Thanks, Stay Thirsty

I did not watch the Travers Stakes this year. I did not think of the Travers Stakes this year. I did not think about Thoroughbred racing as it was being run, especially considering the race was not shown where I was because of Hurricane Irene coverage.

The reasons for the above and regrettable comments are too copious and irrelevant to mention.

The bottom line is that I had watched every Travers since 1968 (I was at a New York Yankees game when Damascus won in 1967). I can remember vividly how special that day was when Chompion took the Travers in the slop on a glorious sunny afternoon carrying the colors of C.V. Whitney. Earlier that day I had watched the immortal Dr. Fager work in a driving rainstorm and remember the thrill of taking his picture with my newly purchased Brownie Instamatic camera. For a bright-eyed, novice racing fan, it didn’t get any better than that.

Now, 43 Travers’ later, my string has ended. The saddest part was that – and I shudder to say this – my passion for the sport that fueled and inspired my entire life was beginning to wane. I longed for 1968 and was finding the negatives of racing outweighing the positives. It was as if the retirement of Zenyatta was my swan song as well as hers.

Then something happened. As I lay in a bed, trapped in an environment totally foreign to me, I caught the last few minutes of ESPN Sportscenter. In their top moments of the day, Number 7 was a clip of the last 70 yards of the Travers. There were the Mike Repole silks of Stay Thirsty crossing the finish line first. I immediately felt a resurgence of electricity flow through my veins that had been infiltrated by a central pick line.

This was my boy, the horse I had predicted last August would win the Travers; the horse whose career had gone astray after it had been taken over by his more illustrious stablemate, Uncle Mo; the horse who became an afterthought, even in his own stable and even after winning the Gotham Stakes in his 3-year-old debut. Prior to and during the Triple Crown, he was vilified by the majority of the media and fans, and still received no respect after finishing a close second in the Belmont Stakes. It took an emphatic victory in the Jim Dandy Stakes to open people’s eyes and realize that maybe, just maybe, this was a better horse than people thought.

This was an impeccably bred horse, who after finishing a strong second in the Hopeful Stakes, should have run in the Champagne before taking on the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. But no, that’s where Uncle Mo was heading, so Stay Thirsty had to wait two months and go into the Juvenile having never been farther than seven furlongs. He raced greenly and was never a threat, as Uncle Mo won in brilliant fashion.  

The following winter, he was stabled in Florida and should have had a Florida campaign, but was instead shipped to Aqueduct for the Gotham, which he won handily. Now stabled in New York he should have remained there to run in the Wood Memorial, but no, that’s where Uncle Mo was heading, so poor Stay Thirsty, after shipping from the heat of Florida to face the cold Jamaica Bay winds, had to ship back into the Florida heat to run in the Florida Derby. Despite his Gotham score, he was fitted with blinkers at Gulfstream to help correct some greenness still remaining and ran a terrible race.

He got virtually nothing out of the race and was not prepared at all for the Kentucky Derby. But Uncle Mo was gone due to illness and Stay Thirsty, for better or worse, now had to carry the mantle for the Repole—Todd Pletcher team. He had no shot, with only one competitive race under him, and finished in the middle of the pack, without being disgraced.

With the Derby under him and the advantageous mile and a half distance of the Belmont Stakes, this was his time to prove to Repole and everyone else that there was a top-class horse ready to finally emerge. He ran his heart out, stuck on the rail the whole way, and held on tenaciously to finish second. But most people attributed his performance to the slop, combined with the fluky distance of the Belmont.

Without trying to sound self indulgent, I had never lost faith in Stay Thirsty and just waited for him to get back on course, while touching base with Repole, the only other person even willing to discuss him. Not knowing Repole that well, I can’t say to what degree he had lost faith in Stay Thirsty or if he had lost faith in him at all. It wasn’t until Uncle Mo’s unfortunate illness that Stay Thirsty began to encompass more of his life. After witnessing his unrestrained jubilation following the Jim Dandy, I could only imagine the scene after the Travers. I wish I had been able to be there.

The point of all this is not to be critical of Stay Thirsty’s doubters or to boost my own ego in any way for a lucky prediction and believing in the colt’s talents. I’ve been around much too long for such triviality. It is merely to say ‘Thank you’ to a horse for reigniting a passion I thought I had lost. I still have not watched the race and have only those few seconds crossing the finish line entrenched in my mind. But for now, that’s plenty.

116 Comments

Leave a Comment:

kelso fan

Thank heavens you are back, Steve!   You have been missed - I have looked for your blog every day.  It was a terrific race and Stay Thirsty was one of my picks also (and he was in the Belmont too).  I hope you watch it soon and also Uncle Mo in the King's Bishop - a great race as well. There are still horses out there that fuel the imagination so please stay with the sport and with your fans.

30 Aug 2011 3:42 PM
Cleone

I have always liked Stay Thirsty, too!  I'm very happy he was able to rekindle your passion!  We would miss you an awful lot if you decided to retire.  :)

On a personal note, I hope everything's okay.  

30 Aug 2011 3:43 PM
ntramont

I was there at the rail (my first Travers) and watched Thirsty run his heart out for a great win! It was thrilling, as was the entire day.

I hope you're doing well -- I've missed your work  and your sensibilities, both in print and on Steve Byk's show.

Please know your fans are thinking of you.

30 Aug 2011 3:57 PM
JerseyBoy

Steve:

Take a bow!

On your Derby Dozen of April 26, you said of Stay Thirsty “Yes, I’m resurrecting another old friend”.

I responded “Steve,you are to be admired for your courage in bringing back Stay Thirsty”.

When others were prepared to abandon him, you brought him back.

You were right then and you should take your bows now.

I never lost faith in him.

I judge horses by what they have done. I use the DRF Speed Figure+Track Variant to measure a horse's performance. So who is the 3yo colt with the best figures on dry dirt on the East Coast this year? It is still Stay Thirsty. He recorded 90+18 in the Gotham. I say it is his best race to date. If others did better, I missed it.

His only competition now is TO HONOR AND SERVE, the one I picked in March  to win the Triple Crown.

Blow your horns, man.

30 Aug 2011 4:25 PM
woodsracing

I was ecstatic when Stay Thirsty won the Jim Dandy and especially now the Travers. He is a TOP colt. I said way back before the Florida Derby that he has the look of a champion. He has ben classy his entire career and has finally stepped out of the shadow of Uncle Mo.

That said I LOVE Uncle Mo! He is fabulous, and his effort Saturday was incredible following his illness. That is a nose defeat that is killer!!

I am very excited to see that both horses are developing to their potential. I hope the rumors that Mo is retiring are just from the rumor mill; a match-up between Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty in the Classic where they are considered on more than even terms by everyone will be amazing to watch!

Still feel Animal Kingdom is the real deal as well.

Coil??? What happened to him? That bullet work must have taken some of his pep out.

30 Aug 2011 4:32 PM
sceptre

Surprised to read that we shared similar sentiments re-disenchantment with the sport. But, I haven't a Stay Thirsty to revitalize me-Dubai Millennium was the last to cause some re-awakening. So what is it about this sport that causes one's verve to grow stale? The answer is, perhaps, in part, that it takes years to see through the mystique, but once there little of substance/value awaits.

30 Aug 2011 4:35 PM
Flynne

Steve, I too have been in love with Stay Thirsty for ages. Since I watched his older brother Andromeda's Hero take the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on an ugly winter day in 2004, I have been in love with his damn, Marozia. I've watched every foal she's produced since. I am so happy for this horse and his connections, even if he shouldn't have been relegated to second-string status.

30 Aug 2011 4:41 PM
Anne in SC

I can only pray that your passion will stay "ignited" - the horse world (OK - MY horse world)is much diminished when your thoughts are unpublished.    

30 Aug 2011 4:41 PM
Bill Two

Steve, it really is gratifying to see a horse make a comeback like this one has. From all appearances it seemed that he was decidedly inferior to the best of this generation during the spring of the year, but the Belmont served notice that something happened to wake this horse up.  Of course, everyone will want to see him validate his Saratoga form, but I really don't doubt what we're now seeing is the real Stay Thirsty.  Incidentally, Uncle Mo certainly didn't lose any street cred in defeat.  Considering what he's overcome, that was some effort he put up Saturday.  He needed the race and the horse that beat him is a bonafide sprinter who excels at the distance.  Moreover, he got a great setup to launch his devastating late kick.  That was race horse time, too.  Repole must be feeling pretty good right now.

30 Aug 2011 4:47 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

All I know is that it's marvelous to have you back Steve. Life's a little better now. You have Stay Thirsty's win to rekindle you, we have an article from you to rekindle us, after you seemed to be away far too long. It's a great day. And how about The Factor !!!! He lit a fire under me !!!!

30 Aug 2011 4:47 PM
Tricia

Steve, I have missed your columns so much, glad to hear that Stay Thirsty brought you back, I too have always felt bad that he had to live in the shadow of Uncle Mo.

I feel that he will be champion 3 year old of the year.  Here's to Stay Thirsty may be keep us all coming back for more.  Actually, just last year I say you right after the Travers at Sergio's.  Once again, so glad that you are back.  

30 Aug 2011 4:52 PM
Apapane

Steve, my heart is heavy with all that lies between the lines of this blog and rejoices with all that is writ on the lines.

Thank you for your wonderful insights and hard work bringing this sport alive to all who would read your beautifully crafted words. Your generous spirit is an inspiration.

Aloha, Emily

30 Aug 2011 4:56 PM
LiveLoveDream

Love this article. My friend and I have been Stay Thirsty supporters from the beginning (we loved Uncle Mo, too, but thought that Stay Thirsty had the ability to be just as good). I was on the edge of my seat with excitement watching him in the Belmont, and I'm so thrilled to see him getting better and better! I hope he makes it to the Classic.

30 Aug 2011 4:58 PM
Susan from VA

I too missed the Travers.  I was happy that we still had cable and, although our electricity was down, our generator was running - then, when I tuned into NBC, all I got was hurricane coverage.  In the end, that didn't matter either -  our generator stopped working, too.  I hope we have Saratoga coverage - and no hurricanes - next year!

30 Aug 2011 5:02 PM
Zookeeper

Mr. Haskin,

You will never know how much you've been missed. Whatever happened, it's great to have you back with one of your best blogs ever! Something was sorely missing out of my daily surfing of the web for racing info and articles. Sending you best wishes for "whatever kept you silent" to go away for good. Speaking for myself (an probably a lot of others) my enjoyment of the sport is not quite the same without your wonderful writing.

Welcome back! The racing world is a much better place with you in it! :)  

30 Aug 2011 5:04 PM
dianeche

Well, thank goodness!  I wondered where you had been.  I, too, was feeling a little bit down, maybe some the "Zenyatta is really gone blues".  I did watch the race, however, and saw a gutsy horse run a gutsy race.  Watch it, I think you will agree!

30 Aug 2011 5:21 PM
steve from st louis

Whoa, there, Stevie Wonderscribe, change leads for just a second and take a step back. You can't dazzle a nation of horse lovers year after year after year with Yeats-like prowse without a passion that makes up every fiber of your body and soul.

I'm sure even Big Red felt twinges of depression when he saw Onion or Prove Out ahead of him at the wire. But he perservered and dazzled us again with record shattering performances in the Marlboro at Belmont and Canadian at old Woodbine.

You, too, will persevere, because last time I checked, they haven't yet buried anyone named Haskin at the Graveyard of Champions.

30 Aug 2011 5:26 PM
Kristen

Thanks Steve for the insite on this beautiful son of Bernardini.  I'm a huge fan of Stay Thirsty and he was my Derby pick.  I have to admit I got discouraged several times in his career.  I'm not going to say I knew he would win the Travers but I knew he would show up after seeing him win the Jim Dandy.  I followed Bernardini's career because I'm a huge AP Indy fan. Now I get to see Bernardini's babies.  What a great start he is off to.  I'm so glad to see Stay Thirsty out from under Uncle Mo's shadow.  And good for you Steve for staying with this star 3 year old.  I followed your Derby Dozen and you never gave up on him.  You deserve the right to brag that Stay Thirsty would win the Travers.  You knew along.  And you were right

30 Aug 2011 5:26 PM
Surething

Hello Steve, as i watched with bated breath to see what the horse racing industry would do to correct some of it's polices and protocols, like the probable creation of a head committee to oversee and mandate things within the industry and purse dispersal and things like Salix and the total lack of national television coverage, regulation of stern rules to racing's bad boys ( those who consistently abuse the horses and the sport). I felt a great sense of defeat, for there unfolding before me week after week was a host of various state and local horse racing officials EACH from a different state, fight amongst each other, all for greed. It is so sad to see the all the organizations sometimes as much as 5 to 8 per state each putting their 2 cents of opinions in and then proposing something new and then trying to usurp each other with the "my" organization has more power thing. This is indeed a dying sport in the US and with such competition for the gambling dollar and an already struggling economy  and the FACT that breeders are just not producing enough yearlings it is only a matter of a few years  before we see the major closure of (firstly) the smaller tracks and then the small man will make a bigger play to the casinos, where the take-out to the bettor makes sense. Lastly let me say the that i log on to the bloodhorse everyday and i seriously look forward to your blog and articles. I really did miss reading about your opinions last week or two. The funny thing is I felt a sense that your heart was breaking for the sport as i know mine is. I pray that you continue to shower us with your awesome insight. I do think that Mr Repole and his trainer made big mistakes with Stay Thirsty but I believe they are on track now, with Uncle Mo as well. It was awesome to see ST get out of the shadow of Mo. On another note I wish the connections of Shackleford would wake the hell up and run this amazing horse in races and distances that it can actually win.......Thank you Steve.

30 Aug 2011 5:39 PM
Delrene

Mr. Haskin - the minute you have time to watch the Travers, you must!  It was a great race and he ran his heart out.  So did the others.  The Repole family in the stands were over the moon.  I love his Grandma.  She is holding her hands over her ears!  Too much noise.  Thanks for your article, and I feel pretty good that I liked him from the beginning too.  Look at his Daddy.  A handsome fellow.  Like Father like son.

30 Aug 2011 5:57 PM
KarenToga

Steve,

What a timely article for me to read. Let me explain.  I was wondering what had happened to you as I was missing your wonderful articles and kept searching Bloodhorse for something written by you. I thought you must be on vacation and certainly deserved one but was selfishly wanting you back . It makes me feel a little sad to think you have lost some passion but that certainly can happen in life and usually a little time off is what the doctor orders. I know that your heartbeat is still beating for the horses and it just needs to be rekindled in some way. I agree with you about Stay Thirsty. He has matched Uncle Mo in many a workout going stride for stride and I could not be happier for Mike Repole. He is a true champion of the sport and gives back to our retired warriors in a big way. I would recommend to you to take some time and spend it in Saratoga. Watch the horses run in the early dew and I assure you it will come back. The energy of the morning workouts is a shot in the arm of beauty and grace and strength. The will and spirit of these magnificent warriors never cease to amaze me. I felt a sadness when Rachel disappeared but then we had Zenyatta. Stay Thirsty brought the Repole clan to a thundering dance . You should have been there. It would have made you smile for sure. Welcome Back I missed you!

30 Aug 2011 5:57 PM
Betsy

Steve, I hope all is well with you.

I love all Bernardinis and Stay Thirsty was one of his first runners; I loved him since his debut. I would trumpet him here and on other blogs - especially after his game 2nd in the Hopeful. I like Pletcher and Repole and I had no problem with ST being a second stringer (even Swale was one at some point), but I agree that Pletcher did a major disservice to him. I never understood why they didn't prep Stay Thirsty elsewhere, if not the Champagne, instead of running him the BC off of a 2 month layoff/sprint.   After that, he was just used as Mo's workmate; I always felt that it wasn't right that Stay Thirsty wasn't on his own program.

ST's 2nd in the Belmont was frustrating, but I was proud of him then. This Travers was one of the most gratifying  victories I've experienced because of how vilified he was. I'm not saying he's the 2nd coming, but he's a good and game horse and only getting better. I hope Repole will run him next year - I don't want to see a son of Bernardini retired early as was the sire.e

I hope you get a chance to watch the race........and also, To Honor and Serve, who appears like he's back.

Thanks again, Steve.

30 Aug 2011 6:01 PM
Admiral Harriman Nelson's lady

I am so proud of Stay Thirsty, who is my lovely boy, too. I always loved his pedigree, partly because I loved Bernardini so much. But his mama's side--out of a Storm Bird mare, second dam by Roberto, third dam by Arts and Letters, whom I remember so well from my childhood. And then 6th dam being Igual, the dam of Triple Crown winner Assault, and 8th dam Masda being a full sister to Man o' War, made me love Thirsty all the more. He finally has the limelight a little bit, as even the post-race interviews were more about Uncle Mo in defeat than Thirsty in glorious victory. Uncle Mo is a nice horse, but in my opinion more suitable as a miler than a classic horse. Stay Thirsty is the ultimate classic performer, and he has now proven what he can do with maturity. He was my Derby horse all winter and spring, and even after his dismal performances in Florida and Kentucky--which I put more down to mismanagement than his ability--or rather the desire of his team to make Uncle Mo shine and treat Thirsty as an afterthought. I stayed with him for the Belmont, and the Jim Dandy and Travers, and I am thrilled for him. I only hope his people will finally alow him to move out of the shadow of Uncle Mo and head to the BC Classic on his own and keep Uncle Mo on his own course to hopefully the BC Dirt Mile, where he could really shine. I just hope they don't bump Thirsty out of the Jockey Club Gold Cup to make way for Uncle Mo, like they did with Thirsty in the Champagne last year, a race that was dripping with Thirsty's name on it. Stay Thirsty is a marvellous horse--he just needed time and maturity and experience to prove it--let him glow in the glory of it by himself for a while--he deserves it.

30 Aug 2011 6:22 PM
BlueHen

Steve, I hope your health continues to improve.  You have been sorely missed!

Hooray for Thirsty!  I was so happy when I read the results on Travers night.  He belongs in limelight. :)  It was good Mo ran a decent race, too.  He only finished 2nd by an inch or so.  They were my "picks" to follow this yr.

Take care of yourself.

30 Aug 2011 6:56 PM
Abigail Anderson

Hi Steve! I'm so glad to read another Hangin' With Haskin and this one seemed particularly compelling to me. Zenyatta brought me back too, in a certain sense. But I must say that watching Stay Thirsty win the Travers gave me purchase on just how much I love the horses with heart, the ones that try and try, each and every time. I'm not saying that Stay Thirsty means to me what he means to you, caught in the moment as he surges home. The thoroughbreds who have done this for me most recently are Aidan O'Brien's So You Think and the Mosses Cozi Rosie, who descends from a GREAT horse, Golden Fleece, a son of Nijinsky who died too young of equine leukemia.

That aside, I take your point. I was just thinking about this the other day. How we need a moment and perhaps a horse to reignite us and remind us of why we love the thoroughbred and horse racing. You know what I do? I go back to Secretariat's Belmont. Probably a cliche by now, right? But every single time, the passion for thoroughbreds flares up in me! He lights the flame that burns within me. No question.

30 Aug 2011 6:59 PM
A Horsey Canuck

Throw some more wood on the fire and watch the whole Travers, Steve. You will appreciate Stay Thirsty even more when you see the race in its entirety. He's a late bloomer, a trier and is definitely no longer in Uncle Mo's shadow. Mike Repole calls things the way he sees them and I'm glad that BOTH his good horses won! And hey...the Factor is back and I'm glad that you are too! It's a good day...

30 Aug 2011 7:17 PM
edrul427

I would say to at least watch this race a couple of times and you will see an extraordinary performance especially when he went by the finish line.And by the way watch Uncle Mo in a fantastic return.And we surely were wondering where`s Steve.

30 Aug 2011 7:24 PM
Anncat

I suppose it was important to Repole and Pletcher to give Uncle Mo all the attention - after all, he was to be crowned Horse of the Galaxy this year, was he not.

Just think what might have happened had Repole sold Stay Thirsty and the horse had been handled like the quality 3-year-old he obviously was and is.

I suggest to those of us who need a bit of magic in the world of horse racing that we turn our attention to Blind Luck and Havre de Grace. It's another year for the girls.  

30 Aug 2011 7:30 PM
pharlap17

"As I lay in a bed, trapped..." So are you in the hospital right now?  I am so sorry please get well soon. You have been greatly missed...I come here every day eagerly awaiting one of your articles, but we can keep waiting if you need to get better!  I know how you feel about racing...I call it my Rachel "hangover"...racing isn't the same without her, no one to get excited about.  But we still have a filly rivalry to see, we still have the 3 year olds to run against the older males, and of course hoping for a 2 year old to emerge and give us hope for next year so still alot to be excited about.  Take care of yourself! Hope you feel better soon!!

30 Aug 2011 7:50 PM
SKW530

It's so good to see you back, Steve, AND, rest assured, there are a lot of us out here, The Thirsty Faithful. Those of us who have been waiting for this very race you must watch.

I hope you are back soon.

30 Aug 2011 8:07 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

When I think of the Joys of Horse Racing I think of horses like Stay Thirsty who reach their potential after being disregarded, and comebacks like The Factor's, and I think of Steve Haskin and how he increases our knowledge, awareness, and love of horse racing and how he touches us on a personal level in so many ways, I think of Secretariat, Affirmed and Alydar, and Spectacular Bid, and the greatest experiences I ever had in horse racing; following Zenyatta's and Lost In The Fog's races, watching Secretariat's Belmont many times, and reading Steve Haskin articles, and watching him on his show with Lenny and listening to him on Steve Byk's show. Today is a day to celebrate having Steve Haskin back, and I wish you well Steve, and hope you are better or will be better soon. You are loved and are a treasure. In my mind a great man, and a great writer who has brought joy to thousands. You were missed.

30 Aug 2011 8:13 PM
Karen in Texas

I, too, am so glad you are back, Steve! Your knowledge, perspective, and unique literary style make this BH site superior by far to other horseracing blog venues. As Zookeeper said, my enjoyment of the sport is not the same without your writing---that is why we call ourselves Haskinites! So, thanks to Stay Thirsty for reigniting your passion so that you can continue to reignite ours.

30 Aug 2011 8:25 PM
Jennifer in Columbia

Steve, everyday that I logged onto the website, I had hope in heart heart: each day I just knew that today I would get to read the new Steve Haskin article. And for many days I have been disappointed, but today, I am so happy to find you back; however, I am also so sad to hear that your passion is wavering.

I can't speak for you, but I think I understand where you are coming from. I too have struggled to maintain my love of horseracing this year. For some reason, I haven't truly bonded with many of the horses who have been running this year (except for my determined little arabian, Blind Luck). We lost a superstar in Zenyatta, and it is so difficult to replace a presence like hers. I feel as if every time I became attached and excited about a horse this year, injury followed close behind. I was so excited and hopeful for Animal Kingdom, and then Rewilding, and what came after that makes me sick to even think about.

I think everyone on this forum struggles to rekindle the passion from time to time, but from my own experience, I can honestly say that I can't stay away from the sport forever. I have left in disgust before, after Go for Wand I was gone until Barbaro, but somehow horse racing got in my blood, and I always come back.

As a person, who adores your writing, analysis, and persepctive, I hope you will come back too, and continue to share your gift with us. Your work is appreciated and enjoyed more than you know.  

30 Aug 2011 8:28 PM
Steve Haskin

Thank you all very much for your kind words and well wishes. And Dr. D, you left me speechless and choked up. There probably be another short break and then I hope to get back in the swing of things in the near future. I just wanted to make my presence felt and to thank everyone on here for all their kindness and support over the years.

30 Aug 2011 8:32 PM
Silverfoot

Great to have you back, Steve.  You're right - it seemed like nobody wanted to give Stay Thirsty any respect at all earlier this year. I like Uncle Mo, but Stay Thirsty was the horse I put on top all year long. He was overshadowed by his more famous stablemate, but I just kept waiting for him to step out of Uncle Mo's shadow and boy has he ever. Every time I would hear you sing his praises, Steve, I felt vindicated because I respect your opinion, probably above anybody's when it comes to horse racing, and I emphatically shared yours when it came to Stay Thirsty.

30 Aug 2011 8:42 PM
Paula Higgins

Steve, I hope you are on the mend from your illness. You were missed by all of us and I was about to do a search and rescue mission to fnd you. There is a huge void, that no one can fill, when you are not here. You can tell from all our comments that we were pretty worried. I was about to email Bloodhorse, not that they would have given me any information (and rightly so LOL). As for being down in the dumps this year, we were all feeling it. When a horse like Zenyatta or Rachel leave the scene, everything seems dull in comparison. But the reality is, some horse will capture our hearts, and maybe more than one if we look at them with fresh eyes (I love the two girls, HDG and Blind Luck, and Uncle Mo and Thirsty). The second half of the year is coming to life now. Steve, you are a true horseman, with an ability to weave words into a beautiful tapestry. You will never be far from the sport you love.

30 Aug 2011 8:55 PM
Agnes

I didn't know you were ill but now we all know. Surely you must be aware of the innumerable horse lovers who are wishing you well and sending you good thoughts.  If your place in our hearts can make you well, you have nothing to worry about.

30 Aug 2011 9:02 PM
Bigtex

Steve

You're the kindling that stokes my fire for horse racing along with Rachel, Zen, Mo, Thirsty, etc.!  Get well, get rested, and resurge!  

Stay Thirsty showed a tremendous grit for the entire race so you must watch.  Uncle Mo, after such a layoff, was flying down the lane!  I can't believe Caleb's Posse caught him but if Mo moves forward and is well, it's going to be fun to watch.  Breeder's Cup Classic sure seems like a push for Mo but I'm not in charge.  I think we're going to see a very tough Twirling Candy for the Classic and with the way Thirsty's running, could be a great matchup!  Throw in So You Think...

It appears to me that it's time to give Shackleford a break.  He's been grinding it all year so Romans shouldn't be surprised by the performance.  

Great that you're back!

30 Aug 2011 9:20 PM
Karen in Indiana

Steve, it's so good to hear from you. Hope everything goes well and we do hear more soon.

I loved Stay Thirsty's pedigree and he was one of the 4 I told my son to include when he went to the Derby. After the Derby, Animal Kingdom became a favorite also, but Stay Thirsty stayed on my list. Good to see him come into his own.

Another story you may want to follow is Unusual Heat's stud career. He throws some tough, fast progeny.

30 Aug 2011 9:33 PM
Gin

Steve,

Welcome Back!!!!!!!!!  I always remembered what you posted on Stay Thirsty from last year.  You were right on.  Look how much you were missed!  Everyone has such positive messages for you!

Great comments on Stay Thirsty shipping back and forth from Fl to the Gotham, and back and not getting anything out of Fl Derby, with the climate changes and all.  Also I had forgotten 2 months between Toga and the BC he did not race.  Shame on Pletcher. But I am not surpised.  

You mentioned too he was bred to win the Belmont, heck he almost did!  

Thank you too Flynne for posting about his dam Moroiza!  For once its good to see the mare get recognition! For it is her who is the first teacher of the foal, and passes on great lines too.

Agreed on Z and RA Blues on all who posted on this here.  But now we have Grace, Luck and now a Thirsty gets his due and is truly NY's horse!  I hope he wins outside of NY and proves he is the man, who can get Best 3 year old.

Steve you need to go up to Toga if you can for the Woodward! Its Toga its magical. It too will help you heal from Z. It helped me.

30 Aug 2011 9:39 PM
Linda in Texas

Mr. Haskin, it was not like you to disappear but we all knew and i am sure i speak for all, that there had to be a serious reason.

Each day without an article from you found me rereading your last article on Coil. And over the week end, Coil just must have thought it was Sunday and all he needed to do was take a walk in the park.

So he did. :)  

We all admire you and respect you so much, just want you to always know that. And Jason was kind and not too tough on novices, like me and i appreciate him for that.

Glad you have touched base and know we will be here for you if you have to drop off the blog again for a little while. But just for a little while, no longer

Thanks Steve, and i am so happy for The Factor. I thought last April that i would never see him race again and i was upset then. But not half as upset in a happy way as i was when that fella put his nose to the grindstone told everyone to step aside and let him outa' here and ended up at the wire first. That was great. It was a 'the dogs are under the couch again thing at my place.'

And of course i was glad for Stay Thirsty. For Runflatout or Uncle Mo it just was not their day but i won't give up on either one of them. They both did so well and looked healthy.

Best wishes to you and yours.

30 Aug 2011 9:54 PM
MikeM

I guess I'm the only one not that impressed by Stay Thirsty.  Yes he is gutsy and honest as the day is long and a very very nice horse but I think Mo showed much more in defeat. All things being equal I don't think Thirsty can gallop with Mo no matter what the distance...Great to have you back Steve.

30 Aug 2011 9:57 PM
Linda in Texas

Steve, i read the article after i posted. Stay Thirsty reminds me of the ugly duckling story. Or Cinderella or a sister with 2 brothers who were star football players and the sister who had to struggle to get C's. But that sister ended up in life faring much better than her 2 brothers in everything she does. That is Stay Thirsty just faithful as a hearth warming dog.

To me, Stay Thirsty is an inspiration and i adore him just like i cared about Quality Road. So now i am upset again. Just glad that special heart of yours is not afraid to be noticed in your wonderful way with words. You are special in sharing that with all of us.

30 Aug 2011 10:05 PM
apajax6

As much more was always thought of Uncle Mo, I always thought of Thirsty as "my" little horse.  I had to take a moment on Saturday when his nose hit the wire to wipe away a tear and regroup before doing my job.  I'm glad he could do for you what he did for me.  Miss you, Steve.

30 Aug 2011 10:33 PM
Wrensflight

The sport pales a bit without your passion. Stay with us, Steve!

30 Aug 2011 11:16 PM
Wil. E. Kayotay

Mr. Haskin,

For weeks now, I have not read anything on "The Blood Horse". I checked everyday, like so many others and found your column not updating. I know I repeat and echo what others are saying, but you are the only writer worth reading on this site.

Just like you, I was so inspired by Zenyatta that I lost interest again in racing, once she was gone. That's why I could never understand one of your fellow writers being so anti-Zenyatta. It was like the horse had done something to him personally. What I loved was the passion that a special animal can bring to the sport. That's what the whole thing was about. Not one horse versus another, but the inspiration to feel good about any great horse. You summed it up so well.

I pay very little attention to racing right now, but if you can get inspired again, maybe I can too. I recently watched one of those ESPN Classic shows comparing the Triple Crown campaigns of Citation and Secretariat. It was awesome. Both brilliant animals and since first watching it, I have replayed it at least five times. Watching Secretariat's Belmont sends a shiver up my spine even though you know every word the announcer will speak... and Secretariat...he's moving like a tremendous machine!!!!. That's what I love and what I miss about racing.

Thank you again for inspiring me. Keep the wind at your back.

Carl

30 Aug 2011 11:24 PM
IOWay

A very big day for Repole racing.  The feature about him naming the horses after his wife was funny and showed what good sports they are.  That type of thing is golden for attracting fans to racing (not necessarily bettors). We need both.  Purses are supported by take out from wagering but if enough television viewers are attracted by the fun advertising dollars should increase and help support the industry.

Watching the Repole family enjoy the moment may also attract some new owners which the industry desperately needs. You almost have to be an owner to apprecaite the lows and highs that Repole has experience this year.  It is a lot different than cheering for a football, baseball or basketball team. Congratulations to Mike Repole.

30 Aug 2011 11:29 PM
Debbiek

Steve, so glad to see you back!!  Just as everyone else I missed reading your words.  I can't imagine following the horses without your unique insight every year.  I've loved Thirsty from the start and I was so excited watching his race the other day.  I like Mo too, but it was great seeing Thirsty finally getting the attention he so greatly deserves.  Please be well.

30 Aug 2011 11:59 PM
Mister Frisky

Thank You to Calebs Posse for saving us from the Repole double.Stay Thirsty won't hit the board in the BC classic and that goes for anyone else in this 3 year old crop.

31 Aug 2011 12:08 AM
Linda in Texas

Steve, my take on Mikey Repole after Stay Thirsty won The Travers:

He looked like a 7 year old  neighborhood kid who had just won a downhill race in his home made wooden racer with old rusty wheels while others had fancy new ones bought by their rich daddies.

He was a happy camper and walking Stay Thirsty to cool him down and high fiving anyone who crossed his path. And lining folks up for the winning photo!

He had just experienced a hell of a close race with Mo losing by 2 nose hairs and that disappointment fresh only for Stay Thirsty to load the gates perfectly and come home a winner in The Travers. I don't think he really expected him to win to tell you the truth. I really don't. It caught Mike and Pletcher off stride in their vocabularies for sure. I loved it

and knew he would win. Just knew it.

And i agree with BigTex and his suggestion for Shackleford. Give the big guy some pasture time then run him in something he can win.

And then Steve after this year we have next spring to await Zenyatta's foal so stoke and tighten up the heart strings we have so much more to look forward to.

Bottoms up Steve !!!! :)

We have lots more races Steve before this year is out and the new 2 year olds are coming up fast and furious with a whole new bunch of names and pedigrees that we all need your guidance on. Kick Butt Steve and know we all are behind you!!  

I hope you have had pretty nurses!!

Because shots and meds are much easier to take when given by a pretty nurse if one is a male.

31 Aug 2011 12:40 AM
kimrig

LOVELY!!!  Your compassion for the sport is inspiring.

31 Aug 2011 1:39 AM
JJW

Stay Thirsty is a champion. He accomplished more in one race than Uncle Mo has in all six of his combined.Grade 1 10 furlong races are the toughest to win.

31 Aug 2011 1:43 AM
The Deacon

Like you Steve this sport has truly waned my enthusiasm. I wish I could put down on paper what you mean to all of us. In my profession I speak in front of many folks at seminars and I have become pretty good at it, but when it comes to putting in writing how I feel I pale next to you. I never developed the writing skills you pocess. I am truly grateful for your blogs and to have you back. I thought the worst, that maybe you were sick or had lost a family member, I pray neither is the case. So glad and grateful to see you back.

But c'mon you missed the 1967 Travers!! That win by Damascus (one of my al time favs) was in my opinion the greatest Travers of them all. He was far back going into the first turn (maybe 12-15 lengths) and I think he won by 20. I watch that race all the time. I loved that horse, next to the immortal "Doc" he was my favorite.

When Zenyatta retired it left a hole in the pits of our stomach, for most of us. I hope Stay Thirsty is just not a Saratoga special, meaning he will run well only on that track. I have my doubts whether he is a top notch 3 year old but I hope he is for the sake of the sport. I have kind got a little regenerated by the emergence of Acclamation. I picked him in the Pacific Classic and won some coin on him (for a change), no pun intended.

I hope you realize by everyone's special sentiment towards you on these blogs that you are truly important to all of us........

May God Bless............

31 Aug 2011 2:45 AM
Lmaris

I have to agree with Anncat - what might have been had Stay Thirsty had been with different owner/trainer.  I have little to no respect for Repole & Pletcher for their handling of Uncle Mo.  They supposedly knew for weeks (according to their comments back in April/May) but they dithered in getting a diagnosis.  They never took him to a diagnostic hospital, just shipped vets in, but vets don't carry the full battery of tools in their cases.  A biopsy was required, but that would require taking the horse out of training, something apparently neither owner nor trainer was willing to do.

So Mo still gets 90% of racing press, though he's not won a single graded stakes in 2011.  While The Factor has, has beaten older horses, and has broken track records.

Sorry you missed the Travers, but this past weekend, the best racing was on the left coast, even if Andrew Beyer thought differently.  Just goes to show how subjective those speed figures are.

31 Aug 2011 2:52 AM
Lmaris

Also maybe I'm alone in that I love the sport, and while I have my favorite horses and always am sad when they retire, my passion doesn't diminish when they do.  There are always new ones on the horizon, and one may just be "the one".  Hope springs eternal. If it doesn't, its time to hang up one's tack.

31 Aug 2011 2:55 AM
footy231

Zenyatta what a horse what joy she brought. stay thirsty does all at saratoga but will he do it all away from his favourite track ???? that is the question

31 Aug 2011 4:27 AM
TerriZ

So glad to have you back; you were missed. Hope that you are  doing better soon.

I'm glad that Stay Thirsty reignited the spark for the love of thoroughbred racing that brought you back to the Bloodhorse.

Changing the subject, Dale Romans has a picture on his facebook page of Sassy Image's left front hoof. She had a quater crack upong getting out of the gate in the Ballerina and was smart enough not to want to have any part of the race.

If you want to see a reminder of Zenyatta's racing style, please look up the Princess Rooney at Calder. She didn't like the surface at Calder and was 20 lengths behind. Suddenly she surged around the curve and won the race by a nose at the wire. And her jockey was none other than Mike Smith. What a race. She's related to Zenyatta through Roberto and Dr. Fager. And she has Storm Cat  and AP Indy on both sides of her family. Dale Roman's brother, Jerry, bought her at a bargain basement price of $42,000.

31 Aug 2011 6:14 AM
John Boudreau

Steve>> It's GREAT to have ya BACK!!!!!

31 Aug 2011 6:32 AM
summergames84

Welcome back, Steve.  You were missed.  Thought (hoped) you were maybe taking a well-deserved vacation- sorry to learn it was otherwise.  I love both Thirsty and Mo.  Loved the fact the races were on national TV. It is fun to watch the unrestrained joy of Mike Repole with his horses.  

Please take care of yourself. You are the heart, soul and voice of Thoroughbred journalism.    

31 Aug 2011 7:14 AM
Lindsey S

So glad to see you back on here, Steve!  We've missed you.  I sincerely hope you are feeling better.  So many of us look forward to reading your beautiful articles.  You bring that extra something to a piece that nobody else can match.  I hope Stay Thirsty will continue to lift you up, as you lift all of us up with your beautiful words.  Get better soon!!!

31 Aug 2011 7:32 AM
barryaksarben

as the kids would say Welcome back dude.  I get so frustrated with the owners, track officials and politicians doong their best to screw up or kill the sport of kings yet only have to see a horse like Blind Luck or hear of Goldikova running another race to know it is the only sport for me. We need guys like you ( and me) the old guys who have seen some of the legends to help the new guys carry on. I hadnt give much thought to Thirsty until reading your blog but knowing he helped reignite your spark hes now on my watch list cuz you sir are also a legend.

31 Aug 2011 7:46 AM
Fran Loszynski

Missed your writing Steve, hope you received the pics of Afleet Alex along with a little story. I wanted Shackleford to win the Travers but love the Repole spirit and Stay Thirsty's stamina they seemed to announce along with Uncle Mo, "we're back and never left!" Don't ever get discouraged by racing when you have influenced so many fans to write about the sport also. Go visit Zenyatta again, Rachel A. and Afleet Alex if you ever need a boost! You are a reporter that stands alongside the rail and feels the wind of the mane and then strikes it with the pen on paper. Afterall, I've started a new album and it wouldn't be special to me without your columns in it! So get going on the Breeder's!

31 Aug 2011 7:52 AM
Racingfan

Welcome back Steve!  I have certainly been worried about your absence and am thrilled you are back!!  If you have been ill, best wishes to get better soon!  I also have been searching daily for your blog!!!  I too have found myself underwhelmed this year after the retirement of Zenyatta (and Lookin At Lucky) and have struggled to attach myself to a current runner.  I have not fell in love with any this year but have still found enjoyment in the races.  

31 Aug 2011 8:25 AM
Blue Rum

Steve - Thanks for the blog.

I caught the replay from the NYRA site and was amazed.  When Stay Thirsty won the Jim Dandy there was talk of him coming out of Uncle Mo's shadow and he really did.  Waiting for the rest of the racing year to unfold !

31 Aug 2011 8:51 AM
trackjack

Steve,

Great to have you back.  I have missed your articles and you put this whole ST, UM juggling act by Repole/Pletcher into clear focus.  You stuck with ST and you are to be commended. Your experience, knowledge and writing style have been missed and I hope will you'll be back 100%, soon.

I sincerely respect your privacy.  It's clear from your comments you are experiencing health issues.  Know that my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.  One of the reasons we thoroughbred fans are so passionate is HOPE.  HOPE that our horse will run well and win.  HOPE that all the horses will run well.  HOPE that these magnificent creatures, doing what they were created to do; which is RUN, will provide us with the joy of watching their competitive spirits do battle with each other while their ancestors' blood courses through their veins.

Stay hopeful, Steve.  Thanks again and welcome back    

31 Aug 2011 9:03 AM
mz

Steve: Stay healthy and remember, as long as there are 2YO's, there's hope.

31 Aug 2011 9:54 AM
shuttleworth

Steve,

I always look for your blog here, and when it wasn't forthcoming, I became nervous! I was wondering if you were ill or something worse!

I, too, have had the post-Zenyatta blues as well, but with the great rivalry developing between Havre de Grace and Blind Luck, and with the other divisions still looking for a horse to break out, it is still exciting! And, of course, hope always springs eternal...

I have missed your writing and your uncanny way of putting into perspective the events that make up this sport we all love...

Thanks again!

31 Aug 2011 9:58 AM
oso7

Dear Steve,

I used to think the late Jim Murray was one of the finest writers I ever read who covered the sport of horse racing.  But you have even eclipsed him.  I'm very sorry to read you've been ill and wish you a speedy and full recovery.

I, too, felt a letdown and sadness when Zenyatta retired, but then was boosted seeing her enjoying her large paddock and hearing her squeals of delight while running through the snow.  To be a horse running free was just beautiful to see.  And, now, I look forward to seeing her foal and that of Rachel's.

There is a horse running today which gives me a glimmer of the same sort of excitement I had with the great mare and that is Blind Luck.  She is one mighty heart in such a relatively small frame.  Just love to see her run and always give her all.

I would hope the wonderful comments about you posted on this site so far help bring you some joy and renewed passion for the game.  Best of luck on your road to recovery.    

31 Aug 2011 9:59 AM
txhorsefan

Dear Steve - It is SO Great to see you back!!  You have been missed by this fan in Texas very much.  As a matter of fact, when Bloodhorse decided on the format of creating a profile and having to sign in to comment, I resisted. Not wanting to give away another shred of my privacy to this internet beast, I did not join in or comment on any blogs since this change came about.  I've read all along, but not commented but for the past month I have missed you and searched daily for your byline, and thus have been very worried about you.  You are the voice for the horses that speaks to me and educates me and keeps my interest going in this industry.   Your way with words that gives us so much insight into the details of the events is the fuel that fires a big part of my passion for racing.  Most likely my affection and faith in Stay Thirsty was precipitated by words you wrote about him many months ago, so I'm glad he is proving to be the horse we thought he could be.  It is perfectly fine for you to have a great big "I told you so" moment in the afterglow of his triumphant Travers.  

Before I ramble on for far too long, I will close by saying one more time I am so glad to have you back.  I sincerely hope that your health continues to improve and a complete and speedy recovery from whatever has been going on is right around the corner.  Feel better soon!!!

31 Aug 2011 10:12 AM
Swale

Thrilled to have you back, Steve.  

I have been tentatively on the Stay Thirsty bandwagon since last year as well- tentatively because I was unsure if Repole and Pletcher were ever going to give him a chance to prove his mettle.  Although he is obviously an extremely talented horse, I've never been much of a Mo fan and  felt that the connections were doing ST a great disservice by allowing Mo to dominate their racing plans for the year.  I could go on and on.... but enough of that.  ST has had his chance to shine and here's hoping he marches towards the BCC healthy and strong.

I too thought I had lost my passion for the sport this year, but for me it was The Delware Handicap that reminded me why I love this sport.  For the past several years it's been the girls who have kept me interested and in love with racing; I am so thrilled to see the rivalry of HDG and BL give us back some real long-term superstars.  No offense to ST, but I sincerely hope both of these quality race mares get to the Classic and give us a truly historical, truly special show.  

31 Aug 2011 10:32 AM
steve from st louis

Sorry, Deacon, but Jaipur nosing Ridan in 1962 in record time had to be the greatest Travers, at least that I've seen, and greater than Damascus' win five years later. They went around the track  no more than a foot apart the whole way around. I know your granddaddy probably told you about it Steve, what say you?

31 Aug 2011 11:48 AM
Katherine

I have SO missed hearing from you in your blogs. It just isn't the same without you. When I saw your blog it was as though the sun came out today. I too join trackjack in prayers for you and your family. You mean so much to so many.  

Take time to rest and recover. look at the races recently and those of your favorites, it doesn't take much rekindle a fire that never burns out.

Best wishes, Katherine

31 Aug 2011 12:11 PM
Horse Lvr in CO

From KarenNYC:  "I could not be happier for Mike Repole. He is a true champion of the sport and gives back to our retired warriors in a big way."

I agree that Repole is good for the sport -- appreciate his outspokeness, and applaud is love for his horses and his passion for the sport.

That being said, he and Pletcher have not done right by Stay Thirsty.  This well-bred and talented colt should have been given his chance to shine long ago, rather than having to play second fiddle to Uncle Mo.

31 Aug 2011 1:15 PM
Margaret Ann

On Travers day my husband wanted to take me out shopping !  I gave in and told him I HAD TO BE HOME BY 5:PM !  At 5:20PM we were almost home and Jim said he wanted to stop at the local market to look for a fitting.  I WANT TO GO HOME !  O yeah, you have that thingy on T.V., O.K. I can come back after I leave you at the house.  The post parade was just ending when I came through the door, so Jim is still alive.  But he made me miss the King's Bishop !  Replays on the computer are so-so.  My computer stops every furlong, freezing the picture, stopping sound, sometimes just stopping and I have to start over !  Jim put in a new anti-virus program 2 years ago and it hates horseracing, I really think the computer hates me.  But where else am I going to "see" the racing ?  I could kiss whoever decided to put some of the big summer races on Versus.  Our newspapers do not carry much about horseracing anymore.  Sunday there was a small 2" piece "Stay Thirsty won the Travers."  They did say that the Kentucky Derby winner, Animal Kingdom was retired, the Preakness winner finished 8th and the Belmont winner finished 4th.  I miss CBS's Race of the Week.

I've put a curse on ESPN for interrupting coverage of the 2010 Breeder's Cup the way they did, I almost went NUTS !

The first Travers I remember seeing was Jaipur and Ridan, I've missed a few since then.  My parents felt that watching horseracing would turn me into a criminal, so I went to my Grandmother's house on Saturday afternoons and watched with Nana.  She was very good at picking horses and we started talking to each other about everything, she was born in 1892.  It was a gift.

Jim works for a company that has a paper mill near Saratoga.  Of course they never ask him to go there when there is racing !  About 10 years ago they sent him to the mill in February.  I drove around and went to The National Horse Racing Museam.  I parked out front on the street.  Hey, it was February and it was about 11:AM !  I walked across the street and just touched the fencing to the track and started to cry like an idiot.  No one noticed, Hey, it was February and it was about 11:AM.  I was at Saratoga, I was at THE Saratoga Race Track !

I subscribe to The Blood Horse, Throughbred Times, get the updates on the computer from both, a couple of other online sources.  One of which gives me the information on the racing in Europe.  Why don't the American sources show us the replays of the big European races ?  After all that, would you believe that I am not as interested as I used to be ?  It can be so hard to see races,  hard to get attached to the older horses, O yeah, an older horse is 4 years old now.  Hard to see the 2 year old horses, unless they win big races, at big tracks.  Hard to form an opinion on the grass horses, as they are not as well thought of in America.  It's frustrating.  I can spend 10 minutes watching a 2 minute race, but eventually you say enough and miss a few.  I'll never stop being a Throughbred Racing Fan, though I may pile some more curses on a few more people and networks and newspapers and...  

This year's running of the Travers was thrilling and Stay Thirsty was one of my picks to win.  I have always liked Stay Thirsty.  But I just had to wonder what happened to...  I  wish that didn't take away from what Stay Thirsty did and did so well, but what happened to ...  If Stay Thirsty meets and beats Tizway in the Gold Cup, I will be suitably immpressed and sorry for wondering, what happened to...

Mr. C.  Take care and be well.  I've enjoyed your writing for a long time and hope to do so for a longer time.  (Should I add, Live long and prosper, or would I sound nerdy ?  I am Irish, not a nerd.)  Take care.

31 Aug 2011 1:28 PM
littlemerrill

You have always been my favorite turf writer, Steve. I have followed Stay Thirsty since last year and feel he could have been managed better if it werent for Uncle Mo. I was a huge Invasor fan as I know you are, too. I'm waiting for your book about him! And, of course it was Invasor who beat Stay Thirsty's pop (Bernardini) in the '06 Breeders Cup. I hit that super for $9,000.00. You are the one that convinced me to use him on top. I've always felt I at least owed you a nice dinner for that score. I look for you whenever I am at Keeneland or Churchill to thank you personally. I am attending the Jockey Club Gold Cup in October and I cant wait to watch Stay Thirsty take on the older boys. The dinner offer still stands if you're interested. Just look for the 3 guys wearing Stay Thirsty hats (I bought 5 from Horsehats.com). I might even bring an extra one along for you. Thanks and Good luck.

31 Aug 2011 1:44 PM
jbrn

Steve,I too have been watching and waiting for the powers that be to get on the band wagon for Stay Thirsty.He is so talented and needed the faith of those closest to him to believe in him. I do feel that horses know if they have the backing and belief in them that they need! I did get a call this morning though from a friend who says that he has some bone fractures due to his tremendous showing in the Travers and that he is being retired. Any truth????

31 Aug 2011 2:35 PM
The Deacon

steve from st. louis:

I actually saw that race, I was 13 at the time. It would be my second choice but because of the way Damascus won that race coming from about 15 lenghts back to win by 20 ranks as my number 1. That and the fact Damascus was one of my favorites, the 1967 Travers left a lasting impression. Certainly can't fault the Jaipur/Ridan Travers, it was indeed epic.

I suppose great stretch duels are more exciting to fans, especially when we see so few of them in big races..........

Either way, sure glad to see Steve H back, hope he is ok...........

31 Aug 2011 2:52 PM
MargaretH

Oh my gosh, how I have been worrying about you, Steve! You have brighted the day for everyone who logs onto Bloodhorse each morning looking for you. Anyone who loves these horses loves you. You give us heartfelt insight and you open doors to their stories that we would never have access to otherwise, and we love you. I have your photo with Zenyatta at CHD the Sunday after the BCC, and you are kissing her on the nose taped above my desk at work. It makes me smile. I will keep you in my prayers.

Hurray for Stay Thirsty!

31 Aug 2011 3:09 PM
Steve Haskin

I am overwhelmed by everyone's kind words and well wishes. Thank you all so very much.

31 Aug 2011 3:41 PM
Deltalady

Steve, So many here have said it far better than I. Like many, I checked every single day, sometimes more than once, to see what Steve thought about this race or that issue. As a matter of fact, I saw your post within minutes of when it appeared online. Have been concerned, counted the days when I realized how long it had been since your last post. I just knew it had to be more than a flagging interest in the sport which was the cause of your absence, and comments from others here bear that out.

To quote summergames84: “Please take care of yourself.  You are the heart, soul and voice of Thoroughbred journalism.”  Best wishes and prayers for a speedy recovery and when you feel up to it, I can’t wait to read your sentiments after watching the whole Travers race with Stay Thirsty’s beautiful run. Ann Maree

31 Aug 2011 3:51 PM
Love 'em all

Oh, Happy Day! You surely have been missed, Steve.  This place is not the same without you.

Sending best wishes your way ... our thoughts and prayers are with you during this time.

Welcome back!  Take care and hope we hear from you again real soon.

Oh, Happy Day!

31 Aug 2011 3:56 PM
Abigail Anderson

Hi again Steve:

Been thinking about you and wanted you to know that there are also many messages to you on zenyatta.com today, August 31. You are just so appreciated and respected by so many of us out here in "virtual reality." Your writing is inspirational, informative, edgy and expressive. There's no other sportswriter that can even come close to you. I must say that even the mighty Blood Horse only gets a scan if I don't see your name on the front page! I actually subscribed to Blood Horse many years ago now to read your pieces! And on top of that, you are so generous with your time and your support.

We just lost a much-loved leader in Canada called Jack Layton...."Jack" to everyone, from voter to constituent, a little the way most of us just naturally think of you as "Steve." One of the stories that emerged about Jack was that he used to tell his children, " Embrace a dream that takes longer than a lifetime." When I think about that and what it means to me, I think about you encouraging me to write my own passion for thoroughbred history. And I think about your own work as a chronicler of a historic sport.

If best wishes are horses, I'm sending you a herd!

31 Aug 2011 4:26 PM
APBarZentariat

Repole made the selfish move that most owners make, doing what they want vs. doing what's best for the horse.  Shipping both horses in the Spring b/c "he's a New Yorker and has always wanted to win the Wood" is his right, but it almost cost him dearly.  I hope he learned his lesson b/c he's great for the sport.  Steve, you can paint a mental image like no other, I too, missed reading your work.  I hope all is okay soon.  Take care Brother.

31 Aug 2011 4:41 PM
Ida Lee

OMG..just last night I was thinking..What's missing here in my review of the horseracing blogs? And I just read elsewhere that you were ill. Now, "I" feel much better that you're back because nothing in horseracing is quite the same without your insights. Welcome back!! Now..on to horses, I adore Uncle Moe, I can't see straight for Uncle Moe, I would die if anything happened to Uncle Moe BUT I've always noticed the talented Stay Thirsty. It broke my heart when all the attention was on Moe. It was like, well ST is not as beautiful as Moe or as talented as Moe...Well, he's an incredibly talented boy in his own right and I will follow his career to the end and that includes a possible Eclipse Award as far as I'm concerned...

31 Aug 2011 5:44 PM
Fran

Steve:  So glad you are back!  Sounds like you have been sick, so thoughts and prayers that it is nothing serious.  So glad to read your story about Thirsty.  You have to watch the entire race.  He was a champion; full of heart.  I have to say that after everything Mo has been through, I thought Mo was also awesome.  His connections seemed very disappointed.  After such a horrible illness and to return in such fashion was just unbelievable.  His owner and trainer should be thrilled with Mo's effort.

31 Aug 2011 5:54 PM
susan in tn

Hi, Steve! Hope you are feeling better! I love your writing and so do MANY others! As a nurse, I know that no one with a PIC line feels too good or they wouldn't have one. So, give yourself a chance to heal and love racing again. Best wishes!

31 Aug 2011 6:01 PM
Freetex

Steve, first I must tell you I sincerely hope all will be well with you very soon.  I kept looking for  your columns and wondered and worried about you.  

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this column.  Your words struck a chord with me because I too felt less interested in the sport.  I do believe Zenyatta had something to do with my feelings.  But your column, Stay Thirsty, and Mike Repole have begun to stir up something.

I realize more than ever how much I have come to rely on your columns and videos with Lenny.  

Take care dear Mr. Haskin.  You are as important to the sport of horse racing as Forego, Secretariat, Barbaro, and the great Zenyatta.  You bring to life over and over again all that is great about the thoroughbred.

You are in my prayers.

31 Aug 2011 6:03 PM
Zookeeper

Mr. Haskin,

You must be the only person in our racing world who doesn't know how much you mean to all of us.

Before and after important races, Hangin' with Haskin is the best place to find out the details that make racing so intriguing. You tell us background stories and point out things that we may have missed in the excitement of watching a great race.

When things are slow, you reach deep into your vast knowledge of the sport and bring a great horse back to life. You make us laugh, you make us cry and you delight us like no other.

When you're missing in action, we wander aimlessly around the web in search of the kind of insight you bring to us. Sadly, it's nowhere to be found... we Haskinites are a spoiled rotten group! So it comes as no surprise to us that you're getting the kind of responses that overwhelms you.

We missed your articles and we missed YOU because beside being a great writer, you are also a fantastic human being!

Take care of yourself and get well, knowing that all of us are thinking of you and pulling for you. I believe in good Karma and there's a lot of it coming your way. :)    

31 Aug 2011 6:12 PM
nickie

Steve, the funny thing about your "lost passion" blog was that 2 runners you mentioned in your piece were part of my initiation fort he passion of this game. Dr.Fager...1966, my Uncles brother used to gallop horses at Sanford Farms[Sunny Jim fame]...in 1966 we went to the track, he came to me and said to bet the "good doctor" [early part of the program]. I was the frist time I had wagered more than a ducat, and "the doctor" rewarded me I believe at 8/5. I immediately turned around with the winnings the 5 spot brought me, and placed a "sawbuck" on a horse named Husband[he breezed home as well...even money as I recall, and it was as if I had been the trainer of both. Damascas, your Yankee Day winner...I witnessed the "Shoe" run off by {if I can recall 22 lengths}. I only wish my memory was as good in school. Actually my Mom took a photo of me holding the "Tele" the next day[after church naturally] exclaiming Damascas' feat. Truly, for selfish reasons, your blog brought back many happy memories for me, and for that I can only say thank you and continued great writing!

31 Aug 2011 6:29 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Steve,

I am elated you are back and rest assured your presence is being felt on the other side of the world as I have been wondering where you have been while I vacation in Morocco these two weeks.  You are the greatest turf writer of all time and we all love you.  Whatever has happened to you personally and whatever has diminished your passion for racing may it quickly just go away.  If little Thirsty rekindled your passion then I thank little Thirsty too.  Wasn't it great how we all watched the transformation and maturation of Stay Thirsty right before our eyes all these months.  They let me hand walk a racer and jumper here in Morocco that looked like Thirsty!!!

Her name is Carmenia and she competes all over Morocco.  Leading them and walking them is awesome, you can feel their power and strength in your hands.  What a beautiful animal she is.  Steve racing and horses are in your blood, there is nothing that can change that and no way did we see your swan song nor do we ever eant to see it.  I hope when I return to the US next week I read you are in great health and back in full force. Just go visit your Thirsty and look deep into his eyes, it'll all come back.  Dr. D. said a wonderful thing, you ARE a great man indeed.  Please be well, there will be more greats to come, they will fix the evils in racing now and the meds, the breed will prevail, they need you and we need you as well, the Haskinites are lost without our leader.

31 Aug 2011 7:39 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

When I first started watching thoroughbred racing I thought, "Where are the Palominos and Pintos?" Those are still two horses I love seeing whenever I can. One thing I have loved for awhile is comebacks. I thought Mo's was very special. I have followed The Factor since the beginning, and I thought his comeback race was spectacular. I felt bad for Smiling Tiger though, giving it his all and unable to keep up. I wouldn't be surprised if his ego is damaged but I wouldn't be surprised to see him bounce back either. He's done it before. I think they need to be careful with Shackleford. He just does not want to race the longer distances anymore. He wants to run, really run. Some are like that. Quality Road was and he had enough of the longer distances and it showed in the Classic last year. I will always regret not seeing him more in the mile where he was brilliant. I love exceptional milers and sprinters just as much as Classic distance runners. Keep up the good work on your comeback Steve. I think you can handle the distance.

31 Aug 2011 8:11 PM
Margaret Ann

Uh, Sorry about the "Mr. C."  thing.  I was thinking of my Brother-in-law, Charlie.  We "discuss things" online.  Momentary brain fade.

So, Mr. H.  Take care and be well.

31 Aug 2011 8:30 PM
The Deacon

Zookeeper:

Well said............

31 Aug 2011 9:18 PM
TruckDriver

Zookeeper got it right in her last comment.  Steve, you have no idea how you affect others and how important you are to all of us.  Just know that you and your wonderful take on horses, horse people, and racing have meant so much to me over these last few years.  I wish you health and happiness in all aspects of your life.  I'm so glad Stay Thirsty rekindled a spark for you, reminding you to stay thirsty!

31 Aug 2011 9:28 PM
Paula Higgins

Steve, on Zenyatta's web site people are also wishing you a speedy recovery. You are much loved and admired.

31 Aug 2011 9:34 PM
Karen in Indiana

AMEN, Zookeeper! You said it very well.

31 Aug 2011 9:37 PM
Primadex

This has been a very busy summer for me, and events and obligations have cut into my time to keep track of the horses.  Every day, however, I check Bloodhorse looking for your blog.  Knowing that you love Saratoga, I became apprehensive when you did not weigh in on some of the big races.  And then when you weren't on "And They're Off," I really got worried!  I am so relieved to "hear" from you again and hope this marks the start of a renewal for you, physically and emotionally.  Horse racing isn't the most important thing in the world, and we need to remember and respect that.  But you have created a bond with all of us by sharing your common sense and tender love of these wonderful animals.  May this bond be one of many things that supports you now and always.

01 Sep 2011 1:08 AM
Cynthia

Steve please get well. You are the greatest turf writer of all time.I hope the passion of horseracing gives you strength to make a speedy recovery

Love,

Cynthia

01 Sep 2011 1:21 AM
Bigtex

Steve,

Where is MacLean's Music?  If ever there was a horse to watch out for!  Have I missed something on him?  

I don't know what happened with Coil but he can't be ignored.  He's a terrific athlete!  Hopefully, there's a lot more to come in the future from Animal Kingdom.  I truly thought, and still do, he was the class of the 3 year olds.  

Sayyyyy, I know, Steve…….Steve!!!!………..Let's get Rachel on the training track and put her back with Wiggins!  What'd'ya say???  Let's do it!!!  Ok…Ok….let's have a foal first, but then……….!!!

01 Sep 2011 2:11 AM
Don from PA/DE

Thanks again your inspirational words Steve you are like a young and old racehorse in your blood and will make it back big time like Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty did.

In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The years teach us much which the

days never know"  Enjoy, Don

01 Sep 2011 7:43 AM
Slew

Great article...so glad to see you back, Steve.  Hope your home is safe as well.  Irene really put a dent in the weekend.  

Being a Bernardini fan, I loved this past weekend with Stay Thirsty scrambling to the top, and To Honor And Serve on his way back.(ST sure looks like Daddy!)

I have to agree with the person who stated Shackleford needs shorter races.  The Classic distance is simply not his distance, but he could do no wrong up to 1 1/8 miles.  

Also a Point Given fan, my heart broke for Coil, who never even tried.  I really expected a match race between ST and Coil.

I think we all felt as though a piece of our heart dropped away when Zen retired.  But then...she's carrying a Bernardini foal, and how much more excitement can I handle?

THAS runs like Dad, Stay Thirsty looks like Dad, and it really did upset me all year at how UM kept out doing ST in the headlines when I always felt UM is a sprinter, and Stay Thirsty is a Classic champion.  I was glad to see UM back to form, but I was even more thrilled to see ST true to his heritage.  

Hope Zookeeper enjoyed her day at the Travers, and Runflatout did do well....and she even got a hurricane thrown in to boot.  Now that's a heck of a weekend!  And I second her comments on how much we need you, Steve.

01 Sep 2011 8:04 AM
Slew

I meant to add...

JBRN...It was Hilda's Passion, not Stay Thirsty, who won her race but exited with a fracture that will take her out of racing for the rest of the year.  No mention was made of retirement.

01 Sep 2011 12:21 PM
jbrn

To Slew-Thanks for the update.Though I hate to see any horse injured,I am so glad ST is sound and that Hilda's passions' injury will be overcome.Thanks again. Heading to the BC this year and so hoping ST is in and on top!!

01 Sep 2011 2:57 PM
Will

Hopefully, from now on Stay Thirsty will be better prepped than he was earlier in his three year old campaign and continue to improve. His times though in the Jim Dandy and the Travers seem to indicate he'll not be able to best the likes of Tizway, Havre de Grace, and Blind Luck this year. Maybe, if they let him race at age 4, he'll reach another level. He's by Bernadini so who knows how good he can be if left in training. So far he's just the best of a mediocre-  at-best three year old class that's produced little consistency and proved to be quite fragile. Was more impressed by last Saturday's performance of Uncle Mo coming back after a 5 month layoff in a tough spot in the King's Bishop after recovering from cholangiohepatitis. Now, if Mo was by Bernadini rather than Indian Charlie, the sky would be the limit. Was anyone else surprised to hear Repole say it could be Mo's last race if the KB proved to have taken too much out of him ? If the colt was that questionable, why did his connections run the risk and not just retire him from racing ??? Heard none of that talk from Pletcher who said Mo came out of the KB in good order with no ill effect. That was great news after Repole's alarming statement. Definitely, want to see Mo run again and reach his full potential.

01 Sep 2011 5:02 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Linda in Texas,

I was thinking of you as they let me walk a gray too in the stable area.  You would have been in your glory here in Morocco.  I too am waking up in a foreign place and have yet to watch the Travers, cannot wait to get back!!!  The horses here are arabians and from England.  Bye for now.

01 Sep 2011 7:35 PM
SuiteLife

Steve, welcome back.  I hope you are feeling better every day and that you'll be back regularly to capture our imagination, attention and love of our favorite sport.  Travers day was, without question, a great day for racing.  There is nothing like a day at the Spa to rekindle one's joy for racing.  I was so saddended to learn today of the passing of Beautiful Pleasure; a truly outstanding mare.  I saw her two Personal Ensign wins at Saratoga; truly a beatiful pleasure.  Looking forward to Breeders Cup, who knows where The Factor, Uncle Mo, Stay Thirsty or Shackleford will wind up?  There are still races to be run (and won?) before then, lingering health issues, and decisions of connections based on both reason and ego.  My biggest disappointment is that the monster Frankel will not be coming over to tackle Goldikova in the Mile.  Word is that his connections will wait until next year.  So will I.  Keep at it Steve, and "bounce" back quickly.

01 Sep 2011 8:06 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

I'm reasonably certain that my favorite episodes are the ones where George was with the Yankees. The Andy Griffith show has to have Don Knotts or forget it !!!!  Bewitched- The second Durwood is unwatchable !!!!!!!

01 Sep 2011 9:38 PM
Ryan Stillman

Steve I am a huge fan of your work!

I have had some bad days and your appearances on Steve Byk's show and your blood horse articles were the only thing I had to look forward to. They kept me going. My life was much better for them.

I hope that you never leave the sport but if you do thank you for everything you have done for me.

You have brightned up many of my darkest days and I am forever grateful.

I thought I'd write this to help you during a dark period because you certainly have helped me get through many of mine.

Keep on doing what you do Steve.

Ryan

02 Sep 2011 3:07 AM
Dawn in MN

Mr. Haskin,

I am so relieved to see this article.  I was wondering where you were.  I am a gigantic worrier, I kept trying to convince myself you were on vacation.  Nice vacation Steve, next time go somewhere fun.  : )  That's supposed to be funny.  Best wishes for a speedy recovery.  Take good care of my favorite writer.

Every year I start a list of three-year-olds in January.  Stay Thirsty was on my list all the way through the year.  He was in my top ten all year.  I pick my horses by watching their races, and looking at conformation.  I admit that part of the reason I liked Stay Thirsty is his name, "Stay thirsty my friends."  I also admit that Shackleford has become a sentimental favorite.  I agree with those who say to freshen him and bring him back in a shorter distance.  It was so hard to watch him drop back in his race last weekend.  I saw a tired boy who ran his heart out in every race, and ran out of gas.

I stopped following the sport after Ruffian.  I happened to turn on the television, and catch Barbaro's last race.  I followed what I hoped would be his recovery, and was disappointed at the end.  Your writing has kept me interested in the sport since then.  The horses Steve, it's about the horses.  You need a good dose of barn smell, and horse muzzle nuzzle.    

02 Sep 2011 7:06 AM
Linda in Texas

Hi Steve - TGIF - and with it the start of 3 days of our noses glued to the screen watching horses do what they love to do.

Alex'sBigFan - when you are able, you will need to watch the video of The Bernard Baruch of August 26 of course at the one and only track i love, Saratoga.

Turallure - a wonderful 4 year old Gray/Roan, out of a the mare Personal Allure and sired by  Wando came from way back to catch Get Stormy last years's winner of the same race. He was

ridden by Ramon Dominguez and caught Get Stormy at the end. Get Stormy dug in and tried to get there first, but Turralure caught him.

I had not ever heard of Turallure so it was wonderful to see him bring a little attention to all the great grays in his First Graded Win.

Hope you are having a wonderful time in Morocco, i have never even had an acquaintance who has been to Morocco, much less been there myself, so you will have to enlighten us all with your trip  and experiences when you get back.

Have a nice week end Steve and i hope you are better with each new sunrise. If i thought the Doc would allow you to eat fudge i would have some sent to you from Fuddy Duddy's Fudge in Oswego, NY, on the 'right coast.' :)

From your red necked 'central coast' fan from Texas, where we have just experienced the hottest summer ever according to the record keepers. Oh for the first north winds, cannot wait.

And thank your nurses for us. We cannot give them enough praise for what they do day in and day out.

God Bless Steve.

02 Sep 2011 10:56 AM
TerriV

It's so good to have you back, Steve. I hope you continue to feel better and are all ready to run your race by the time the BC rolls around.  Your words are the ones I look for.  They inspire me, inform me and fill my soul with the beauty of racing, most of of all because your words ring with the love of the horse. Racing needs you and we all need your words.

I admit that I've also felt a bit disconnected this year.  It may be because I haven't been able to physically attend one single race yet.  My fingers are crossed for Oct. 1st at Belmont.  It may be that Zenyatta is no longer racing but I've watched her anyway. (Never thought I'd say thank God for the internet!)

I once had my perfect job -working on a Thoroughbred breeding farm. It's very hard work and through the winter discouragement can set in.  But, come spring, hope, joy and excitement return every year as those beautiful foals are born.  When you are around horses you can always be reborn.  Get thee to a racetrack, Steve.  You'll feel better immediately!

02 Sep 2011 4:35 PM
Slew

Even though this blog is about Stay Thirsty, I've got to say that I'm really excited about racing tomorrow.  I have a heavy crush on So You Think (reminds me of Slew so I can't help myself.) and he's running tomorrow in Ireland.  If he wins, they'll make a decision on the BC...and I would love to see him come to America....he's become such a world traveler.

Steve, I'm so sorry to find that you've been ill, and I do hope your recovery is both gentle and speedy. Most selfishly, I cannot imagine enjoying the world of horse racing without you, or the world itself without your kindness.

02 Sep 2011 8:26 PM
Abigail Anderson

@ SLEW: Another SO YOU THINK fan, eh? Me too! He was just an outstanding runner in Australia and now that O'Brien has him right, I'm looking for a HUGE race from him tomorrow. He reminds you of Slew? Interesting. He reminds me of YEATS, at least through the head -- and the stills I've seen of him are quite YEATS-like.

02 Sep 2011 10:38 PM
Slew

Abigail...what a magnificent brute is So You Think.  He's punched his ticket into the BC Turf with his win at Leopardstown today, but he may opt for the Classic.  Last out against Workforce, he never seemed comfortable, and never really had any rhythm to his stride, but with sheer determination he muscled his way ahead and steam rolled past Workforce.  That's what reminded me of Slew.  But today, his stride was so long and graceful, and his only real competition was Snow Fairie who pressured him severely.  But So You Think's stride was twice that of Snow Fairie.  He has a large head, a huge stallion neck, and large well-muscled shoulders. And he's absolutely gorgeous.  If he runs in the BC Classic, he rules as the king of the world.

Havre de Grace outshone the boys, and little Jackson Bend is turning into a whiz at the sprint distance. What a fantastic day of racing!

03 Sep 2011 7:42 PM
Stellar Jayne

Steve,

Welcome back!  I think Dr Drunkinbum and TerriV have expressed my sentiments thoroughly, so I'll just say this - Get Well, don't give up the fight even though you think you are on the rail!  The Thoroughbreds need you and your passion to describe their valiant efforts.  No else can do it but you!

My prayers are with you for a complete recovery.  

04 Sep 2011 11:27 AM
grisk

Mr. Haskins,

I witnessed my first Kentucky Derby on a black and white television, circa 1966, age eight. I have experienced the highs and lows, endured the words of the nay-sayers, the doubters, the critics, cried over those taken by disease and the break downs. Through it all what has kept my love and passion alive? A little eight year old girl, in front of a black and white television set, mesmerized by the power and grace that God put on four legs. Don't let the critics or nay sayers jade or discourage you.

05 Sep 2011 1:25 PM

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