Haskin's Triple Crown Wrap-Up

OK, the naysayers have been heard, so we’re all aware that this year’s Triple Crown had little star appeal and slow times, and that this crop of 3-year-olds is mediocre at best.

Maybe it will turn out to be a weak crop; maybe it won’t. It’s only June.

Following the 1987 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), the consensus was that it was a weak race and a weak crop, based on Alysheba’s time of 2:03 2/5 on a fast track, and that he was able to win despite stumbling badly in the stretch. The Preakness also was slow (1:55 4/5), and then Alysheba got crushed in the Belmont by Bet Twice, the horse he defeated in the Derby and Preakness.

By the end of 1987, and especially in 1988, most people were saying this was one of the best crops of 3-year-olds ever – Alysheba went on to prove his greatness and Bet Twice also proved to be a top-class horse. In addition, you had Gulch, Lost Code, Java Gold, Gone West, Cryptoclearance, Polish Navy, and Afleet.

Continue reading this column, or feel free to post a comment below.


Leave a Comment:


Mr. Haskin,

I hope my boys grow up to be half as smart as you.  What a great read!

09 Jun 2010 9:19 PM

I totally agree with you on the dates and the bonus.  My suggestion is to cut down the number of participants in the Derby. Had Afleet Alex not had to check more than once, he would have won the Triple Crown. But then again maybe Mine That Bird might not have been entered.  I still think there are too many horses running in the Derby.

09 Jun 2010 9:28 PM

I miss the Triple Crown bonus- I remember how awful 1993 was, but I don't think the bonus was the reason Prairie Bayou broke down; I think it was just one of those terrible things that happen sometimes  I don't think a $1 million bonus will move a trainer to run a sore Classic winner, as the value of a winner is much greater than $1 million, and it's a great way to keep something riding on the outcome of the Belmont.  Hard Spun and Curlin ran great in all three TC races and certainly didn't seem any the worse for wear after, seeing as how they both won Grade 1s later in the year.

And they shouldn't change the dates.  The Triple Crown should be one of the hardest achievements in sports.  That's what makes it special.

09 Jun 2010 9:43 PM

Mr. Haskin, Did you forget in 1989 that ALOT more than some had Easy Goer ranked #1? I just went back through by BloodHorse mags back in 1989, and here are the TRC Polls throughout 1989. After the Belmont on June 17, Easy Goer was ranked #1 in the Poll with 26 First Place Votes to SS 14 First Place Votes. It gets better wait: Then in August after the Whitney, Easy Goer was ranked #1 with 40 1st place votes, Open Mind was #2,SS was #3 and Blushing John was #4 with 1 first place Vote. Then after the Travers in late August, Easy Goer was ranked #1 with 48 First Place Votes, #2 was Open Mind, #3 was SS with 1 first place vote. Then after the Woodward in Mid September, Easy Goer was ranked #1 with 44 first place votes,#2 Open Mind, #3 SS with 2 first place votes. Then after the Jockey Club Gold Cup in mid October, Easy Goer was #1 with 42 first place votes, with #2 SS with 5 first place votes. I will say, this was more of a testament to the historic campaign Easy Goer was being put through, and with SS getting crushed in the Belmont, and losing a Grade II to Prized,more than anything.

09 Jun 2010 9:47 PM

Well said!

09 Jun 2010 9:49 PM
Vic S

Mr. Haskin, great minds think alike I guess.  I just came from the blog by Jason which was who will be Champ 3 year old male and I made nearly the same points you made about Lookin at Lucky. I said how he is IMO the greatest 2/spring 3 year old since Easy Goer and more likely since The Bid in 79', I just think he is a superior animal to the probably overhyped Easy Goer IMO(at this point in comparable careers - 2 year old to Triple Crown season).  We may not agree on him over Easy Goer, but I believe he is the best 2/spring 3 year old we have seen since the Bid after analyzing past races.  Race times are nearly irrelvant, and every single track in this year Triple Crown season was dreadfully slow and it showed at the longer races, especially given slow pace scenarios.  Only time will tell where Lookin at Lucky ranks among 2/3 year olds post Triple Crown season, but up till this point, he is IMO best since Spectacular Bid.

09 Jun 2010 9:59 PM

like baseball horse racing is a game of numbers and stats. When you break them down (ststs/numbers] you can always find light at the end of the tunnel

09 Jun 2010 10:14 PM
Matthew W

Best betting TC since, well, I can't say there were three better betting races since, well....as far as quality of crop--kinda wish Lucky was a gelding, as he has a bit of John Henry in him--shows up every time in workman like fashion...as of right now I'd say pretty tough to hit the BC Classic Exacta with any horse who ran in the Belmont! Of course, it's early--just unlikely to compete with some of the older guys/gals this year....

09 Jun 2010 11:20 PM
Vic S

@ Thorogreats

Easy Goer did have a historical season post TC, he won every race entered except the big one - the one that counted - the one that won Sunday Silence HOTY, which was well deserved 3 for 4 over his rival, in the 4 most prestigious races in America.  You can't argue this.  That is what won Sunday Silence HOTY.  IMO Sunday Silence was always the better horse, he beat him fair and square in the Derby, beat him INJURED in the Preakness, and finally in the Belmont, on his home turf Easy Goer got the best of Sunday Silence.  Sunday Silence didn't have the best of late summer, early fall campaigns but that isn't what wins championships, championships win championships and that is what he did in the Breeders Cup Classic.  Sunday Silence always has been and forever will be Easy Goer's master.  I will say this though, Easy Goer was better at two than Sunday Silence, but not in the slightest at 3.

09 Jun 2010 11:46 PM

I just shook my head at the statement that Easy Goer was overhyped.  The fastest mile by a 3 yr old- 1:32.2, 2nd fastest Belmont in 2:26, only horse to win the Whitney, Travers, Woodward and Jockey Gold Cup in the same year.  Where is the overhype?  Maybe you should say Sunday Silence was underhyped, but I don't think a horse with these kinds of stats can be overhyped.  And Mr Haskin- I agree with you about Sky Beauty.  Way overdue for the Hall of Fame.

10 Jun 2010 12:13 AM
Matthew W

Easy Goer ran ten races that would have beaten Lookin At Lucky by three lengths....

10 Jun 2010 12:24 AM
John T

I don,t think it is a weak crop at

all,before this year is out I think at least three of this years

crop of 3 year olds will have established themselves very well.

10 Jun 2010 12:37 AM

Well spoken, Steve.  No bonus!  I so admire your endearing respect for the horses.

I also am so impressed with Martin Garcia.  Can't help feeling thrilled for Mike Smith and Billy Mott as well.

10 Jun 2010 2:05 AM

Great Column! Your comments about the sad and macabre presentation to Sea Hero brings back memories, mostly bad of that scene--but others as well. Remember too that at that juncture, no one thought very much of Sea Hero. I happened to have been for him in the Derby--sure that he would win it and thus distinctly remember everything. He of course won due as much to the "Derby gods" as for his own unique ability-- to honor Paul Mellon and Mack Miller, venerable contributors to racing in their Autumn days. I will always recall how I saw Jerry Bailey at Belmont the next day and walked up to him excitedly "Congratulations! I KNEW you would win the Derby!" only to hear his response, "You did? I didn't!"

Then of course Sea Hero proved he was no fluke in the Derby when he went on to win the Travers. Again, a story- one day I was visiting Saratoga and was standing by the paddock when  a "sightseeing crowd" happened by and the "guide" started discussing Sea Hero's statue. The "Expert," I immediately budded in to explain how I knew he would win the Derby-and how probably his statue was not as much to honor the horse, as it was to justifiably honor Paul Mellon and all he did for racing--and then I continued elaborating Mr. Mellon's praises. It is a good thing that I did--for the "tour guide" turned out to be one of Mellon's best friends, and either his Stallion or farm manager or something...

Note also that along with that "macabre scene" and Sea Hero's seemingly at the time undeservedness of the bonus, that Mr. Mellon ended up donating it to the Grayson Jockey Club Research Foundation.

10 Jun 2010 3:24 AM

Don't forget Distorted Humor completed his own Triple Crown this year, too...;-)

10 Jun 2010 5:28 AM
Dawn in MN

Thank you for thinking about this and writing what you thought.

First of all, I love the way you brought together the many things that were great about this year's Triple Crown races.  I am really looking forward to the rest of the season leading up to the Breeders Cup.

I was high on Ice Box since March and while he didn't win the Derby he ran a spectacular Derby and Preakness.  I am looking forward to his next race.

I also developed an interest in the speedy eightyfiveinafifty.  His "did not finish" also known as

"decided-to-go-back-to-the-barn-in-the-middle-of-a-race" antics caught my attention.  Watching him come back to lead a field while looking over the infield was fascinating.  I think he's got tremendous potential.  

Most of all I look forward to the return of Odysseus whose gutsy performance was stunning.  I loved it when the announcer said it looked like he was beaten, then he pulled off a win.  

When the ideas of changing the dates, limiting the Kentucky Derby Field and offering a bonus were discussed during the airing of the Belmont they sounded good.  I agree with your thinking on all but one of these.  

Isn't there some way that a bonus could work without tempting the connections to run a horse that isn't completely sound?  I like your idea of closer scrutiny by veterinarians whether it has to do with a bonus or not.  

10 Jun 2010 6:20 AM

Well said Steve. Times have changed and the Triple Crown should be tweeked accordingly.

The horses run harder and there are so many of them (20) in the first leg of the race. Spreading it out will allow the winner to recoup a little and go forward. I think it is far too great a stress in todays races to expect it in 2 weeks. But I do feel the Triple Crown races should stay the same just spread out more.

10 Jun 2010 6:35 AM

Also thanks for mentioning about Uptowncharlybrown and Rajiv performance at the Belmont. It did go unnoticed by the majority of watchers and it really was quite remarkable and gutsy by both.

Your the best STeve for noticing ALL the facts.

10 Jun 2010 6:38 AM
John Boudreau

Steve Great Read as usual!! It's Unbelivable that neither ABC,TVG,or HRTV can show the Race Preceeding the Big 3 Triple Crown races Live ___ Thank God for my Computer

10 Jun 2010 6:45 AM
Fran Loszynski

You are right Steve, this Triple Crown series was not dull. I got to be a fan rooting for the underdog Dublin and loving that horse, thank you Wayne Lucas for loving him too, and to see Smarty Jones son and Afleet Alex's son walk together down the Derby trail-awesome! The feel good story of Uptowncharlybrown and Todd Pletcher winning a Derby in a terrific rainstorm, Mike Smith getting a Belmont, Calvin Bo-Rail doing it again, Lookin at Lucky proving he was lucky and Drosselmeyer showing his stamina as a champion. Each race you really didn't know who would win, that's when the real cigar toting bettors make you listen and watch their racing sheets who they will pick. When they bet it's not a guess. And I back up Nick Zito as a final thought-The Belmont should stay the same, it is the test of true champions both jockey and racehorse. Thanks for a great article Steve-I just cut it out and put it in my scrapbook.

10 Jun 2010 7:45 AM

I thought each of the Triple Crown races was so wide open, no one was able to predict the results.  I loved them.  Sure, the handicappers were as confused as everyone else, and when their favorites don't win, they want to call the competition mediocre.  That's ridiculous.  I saw so many fine hard working colts on those tracks, I enjoyed all the preps and all 3 legs.  We have no idea who will end up on top by November, but LAL is certainly looking like tops for now.  We have so much to look forward to over the next few months..I can't wait.  

10 Jun 2010 8:19 AM

Great work, as always.  The only things I want to comment on is the limiting of Derby starters and the TC calendar.  Seems the only people opposed to shortening the field to 14 are owners groups and other muckey-mucks.  Sensible folks who really want to see the best possible race with the best possible entrants would likely agree that one full starting gate is enough.  During the Belmont telecast wrap-up, I heard one of the guys say that if the Derby is restricted to 14, then some "deserving" horses won't get in because of the graded earnings list.  Well, if the horses ahead of said outsider all surpassed him/her in earnings, aren't they the "deserving" ones?

As far as spacing the TC races out -- I DON'T agree with the suggestion of the Memorial Day & Independence Day scenario for the 2nd & 3rd legs.  But maybe a three week spread between all races would be more logical.  You're still asking "today's thoroughbred" to perform an amazing feat in a relatively short time and, in theory, it's only adding a week to the overall picture.  Or run the Preakness & Belmont on Sundays... three weeks + a day....

Hey, I just watched my team lose a Stanley Cup final and it's mid-June and NBA still isn't over.  Would the horseracing public really lose interest if a week or two was added to the campaign?  I think not.

10 Jun 2010 8:32 AM

Steve, you are amazing.  What a summary.  I'll need more time to digest it after I print it out, but once more .. with feeling ..  thank you.

10 Jun 2010 9:07 AM

Mr. Haskin,

Thank you for a superb summary of the 2010 TC season.  Your obvious love for the sport and for the horses, plus your encyclopedic knowledge of the game is a welcome change from the “neigh-sayers.”  It is much easier to dis horse racing than celebrate it; thanks for taking the time to mine the gems and share with us!  Looking forward to your commentary on the rest of the season.

10 Jun 2010 9:49 AM
Monika P

As always, thank you for your insight and the great read. Regarding Triple Crown changes, I would prefer to see breeders and trainers step up to the plate so that we have young horses who are prepared to meet that challenge, and just keep the Triple Crown as it is. There are, however, far too many entries in the Derby. Limiting the entries to fourteen would, in my opinion, be the only sensible change to be made to any of the three races.

10 Jun 2010 11:00 AM

Easy Goer ran 8 120+ or higher beyers in his career. Would eat this crop of three year olds up, and so would SS. Though  SS only had 1 120 Beyer in his career. They were both great horses, great Hall of Fame horses.Easy Goer ran the fatsest three year old mile of all time in 1:32.2, second fastest Belmont Stakes of all time. Ran near track records in some of the most prestigious, historic races of the Whitney, Travers, Suburban, Belmont, Gotham, Champagne, and even at 6.5F as a two yr old. EG did NOT lose by a nose in Maryland and by a neck in Florida because of what state they were in. My opinion, those were two very very bad rides, admittedly so by Pat Day, but that doesn't take away from the brilliance and greatness of BOTH horses. Oh by the way! INJURED horses? Did you forget that Easy Goer had small cracks in his left front heels before the Derby and through the Preakness. Shug stated it was not a quarter crack, but was serious enough to cause major discomfort and possibly keep EG from running in both races. AND Shug stated that he had to use ALL of his talents to keep EG sound with his horrendously bad ankles. Joe Hirsch stated it best, "As it stands, Easy Goer did more than most horses already in the hall of fame." And about his horrendous ankles throughout his historic campaign, "Easy Goer's problematic ankles looked like swollen avocados, all lumpy and misshapen, graphic proof of his remarkable courage." So I guess that BOTH horses were "injured".

10 Jun 2010 11:02 AM

And I also agree, if anything, Sunday Silence was underrated and underhyped, not Easy Goer being overhyped at all. Mr. Paul Moran stated it best and I agree with his opinion, "Easy Goer and Sunday Silence were two of the best colts of all time, though Easy Goer was the better and more spectacularly talented horse, but was defeated by a nose and neck because Pat Day rode him like the exposed end of a live wire." Maybe that opinion is too harsh, because they were both great horses, and Sunday Silence was the ONLY horse who could take advantage of Pat Day's mistakes, which was a testament to his greatness also.

10 Jun 2010 11:06 AM

Mr. Haskin,

Thank you for this great recap of the TC Season. I don't know why some people are disappointed. I thought it was exciting and a real head-scratcher to handicap.

I'm also looking forward to the rest of this year's racing and will never pretend to know in advance how things will shape up. Much more fun to wait and try to figure it out one race at a time.

As far as changes to the way the TC races are run, I would be in favor of limiting the Derby to 14 horses and I really like Serena's idea of having 3 weeks between the Derby and the Preakness. It makes a lot of sense and does not stretch it out into the holiday weekends of Memorial Day and July 4th.

10 Jun 2010 11:40 AM

What great writing. Thank you for staying with the horses.

People who love horse racing will stay true to the sport.

I hope they do not change the triple crown.  I think the history of it is important in such an old sport.  It is a big part of the appeal as the tracks are where it is run.

10 Jun 2010 11:43 AM
Karen in Texas

Thanks for a great perspective on the relativity of Triple Crown seasons, Steve. (I, too, noticed and wrote on one of these blogs that poor Charlybrown ran a credible race despite his problems.) Who knows what the second half of this racing season will bring? One of these three year olds may step up and successfully challenge the older division--just look at what Skip Away did after the Triple Crown races of 1996.

10 Jun 2010 11:51 AM

Sorry, NO "outcome based" TC...!

I saw the last 3 TC winners...one who still holds the KD and Belmont records with an unparalleled run away Belmont, one who is still the only horse to remain undefeated through the TC...and one who still has the most storied, thrilling TC rivalry with the most breath taking Belmont stretch run ever...

10 Jun 2010 12:21 PM

You just said everything in this article I've been thinking about for several days.  

First, the rush to judge a crop that includes a 2YO champion who has really done nothing to deserve being displaced from the top of the 3 year old class.  I think LAL is a really nice 3 year old and if he stays sound he will figure in all of the best races this year and next.

Super Saver threw in a bad race in the Preakness and we've thrown him out with the bath water?  Too early to tell....

First Dude and Fly Down have just run two tremendous races and could loom large in the fall.  I really like these two.

Drosselmeyer may be less then dazzling, but really what has he done wrong all year?!  He is a grinder.  We don't tend to be overwhelmed by these horses but I'll put my money on him at 10 furlongs and above.

And there are horses that we've already forgotten about that didn't fare well in the Derby, like Sidney's Candy.  I look forward to seeing this guy run again as well as his So Cal competitor Caracortado.

And Jackson Bend?  He might be as good as any of them.  Another horse that does little wrong other than miss the winners circle.  He's a tough little horse who could be a spoiler come the fall.

I don't think this crop is particularly weak, or strong.  There is a half of year of racing left, then lets analyze.

Also, I'm profoundly against making changes to the Triple Crown series, including silly bonuses.  It saddens me when I hear respected trainers like Lukas talk about lengthening the span between races.  11 horses have proven that the Triple Crown is not a summit that can't be scaled.  The only change I would consider is limiting the Derby field to 14-16 starters.  I really don't believe come the first Saturday in May there are 20 horses that SHOULD be in the field.  It was obvious this year, and it's been obvious in past years.  

Thank you for your perspective on UptownCharlyBrown's race.  It was hard to see much with the way the race was filmed, especially since I don't have a super huge TV or HD.  I wish him and his connections the best this fall.  

All in all, I think this season had alot of interesting stories to follow (doesn't it always?), especially for two outstanding trainers achieving something they hadn't before in winning the Derby and the Belmont.  

Thank you for wrapping up so neatly for us just what we should take away from this years Triple Crown run.

10 Jun 2010 1:01 PM

Great column, Mr. Haskin, and you were right-on. It was a wonderful Triple Crown series. Horse racing enthusiasts finally got to see some live racing on television, even if the coverage wasn't that great. And I agree - it is far too soon to diss this year's crop of 3 year olds. I have seen many do so in other blogs and columns. Fact it, people like to complain. I wish all these magnificent animals and their connections the very best in the weeks to come. And on your comment on Uptowncharlybrown - he did run a wonderful race. ABC's "experts," came out and said that he showed nothing before that said that he could run with the other Belmont horses. Once again, their pronouncements proved false. Yes, he ran with less weight, but it wasn't the horse's fault and he ran beautifully. Thank you for mentioning him and what he accomplished in the Belmont. He deserved it, even though he was disqualified.

10 Jun 2010 1:58 PM

Well said Steve.  You have hit all the major points.

It is obvious though that we are losing our following and risk becoming extinct all together.  I mean a 3.1 rating w/ 330m people in this country?  We might be there already.

We do need to rejig a few things.  Get rid of racing post the Breeder's Cup until Boxing Day.

Force Churchill, MID and NYRA to sit in a room and work together on all things.

Spread the races out, not the distances, but you are right, don't race on Mem. Day or July 4th.  Go with 4 weeks in between and if a Derby winner can't wait 4 weeks to beat the same competition then he probably didn't deserve to be hailed in the first place.

10 Jun 2010 2:15 PM

Thank you, Steve for your truly insightful article.  As usual, you are the voice of reason and respect in the midst of too much quick and unfounded criticism.  I have really enjoyed this TC season.  I started following all the horses and races earlier than ever before, mostly because of you and Bloodhorse.  Your Derby Dozens were so informative and enlightening.  I felt more a part of everything.  It just isn't true that the only good year is the year of the "star".  I enjoy seeing possibilities in many of the horses and trying to figure out where they are and where they are going.  We still have lots of time to see how they are developing.  Remember they are still sooo young.  

One stand out trait that I've seen in many of the horses on this year's derby trail is heart.  The ones who are determined and battle with all they have.  Lookin at Lucky personifies this trait but he isn't the only one.  Jackson Bend, Odysseus, UptownCharlyBrown, First Dude, Dublin...  There is a lot of heart in this year's colts.

And another very positive aspect of this year's racing is the success of jockeys who respect, value and partner with the horses they ride.  Martin Garcia for sure and Mike Smith, Calvin Borel and I have become a Joe Talamo admirer this year.  He did great on Sidney's Candy.

There has been great fun so far and I'm looking forward to the rest of the year.  I have my Breeders Cup tickets and believe that this will be the best Breeders Cup ever. (and that's saying something after Zenyatta last year)

10 Jun 2010 2:22 PM

Sunday Silence underhyped is right.  Before Easy Goer he had to get through Lukas' 3 million dollar wonder horse Houston in the Derby preps.  Although Houston was a bust in the Santa Anita Derby, it did produce other quality horses such as Hawkster who still holds the world record for 1 1/2, 2-3 ticks faster than Secretariat's Belmont.  

He's the last horse I bet since Drosselymer who trained up to a Triple Crown race in a bar shoe.  Days before the Preakness, the ferrier just clipped the end off and he went out and beat Easy Goer.  

Alysheba has to be one of the most regal looking horse I have ever seen.  He would kick his hind legs up in the walking ring.  A few more jumps at Ferdinand in the Breeder's Cup classic and he's HOY as a 3 year old.  After battling Bet Twice at 3, Alysehba continued this rivaly with Ferdinand at 4.  

10 Jun 2010 2:39 PM

I still remember the post Preakness "ride out" interview with Pat Valenzuela aboard Sunday Silence.  He said "Pat Day tried to screw me the whole way around and couldn't."  Does this sound like someone who gave Easy Goer a bad ride?  Pat Day was doing everything he could to win.  His horse was just not good enough that day.  

10 Jun 2010 2:45 PM

Steve, you said it all so well about the proposed changes to the Triple Crown. All bad ideas for the succinct reasons you stated. Besides, it is just even more time for a late bloomer to develop to come along to pick off a potential TC winner in the Belmont. The only change I endorse is a limit of 14 starters in all 3 races, including the Derby.  

10 Jun 2010 2:47 PM
steve from st louis

P. Day somehow saved his worst ever rides for Shug's horse.

10 Jun 2010 2:55 PM

For those of you that think Easy Goer was better than Sunday Silence he had the entire length of the stretch to get by Sunday Silence in the Preakness but SS refused to let him get by.  One of the greatest races of all time...

10 Jun 2010 3:34 PM

Easy Goer was so "upset" that he couldn't get by Sunday Silence that he appeared to try and "savage" Sunday Silence in deep stretch.  Youtube the replay.  

10 Jun 2010 4:46 PM
Derby Dew


Once again, you took us for a classic ride on the Triple Crown trail with your exceptional insights.  Thanks!

Even though I failed to cash on the Derby, Preakness or Belmont, I enjoyed the races because they were wide open with many logical contenders.  

As for the long drought between Triple Crown winners, I would simply suggest that the breeders re-focus on stamina rather than speed.  I'm probably in the minority as I don't put a lot of emphasis on the speed of the final time.  I would prefer to see horses with stamina prevail in these classics.  At least they'd be better suited to hold up to the rigorous Triple Crown schedule.  Horses who race to "beat the clock" are too fragile and will take longer to recover between races due to wear and tear.  Just my two cents worth.

BTW, my favorite horse of all time is SUNDAY SILENCE.  Easy Goer got all the ink, but Sunday Silence was the better horse on neutral courses.

10 Jun 2010 5:33 PM

To Householder's 2:45PM post,

Hawkster's record has been eclipsed, and he was a very mediocre runner.

You cannot compare final times from Santa Anita's very hard turf course (possibly the fastest track in the nation) to the deep sand of belmont's main course. And I believe SA uses the 5/8 mile downhill shute as part of its 1&1/2 mile turf races, making race clockings especially quick.

No offense intended, but comparing race clockings for turf and dirt, on two different tracks 3000 miles apart, which have vastly differing weather is, well....

10 Jun 2010 6:26 PM

Mr. Haskin,

I've just finished listening to the Talkin Horses podcast and I can't tell you how much I enjoyed it. I wish it would have lasted twice as long as it did.

Your answer to Dr Drunkinbum's question expressed all of our feelings so well about Smarty Jones' loss in the Belmont, that I was crying all over again.

Your knowledge and appreciation for so many horses is why we all love you so much. You are so respectful and find the good within the sport to talk about rather than complain and moan over what is not so good all the time.

I love how you really appreciate the horses and are willing to wait and see before you start throwing stones. (Which you would never do.)

This blog has been an oasis for those of us who would rather praise than critisize and the podcast what the most enjoyable I've listened to, by far. I'm hoping there are more of them in the future. Maybe if all your fans e-mail BH to express our delight over this one and our strong wish for more, we will get out prayers answered.

Speaking of prayers, my fingers are crossed and my thoughts are with Kip Deville, his connections and the people at the clinic who are trying so hard to save him.

10 Jun 2010 7:04 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


  Hope you're having fun !!!!!!

10 Jun 2010 7:29 PM
Ida Lee

Lookin at Lucky is my boy and he will be the top 3-year old of the year. What he has been through being pushed around like a rag doll and keeps fighting, well I think he has the heart of a champion. I think there were better 3-year olds last year but I think we'll be having a lot of fun with the new stars from the TC run, Ice Box, First Dude, Super Saver, Drosselmeyer, all these guys should be giving us a thrill or two this. Oh and I forgot two other standouts, Paddy O'Prado and Caracortado. I bet they still have a thrill or two in them. So, I'm looking forward to the rest of this year's racing with this group of very talented 3-year olds.

10 Jun 2010 7:48 PM

Pat Day's ride in the 1989 Preakness was atrocious. So much so, that Day stated and still states it was "Absolute rider error". Turn that around, Valenzuela was "trying to screw Easy Goer the whole way round", as Valenzuela purposely carried Easy Goer and Day out to the middle of the track down the backstretch, and Day got mad and overreacted and sent EG through an extremely premature monster move, then Day is outmanuevered for the stretch drive getting trapped in tight scraping the rail, then Day grabbed too much right line in the stretch and jerked his head with 100 yards to run to cost him, no savagery at all. Horses run faster with their heads straight.Day wasn't the only one who called his own ride atrocious, and it was. No more dominant way for Easy Goer to come back from that atrocious ride than to crush SS. Then, EG is sent through a historic campaign with a 1 1/2m so called "prep" for the BC, while SS freshens for 5 months.

10 Jun 2010 8:15 PM

Dr Drunkinbum,

The most fun I have on this site is reading your comments on this blog and the other one, which is less conducive to happiness and peace of mind. :)

10 Jun 2010 8:37 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


  You managed to nail another one. Frank Faylen was in Grapes of Wrath also, one of my favorite movies. I was thinking recently that there were so many amazing characters from the old days and Imogene Coca popped into my head. I hadn't thought of her for years. I tnink we're quite lucky that Quality Road is still racing. So few quality horses stick around anymore. As soon as they've accomplished something then they're off to the breeding shed. Maybe we'll be lucky with this year's crop. Nobody's really accomplished enough yet so they are forced to keep racing them. It could be a lucky break. Maybe we'll see more of them really mature and give us more competitive races.

10 Jun 2010 9:50 PM

Couple of things - War Admiral was in a 20 horse field. A great horse will overcome it. The only change I might make is to weigh the graded earnings at 3 heavier than those at 2.

You did miss that this TC series also emphasized the importance of AP Indy as a stamina influence - his sons sired all 3 second place horses, and he's Super Saver's broodmare sire.

10 Jun 2010 10:33 PM
Tim G

Steve, the BH editor should be thanking his lucky stars for a class guy like you.

Can't say that for everyone.

You're right Zookeeper. It's nice to be able to call for kindness and respect for ALL the horses without being fried.

Dr. Drunk, my responses seemed like I am the Drunkinbum over there. You know the censors who turn it into what you don't really say?

Anyway, any disputes any of us have had just don't amount to a hill of beans and I enjoy reading Steve and being uplifted and actually enjoying reading the responses and the blog!

10 Jun 2010 11:30 PM

Well said Steve!  I agree with you once again on all your points. My thought on changing the triple crown to make it "easier" to win is I hope they do NOT change it.  It is supposed to be difficult, that is what makes it special. I keep hearing the argument that it hasn't ALWAYS been this way so changing it is no big deal. While it is true that the distances and spacing of the races has not always been what it is now,it has been a long time since it was standardized.  It is also true that only the last three triple crown winners won under the current format.  BUT, all previous winners had it even more difficult I would say. Those who had a month between the Preakness and the Belmont:  Sir Barton, Omaha, Whirlaway, Count Fleet and Citation all ran in ANOTHER race in between (Sir Barton, Omaha & Count Fleet ran in the Withers, Whirlaway ran in the Henry of Navarre Purse and Citation ran in the Jersey Stakes). Gallant Fox, War Admiral and Assault only had  ONE WEEK between the Derby and the Preakness and then 3 weeks to the Belmont.  So, I personally think the present spacing it much the best and I hope it is never changed or the accomplishments of these great horses will certainly be diminished. I also do not subscribe to the notion that "today's" Thoroughbred is not tough enough to win the triple crown. There are claimers all over this country running every two weeks (which I do not agree with) and retiring with 40-50+ starts. Today's "classic" prospects are babied with few starts, long spaces between races and short workouts. These do not combine to make a triple crown winner in my opinion. Horses in the past were often over-raced in my opinion but they were also prepped with mile plus workouts for classic races and thus had the proper conditioning for the grind of 3 races in five weeks. After extensively reading racing history for more than 35 years, those are my thoughts anyway.  

11 Jun 2010 1:22 AM

I have always been a huge fan of Champagne D'Oro, due to her pedigree, I always thought she had the breeding to be a good/great horse.  She may finally be starting to peak.  Time will tell, but she should be a classy filly.

As for the TC changes: I think the distances should be left the same.  I think the timing should be adjusted slightly, but not much.  I think the Derby stays where it is, 3 weeks to Preakness and then 3 or 4 weeks to Belmont.  If that happened this year, the dates would've been:

May 1 - Kentucky Derby

May 22 - Preakness Stakes

June 19 - Belmont Stakes

That way, the races are spread out a bit more but not so much that it inteferes with holidays (either the Memorial Day weekend nor the 4th of July), but it gives horses a bit more time to recover & prepare.  3 weeks between the Derby & the Preakness is reasonable, especially since the Preakness is a shorter race and then 4 weeks to the Belmont, or even 5, gives them plenty of time to prepare and train over the surface at Belmont.  I don't think 5 is a good break, just because the TC is still supposed to be challenging & 5 weeks takes away some of the challenge.

Spreading it out over 2 months is ridiculous!  That loses the challenge and puts the Belmont too close to the Haskell & the summer races.  The horses need a break after the Belmont to recover from any injuries & to get recuperated and ready for the summer stakes.  

If changes aren't made, we will never see another Triple Crown winner.  The horses aren't bred to run as frequent as they were in the days of Secretariat & Affirmed.

11 Jun 2010 7:33 AM
Fran Loszynski

Today marks the 10th anniversary of Afleet Alex's big win at the Belmont. Tomorrow Alex's Lemonade Stand will celebrate its ten-year venue with a nation-wide celebration. I hope all of Afleet Alex's fans that loved his Belmont will remember the great love that Alex Scott put out to the world and "her" great champion Afleet Alex that crossed the finish line for Kids with cancer.

11 Jun 2010 7:56 AM

Fran, don't you mean fifth anniversary?

11 Jun 2010 9:58 AM
Fran Loszynski

You're right Dawn. I wrote this too early in the morning It is the fifth year. thank you.

It feels like ten for all the good work the Lemonade Stand has done. So everyone if I may presume-keep it at "10" for the check you make out for these great Kids!

11 Jun 2010 10:45 AM
Dr Drunkinbum


  You know how time flies !!!!

Tim G.

 Any disputes are long over, and I will continue to respect your opinion even when you're wrong. Actually, your inpute is greatly appreciated. You have a lot of good stuff to say. But honestly, sometimes when you pick on other's comments it doesn't come across well for some reason. It seems harsher than you intended at times. I for one love having an insider on here. Thanks for all of your insights as an owner. I like your kind and thoughtful approach best, and I suspect that you did your best to not throw your horses to the wolves.

11 Jun 2010 11:59 AM

Let me say that I always dearly loved Easy Goer and his rivalry with Sunday Silence was the stuff of legends.  Two GREAT racehorses that had the misfortune of being born the same year, like Alydar and Affirmed.  I only wish Easy Goer had been with us longer.

11 Jun 2010 1:09 PM

I believe that changes to the Triple Crown should not be made. The only thing that should change is the Derby field should be reduced to 14 horses like the other classics, which will make it easier for the actual best horse to win the race. May I remind everyone that people in the time between Citation and Secretariat were bringing up the exact same objections about the horses' abilities? "Horses now aren't bred for toughness and stamina", and the like? And they ended up being proven wrong.

11 Jun 2010 2:58 PM

From Rechelle:"If changes aren't made, we will never see another Triple Crown winner.  The horses aren't bred to run as frequent as they were in the days of Secretariat & Affirmed."

Perhaps we should be breeding better horses, medication -free.  

It's supposed to be a challenge folks.  Let's keep the bar where it is, and wait for the right horse to meet it.

11 Jun 2010 3:40 PM


Is that true? I'm fairly new to horseracing (1999) so I thought this was a new debate directed at the state of affairs of this time. You made me feel so much better. Maybe I WILL see a TC winner before I kick the bucket, after all! Thank you! I thought I was doomed to have come to horseracing too late to have experienced that.

11 Jun 2010 3:59 PM

Citation and Slew- I couldn't agree more.  We need to breed the horse for the rigors of the TC, not change the TC.  And when the right horse comes along under the right circumstances we will have another TC winner.

11 Jun 2010 10:12 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


    Got carrots?

11 Jun 2010 11:07 PM

Zookeeper, you're welcome. Have you ever read the Thoroughbred Legends books? They are great, and in addition to talking about the great horses, they can also give you info about the issues of racing in those times. The Secretariat book in particular mentions the issues we're discussing. On an unrelated note, go Special Duty in the Coventry Stakes at Ascot! I love Storm Cat and his sons, and the late Hennessy looks like he has a really good horse here.

12 Jun 2010 12:30 AM


I guess I better start reading and studying further than I have so far. I doubt that I will ever catch up with you guys, though. :)

Dr Drunkinbum,

Yes, and so much more. My cup runneth over! How are you? Gassing up for the trip down the coast yet?

12 Jun 2010 11:02 AM
Dr Drunkinbum


  If I don't get there for the winter meet I'll be awfully dissappointed. To change the Triple Crown format would be a terrible tragedy. If it's changed and then someone gets it, then what is everyone going to say. "Well he didn't really get it. It still doesn't match up to the greats of yesteryear. It's tainted, and weak. You can call it a Triple Crown if you want but it's not the same."  Forget it !!!

12 Jun 2010 12:32 PM

Thank you so much Mr. Haskin for mentioning my horse UptownCharlyBrown in your commentary.  

Yes, he did lose the weight through no fault of his own but I do not believe that gave him an adavantage at all.  In Fact he was disadvantaged because once the weight was out the saddle slipped and Rajiv had very little control over Charly basically forcing Charly to run the race on his own as seen in the replays.  

For a horse that most people wrote off thinking he didn't belong, I believe that Charly proved that he is right up there with the best.

I for one am very proud of my boy and can't wait until he finally proves his doubters wrong.  

12 Jun 2010 10:17 PM

Dr Drunkinbum,

I saw on the other blog that you commented about Caminadora and the nice juicy odds on her. I posted a response but you never came back on to answer. Did you bet on her? Even if you didn't it was a good call. Too bad I read your comment way too late to do anything about it.

Regarding your coming down next winter, that would be very nice. Hopefully SA will have its surface worked out by then.

As far as the changes to the TC, ok. I'll forget it!!! lol!

12 Jun 2010 10:36 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


   I hope this gets posted and I hope you read it. I love your posts. You've given a lot of great insight.

12 Jun 2010 11:33 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


  Yes I did but not much. The three Triple Crown races threw me off course so I didn't bet what I normally would have and I could have gotten the 10k Tri too so I'm a little disappointed. Caminadora was All Systems Go so I was very confident. Third off a layoff and looking fabulous pre-race for Pletcher, a great turf pedigree, especially on the bottom, against an even field and great odds. But at least I'm back on track. Personally I think it would be great if SA went back to dirt. Then I can play it seriously again. I had success still with their turf races but not as much with the pro ride.

13 Jun 2010 11:27 AM

I meant Coronation Stakes.

13 Jun 2010 1:42 PM

Dr Drunkinbum,

Well done on Caminadora!

I do better with turf races at SA also, but I don't know why.

As far as the main track, it looks very iffy to me. From what I've read, Frank Stronach is looking at all kinds of synthetics and it would not surprise me one bit if he went with one of those.

I don't have a real strong opinion on the subject. I think that synthetics haven't been around long enough for the statistics to be truly meaningful. All I know is that there have been less catastrophic injuries on race day since they have been in place here in California and that means a lot to me.

I know it would make a lot of people very happy if SA returned to dirt. If it does, I hope with all my heart that it is as safe as humanly possible.

13 Jun 2010 2:47 PM
Linda in Texas

Steve, thanks for mentioning Lookin at Lucky,Uptowncharleybrown and Eightyfiveinafifty, Jackson Bend and my newest pick to go places, First Dude. Going to mention this right up front, because that is where i have been all along with all of them. Never gave up on Lucky. And what a heart First Dude showed in The Belmont and Jackson Bend was a heck of a trooper in hid own right.

I feel we will see all of these horses in winners circles as the year goes along.

I am just now able to spend some time reading your wrap up and have glanced over it lightly, but since it is hopefully "Sunday Silence Day" no one will ring my doorbell, call on the phone to chat, or call because they need a place to stay because their battery went dead on their 'doolie' in the middle of nowhere while pulling the horses home from the local rodeo our town just had for 3 nights. Now that one i would stop and help.

So now i will go back and reread your article. Read all the comments and then move on to the next quarter of the year regards racing.

Also reading that Rachel won her race. I am very happy about that, but was not familiar with the horses she raced. But that's okay. Rachel looked over at a horse coming up on her right and seemed irked that 'how dare they'. That's attitude. Good for her! She will get her spirit back.

And speaking of spirit, cannot help but think about Mrs. Hine and her Skip Away and hope that time will be gentle with her and that the chunk of her heart that Skip Away took with him will begin to cope as time goes by. I know the feeling as i lost my son Edward last March. You never forget something you loved that was a part of your everyday, whether it be human or animal,but somehow you begin to accept it with each passing day and the hurt begins to subside somewhat.

Was wondering what do the owners and manager/trainer have in store for Paddy O'Prado in the racing department, and how is Kip Deville doing?

Skip, Kip and Paddy, still loving those grays!

Steve, hope the summer is good to you and your special ladies,Joan and Mandy.

And thanks again. I love your horse sense! Or better yet, your sense of all horses!! And your respect for all of them cannot be discounted.

13 Jun 2010 3:55 PM
Linda in Texas

Oh my goodness, Steve, i just read about Kip Deville, he had been on my mind for a week. I am so sorry, i just asked about him in the comment i just submitted. I had not read anything but your article. Laminitis is such a cruel way for any horse to lose his life.

I am heartbroken. It truly is another sad gray day, now. May he Rest Peacefully. He was such a brave and patient fella and i was so pulling for him to overcome this awful disease.

13 Jun 2010 4:04 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


   Yes, if as safe as humanly possible. There is nothing worse than catastrophic breakdowns, and that is the primary consideration but I'm not convinced that a dirt track can't be made safe, and maintained- geared toward safety. When they maintain the track so that they can get faster times rather than be concerned that it is safe is where there is a problem. I don't like the injuries that are popping up on some synthetics. Maybe there is a synthetic that would work for SA. The ones they've tried haven't worked. Will just have to hope for the best, and trust that they will make the right decision this time and choose and maintain a safe track that can handle the rain and last. Did you read Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand?

13 Jun 2010 6:03 PM

Thank you Dr Drunkinbum. I'm sure you read the disrespect given to me by a certain blogger because I won't disclose my name. I figure he just wants to call me out like he does all the others in racing who even give their names.

I was so happy to get to see Zenyatta run today, i even bailed out on the evening chores. The pay is lousy anyway, free family labor. I was happy to see Rachel Alexandra win yesterday. Good things which happen in racing give me hope.

By the way do you do cosmetic surgery? A tuck here a lift there? I could use a little help.

13 Jun 2010 8:01 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Sweet Seventeen

  OMG. What are they trying to do, give me a heart attack. I didn't think she was going to get there. I think I've gone through that before. A great record for a come out of the clouds every time horse. When I finally let my breath out I realized I hadn't been breathing. I think it's nice that she set the record at her home track.

13 Jun 2010 8:06 PM

Zookeeper, I bought a complete set of the paperbacks for my grandnephew when they were on sale for $5 a week or so ago. My favorites are the ones Steve wrote.

13 Jun 2010 8:06 PM

I'm sure you won't see my post over there Footlick. But have I ever mispoken to you? Is a horseman not entitled an opinion?

Do you know many of us who run at Zia, Ruidoso and Sunland?

Everyone else is entitled anonymity but race trackers? When we give an opinion it is usually colored by the fact that we own or train horses. Not much respect is given to ANY of us by some people.

Linda, my hubby had an old gelding that we tried to save, we finally had to put him down. You ever see two old cowboys, him and his friend, bawl their eyes out? Sad day.

13 Jun 2010 8:25 PM

Steve....your glass is always half full......anytime horses step on the track, it's exciting. You are a genuine true blue horse racing fan.  Although the hype of the triple crown is fun......and ads extra flavor, the true spirit of horseracing is far more than the star power.....thanks for always saying what needs to be said.

13 Jun 2010 8:39 PM


Please don't let somebody push you out of any blog. You certainly ARE entitled to your opinion and besides, I can't think of anything you wrote that was offensive. If the good ones leave, we are left with the likes of "you know who". We need you on both blogs. You're one of the best.

Dr Drunkinbum,

I think I'm getting too old to watch Zenyatta race. For a few seconds, I thought her goose was cooked. I started yelling like a banshee. Go Zen! Go! PLEASE GO! When she finally passed St Trinians I was shaking like a leaf. What an incredible mare! St Trinians gave it all she had. Both were very impressive today. It was a heck of a race! I still can't wrap my head around the fact that Zen is still undefeated. Amazing!

13 Jun 2010 11:19 PM
Fran Loszynski


I want to see Uptowncharlybrown, Backtalk and Dublin race together. Why? because there is alot of heart behind these horses and great stories and when we start analyzing win, place, and show-we need feel good stories and racehorses with legacies. I'm so glad you love your horse the way you do- I'm sure he tries to win for all 59 of you! Good Luck and hope to see you and Uptowncharlybrown at the Haskell, Travers, or Breeder's Cup. Go Dublin-Go Uptowncharlybrown-Go Backtalk for Smarty J.

14 Jun 2010 7:53 AM
Dr Drunkinbum


  I'm sorry about losing your old gelding. It's very difficult to go through. You don't have to give personal information on any blog. That's ridiculous. Don't do it !! As far as cosmetic surgery, you don't need it. It's obvious that you're beautiful. Why walk around with a tight face that makes it more difficult to smile? Yes, both Rachel and Zenyatta were great, as were Rail Trip and Blame. The stars were aligned. Zenyatta was nerve racking, then total joy. What a treat. She's a genius. She uses calculus and trigonometry to figure out exactly how far and how fast she needs to run after she's run a quarter mile, then does it with perfect timing. What a tease.

14 Jun 2010 9:24 AM

Doctor Drinkinbum:  Where were you when I needed you?  Next time Zenyatta races, get over here and bring the defibrillator.  Between the '09 Hirsch and this year's Vanity...???  Popping all that nitro gives me a headache.  The EMTs don't want me to watch Zenyatta any more...but I'm addicted.  Guess next time the old ticker stops, I'll have to call AAA for a jump start.  Congratulations Zen, RA, Blame and Rail Trip.  Great Weekend!

14 Jun 2010 10:44 AM

Whenever I read one of Steve Haskins' wrap-ups, I feel like I've watched a really good movie.  All the threads of the horses and connections are woven together into a living, breathing tapestry that delights the eye and draws me further into the "plot" and pageantry of this glorious sport. What was clouded becomes clear, questions are answered, satisfaction is assured.  And you can't beat the price of admission! LOL

Zookeeper, I was worried about you while you were away but you returned with the most exciting news! Congratulations on becoming an OWNER!!!

14 Jun 2010 12:33 PM


What a beautiful description of Mr. Haskin's writing. I hope he delights us with his take on this weekend's racing, particularly with Zenyatta's triumph in the Vanity.

I took a few days off because I needed some quiet time to make the very important decision of either jumping in or sitting on the sidelines for the rest of my days. Now that I've done it, I have no doubt that it was the right decision, no matter what happens. There's a lot of other things I could have done with the money... but I doubt any of them would make me as happy and hopeful as I feel now. Thank you for your words of congratulations. They mean a lot to me.  :)

14 Jun 2010 1:59 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


  I like that defibrilator idea. Then we can watch Zenyatta race without worry. Careful with that nitro !!! "Slew, the race is over. Slew, Slew. Stand clear. Shock. She's OK now. She's getting stronger. Last time it took two shocks."  Slew-"Am I in heaven?"  EMT-"I think we all are. Where else are you going to watch an ol' mare win 17 in a row coming from Timbuktu everytime."

14 Jun 2010 4:02 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


  You were describing me watching the race. Did you cry like a baby or just have tears in your eyes and have to wipe the one that dropped down. Or did you have 17 tears drip down your face?

14 Jun 2010 4:04 PM

Zk - I'm looking forward to LOTS of training/progress reports from you!  You should feel free to talk about him any time in any blog because you'll be experiencing in real life what so many of us can only dream of. Share your great adventure with us!

14 Jun 2010 4:11 PM

Dr Drunkinbum, thank you for those kind words. I guess I'm not the only one who gets challenged, apparently just people who actually are in the industry. Be prepared Zookeeper.

I think I yelled louder for Zenyatta than I ever have any of ours and I yell pretty loud, well not too loud I'm very soft spoken and other than on a blog very reserved. That's why I don't give my identity. I can be bolder on here than I am in real life.

Yes we loved that little gelding. He had a heart of a lion and was smarter than the average human. It was a couple years ago and we still mourn and miss him. We've had a lot of them we kept until the day they passed, most very old when they finally left us.

Everyone I know was screaming and yelling for Zenyatta. I think she knows what she's doing to us and she probably stands there after the race and says "Silly people, I love toying with you. Now I'll stand here and let you admire me and just wish you could get to feed me peppermints."

14 Jun 2010 5:09 PM

Thanks Dr. D.  Saved again!  

There has to be something to a collective consciousness.  I was jumping up and down, and trying to help push her closer to the finish line.  Maybe we all did.  I feel as though we were all a part of Zen's  win.  But she shouldn't freak me out like that.

Zookeeper: don't give up on us; we love to hear what you have to say.

KatSan:  You were treated unfairly on the other blog.  Some folks are just rude...you're definitely not one of them....and I appreciate your point of view.

However, Gun Bow did present an excellent replay of Zen's race; he's interesting to read.

Can't wait for Steve's take on the Weekend.  Ascot starts today.  

15 Jun 2010 7:10 AM

Well I guess meanness and controversy sells. So does disrespect and hatefulness.

I'd much rather read Steve's feelgood stories that make me proud to be in racing. They aren't always sunshine and roses and they address some of the issues but in a kinder way.

Apparently just SOME of us upset the other guy. Saw someone who said he's an owner but also would never give his name, explain the figure 8 and break down races. Maybe because the initials are JAJ the blog guy thinks its someone important?

I wish you could find a publisher Steve. Imagine the story of the Ladies of the present and what a great read that would make!

15 Jun 2010 10:55 AM

I do marvel at the feat Zenyatta has accomplished.  Since 1764, when Eclipse was born, only 2 horses have ever closed in on his undefeated career of 19 wins, and they are both mares.  240 years of racing, and Zenyatta is the first grade 1 horse to come that close.  Pepper's Pride already matched it but in lesser company. Wow.  We are ever so blessed to watch these great race mares astound us with every hoof step.  It took a lot of work to scrape my jaw off the floor this past weekend, and now I'm being thrilled by Royal Ascot and yet again another world champion mare, Goldikova.  Wow!  

15 Jun 2010 6:01 PM

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