With Saratoga and Del Mar opening racing’s greatest season, here are few leftover thoughts and facts.
More Blind Luck
First off, let me correct something I wrote in my last blog. I reported, based on what I had been told and an accompanying link, that Jerry Hollendorfer had told DRF he would not run in the Delaware Handicap unless Blind Luck received at least two pounds from Havre de Grace. It has since been learned that Hollendorfer made that statement after the weights had already been assigned, so there was no ultimatum intended. My apologies to Mr. Hollendorfer for the oversight in reading the story.
Speaking of Blind Luck, to further demonstrate how remarkable her career has been, in seven of her 10 stakes victories, the runner-up was a grade I winner. In another the runner-up was a grade II winner, on two occasions the third-place finisher was a grade I winner, and on three occasions, the third-place finisher was a grade II winner.
So in all, of the 20 horses who have finished second and third to her in graded stakes, 15 of them were grade I or grade II winners. And of those 15, 11 were grade I winners.
She also has defeated three millionaires and one filly who has earned $992,000 and three others who have earned over $500,000.
In short, Blind Luck’s career keeps getting more impressive the more you study it.
Inky’s Final Resting Place
We recently published a blog on the death of Invisible Ink, touching on the subject of where he would be buried.
As it turns out, the 2001 Kentucky Derby runnerup will have his ashes interred at the Kentucky Horse Park, at an appropriate site with a proper memorial.
John Nicholson, executive director of the Kentucky Horse Park, said, “John Fort approached us through Walt Robertson with an interesting idea. He said Invisible Ink’s story would point out how horses can be champions in many ways and not just through statistics and records. He thought by setting up a fund it could be used as a vehicle to help assist us with all our horse activities and help with the horses’ care and the facilities they live in, as well as being a wonderful legacy to Invisible Ink.
“At this point, we have several locations in mind for Invisible Ink’s burial site, one of which is at the Hall of Champions, not far from John Henry’s grave. We want to make sure we give him a place of honor.”
“This is a fitting end to the Invisible Ink story,” said Fort. “It’s wonderful to see the feelings people have for horses, and hopefully, this will generate feelings toward other horses. I remember when I was having problems finding a farm for Invisible Ink after his retirement, and Barry Eisaman said to me, ‘Don’t worry, (Invisible Ink) has a way of solving his own problems.
“We are currently looking for donations of any size for the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation, earmarked Invisible Ink Fund. It could be $20 or $100, whatever people are comfortable with to assist in the general beautification of the park and helping all the horses there.”
As for Invisible Ink, his burial site will serve as a constant reminder of the colt’s remarkable courage, and also a reminder that equine champions (regardless of their breed) do not need to win Eclipse Awards to prove their greatness.
All contributions can be sent to the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation (Invisible Ink Fund), 4089 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, Ky. 40511.
Rider on the Rise
I have to admit I don’t get to watch racing on a race-to-race basis around the country. Recently, however, it seems whenever I happen to tune into racing in Southern California, I see Kayla Stra pull off an upset. This trend, as minor as it may be, carried on to opening day at Del Mar. Watching Stra bring home 8-1 shot King Ledley in a $22,500 to $25,000 claiming race, I couldn’t help but notice what a great seat she has on a horse and how in sync she was with King Ledley, without having to resort to a series of whips, relying mostly on a hand ride.
I haven’t seen enough of Stra to state emphatically that she is a natural or is abundantly talented. But she sure looked like both in the few races I’ve seen her. Stra, as you may remember, was featured in the TV series “Jockeys,” in which the native of Australia had a few run-ins with members of the Santa Anita jockey colony. She obviously is tough-minded, as jockeys have to be, and is not going to take any grief from fellow riders, despite her lack of opportunities.
After leaving Southern Californa to ride at Golden Gate, she has returned with a new agent and can often be seen getting on horses in the morning.
Judging from the few races in which I have observed her, it would seem she deserves a chance to show what she is capable of in better quality races on better quality horses.
Poetry in Motion
That often-used phrase is popular because it creates the desired image one is searching for. So, I will use the phrase in describing the victory of Mr. Commons in the Oceanside Stakes on Del Mar’s opening day.
From the post parade to the run down the backstretch, to the powerful move on the far turn, to the stretch run, in which he drew off with magnificent strides, this colt made as impressive an appearance as I’ve seen all year.
In a year loaded with talented 3-year-old grass horses, Mr. Commons definitely looks like the standout in California, and there is no telling how good this horse will become later in the year.
I first heard about this son of Artie Schiller this past winter from bloodstock agent David Ingordo, who picked him out of a field on Ian Banwell’s farm, and has been raving about him ever since.
Ingordo asked Banwell, who races under the name St George Farm Racing, “Ian, are you sure you want to sell this horse?” Ingordo, who is best known for picking out Zenyatta, told Banwell if he put him in the sale he was going to buy because he thought that much of him. So, Banwell decided to keep the horse and, on Ingordo’s recommendation, turned him over to John Shirreffs.