Countdown to the Cup - Bird Bath

Whether he's splishin' and a'splashin' or movin' and a'groovin' or rockin' and a'rollin,' the sight of Summer Bird and his distinctive blue blinkers charging down the stretch is leaving racing fans reelin' with the feelin.'

And that feelin' is, this is one serious racehorse and the towering figure constantly at his side is one serious trainer.

It appears certain with each passing month that racing is witnessing the beginning of the Ice Age...

Continue reading this column or feel free to post your comments below.


Leave a Comment:


The whole dimension changes when the races turn to the fall and the classic distances.  RA will have her hands full Saturday, but at a mile and  an eighth, she probably gets up.  At a mile and a quarter, she doesn't beat Zenyatta, Summer Bird, or Mine That Bird

31 Aug 2009 8:43 PM

You can't help but cheer on Mr.Ice. With a baby on the way it's great for a young trainer like him to be having so much early success.  Summer Bird looks very good with a moderate pace but when he tried to hang with Rachel it was just too much.  I like his new style and look forward to seeing him again on a dry track vs Quality Road.

31 Aug 2009 8:47 PM
stanley marcinkowski, Plowville, Pa

It is great to see a new trainer on the  scene

31 Aug 2009 8:55 PM
needler in Virginia

Lovely, Steve......just LOVELY! Both the Birds have proven a great deal this year, and have earned the respect they deserve. Summer Bird seems to be more than the real thing; I never would have guessed he had that last gear, but there it was just when he needed it. And, by the way, with the two Birds proving that stamina just MIGHT have a use, do I hear an "oops, maybe I misspoke" from Mr Lukas?? Nah, probably not!

Thanks again for a wonderful story well told; if you continue to resist writing another book, why not just reprint all your columns between some nice covers?? I'd buy it!

And aren't you happy that I haven't asked ONE stupid question this summer?? While acknowledging your deserving some time off from my foolishness, be warned......summer is over, fall approaches and once again my questions will surface.

Cheers and safe trips!

31 Aug 2009 9:35 PM

I usually enjoy your columns. However, you made two egregiously incorrect statements in this one. "Summer Bird sits atop the 3 year old division," and Summer Bird "sits atop the horse racing world." Rachel Alexandra clearly occupies both positions, having just beaten Summer Bird a few weeks ago by 6+ lengths. Right now, Summer Bird only sits atop the 3 year old colt division. Period. Rachel sits atop the 3 year old division and atop horseracing in general. You failed to mention her at all in the article. I find that very, very strange.

31 Aug 2009 9:38 PM

Kudos to Summer Bird & your reporting of the weekend's events, Steve. Brilliant as usual. Quality Road was all heart despite the troubled trip. The blogs have been very favorable of him. Even in defeat I don't think they'll retract their optimism or continued support. How different it was just a year ago when Big Brown was showing his muscle, then uncharacteristically came back to earth in the Belmont only to rise again against older horses. And yet there was only criticism & negativity about his successes.

31 Aug 2009 9:50 PM

I am so glad to see the success of these Birds because they have the blood of the horse who really got me into horse racing - Chateaugay, the 1963 Kentucky Derby and Belmont winner.  He was the son of the great Swaps who broke all kind or track records.

31 Aug 2009 9:56 PM
Tim G

Absolutely a superb column. Love the humanization of both Tim Ice and Chip Wooley and it's very apparent how much this has meant to Chip.

Dr J and Dr Devi deserve the best, good people.

Even Kent who has taken some heat and who isn't always the most humble came off as a good guy.

Thanks Steve, actually if it weren't so late, made me want to take the wife out dancing here at the Spa! Won't be able to get that song outta my head for a few days.

31 Aug 2009 10:24 PM

Steve, this is such a wonderful column.  I've been waiting for your "story" and it was well worth the wait.

Thank you for always telling the behind-the-scenes angle; thank you for your praise and appreciation of *every* horse - the winners, the also-rans, the (sadly) didn't-runs - and for sharing all their stories.  

You're the best.

31 Aug 2009 10:30 PM

Great article on Tim Ice and the red-hot Summer Bird! Also loved the vignette on Chip Wooley and Mine That Bird. I agree with Wooley that this is a pretty solid 3 yr. old group, in spite of some serious setbacks from some notable horses. Here's to hoping that Mine That Bird will regain his Derby form and be with us for a few more years!  

31 Aug 2009 10:58 PM
Steve Haskin

Tim, I was hoping some people would remember Splish Splash (by Bobby Darin). It seemed to fit.

Needler, I told you that you are allowed all the stupid questions you want, but your statute of limitations is running out.

31 Aug 2009 11:16 PM
Steve Haskin

dc, the 3-year-old reference was implied that it referred to males, but because you seem overly sensitive about it I changed it to 3-year-old male. It wasnt even in the story, but in the lead-in. I have to tell you, however, I find it strange that you find it strange that I didn't mention Rachel Alexandra in a Travers story. Can't one story be about other horses, especially one which she has no bearing on other than not running in the race?

31 Aug 2009 11:27 PM
Bill P.

Steve, I havent heard any comments about the "PAMPLEMOUSE" Will he be back to the track any time? He had a funny stride but he was unrelenting!

31 Aug 2009 11:31 PM

Steve its great for Tim Ice, what a story too about Summer Bird, he is starting to remind me of Curlin with his meteoric rise through only one racing season.  I dont know how he will handle the synthetics as he was sent east because his trainer did not like the way he was training but maybe it was just the horse being immature.  

Steve, I am starting to like Rail Trip alot, I liked him since he had his coming out party in Santa Anita in the Santana Mile, but did you see his last work, a 36 and change mile on the poly is insane, I dont know hoe that will translate for the Classic, I know Ron Ellis didnt like the work, but I saw his workout and the horse was simly cruising, what a beautiful stride he has.  Would like to hear your thoughts.

31 Aug 2009 11:39 PM
Steve Haskin

Bill P, it just so happens I Facebook messaged Alex Solis II today asking him about The Pamplemousse. As soon as he replies I will relay the information.

Alybar, did you know that Chateaugay was among the first, if not THE first, major American stallion sold to the Japanese? It's too bad he's a forgotten horse. He won two classics in a terrific crop that included Never Bend, Candy Spots, and No Robbery.

Emilio, the synthetic story is not true according to those who were actually involved. It was just left that way.

I totally agree about Rail Trip. I think he's an extremely gifted horse. I didnt see the work, so I cant comment on that, but I did hear he did it easily. The real good ones will fool you. That is an incredible time going that far on Polytrack. That would be unheard of on Keeneland's Polytrack.

31 Aug 2009 11:42 PM

I've been waiting for this article. Steve, thanks for your perceptions and thoroughness. So nice to hear about the Jayarmens and their story. I think Summer Bird is a throwback to Summer Squall (he liked Saratoga) and Alysheba. Credit to the Jayarmens for giving the horse time. Maybe Tim Ice is some kind of throwback too. Wonderful article..

31 Aug 2009 11:52 PM

Spot on. Icon Project also deserves mention for her monster effort in the Personal Ensign, which received a 114 Beyer, the second highest Beyer at a mile or longer behind only Rachel's Haskell(116). There were some strong performances over the last 9 days at Sartoga.

Sara Louise: Victory Ride, 104 Beyer

Careless Jewel: Alabama, 106

Music Note: Ballerina, 107

Summer Bird: Travers, 110

Icon Project: Personal Ensign, 114

Note, 4 of the 5 performances were by a filly or mare. Music Note already proved herself a top class filly last year when she won 3 grade 1 races, while Sara Louise, Careless Jewel, and Icon Project still need to repeat their performances one or two times to deserve mention among the elite female racehorses. However, should they run back to their efforts the past week+, Rachel and Zenyatta will need to remain sharp. The Beldame and Breeders Cup Ladies Classic promise to be sensational.

31 Aug 2009 11:52 PM


I would like to know if you have any info on Georgie Boy, Bob Black Jack the filly Ventura and Midshipman.  How far are they from coming back.

31 Aug 2009 11:54 PM
Steve Haskin

Gun Bow, the column was just getting too long, so I held off on Icon Project until next week when I can tie her in with Rachel and the Beldame/Ladies Classic picture. Her performance was unbelievable. As you said, there are so many brilliant horses and performances this uear.

31 Aug 2009 11:59 PM

I for one have not once thought this was anything but at minimum a very good crop of 3 year old colts (and geldings) this year.

I appreciate having an entire article devoted to the recent races, so many of which produced impressive performances worthy of talking about.

Therefore, thank you for not mentioning RA.  She is brilliant but she wasn't running this weekend, or being pointed towards the Travers, or even the Breeders Cup so she doesn't necessarily belong in this discussion today.  Unlike others here who think every argument is about how good she is or isn't, how far she can run, and who can or cannot beat her.  Honestly, we do not need to debate this on every blog!

If MTB and Summer Bird are any indication, Birdstone is producing horses with wonderful dispositions.  I imagine it makes a trainers job easier when their horse is mentally solid.  

Thanks for a great Travers weekend recap!

01 Sep 2009 12:05 AM

Despite the DQ, I'm thrilled that Vineyard Haven is back.  He was my favorite of the juvenile colts last year.  Can't wait to see his next race.    

I think Quality Road deserves enormous respect for his Travers effort.  Hope to see him back soon.

Tim Ice is a refreshing new addition.  Not to take anything away from the "old guys" but I get bored with the same group winning most of the big races over and over.  Thankfully it looks like Mr. Ice is here to stay.

I hope they race Summer Bird next year.  I've replayed the Travers three times just to watch him.  He looked like he could do another lap or two.  

I find the continuing Birdstone saga amusing with the latest installment being his son's upset of a highly regarded Elusive Quality colt.  There's something vaguely familiar about that....  

01 Sep 2009 12:39 AM

Here's a dumb question, since Needler can't come up with one.  When people are winning with their horse, it seems they always describe the animal as being highly intelligent.  Does any name spring to mind when you think of a not-so-bright champion racehorse?    

Reading this article, I was struck by the remorse that Chip Woolley is feeling right now, the what might have been.  Despite his shaky start upon being suddenly thrust into the limelight, he has proven himself to be a good guy and I'm happy for his success, as well as for the success of the Jayarmans with "The other Bird".  Also, I'm happy to see Borel back on MTB;  maybe they can rekindle some of the old magic.  Oh, and I still believe in Quality Road.

01 Sep 2009 4:54 AM

Another great article, Steve, with  behind the scenes details told with such clarity and style, you take us right there into the moment with you.  I love it!  After Summer Bird's Travers victory, I've watched the replays of Birdstone's Belmont/Travers and even though it still stings to see Smarty Jones defeated, it is awesome that Summer Bird has pulled off his daddy's double with class, and because I am a relentless romantic, such great connections.  In my opinion, Quality Road ran a fantastic race also, as did Hold Me Back, so I am in complete agreement that this is still a strong three year old crop.  It made me happy to see Vineyard Haven doing so well after his long layoff, too!  Great races on Saturday and thank you once again for your terrific storytelling details!  I can't close without thanking you for Splish/Splash!!  Bet some of these youngsters might not even know about such great music - haha!

01 Sep 2009 8:09 AM

I still believe Quality Road is the most exciting colt right now in this country. His trip in the Travers was terrible, he looked unconfortable all the time, fighting with the jockey and himself. The same happened to Munning in the Bishop, what a nightmare for this talented colt. The rest of the season will be crucial to define who is really the best 3yo colt. My choice is Qality Road, even over Rachel.

01 Sep 2009 8:37 AM

thankx for the Chateaugay reference Steve.Darby Dan one of my favs.[Can still see Braulio sittin chilly on his back]....and yes Splish Splash also a great metaphor! CT take on B Square vs QR and public perception is how the connections of both handle[d] the attention. While the B Square people tried to impress everyone with their balderdash remarks pre Belmont[hmmm sounds familiar] about being the "best horse ever", most saw through the bullspit[allthough it is good for a contrarian looking to make a bet against]..QR connections allthough impressed by their colts physical talent, and mental sharpness, even as a 2yo. they worked their way through the competition and kept a low profile.Lesson might be for owners to let the trainers earn their pay, and stop telling the public they have the best thing to "ever look through a bridle" [apology to Mr.Delp].

01 Sep 2009 8:53 AM

Too bad they didn't run Rachel in the Travers.  It would have been nice to see her stretch out beyond a mile and an eigth for once,  oh I almost forgot the Preakness at Pimlico.  That's right the Preakness is a real marathon of a race,  guess thats her limit.  Remember,  Ruffian ran a mile and a half leading every step of the way.  It would have been nice to see where her greatness level is in comparison to the REAL great one,  Ruffian,  but I do understand that running her back at a mile and a half on two weeks of rest is not what champions are made of today;  they're made of something much much less.....I wonder which older allowance/claiming horses she'll face in the Woodward,  just to showcase her greatness.

01 Sep 2009 9:04 AM

2009 will definately go down in Horse Racing history as the year of Rachel and the Birds (hey, sounds like a band!) also, I hope that the results of this year give hope to all of those up and comming trainers that they too can win the big races, all you need is that one special horse.

01 Sep 2009 9:12 AM

Dear "Whatever": please do not take anything away from 'Rachel' just because she may not be a 10-12 furlong horse; this is no way diminishes her arc to greatness. Also, when you consider how she won the Preakness - wide post, forced to the lead, caught wide, honest pace, etc. -  and she still won, you can't take anything away from her!

01 Sep 2009 9:52 AM

Nothing against Quality Road, but his connections have compromised his career by running him in the Travers. I expect a big regression off this race and then retirement.

What might have been....

01 Sep 2009 10:57 AM
Lisa Funk

Great article Mr. Haskin! What an amazing Travers, yet again! I really enjoyed reading about the friendship that has developed between Mr. Ice and Mr. Wolley- their unlikely paths to the top of our sport is a truely remarkable story. Having these two in the spotlight is fantastic for our sport, hopefully their "everyday man" disposition will draw more and more fans to horseracing since I think so many fans can relate to them in a way that perhaps they cannot to other trainers in the sport. Perhaps Summer Bird's convincing victory will encourage those looking to breed racehorses with the goal of achieving the classic Mile and a Quarter distance will think about breeding to Birdstone?!? I think with the recent success of the "Birds", distance and stamina will once again become the most important qualities owners and breeders will look for when choosing a sire. Perhaps we will see a Triple Crown winner sooner than we think. Wouldnt that be great?  

Great article, look forward to the next.

01 Sep 2009 11:43 AM

Thanks again for a great article. I'm always amazed by the number of people who jump on the bandwagon of the one-race wonders. Which is the reason I'm against the "win your in" concept. A fair number of records or near records this year so it can't, in fairness, be called average.

01 Sep 2009 11:47 AM

Another great column Steve. This horse is for real. And what a great year for Birdstone! As much as I appreciate the great boost that Rachel has given to racing this year, the Travers has me playing the "what if" game. If Summer Bird goes on to take the JCGC and runs off with the Breeder's Cup Classic, while Rachel stays home, do you think that he'll be HOY? She did beat him in the Haskell, but that was at 1 1/8 miles and they sort of ducked the Belmont and Travers with RA.  

01 Sep 2009 12:04 PM
Tim G

Yep Steve, a blast from the past. Although it was covered by Streisand and a couple others and used in movies etc for years.

I remember dancing to it playing on the record player when I was a very little kid, with my Mom as my partner in our living room.

Your columns always bring back several fond memories, whether that be horses, people, music, dancing or MOM! (who I still dance with once in a while.)

01 Sep 2009 12:18 PM

Yes, I discovered in my research that Chateugay was sold to the Japanese.  I wrote Darby Dan Farms for information, but they ignored me.  I was trying to find out where he was buried.  I was not a subscriber to Bloodhorse at that time of his sale.  Knowing the fate of Ferdinand, it is no telling what happened to him in Japan.  There are very few horses in America who have his genes, because I check those pedigrees.

01 Sep 2009 12:23 PM

Whatever, please keep the comments coming ... finally another person who can match the witty sensibility of Jerry Lewis!

01 Sep 2009 12:23 PM
Karen in Texas

Another wonderful article, Steve, with such clever opening paragraphs! The stories of both Tim Ice and Chip Woolley are refreshing and unique. May they continue to have as much success in the future as they are having now with their Bird Boys! May Birdstone continue to provide us with talented, intelligent, and tractable foals. Thanks, as always.

01 Sep 2009 12:38 PM
Pam S.

Steve, really nice feel-good article about the Travers, all the humans involved and of course the wonderful equine Summer Bird.  Agree that Rachel did not need to be mentioned.  True, the Travers result reflected well on her, but still, she was in her stall.  The boys deserve to shine too.

Also loved the "Splish Splash" stuff.  I remember the song; I think I was in 4th grade.  Novelty songs have gone the way of the rotary dial phone, haven't they?  Anyway, a lot of readers seemed to have enjoyed those lyrics in your lead-in.

01 Sep 2009 12:43 PM
Steve Haskin

Hi Lisa, congrats on Calvin getting Mine That Bird again. Jerry told me last week he was pretty sure it was going to happen, but I didnt realize they would announce it so quickly. Good luck on Saturday; I'm sure I'll see you there. As I wrote last week, this race should not be taken lightly. Different ballgame going against tough, experienced older horses, especially this early in the year. It should be a terrific race. If she can pull it off it would really stamp her place in history.

01 Sep 2009 12:56 PM

Wiseguy, I believe the owners of Quality Road compromised his chances by running him in the Amsterdam and having him dead fit for that run.  Had Charlie Whittingham been shooting for the Black Type Grade I Travers, he would, either have brought QR up on works, or had the racing secretary write a Classified Allowance for him about 10 days prior.  He would have never sent him out for a Grade II primed for a record smashing run.  Charlie always had a sort of "Keep Your Eye on the Prize" for his roadmaps.  Plus, under Charlie, the Travers would have not comprimised him for future runs.

01 Sep 2009 12:58 PM
Karen in Indiana

Steve, thank you for the wonderful article. To see such down-to-earth people being rewarded like tim Ice & Chip Woolley have been is refreshing. To see the success of the Birdstone boys is exhilarating. And, hopefully, they will each contribute to the sport in their own way - Mine That Bird racing for years and Summer Bird with offspring of his own. This has been a very good year and there is more to come.

I'll be interested in what's going on with The Pamplemousse also. He was my favorite at the first of the year.

01 Sep 2009 1:01 PM
belles forever

a great read.i have liked summer bird since his great showing at the Arkansas derby! he is a champ and should be considered for 3 yro colt!he completely dominated the field! he gets better every time he races and has shown a remarkable ability to do it in a versatile style.rach is on this weekend and i agree with you that this will not be an easy race..there is that grey horse in there that always shows up when you least expect him to..thanks for the behind the scenes stuff,i really enjoy that.

01 Sep 2009 1:17 PM

Helsbelles - There is one not so highly intelligent champion horse who springs to mind - Whirlaway.  The 1941 Triple Crown champ was considered, "the dumbest horse I ever trained," by Calumet trainer Ben Jones.  (Every one else just thought the horse was nuts.)  Exhausted by the high-strung colts bizarre antics, Jones called him a half wit and a knucklehead.  It took all the Hall of Fame trainer's experience and patience to bring out Whirlaway's extraordinary potential.  

01 Sep 2009 1:39 PM

I hope you are right Steve, that fans will see this amazing performance and win by Rachel and finally place her along side the greats of all time male or female.  The clock does not lie and I see her dominating again and leaving no doubt she is one of the best ever. She will run a 133 mile and be all by herself.

01 Sep 2009 1:58 PM

I think Lisa Funk is on to something.  My 19YO son got drawn into the sport by the "everyday man" Chip Woolley.  

He was in the room when I watched the KD this year.  We're rural and he liked that a regular guy who looks like he belongs in our neighborhood had won the sport's most prestigious race.  He also liked that Woolley got crabby with the media after the race - he thought they deserved it.  So he tuned in to the Preakness & Belmont to see Woolley again.        

Getting him to tune in made him take notice that it's an exciting sport.  So he watched the Travers to see the horses race and he's looking forward to Rachel this coming weekend.        

01 Sep 2009 1:58 PM
Bill Daly

Given the track conditions on Saturday I thought we saw some great performances as you described. I, too, think that QR was given more to do than he was ready for on Saturday and all things considered he ran quite well. Baffert's Bulldogger is one serious horse and shouldn't be overlooked. Summer Bird continues to impress me.  I thought he would revert to his come-from-behind tactics in the Travers, but he showed he is far from a one-dimensional horse.  I thought that Kent took him out of his game in the Haskell, but I guess he was just eager to go that day - as he was on Saturday.  The difference is Rachel wasn't there Saturday.

01 Sep 2009 2:28 PM

I'm glad Summer Bird won.  He ran a good race.  I really wish that Mine That Bird had also been in it as I think it would have been a race to the finish.

I'm really excited as I found out today I don't have to work on Labor Day after all and now can make the trip to see Mind That Bird in person.  Also to see the Furturity in person will be fun.  I've only been able to see it on TV.  I hope to get lots of pictures.

01 Sep 2009 2:37 PM
The Phantom

Both birds make the Classic that much more interesting , just hope the top 3 yr old runnerslike SEA, Rip Van and Fame and Glory come over from Europe. Sea the Stars I beleive is running again this week or next, in future  headed for the Arc and hopefully USA. On poly he should be a monster.Saturday RA whips these ok older horses in the Woodward by a large margin. Getting weight allowance is phony she doesn't need it against this crew.

01 Sep 2009 2:39 PM

Am I the only one who noticed that after the Travers, Kent D could only talk about himself again like he did after the Belmont? He did not mention anything about Summer Bird, who actually put him in the winning position he was in! Someone needs to remind him exactly why he is in the profession that he's in, it's not about the money, the fame, etc., it's about the HORSES!

01 Sep 2009 2:49 PM

Thank you Steve for another great article.  I loved the Splishin and the Splashin angle.

The Travers was exciting to watch.  

New trainers on the scene are most welcome.  I agree with other comments, its so refreshing to read about different trainers who are still approachable.

The horses are unbelievable!  Gotta be thankful for each and every one.

01 Sep 2009 2:53 PM

Great article(as usual). I think it's interesting to note that Kent hasn't won the BC Classic or the JCGC. So if Tim Ice's theory is correct then they are on the right path.

01 Sep 2009 3:18 PM

Thanks Merlinmerry.  I wonder though, how much of that name-calling was in response to frustration in not being able to control Whirlaway.  Tiznow was also considered bizarre, is he unintelligent?  But in general, do you believe that the overwhelming majority of successful racehorses are highly intelligent beings?

In this current article, Tim Ice describes Summer Bird as going easy the first time out over a new surface, and then showing improvement each subsequent time.  It's funny because that is exactly how Steve described him in the pre-Derby workouts at Churchill, as being the horse showing the greatest improvement in the mornings.  That's why he gets paid the big bucks.

About Quality Road-- now people will second guess whether or not he should have been in the Travers.  Don't blame Pletcher entirely for the decision.  Perhaps the owner wanted more control in order to take greater risks, and that is why he switched from Jerkins to Pletcher.  

01 Sep 2009 3:37 PM

In the future follow these rules of racehorse writing and you'll be fine:  

1) Thou shalt mention Rachel Alexandra in every article.

2) Thou shalt mention Zenyatta almost every time Rachel is mentioned (meaning every other article).

3)  Thou shalt moan about J. Jackson skipping the 2009 Breeders Cup every third time Rachel is mentioned.

With these simple rules in mind, I find it strange that you find it strange that dc finds it strange that you didn't mention Rachel Alexandra.  

Fine print: rules are subject to change without notice depending on the most popular racehorse at the moment.

01 Sep 2009 4:08 PM


Bob Baffert stated repeatedly during General Challenge's career that the horse was one of the "dumbest" horses he had ever trained. Up to the time, 1999 and 2000, Baffert described General Challenge as the most physically gifted horse he had trained(over Silver Charm, Real Quiet). Even after Point Given, Baffert would say General Challenge was just as talented. Unfortunately, as Baffert frequently mentioned, General Challenge's brain was not equal to his athletic ability. Still, the horse won the Santa Anita Derby, Pacific Classic, and Big Cap.

01 Sep 2009 4:15 PM

berttheclock, right on. Real horsemen don't fit the horse to the schedule, but fit the schedule to the horse. In my opinion.

01 Sep 2009 4:16 PM


No disrespect to Ruffian, but she was beating other 3 year old fillies at 12 furlongs. In fact, the only time she challenged males, 3 year old males, was in the ill-fated Match Race. Also, the 12 furlong Coaching Club American Oaks was one of only 2 races Ruffian won around 2 turns in her career(the other was the 9 furlong Mother Goose at Aqueduct). While Rachel has not won at 10 furlongs or longer, her win at 9.5 furlongs came against 3 year old males in the Preakness. I'm not making any claims who was better, just putting the facts in another light.

Speaking of putting things in a different light-

Old Timer:

Couldn't one also claim that Summer Bird "ducked" the Preakness?

01 Sep 2009 4:21 PM

The Phantom what did you mean by ok older horses?  I can't believe people are calling G1 winning and multiple Graded Stakes winning horses ok... when did this start ?

01 Sep 2009 5:42 PM
My Juliet

  Steve, I esp enjoy the details you include; MTB 'stealing' carrots from groom's pockets, Summer Bird doing all things with gusto, then taking long naps-too cute:)

   I am very glad for Tim Ice, liked his comments so much during Travers coverage. He said he understood the horse was the star, he was in his shadow. I think that kind of attitude will get him far. I wish him and Heather continued blessings and much success.

  Lisa Funk, I enjoyed your post very much. As you said, it would be great if distance and stamina were again the goal when breeding thoroughbreds. I think it could change horseracing for the better- for the fans, horses and all involved.

01 Sep 2009 6:22 PM

I've been waiting for your article, Steve, it was even better than I expected.  Just loved all the comments and information from both the trainers.  These Birds are just the best.  Not just the horses but their owners and trainers too.  Such a blessing to hear the love they have for their horses and the gratitude they feel for what has happened for them this year.  And dare I bring up that old-fashioned word, humility.  I wish the world outside of us racing fans knew more about this wonderful season - I think it's just the ticket to attract more fans.  But there really isn't a word anywhere - I was grateful though for ESPN's coverage and wish with all my heart they would cover the Woodward.  Some of those descriptions of Summer Bird's personality sound a lot like Secretariat's personality.  Maybe Summer Bird could play his part in the movie.   Anyway, perfect story again, Steve.  I always keep a kleenex close when I read your stuff.

01 Sep 2009 6:35 PM

Wiseguy and Berttheclock,

Most would argue that the Kentucky Derby is the pinnacle of racing.  This race occurs every year on the first Saturday of May.  Therefore, if you want to make this race or any other important race such as the Breeders Cup, Travers, et. al. then you better be able to fit the horse to the schedule.  Thats why Baffert, Lukas and Zito are the best and why they are sought after by those owners who want to participate at the pinnacle of racing.

01 Sep 2009 7:03 PM
Ida Lee

As usual, great article. I love reading your stuff. This really was a fun weekend for racing. I was so happy with Summer Bird's win. I feel so guilty every time I see him and Mine That Bird because when I first heard about them, I dismissed them as those horses with the silly bird names. Now, I just adore them. They're beautiful and talented and I'm sorry I ever ignored them and made fun of them. Quality Road is indeed a spectacular looking athlete and I really thought he would win the Travers. But when I saw him acting up at the gate so badly and sending his jockey flying off, I wanted him scratched immediately. He obviously was uncomfortable and did not want to race on this particular day. I was scared for him thoughout the whole race. I'm so glad for Capt Candyman Can. Just love him. And Vinyard Haven looks more gorgeous than I remember him and obviously just as talented as ever. Cannot wait for his next race. Am anxiously waiting to see my Queen race this weekend. It will be Rachel by at least 5 lengths.

01 Sep 2009 8:08 PM
John T.

It has been a big year for the sire Birdstone.Who would have thought after one son Mine That Bird won the Derby another son Summer Bird would come along not only to emulate his sire and win the Belmont but the Travers also.I

always like it when the first week in Sept.rolls around because that,s

when the real Breeders Cup fever takes off and what a first Saturday it is with Rachel taking on older males and the big race in Ireland with the Epsom Derby winner

Sea The Stars taking on the Irish Derby winner Fame And Glory weather


01 Sep 2009 8:38 PM

snow, yes, the KD is very important, but, I ask you who will be the more remembered, this year, Mine That Bird or Rachael Alexandra?

My point about the great Charlie Whittingham was that he groomed his horses to run in certain races and would have dead fit for that event.  There was no way Charlie would have presented owners with winning a Grade II, if he felt an upcoming Grade I was the superior race.  That is why I question the running of QR in the Amsterdam.  His tremendous conditioning and speed compromised him for the far more important Travers.  Black Type at the Grade I level is hard to achieve.

In addition, not all three year old are mature enough for the 1st Saturday in May.  Does that mean they are lesser horses?  Some of Deputy Minister's best runners have matured in August for the Travers.  They are no less champions than the ones who won at KD in May.

01 Sep 2009 8:50 PM

Does anoyone else feel that, with Birdstone's success as a sire this year, some final closure has been brought to the 2004 Triple Crown series? I know for many, the 2004 Belmont was a race that held great disappointment, as the Triple Crown hopes of Smarty Jones had faded in the final eighth of the Belmont stretch. However, I was at the race, and can honestly say that even as Birdstone was crossing the wire, I was overcome not be disappointment but by gratitude. I knew Smarty had just turned in a gallant performance, as had Birdstone. In fact, I was one of the few people on track that bought a Smarty Jones t-shirt AFTER the race. I bought the shirt because I felt like I needed to show my respect to Smarty, and the race.

In the immediate aftermath of the race, it was easy for some to emphasize the shock of the result, and to dismiss Birdstone as lucky or a fluke, even though he had been a grade 1 winner at 2.  Yet, the 2004 Belmont was a race that exuded quality, and, as such, its winner was destined for more than just that one race. Birdstone fulfilled this destiny, and proved doubters wrong, when he coasted to a comfortable win in the Travers a few months later.

With the results of this year's Derby, Belmont, and Travers, the "racing gods" have emphasized just how special a race the 2004 Belmont was. Now, rather than being seen as a disappointing race, a letdown, even the biggest Smarty fans and Birdstone doubters can look at the Belmont for what it was, a great stretch battle between two elite horses(with a number of top class animals like Eddington and Rock Hard Ten left in their wake), played out infront of the largest crowd to witness a sporting event in New York history. It was, for me, the greatest race I ever saw in person.  

01 Sep 2009 9:55 PM
needler in Virginia

helsbelles....I hate to nitpick but your question was FAR too intelligent to be one of mine! Mine are usually crafted in the middle of the night when I can't sleep. However, YOUR question I can answer safely; I've had horses for years....several breeds, assorted temperaments...and have spent most of my life around the darling beasties so I can say with pretty fair certainty that horses will never be candidates for "Brightest Bulb on the Tree" awards. Before everyone stones me or sends death threats, I do NOT mean I don't love the company of horses. If my husband and I were unable to ride the horses, we would have them as pasture ornaments; our lives would be poorer and our hearts colder without the horses. All that said, some do learn how to do things more quickly than others; some learn how to do the WRONG thing very quickly and then take 15 years to unlearn it; some horses never get it at all. But then, how many people do you know who get everything right on the first try?? Actually, does it matter that horses won't get into Harvard? And which, if any, are truly intelligent?? They are masters at shaving the odds in their favor, they are talented escape artists, miracles in motion, carrot thieves, clowns, opportunists always, great listeners, and sometimes can be major fruitbats, but we love 'em anyway. I would bet that when a trainer says a horse is  "intelligent" that means the horse gets it faster than a stablemate.

Cheers to all, and safe trips!

01 Sep 2009 10:38 PM

chronic closers are a poor bet going long at saratoga. hold me back and mine that bird could reel in the speed at santa anita if that track is kinder to their running style. any thoughts on how that track will play to closers?

01 Sep 2009 10:39 PM


There's not a race that Rachel has won that I'd trade for the Kentucky Derby or Travers.  Charlie is the best.  I know his son quite well.  I'm not debating Quality Road's preparation, all I'm debating is that it is the owner's prerogative to run and yes, maybe, Todd didn't prepare him the way Charlie would have but Todd is very good at what he does.  I'm also not debating the maturation of horses or the relative value of such.

01 Sep 2009 10:51 PM
Matthew W

Steve HEY YEAHHHHH!!!!....and amen to that "must we always compare them to Rachel" plea...Rachel Didn't RUN in the Travers--Summer Bird DID, and won impressively--end copy! Lively pace-- Summer Bird engaged early--AND held them all off--The sign of a good horse! That was a strong race, think Quality Road took the worst of it/think the best horse won/think Summer Bird is THE ONLY winner of the Travers this year!

01 Sep 2009 11:31 PM

I was very disappointed about MtB not running, but I'm glad his safety came first and that he'll be running til he's five or even six (wow!). I wonder if Summer will take the Curlin path and run as a 4 y/o. I would suggest the Dubai WC, but even that is synthetic now. !#$@! I for one want to see Rachel extend. 1 1/2 mi! She's a great filly but it would be interesting just to see. But back to our equus du jour, Summer is a fantastically responsive horse and is a great stalker...amazing last move! Hold Me Back is amazing too. He should get out more. Also, Mr. Haskin, you mentioned 'George Smith' as Mine That Bird's exercise rider and groom. What happened to Charlie Figueroa?

02 Sep 2009 12:21 AM

To Gunbow:  You're not alone in feeling that Birdstone's success at stud has brought closure to the 2004 Triple Crown season.

I recently recalled that after the 2004 Belmont a reporter asked Mrs. Whitney a snide question about her horse spoiling the Triple Crown, since America loved Smarty so much.  She replied that she wished America would learn to love Birdstone, too.  

So when the crowd roared as Summer Bird took control at the quarter pole in the Travers, I thought Mrs. Whitney is finally getting her wish five years later.    

However, I didn't see a "stretch battle" in the 2004 Belmont.  I saw a little brown horse easily gallop past Smarty in deep stretch.

02 Sep 2009 1:21 AM
Andrew Harrison

Great column Steve. Along with Aussie writer Les Carlyon you have no peers. Didn't see the race but didn't have to - you said it all.

02 Sep 2009 4:11 AM

Thank you, Mr. Haskin, for another great article. Both Chip Woolley and Tim Ice deserve every accolade & all the success in the world.

I have a story of my own to share. In June, just a few days before the Belmont, my 13 yr. old son & I got up @ 3am & headed down to Belmont to watch Mine That Bird train out on the track. Once there, I was told that while I could go in to watch the morning works, my son could not. According to the security guard, at the gate, one must be 16 yrs. of age or older to get in. Needless to say, my son was so disappointed & barely spoke a word the entire 1 1/2 hour car ride home. My son is mildly autistic & he deals with difficulty & heartache too often, due to the difficulties of living with any type of autism. That day was supposed to be special. I took him out of school for the day & he barely slept the night before we went down to Belmont. He was so excited that he would see the horse he fell in love with when MTB won the Derby.

A few days after the Belmont, I happened to post about our experience on a blog here on Bloodhorse. Chip Woolley's girlfriend, Kim, saw it & immediately emailed me. No more than 1 day later, Chip called my son on the phone & thanked him for being such a good fan. He also asked for our address & sent my son a great, signed picture of Mine That Bird's Kentucky Derby win. He made my son feel so special. To him, that picture is as he calls it, "a one of a kind".

Chip Woolley also invited us to come & meet Mine That Bird when we came up to Saratoga. He gave us his phone number & when I called him almost 3 weeks ago, the day we got up to Saratoga, he remembered us immediately. He invited us over to the Clark Stakes barn & for the next 3 hours, my son & I had the experience of a lifetime, visiting with Chip & George (exercise rider) and Mine That Bird. Chip is such a genuine, caring person. When he speaks to you, he gives you his undivided attention.  He gave my son a stash of carrots to feed to Mine That Bird. I also must say that MTB is also extremely polite. He saw those carrots in my son's hand & kept his eyes glued to them, Yet, he waited patiently to be fed. Once he gets a bite, he chews & chews, forever, before he is ready for the next piece. He savors every morsel. He is so alert, but never nervous or anxious. He has his head up, ears forward, looking to make sure he doesn't miss anything, except when he was getting his daily maassage. Then, he practically fell asleep with his nose in his hay bag.

While we were visiting, Summer Bird was just coming back from his work on the track. So, we got to meet him, too. He is as laid back as MTB, but, unlike MTB, likes to sleep. While MTB had his head out of his stall looking to see everything, SB lay right down & went to sleep as soon as he had his bath & spent time walking the shedrow & eating grass. They are both absolutely beautiful horses & have the greatest dispositions.

Another thing I noticed was that the grooms working with both of these sons of Birdstone love their jobs. They always have a smile on their faces & couldn't have been nicer.

I can't thank Chip or Kim, his girlfriend, enough for such a truly special day. As we left the stakes barn, my son said, "Mom, he (Chip) is a really nice man, isn't he". My answer was, Yes, Morgan, you are right. He is a very, very nice man. Chip may not know it but he made my son feel so welcomed & so special. I truly cannot thank him enough & will always be so grateful to him.

I wanted to share my story about a man who my family view as one of the greatest human beings in racing.  


02 Sep 2009 6:25 AM


    Look at what happened with Ravens Pass, Zenyatta, and Stardome Bound last year and you have you answer. Closers do very well over that track.

02 Sep 2009 8:16 AM

Thank you, ColetteMarie for sharing.

This has become a marvelous site - Not only are we able to read some of the best writing by Mr Haskins, but, so many share their very human and wonderful stories about this superb sport.  Not everything comes down to merely cashing a ticket, eh?  However, the next time I try, I may need directions to the window.

02 Sep 2009 8:22 AM

snow...maybe they could rethink the Triple Crown and make it 4 weeks 'tween events...that would make 4 straight Months if you started from May thru August[to include the Travers] which would lead to a "break" if the connections saw fit, run again the end of September, leading to the Breeders Cup! What the heck, the ultra conservative PGA saw fit to re work their schedule to include 5 Months, 4 majors plus the Players'...just a thought. If I were a trainer, I certainly would not like the owner hangin around calling the shots. Please don't tell me about "paying the bills"...I know there are trainers who are also owners, but my feeling is if you go to the dentist, you to pay the bill, but you let him exercise his expertise.

02 Sep 2009 9:47 AM
Ann in Lexington

I, for one, was not surprised to see Vineyard Haven return to form back on a NY track. Anybody who watched his Dubai race could see that he was climbing the whole way around the track; clearly, he hated the surface at Nad al Sheba. He should have been returned to the US long since.

As to Icon Project, I'd like to see her win on dry dirt before I start thinking her something special. Two wins on slop and a loss on dry is the extent of her dirt career and makes me think her an off-track specialist ala Chompion (1968 Travers winner in mud). More data required.

02 Sep 2009 9:47 AM

Summer Bird is a decent horse but please... The Red Sea has opened up for him in both the Belmont and the Travers. He was a easy choice once the Travers came up sloppy. Run that race on a fast track and I doubt he wins. SB picked up the pieces in the belmont. But luck is luck and that will probably get him 3 year old male champ.

02 Sep 2009 10:15 AM

Thank you Colette for being such a loyal fan.  I'm so happy the time spent with Chip and Mine That Bird was so special to you and Morgan.  Sorry I didn't get to meet you and Morgan.

02 Sep 2009 10:33 AM


Wonderful article.  What I love about horses are their everyday antics, their unique personalities, their athleticism, and the dedicated people who care for them.  You bring these aspects of the game to us like no one else.  Please accept my sincere gratitude for doing so.


Thank you for sharing this personal story.  My family and one of our partners got to meet Chip and Mine That Bird before they left Churchill Downs, and I could not agree with your assessment of them more.  As I was driving my 13 year old son away from our first personal meeting with Mr. Woolley, my son said, "Wow, Chip is really cool."  Now, my son is already into his "jaded" phase, so this was high praise indeed!

Have you ever been at a party or a function where you're speaking with a person who is obviously NOT paying attention to you?  We have.  But not with Chip.  Just as you write, he gave us his undivided attention.  And from our conversation with him it sounds like he is like this with all his horses too.  We could not have been more impressed.

We had Birdstone pegged as a breakout sire last year, we booked four of our mares to him in February of this year, and we had both Birdstone colts in our KY Derby trifecta box.  We hit that, and we actually had the superfecta but didn't bet it.  I later blogged somewhere on here that The Belmont would be a Birdstone exacta...but I missed that one by a smidge.  The only thing I can say now to anyone who doubts the quality of these colts is, I'm glad that wagering on horse racing is a parimutuel activity!

That's all well and good, but what makes this year special to me is what Steve so eloquently relates...the behind the scenes stories of both the horses and their human connections.  I certainly don't want to cast aspersions on anyone, but I can't help but feel that the game needs more folks like Chip Woolley and Tim Ice.  I for one wish them both much continued success, and that doesn't mean winning every race!  Sometimes real class only comes out with a hard fought loss or by overcoming adversity.  

02 Sep 2009 10:35 AM


What a wonderful story!  Thank you so much for sharing.  I'm so glad that your son had the chance to meet his horse and was treated so well by Mr. Woolley.  It's so important to know that "the Birds"

have such wonderful connections that they would make a young boy's dream come true.  That is really a great testament to the people behind those two horses.  

Also, when a person such as yourself, who gives time and care to these animals too, it makes it all the more special.  You are a kind and giving person and it's nice to see something like this can happen for you and your son.  It's called Karma.  You get back what you give out or you reap what you sow.  Fantastic!

02 Sep 2009 11:05 AM
Steve Haskin

Colette, as I wrote to you in an e-mail, thank you for sharing that story, and I will certainly perpetuate it through my next column and on our video and Steve Byk's radio show, as long as you're OK with it. We need to get stories like this out there for the public to see and hear.

Kim, I e-mailed you as well. Thank you for bringing this to Chip's attention and for helping to make an entire family very happy.

02 Sep 2009 11:14 AM

Great story Colette.  It's nice to know some are willing to take the extra effort.  My grandfather took me to see Citation when I was very young.  It did not mean much to me at the time but now it means everything.  Your son will always remember that day.

02 Sep 2009 11:33 AM

Hey Colette, no fair getting me all teary eyes while I'm at work (I thought that was supposed to be Steve's job).

Such a wonderful story. Your son is blessed in many ways.

02 Sep 2009 11:45 AM

Mr. Haskin,

This is the best blog site! Not only are we treated to your great accounts of racing itself, but also of the stories behind the scene. Although speed stats and such are important in this sport, it is the more personal stories that interest me the most. I cannot get enough of them...

Colette Marie,

Thank you for sharing your experience with Chip Wooley, his crew and Mine That Bird. I was already a huge fan of theirs but now I think they walk on water. :)


You made this possible. Why am I not surprised that Chip's girlfriend would prove to be so kind and thoughtful? You rock!!!

Congratulations to Summer Bird and his connections for a great victory in the Travers. I, for one, am grateful for the attention paid to good horses other then the superstars. Their valiant efforts never fail to thrill me. Thank you for bringing them to the forefront Mr. Haskin. I always look forward to your wonderful articles and I'm never dissappointed.

02 Sep 2009 12:21 PM

Mr Haskins,

Did you run across the story of Gary Baze and Gary Stevens taking a day off to visit Trooper Seven at his retirement pasture?  No photos, no cameras, just a couple of great hard boot horsemen going back to spend time with their beloved mount of old.

02 Sep 2009 12:40 PM

Colette, you have obviously captured the hearts of this whole blog with that great story. It was truly wonderful to read.

Dray, I just have to say that your post made me realize that perhaps I am not the "Old Timer" after all. Having started watching this great sport in the early 60's I got to see the likes of Kelso; Jaipur; Never Bend and Cicada. However Citation! how cool. I am sure that it is a great memory.

02 Sep 2009 12:42 PM
Saratoga AJ

Rachel drew pp 3.

I’m amazed she opened at 1-2 with second choice all the way up to 6-1. Amazing respect…this is a 3 YR OLD FILLY racing against seasoned G-1 GRADE OLDER MALES. I have never seen a scenario like this before in my 48 years going to the track. I wasn’t born the last time a 3 yr old filly pulled this off (1945).

02 Sep 2009 1:36 PM
Karen in Indiana

Colettemarie, what a wonderful story. It brings tears to my eyes.

02 Sep 2009 2:36 PM
Steve Haskin

Thanks to everyone for your comments.

Bert, I havent heard about that, but it sounds wonderful -- a great story. I'll have to ask Gary about it.

AJ, I don't like post #3. You can bet those jocks are going to try to put her in box, and she's breaking right next to a big bruiser in Bullsbay. Those are pretty short odds. This is not the easy spot people think it is.

02 Sep 2009 2:42 PM

ColetteMarie, wow, that was so good of them. One thing you can say about MTB connections, they show support for their fans...remember them handing out the Roses from the actual KD wreath?

02 Sep 2009 2:53 PM

Granted that for most North American owners and trainers, the Kentucky Derby is THE RACE most coveted. However Derby Fever is the primary cause of the downward slide of many top prospects careers. How many of the losers of previous Kentucky Derbies would trade being an also ran for actually winning Grade 1 races down the road. I would expect that the number of wins from the 95 also rans in the last 5 derbies would be less than 50. So many of them running when they are simply not ready.

There is a big difference between pointing your horse to the a big race, having things go right in the preparation leading up to it and either win because your good enough or lose because your not and move on. Or pointing to the big race, missing training days and prep races for any number of reasons, stuffing the horse in the starting gate anyway and most likely losing. The Travers has three interesting horses that say a lot about running a horse when it's ready versus making the schedule.. Mine That Bird..probably could have run, not 100%, skip the race. Our Edge.. 2 Bar Shoes.. not exactly 100%..EASED.  Quality Road...Long Layoff, 6f race to a mile and a quarter..not exactly 100%. Ran his eyeballs out..future TBD.. I don't expect him to perform well if at all up to the Breeders Cup. Should have been in the Kings Bishop, win or lose he gets more out the race and sets up for stretching out in distance next time.

02 Sep 2009 3:00 PM


02 Sep 2009 3:02 PM

Collette -- what a once in a lifetime experience for you and your boy.  I'm truly happy for you, since I remember you as being Mine That Bird's #1 fan throughout it all, defending his honor always.  And what can I say about Chip Woolley and Kim (she must be the blonde woman that looked so disappointed at the finish of the Preakness, but turned to Chip and gave him a sweet kiss).  Excellent story all the way around, truly moving.  What's that expression?  A person's true character is what they do when no one's looking.

GunBow, thanks for the info on General Challenge.  And Needler, you are so funny, thank you also.  What I take from all this is that horses are not necessarily intelligent beings, in the way that the trait is defined by humans, so when someone claims their horse is highly intelligent it is all relative.  What they lack upstairs they more than make up for in athleticism, heart and beauty.

LDP -- yeah, look what that Zenyatta has done... win 12 straight.  One in brilliant fashion on the DIRT at Oaklawn.  How terrible... don't you just hate her.

About the synthetics in CA, and how they play.  I'm by no means an expert, but I do keep my ears open and try to learn as much as I can.  What's being said is that synthetics are inconsistent and dependent on the maintenance schedule and moisture content.  That would be a good topic for a future blog.

The #3 post for RA could mean that she will run on the lead to prevent being boxed in on the rail, right?

02 Sep 2009 3:12 PM

Rachel's morning line is 1 to 2 against G1 winning older males.  We are seeing history that may never be seen again.  Go Rachel go !  17 in a row here we come !!!

02 Sep 2009 3:33 PM
Saratoga AJ


Yes I would have preferred the out side posts (7 or 8) too. Borel will have to give her a good ride with the speed coming out of #'s 1,4 &8 . That 8 lbs is going to be important.

I'm counting on that explosive move at the top of the stretch to get her home. This is not going to be easy. If she pulls it off...we will all witness history. And perhaps our biggest star since the 70's.

02 Sep 2009 4:01 PM
Mike Relva


How are you? We are visiting one of your fav horses,Invasor on Sept.12,can't wait to see him.

02 Sep 2009 4:03 PM

ColetteMarie,  What a beautiful story!!  Obviously, Mine That Bird and his connections are all that is best about racing.  It's not really the best to cry at work but I just couldn't help it.  I could just picture MTB chewing those carrots!  You brought so many people great joy with your story - just like Chip and MTB brought to you.  That story should be broadcast on a sports show instead of the awful stuff we so often see.

02 Sep 2009 4:23 PM
Matthew W

When I read where Jess said they're running against the best older horses in the country this weekend, I thought maybe they were going in the Pacific Classic, against Einstein, Rail Trip and Colonel John! And did I also read correctly that he may shut her down after the Woiodward?...On the heels of Icon Project's awesome race, would at least like to see her try her out if she's not gonna try Zenyatta--of corse she's got my vote right now for HOY, but I wish THAT wasn't the end-all---This certainly HAS been a year for shining stars! Here's hoping for more top races/here's hoping they all come back healthy!

02 Sep 2009 4:52 PM
Matthew W

Colette Marie--Thanks for the tale...glad to see they're coming out for the Cup AND coming for the Goodwood, a smart move as horses usually need a prep on pro ride....That little gelding will be around for years, along with Rail Trip--geldings don't need excuses not to run, maybe that's why I love them so much!

02 Sep 2009 4:55 PM
Steve Haskin

Mike, that is fantastic. They're really nice at Shadwell. Give Invasor a pat on the head or a carrot for me.

02 Sep 2009 5:38 PM

Colette Marie:

I want to chime in and thank you as well. Great story. Chip has been almost perfect in how he has handled the media, the fans, and most importantly, his horse(MTB). Chip and Kim deserve much appreciation for what they have given fans, and how they have shared their beloved MTB.

Alot of people criticized Chip for running in the West Virginia Derby rather than the Haskell or Jim Dandy. Before going into further details, it should be acknowledged that the Travers was the ultimate summer goal for Chip and MTB, and whichever of the 3 races MTB ran in, it was going to be, in large part, a prep. Beyond that, Chip had already promised fans that he was going to run MTB in the W.V. Derby, and the area was eagerly awaiting the opportunity to see the first ever Derby winner run in the state of West Virginia.  

I was one of the many thousands who were glad that Chip kept his word and brought MTB to Mountaineer, because with Mountaineer only a 4 hour drive from where I live, I was able to see MTB in person another time(I attended the Derby).  And believe me, Mountaineer was rockin all day. As a side note, I was able to walk alongside MTB for 15 yards as he was making the journey from the stable to the paddock before the WV Derby, with co-owner Mark Allen handling the reins(Chip was still on crutches).

How big was MTB's presence in the area? Well, the week before, I was in Pittsburgh(about an hour outside Mountaineer) and attended the Meadows (harness) racetrack, and watched the elims of the $700k Adios Pace. For some unknown reason, both the Meadows and Mountaineer had scheduled their headlining events for the same afternoon(August 1st- Montaineer with the WV Derby and the Meadows with the Final of the Adios). When I was at the Meadows that Friday(July 24th), I asked other patrons where they were going to be the following week. Even though the Adios Final was going to feature the top 5 3 year old pacers in North America, including the brilliant Well Said(winner of the $1.5 million North America Cup and $ 1 million Meadowlands Pace), who set an all-age track record when he won one of the 3 elims, to a person those I asked answered that they would be at Mountaineer to see MTB. As they said, the Adios comes along every year, but seeing a Kentucky Derby winner in person was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

02 Sep 2009 6:18 PM

As I started following horse racing, I purchased Peter Chew's The Kentucky Derby, The First 100 Years.  Steve, you mentioned the forgotten Chateaugay, but there's a great picture of him going up on his hind legs in the Derby winner's circle.  At the Derby Museum I watched his 1963 video, and something really got to him in the winner's circle.  

02 Sep 2009 6:30 PM


Every year, about half the field in the Kentucky Derby run terribly in the race, and either are injured during the race or shortly thereafter, or sour the rest of the year. This was true once again this year, even though the connections of EVERY Derby starter declared before the race that their horse "couldn't be doing any better". Not only is the Derby a tough race physically and mentally for the horses, but "Derby Fever" can impair the judgment of trainers and, in particular, owners. Thus, the Derby field ALWAYS features a few horses that have no business being in the race, whether because they are outclassed, off-form, or have some undetected injury(call me naive, but I think even the most egotistical owners and trainers would not run a horse with a clear and potentially serious injury. However, "Derby Fever" may temporary blind them, and affect their ability to detect the injury in the first place, or judge the seriousness of the injury).

2009 Derby casualty list(horses either injured or given extended time off for preventive reasons, as well as those running poorly):

West Side Benie(wasn't he sold to Godolphin? Why isn't he running?),

Musket Man

Mr Hot Stuff(in retrospect, he had no business running in the Derby; a complete rush-job)

Advice(running poorly)

Friesan Fire

Join in the Dance(although coming back soon)

Regal Ransom

Chocolate Candy

General Quarters

I Want Revenge(what a debacle!)


Pioneer of the Nile

Desert Party

Flying Private(where is he? He and MTB were the only horses to run in all 3 of the Triple Crown races).

The good news is that those horses that survived the Derby and Triple Crown Trail(and all the prep races leading to the Derby) are on top of the 3 year old division, with Summer Bird and Mine That Bird #1 and #2.  Hold Me Back ran a strong 2nd in the Travers, and Papa Clem ran a respectable 4th in the Haskell.

02 Sep 2009 6:42 PM
The Rock

IMO, If you're ever going to beat Rachel Alexandra (from a handicapping perspective), now is the time. Facing older horses for the first time, a pretty tough campaign, the toughest competition she's seen yet. If she wins, I'll be happy for her no doubt about it. As a gambler, I'd wheel two other horses on top in a Tri and hope she runs off the board at that price. Payoffs would be pretty sweet if that happened. If she wins, you won't see a frown on my face as I tear up my ticket. =).

02 Sep 2009 7:12 PM

ColletteMarie, thank you for sharing your wonderful story about Chip & MTB.  So great of Kim to be reading here & make it happen, too!

Mine That Bird is the reason I hang out at these days, the reason I've come back to following races and the horses that run them.  He's a very special little guy with special Connections.  

You and your son will enjoy this funny little video, I think:

(hope the link works ok)

02 Sep 2009 8:16 PM
Saratoga AJ


I remember the 1963 Derby well. Going into the race, it was the "big three"....Candy Spots from the West Coast, Never Bend from the East Coast, and the hot newcomer No Robbery from NY, who won the Wood Memorial easily in terrific time despite going so wide on the turn for home he ran the length of Aqueduct's stretch along the the right side rail!

And wouldn't you know it..all three lost to 12-1 Chateaugay.

02 Sep 2009 8:32 PM
Karen in Indiana

Gunbow, you're right about Mr. Hot Stuff being rushed. Colonel John was an exception to most Tiznow's maturing later. MHS was in a race, allowance or optional claimer at Del Mar (don't remember which) about 5 weeks ago and was stuck near the rail and just went with the flow. Then he ran 2 weeks later in an allowance at Del Mar and ran on the outside and did much better, came in third. I've been concerned that maybe pushing him before he was ready might have soured him on racing, which would be sad because he has potential.

02 Sep 2009 9:10 PM


So sweet of you to share that personal encounter with Chip, Kim and Mine That Bird.  Horseracing does have some encouraging upsides to it apart from the action on the track ...some really kindhearted people.  Thanks.

02 Sep 2009 9:48 PM
Paula Higgins

Colette Marie what a beautiful story!!! Chip Wooley and Kim are clearly sweethearts. Who knew! A wonderul thing for them to do for your little boy and a memory he will have for a lifetime. Really gladdens my heart.

Steve, you write with words the way an artist uses oils. Literally creating a picture of the horses and the people you write about.

ITA about the third spot. I don't love it either for Rachel. Hopefully, she will rise above the potential problems.

Draynay, Citation, wow! Talk about a memory for a lifetime.

02 Sep 2009 10:00 PM
Mike Relva


Thanks! We are also spending the nite at Old Friends after leaving Shadwell. BTW, Invasor is one of my favs,too.

02 Sep 2009 10:00 PM


I agree that the Woodward is not a given for Rachel. There is a reason no filly or mare has ever won the race, and why no 3 year old filly has ever defeated older males in a gr.1 around 2 turns(or beyond a mile). While the handicap division is subpar, Rachel will be meeting the best older males on the East Coast, and on a given day, a number of them are capable of running a race equal to Rachel's performances in the Oaks(108 Beyer), Preakness(108), and even Mother Goose(111, but if Rachel runs back to the Haskell, and her 116 fig, I think she wins by a comfortable 2-3 lengths).

If folks remember, when we were debating where Rachel should run next, the competition in the Alabama, Personal Ensign, and even Travers was considered by many to be rather mediocre. Well, Careless Jewel went out and ran a 106 Beyer in the Alabama, Summer Bird ran a 110 in the Travers, and Icon Project a 114 in the Personal Ensign.

As with many on this blog, I've been following racing enough to know there really is never a "sure thing". In fact, the first stakes race I saw in person was the 1989 Chula Vista(now Clement Hirsch) at Del Mar, and my reason for going to the race, the great Bayakoa, finished last at 7/10, as the filly she had handled easily in their 4 previous matchups, the excellent Goodbye Halo, drew off to win by almost 2.

I was also in attendance for the 1990 Hollywood Gold Cup, when defending Horse of the Year, the brilliant Sunday Silence at 1/2, was beaten a head by Criminal Type(future Horse of the Year receiving 5 lbs).

6 years later, I was at Del Mar when Cigar brought out a record crowd(some from the Republican Convention in nearby San Diego) going for an historic 17th straight win in the Pacific Classic.  Jerry Bailey and Bill Mott, who had seen their Geri come up short against a loose on the lead Siphon in the Hollywood Gold Cup, paid Siphon perhaps too much respect in the Pacific Classic, entangling Cigar in a wicked speed duel with that horse through a half in 45 and 4, 6 furlongs in 1:09 and 1, and a mile in 1:33 and 3. The duel set up the dramatic run of Dare and Go, who left the crowd as deflated as a burst balloon. Watch a replay of the race and one can actually hear the gasps from the crowd as Dare and Go passed Cigar and then the near silence as Dare and Go crossed the wire. I've only twice heard a track go silent like that, and the second of them is what I want to discuss next.

Above, I reminisced about the 2004 Belmont. As I wrote, it was a fantastic race, in which Smarty did quite well to maintain the lead for as long as he did in the stretch.  After the crowd had erupted when Smarty opened that 3-4 length lead on the far turn, the sight of Birdstone crossing the wire literally left many in the crowd at Belmont speechless and in disbelief.  I was standing on the seond floor [right behind the last row of seats- a great place to watch a Triple Crown race because unlike Churchill and Pimlico, Belmont allows (haven't been since 2006 so I am not sure they still do) people to move around the grandstand without a designated seat and stand to watch races behind the last row of seating. And in 2004 general admission for Belmont day was just $2] next to a group of young Irish tourists and a father and son who had driven from Iowa to see the race, and they were all so very disappointed. However, their moods brightened up a bit after I explained to them that, given the fast pace, Smarty had run a valiant race and that Birdstone was a pretty good horse in his own right.  

By odds, the biggest upset (of a particular horse) I ever saw in person was Gentlemen losing the 1998 Santa Anita Handicap at 1-20, after what was supposed to be his toughest challenger, Silver Charm, had scratched the day before. Hindsight has made that race easier to understand; first Gentlemen bled during the running of the race, second Gentlemen would prove not to be the horse in 98' he had been in 97', and finally, the winner, Malek, turned out to be a much better horse than most thought, running 2nd and 4th in the 99' and 98' Dubai World Cups, and 2nd in the 99' Hollywood Gold Cup.

In addition to witnessing, first hand, these supposed "sure things" get beaten(and Bayakoa, Sunday Silence, Cigar, Smarty Jones and Gentlemen were all outstanding horses), I was also at Churchill to see both Giacomo and Mine That Bird capture the Derby at 50-1.

Not to be just a doomsday proponent, I have also seen many favorites go out and deliver knock-out performances, including Rachel in this year's Kentucky Oaks. As amazed as I was with her after that race, I'm not sure I would have believed someone had they told me that she was going to go on to win the Preakness, Mother Goose by 19 in a stakes record time, defeat the Belmont-Travers winner and others by 6 lengths in the Haskell, and then try older males in the Woodward. What she has accomplished is truly amazing and historic, and in my 20 years in the sport I have no reference point with which to compare her. There have been some really good 3 year old fillies over the last 2 decades, including Go For Wand, Serena's Song, Rags to Riches, Dance Smartly, Silverbulletday, Open Mind, Heavenly Prize, and Ashado. However, none of them ever won 2 grade 1 races over males and none even tried gr.1 older males, at least when they were 3. (note: Serena's Song did win the Haskell and gr.2 Jim Beam, but ran 16th in the Derby. As a 4 year old, she ran 7th in the Big Cap and 2nd, by a head, in the Whitney.  Dance Smartly won all 3 legs of the Canadian Triple Crown over males, but those race were restricted to Canadian breds. While I respect Canadian racing, there was a big difference between defeating Shudanz and fellow filly Wildnerness Song than defeating Hansel, Strike the Gold, and Best Pal. However, Dance Smartly did win the gr.2 Molson Million over colts, a race which was open to non-Canadian breds and included the previous year's Eclipse champion 2 year old, Fly So Free.  Of course, Rags to Riches was one of only 4 females to win a Triple Crown race over the last 80 years, defeating Horse of the Year Curlin in that epic stretch battle. Unfortunately, Rags didn't win another race in her career after the Belmont. Silverbulletday tried males once in her career, but only ran 7th in the 99' Belmont.  Heavenly Prize, the 3 year old filly champ in 94', didn't face males until 96', when she was asked to tackle Cigar in the gr.1 Donn. Heavenly Prize tried hard, but was no match to the great male, and finished 3rd(beaten 6) with another multiple gr.1 winning male, Wekiva Springs, 2nd. Finally, Open Mind, Ashado, and Go Gor Wand never tried males in a graded stakes race. Yet, I do believe if Go For Wand could have run back to her Test, Alabama, and Beldame victories, she had the ability to win a gr.1 against males, even though the 3 year old males and handicap horses were strong divisions in 91'. Unfortunately, we will never know.)

Good luck to all the horses and jockeys this weekend. Most importantly, may they all be safe.

02 Sep 2009 11:35 PM

GunBow, do you remember the start of that string of 16 wins by Cigar?  I think it was in the Donn, where he met the heavily favored Holy Bull.  HB, unfortunately, broke down and had to be retired.

The reason I remember that race is a fellow sitting next to me in the SA walking ring area hit the tri big time.  He told me in checking HB's record, he noticed he either won or ran out.  So, he threw him out, put Cigar on top of the others and scored.  So sad for racing that loss of Holy Bull.

One other thing about that win by Dare and Go - Frankel's two time winner, Tinner's Way had to be pulled up.  But, yes, the Craig's party for the Paulsons turned into a wake, that night after the stunning loss.

03 Sep 2009 9:53 AM

Good Morning, Mr. Haskin. Thank you for your very kind response. I received your email yesterday, but not before I left work at 7:30 in  morning. I am, unfortunately, still  dealing with basically half a computer at home. My present computer has a very weird virus that allows me to read email, but not respond to it. I can, however, post on this blog. Who knows why computers do what they do, but I do know I need a new one & have finally made a decision on whether our new one should be a MAC or a PC. That took some research since I want to make sure I get the best one for Morgan considering his learning disabilities. I struggle to keep up with technology to make sure I am always aware of what is out there that will help Morgan be  successful in his school career & beyond.  As he gets older, it becomes more & more difficult to help him maintain his self esteem. While his reading comprehension is above his school grade level, when read to, he is unable to read for himself beyond a low grade school level. So, computer technology will be an important key to his independence. I read to him every day. Every day, he asks me to Google 'Mine That Bird' so he can keep up with the new articles written about 'Mine That Bird'. He truly loves that horse! I bet Chip & Kim have no idea that reading about MTB has also led to geography lessons & history lessons while learning more about the South West.

Mr. Haskin,since I can't respond to your email from my home computer, I wanted to respond here on the blog.  Of course it is fine to use our story in whatever way you would like. I also believe Chip & Kim are great ambassadors  for horse racing & more people should know. They are such a positive presence. How they have handled themselves since being thrust into the public eye is remarkable.

Kim, thank you for posting. I also cannot thank you & Chip enough for how special you made Morgan feel. It brought tears to my eyes when a few days after meeting MTB, I watched Morgan showing off his pictures to his 2 cousins. His 2 cousins are very good baseball players & are frequently in the local paper & sought after to play for various teams. I watched Morgan's face as we showed them his pictures of MTB & Chip. They were very impressed & Morgan was thrilled. He loved his moment in the limelight, esp. when one of his cousins showed the pictures to his team mates & coach when Morgan brought them with him when we went to his cousin's game. Kids with autism often struggle with sports & Morgan has sometimes felt bad about  it. So, for him to have the team crowd around him to see his pictures, in the dugout, was great for him. When he came back to me,in the stands, he had the most content look on his face & told me he would keep those pictures forever.  So, both you & Chip continue to make Morgan feel special & I will always be grateful. We both have a fantastic memory of a lifetime. I truly pray that all goes well for you, Chip & MTB for years & years to come.

You must be so thrilled to have Chip & MTB home. I had hoped to meet you when you came to NY for the Traver's. Hopefully, next year. Have a great time on Monday at Ruidado Downs.  


03 Sep 2009 10:02 AM

Steve, agree with your assessment of the Woodward. My hat will come off for theRA connections if she pulls this off.A big bet against under normal circumstances, but the fact she will be 8/5 or less is incredible. If it were me putting up the m/l, 5/2...maybe 3/1. This race will have everything.Quality speed, pressers and legit closers. I would look for the outside 2 runners having a big say in the outcome...both have had a relatively light '09 campaign, and both should benefit from what looks to be an unfair pace set up to no one. May they all return safely, if RA pulls this off[my $ is vs], my hat goes off to her, as she truly will take a spot with the elite of all time. Speaking of the Shadwell organization, I personally would not be surprised to see one of their trainers in the winners circle post Woodward '09.

03 Sep 2009 10:46 AM


Interesting comment and very long winded but, very good too...wish I could have been around like you have.....

03 Sep 2009 11:38 AM


I was at the '90 Hollywood Gold Cup too.  I was devastated that SS lost but he was my favorite horse and truly one of racing's greats.  They don't always win.

I agree, the Woodward will be Rachel's biggest test.  As Steve stated, they will probably try to pin her in and with her PP it's entirely possible that will happen.

Borel just may be able to guide her out of harm's way, let's hope.

If she loses, I don't feel it will diminish her at all.  After all a 3 year old filly is hard pressed to win against older males but part of me keeps thinking that she's a very special filly and has a tremendous will to win.  If she pulls this off....what then?  Does she then have to run in the JCGC?  The Beldame, which she will only run if Zenyatta is there, what more does she have to do.  Everyone keeps clamoring for more.  If she loses the Woodward, she will probably run again but really, hasn't she done enough?  She's had a long campaign compared to many others.  I just hope that all the horses come back sound and healthy, ready to race another day.

03 Sep 2009 11:58 AM

Matthew W, the Woodward won't be Rachel's last race, just her last race as a 3 y/o, at least that's the impression I got.

03 Sep 2009 3:19 PM

One thing I'd like to see for the Woodward is some sunshine.  I seems like every race this season has been affected by rainy weather.  Either it poured the day before or the whole week or the track had 8 hours to dry and was sticky or something, right down to the slop last weekend.

03 Sep 2009 4:05 PM

Despite everything said on all of the blogs (even by me), thanks to Jess Jackson for running Rachel where she should be run and not hiding her strictly in filly division stakes.

She is a beautiful filly and its gonna be fun, no matter what, to see what she does.

03 Sep 2009 4:23 PM

After Rachel wins the Woodward I hope Mr. Jackson points her to the Jockey Gold after Zenyatta passes on meeting Rachel in the Beldame. A win in the Jockey Gold would cement her as one of the greatest 3 year old horses ever.

03 Sep 2009 5:53 PM

Great article as usual Steve

I would just like to say that I am so glad these three year olds are finally getting the respect they deserve;(colts and fillies). I felt all along that they were an exceptional bunch and now they are proving it again and again. I also love that we have some nice down to earth newcomers in the game. Wooley and Rice are what horseracing needs. I wish them all the success and joy this sport can bring. Some day in the future, I hope to shake their hands and tell them so in person. There is nothing like meeting folks you admire and giving them your encouragement.

03 Sep 2009 6:49 PM

Monica the answer is yes she has done enough.  Some still say crazy things like she can't get 1 1/4.  If Zenyatta won't ship to face her which after she wins the Woodward Zenyatta's connections will want no part of her.  I hope Jackson will go for all the marbles and run her last race this year in the Jockey Gold.  A win there makes her the best 3 year old horse ever in my opinion. 17 in a row here we come.

03 Sep 2009 9:47 PM
Greg J.

Mr. Haskin,

      Once again, Thank You !


       Hello, Hope you and Morgan are doing great!  I am sure Morgan has seen this,  If not, He is going to love it...

"Mine that Bird" in "Bird Ball":

03 Sep 2009 11:29 PM


I'm long winded? lol

Yep. somethin Ive been trying to change for a while. I'll keep trying.

By the way, did anybody hear about....oops. I'll stop.

04 Sep 2009 12:26 AM
Saratoga AJ

Draynay, and all:

Thought you would like this a follow up to Steve's article last year on Prove Out/Secretariat confrontation ("The Unbeatable Horse").

04 Sep 2009 10:39 AM

I always admire your insight, and especially when you write about Triple Crown races.

However, I have to say that you missed the boat regarding Quality Road. I'm sure you would criticize anyone who would try to run the Ky Derby with one 6.5-furlong prep (regardless of how fantastic it was), after a 4-month lay-off. (by the way, has it ever been attempted?)

Quality Road had no business running in the Travers under those circumstances, and while he did run well enought to finish third, I have to criticize his connections for not thinking this more thoroughly. This is one of the ways classy horses get injured, because of the rush to enter them in races they are not fit enough to run. He would have shown his true colors at a mile, after only such prep.

I'm not taking anything away from Summer Bird, who won fair & square, by following a plan, and being as fit as he can be. Kudos to his connections, for doing right by the horse.  

And I agree 100% with you. I love Rachel, but not everything has to be about her...My god...

04 Sep 2009 11:22 AM

Loved the video, Greg J!

They should paint that ball copper red with blue blinkers!!!

04 Sep 2009 12:24 PM

Thank you, Colette Marie, for sharing that story. Autism, in all it's various forms and levels, makes life difficult for those with it, often ostracized for being different.  Yet some of these people are extremely intelligent.  Sounds like your son might be dyslectic, yet capable beyond many to learn aurally.  I thank Chip and company for giving your son a memory he will treasure.

Who says horses aren't smart?  Loved that MIB chewed his food thoroughly.  Sounds like he's not a candidate like some horse-hogs for choke.  The video of MIB attacking his ball, egged on by his groom, was just too much.  Sure sounds like MIB understands!

I'm betting too that MIB instinctively connected with your son.  I have seen horses put up with things from kids that would get an adult in trouble. (Not saying that about your son)  It's like they just "know."

FYI, I had a horse that out on the trail, when I was a not-so-best-decision-making-kid, get it and me out of trouble.  So I think like people, they come with all types of intelligence.

Anyone know if MIB's epiglottis issue could have affected his last couple of races?  

04 Sep 2009 1:38 PM

Collettemarie: Thank you so much for sharing your story. Unfortunately I had some fairly harsh words about Chip when MTB won the derby. This is just proof that first impressions aren't always accurate. Since then I have seen another side of Chip and have grown to genuinly like this guy and of course always loved his little horse. After reading your story I can't help but think we need more Chip's in this industry. You and your son are very fortunate to have spent time with both Chip and MTB. What a once in a lifetime experience.

Horsefirst: I agree with you 100%. Whoever doesn't think horses are smart is someone who has never spent any time with one. They are smarter than we know.

04 Sep 2009 2:45 PM
Karen in Texas

Cute "Bird Ball" video, Greg J. Thanks!

04 Sep 2009 4:18 PM

Steve, I don't know if you can answer this question but maybe one of the bloggers can.  Who was the last 3 year old to win five G1 races in a row including a win over elders? Maybe Gunbow can come through with the answer.

05 Sep 2009 10:24 AM

I know we are all TB racing fans here. But, I just happened to turn on TVG & the Preview to the Futurity Show was on. I found out that Mine That Bird's owners also have a horse racing in the Futurity on Monday. That is so cool!! I didn't turn on the TV in time to catch the horse's name, but did hear Mike Joyce say that there has never been a year where the owner of any horse racing in the Kentucky Derby (much less the winner)also has a horse racing the QH Championship Futurity. So, not only will they have Mine That Bird leading the post parade, they also have a horse racing. They must be so excited. How cool would it be if the owners of the Kentucky Derby (TB)also won the Futurity (QH).


05 Sep 2009 10:54 AM


    Does it count if the streak starts as a 3yr old and continues into the 4yr old year. If it does Curlin did i believe, starting with his win in the 07 JCGC.

05 Sep 2009 12:35 PM

Maybe Sea the Stars?

(Not over elders but that has yet to happen with another current three year old)

fifth G1 in a row....

2000 Guineas




Irish Champion Stakes.

05 Sep 2009 1:38 PM

I am looking for an AMERICAN horse 3 years old that won 5 G1 races in a row including beating older males.  Anyone other than Rachel in racing history ?

05 Sep 2009 11:08 PM

Look at my namesake.  Not that it did him any good at the end of the year.  No 3yo ever had a better year than Easy Goer and yet ended up without an Eclipse award.


Whitney (over older)


Woodward (over older)

JCGC (over older)

06 Sep 2009 8:16 AM
Ron T

You are absolutey right about Summer Bird he is a fast improoving horse, if he stay sound we may see a very good older horse running next year ulike this year.

we are lucky to have Rachael Alexandra otherwise we would be looking at a bunch of claimers beating each others

06 Sep 2009 8:58 AM


    As i said, Curlin's streak was started as a three year old, and started when he beat older males, in two consecutive starts, the JCGC and the BCC. I say him because his winning streak started as a three year old.

06 Sep 2009 10:26 AM

What's your next criteria Draynay, when someone does come up with the horse that accomplished what you asked?  That they be born only in Kentucky?

Maybe not all of these were Grade I, dunno if they were graded the same back then, but here's a horse who ran in major stakes for the time and won 10 in a row his three year old year including races beyond 1-1/4 miles- Man O' War:

Preakness Stakes (1920)

Belmont Stakes (1920)

Travers Stakes (1920)

Jockey Club Gold Cup (1920)

Lawrence Realization Stakes (1920)

Stuyvesant Handicap (1920)

Miller Stakes (1920)

Withers Stakes (1920)

Potomac Handicap (1920)

Dwyer Stakes (1920)

Oh, and he carried a lot more weight in his career, too:

As a two-year-old, he carried 130 pounds in 6 races, as a three-year-old, he carried as much as 138 pounds in races, giving away as much as 32 pounds to other horses.

He also won, in a row, 7 stakes and a futurity at two, before the Sanford.

I suppose the next criteria will be that the horse has to have run within the last 10 years....

06 Sep 2009 3:49 PM

Yes, I think Summerbird is well deserving,starting at the end of the Belmont.  I've often wondered what may have happened to him if BLINKERS were never applied ?????

06 Sep 2009 11:11 PM

Good eye, Draynay, the horse trained by B.L.Woolley Jr.,raced 9/6/09 (Monday),at Ruidoso Downs,N.M.  Sorry,(Louisianafeature One) came in 6th.Race 11 on the card.

06 Sep 2009 11:39 PM

HorseFirst I was really looking for a horse in the last 40 years since they had a Graded Stakes system.  They had none in 1920 so Man O War would not be the answer.  I really am interested to know if any horse at 3 has won 5 G1 races in a row including beating older males.  Curlin winning as a four year old doesn't count I want to know if another 3 year old has done what Rachel has done.

07 Sep 2009 12:03 AM
Karen in Indiana

HorseFirst, people tend to forget him because that happened so long ago, but when the facts are written out the way you have them, it's very easy to see why he's #1 on the Bloodhorse list. Can you imagine what would happen if a horse ran as many times now as he did then and carried as much weight, especially as a 2 year old?

07 Sep 2009 9:28 AM


Don't kid yourself.  Your namesake got beaten three times out of four meetings by Sunday Silence as a 3YO, in the Kentucky Derby, The Preakness (greatest ever) and the Breeder's Cup Classic.  

Now please tell us which of these two had the better year and was more deserving of the Eclipse award.  Easy Goer was also my favourite 3YO that year but he was undoubtedly second best.  Be honest pal.

07 Sep 2009 10:46 AM

Folks, you can win 5 Grade 1 races including multiple victories over older horses and still be second best.  Beware of statistics that hide certain facts/truth.  Everything including greatness is relative.

07 Sep 2009 10:53 AM


    I think Dray is just going to keep narrowing down the criteria, until it's only RA that can be choses. Dray, Curlin's streak STARTED as a three year old, and continued into his four year old year, so starting as a three year old he did string togeather a win streak of five consecutive Grade ones, all against older horses.

07 Sep 2009 1:39 PM

Ranagulzion, all I said was that Easy Goer had the best year of any 3yo who did NOT win an Eclipse award.  I certainly did not say that he should have won it. Please give me credit for knowing that he was second best that year.  Please give me credit for not kidding myself and for being honest.  I just wanted to answer the question about 5 Grade one wins for a 3yo with three of them being over older horses.  Easy Goer did it.

07 Sep 2009 3:11 PM

Easy Goer !!! Thank you GunBow ! Wow.. 20 years.  Unreal.

07 Sep 2009 8:08 PM


I was at the All American yesterday.  The horses name was Winner's Cartel.  Didn't win though  I think he was 5 or 6th.  They had the largest crowd on hand over 30 thousand and most were there to see Mine That Bird.  We got rained on but it did not dampen the sprits of the crowd.  They brought him out under tack with a rider on and parades him in front of the stands  and then the post parade came.  He then went back to the paddock and the cheers were loud.  I was lucky enough to get some pictures.  He was lead by Chip on a stable pony. Also as I was in the car trying to get out. I saw Chip walking by...He's off his chutches now and seems to be walking well.  Even with the rain it was a fun day.

08 Sep 2009 10:57 AM

LDP ?  I knew maybe 1 or 2 others had done it but could not come up with who.  Some of the all time greats could not do it so the record speaks for itself.

08 Sep 2009 11:06 AM
Shawn P

Wins over elders THREE TIMES. At several distances, without a weight allowance and I don't think he's on the tip of the tongue of casual fans, a shame.

Ask a casual fan, they know a filly beat older horses. Not much beyond that.

08 Sep 2009 11:26 AM


If you're still reading this say five G-1's in a row is fair, but it is also a stretch.....What about those horses that have won 6 or 7 graded races in a row, many of them G-1's, but have lower graded races mixd in.  That automatically takes them out of it.

08 Sep 2009 3:49 PM


    Lol, it just gets easier and easier to push your buttons. That last comment of mine was called a bait my friend. Obviously you took, lol, just chill.

08 Sep 2009 6:12 PM

Hi SecretariatFan!

It was great that you got to see Mine That Bird at Ruidodo Downs. Morgan & I watched it on TV. How cool for him & Chip that their presence there drew a record breaking crowd. I was very happy to see Chip up on a horse during the post parade. He must have been so proud! It must feel great for him to be able to be off crutches & to do things that he has probably normally done his whole life. Mine That Bird looked great. I wonder if he thought he was going to race when he led the post parade. Commentator, another gelding, officially retired at Saratoga on Labor Day. He is a 10 yr. old, so he raced for many years. To honor him, Saratoga had a Commentator Stakes race & Commentator led the post parade. The poor guy thought he was out there heading for the starting gate for a race. He got all worked up & a little lathered. Mine That Bird looked cool, calm & collected. He didn't seem confused, at all, like poor Commentator. I guess Chip told him what he was doing ahead of time & Nick Zito forgot to explain it to Commentator!!LOL

Thank you for sharing your day at Ruidodo Downs.


09 Sep 2009 8:17 AM

Did anyone get word on how The Pamplemousse is doing?  What farm is he rehabbing at?

18 Sep 2009 10:53 PM

Recent Posts



Social Media

More Blogs