Countdown to the Cup: Second Life

Todd Pletcher, his assistant Mike McCarthy, agent Ron Anderson, and clocker/bloodstock agent Gary Young were having dinner at a Mexican restaurant back in November of 2007, when Pletcher turned to Young and said, “I need to buy a horse who will absolutely win the next time I run it.”

Pletcher was looking for a horse for Candy DeBartolo, wife of former San Francisco Forty Niners owner Edward DeBartolo Jr.

Young had been eyeing an unraced 2-year-old filly trained by Dan Hendricks named Life At Ten, who had been plagued by minor injuries and actually had just been sold privately less than two months earlier. Young was impressed by the way she had been training and was waiting to unload on her at the windows when she debuted.

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Dr Drunkinbum

What a story !!!! Engrossing. Loved it. Wow. The one, the only Haskin does it again. He sure knows how to make you fall in love. Maybe he's a romance writer. I had already been anxiously awaiting this race but now I can't stand the anticipation. Going to go mix me up a triple Shirley Temple to calm down. I might even spice it up a little and make it a Shirley Tempest.

25 Aug 2010 9:15 PM
Bill W

Another Great Story Steve!

Look forward to your columns.

Also enjoy you and Lenny on 'And They're Off'!

Thank you and good luck!

25 Aug 2010 9:28 PM
Wonderful Story

I was all set to root for Rachel Alexandra against this newcomer Steve, and then you go and write this. Shame on you. Good luck to both these dames, Pletcher knows what an in form Rachel does to fillies (see the the Mother Goose) so he must be feeling pretty confident. Whomever wins, I hope we get to see one hell of a horse race. I, for one, am tired of seeing 10f with final times 2:03 and change. There both front runners, let em' zip.  

25 Aug 2010 9:41 PM

Another great story, Mr. H.! I wondered where her name came from, and learning about her beginnings was interesting too. Should be a great race on Sunday. Looking forward to it!

25 Aug 2010 9:45 PM

Another great story Mr. H. It should be a great race, and I hope LAT wins.I hope her time has come to shine after all of the problems. Luck to all and a safe trip.

25 Aug 2010 10:06 PM

I was sure this 5yo mare (who has just come into her own this year) must have a History and I'm very happy you wrote it!  

Have you ever read the Orson Scott Card books about Ender, the Speaker for the Dead?  Ender was basically 'on call' to go anywhere in the galaxy to bespeak the true life story of someone who died, oftentimes many years later (he was, after all, subject to the speed of light :-).

Anyway, that's how I think of you, Sir.  You are the Speaker for the Horse.  Once you have written about one, he or she will live on in our memories and in the lore of racing for all time.  Like Ender on behalf of the dead he Speaks, you take the time to find all the little details that round out the whole horse.  There is so much more to their lives than what we see on the track.

For this, I am very grateful.

25 Aug 2010 10:29 PM

Amazing story... I really respect Life At Ten and she will give Rachel a show (I love both fillies equally). Rachel is something we won't see for a long time ever again. Amazing.

Steve, I would love to meet you and hear the stories that you tell so well when I travel to Kentucky for the first time this year.

Thank you again for this uplifting story about never giving up on someone and another valuable is not letting something pass you by because there may be slight things out of place. This made my evening!

25 Aug 2010 11:16 PM

Touching story about a classy and improving mare (makes one appreciate these graceful but fragile equine athletes so much).  Life At Ten is capable of running fast splits and finishing strongly therefore she should provide a true test of a back-in-form Rachel Alexandra's mettle.  The Personal Ensign result this Sunday could "set a cat among the pigeons" in the Breeder's Cup scenario ...whichever way one choses to look at it.  All Breeder's Cup Classic hopefuls (from coast to coast) will be watching this one closely.

Life At Ten is very classy but Rachel Alexandra on top of her game is one awesome performer (pretty much unstoppable).  May they both come home safe and sound.

26 Aug 2010 1:12 AM
Abbie Knowles

Thanks so much for this wonderful history of a truly remarkable racemare.  Beautifully written as ever and so moving.  

Life at Ten is a great favourite of mine and it is marvellous to read about her beginnings and how she has coped with so much adversity.  How lovely that her present connections did not give up on her and that she has repaid them by winning so many races and becoming good enough to tackle the mighty Rachel Alexandra!  Here's wishing all of them in the race a safe trip and may the best mare/filly win!

I love Malibu Moon (Life at Ten's sire) and have been thrilled at how well he has done, particularly this year!

Many thanks Steve.  Wishing you, your family and all your readers every happiness and many blessings.


26 Aug 2010 5:31 AM

I love that Tod Pletcher would not give up on her. 2 top fillies racing...each other, even!!

26 Aug 2010 6:48 AM

Once again Steve shows us why he is the best thoroughbred blogger out there. In a sport that often has that "what have you done for us lately?" attitude....there is a great lesson to be learned here.

26 Aug 2010 8:17 AM
Mary in VT

Great story! I wish the back story could be known about every race horse. I love them all.  Even the claimers are pouring their hearts out and it's *always* a horse race.

26 Aug 2010 10:02 AM
Big Lou

Ain`t this a great story?With horses you never know.Today you look at them and get dissapointed and tomorow all of a sudden you got a winner on your hands.

26 Aug 2010 10:32 AM

Great job Steve as always, I cant wait for the showdown. It has been a thrill to watch her career come together and the patience her connections have shown to give her the proper time. I'm proud she is a Legacy Bloodstock graduate. This is not the first time Todd has shown confidence in a horse that just couldnt stay sound early. His champion sprinter Speightstown had a shoulder injury that most would have retired from but Todd and his connections gave him a year off and he rewarded them with a BC Sprint win.

26 Aug 2010 10:38 AM
Steve Haskin

Thanks, Mark, and everyone for your comments. Mary, there is nothing as much fun and rewarding as finding theses horses' backstories. I become engrossed as the pieces all start coming together. I got particular satisfaction out of this one because of the work involved, finding all the people and assimilating all their recollections into one story. Sometimes, things don't add up, as people can forget details, so you keep digging until they do. Blind Luck and Life At Ten are two examples of how great this sport is and how many stories there are out there.

26 Aug 2010 11:32 AM
Smoking Baby

 Keep them coming Steve.  You are THE MAN!!!  Make no mistake, Life At Ten has a HUGE shot on Sunday.

26 Aug 2010 11:44 AM

Awesome story but I just think she ran against othere horses that just aren't the same class as Rachel Alexandra. I guess we will see how things turn out and it will be tough to root against either of them.GOOD LUCK she deserves it.

26 Aug 2010 12:37 PM
Steve Haskin

Thanks, Brandy, I wasn't touting her to win. I was just telling her story. We'll find out how good she is, but win or lose, it's still an interesting story getting to where she is now.

26 Aug 2010 12:53 PM
Bill Daly

What is it that Whittingham used to say whenever someone would make a rash statement concerning the capabilities or potential of a given horse.  Something like, "Wait 5 years or so after the horse has died before stating what the horse can or cannot do..." That seems to fit here.  Great story, Steve.  Thanks.

26 Aug 2010 2:13 PM
Mary in VT

Thing is, Steve, knowing what Life At Ten has been through makes me want to root for her too. While my heart belongs to Rachel Alexandra, if Life At Ten shows up big too, and makes an impressive try for it, good for her. If Rachel defeats her, Rachel is flattered by having won over a really gritty gutty mare who knows how to fight through adversity. If LAF wins, then .... she is no fluke upset as can happen at this storied racetrack, but the stars finally aligning on her behalf. I always pray everyone has the perfect trip, gets to show their stuff, and comes home sound. What a sap, eh? : )

My $ will be on Rachel, but not to cash in. I will die with that ticket. Saw her Haskell from the finish line. Saw her Woodward from the finish line. Hope to get over to Saratoga on Sunday for another thrill. But as I said, now I will be rooting for LAF to show up big too.

26 Aug 2010 4:04 PM

Thank you, Steve, for this great story on Life At Ten.  Her story shows the heart she has when she runs and may she win on Sunday in the Personal Ensign.  Thank you to all the connections who did not give up on her and her many injuries and setbacks.

Go, Life At Ten, go.

26 Aug 2010 4:27 PM
Pam S.

After Lisa's Booby Trap and Blind Luck, we have yet another interesting story about a race mare!  I didn't really know of Life at Ten until this year, and I did wonder how she got her name (thanks for that info).  It seems like all the best back stories belong to the girls this year, or maybe you just haven't gotten to the guys yet, Steve.

I'm glad LAT has overcome her setbacks and become such a great competitor, and I wish her and Rachel good luck and safe trips on Sunday.

26 Aug 2010 5:29 PM

I love the way you bring a horse's story to life.  After so many setbacks, Life At Ten had just the right people intertwined in her racing career.

It will be great to see her do well in the Personal Ensign and Rachel too.

Thanks Steve!

26 Aug 2010 8:59 PM
Robin from Maryland

Great story!!  It's nice to find out alittle more history on these mares. Here's hoping that Life At Ten becomes "Life at the TOP" after Sunday by beating RA.  Not that RA won't give her a run for the money, I think her best days might be behind her.  Yes, you guessed it - My heart belongs to Queen Z.  Whatever the outcome on Sunday is, may the best horse win and may all come home safe!

26 Aug 2010 10:23 PM

I seriously watched her debut race!!! I remember making a note and i put her in my equibase virtual stable! I was so excited when she started showing up and winning this year. Sometimes it takes a while, but she definitely showed promise! So proud

26 Aug 2010 10:24 PM

Unfortunately in this country we have a throw-away mentality whether it's the big screen TV we bought last year that now isn't big enough, the 8-month-old puppy that ate the couch or the horse that lost...again.  I realize that racing is a business but stories like this re-affirm my belief (or fantasy) that there are some people in this business who are not just about the business.  It's wonderful to hear that there are people willing to hold on to something, give it time and be patient for that reward which to me in the end would be that much sweeter.  I hope that couch eating puppy finds a home like "Life At Ten" did.  Mr. Haskin, your stories truly bring a ray of sunshine into my life, thank you.  Best wishes to all this weekend.  

26 Aug 2010 10:34 PM
Mike Relva


Just wanted to express my appreciation for your great and interesting stories.  Always look forward to reading your work when I'm on Bloodhorse. Thanks for your insight and sharing your knowledge. Your writing is tour de force! BTW,like last year will be visiting Invasor next month.

26 Aug 2010 11:56 PM

This is what separate you from the other writer from BH.  You're the only I think that understands horses, the rest are there to just gamble.  It's a nice contrast from those types of writers.  You have passion, intelligence and you are definitely fair with your articles.  It shows your love for these animals, and I truly appreciate that.  They should create an Eclipse award for writing (if there isn't one already), I've no doubt you'll win it.

Thanks again for a great story, these kinds of behind the curtain stories are great to read, it allows us fans to peak into that part of the horse racing world.

I was already going to root for LaT, but this will make me want her to win more now.  GO LaT!

27 Aug 2010 1:28 AM
Mike Relva


I couldn't agree with you more.

27 Aug 2010 10:31 AM
Mike Relva


One of the many qualities I've admired is you show great respect and caring for these animals.

27 Aug 2010 10:35 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

jayjay and Mike Relva

  Astute observations. I'll be rooting for Life At Ten even more now. Rachel will be tough to beat but it is 1 1/4. Haskin  writes and they win. I'd like to see the Awesome Gem tradition continue. You like to see the rags to riches stories anyway. The child that no one wanted rises to fame and fortune. The only writer that ever compared to Steve Haskin was Jim Murray but Steve is still the best racing writer in history. I bet that we don't know how hard he works to get information to be able to write these beautiful stories, many of which are worthy of a Pulitzer Prize. I want you to know Steve that your hard work is greatly appreciated. We look at this sight daily, sometimes many times daily hoping a story like this will be there waiting for us to be entralled and make our day, and often our week.

27 Aug 2010 11:03 AM
Dr Drunkinbum


   Wonderful post. Glad you're here. You have a beautiful style.

27 Aug 2010 11:05 AM
Mike Relva


I enjoy your posts very much. Thanks.

27 Aug 2010 5:03 PM


Yes! I totally agree! Steve's stories carry me on such emotional journeys that I can see the people standing in front of the horses with arms crossed, shaking their heads. I can smell the shed rows & hear the horses breathing & snorting as they pass by on the track. My sister & I think that Steve should compile a book about Overachieving Underrated Heroes. It would speak volumes for the blue collar kings & queens of horse racing!

Thank you again, Steve for a lovely read. You're just as much a hero as the horses in these stories for capturing their lives!

27 Aug 2010 6:35 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Mike Relva

  Thank you very much. I've always loved your honest and emotional style. I'm always saying "yes!!!!" to your posts.

27 Aug 2010 8:08 PM

GhostTown - Love your post and I'm rooting for the couch eating puppy too!

Mr. Haskin - I just love your in depth reporting on these horses!  This article makes it really, really hard to root against this amazing girl, but I have to go with my first love Rachel Alexandra.

Besides loving Rachel for surviving her remarkable season last year, I just can't get over the fact that Rachel was rejected as a baby by her mama.  That and being sold and transferred, and her less than stellar season this year, and people knocking her, and...  I could go on.  She's an amazing horse, and I will always love her.

That said, if Life at Ten pulls it off, I can't knock her.  She's certainly very deserving, and I love the patience that her connections have shown with her.  That's heartwarming.

And jayjay, Mike Relva, and Dr D - sure you can root for whoever you want, but just so you know:  I have NEVER rooted against your favorite!

Safe trips for all and GO RACHEL!

28 Aug 2010 10:34 AM
Mike Relva

DR. D.

Thanks for your comments. When I read your posts always very impressed knowing you are a "thinker".

28 Aug 2010 4:38 PM

Wonderful story, Steve!  It makes me kind of sad to realize how few and far between the stories of owners with patience, willing to work through the horse's troubles and minor injuries are, but maybe we just need to search harder and have less emphasis on the harsher articles that are always out there.  You definitely are the writer who does the groundwork to bring these details to us with such emotion that we feel a part of the horse's family, too.  Thank you once again for your diligence in bringing the background of Life At Ten to light for us.  I'm in total agreement with the comments of my fellow Steve Haskin fans, too - thanks to you all also.



28 Aug 2010 11:42 PM

THIS was a heartfelt story. And,Todd Pletcher Thank-You for beliving in this filly.Ilove Life at Ten,s sire.(Malibu Moon)  And I think it will be her day on Sunday.

 AND, WE SHOULD HOPE FOR A SAFE AND GREAT RACE. I know it is a Business, but I just LOVE them.

29 Aug 2010 12:13 AM

steve, thank,s for a wonderful story. we need more happy news.

29 Aug 2010 12:17 AM
Roe Rauch ( wife of Joseph Rauch ) Capt Candy Ma

Hi Steve,

At this time, a year after Capt Candy Man Can won the Kings Bishops 2009,I think of you and thank you for the wonderful article that you wrote about my husband Joe. He liked you very much and could barely contain his enthusiasm with Capt Candy Man Can. He is missed so much especially by his family and friends. He must be near in spirit.

29 Aug 2010 8:38 AM

Mr. Haskin,

Amazing story! Thank you for telling us not only how Life at Ten got her unusual name, but also the many bumps she encountered on the road to her current success on the track.

I knew that Todd Pletcher is an outstanding trainer, but I didn't know that he has the patience to give a talented horse the chance to get "right" and to shine the way LaT has done this year. A new facet of TP, previously unknown to me. (It's not like he's an open book.) lol!

It is going to be difficult to not root for her in the Personal Ensign. It will be equally hard to not root for Rachel Alexandra, who's own story has endeared her to me. What a dilemna!

I guess it's Go Rachel! Go Life at Ten! May the best horse win! And let them all come out of the race safe and sound!

P.S. Update on Runflatout will come later.

29 Aug 2010 12:24 PM
Old Timer

Nice story Steve. One thing for certain is that both Rachel & Life at Ten will have their biggest test of the year later today. It should be a great race.

29 Aug 2010 4:29 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Did you see The Fugitive episode where Tuesday Weld was blind? Speaking of The Fugitive, has anyone ever gotten in and out of more serious trouble than Dr. Richard Kimble in The Fugitve TV show?

29 Aug 2010 5:36 PM
Linda in Texas

Thank you Steve,i am sure they all have stories, but you seem to be the only one i know who finds the real story. Bless Life at Ten and the thousands like her whose stories we will never know.

And i so agree with Ghost Town, Jay Jay, Mike Relva and Mary in VT.

As i write this, Rachel has lost to Persistently. And what a shame the whip was used 'persistently' on Rachel. My heart goes out to Rachel, what must she be thinking she did wrong to get so many lashes on a pretty Sunday afternoon in Saratoga.

She was ahead the entire race up until the last few feet. We have

to respect her for that and not give up on her.

Interesting story on Persistently winning in the same colors as a prior winner of The Personal Ensign for the Phipps Family. Very nice for them indeed.

I wish they all could win and though i, too, have my favorites i always admire the winner and never give up on those that didn't win. I don't call any of them losers and never will. But i will give the winner their just due.

Thanks Steve for the story of Life at Ten. I don't know how your heart fits in your shirts!!!!

30 Aug 2010 1:05 PM
Barbara W

Thank you so much for this story. I was wondering about the name change. Also, I was wondering why so many thought she could win until I looked up her stellar pedigree.

She can be proud that she gave Rachel such a run for her money  for most of the race.

Keep these stories coming! We horse lovers love to feed on the behind-the-scenes information!

30 Aug 2010 3:51 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


   Have you seen Steve Haskin lately? From Runflatout's pedigree he might be able to run on any surface. It will be interesting. Looks like he might be a sprinter but you never know. I hope he does try turf also. Really nice family he's got, including the human side. I just think it's wonderful of you to share this experience with us. I'm a big fan of Runflatout. He's one of my top two favorite horses.

30 Aug 2010 5:05 PM

Dr Drunkinbum,

Everybody should have a cheerleader like you in their corner. And you don't even need pompoms! You're amazing!

30 Aug 2010 11:22 PM

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