A Decade of Recaps

This is not really a blog, but a preview of what will appear in this space over the next couple of weeks. Rather than simply take a few weeks off from the blog, every two or three days I will reprint the original recaps of some of my favorite races and stories of the decade, mainly Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup events, as they appeared on Bloodhorse.com.

I hope you enjoy them, either again if you’ve already read them or for the first time.

The nine or 10 recaps that will be published in their entirety beginning Monday morning will be chosen from the following list, All suggestions are welcome. Who knows, I may eventually spread them out over several months and reprint them all, but that may be overkill. I’ll play that one by ear.

Zenyatta’s 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Rachel Alexandra’s 2009 Preakness
Rachel Alexandra’s 2009 Woodward Stakes
Summer Bird’s 2009 Belmont Stakes
Big Brown’s 2008 Kentucky Derby
Rags to Riches’ 2007 Belmont
Curlin’s 2007 Preakness
Street Sense’s 2007 Kentucky Derby
Invasor’s 2006 BC Classic
Afleet Alex’s 2005 Belmont
Giacomo’s 2005 Kentucky Derby
Smarty Jones’ 2004 Kentucky Derby
Pleasantly Perfect’s 2003 BC Classic
Empire Maker’s 2003 Belmont
Volponi’s 2002 BC Classic
War Emblem’s 2002 Kentucky Derby
Tiznow’s 2001 BC Classic
Monarchos’ 2001 Kentucky Derby
Tiznow’s 2000 BC Classic

Still searching for 2006 Derby and Preakness (this one is still tough to read).

92 Comments

Leave a Comment:

LDP

Looks like a very good list Steve, especially since before a couple years back I didn't start blogging, which means I will be seeing at least half of these for the first time! I think from the Invasor's Classic and down has not been read, by me at least, so I'm sure I'll be in for a treat! the 2006 Derby and Preakness....The mention of those races makes the happiest person in the world fall into a slightly darker world. I can't imagine how hard it is for you to re-read it let alone for you to have written it.

12 Dec 2009 1:02 PM
Karren E.

A few more worth considering:

Point Given's 2001 Belmont.  Rachel's 2009 Kentucky Oaks.  

Barbaro's 2006 Derby.

Curlin's 2008 Dubai World Cup.

12 Dec 2009 1:15 PM
Brian Zipse

This will be a treat!

12 Dec 2009 1:34 PM
Jonas luva

Awsome!!!!!!!

12 Dec 2009 1:49 PM
Ragsy

Steve

I wish you could add what Karen E. stated....sounds like your on track to a wonderful ear full...I will forevermoreloveBarbaro....

12 Dec 2009 1:52 PM
Steve Haskin

As I said, Karen, these are my favorite races and recaps. I didnt even cover the 2009 Oaks. I also wrote I cant find Barbaro's Derby recap, and it wasnt one of my favorites anyway.

12 Dec 2009 2:25 PM
Virgil Fox

Steve,

I enjoy reading all of your posts.

My first experience with racing came during a difficult period in my personal life.

In March of 2004 I was dealing with a double-shot of a divorce and being laid-off from my job.  It was the beginning of a long downward spiral as I fell into serious depression, fueled by the slow death of a sick family member, sudden passing of two of my closest friends, and personal bankruptcy – all spread out over the last five years.  Unfortunately, things are really not much better now than in 2004.

When first separated, I returned to live with my parents who still live in Philadelphia, which may allow you to finish the rest of my sob story.

The only thing I know of racing to that point was occasionally recognizing the guy with the white hair and sunglasses on TV holding golden trophies when an NBC commercial was promoting coverage of the Derby.  I figured he was just some rich dude who won the race a bunch of times.

Well, one day in May of 2004, my Father drags me out to one of the fine facilities known as a Turf Club to watch the KYD.  The words ‘contagious’ and ‘inspiring’ don’t quite do justice to my experience that day.  

My father puts $100 across on Smarty Jones (not that I knew what “across” meant) and we watched as the Philadelphia Park super hero came to the center stage of the entire world of sports.  The rest is history.  I became spoiled in the years to come by the somewhat ‘local’ warriors like Afleet Alex, Barbaro, Hard Spun, and perhaps my favorite horse of all – the PA champion sprinter Fabulous Strike.

I didn’t become a successful handicapper, although, having an engineering/science/math background had me ripping through PPs in order to ‘solve the puzzle’.  Racing, handicapping, breeding, human connections, etc. became something to look forward to among much overall discouragement and hard times.  If anything in my life remotely resembles a ‘passion’ it is racing – the sport, the incredible athletes, the human interests, the ‘puzzles’, the locations, the history, the business,  - a reason to take some small interest in life.

Steve, I will appreciate any of the stories that you chose to reprint, but the stories of Smarty Jones’ 2004 Kentucky Derby or Afleet Alex’s 2005 Belmont would be a special treat, and would be a reminder that, as bad as things are, I was so lucky to discover the Sport of Kings – a sport of heroes.

- Peace

12 Dec 2009 2:26 PM
Greg J.

Mr. Haskin,

     Yes, I agree, Your 2006 Preakness Recap was incredibly hard to read then and just as much today, If not more, Here is the link to your recap of that tragic day:

www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx

Also, Just as hard to read, Here is your 2006 Derby Recap, "The Crown Awaits":

www.bloodhorse.com/.../steve-haskins-derby-analysis-the-crown-awaits

Thank You...

12 Dec 2009 2:27 PM
Zookeeper

Splendid Idea, Mr. Haskin... Looking forward to all of them, specially the older ones. You are so great at bringing us THERE. It will be wonderful to relive these great moments. Some of them have faded a little, (except for Tiznow's BC ClassicSS, which have been permanently imprinted in my heart and brain) seeing them again through your words will be a treat indeed.

12 Dec 2009 2:36 PM
Virgil

Steve,

Thank you.  I would especially love to read the recaps of the earlier races, as that was before I was following blogs - but whatever you select - thanks.

Happy Holidays.

12 Dec 2009 2:43 PM
Somethingroyal

Awesome! I'm looking forward to reading your articles Steve.

12 Dec 2009 2:43 PM
Linda in Texas

Steve, i bet i speak for most of us when saying that we wouldn't care if you listed what is in your freezer for the next few months, you most probably could even do that with emotion and heart. However, since 'Horses' is the subject, your list looks wonderful, i remember screaming for Giacomo and was so tickled to see that fella win when he did. Dirt in his face and all. And I won't ever forget Rags to Riches'

Win nor Smarty Jones'. Just ordered some wonderful books from Blood-Horse and one is yours, it will be great reading when you are on hiatus and not writing any articles. Also ordered Anne Eberhardts autographed double book offering and a book on Saratoga, my favorite race track in my favorite town. There are some wonderful bargains and at such a perfect time of the year. Seeing just now that Lava Man has been scratched due to the inclement weather for his comeback race. Still concerned about the feasibility of that but i am not a professional anything when it comes to physical acumen in the soundness of horses department. To you and yours Steve, Joan and Mandy, Have a wonderful Holiday Season. And thanks for the rides you take us all on.

12 Dec 2009 2:59 PM
anna w

why don't you have afleet alex's preakness 2005 on that list?

12 Dec 2009 3:02 PM
personalensign

Curlin's 08 Dubai World Cup

Curlin's 08 Jockey Club Gold Cup

12 Dec 2009 3:31 PM
da3hoss

I liked your Lava Man story...

12 Dec 2009 3:32 PM
Karen in Texas

Nice list! Two of my favorite races ever were Tiznow's 2001 Breeders' Cup and Curlin's 2007 Preakness because both horses were passed or had to regain momentum in deep stretch. Their tasks seemed insurmountable, but they managed to prevail---such anxious exhilaration! I hope those races are published in your recaps.

12 Dec 2009 4:16 PM
Steve Haskin

Virgil, thank you so much for sharing that with us. I'm so happy to hear that the magic of racing has given you a new lease on life. That is a wonderful story, yet very sad, and you can bet Smarty's Derby will be one of the first recaps I post, maybe even the first.

Greg, awesome job, where did you dig these up from? I didnt realize The Horse reprinted it.

Linda, that is so nice of you to say. I appreciate it. I'll give the freezer contents a try and see what I can come up with :) Happy holidays to you and your family as well.

Anna W, that is a good question. I did manage to just find that one, and will certainly add that to the list.

12 Dec 2009 4:16 PM
funnycideoflife

Thank you Greg for posting the 2006 Derby/Preakness Recaps. I still say that Barbaro was the most beautiful horse I have ever seen. He was just perfect in every way, and I still miss him terribly.

12 Dec 2009 4:17 PM
Mindy C.

Steve,

How about Well Armed's  blow out in this years Dubai World Cup?  That was a ''real''  romp if you ask me...

Thanks for all of your great articles...  really awesome...!!!

12 Dec 2009 4:18 PM
Steve Haskin

Just a reminder that these are recaps of races that I covered and that were published on bloodhorse.com. I have not covered a Dubai World Cup since Cigar in 1996. I already have a very long list to choose from. I was looking for suggestions from that list and not other races. I did add Afleet Alex's Preakness. I think Smarty's Derby will be the first one for Virgil, and at least one of Afleet Alex's at some point.

12 Dec 2009 4:27 PM
Steve Haskin

Also, be aware that I have been assigned to make up a bunch of Top 10 lists covering the last decade that will appear in part in BH magazine and in full on this blog. That will be in a couple of weeks. There will be a total of 10 lists, and they will be based solely on my observations and opinions, so they will be striclty subjective. They of course will be open to comments, so be nice :).

12 Dec 2009 4:30 PM
sauerhorse

Steve,

Great idea! I'm looking forward to reading these. I would like to read Curlin's 2007 Breeders' Cup Classic again, too.

12 Dec 2009 4:36 PM
Judy Loves John Henry (still!)

Hi Steve!

I only started reading blogs recently. Did you do a piece on the death of my Beloved John Henry?

He still lives in my heart. I think of the Little Plain Wrap Gelding daily.

BTW ~ the picture we had taken together on BC weekend turned out great! I wish I could share a copy with you. Since we are facebook friends, perhaps you could send me a mailing address.

Happy Holidays to you and yours.

Judy aka "Stevie" :-)

12 Dec 2009 4:53 PM
Brian Appleton

Alright! Looks like 2009 and 2007 rule the board!  Looking forward to it.

12 Dec 2009 4:57 PM
Steve

I'm interested in all of them, but especially Giacomo’s 2005 Kentucky Derby. I didn't read your recap at the time so I look forward to reading it now.  

Personally I love it when the huge long shots win.  And I think people may have forgotten that Mike Smith's ride that day was as impressive as Borel's on MTB in this year's Derby (except "5-Wide Smith" took a different route).

12 Dec 2009 5:07 PM
Johnny

This is a wonderful idea, Steve. There is one performance I didn't see mentioned here, and I wanted to include it for your consideration:

Ghostzapper's 2004 Breeders' Cup Classic win, in record time, against one of the strongest fields in the history of the race.

12 Dec 2009 5:52 PM
Karen in Indiana

Steve, that list looks like great reading to make the doldrums of winter a little easier to endure. Thanks! I especially look forward to the 2 Tiznows. I was occupied raising a nephew who had emotional issues at that time and missed life for a few years, but did DVR these races when they were shown leading up to this year's Breeders Cup. Horses that are 'out of the box' have a special place with me and Tiznow is up at the top of the list.

12 Dec 2009 5:59 PM
Afleet Treet

Steve,

GREAT list...one thought though...when recapping some of the greatest races how can you mention Afleet Alex's Belmont and not mention his PREAKNESS? Granted the Belmont was incredible...that Preakness was THE most amazing recovery of a horse and jockey I have EVER seen (and I think you mentioned as much in the past) and certainly desevres a good mention on your recap list. Thanks so much!

12 Dec 2009 6:09 PM
easy goer

I did not get to read the Invasor, Smarty Jones, and Rags to Riches columns the first time around, so I would love a second chance!

Thank you for your writing and stories! Also, thanks to Greg for posting links to the Barbaro stories. I had never read them. I was watching the Preakness that day, and reading your coverage of it really brought back the horror and tragedy of that day. Very descriptive and emotional.

12 Dec 2009 6:15 PM
Rita

Looking forward to the recaps Steve. I'm also looking forward to a new year period. As this has been a rough one. Hope to get my sister well and get my surgeries done. I want to get to Kentucky and see some farms and famous horses(before they all die or I do). I hope also you will write more stories on the old horses in the new year love reading them.So now I will wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and hopefully a Happy New Year!

12 Dec 2009 6:38 PM
Steve Haskin

Afleet Treat, I mentioned in my previous comments on two occasions that I have added Afleet Alex's Preakness. I couldnt find it at first, but eventually did locate it.

12 Dec 2009 6:47 PM
Steve Haskin

From the comments received so far, those that definitely will be reprinted are Smarty Jones' Derby, Afleet Alex's Preakness, Giacomo's Derby, Invasor's Classic, and Rags to Riches' Belmont, and probably Curlin's Preakness. All I feel are interesting stories, with a lot of background and color in each one.

I wrote all about Tiznow's two Classics in great detail in a two-part blog recently, a good portion of it taken from the recaps, so I'll probably hold off on those.

I'll save Zenyatta's Classic and Rachel's Preakness for the end being those are fresher in people's minds.

I still have room for several more, so keep the suggestions coming. If the races you're interested in are not on the above list, it's for a reason, so please keep to the list. Thanks to everyone for your input.

12 Dec 2009 6:55 PM
Johnny

Fair enough on the ones already on your list, Steve.

Just for the record, in the six and a half years I've been following racing, Invasor is the best horse I've seen; so it's gratifying that he's being recognized like this.

12 Dec 2009 7:02 PM
rowdee

While neither a Derby or Triple Crown story, nor do I even know if you wrote a story about Peppers Pride, what she did, regardless of stature of race or location, was totally incredible.

We've seen our beloved Zenyatta hit a perfect 14 and is calling it quits.  In no way am I trying to insinuate that Peppers Pride is in the same class as Z, when it comes to races or tracks, it does show that it is a difficult feat to accomplish--regardless of status of the horse, or of the race.

And imagine that--its another girl story!

Thank you, Mr. Haskins, for all the fabulous stories you give the public, the racing public especially, about our special friends called thoroughbreds.

12 Dec 2009 7:04 PM
Deborah

Why not Mine That Bird's derby on the list?

12 Dec 2009 7:05 PM
Steve Haskin

Rita, a very happy holiday to you, and especially a happy and healthy new year.

12 Dec 2009 7:25 PM
Steve Haskin

Johnny, Invasor as you may know is one of my all-time favorites. I have written about him on numerous occasions on this website, including a rather long blog, with lots of stuff from my recap in it, as well as a commentary and tribute to him.

Judy, I wrote a Final Turn on John Henry when he died.

Deborah, I was debating whether to include this year's Derby. It's not a long recap and doesnt rank up there with the others I listed, but at some point I guess I can print it.

12 Dec 2009 7:51 PM
Steve Haskin

Rowdee, I never got the chance to write anything on Pepper's Pride, but I did talk about her on our video "And Theyre Off."

12 Dec 2009 7:52 PM
Cattie

I'm a little dissapointed he didn't add Funny Cide's Kentucky Derby win on there. Funny Cide was the first New York horse to win the Derby and one of very few geldings to win it. Being a New Yorker myself, I know that we take much pride in our Funny Cide

12 Dec 2009 7:54 PM
LDP

Steve,

    How about re-capping Curlin's Classic, which I believe was one of his finest moments. That was the race that truly marked him in many's minds a super horse. I say that because after his loss in the Haskell and close win in the Gold Cup people sort of forgot about him and concentrated more on SS, Hard Spun and Lawyer Ron. When Curlin won again it really did validate his Preakness win.

Another is Empire Maker's Belmont. It was because of him that I started to really watch racing. I think I saw him in the Wood Memorial, I can't remember right now, but I remember his last win on the road to the derby and thought he was such a beautiful horse. From then on he was my Derby favorite, my first Derby favorite. I can remember how, I don't want to say mad or upset, becuase I wasn't, but I'm very competitive, even when it's not me, so I was not pleased that he had lost, and wanted with all my heart for him to come back beat Funny Cide. Even after the Preakness I remained firm in my belief that he was the better. I remember the Belmont so well, because I believe I screamed at the television set something like "come on get Empire Maker, get the mouse!" I know childish, but I was six years younger and from then to now makes a huge maturity difference, and right then the way Empire Maker was closing reminded me of a cat pouncing on a mouse, so I said "get the mouse". I laugh embarassed, but that was one of my favorite moments, because, my horse, my favorite had won.

12 Dec 2009 8:07 PM
Lou in TX

Steve....Hope you and yours have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Have a nice vacation and thanks for giving us such a treat to read all the recaps while you are gone.

Greg J...Thanks for posting the Barbaro recaps but I can't read them anymore. I just sob when I do. It still hurts too much.

Hope every one who writes on this blog has a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

12 Dec 2009 9:13 PM
Soldier Course

Pleasantly Perfect's 2003 Breeders' Cup Classic, the perfect culmination of that historic day for Richard Mandella.

Just to note that you've already picked my first choice, Smarty Jones's Kentucky Derby.

12 Dec 2009 9:33 PM
Soldier Course

Cattie:

I agree about Funny Cide's Kentucky Derby. This was the race that cemented my passion for Thoroughbred racing. It was the first horse race of the decade that caught the general public's attention in a big way. By the time Funny Cide ran in the Preakness, everyone was watching him, and his owners in that yellow school bus. It was also the race that made everyone realize that Average Joe could become a part of Thoroughbred racing.

12 Dec 2009 10:24 PM
MRO

Yea about including Rags Belmont. What a race!

12 Dec 2009 10:25 PM
Melissa

LDP,

Opposite for me re: Empire Maker and Funny Cide. Although I had been into horse racing for a few years before Funny, he was my very first LOVE. He will always, always be my favorite. Couldn't tell you why. Just love that horse!

I would love to see Rachel's Woodward recapped. I was screaming myself hoarse watching that filly run her heart out. Cannot wait to see her run again next year.

Merry Christmas to all!!!!!

(And Happy Hanukkah to those celebrating right now!)

12 Dec 2009 11:03 PM
Steve Haskin

As I've mentioned several times, this list is based on my favorite recaps. Funny Cide was a terrific story, but I actually think my Preakness recap was better, because I learned more about his story by then. One of them can be posted, but they dont have precedence over the others. I did write an open letter to Barclay Tagg on Bloodhorse.com after the Belmont that I would be more inclined to reprint than the two recaps.

Curlin ran a big race in the Classic, but that race did not stand out to me because of the track and the death of George Washington, and the terrible performances of many of the leading contenders due to the slop. I would prefer running Curlin's Preakness.

Empire Maker's Belmont is on the list, and likely will be used.

12 Dec 2009 11:44 PM
Bobby

You've just got to add Barbaro's KY Derby win... a classic contest and a true champion!!

12 Dec 2009 11:45 PM
Steve Haskin

That's another request for Smarty's Derby, so that will be the first one on Sunday night.

Pleasantly Perfect's Classic is another that likely will be reprinted. I found myself in the right spot on several occasions covering that race and I thought the recap had a lot of good elements to it.

12 Dec 2009 11:55 PM
Richie

Hi Steve! One of my favorite columns was one you did awhile ago on the great Dark Mirage, one of my altime favorites. I would love to read that again and get a copy. It amazes me to this day how she is never remembered with the greats and has been sooo forgotten. It made me smile to think of DM racing against Zenyatta-she would have looked like a small pony(I think she weighed about 700#)but I don't think any horse had a bigger heart. I was really disappointed that Dark Mirage was not in the alltime great filly race. So maybe that would be a good reread?

13 Dec 2009 12:59 AM
Steve Haskin

The Smarty Jones story actually must be two parts -- his Derby and his defeat to Birdstone in the Belmont. Therefore, the first three recaps to run -- Sunday night, Tuesday night, and Thursday night -- will be 1--Smarty Jones' Derby, 2--Birdstone's Belmont, 3--Afleet Alex's Preakness. I'm thinking Rags to Riches' Belmont after that.

13 Dec 2009 1:14 AM
Cheryl G

Excellent choices! I realize the 2006 Derby will be difficult to read, but Barbaro did bring very much attention to horse racing. I know you will chose a great article.

13 Dec 2009 2:10 AM
da3hoss

I love Monarchos, so do his!

Giacomo is a great personality, he's going to have babies with a lot of heart.

Curlin's Preakness deserves to be retold...all he did in that race...!!! I feel the same about his Haskell...what a race he ran, but so sad.

Rags's Belmont...what a race...what a filly.

Invasor...a very forgotten wonderful racehorse...he made me a fan of his big heart.

All good stories in the list, and even the ones who are not my favorites, your insight makes me a fan!

13 Dec 2009 7:30 AM
J B STONED

Steve you stole my thunder. I cant wait to read Birdstons belmont upsetting Smartys party. I was just about to post that until I read your last post. I was surprised no other bloggers mentioned that race as of yet thats got to be a great read..

13 Dec 2009 7:46 AM
John Boudreau

Steve PLEASE >>Mine that Bird's DERBY>>>>Comon>Man!!!!

13 Dec 2009 8:08 AM
Ragsy

Greg J

many thanks for that additional information.  I have never read those articles about wonderful Barbaro....I would guess with his injury I never read another race article until 2009, just in time for the fabulous girls...

Steve, I am Very sorry for the comment.  Thank You

13 Dec 2009 8:10 AM
txhorsefan

Steve, I hope that running these awesome recaps of some of your previous writings means that you will be able to take some time off to have make great holiday memories with your lovely family.  As posted earlier, we would probably be thrilled to read it if you wrote about the contents of your freezer!  I know that I will be looking forward to whatever recaps are reprinted, in whatever order and even if I have read them before, it will be great to see them again.  Back at the beginning of this decade I was mainly focusing on following the Triple Crown races, so Tiznow's BC is one I'm definitely anticipating since I have grown to appreciate him through his sons & reading other articles you've written about him.  

To JudyLovesJohnHenry - Steve's farewell article to John Henry is one of the most poignant stories of tribute to a racehorse you will ever read.  It is one I printed out so I can look at it any time.  I loved John Henry, too.

Steve - again - thank you!  Hope you and your family will have a beautiful holiday season!

13 Dec 2009 8:43 AM
Michael

Steve's articles all make you feel like you were there but wouldn't you like to be there to witness it first hand. Steve was a speaker for this trip in 2008 and was loved by everyone in attendance. He even autographed everyone's copy of his Legend book John Henry. So why read about it when you can be there. Here's a great Christmas present: www.sportstravel.com/.../-kentucky-derby-radisson-plaza-lexington.php

13 Dec 2009 8:58 AM
oso7

Looking forward to reading your recaps.  What about Azeri?  

13 Dec 2009 9:06 AM
texaszippeee

Can't wait!

13 Dec 2009 9:29 AM
Greg J.

Mr. Haskin,

     First, Since Smarty Jones has my last name, He is easily one of my favorites, Glad you are doing his Derby first!, I will conveniently skip Birdstone'a Belmont, lol.  Second, Regarding finding your links to Barbaro's Derby and Preakness Recap's, I just happen to save EVERY article and link I come across regarding anything to do with horses in any respect, ALOT to read...

Lastly, Here is a like to a great day of international races, It is last night's racing at Hong Kong, While no American horses won(I thought California Flag would hang on!), All the races were extremely exciting!(WATCH Daryakana's race, Just watch this amazing filly, She is in last place the whole race, Keep your eyes on her eight wide and last at top of the stretch, Can you say Zenyatta!)...

Link to Hong Kong Races(Video is on right margin, Hit play, Then pause it so it loads so you get to watch the whole racing un-interrupted), Also, Refresh page and a new race will load...

www.cxhkir.com/.../main.asp

13 Dec 2009 10:22 AM
da3hoss

Pleasantly Perfect’s 2003 BC Classic is a great story, too!

13 Dec 2009 10:35 AM
whoapony

Afleet Alex, Invasor, and Street Sense please.  

Thanks for doing this Steve.  It's always enjoyable to relive your columns

13 Dec 2009 10:39 AM
Slew

Happy Holidays Steve.

Question: Did you ever do a piece

in 2002 on Seattle Slew's passing?

New to this blog, I would really

appreciate a rerun of that.

Enjoy your semi-vacation.

13 Dec 2009 10:40 AM
Soldier Course

Steve:

Your open letter to Barclay Tagg would be a great addition.

13 Dec 2009 10:52 AM
Steve Haskin

I can echo Michael's words. I had a great time talking to his group, and everyone was super nice. Michael's tours are first-rate and it's a wonderful opportunity to attend races like the Derby, along with breeding farms, works, and other events without having to hassle with tickets and arrangements to visit the farms.

Greg, please dont skip Birdstone's Belmont. I am including it because there is a lot in there about Smarty, and many people told me afterward that reading that story made them feel better about Smarty's defeat. It'll be hard not come away with positive feelings about Birdstone while retaining all your respect and admiration for Smarty.

OK, John, Mine That Bird will be included, but the more recent ones will appear a bit later on.

Slew, yes, I did write a tribute to Slew after he died. I know it appeared in BH magazine, but I cant remember if it was posted on the website.

Ragsy, I dont know what comment you're referring to, but I havent seen anything written here that anyone has to be sorry about.

Thank you, Txhorsefan, and Happy holidays to you, too.

Oso7, I didnt cover Azeri's BC Distaff. I only cover the Classic.

Dahoss, Pleasantly Perfect definitely will be included. It was one of my favorites races to cover.

13 Dec 2009 11:00 AM
Greg J.

Mr. Haskin,

     A little facetious remark, lol.  I will of course be reading it, I Just remember that day like it was yesterday, Very painful, Over the years, I have slowly gotten over it...

13 Dec 2009 11:06 AM
Soldier Course

Greg J:

I will also be skipping the recap of Birdstone's Belmont. That wound ain't never gonna heal.

But I will say that I have come to respect Birdstone tremendously as a stallion because of Mine That Bird and Summer Bird this year. To a small degree this has helped.  

13 Dec 2009 11:39 AM
BK1

The additional races I was thinking of have already been covered by the comments posted (I'm particularly looking forward to reading about Afleet Alex), so all I need to do now anticipate a real treat over the next few weeks in reading (and in many cases, re-reading) these beautiful articles. I just finished using the links posted by Greg J. to The Horse about Barbaro's Derby and Preakness, and those heartfelt articles brought tears to my sometimes jaded eyes.

Happy Holidays to you and your family, Steve, and to all your readers out there.

13 Dec 2009 11:55 AM
Slew

Thanks Steve.  If memory serves me, Slew died on the day of the 2002 Kentucky Derby.

13 Dec 2009 12:04 PM
Paseana

Steve, I don't know if you covered this one or not, but it was a moment that I will never forget, so I thought I'd throw it out here just in case.  It was the other-worldly performance of Candy Ride in the 2004 Pacific Classic.

Just to provide some perspective for those who might not remember, the brilliant Medaglia d'Oro broke Del Mar's 10f track record that day with a BSF of 118.....and he LOST.....by FOUR LENGTHS!  It was just unreal!

If you did cover it, I hope you'll consider a do-over here, Steve.  It's a race that falls through the cracks of people's memory, and deserves to have a little light shining on it once in a while.

Thanks for all you do, and the best of the holiday season to you and your family.

13 Dec 2009 12:43 PM
Footlick

Ritchie- I loved Dark Mirage also.  In my opinion she could run with anything at 3.

13 Dec 2009 12:53 PM
Aluminaut

Since someone mentioned Dark Mirage and we're going back in time somewhat, how about Native Diver.  When I was a kid I saw his last race at Del Mar and he was  my favorite before John Henry came along.  I'm also fond of the tough closer Quicken Tree.

Happy Holidays to all.

13 Dec 2009 2:20 PM
Karen2

I can't wait to read each and every one of your re-caps. NO ONE can put life into these races like you Mr. Haskin...

Virgil....I am sorry to read that you have had such hard times but am thankful you have found some solice in this industry. Once it runs through your veins you are hooked for life. It is the human interest stories and the love for these most noble animals that all come together.

I have a special connection with the Smarty Jones derby as that is when I first sent Steve Haskin an e-mail about Smarty and he responded.(remember....Greetings from North Dakota)? I was floored to say the least and the rest is history. Now I feel like he's family : ) I LOVE Afleet Alex and can't wait to read his Preakness re-cap......IMO he was the closest thing to our next triple crown winner.....tough derby trip took him out of it but he had grit....

13 Dec 2009 2:29 PM
Lil Darlin

What a great idea, it will be a treat to revisit great moments of great horses as told by a great writer. GREAT!

I know you have had an awful lot of suggestions already posted on here, but I can't help myself in adding one more for consideration (if it exists). Do you have a favorite piece about any of the hardknocking war horses (like my personal favorite Evening Attire, who raced for nearly the entire first decade of the new millennium)?  These horse may not have one big season, but they give so much to the industry with their consistency and willingness to show up year after year, and when they do win a big race the fans really respond. I'm not saying it has to be Evening Attire specifically, but I know I am not alone in saying there is a very special place in my heart for the so called old timers.

13 Dec 2009 2:30 PM
Catbird

Love the list, and look forward to rereading them all.

However, I have to hesitate at the omission of Mine That Bird's Derby.  Okay, so he may not be one of the "great ones," but then, neither was Giacomo. Both exciting Derbys, though, so if one, why not the other?  Ditto Funny Cide.

Heck, Steve, you could reprint your comments on all the major races, and I'd be sitting here reading.

13 Dec 2009 3:27 PM
PointGiven

Point Given's Belmont? And what about Lost in the Fog?

13 Dec 2009 5:35 PM
Mike Relva

HEY STEVE

Great choices,I agree. As I've mentioned many times,Invasor is one of my favs as well. Was telling you months back I had the chance to visit him in the fall. He looks great,we brought him peppermints. Everyone at Shadwell were first class.

13 Dec 2009 7:02 PM
Soldier Course

The Tin Man?

13 Dec 2009 7:19 PM
Convene

Good list! Yeah, the 2006 Derby and Preakness are still tough to read. For some of us, so is 2008; Eight Belles was very special and, like Barbaro, a song not quite sung. On a happier note, how about including The Tin Man's Arlington Million. HE was my horse hero and I miss him still!

13 Dec 2009 7:27 PM
funnycideoflife

I, too, have to say that Funny Cide was the reason that I love horse racing as much as I do. Maybe it was simply that he was a New York bred (the 2003 Belmont was the first thoroughbred horse race I ever attended), but I love him more than I will ever love another horse and literally screeched when I found out that he was going to the Kentucky Horse Park. When I visited he licked my hand and I'm still smiling seven months later.

Like Greg J. and everyone else, the 2004 Belmont is painful for me to even think about. I was there, and it is the only race I have ever watched live or on TV that has made me cry. Looking back on older great races from years ago makes me tear, but never has an actual running of a race made me cry.

13 Dec 2009 7:53 PM
Aluminaut

In-va-sor!  In-va-sor!  He's the best. I still have my $2 win ticket, but it has faded beyond recognition.  The Monday after the '06 Classic I took the Kentucky Derby Museum tour and stood in stall 11 where Invasor was saddled.

A man who had seats trackside right by the winner's circle told me to go ahead and stand on his chair so I could see the Classic. (I walked from my clubhouse seat up the stretch to near the winner's circle for most races.)  We talked about prior Breeder's Cups.  He said it was almost dark for Alysheba's Classic.  "In the gloaming" were his words.  When I came back after missing a couple races, he said, "There's our friend; where have you been?" Then I got to stand on his chair.

I think his name was George.  His grown son was chanting In-va-sor!

The sport of horse racing creates instant friendship. Caution: Love of the Thoroughbred and racing is contagious! Ya get on a speeding freight train that's never gonna stop.

13 Dec 2009 8:23 PM
Sharon

I am thrilled that Monarchos is included, also Smarty!  When Smarty lost the Belmont, I cried.  I don't think I will be able to read the recap of Big Brown's Derby simply because I was so upset with the loss of Eight Belles, worse with the way everyone sort of covered it over never saying a word.  I do have great respect for Kent Desmaroux (sp?) for his great kindness in mentioning her others didn't bother during the winner's ceremony.  He displaying a grace and dignity missing from all the rest of those involved, including media, presenters, etc.

13 Dec 2009 9:32 PM
Zookeeper

Mr. Haskin,

When I read your comment that you would probably hold off on the recaps of Tiznow's 2 Classic victories, I went back in the archives and found them. They were posted in Sept.'08. Tiznow fans, if you haven't read these, take a look and be prepared to have your goosebumps climb all the way up the back of your neck and dance a jig all over your scalp! These are a masterpieces really worthy of this great warrior. Thank you, Mr. Haskin!!! :) :) :)

13 Dec 2009 9:37 PM
Footlick

Aluminaut- I loved Native Diver too.  How could you not?  He ran every distance and seemingly every race.  Even if he beat a horse I wanted to win, I was never upset because it was Native Diver!  He ran 81 times in his career.  And the first Cal bred to earn $1 million.

Great memories.

14 Dec 2009 9:45 AM
Soldier Course

Sharon:

I understand your concern about Eight Belles and events in the winner's circle that day, but please consider this:

I was at Churchill Downs. The tragedy happened so fast that many people were not aware of it until much later. Our seats were at the far turn and we started walking back to our tour bus immediately after the Derby. We did not hear about Eight Belles until we got on the bus, about 30 minutes after the race was over.

I think the people in the winner's circle who knew what had happened were too numb  to know what to say. There had not been enough time to process the tragedy. No one could be expected to cohere jubilation and mourning under those circumstances.  

14 Dec 2009 10:25 AM
Fran Loszynski

I watched Afleet Alex make the final turn at Belmont and remember watching the children that were ill drop a banner that said "We Love You Afleet Alex" I will swear to this day Alex looked to his right with Jeremy and they both shot home. Yes, Afleet Alex can read!  The Preakness was awesome too.  Thanks Steve for putting Afleet Alex on your list. You know he is my favorite.  Fran

14 Dec 2009 2:39 PM
Mike Relva

SOLDIER COURSE

I was in CA two weeks ago,(my gf lives there),we visited the Tin Man @ River Edge Farm. He looks great! I visit him several times a year.

14 Dec 2009 6:38 PM
txhorsefan

Mike R. - thanks for the comment regarding The Tin Man.  I'm so glad you got to visit him and report that he is doing well in retirement.  Love that horse!

15 Dec 2009 8:39 AM
Mike Relva

TXHORSEFAN

Thanks! I always enjoy visiting him and bringing peppermints. Everyone at River Edge are very nice.

15 Dec 2009 11:39 AM
Soldier Course

Mike Relva:

Thanks so much about the update on The Tin Man. Boy, what that guy gave to the sport!

15 Dec 2009 1:26 PM
Mike Relva

SOLDIER COURSE

Yes,tough as nails considering the injuries he battled. Always enjoy visiting him. My gf lives in Reseda and he's located about two hrs away.

15 Dec 2009 5:27 PM
txhorsefan

Since we got on the subject of recaps of Steve's writing, I dragged out my stuffed binders of articles I printed off the computer when Steve originally wrote them, and man, has it been fun!  Makes me kinda feel like I'm cheating, though when I'm already reading ahead on some of the stuff I know you're going to run again.  Wonderful stuff, Steve - just wonderful, but right now I got myself into my TC races file and looking at the Derby Dozens lists of 2005, for example - how fun!  The bad part is, now I wonder whatever became of some of those horses.  One more time, Steve, thank you for sharing your skills, your talent and your passion with us.

15 Dec 2009 8:19 PM

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