Countdown to the Cup: And Then Came Blame

Whether you’re a Quality Road fan or not, you had to feel good for Blame and Claiborne Farm, who combined not only to win the historic Whitney Handicap (gr. I), but turn back the clock to a time when homebreds ruled the sport – horses that were bred tough and ran tough.

In Blame, Claiborne has bred a near-perfect racing machine, a gritty, in-your-face type of horse who gets dirt kicked in his face and keeps coming at you – a strong-boned horse, sound, kind, and professional, who doesn’t let anything bother him. Watching him run is like going through a time portal back to the 1950s and ‘60s.

In the winner’s circle following Blame’s tenacious victory over 1-2 favorite Quality Road, trainer Al Stall’s younger brother, Andrew, hugged Claiborne Farm president Seth Hancock and basically said all there was to say in three words: “He’s a beast.”

He said later, “This horse just wins. He comes back all dirty, while Quality Road is all pretty and clean. But that’s him.”

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This could be a new rivalry like Dr Fager/Damascus. It was an impressive race. Great article!  

09 Aug 2010 4:26 PM

I can hardly wait for your take on Lisa's Booby Trap.  I was so glad to see Claiborne farm win with Blame.  More horses need to be bred with Blame's qualities.  Do you think maybe Quality Road is a miler and  can't go maybe much farther particularly  a mile and 1/4.  You have to admire Musket Man because he tries every time.  He has a lot of heart.

09 Aug 2010 4:27 PM

Blame is finally getting the praise he has always deserved.  While Quality Road has always seemed to be an elitist, Blame on the other hand has seemed to be a blue collar lunch pail grinder who always does what he has to do.  He’s the real deal and as we stand, now adds another dimension to the intrigue of the BCC.  Good for him and nice informative article Steve.

09 Aug 2010 4:28 PM

I don't care what Zenyatta did this past weekend and I don't care how fast Rachel trained today.  What I care about is what happend to Tuscan Evening.  I want to know what happend and why.  She was a fabulous mare and it saddens me to realize she is gone, just like that.

09 Aug 2010 4:34 PM
steve from st louis

Blame is the kind of hard-knockin' runner who isn't interested in  the pace; fast or slow he'll run you down no matter what it takes.

I'm so happy for the Hancocks, who are as close as anyone to racetrack royalty in this country. And Adele Dilschneider, who is John Olin's granddaughter from St. Louis.  How many other one-word champions has Claiborne given us? From Nasrullah to Princequillo and others. I know Swale broke my heart like only Ruffian before him.

09 Aug 2010 4:37 PM


Great column as usual.  Blame is indeed a risen star and the Clairborne connections are brave racing people (kudoos to them) but Blame is not quite top of the older horse division just yet.  The "king" gave him a signifcant five pounds allowance and lost by a whisker.  The "king" aint dead yet, long live the "king of the dirt", Quality Road.  He'll be back with a vengeance in the Woodward.  I suspect that some new shooters will be emboldened to take a shot at him there.  

The quality of your columns are almost as consistent as Zenyatta is on Synthetics (forgive me but her Dirt question still lingers).  Interestingly you suggested that "everything will be forgotten" about the negatives of her timid/frustrating-to-the-fans campaign, should she win the Breeger's Cup Classic but you omitted/avoided saying what the scenario might be, should she lose against the likes of Quality Road, Blame, Rachel Alexandra, Musket Man, Misremembered, I Want Revenge, Rail Trip, Girolamo and a couple of fiesty 3YO colts ON DIRT.  Your silence on such a highly probable scenario is deafening.  Over to you Steve.  The intention here is not to stir up another Zen-Rachel squabble or to offend the "Zen-worshipers" but simply to raise the question of how much of Zenyatta's legacy as a champion Dirt performer will depend upon one race.  For a horse of her calibre this is not the smartest management IMO.  

09 Aug 2010 4:50 PM


I do care about Zen and Rachel but I understand how you feel about Tuscan Evening.  I was stunned to hear the news of her passing.  She was(perhaps still is) in the running for the turf female Eclipse award.  What a nice mare.  If you look at Racing Hub, there is a nice article about Tuscan Evening with a link to some of her races.  She will be missed greatly.

09 Aug 2010 4:55 PM
Smoking Baby

 I watched the Whitney from the paddock area at Del Mar and was very happy to see Blame win.  Make no mistake, he beat a real racehorse in Quality Road.  alybar...I totally agree.  You've got to love a colt like Musket Man who just keeps running his race EVERY time no matter what track or distance.  I was reading a blog recently that was heaping praise on Vineyard Haven.  Someone weighed in that Majesticperfection was the best sprinter in the country.  I'm sorry I don't remember who it was but after this weekend I do believe he (or she) was right.  I think I read somewhere also that Zenyatta would never win another race.  Not sure where that one was coming from (possibly just an attention getter) but she sure looked like she won for fun.  She's a big sexy mama and I'm madly in love with her.  I heard about Tuscan Evening last night.  MAJOR bummer.  She was an honest mare who always gave her best.  I'll miss her.

09 Aug 2010 5:03 PM

Susan, I agree. ♥ She was a wonderful race horse.

09 Aug 2010 5:09 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Clyde Calhoun

   Blame is a beast. All of a sudden I'm a big fan of his. He is a very bright light in the midst of very depressing news. Foremost, the loss Of Tuscan Evening, is devastating, and foremost in my thoughts. I have to admit that I'm having a hard time dealing with it. Then we hear that Zenyatta is going to run in The Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita. I don't like that at all. I agree with Steve that it is bizarre and disturbing. Thanks for another great article.

09 Aug 2010 5:10 PM

How about doing a tribute to Tuscan Evening?  She was a darn good turf queen, one of the best.

09 Aug 2010 5:23 PM

Thanks Steve for a most enjoyable recap of the week-ends events. Some really great moments of racing and some most deserving winners. I have to take issue with Susan's attitude and here's why;

I was watching TVG early Sunday morning around 9 a.m. when Nick Hines called news of the tragedy into the studio from Del Mar. Tuscan Evening went down right in front of him and you could hear his suffering as he gave his in person account of what Happened. Stunned and shaken, his call over the air was heart braking. I just collapsed into tears, grief stricken. Crying for Tuscan's connections, for her and for her many fans across the country. I finally collected myself and just sat quitely and watched and listened as the races continued from track to track. Gradually I started to get interested as news and pictures of Zenyatta started to come in and that's when I realized the Whitney, the Clement Hirsch, it was as it should be. Life goes on, enjoy the moment because no one is assured of a  tommorrow. My vet sent a sympathy card for the loss of my beloved wirehaired terrier Walter that said "Don't cry for you have lost but smile and laugh for what you had". That's what I did Sunday. I smiled and I laughed.

09 Aug 2010 5:37 PM


I agree. TE was a classy mare. Very sad!


I wrote off majestic as a one freakish performance wonder.  Man was I wrong! HAHA

Blame is obviously a top horse, and a hardknocker at that.  He would smash QR at 1 1/4, but in my opinion JV got a little lazy and too confident. Anyway neither of these 2 can touch the big Z!!  The real freak, beast, Queen, King, etc!  Hope I can still get tickets to the BC

09 Aug 2010 5:38 PM

Laz - 5 generations of Claiborne breeding is blue collar???  

It does get much more blue blood than that!

09 Aug 2010 5:41 PM

Great artical very fair. I agree with your assement on QR. I think he got bored going that slow and that allowing him to open up and run a bit more would've had his mind a bit more sharp and on business. Pletcher says he throws 12's easily in workouts, and it could be that since that is basically what he was doing, he thought he was merely out for an afternoon workout.

I don't agree with what Derek Ryan said, I don't think he quit when looked in the eye. Each time a horse has come up in the stretch to QR he seems to dig in. He did it in the Met when MM fired a big shot, then dug back in against Blame, only Blame has one heck of a closing kick. He reminds me a bit of SB and Curlin, but with more push button acceleration. To see these two go at it again would be great. I know it's a lot to hope for but it would be great if these two stuck around as five year olds or if at least Blame did to continue match ups with horses like Lookin at Lucky.

Zenyatta wins easily, against horses who really didn't have a shot, so nothing really new there. I hope against hope she makes it to the Beldame or JCGC. Moss said "later in the season" for going 10 furlongs, and the Gold Cup is later than the PC. I know I'm hoping against hope, but who knows it could happen.

Majesticperfection was complete perfection in the Vanderbilt. He was allowed to utilize his early speed, as QR should've been able to do, and run his competitiors of their feet. Now what I really want to see is him face of with D'Funnybone and Discreetly Mine. Those are some speedy three year olds there.

09 Aug 2010 5:45 PM
Rita Robinson


    I'm with you.  It was a fabulous weekend of racing.  I was so excited to see Blame win.  I've been watching him for awhile and Zen is the greatest as always.  But none of that seemed to matter after hearing about Tuscan Evening.  I never get used to losing them for whatever reason.  It hurts bad.  

09 Aug 2010 5:46 PM

Gutsy win, gutsy run from both horses.  It's too bad they aren't aiming for the same race between now and the BCClassic.

09 Aug 2010 5:49 PM

The results in the Whitney Handicap provide more argument against running Grade 1 races as handicaps. Congrats to Blame but I doubt he would have won at level weights.

This is one more reason why owners of top-class horses should not run them as 4yos in America. The Europeans do it right.

09 Aug 2010 6:29 PM

Blame was on top of his game.QR will never be the same.

 Zenyatta and Blame can take each other and the rest in the BCC.  

Dont't worry about Zenyatta,  John has a plan,   like last year, He proved to the world that he can, Because he is the top training man.

09 Aug 2010 6:35 PM
tana rae

Steve...I hope you do a story on Tuscan Evening (and Lisa's Booby Trap).  I had the horseracing channels on all day today and didn't hear one word from anyone about Tuscan Evening's untimely death.  I found it particularly strange that no mention was made of her during this morning's horseracing news format.   There was no acknowledgement of her death, no replay highlights of her most recent and memorable wins, no nothing.  Why?  My heart goes out to Jerry H., her owners and all who cared for this mare. Is everyone waiting to learn cause of death before addressing it?

09 Aug 2010 6:47 PM
Steve Haskin

"The intention here is not to stir up another Zen-Rachel squabble or to offend the "Zen-worshipers" but simply to raise the question of how much of Zenyatta's legacy as a champion Dirt performer will depend upon one race.  For a horse of her calibre this is not the smartest management IMO."

You're right about them depending on one race, but that is their decision and if Zenyatta gets beat in the Classic they will have to live with it.

09 Aug 2010 6:53 PM
Steve Haskin

Jersey Boy, I've been campaigning to get rid of handicaps in grade I stakes for several years, but no one in this industry listens anyway. And who is racing's governing body that could or would make that decision? There ain't none. The Graded Stakes Committee? I think not. I still can't figure out many of their decisions. Look how long it took them to make the Arkansas Derby a grade I. The pressure finally got to them after way too many years in the dark.

09 Aug 2010 6:57 PM

You know, Lisa's Booby Trap is my childhood dream ♥ I would lay awake at night dreaming of being the "kid" who took in the injured * crippled * misubderstood (whatever the scenario of the night ;-)) and through my love, devotion and talent bring her to the races...hurray for the dreams!

09 Aug 2010 7:04 PM
Karen in Indiana

Blame is another of those under the radar winners, like Tuscan Evening, at least until now. I watched him win at Churchill & thought 'nice horse'. But after last weekend, Wow! He proved to everyone he is the real deal. Thank you, Steve, for the back story and the history that this horse carries so well on his shoulders.

As for Zenyatta, no, her win wasn't showy, but it was a win. And Rinterval has given other top horses a run for their money so she shouldn't be dissed. Since Zenyatta has already won Grade I's on dirt and synthetic and it isn't likely she will ship before the Breeder's Cup, what about a Grade I on turf for something different? The Grade I Yellow Ribbon stakes is 10f and the same day as the Zenyatta.

Are you planning on writing more about Lisa's Booby Trap? I've added her to my virtual stable & would love to read what you find out.

09 Aug 2010 7:04 PM

So very sad to learn of Tuscan Evening's death.  There is no getting used to losing horses we feel as if we've come to know, and there is no getting around the fact that life marches forward regardless.

Test - Champagne D'Oro ran an excellent race, what a pleasure to watch!

Whitney - Agree slow fractions may have hindered QR, also the weight made a difference, but Blame ran an outstanding race and I'm not sure he was going to lose under any circumstances.

Clement Hirsch - I quite enjoy watching The Big Mare, but I'm starting to wonder when she will get a chance to prove herself truly fastest.  Maybe lots of competition will show up for her next outing.  Or maybe they all stay away just so her entourage doesn't get to say they beat anyone until the BCC?  I see lots of people saying she hasn't had to try very hard to win, so why not give her the opportunity to try, see if there is a point at which the tank is empty, or if she is truly capable of beating all comers?  I love racing because the good ones so obviously love it, and Zenyatta is clearly very happy to race.  She's a big, strong, healthy mare with a ton of personality and talent; wouldn't it quiet any detractors if she spent the year competing against worthy opponents?  I'd rather see a really great horse get beaten once or twice and come back to win again, especially against the same horse, than watch what turn out to be exhibition games and photo ops.  But that's just me.  And it probably won't stop me from watching her next outing :)

09 Aug 2010 7:17 PM
Karen in Texas

Thanks for the weekend recap, Steve! Blame and Champagne d'Oro looked fantastic in their wins. I agree that Quality Road may have been "bored" on the lead at a slower pace. He looked basically unfocused to me, and lacked a certain aggression that he usually displays.

Sad about Tuscan Evening...

09 Aug 2010 7:22 PM


I have a feeling that even if Zenyatta won the BCC if not you, then a lot of other people would still find something to denegrate her.  Blame beat Quality Road fair and Square and the 5 pounds had nothing to do with it.  It wasn't Blame that was 2-5 ML favorite, ML odds that should probably have warranted an additional few pounds.  After all, the Whitney is a handicap isn't it?  Now Blame is in charge of the handicap division until someone knocks him off and Zen is still in charge of the female handicap division until someone knocks her off.

09 Aug 2010 7:25 PM

There were some brilliant races run this past weekend.

I never doubted Blame would give QR everything he could handle, as impressive as the latter has been.  After what Blame did in the Stephen Foster, overcoming a slow pace and running down a very nice horse in Battle Plan, how could anyone doubt?  It was a fantastic race, and people should really give props to both horses as well as the always game Musket Man.  Horses like him make the sport what it is.

Majesticperfection obliterated the best sprint field assembled since last years BC.  He's amazing.

As we start to see the divisions shaping up it gets pretty exciting.  

I too am disappointed by the likelihood that Z is going to run in the race that bears her name.  But, I believe its just too late in the year for her to be shipping. They should have sent her to Churchill in May. And you are most correct - if she wins the Classic all hail the Queen.  

09 Aug 2010 7:30 PM


No disrespect Susie.  Clairbionre has always been a top operation, but as a sire Arch’s overall success has been limited.  He has sired only 2 million dollar earners in Arravale and Blame and two that have won more than 900K.  His get have a few G1 and Group One wins.  His biggest disappointment in terms of sire recognition was the early demise of Pine Island but it appears that Blame is really going to put him on the map.  However, Blame to me is blue collar not because of his breeding or ownership or record, etc., but because of the fact that he is a grinder who always seems to find a way to win and until now, has not receive the over all respect he should have.

09 Aug 2010 7:44 PM
Mike Relva


I always look forward to reading your articles. One of you're many great gifts is being objective,which I admire. Hope you do a story soon on Lisa's BoobyTrap and T. Eve.

09 Aug 2010 8:12 PM
Jimmy Fikes

Concord Point is the Best!!!!!He's Silly,silly I tell you,though should rename him Rubberneck.

09 Aug 2010 8:20 PM

Well.  What can you say, it was a wonderful weekend of racing and I knew Blame could get it done.  I love Quality Road too.  He just seemed to have an off day.  That is fine.  Zen, winning her 18th was icing on the cake.  Then, I heard about Tuscan Evening.  Sooooo sad!!!  I think her connections are waiting on the necropsy before releasing the info about what exactley happened.  I too, would like to hear more about what actually happened with her.  What lead up to her collapsing and what the rider has to say.  I'm sure that was a scary thing to have happend to a rider.

09 Aug 2010 8:39 PM


If Zenyatta wins the BCC at Churchill Downs, defeating a line up that includes the aforementioned top colts/older horses and Rachel Alexandra, all doubts should cease about her position in the upper echelons of Dirt champions.  You would not be able to defend her exalted status more stoutly than I (LOL).  Some extreme detractors might still frown upon three dirt races out of twenty life-time starts but those voices would faint in the din of fans like you and me who would, like Steve suggested, forget about everything negative.  However banking all her undisputed glory on one race? ...thats a bigger gamble than sending her to Saratoga or Belmont before the Breeder's Cup.  Many "knives" will be sharpened to cut away the fluff and strip her resume down to size in respect of her legacy on Dirt if she fails to land the gamble ...need I say more?  I rest my case.

09 Aug 2010 8:41 PM
Bill Daly

Hopefully, Blame will stay healthy and show up at the BCC in November. CD is his home and he's got a good record over the track.  As such he has an advantage over Zenyatta, but that's all he has. He'll have to run the race of his life to beat the mare.  Should be a great race.  If QR couldn't beat Blame with the pace advantage he had on Saturday it's difficult to see how he will ever beat him unless it's at Gulfstream Park or a flat mile at Belmont.  I don't think there will be a rivalry between Blame and QR since I can't see QR beating him.

09 Aug 2010 9:22 PM
Mike Relva


Must be nice to have the answers. Why don't we let it play out first?

As far as alluding to the fact if Zenyatta were to win in Nov you would be defending her,PLEASE don't go there. I think of it as a day late and a dollar short. lol

09 Aug 2010 9:27 PM

Given the fact that if both,blame and QR ran at equal weights,QR wins ,don't be like lukas and bet the kids college funds.......speaking of lukas were was mine that bird on sat.I believe a distant fifth.

09 Aug 2010 9:29 PM
mike rullo


what a huge mistake moss/sheriffs is making with zenyatta. If she is off the board in the classic she will be remembered as a plastic champion.

09 Aug 2010 9:35 PM
J. R.

I am not convinced about Blame. I believe he only won the Foster because Battle Plan broke down.  He never would have passed him otherwise.  As far as the Whitney goes,as great as Johnny V. is, he blew it with those fractions. A bunch of us here in Vegas were watching the race wondering why he was going so slow. You also have to think that by the margin Blame won by, the five pounds did make a difference. My heart goes out to all involved with Tuscan Evening.  She will be greatly missed.

09 Aug 2010 9:37 PM

I'm not ready to crown Blame king of the hill just yet. Blame is a monster to be sure. But Quality Road is a monster of a different type. They have divergent styles, unrelated ways of getting from point A to point B. It's not unlike comparing apples & oranges. Blame came out on top - barely - in round 1. I'm looking forward to round 2. The crowd at Saratoga was clearly in Quality Road's corner, but Blame made believers out of some, perhaps many. For whatever its worth, Mine That Bird looked incredible in the paddock. I know, I know, he has more detractors than fans, but they need to regroup with this guy & give him a fighting chance. He was in way over his head here & racing on the turf prior - PLEASE. He needs an e-a-s-y dirt race as a confidence builder. Well, maybe a couple.  Mine That Bird's half brother "Brother Bird" was in the first race & he came home a winner. Wonder if MTB was watching...He didn't learn anything.

09 Aug 2010 9:42 PM

Thanks Steve.  I love the wrapup.  Blame is a beast and he beat a beast.  And he sounds like an absolute gem!  I agree about QR needing to use his speed early.  I'm hoping the loss is due to that and that he doesn't have additional problems.  I love Musket Man but am shocked by Derek Ryan. I can't believe he said "look him in the eye, and he's counterfeit."  Soda, how can you say QR will never be the same?

Zenyatta does it again.  I just don't understand her connections.  Why specifically mention the Beldame on October 2nd as a target and then backtrack to the Zenyatta race?  I love her to death and I love her connections.  I just don't understand them.

But again, all my little gripes wash away when I think of Tuscan Evening.  Susan, I want to know what happened too.  It's just so shocking, and I thank heaven that it didn't happen in a race.  Every Monday I check the NTRA national poll:  last week she was ranked 6th.  This week she still got 30 votes, but didn't make the top 10.  I think I keep going in and out of denial.  I can't imagine the grief in that barn.

I'm trying to look ahead and not fall apart.  How about 5,000 words on Lisa's Booby Trap?  Goosebumps about her and her connections.

Stay safe you beautiful four-leggeds!

09 Aug 2010 9:54 PM

Give Zenyatta a break people. Yeah I agree she should run in some other races. But I've heard Zenyatta doesn't ship well(she get's stressed, looses weight) Why not keep her close to home and in the best possible condition for the Classic? Why should you risk it right before the next biggest race in her career?

09 Aug 2010 9:57 PM

I'm not quite sure why a legacy of a horse depends on what surface they ran and won on. If Zen goes into the BCC undefeated and looses that takes nothing away from her legacy. She has already made her mark in the history books and no one can take that away. We will not see another like her for many years to come if ever. She brings so much excitement to her racing no matter who is in the field. I will have a huge hole in my racing heart when she is gone from the track living her happy horse life, but I will be happy for her. I want to enjoy these last few races we have with her no matter what happens. LONG LIVE THE QUEEN!

09 Aug 2010 10:30 PM

This year's breeders cup classic is shaping up to be one for the ages because of Zenyatta's 18 race winning streak. Running on the dirt of Churchill Downs will be much different than running in California.  Lining up against the likes of Blame, Quality Road, Rail Trip, Rachel Alexander & a few others will be a real challenge. I think Zenyatas streak will probably come to an end on that day. If she pulls it off, it will be an incredible story.

09 Aug 2010 10:41 PM

Keeping Zenyatta at home makes great sense.  She’s the defending World Champion.  Why does she need to travel?  Have we forgotten that she went to the Apple Blossom looking for the “Proxy” HOY ,  last April 9th and Rachel & Team didn’t show up.  Let’s keep in mind that Zenyatta has maintained her form for 32 straight months!  Not just eight months.  Zenyatta is an undefeated world champion who has won 12 Grade One events!  The Zenyatta camp didn’t change the name, Santa Anita Race Track did.  Why fly back and forth twice across the continent within 90 days of the World championship.  She will get her tune up in the “Lady” Secret / Zenyatta” and then she will come to Churchill Downs and she will beat the competition like she did last year and like she has done by that time, nineteen times before.  Like I have said before, she is better on dirt than synthetics, so look out.   There is no better thoroughbred in North America then Zenyatta.  Lastly, when she accomplishes this feat, she will go down as one of the greatest ever and will be remembered for centuries.  So please stop judging the Moss’s and John Shirreff’s motives.  They have done the right thing with this great mare. She has been managed beautifully.  It’s the reason she is still very happy, healthy and alive…

09 Aug 2010 11:01 PM

Again, this is very tiring to rehash over and over again.

Why is Zenyatta  always judged differently from  other basically one state "champion" horses such as Ruffian, Personal Ensign etc.


It's hypocritical to call one out and not the other.

It's east coast bias at its worse.

And frankly, I tired of it.

09 Aug 2010 11:08 PM

..."However banking all her undisputed glory on one race?"


Does that mean if she loses - she loses all her undisputed glory?

But what if she didn't even run at all?

Didn't Bloodhorse have a poll as to whom was the greatest female racehorse in the last fifty years and Zenyatta clobbered Ruffian.

And didn't the Daily Racing Form (Jay Hoveday) also have the same poll with Zenyatta clobbering Ruffian in the same fashion.

And the Classic is still about 3 months ahead.

For all you Zenyatta detractors - sorry, but the train has already left the station.

The majority already think she is the greatest American female racehorse.

She could retire now and that would be that.

She has absolutely nothing to prove, especially going to New York of all places.

09 Aug 2010 11:22 PM
Golden Gate

I am feeling the excitement building for this Breeder's Cup. I will have to go this time.

By the way here is a link to the Zenyatta song. I really enjoyed it hope everyone else does too.

09 Aug 2010 11:27 PM
Gary at Rough Creek


Zenyatta is a great race mare because of her body of work over three years...not one race.  And remember, all synthetic surfaces are not the same.  She's won on several different surfaces, including dirt.  It is not her fault, nor do I see it as beneficial to her, that California mandated the switch to synthetic surfaces.

If it is true that she doesn't ship well, then her connections are doing exactly what is best for her and for racing.  Clamoring for any thing else would be irresponsible and childish.  

Here's what Zenyatta does...she wins.  Load her down with weight, and she still wins.  Give Quality Road five extra pounds, and he gets caught at the wire.  Give Rachel three extra pounds and she gets caught at the wire and passed.  

I want to see sound, happy horses line up for the BCC this fall at Churchill.  Zenyatta is a true 10 - 12 furlong horse...synthetic surface or dirt.  Just you wait and see.

09 Aug 2010 11:53 PM

I believe Blame is a very good horse but I still believe that Quality Road is the more brilliant horse. I agree with those that have suggested the fractions were too slow. QR never looked to me as though he got out of a "high gallop" - never really leveled off and grabbed hold of the bit.  Johnny V may have been a little over-confident, although I did hear somewhere he said QR never grabbed the bit like he expected.  I think Blame will always give a good account of himself but when QR is "on" I still think he is the more brilliant racehorse.

I continue to be very disappointed on how Zenyatta has been managed this year.  We've just witnessed another race where she barely beat inferior competition and in a very slow time no less.  I know, I know; I keep hearing "Zenyatta runs to the level of her competition" but why oh why does she nearly always run against uninspiring horses?  It looks like we'll have to again wait until the BCC to see her run against top horses.  The difference this year is that she'll be facing top dirt horses on their preferred surface, not top grass horses or dirt horses forced to run on a synthetic surface (or stay home).

I hope she is up to the task, because while her record is impressive (what's not impressive about 18 straight victories, 12 Grade 1's, even if she hasn't been routinely beating Grade 1 competition?), but I'd love to see that she really is as good as her biggest supporters believe.

09 Aug 2010 11:57 PM

steve,  blame looks like a lot like another superstar in Invasor a grinding and a winner??  what do you think??

10 Aug 2010 12:00 AM
Paula Higgins

First, I was stunned to hear about Tuscan Evening. She was a simply wonderful horse. She must have had a significant heart problem for her to just drop like that. My sympathies to everyone who loved her. Really a heartbreaker.

As for Zenyatta, I do not believe they will ship her before the BCC. Yes, they are putting all their marbles into the BCC. I don't think they will risk a really competitive race before the BCC and they don't want to ship her because of her issues with flying. If they did ship her for a race east before the BCC, they would have to leave her on the east coast and they don't want to do that either. She is a horse that thrives on routine. When they disturb her routine, she gets very antsy. I don't think managing her is a day at the beach. She is sweet but she wants things her way. So, John Shirreffs would have to keep her there for one month in a strange barn for an extended period of time. Not going to happen. He knows his horse.

Is it true she hasn't had the most aggressive campaign in the history of horse racing? I wouldn't argue that point at all. But one of the reasons she has 18 wins under her belt is because of how they have handled her. She has raced some very good horses. She did beat all the boys in the BCC last year. If she beats them again in 2010 the story is writ and no one on the planet can argue otherwise. If she loses or doesn't run well, then people will have a field day talking about what John Shirreffs should have done. Frankly, at this point I agree with him. Earlier in the year they tried to meet up with Rachel and it didn't happen for obvious reasons. It would be too close to the BCC to try and meet now. It would probably do both Zenyatta and Rachel in for the BCC in my opinion. They would both be all out to win the Beldame, and it would be too much, too close to the BCC. It's a lose-lose for both girls.

So it's a gamble, but one that I understand. Zenyatta's place in history is firm, nothing will change that. HOTY, well it's out of their hands and I think at this point they don't give a darn. When all is said and done, no one will ever care who HOTY was in 2009 or 2010. They will care who won 18, 19, or 20 races-in a row.

10 Aug 2010 12:10 AM

Thanks Steve for your take on the races this weekend. What I think a lot of people forget about when it comes to Zenyatta is that her owners & trainer believe she doesn't have much more to prove. She also is a dearly loved family member at this point and they aren't chomping at the bit searching for high stakes competition for her. She has a large following that simply wants to enjoy her.  She's not just about racing, as you can see, she's about experiencing a phenomena not likely seen again any time soon.  

I really enjoy your perceptive eye.  You mentioned a couple weeks ago that you wondered about Rachel in the post parade with her tail pressed between her legs.  I also wonder about this.  The other small thing, Quality Road's forelock braid banging against his eye. And again I agree, that could be annoying, hope they change it!

God Bless Tuscan Evening and her "family".  It's a sad loss, such a great turf filly!

10 Aug 2010 12:30 AM

Steve, I think you are letting Zenyatta's connections off the hook. Yes, the Breeders Cup is a very important event, but they basically have dismissed all other top races the past two years. If this is the best horse in training, why haven't we seen her in the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup, or Pacific Classic, especially with Sherriffs insistence of keeping her on the West Coast? Aren't those important races? Watching her beat the same overclassed mares and fillies race after race is, quite frankly, boring. It's too bad, because her connections and a lot of people say she is the best horse on the planet, yet, when you look at the races she is entered to, it is not reflected. If you have the best horse, she runs in the Pacific Classic, not the Clement Hirsch. Period.

10 Aug 2010 12:50 AM

Thanks Steve for your ever so wise words and I look forward to your next writing.

I join others in my extreme shock and sadness  about losing Tuscan Evening.

10 Aug 2010 1:55 AM
Jim C.


Great column, as usual.  You are the most insightful columnist (if not handicapper) this Sport has to offer.  My wife, who is new to horse racing, has read all of your books, and is still prodding me to read your John Henry biography.  

We were in the Del Mar paddock Saturday.  Completely packed.  here was so much buzz and anticipation in the air waiting for Zenyatta.  It was as if Elvis was scheduled to reappear.  

I am totally with you on the naming of the "Zenyatta Stakes."  I understand her connections pleaded with Oak Tree to wait another year, but were rebuffed.   You've been around forever and likely have experience with these things -anything I can do to appease the Horse Racing Gods for a special dispensation?

10 Aug 2010 2:34 AM


10 Aug 2010 4:10 AM
Steve Haskin

Jimy, I'm not letting them off the hook, just stating what another BC Classic win would mean, and it seems theyre willing to put all their eggs in the proverbial basket. As for her not running in the Big Cap, Gold Cup or Pacific Classic, I honestly dont know why she hasn't, and I am a bit surprised she hasn't. I have not heard any reasons from Shirreffs or Moss.

10 Aug 2010 5:10 AM

Thanks for another great read, Steve, and for keeping alive a wonderful weekend of racing from coast to coast.  I feel so fortunate to have seen Tuscan Evening's last race at Arlington and mourn her more than untimely passing.  She had so much upside and a real chance to become a true world class filly.  I could agree more with your comments on the Zenyatta Stakes.  Zenyatta is a horse for the ages and no matter what happens down the road, she has earned her place in racing history.  But to simply wipe away the Lady's Secret for a bit of temporary marketing sizzle is a slap in the face to the memory of a great champion and the history and tradition that makes racing such an amazing and beautiful sport.

10 Aug 2010 6:28 AM
Lindsey S

Steve, well said about Claiborne and their super star Blame!  Claiborne is an amazing place.  You step onto the property, and you feel like you're stepping back in time.  It just oozes history.  I think the breeding industry would be in much better shape if people followed their example.  I'm so very happy they have a horse like Blame.  I can't think of any farm more deserving!  I love Rachel and Zenyatta, but if the Breeder's Cup day isn't their day for whatever reason, my heart will be with Blame all the way!

10 Aug 2010 7:00 AM
Don from Delaware

Nice article Steve, my executive summary of the race is that QR & Blame were pretty equal, but the slight difference was weight,slower fractions BUT JOCKEY in this race, GG ran the perfect race, saved ground and went outside just at the right time and JV just lost eye contact during that outside move, if he had just ridden him out, he was a winner. Next time wire to wire.

10 Aug 2010 7:03 AM


Keep up the good work. Maybe one day people will see the light. More top horses will be kept in training if the owners knew their horses will not be penalized for being the best.

10 Aug 2010 7:35 AM
Swaps fan

Blame showed his grit and class by wiunning the Whitney, but Zenyatta achieved history with her 18th undefeated win. I'm currently in Europe where they still celebrate the "Zenyatta of the 19th Century," an incredible Hungarian mare named Kinscem who ran 54 times and was never defeated - she won ALL 54 races. In the 1870's Central Europe did have top quality racing, and Kinscem ran in Hungary, Austria, Germany, England, and France and defeated the best that Europe had to offer. Like Zenyatta, she had an amazing personality and was beloved. I'm grateful we have Zenyatta today, and I'll be at Churchill Downs rooting for her to win her 20th and last start and to retire undefeated as today's Kinscem.

10 Aug 2010 8:10 AM
Fran Loszynski

There will always be surprises in horseracing. Blame proved that. That's the excitement of the sport. I want to congratulate Zenyatta's owners.  She is AWESOME!

How about breeding her to Afleet Alex! You have to admit the two of them-no less than a champion foal.

I would also like to congratulate Point Given into the Hall of Fame. I bet Gary Stevens has a tear in his eye. You did it too Gary for Point Given, your love for this racehorse help get this champion there. Just wanted you to know that.

10 Aug 2010 8:11 AM
mike rullo


why do you think they kept zenyatta in a box for the last 3yrs???

10 Aug 2010 8:14 AM

Disappointed in Z's connections and campaign?  Gee, one would think that doing right by the HORSE first and foremost should be highly praised instead of whined about.  What a shame that so many aren't recognizing good horsemanship.  Double shipping before the big race is NOT logical.  She's an amazing mare regardless of whether she wins the BCC.  Love how it's always Z that has to ship to meet this horse or that.  They all know where she is, if they feel froggy - jump!  What? No frogs.  Go figure.

10 Aug 2010 8:27 AM

A beautiful, insightful recap Steve.  We were on a starvation diet without your column for so long.

Before The Whitney, Quality Road looked absolutely gorgeous (even though my heart was with perennial bridesmaid Musket Man). On paper, we thought QR and Haynesfield would set scorching fractions, making it more difficult for Blame to close.  Like all paper tigers, that scenario folded when Haynesfield set about to his antics.  I thought QR was totally disinterested, and left himself wide open with those slow times.  Blame strutted his stuff, made all the right moves, and won.  I think Blame is the real deal, after watching his previous races.  I think he's a horse primed for the classic distance.  I think QR is a miler.  At least the trainers of Big Drama knew when to shorten to sprints.  You would think after QR's record breaking sprint last year, his trainer would have figured out the same for him. Majesticperfection was...perfect.  There is a monster; can't wait to see more.  Apparently, being on the rail at Saratoga was a big disadvantage, as most horses seem to just hit a wall after 6f on the dead rail.  Pica Slew certainly did seem to, as did many others on Saturday.  I was disappointed for her, but have to give all the credit to Champagne D'oro for a brilliant run. (and I missed Franny).

The shocking news of Tuscan Evening (who I thought was the best turf filly in the country) echoed too loudly with sad memories of Swale and Sailor's Cap. I am deeply saddened.

I love the big Z.  I'm glad she won again. (she is a miracle among us).  However, I was hoping she would scratch from the CH.  My hope was that she would board a train, (since only bloggers' opinions have decided she doesn't like to fly, and absolutely nothing has been said by her connections) stop for an appearance at Arlington, (for racing fans' joy) and head up to Saratoga for the PE...then Belmont for the Beldame, and finally the BCC.  The East coast really needs to find out first hand why everyone has fallen in love with her.  I have so many misgivings about Zen running in a race named for her.  Maybe I'm just too superstitious, but so are most horse owners and fans.  Whatever decisions are made, it's always pure joy just to watch her glide past her competition...and imagine actually riding on her.  Mike Smith's smile just gets wider every trip, and it seems his heart keeps swelling with pride.

10 Aug 2010 9:03 AM


Another great article!

Blame is for real!  He is a beast! I'm happy for him and his connections and for Claiborne Farm, a truly classy and historic operation!

Condolences to all associated with Tuscan Evening.  I returned from my Saratoga weekend to learn of her death. I hope we get to know the results of her necropsy!

Thanks for everything, Steve!!!

10 Aug 2010 9:08 AM


Sometimes horses drop dead from a heart attack for no known reason even with the very best of care.  It happens in people, too.  Sometimes it is an aneurysm.  Most tracks require an autopsy of all horses that die at the track.  I'm sure we'll find out more, but sometimes the best pathologists cannot find the reason.  Always, it is very upsetting.

10 Aug 2010 9:40 AM
Bill Daly

I don't get this bit about slow fractions contributing to QR's defeat.  If anything it should have helped him.  If, as Pletcher said, he's better with a target to run at then he doesn't possess the traits that good horses have: tractability. He should have waltzed home.

10 Aug 2010 9:57 AM
Smoking Baby

Jim C.,  Nice day at Del Mar on Saturday wouldn't you agree?  I actually stood RIGHT NEXT to Chris McCarron at one point and couldn't think of anything to say.  I'm kicking myself.  I don't know about you but I had trouble finding a parking place with no employees in the parking lot to help.  Would it kill those folks to have some paved parking?  I felt pretty dusty all day after finally finding a place to park.  The paddock scene was WAY cool and yes, it was packed.  Am I imagining things or does 32,000 people at Del Mar seem like WAY more than the same amount at Santa Anita or Hollywood?  

 I'm thinking we should give Quality Road a break.  While I don't really buy into the excuse that he got bored and didn't think he was in a race (although I need to put that one in my pocket to use should one of my favorites get beat), he did give away five pounds, ran his last eighth in I believe :12 and change (someone correct me if I'm wrong as I didn't actually check this) and only got beat a head.  That's nothing to hang your head over. The fact is good horses get beat if you lead them over enough times.  I read if Zenyatta gets beat in the Classic she'll be remembered as a plastic champion.  I'm imagining she belonged to me.  A "plastic champion" who has made over 6 million dollars?  I believe I can live with that.  

10 Aug 2010 10:22 AM
Steve Haskin

lol. Thanks, Slew

10 Aug 2010 10:24 AM

I just wanted to throw in my two cents on Mine That Bird.  I followed the race and was mostly looking at the QR/Blame matchup; I thought that QR would have an easy enough time on the lead to hold off a closing Blame.  Did not think that Blame would get past QR until the BC Classic, but Derek Ryan is probably right on saying that QR is "counterfeit" least at that distance...QR is, and always will be, a world-class miler, and a great horse to go to Stud, but that doesnt make him a legitimate BC horse at a mile and a quarter.  I really like QR, but you have to respect the limitations too....can anyone beat him at a mile?...heck no!!!!....Back to Mine That Bird: I doubt that his owners bargained for the scenario that they find themselves in....a horrible first choice for a comeback race, and then throwing him to the wolves in this matchup?  Give me break!!!  Can a "big" horse ever be as mis-managed as this?  Just for the heck of it, I debated the point, well over two months ago, on where Lukas would return MTB, after he showed up at his barn dead fit and ready to go from the winter layoff; I thought that Lukas would take his time, aim for a comeback at Monmouth at the end of July in a listed stakes going a mile and sixteenth (same day as Haskell), and then shoot for the Woodward a month later...well, the rest is now what?...where do you go from here?...the Woodward?...I hope not....he'd be better off running a Grade III or listed race, anywhere, to get his confidence back...or just ship back to Churchill Downs, and find a prep race before the BC Classic...but if I were the owners of MTB, I would not be happy.  They moved the horse to Lukas to get the horse in a "big barn" situation, with the experience, campaign management expertise to take MTB to the next's been a fiasco, by anyone's definition.

10 Aug 2010 10:28 AM

This Blame is as tough as they come, as is Musket Man.  I think Musket Man likes to look at butts though.

10 Aug 2010 10:31 AM

About QR:  I think he needed the race.  His races are too spread out for races beyond a mile.  I'm glad to see him coming back to the Woodward.  He needs to be racing more consistently.  He won't be beaten in the Woodward.

10 Aug 2010 10:38 AM


I read you comments about MTB.  It's been a tough go so far for him.  The Whitney seemed pretty ambitious in only his second back after a long layoff, but do you not think that maybe the owners had something to do with the decision to run in that race?

10 Aug 2010 11:05 AM
kathleen o

Aw gee, look at all the people who are disappointed in Zen's 2010 campaign.  Heaven forbid her connections care more about the well being of the horse than they do about East coast turf writers and NY race fans.  Seems to me that they had a golden opportunity to meet her at the AB, she was sent half way across the country to race on dirt.  Where were you?

She'll see you at CD, where her main competition will be Blame.

10 Aug 2010 11:21 AM

Phil like I've said before about MTB, read Wayne's comments both before and after the Firecracker and before the Whitney. Who do you really think wanted him in those races? The biggest setback was the Allowance race at CD on dirt not filling. Suppose that was Wayne's fault too?

Why do you all constantly want people to run their horses where they don't have a stable and have to ship to?

Instructions were to keep him closer to the pack, the pace should have allowed him to do that no problem. He's fit, he's working well and he ran in the race that was the target for this point in time.

Some people are just never happy with anything racing connections do, see Zenyatta, Rachel, MTB, etc etc etc.

Everyone who doesn't do this for a living seems to believe they know better than those who do. Second guessing all the time doesn't seem to be a very good fan.

10 Aug 2010 11:25 AM

Thanks for a great wrap-up of the weekend races, Steve.  As always I enjoyed learning more of the details as only you can provide and I admit I completely agree with Slew about starving for more.  Lots of interesting comments to ponder and I'm thankful to all.

It is so sad about Tuscan Evening that I'm truly at a loss for words.  My heart goes out to her connections.



10 Aug 2010 11:42 AM
spitting the bit

Nice article Steve, and I agree with you on the forelock on Quality Road.  I saw that in the post parade and thought the same thing about it bouncing around in and around his eye.  Loop that braid or leave it alone--gave him that wild stallion look and it would have blown out of his face running, well maybe not as slow as he was going:>  

One thing about Zenyatta and her career is that her connections deserve an award for their handling of her campaign.  A superb job!  And I must say that most of her fans (and I think that she is sensational) are biased.  Rachel was pummeled for her last few races as not running against "anything" and busting a gut to win, blah blah blah.  As a Rachel fan, Zenyatta scares me, but I think that Rachel is a superior competitor.  

10 Aug 2010 11:56 AM

Mr. Haskin,

Great recap of this weekend races. I love the way you notice details, like the strand of hair hitting QR near his eye, I hadn't seen that.

One thing I did notice was the look of surprise in Musket Man as Blame rushed past him. If you watch the race again, and concentrate on MM you will see it also.

Did anybody see the "stumble of all stumbles" In The Paint suffered at the start of Race 8 at DM Saturday? I have never seen a worse one. How that horse regained his balance after that, is incomprehensible. How Bejarano stayed on also defies the laws of gravity. Great athletes, these two!

Since I seem to be focusing on details today, Dance to My Tune (David Flores on board) floated Zenyatta 5 or 6 wide in the CH after the turn. Was that on purpose? Or was that due to the way the track is configured? Either way, it didn't bother the Queen in the least. What a joy she is!!!

After all the excitement of Saturday's racing, Sunday morning brought me back to earth in a resounding crash with the sad news of Tuscan Evening passing. There are no words to describe the enormity of this loss to the horseracing world... but for the connections, it must be absolutely devastating. RIP Tuscan Evening, we will not forget you and my deepest sympathies to all connected with this talented, gutsy mare. Terrible, terrible loss.  

10 Aug 2010 12:20 PM

I daw that too Zookeeper- I think it is the configuration of that turn.

10 Aug 2010 12:47 PM
Smoking Baby

 Kathleen o and Will...Well said both of you.  It's very easy to second guess (I'm often guilty myself I'm ashamed to admit) when we don't have to pay the bills or live with a decision that didn't put your horse's wellbeing first.

10 Aug 2010 12:57 PM

Great article.  I too watched and had that same feeling watching a muddied fighter grinding it out down the stretch till he got by.  It was a gritty accomplishment, both by Blame and Garrett Gomez.  It was great to watch, and to cash in on.  I think that it is obvious now that when it comes time for the BCup Classic, it will be Quality Road, Blame, Zenyatta, and whichever top older horse the EU sends over here.  What a stretch run it will be!

10 Aug 2010 1:03 PM
Mike Relva


Mr. Haskin isn't "letting anyone off the hook". He's only stating the facts,more than some other blog host. If you don't like,agree with how Zenyatta is managed,dont watch her race. Simple as that!

10 Aug 2010 1:05 PM

For those people who have "heard" that Zenyatta does not ship well, I am hear to tell you, to stop and take a breath.  She ships just fine.  She was in Louisville last year for almost a month and shipped home when the race she was entered in came up a muddy track.  She ran a few weeks later in a Graded stake and did not even take a breath.  If she runs in California in her next race, look for her to ship to Churchill a day or two after her race and train at the track over the dirt.  Remember, even her Jockey says she is BETTER on the dirt that the synthetics.  That is truely scary !!

10 Aug 2010 1:06 PM
Pam S.

I still respect QR greatly.  But I believe, though he might have had an off day on Sat., that his overall body of work suggests he is not in the top echelon of "classic distance" horses.  I'll watch the Woodward before I decide for sure, but I think the BC Dirt Mile might be perfect for him.  I did read that the owner is pretty dead set on the Classic, though.

I too am greatly saddened by the death of Tuscan Evening.  I was looking forward to the Beverly D and the rest of her path to the BC, because I thought she was a top contender.  So tragic to lose her.

I don't know what to make of Mine That Bird.  I predicted he would run well and he didn't.  I think after all this time there is still some confusion and disagreement about what this horse wants to do and how he wants to run.  I don't really expect to see an amazing turnaround in the Woodward, if that's where he goes.

On Zenyatta, I agree with Paula Higgins.  We have spent much of the year wishing she would ship here or there or do this or that, she did not, and I think now it's time to quit complaining and wishing and hoping and just enjoy her.  She has two more races, she will ship once and it's over.  Yeah, she should have raced in different races, but she's not going to at this point, and the topic's been done to death.  

I was not in favor of the Lady's Secret name change because it's true that history is a large part of racing and LS deserved her race.  But Zenyatta running in her own race does not offend or scare me the way it does some others.  I actually think it would be sort of cool and another "first" for her.

Anyhow, good luck to the big mare as her career winds down, and to all our favorites pointing to "Championship Weekend."

10 Aug 2010 1:20 PM

Phil on MTB...ditto. A fiasco.

10 Aug 2010 1:23 PM
kathleen o

Here's a web site that always affords me some comfort after the loss of a beloved pet.  Hope it helps those of you saddened by the loss of the great mare Tuscan Evening.

10 Aug 2010 1:23 PM

Odysseus ♥

10 Aug 2010 1:24 PM

I think that Blame ran a credible race, and Quailty Road was not as sharp as his works indicated, Pletcher kept talking about how easy it was looking, the works that is, and I believe QR took it easy being allowed to roll through a half in :48, i dont remember the last time he ran that slowly for the half, im sure he was thinking about sleeping at the time, not sure what JV was thinking looking back so much, ride your race man, no matter how much horse you feel you have under you.  The 2nd best performance of the weekend was MajesticPerfection, that horse is serious, people talked about the Baffert horse last year and how good a sprinter he was and he was fast, but this horse here is freaky fast, and seems to do :22 second 1/4s so easy, he looks like he's well within him self going that fast.  I want to see how he matches up with the rest of the sprinters that will show up for that race, but they may all be running for second money if he's on his game which i feel he will be. As for Zenyatta's race well what can you say, certainly didnt inspire any thoughts of Personal Ensign running down Winning Colors or Rags to Riches beating Curlin.  Its very sad that her owners have lowered the bar so much in an already struggling Southern California Circuit.  I was on a message board on Sunday and asked the names of the top Cali horses and some one said: "Temple City, Swirling Candy, Rail Trip, Life is Sweet, and Misremembered" all of these either not in training, unproven, retired, or in the East.  I am not sure if there is anything else to say about people who tout their horse as the best and why HOY should be yours and you dont even run in races that would win you Horse of California. I enjoy that Mr. Haskin keeps an objective view and doesnt really call them out because no one really knows, but I have to say I understand why she performs to such a low level currently, just besting these optional claimers and allowance horses, its not a challenge for her and that same edge is not there. I know from experience when you are 6A and you play a 1A school there is less of an urgency, and thats the sad part.  Does anyone doubt her greatness, I dont believe her fans do, I dont believe Rachel's fans do, and I am as big a Rachel fan as you will find. But out of all the people that would doubt her ability to run in a HOY or Championship campaign and continue to win, its sad to look at the actions of HER OWNERS and TRAINER, and think they have no faith that she could handle running in the Hollywood Gold Cup, or Pacific Classic and still have enough left in the tank to represent herself well in the Breeders Cup. The rest of the year counts, and 1 race surrounded by races of no consequence against the weakest competition you can find will never ever win you HOY (please refer to HOY results 2008/2009). Hope the rest of the year pans out well for all of the horses mentioned.

10 Aug 2010 1:34 PM

Phil- You are spot on with regards to the management of MTB. DWL has to take the blame for that. However, the owners had to know, or should have known that DWL is not one to manage a horse conservatively.

10 Aug 2010 1:36 PM

Dear Steve,

Thank you for another informative article and it is a shame about Tuscan Evening.  

Good for Blame--I always root for the underdog, "blue collar" horses.  

Speaking of which, I also would love your take on Lisa's Booby Trap.  Our local paper, the Times Union, had a big front-page article about her on the Friday morning of the race, so I put some money on her just because it was such a great story, and was delightfully surprised that she won.  Hollywood couldn't make her story up--they would be accused of total fantasy.  Thank you.

10 Aug 2010 1:55 PM

I've been surprised by the comments on running MTB closer to the pace, etc by his current barn.  Didn't Chip W want CB on MBT because of his expertise on "one run" horses (and of course, Churchill).  Didn't Chip W think this was the secret to mining MTB's ability?  He had already been run closer to the pace unsuccessfully earlier in the year (2009). . . and "broke out" with this change in style.  Chip W got it right.

10 Aug 2010 2:22 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

I feel sick. Now Odysseus is gone. Another gamer. Sad. I could be wrong but aren't a lot of horses getting injured switching surfaces in races and training. Every poly track is different, and it could be my imagination but it seems horses are more vulnerable going from dirt or grass to Poly. I was proud of Quality Road for getting himself scratched before The Classic. I had a bad feeling about that race for him, and I believe he did too. Yeah, I know about the helicopters but I know he didn't like the surface. A well maintained dirt surface is safe. If you have to take more time between races to groom it, then do it. There are far too many poly tracks in my opinion. And of course we have to keep working on finding a treatment that works better for horses to avoid laminitis and to recover from it when they get it.

10 Aug 2010 2:29 PM

There are two things in common with both Zenyatta and Blame.

First, Regal Ransom beat Blame in the Super Derby - and Zenyatta clobbered Regal Ransom in the Classic (finished 8th)

Second, Blame beat Einstein in a photo finish in the Clark - This race came AFTER Einstein finished 11th (and next to last) in the Breeders Cup Classic.


Keep trying to beat her people.

It isn’t going to happen (only in your dreams).

Length of Stretch:

Del Mar: 919 ft

Santa Anita: 990 ft

Hollywood Park: 991 ft

Churchill Downs: 1,234.5 ft

10 Aug 2010 2:32 PM
Zen's Auntie

Steve Haskin Another GREAT article took me nearly an hour to pour through the whole thing over coffee, taking it all in. It is very good stuff and to begin with you are right, you have to be happy for Claiborne. I sure am, and I love this horse Blame. The picture (which is great) says it all. He is Bred to my own personal liking and I just love his Pheontype too all racehorse and a closer to boot. MMM MM MMMMM as tasty a colt as I have seen in a while.  

And Z who is other worldly yet some just refuse to see or acknowledge her accomplishments - someday, she will be touted as more exrtrordinary because of her conquoring the POLY Crap, which is harder to master than dirt. And because she as a monumnetal closer can even overcome a positively strolling pace to school her best opponent to a confident neck victory.  

Gary you said it well. I do agree. 3 years at the TOP - Zenyatta, the best I have ever seen.

Finding out about Tuscan Evening Sunday am Humbled my Joy from Saturday it numbed me. It is so devastating.

Susan I remember when Swale died news filtered to us and it was SO SHOCKING. I was in college and in the horse program we all wanted to know why? I remember they never did say what happened excatly it was suspected to be some kind of artirial fribrulation misfire - the leading cause of Heart attck in Horses I heard. But was just awful it was right after the Belmont. I hope they can reaveal More about the exact cause of Tuscan Evening's death.

Not knowing is pretty scary - can you predict these things with regular ekg's? should we work out horses with halter moniters on to study this more? does Lasix effect the heart rythem? after all they give it to heart patients right or they used to, as a diuretic does it lead to bad blood chems or dehydration at higher rates? So many horses use it now its like a standard...

This kind of Loss always leaves me asking WHY??

Nice eye for details folks.  My daughter and I noticed the serious forelock on QR the day before the race. WTF he is not a fresian for crying out loud, tidy up. I hate my hair in my face in the wind it stings your eyes. Not that it kept him from winning or that it makes him less legit.

I am (not that it means anything) totally against Zenyatta running in a race bearing her name. They (who ever is in charge of this) should WAIT on the renaming of the race - but since we watching her rewrtite history every time she races they think this is a good Idea???  Sorry even though she is a phemomena its Tacky and I am happy to start an e-mail campaign to whoever decides these things to have them post pone the renaming of the race to after she runs - Can you help me direct my opinion to the correct party Mr Haskin??

10 Aug 2010 2:38 PM
Crowd Reaction

Crowd Reaction:

10 Aug 2010 2:49 PM
Billy's Empire

Now Odysseus?? UGH!!!!!! It has been a bad week for horse racing.

Smoking Joe breaks a wrist

We lose Tuscan and Odysseus. Harbinger gets hurt and is retired.

next thing we know, Churchill Downs will be moved to Indiana or Ohio to take advantage of slots....

10 Aug 2010 3:05 PM


Why don't you give it a rest.  If you don't have anything good to say, then don't say it.  this pretending to be a fan is laughable.

10 Aug 2010 3:06 PM

Kat, Chip tried it and it seemed to stop working. You can't let these top level handicap horses get so far ahead or you're sunk.

He made up some ground but you can't be a deep closer on horses that break track records in mile races or shorter, or those who slow up the pace the way QR did. Especially after a long layoff and some of the issues The Bird had.

MTB is bigger, fitter and has a better turn of foot this year. Getting his mind right may be the biggest task right now.

Dr Drunkinbum (funny name)Odysseus had colitis, laminitis is the most prevalent complication in that disease.

10 Aug 2010 3:06 PM
Craig Levy

Zenyatta not only eats her competition. She also eats trees at the 8:15 mark of this video.

10 Aug 2010 3:13 PM

Poor Odysseus, my sympathy to his connections. He never got the chance to live out his potential. One of my top picks before the Derby, I loved his grit. Why can't we do better with laminitis? I know inroads are being made but meanwhile wonderful horses are being lost too soon.    

10 Aug 2010 3:24 PM

You said it, Steve! Blame is like looking back at the '50's and'60's horses. He came up that stretch just like a great big train! He's dead-game and honest as the day is long. I wish him every success - for Stall and Gomez, for Claiborne, for the sport but most of all for Blame himself. He deserves his place in history. Loved that finish! Just loved it!

10 Aug 2010 3:27 PM

OMG!  Now its Odysseus.  Laminitis is a hideous killer.  I hope there is a cure in the very near future.  It has taken so many great horses.

I am afraid to ask, but does anyone know how Global Hunter is doing?

As far as MTB, it sure seems like Chip W. had it right.  Whatever is going on with his training, it sure isn't working.

10 Aug 2010 3:32 PM
Saratoga AJ

Blame certainly made a believer out of me. Gutsy horse, and a star in the making. I wouldn't be in any rush to discount QR the rest of the year, though. That would be a mistake.

And here's some fruit for thought  all of you. And I’m NOT implying she’s better than Blame.

But think back to June 12th at Churchill. On that day Blame, carrying 120 lbs. won the Foster, in an all out drive by 3/4 length. Time, 1:49.37.

Same track, same day, same distance, same conditions, Rachel Alexandra, carrying 4 more lbs, 124, wins the Fleur De Lis just galloping and gearing down in hand by 12 lengths. Time? 1:48.78.

That’s about 2 3/4 lengths, folks. Geared down with more weight.

Any comments?

10 Aug 2010 3:35 PM
Zen's Auntie

I am so saddened by the Loss of Odysseus. Please Lord no more...

Laminitis is a killer for horses of all types - the hoof and how it works is not completely understood at all.  

This is one of the fastest cases of a horse being put down from complications of injury resulting in Laminitis I have seen in a while I heard it was a knee injury, wow its a shocker.

10 Aug 2010 3:37 PM

Harbinger, Franny Freud, injured and retired. Tuscan Evening and now Odysseus gone forever... and yet, some fail to appreciate the ones we still have? Don't they realize the absurdity of their comments?

10 Aug 2010 4:03 PM

Great to see Queen Z win again. I was concerned with her canter back to the winners circle. She did not fully extend her right front leg in a fluid fashion as she does normally. Her knee did not flex the way it normally does. I only saw the race on the Bloodhorse replay, but it does allow for the minutes after the race to be viewed.

I saw Blame at Pimlico on Preakness day. He is a very impressive horse.

Glad these horses all came back sound hope everyone takes a moment to think about some of the fine animals that have passed away in the last couple of days. They give everything to entertain us and the least we can do is respect them with our concern.

Please God of racing Please give Mine That Bird back to Chip before he breaks down. He is a nice little horse and deserves better.

10 Aug 2010 4:04 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


  Thanks for that info that laminitis is the most prevalent complication from colitis. I didn't know that. I think Odysseus was originally injured in The Blue Grass. Is colitis more likely to happen when a horse is inactive or is that irrelelvant? I don't know the extent of his injury. I do know that laminitis can also result from injuries. I don't even know if he had recovered fully from his injury and was back in training or not. There is too much I don't know to come to any conclusions. What I had to say concerning surface changes could be entirely unrelated, but it is something I wonder about, and it does make sense to me that too many surface changes could be risky. If I was a trainer I would want as few surface changes as possible and for my horse to gradually become accustomed to a surface before running on it at full speed, especially in a race where a horse's attention is also on other horses rather than just on getting across the surface safely. I love Mine That Bird and he should be able to win some races if placed properly. I have no concerns whatsoever about his mind. He wants to run. In his mind he is a champion, and he feels he is going to win, he just needs the right spot, and the right set up. He was way over his head in his last two. He's not a turf horse, and he was not ready for the caliber of horses he faced in The Whitney. He's a mile and a quarter to mile and a half horse. He still could do something in The Classic if he can get there in peak form. I hope he runs in The Jockey Club on Oct 2.

10 Aug 2010 4:23 PM
Zen's Auntie

Amen Zoo.

10 Aug 2010 4:38 PM
Kit J

Cris, Chip wasn't doing well with MTB after the Preakness from what I could see. He wanted to run him at Saratoga and Dr Blach flew out there to check the horse himself and said no.

He got a terrible ride in the Breeders Cup IMHO.

Then we find out he had a bone chip removed? Wonder if Chip was up front about that? I think he ran with that bone chip and is probably lucky that Chip W didn't cripple him.

What does he deserve better? He looks fabulous, some people say he's put on weight since Mr. Lukas got him and everyone thought he'd run better. I too read that Mr. Lukas said he wanted him a little bit closer up, less stress trying to catch those horses and he also said that he thought they were in a little too deep, but apparently that's what the owners wanted him to run in. Your boss tells you to do something, you ignore him or her?

10 Aug 2010 4:41 PM

Saratoga AJ

It’s all conjecture.  In the Foster Battle Plan was not really hurried early and ran Whitney like fractions through the ¾’s which I think might have hurt him more than helped him.  In any event the race was slower to that point by design.  In the FLD Jessica is Back ran all out early trying to distance herself from Rachel (obviously it didn’t work) and the first part was faster.  When they came home the last 3/8ths the SF was slightly faster than the FDL and Blame had to make up about three lengths from that point while Rachel was a head off the lead.  The FDL time was remarkable when comparing it to the Foster a few races later.  However, that would be the end of the comparison.  If Rachel ran in the Foster she would have been hounded by Battle Plan and if the way she quit in her two earlier races was an indication, probably (she might not have)would have quit.  And even if she would have shaken him off and gone on, Blame would have been right on her meaning that she would have been forced to run the entire race.   Head to head with Blame from the 16th pole home would have been really tough.  We’re not talking Macho here.  I know afleetalexforever is waiting to pounce on this, but I think it is a fair assessment.

10 Aug 2010 4:43 PM

Saratoga AJ, I remember that day ;-)

10 Aug 2010 4:58 PM
Zen's Auntie

If, shes the least little bit compromised I hope and Pray they never race her again. no rehab no maybe just NEVER AGAIN.

However, as we see every race and even in her everyday back stretch life Z plays in movements that alter her gait for the sheer fun of it its the ballarina in her when ever she has to shorten to accomadate slow pace or the little walk of a handler she alters her movement going into her own variety of parade prance/spanish Walk.

I maintain She is a Grand Prix dressage horse masquerading as the best racehorse ever. Doing a great job of it too. If she didnt have to be a broodmare she could go to the Olympic level for Dressage in a year or two. She still seemed pretty fresh after the race so you might expect this from her even at the canter. So dont read too much into her altered, stilted movements at any gait.

BUT, like I said if anything is ever wrong with her, ever I hope she goes to visit Giants Causeway or Arch or Robert Dover I just dont think I could stand losing her too soon it might for real break my race horse loving heart.

10 Aug 2010 4:59 PM

Well for all the talk about how sound and sturdy Blame is, why is it that he's only running in 5 races this entire year?  Looks like he'll have exactly 1 prep for the Breeder's Cup Classic, and then if he wins the Classic, why bother running him ever again?

Sorry to sound negative, but it's darn near impossible to get excited about horses who have these paltry campaigns.  It's as though they're too good to race, so you're better off following  $5000 claimers if you want to see horses race on a regular basis.

10 Aug 2010 5:01 PM
Kit J


I read up on it and the person who said it's a complication of colitis is right. I don't know about race horses but I know from other types of horses that something like 54% of laminitis is related to colitis and a lot of it is from founder. Also I can't see how a hyper extended knee could cause laminitis. Apparently he was doing okay from that injury and was being treated for colitis according to the BH article.

10 Aug 2010 5:02 PM

Props to Claiborne for doing things right, it's just too bad they will loose to Queen Z in the Classic.

10 Aug 2010 5:02 PM
In aint easy being good!

Lazmannick the clock doesnt lie. Rachael is back and ready to run! She doesnt have the hype now but the confidence is building. She is still a bullet and cant wait for her to start cranking it up! Yes she lost twice but I think the rust is off and the real RA please stand up! loL!

10 Aug 2010 5:11 PM

Freetex, the one month after surgery update on Global Hunter's facebook page said he's out of his cast, bearing more weight than expected on the injured leg (thereby protecting the good one) and lies down at night for several hours. Keep your fingers and toes crossed, because so far, so good.

10 Aug 2010 5:24 PM
kathleen o

Zen's Auntie, I noticed the Dressage talent as well.  Saw a video of her in a post parade, can't remember which one, but she was doing one time changes.  I just cracked up.

10 Aug 2010 5:42 PM
Gary at Rough Creek

Kit J,

"Some people sat he [Mine That Bird] has put on weight..."  Lucas said it, and let me say this...MTB has put on too much weight!!!  Get the darn horse in shape before you run him again.

Chip W.  won the KY Derby, ran 2nd to HOTY RA while giving her five pounds, and came 3rd in The Belmont to eventual 3 YO Champion Summer Bird when he was training MTB.  Then MTB came third in the grade 2 West Virginia Derby while conceding 11 pounds to each of the horses that beat him.

Running MTB at the end of last year was not all his call.  

Lucas has run MTB on the grass????, and then he rolled him out in the Whitney.  

If you want to cast aspersions on people's horsemanship, you'd better know what the hell you are talking about.  And obviously you don't.

10 Aug 2010 5:42 PM

The reason why laminitis often develops from colitis is related to the horse's hindgut digestive tract being bacterially based.  Trouble in the gut can cause a die off of the bacteria and you get "toxic shock syndrome".  The release of toxins cause the capillaries of the laminae (a velcro like tissue that helps to stablilize the coffin bone in position in the hoof) to become inflamed/constricted.  This is laminitis.  If the laminae deteriorates to the extent that the coffin bone is "released" from position, it begins to rotate down - this is founder. It is possible for the coffin bone to rotate down and out the sole of the foot - a sinker.

Will, I didn't see MTB's problems in CA necessarily being a function of of his style of running.  I suppose you can also make an argument that if he has to change his preferred running style to keep in touch with particular front runners (because he won't be able to catch them otherwise), that those particular front runners may be out of his league.  

QR is a lot like RA, he needs the separation that his very high cruising speed gives him otherwise a horse like Blame will run him down.  I've never seen Beyers as "surgical instruments", more general indicators, but if they are, they would indicate that Blame ran the race of his life in the Whitney, while QR ran an average race.  

10 Aug 2010 6:04 PM

Actually Dr, he's a little more flighty than you'd think a gelding would be. Although I guess there's a few like that, Funny Cide, Lava Man and so forth.

Laminitis has a number of causes and I guess the whole deal is kind of uncertain but I know that they say even though it's in the foot the underlying cause is often some condition somewhere else in the body.

But causes are founder (grain), or change in diet, lots of lush grazing that they aren't used to (grass founder)

high fever, colic, toxins, certain kinds of bedding,an overheated horse drinking cold water, prolonged steroid use, excessive  pounding of the foot think that's called pavement founder or asphalt founder something like that, foot diseases and a few other things I can't recall off the top of my head.

Everybody relates it to Barbaro and his laminitis which was directly caused by excessive weight bearing on one leg due to the injury of his other leg. Sometimes just a change in the normal gait of a horse can cause laminitis. Kind of like a human who favors a bum knee and changes the way they walk their back hurts or the other leg starts to hurting too.

It's sad. Seems like though, we've had a lot of horses who have passed on and not from on track fatalities. It's kiind of strange, or at least I think so.

10 Aug 2010 6:06 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


  I've reread your last post many, many times. I think I now understand what you were saying. At first I thought you were saying that people should move on and appreciate what we have, and I found that upsetting. Now I think you were saying that we should appreciate all race horses for what they do, and give us because we can lose them at any time. This is a time of mourning for me, and I can move on soon, but not today, and probably not tomorrow or the next day. We need to strive for more soundness and safety. I don't like our over use of medications. That's probably the first thing I would change. Lasix for every horse every race is ridiculous.

10 Aug 2010 6:22 PM

wow. Saturday was a great day for Racing and then, Sunday we learn about Tuscan Evening and then after that, Odysseus!!!! Before that, we learn about Franny being retired due to injury and Harbinger being retired due to injury. The Racing Gods don't seem to be very happy right now.

I have always been a huge fan of racing but, when things like this occur, it makes me not to want to support the sport.  I know that it's all apart of it but, damn, we have lost so many this year either to retirement or forever!!  

When I hear about the falling of great horses, I always think back at seeing Go For Wand flip over and break down, or Eight Belles and Barbaro.  Sooo sad!!!  Isn't there away to make this sport safer, not only for the horses but, for the Jocks as well.   I couldn't imagine how the rider of Tuscan Evening felt.  To have a nice work out and to have her fall out from underneath you.  Just a shame!!!!!  R.I.P Tuscan Evening and Odysseus!!!  May you run together forever in the stars!!

10 Aug 2010 6:31 PM

I should also clarify that "out of his league" is a bad choice of words (I think MTB is a very good horse), "not well placed" is closer to what I was thinking.

10 Aug 2010 6:51 PM

lukas will win with mtb,next year running for peanuts......he is a hall of fame trainer if a owner tells him to run a horse over his head ,lukas should tell them to take their horse elsewhere.....lukas is a horrible trainer for this horse....this horse can't be put in over his head like that.

10 Aug 2010 6:59 PM
Pam S.

Some of you may have read about a low-level claimer called Burna Dette.  Her recent death at Los Alamitos troubles me even more than the sad ends that the better-known horses came to.

10 Aug 2010 7:01 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Will and Kat

  Thanks for the information on laminitis. Will, it is strange. We've had a number of barn accidents also haven't we? Some of it is freaky coincidence I'm sure but we still need to strive for more soundness and less medications. It's not just breeding for speed that is weakening thorougbreds. There is definitely a lot more going on than genetics. What else is there besides medications except when it's poor diet and poor care, which I don't think is common at all but overuse of medications is rampant.

10 Aug 2010 7:01 PM

Odysseus...another sad loss.  It would appear that almost anything can contribute to laminitis, which is an inflammation due to a bone displacement.  While checking this out, I discovered not only diet or any gastrointestinal illness can lead to laminitis, black walnut shavings cannot be allowed in the horse's bedding.  Apparently the pollen of the black walnut can also lead to laminitis.

It is almost a desperately sad irony that a beautiful, graceful, majestic animal is so vulnerable to so many vagaries of common every day living.  We also lost Kip D'Ville earlier this year because of laminitis.  With so many different causes, it must be extremely difficult to find any one specific cure.

10 Aug 2010 7:06 PM

PS...they never did find the cause of Swale's sudden passing.  EKG's are useful only if you're having the heart attack while it's being taken...otherwise it reveals no probabilities.

10 Aug 2010 7:11 PM

In aint easy being good!

It would be nice is she is, but I'd wait for the Personal Ensign.  A winning race there and the BCC is going to be even more intriguing if they plan on going in it.  A losing race and where do you go from there?

10 Aug 2010 7:17 PM

BMC Racing,

Yes RA was on the shelf almost six months and was not ready for Zen by the time AB came around.  She's fit now so let's see what happens.  They may or may not race against each other.

10 Aug 2010 7:18 PM

Dr Drunkinbum,

Good grief! I'm glad you gave me the benefit of the doubt. I would never think that way, never mind post it on Hangin' With Haskin for the whole blog world to see. I guess you have to see the context of my comment. It came after a few people criticized one horse or another instead of appreciating them.

After the losses we have recently suffered, their demands for more, better, faster rang hollow and heartless to me and I let them get to me... again.

Many of us here share the pain you expressed in your comment. I know it won't make it "all better now", only time does that, but rest assured that you are not alone, far from it.

10 Aug 2010 7:52 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Excellent timing on great news out of Louisiana. I love the increased purse for the LA Derby at FG. That should help the place horse to make the Derby earnings. ALL of the major dirt preps should be One Million since the place horse doesn't get extra credit. The higher purses will help to give the top Derby preps the stature they deserve. I hope the others follow suit, then the chances of shutting out Grade One prep races placed horses from The Derby is lessoned. I would like to thank FG racetrack for listening to the fanatical fans disturbed by this years exclusion scenario. Thank you, thank you very much. Hubba, hubba. I just might show up for the LA Derby, and eat some amazing gumbo. Probably chicken gumbo.

10 Aug 2010 8:20 PM
Kat San

Zookeeper, welcome to the fraternity of the nervous and broke! I've been reading but not commenting and I was so pleased to hear you got in a partnership. Congratulations.

In defense of Kit, hey Kit KAT love it.  

Gary, I DO know Chip very well. My family rodeoed with him in his younger days and we are on the same racing circuit. His dream is to get 6 or 7 horses good enough to compete in Kentucky and go back there.

He has 20 head or so here in NM and well lets just say there's not a Mine That Bird in the bunch.  

Also, let me just say Charlie who spent the winter and spring with Birdie is a superb horseman.

Hauling the horse all over the place for someone not experienced in that area, having your brother manage your stable isn't ideal to follow one horse who had tailed off.

The owners are paying the fees, the entry fees so it's their call.

I read where Lukas said the final decisions was up to Mark and Doc, hey did you guys know Doc played the vet in the movie Casey's Shadow? Talk about typecasting. ha!

10 Aug 2010 8:48 PM
Gary at Rough Creek


Regarding your comment about MTB and his running style, just when did the deep closing, one-run style "quit working" for Chip W?   The premature move in the Belmont?  Almost catching RA in the Preakness?  Mike's admittedly poor ride in West Virginia?

Or was it later in California?  Chip said that MTB hated that surface.

You are correct about one thing...MTB is bigger this year.  Fitter though?  That is doubtful.  He was being galloped at least a couple miles a day with Chip.  MTB needs to lose some weight, then you'll see the old Bird again.  

10 Aug 2010 8:59 PM

Kay, why did Blame stay a little closer to QR this race? Why did Mike Smith push the button a little early on Zenyatta?

You can't get 25 lengths out against this type of company, especially in such a slow pace. Why do they say closers need a pace and pace makes the race?

His turn of foot IS better than last year. Funny I never saw so many people say a horse that won 2+ million dollars was such a dog. This horse was good before Chip got him too.

I'm waiting to read where all of you are in the trainers standings. What are the names of a few of the horses you guys train?

10 Aug 2010 9:03 PM

WOW, 33,000 fans were there for the queen in the C.Hirsch.   I will tell you were the love was, It was at Delmar on August,7, 2010.

10 Aug 2010 9:04 PM
Matthew W

I had heard Zenyatta was peaking again, and was disturbed by her race--until I realized she ran a :29 sec last 5/16, and that was over a slowish surface--:29 sec going wide, over a slowish surface--(they're all in trouble)--I agree with you Steve, they will have to win--I think they will, impressively, I look for Gio Ponti, Blame to be finishing up with her, it's gonna be some kinda race--if horses like Quality Road, Rail Trip, Rachel Alexandra--all show up, and they set the table for a monumental stretch run--I think Big Z will deliver, and deliver big--and, like you say, she has to.

10 Aug 2010 9:06 PM


That's right.  Only about 15,000 showed up the next day.

10 Aug 2010 10:16 PM
Mike Relva


I like your points. Gonna state the obvious,some have nothing in their lives but to bash innocent horses'.  Sad.

10 Aug 2010 10:19 PM

Steve Haskin, I hope you know you were missed. Sir. Great weekend recap, as always!

I'm so happy for Blame, whom I've followed & loved since his late start as a 3yo last year; sorry for Mine That Bird, dearest boy, who I hoped would make a better showing in the Whitney even while the outcome wasn't a surprise (but I love him still and continue to have faith); I grovel in adoration at Zenyatta's magnificent hooves; I am thrilled for Lisa's Booby Trap especially, and all the pretty horses who showed their stuff this weekend; but..

so sad I haven't felt like posting for the wonderful mare, Tuscan Evening (GunBow, when I read of her death Sunday morning my first thought was of you and your glowing tributes...I've followed her since she came to the US but never had the privilege of seeing her in devastating this is for you and my heart goes out to you and all her connections); and now Odysseus who showed so much promise.  I had not got over the loss of Tiz Chrome yet.

This is sometimes a harder game to be a fan of than most sports, I think.  The highs - wins - are mostly the same; but the lows are almost unbearable.  

I'm grateful for all of the Bloodhorse blogs and for the commenters here who so readily share their thoughts and feelings.  Thanks to all.

10 Aug 2010 10:23 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


   That's what I figured. Thanks.

10 Aug 2010 10:38 PM

August is turning out to be one of the more harder months to watch over the year.... with the loss of Tuscan Evening which just floored me and I actually fell off my chair seeing that Odysseus was next.... my heart still aches from the loss of Skip Away this year.... does it get any easier? I used to be a casual fan before, well, before Skip Away came along and snagged a permanent hold and now I am hooked on the sport as a fan... of course, having horses around like Zenyatta, Blame, Quality Road, and Rachel Alexandra abd everyone else who has thrilled us this year, regardless of where they run as long as they are safe and still healthy and enjoying their job, is all that any person can ever ask for. These horses heal the raw wounds and we have to appreciate what they are for who they are and be glad we have them around.I hope that they do all face each other come the Breeders' Cup and they stay safe and sound and happy.

Especially since it will be my first trip to Kentucky and I hope to see something spectacular (not something traumatic).

RIP Odysseus and RIP Tuscan Evening. Two warriors. A King in the making who never got a fair chance to show us what he was really made of and a big and beautiful gritty Queen in Evening.... I hope that there are no more for a little while... I am not sure how much a fan can take.

10 Aug 2010 10:46 PM
Karen in Indiana

Zookeeper, I second that. The good of the horse comes first. If Zenyatta doesn't ship well, I'm fine with watching her perfection on TV from Ca. If Rachel needed all those months off and they are taking more time getting her back into form, I'm fine watching her in ungraded stakes as she works her way back. I'd even be happy watching MTB in an allowance if it meant he could win and get some confidence. What I hate seeing are unhappy horses being pushed like machines until something bad happens. And I really, really don't understand why people can't just appreciate some of the greatness we are blessed to be witnessing the last few years. Big Brown was like Halley's comet - spectacular while he was around. Zenyatta - an example from God of what a perfect horse is like. Rachel - bold as brass, but maybe used a little too hard. Quality Road - no one better when he fires his A game. Sea the Stars - so powerful, wish he'd stayed running longer. And Einstein - retired now, but as honest and hard working as they came. Hope he's enjoying life. Tuscan Evening & Odyseus should be reminders to us all not to take them for granted.

10 Aug 2010 11:16 PM

Tuscan Evening.  Now Odysseus.  Burna Dette.  Maybe I'm not going to miss reading about/watching racing so much while I'm on vacation as much as I earlier thought I might.  My heart is filled with so much sadness now. I will miss all of your wonderful commentaries, yes even some of the arguments, but I won't miss the sad headlines.

10 Aug 2010 11:38 PM

Karen in Indiana - exactly.

10 Aug 2010 11:40 PM

Very sad news about Odysseus.  Tragic sad news about Burna Dette.

Pam - I too find this heartbreaking.  My first thoughts go back to "Black Beauty" and his struggles with cruel masters.  I don't know much about the lower level claiming ranks, but I pray that these horses aren't abused and mistreated.  I just posted a song on the Racing Hub tribute to TE that might help with all this heartbreak.

Zookeeper - I also saw that stumble at DM on Saturday.  I hope the horse is OK and it's amazing to have stayed up.  I also wanted to congratulate you on Runflatout.  I wish you both well.  I love his name!

Sigh.  Highs and lows.  Lows and highs.  I need some rest.

10 Aug 2010 11:49 PM

Will - I suspect Mike moved Z up more quickly because DelMar has a short stretch, tight corners, and doesn't play so much to closers like SA. And he might have seen the fight Rivertel gave Informed Decision in her previous start. . . and maybe he knew the pace was a little slow too ;)  Did Blame stay close to QR, or vice versa?  QR was pretty slow on the front end (for QR).  QR's strength is speed that carries.  He runs other speed off their feet and separates from the rest.  Not really sure what your point is.  The horses MBT failed to close past are Blame, QR, and MM, high quality horses.  Would you rather see MTB face QR at 8/9 furlongs, or 10?  Even DWL admitted that. . .  

Did I bash MTB?  Absolutely not, I think he is under rated by a lot of "fans", again, not really sure what your point is.

11 Aug 2010 12:48 AM

Tiznowbaby, thank you for the update onGlobal Hunter.  I will keep him in my thoughts and prayers.

Fingers and toes crossed too.

11 Aug 2010 2:23 AM

Karen in Indiana, I love your comment at 11:16 PM last night.

I also wanted to thank everyone for their thoughts on MTB.  I really like QR, Blame, and MM, but a big part of me was rooting for the little horse that vanned from my state with a man on crutches to win the Derby!  ctgreyhound said he looked great in the paddock.  I want this little guy running good again!

11 Aug 2010 8:44 AM

MTB is a nice little horse but unless it rains, he just doesn't belong in Grade 1 races. Isn't he a gelding? Placing in a grade I might mean more than winning a grade III or a non-graded stakes for future studs but not for a gelding. When I used to work at the track, the jockeys and grooms would get pissed and shake their heads saying "you gotta run them where they can win". As a former (small time) owner myself, it was much more exciting to win an optional claimer or conditioned race to me than to hit the board in an open allowance. Now and then, you got to give the bigger races the shot, but c'mon, this nice little gelding should be given the opportunity to stand in the winners circle.

I can't fault Queen Z's owners for just enjoying the ride and not going out there to proove to anyone anything...if Z wins the Classic again which she just might, how many people will say, gee, keeping her fit and healthy was SMART rather than pushing her hard on surfaces and against competition that would have (may have?) challenged her and pushed her to injury.  If Z's racing style was like QRs or Rachel's, when they win and they are "on", they win by a wide margin usually. Z cuts it too close. You run her against too many good horses, eventually she's going to screw around too long, or 6 wide Smith is gonna get her burned. Her record is too impressive to lay it on the line in anything but the classic now.

11 Aug 2010 9:12 AM

Kat & Will:

Thanks for the Laminitis for Lamebrains Like Me explanation, and also for explaning the difference between laminitis and founder. I always hear those two terms used inchangeably and wasn't really aware that there was a difference.

11 Aug 2010 10:05 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Karen in Indiana

  I also love your post. You made many great observations that expressed perfectly the way many of us feel that blog here with Mr. Haskin. There is a comraderie of compassion and love here for these magnificent animals that we far too often take for granted, and under appreciate.

11 Aug 2010 10:06 AM
Gary at Rough Creek

Hey Kat San,

You say you know Chip W. very well.  Maybe you what?

The point is, are you aware of his training regimen for MTB when he had him in his barn?  Are you aware of his take on the current physical condition of the horse?

For that matter, how do you know that he doesn't have up and coming horses of the quality of a MTB in his barn?  Specifically, how fast did our as-of-yet unraced gelding just work for him?  What's his ultimate performance level going to be?  How's our other horse doing?  Maybe we should just call you to get updates!

Let me end with much purse money did MTB earn while under Chip's care?   About $800,000 wasn't it?   That while winning or placing in all three Triple Crown races.  

Let's see how the new "bigger, fitter"(?) MTB performs for the rest of this year.  It's been almost unwatchable and disappointing so far.

11 Aug 2010 10:44 AM
Smoking Baby

Zookeeper & Dr Drunkinbum.  Just saying...You're both class acts.  Maybe it's Mr. Haskin rubbing off who knows?  I wish more folks would follow your example and have a civil discussion.  I'd sure enjoy the read much more.  Have a GREAT day.

11 Aug 2010 10:58 AM


Thanks for the great article and wrap-up of the weekend's racing.  

Congratulations to Claiborne and their staff with Blame.  Claiborne was very gracious to my wife and I as we honeymooned in Lexington in March 1984. (Yes, we were and are Thoroughbred nuts.)  Claiborne allowed us to visit during breeding season. We were able to see up close;  

 Secretariat: who rolled on the ground, got up, shook himself, took his good old time coming over to the fence, greeted my wife and posed for pictures.

 Spectacular Bid: who, we were warned, went to the far end of his paddock, gave us a long stare, then came charging across at full gallop and came to a front hooves sliding stop, kicking up dirt on us and stopping with that stare, right in front us.

 Nijinsky II: confined to his stall with back leg issues, looking for butterscotch candy and spitting out the peppermint treats.

 Riva Ridge: who took his good old time from the middle of his paddock, trotting back and forth, left to right, right to left in front of us, each turn getting a little closer, before he finally graced us with a greeting at the fence.

We also saw Sir Ivor, Danzig and Mr. Prospector among others.  Claiborne's staff was very accomodating on our tour and we are forever grateful for the memories.  Our best to Claiborne and Blame as they pursue a BC Classic, a race that is shaping up to be one for the ages, if all stay healthy, which we all know can change in an instant, as we've seen in the last few days.

I also enjoy all the blogger's comments with these articles on, thank you all.  I haven't posted anything for a while but I want to share some news with everyone.  I won the fantasy stable game this year.  My wife and I will be guests of Churchill Downs for next years Oaks and Derby.  It's a dream come true!  We'll also be going to the BC this year at CD.

Thanks again Steve for your articles and all of you for your comments.  

11 Aug 2010 11:33 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Smoking Baby

  Thank you very much. That is a great compliment to be compared to two of my heros. I have no doubt that both Zookeeper, and Steve Haskin have had positive influences on me, and both are mentors to a certain extent. We did grow up in the same time period and were influenced by some of the same type of upbringing I'm sure. Our heros, teachers, parents and other relatives taught us the importance of respect even when disagreeing. "You can put on the gloves and duke it out but you'll shake hands and be friends afterwards. Or else." If you refuse to shake hands afterwards or if you fought dirty, then you'll have someone much bigger and tougher to deal with.

11 Aug 2010 11:59 AM

I will take Quality Road and 5 pounds (less) anyone care to take Blame with that difference?

11 Aug 2010 12:30 PM
Zen's Auntie

Im with you too Karen

11 Aug 2010 1:37 PM
Zen's Auntie

Tracy - 1 1/4 miles? I'll take Blame, sure.

11 Aug 2010 1:56 PM


Congatulations on your fantastic win! WOW! I'm "thoroughbredly" impressed! LOL!

Hope you keep joining our ranks because I enjoyed your post very much. Your retelling of your experience at Claiborne in '84 was pure delight. How lucky you and your wife are to have seen the great horses, I only know by name, up close and personal.

Have a great time at CD for the BC this year and for next year's KD!Both experiences should be fantastic!!!

11 Aug 2010 2:00 PM
Saratoga AJ


"If Rachel ran in the Foster she would have been hounded by Battle Plan and if the way she quit in her two earlier races was an indication, probably (she might not have)would have quit.  And even if she would have shaken him off and gone on, Blame would have been right on her meaning that she would have been forced to run the entire race.   Head to head with Blame from the 16th pole home would have been really tough".

Talk about "conjecture"? :)

Look, I know the race unfolded differently. However, there was a surprising difference in the time of those races considering all the facts. One thing is for ding dang sure. Rachel Alexandra loves Churchill Downs. It was her home track originally.

So it's something to consider in November. Horses for where have I heard that before? :)

11 Aug 2010 2:05 PM

AS usual Mr Haskins a great article.LOve your style What a Breeders crown we have coming up this year, not like that bunch last year Jes I grass horse almost won it all, They finally started training Rachel right and she is slowly sneaking into the picture, Zen will have to come out of her training races, God you want her to be the best and you continually dodge the best, The filly she managed to beat two starts ago raced in Gold cup was what 5th or 6thwasn't close, yes Rachell got beat by stablemate first start but second start beat her by 14 or so lenghts,can't see Zenatta spotting Quality Road, Lucky, Blame,These horses, they run all the way not 3/4 in 1;15, plus she will have to come out of shelter,This year there are quite a few horses that are just being geared for this race, going to be the best in quite a while. Be interesting because by far the best females are on the east coast, Devil May Care, Life at Ten, and Rachell. The real big factor here is there are a lot of more top trainers going to race in it.not like last year.Rember a grass horse almost won it, don't look for Gio Ponti in the entries he is terible on dirt.Enyoy your articles very Much Mr Haskins,One thing that bothers me is that you have a great mare like Zen and here she is racing against that bunch last week and only givin what a few lbs,Go agains't the boys, beatem up That mentallity cost her horse of the year last year, When you put up her resume and Rachells there was no comparison< Sorry guys Rachell did somethings that will never be accomplished again,Zen has done things that will probably never either, but to do what Zen has done a horse has to be handled a certain way, and that is the problem,You think if Lucas trained her she would be hiding in California, no way,You would be getting a face full of her every time you turned around.You see guys whether you like Jackson or Assmussen doen't matter, he put Rachell all over the map. I don't think we will ever see that again, two great horses we are so lucky to have them both enjoy

11 Aug 2010 2:06 PM

trackjack - Thanks for your story of your visit to Claiborne!  Sounds like a DREAM.  Amazing.

Congrats on your win!  Have fun at Churchill in November and next May.

11 Aug 2010 2:22 PM
Kat San

Gary, you're sure touchy.

I'm pretty sure we've known Chip a lot longer than you have. Tell me are you at the track every single day from sunup to sundown? If so I'll defer to you.

Surely you know the close proximity we all work in, the fact that we all see each others horses pretty much every single day?

Yes we all knew what he had in his barn, yes it was nice that Doc agreed to let Mark's friend train the horse, plus stand behind him when he and Chip came up with that hairbrained scheme before the Preakness and with Mark's travails and his Dad's troubles.

I assume from your comment that he's your trainer. Fine, good that you defend him but not at the expense of another trainer who was chosen by someone I respect an awful lot. Also a trainer that I've known for more than 35 years.

The same question to you, what do YOU know about the current condition of the horse? Or what does Chip know specifically? Plus what does it matter what he thinks, he doesn't train the horse any longer and are you sure you know the reasons why? I've always liked Mine That Bird, was proud of him and his heart, but horses change the horses they run against change and you can't keep doing the same old same old when it's not working any more.

When they brought him from the ranch he was bigger, more muscular than he was before. Chip had nothing to do with that and maybe you should talk to Mark about it?

Whatever your horses are or aren't only time will tell. MTB was working bullets as well. When you get your horse to the biggest races in the country or if you even win a stakes here in NM then let me know, I'll be happy for you.

 I haven't seen anything out of his barn that comes close to a 400,000 purchase or one that will win a couple of million.

If he does for you then fine. By the way what was Chip's win record last year?

But, just think if he had gone off with MTB, you wouldn't have him training your horses.

I don't know who you are, but let me know who your horses are or when one of them runs and I'll watch close.

The Downs starts on Saturday and I have no idea which of the 25 horses he has stalled here are yours, but keep me posted because I want to watch the second great to come out of his barn.

Basically you were bashing Kit saying she didn't know him, I was telling you I do. What an answer back to everyone?

Just remember there are 3 sides to every story, his theirs and the truth.

11 Aug 2010 3:08 PM
Smoking Baby

Dr. Drunkinbum...

." If you refuse to shake hands afterwards or if you fought dirty, then you'll have someone much bigger and tougher to deal with.

Well said bro...Well said.

11 Aug 2010 3:18 PM
My Juliet

   Saratoga A.J., re your comment yesterday, @ the times of the races from that day, it was definitely on my mind when I heard who won The Whitney...I rem reading comments that the track might have changed that afternoon in the time bet the races, leading to the time difference. No denying how impressive it was, with Rachel carrying more weight, and winning by hand-ride cruise- control...trying to contain excitement until after the P.E...  :)

11 Aug 2010 4:06 PM

IN 1959 I was stationed at Ft Campell, Ky 101st airborne, One weekend I got  three day pass and put on my Kakis and hitch hiked up to Paris Ky, got a ridealmost all the way. The main farm I wanted to visist was Claiborne because my favorite horse Bold Ruler was standing stud there. When I arrived at the gate in a taxi, Mr Bull Hancock happened to be there at the same time . it was 9 oclockin the morning, I recognized him and went up and said hello and asked if I could visit the farm, he personally took me to the stallion barn and dropped me of there I spent the next 6 hrs with the groom and got a grand tour of all the studs and farm and when I was done Mr Hancock gave me his autograph and all one great experience, I root for all of claiborne farm horses, I was surprised he took that time with a little skinny soldier who he didn't know from adam. GO Blame

11 Aug 2010 4:10 PM

Just a point of note...The Forelock braid is a trademark used by all Pletcher runners during raceday. Came from the Lukas barn...just like the white bridles. Never bothered Quality Road before. Blame just ran a better race that day.

11 Aug 2010 4:11 PM
Gary at Rough Creek

Kat San,

I objected to your comment for two reasons:  1) the not-so-subtle slam of Chip W. and the horses in his barn; and 2) your faulty logic.

I wasn't bashing Kat.  I objected to the insinuation that since she/he knows him, she/he knows MTB's 2009 training regimen, fitness level, insights into the horse, etc.  Chip does.

You know Chip, and apparently are in New Mexico, ergo you too know how he was training MTB all of last year!?   You travelled here to Churchill Down's too, and knew the horse intimately did ya?  

You can't deny results.  I believe MTB was an Eclipse Award finalist last year correct?  

So I'll ask again, just when did MTB's deep closing style fail to work?  When HOTY Rachel Alexandra barely beat him while in receipt of 5 pounds?   In the Belmont, when a premature move saw him come third to the eventual 3 YO Champion?  In West Virginia, when an admittedly poor ride saw him lose less than two lengths to two horses who were getting 11 pounds?

In California, where he hated the track?  When?

I just want to know your reasoning, if it exists.    

I've been around horses quite awhile now.  I think I know when a horse has too much condition to run his best.  That's my opinion.  Now look at the numbers.  Look at the final time for MTB in The Whitney, compare that to his times last year, and you tell me.   Is he stronger?  Fitter?  If you honestly believe so, then when does that translate into him running faster?  

Regarding the horses in Chip's barn, I got your slam.  Thanks for that!  But neither you, nor Chip, nor I, nor anyone else knows just how good OUR current horses will turn out to be.  Nor do you know the quality of the ones in the pipeline that are going to him.  But please, do sit back and watch.  By the way, just out of many people around you have trained a KY Derby winner?  If you are a trainer, how many multiple graded stakes winners are in your barn?  

Sounds like sour grapes to me.

One last thing.  Lucas has obviously had considerable success in the past.  What was his win percentage last year?  I truly, sincerely hope he can do better with MTB in the future than he has to date.    

11 Aug 2010 4:12 PM

Dr Drunkinbum,

I was proud to see my name next to yours in Smoking Baby's comment. We do get along pretty good, don't we? However, as far as being a mentor, I beg to differ. Let's just call ourselves fellow students of the great and only Professor Haskin.  :)

11 Aug 2010 4:20 PM

I didn't take the time to read all these posts.  It was so sad to hear about Tuscan Evening but the follow on news of Odysseus has just been crushing.  He was one of my top early favorites - I loved his races this spring.  God! it just breaks your heart to pieces every time.

11 Aug 2010 5:52 PM


Great story! Loved to read it. The legends of this sport are surprisingly approachable and gracious when sharing their treasures with lay-folks like us.

Your experience at Claiborne was a very good example of this. Thank you for telling us about it... and yes! Go Blame!!!  :)

11 Aug 2010 6:23 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

I think I'm in the mood for a Bogie movie, popcorn, licorice, Bob Bons, the works. Now there's a hero for you. Maybe The Big Sleep.  


  Yes, we do get along great. Even The Professor probably learns a thing or two from his students occasionally but I've never seen a writer with a better understanding and knowledge of racing. We're all mentors and students, at least of the ones that are allowed in the classroom. If you have no class then you might have to wait outside in the rain until you show some class.

Smoking Baby

   Thanks. I'm looking forward to your racing observations. I will be looking for your comments. I'm sorry to say that I don't remember reading any before.

Steve Haskin

   Clyde Calhoun was the character's name in the spoof of the Bogie movie The Desperate Hours on The Dobie Gillis Show. He played the character that Bogie played in the movie. He was holding them hostage in the store, waiting for Big Louie to pick up him and his girlfriend. The Gillis family was finally able to get the gun away from him and hold him for the police despite the insane antics of Maynard.

11 Aug 2010 7:01 PM
Steve Haskin

Hank, it's called class. We don't see that much of it anymore.

Dr. D., I've never been a hero or a mentor before. I'm honored.

11 Aug 2010 7:43 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

trackjack and hank

  That's good stuff. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

11 Aug 2010 7:50 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


   You have been a hero and a mentor many times to many people, you just didn't know it. I'm happy that you feel honored. As you well know, many of our heroes, and true class acts are gone, so the ones that are left are very much appreciated. This blog has been a precious connection to a different era for me, and there are many class acts that blog on it, and that is also a tribute to you. I'm looking forward to your Derby Dozen blog more than ever this year. I'm anxious for it to begin. In the meantime I've been enjoying the numerous great articles you've written this year. It seems to me that you are at the top of your game especially when you weave personal experiences and the love between man and horse. The horses are heroes of epic proportion in this game, and the jockeys are very courageous men and women. Neither are machines as we sometimes forget as we crunch numbers and count our money or say good-bye to it. They go about their jobs often in physical and mental pain, so your writings that bring tears from joy and sadness are important in helping us to understand racing from a viewpoint of the reality of what living creatures go through in their love of the sport. I'm one that believes that many of the horses that run, also love their sport, as do the jockeys, trainers, owners, fans, writers and everyone else associated with it, and we have to love it to be a part of it because sometimes the emotions we go through are brutal, especially when we lose one of our biggest heroes, a thoroughbred that we love and admire.

11 Aug 2010 10:01 PM

what you think about sword dancer G1 and who do you like

11 Aug 2010 10:04 PM

Hey Guys! I really was not attempting to start a war about MTB

I followed him from Pimlico to WV and if you all will remember he lost in WV due to a breathing problem that he had to have surgery for plus he gave eleven pounds. I think he was pretty well handled last year and from the lines of folks that waited to speak to Chip or have him sign their program, many people would say the same thing. He should have never run on the Santa Anita surface since he already proved he was not good on it, but that was not Chip's call. I like the horse and want the best for him. There is no way anyone can tell me the best is what he is getting now.

To the guy who saw Riva Ridge and Big Red, I used to go over to his paddock and eat my lunch in hopes he would walk close enough that I could pet him. I always brought an apple, but although he would prance by or walk over while eating grass I was never able to pet him. I always left that apple for him tho, and he would eat it as soon as I walked away. It was ok, he was so pretty I just enjoyed looking at him. Now that so many years have passed it nice to know at least I had lunch with him.

12 Aug 2010 12:09 AM


Great post.  What an experience.  

Saratoga JJ

You're ding-dang right.  Horses for courses.  Maybe MTB will pick up on that.

12 Aug 2010 12:50 AM

To all you Z haters, your arguments are so petty.  If you didn't see Z in person, blame yourself.  If I wanted to see Personal Ensign or Ruffian, I would have had to fly 3,000 miles accross country.  I didn't and I have no criticism of those two great mares.  There seems to be animosity because Z has raced only in calif and ark.  Z's owner is part of the calif racing board. It's fitting he should help the sport, and Californians bet lots of money into pools accross the country.  If Calif horse racing dies, it hurts everybody.  You got 2 chances left.  The Zenyatta Stakes at oak tree and the BC.  An invitation to all haters:  Come out to Oak Tree and see for yourself what the fuss is about.  It's not just the streak or winning, it's also about Zenyatta's class and the love of her from her many, many fans.  Most of you won't and are now plotting your next attack angle. Sad.

12 Aug 2010 1:16 AM


Great story about your lunchtime.

The day my wife and I were at Claiborne, the staff member warned me not to get close to the fence with Big Red.  He did not like other males and would probably bite me if I got too close.  However, he was enamored with my wife (as I was) as he came over and allowed her to pet him and gave me a few poses for pictures with his head next to her shoulder.  By the way, the "Secretariat" movie is due for release on October 8.

12 Aug 2010 9:49 AM

Markinsac:  That's odd...I haven't read any hateful comments here about the mighty Zen.  Yes, a lot of us want to see her come East...not because she has anything to prove...but because this will be her last year racing, and we are in awe of her, and want to see her first hand.  Not everyone has the finances or opportunity to fly to California any time she runs, especially when you run into the Del Mar situation where nothing was positively set until she actually stepped out onto the track.  Would we love to see her at Saratoga?  You betcha!  But Shirreffs has only one barn; it's in California.  He doesn't have a barn at every track, with assistants all over the country.  Traveling several months with Zen means he would not be able to work with his other contenders.  We realize that, but it doesn't stop us from longing to see her, up close and personal.  What is wrong with that?  We love her too.  

Someone earlier mentioned RA quit running during her earlier races.  I've never seen that filly quit;  she may not have last year's kick to her speed, but she's never given us less than everything she I felt it was an unfair comment.

MTB...give him time.  He has heart.  I haven't counted him out yet.  I'm sorry Chip lost him, as I feel bad about Tim Ice losing Summer Bird.  But the owners are the ones who pay the bills; it's their decision.  And maybe some of us don't like it, but we haven't paid any of their bills, so our opinion remains that..opinion.

12 Aug 2010 10:14 AM
And Down The Stretch the Come


"I hadn't looked at Zenyatta's Classic chart in a while but I was curious as to the internal fractions that she ran that day as compared to some of her more recent races.  As usual, it's hard not to come away extremely impressed.

Zenyatta broke poorly from the gate in the Classic and ran the slowest initial quarter mile of the field at 26.74 seconds...even slower than Mine That Bird.  Following the first quarter mile, Zenyatta ran the fastest 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th quarters of any horse in the field and in doing so ran the final mile of the 2009 Classic in 1:33.87.  For comparative purposes, the one mile record on the Santa Anita main track since the conversion to synthetic is 1:33.37 by El Gato Malo in 2008.  On the old dirt course, the one mile track record was 1:33 and 2/5th by Ruhlmann in 1989.  Zenyatta's "final mile" in the Breeders Cup Classic was only a few tenths slower than the one mile track record at Santa Anita."

12 Aug 2010 10:53 AM
Gary at Rough Creek


Have no fear.  You are 100% correct regarding MTB, last year and this year.  

I've been a big fan of the Birdstones since before last year's KY Derby.  I've never appreciated those who called MTB a fluke.  For one, his was a great story last year, and we've never experienced more interest in horse racing from the general populace than after MTB won the KY Derby.  But for whatever reasons several squeaky wheels never embraced MTB.  Then JJ bought Rachel, and we all know what happened after that.

Chip was, and is, a great ambassador for the sport, as well as a good horseman.  I say this from first-hand, personal experience.  To those that cast aspersions upon either the horse or the man, whether they be open and flagrant or veiled and subtle, all I can say are shooting the sport in the foot.  Give successful people and successful horses credit, be they royally bred animals, not so royally bred animals or trainers with smaller barns.  That grace and positive acceptance will bring more fans than cynicism and defensive, hyper-critical "fluke" and "one hit wonder."  For one, how can a multiple graded stakes winner, 2 YO Canadian Champion, and KT Derby winner be a "one hit wonder"?  That doesn't even make sense.    

Studies I've seen suggest that 75% of the success of the horse is NOT its breeding, but its trainer.  After the KY Derby last year, I distinctly remember Chip giving credit to MTB's former trainer during a press conference.  That's grace.   Chip took over the training responsibilities for MTB and gave the horse and his connections the ride of a lifetime.

Any fan of MTB, and I am one, wants to see him repeatedly be a non-factor in his races.  That's what we've seen so far this year.  It's a shame, and I hope it can be rectified.  

12 Aug 2010 11:41 AM
Saratoga AJ


True, and then all MTB needs is a muddy track November 6th!

12 Aug 2010 1:01 PM
Steve Haskin

Dr. D, thank you very much. your beautiful words are greatly appreciated.

12 Aug 2010 1:02 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Gary at Rough Creek

  Great post-12AUG, 11:41am. The Chip Woolley and Mine That Bird Derby win was one of the greatest stories in the history of the world. Chip did a tremendous job getting MTB to The Derby in peak condition and ready to run. What he did with a broken leg, on crutches is amazing. He vanned him a long way, doing the driving by himself with that broken leg. He would have ridden him there himself if he had to, and MTB, though a little more tired still would have won. He destroyed that field, then came close in The Preakness and Belmont. It was a shock and disturbing to me when MTB was taken away from Chip. I expected great things from them this year. I did not want the Chip and MTB story to end. If I could I'd buy the horse and send him back to Chip. If I had two year old Derby prospects I'd send them to Chip. Depending on how many I had I'd also give a few to Baffert. If I had ten I'd probably give five to each. MTB looks good, and he looks happy so I'm not going to complain about the care he's getting, because it appears to be very good but he was misplaced in both of his races so far. I'm still hoping for success this year. To call MTB a fluke is fighting words, and stupid. When I saw MTB pre-race at The Derby, I think it was on the way to the paddock, I said, "Wow, is he ready to run !!!." I don't think I'll ever forget that short glimpse I saw of him. I don't remember seeing a horse look so good before The Derby. I hope the entire story is told someday. I want to know why this perfect match of man and horse was broken up. MTB would of had a chance to win The Belmont if given the same type of ride Summer Bird got, and he almost got to Rachel in The Preakness. I'd like to know how many horses, other than Triple Crown winners that had better Triple Crowns. We should start a syndicate for the sole purpose of buying MTB and sending him back to Chip. I'm not saying that Lukas can't win with him, but it won't be the same story, and he needs to be in the right races. At this point though I still would send him to The Jockey Club simply because itt's a mile and a quarter, which is what he needs.

12 Aug 2010 5:01 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


  Thank you very much. I am honored by your response.

12 Aug 2010 5:04 PM

Dr Drunkinbum,

Extremely well said!!! For those of us (and there are MANY) who love That Bird, it has been very sad to see him stuggle the way he has in his two races, this year.

I hope someone finds the key to the Mine (pun intended) because he is so much better than what we're seeing right now!

12 Aug 2010 7:09 PM

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