar II, a full horse, going strong through his seven year old season---of corse geldings will race on, we'll get to see much more of that little tryer Mine That Bird...Not sure why they had to rush Big Brown into the breeding shed as he had "more to do" and more to earn as a racehorse....twenty five years ago John Henry had a huge season, resulting in Horse Of Year honors at the age of NINE!!! He worked 1:34 flat a week before his ten year old debut but was injured and's those old geldings....the ones who love what they do...they're the hardest to lose to a fatal breakdown!--rest assured they are doing what they love! In fact, Best Pal and Ancient Title passed away YOUNG, as retirees---those guys never wanted to hang it up! There's enough blood, sweat & tears in this sport, but there are moments--several moments along the way that stay with you for a lifetime....and you never know when you're going to see one of those moments in this traveling circus that was, is, and always will be the sport of kings.....

05 Aug 2009 8:39 PM
Soldier Course


After several years of closely following horse racing, I have finally come to understand the concept of "cognitive dissonance". I think that you and I , and a lot of others, must experience this on a regular basis because of our passion.

It's that anxiety which comes from the tension between belief (bad things happen to some horses in the sport) and action (we remain devoted to the sport). I think it helps to understand that these are normal feelings, even if there's no way to fully resolve them short of abandoning the sport.

But you are so right, one day there will be one horse too many ...    

05 Aug 2009 8:53 PM
Matthew W

Gun Bow--RIGHT ON! Greinton! Invisible....ran down Precisionist and looked good doing it! Eight epic battles--Hey THAT RIVALRY is ALSO "invisible"! And Flying Paster--the best kick of any least up to 1 1/8, but he had huge run in him, and he was a real looker!....THAT rivalry, Bid/Paster, if you wanna call it a rivalry cuz Bid always won, was also invisible! How bout this? BEFORE the '79 Derby, weren't those two the best one/two punch on paper you ever saw? BOTH were under 2-1 for The Derby! Every once in a while you get a "Three Amigos" scenario...remember Broad Brush, Ferdinand, Snow Chief?....

05 Aug 2009 8:53 PM
Matthew W

Steve, right now, Life is Sweet is "invisible", when you have those two others....She is my invisible horse in the Classic....loves the pro ride...1/2 to Sweet Catomine, who was also sort of an invisible good filly...

05 Aug 2009 8:57 PM

Da3hoss, You beat me to it - I was just going to type his name- COMMENTATOR!  Just love him and I'll sure be screaming run baby run when he runs his Whitney again.  Several people have written on other blogs once in awhile, wondering why they love horseracing.  Steve, that's what you do - you always fill our hearts with the reason why we love racing - these horses!  And I love all the stories your fans have to tell also.  There is a wealth of experience, information and love from bloggers on this site.  

A couple more I love; Shakis (RIP) and Proudinsky.

05 Aug 2009 9:08 PM

Great story about a horse who personifies a racehorse.

Who has trained him?

05 Aug 2009 9:49 PM

dahoss:  Oh yes, Commentator is much loved.

Zookeeper, your feelings are shared by myself and many others.  Can't stand it.

05 Aug 2009 10:30 PM

Soldier Course and Zookeeper, I agree...had I not had such wonderful racing people to grow up around, who taught me so much and were SO good to their horses, my "one horse too many" would have come long ago...not just the breakdowns, but the commercialization of the baby sales, so that two-year olds in training have to get a vacation to recover from the "sales prep", etc., the whole disconnect...

I am almost done...I actually tried last week to not come to the BH site, or any other racing site...I'm working on it...there are so many other horse sports where they compete at high levels into their late teens...

PS and that I can actually participate in myself!!! I'm trying to get unaddicted!

After I meet Steve in person, I can go in peace! LOL, hahaha!!!

06 Aug 2009 8:03 AM
Soldier Course


Think about this: If all of us who are upset about the horse abuses abandon the sport of horse racing, who's left? The ones who don't give a damn.

06 Aug 2009 8:38 AM

Matthew W,

Speaking of Ferdinand, one of the greatest duels, I have witnessed was in the Big Cap against Alysheba.  Alysheba walked onto the track at SA, looking like a marvelous Tennessee Walker, with his neck bowed and hooves a'popping.  Small field - An Eddie Gregson horse for DM took the long lead, with McCarron and Shoe far back, biding their time.  At about midway in the backstretch, they both took hold and the real race was on.  Head and head, nostril to nostril all the way the wire, with Alysheba getting the nod.

However, I will never forget the day Ferdinand debuted at DM in early September in a 6F MSW race.  A wanna be tout, I knew, came up to me in the infield and told me how he had just touted some suckers into betting this "lock" of Charlie W's.  I told him he was crazy if he thought Charlie was out to win first out in a meaningless 6F with a horse bred in the purple for a big client.  I said that this was a typical first out check ride. Charlie was a terrible bet in either a first out MSW or in a Classified Allowance prior to a stakes. Ferdinand finished far back, but, Shoe did get one late kick out of him.  The first three finishers went on to some wins down the road, but, not anywhere the greatness that Ferdinand accomplished.  He was not an easy horse, early on, for Shoe.  He would pull himself up when he took a lead, so, Shoe had to really time his run.  I learned that about his pulling up, when I turned for the windows to collect a win ticket on him after seeing him take the lead at SA.  Somehow the ticket was worthless.

06 Aug 2009 9:37 AM

Soldier Course, da3hoss, Freetex and all those silent ones who may share my feelings at times,

Thank you for being there and assuring me that I'm not alone in my "cognitive dissonance" (love you Soldier Course). The most helpful comment was the reality of who is left if/when those who care leave the sport...

06 Aug 2009 11:18 AM

Fabulous Strike...

Delightful Kiss...

06 Aug 2009 7:50 PM

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