Countdown to the Cup: Grace, Period!


Earlier this year, Larry Jones decided to prepare his barn help for what seemed to be the inevitable. Many talented horses have passed his way, but the one he wanted to discuss with them was different. This one could be a life changer and he felt he had to share that with his crew. Jones’ life had already taken a dramatic turn when he returned from a brief retirement last year to reestablish his public stable, which he had turned over to his wife Cindy.

With his batteries now fully re-charged and the Eight Belles nightmare in 2008 pretty much behind him, it was time to return. Also returning was his former main client, Rick Porter, who had spread his horses around with several trainers.

One of Porter’s horses who was turned over to Jones was the sensational filly Havre de Grace, who had already established herself as one of the best fillies in the country last year as a 3-year-old, concluding her campaign with a strong third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (gr. I) for trainer Tony Dutrow.

Cindy and “assistant” Larry had the good 3-year-old filly No Such Word, winner of five stakes, including the grade I Gazelle and grade III Monmouth Oaks, for Brereton Jones. Although No Such Word was able to eke out a neck victory over an inexperienced Havre de Grace, who was making her stakes debut, in the Go For Wand Stakes at Delaware in early June, Jones would spend the rest of the year keeping his filly away from Havre de Grace and her arch rival Blind Luck after a fourth-place finish behind those two magnificent fillies in the Delaware Oaks (gr. II). Jones could see Havre de Grace maturing and improving with every start and realized that No Such Word no longer was a match for her.

After taking over Havre de Grace’s training over the winter and observing what a powerhouse the filly had developed into and all her special attributes, Larry contacted Brereton Jones and told him, “There’s no way we can outrun this filly, horse against horse.”

It was around that time that Jones called his help together and launched his bombshell.

“I’m gonna tell you something,” he began. “Y’all don’t realize this, but this thing could be Zenyatta.”

The response was simple and predictable: “Oh yeah, right”

Jones pressed his point. “You just treat her with kid gloves,” he said. “Y’all don’t know what this thing is. If we get her to what I think she can be, you’re gonna find out this is a for real sucker.”  

After three emphatic graded stakes victories, including a dominating win over Blind Luck in the Azeri (gr. III) and a rousing score over Switch in the grade I Apple Blossom; a gutsy nose defeat to Blind Luck in the Delaware Handicap (gr. II), giving her weight; and a powerful score over males in the Woodward Stakes (gr. I), Havre de Grace has indeed proven herself to be a “for real sucker” and a leading contender for Horse of the Year honors.

On the morning of July 4th at Delaware Park, Havre de Grace prepared to work an easy five furlongs for the Delaware Handicap. With her huge loppy ears flip-flopping up and down, she stood motionless as Cindy attempted to find a good place to scratch her, while talking baby talk to her.

“You’re a mighty good girl, aren’t you?” Cindy said. “Is that the right spot?”

“She doesn’t spoil her, does she?” Porter said, standing outside the filly’s stall.

“Whatever she wants she gets,” Cindy replied. “We’re just very grateful she doesn’t ask for a lot. She’s just a classy girl and loves her job. Physically, she’s one big muscle from head to toe.”

When Havre de Grace first came to Jones she wouldn’t work by herself, turning in sloth-like times such as :53 4/5 for a half-mile. Jones had to hook her up with company in order to get her to work. But she came to hand quickly and began tearing up the track in the mornings by herself. Although she had an easy five-furlong spin in 1:01 1/5 on this particular morning, she sandwiched it with a pair of dazzling :57 4/5 breezes.

“People don’t realize that in the Apple Blossom, she came home her final sixteenth in :05 4/5, and horses just do that,” Larry said. “This filly has a cruising speed that forces other horses to run hard to keep up with her while she’s still galloping. By the time they get to the three-quarters those other horses are usually done. And they gotta let her do it; they got no other choice.”

Havre de Grace displayed that cruising speed in the Woodward with quarters of :24 2/5, :23 4/5, :23 3/5, and :24, before coming home her final eighth in a solid :12 4/5 against six graded stakes winning males, including two grade I winners, as well as the winners of the grade II Suburban, New Orleans Handicap, and Louisiana Derby and the runners-up in the grade I Kentucky Derby and Stephen Foster and Whitney handicaps.

One can only speculate the path she will take from here. There is her nemesis, Blind Luck, waiting down the line, and, of course, the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) and Ladies Classic.

But for now, Havre de Grace has injected a much-needed major dose of excitement to the sport and the BC Classic scene. She may not ask for a lot, but she sure gives a lot. And that’s about all you can ask for.

And so the remarkable era of the fillies continues. Starting in 2005, the racing world has seen superstar male conquerors such as Rags to Riches, Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra, Goldikova, Black Caviar, Zarkava, Makybe Diva, Vodka, and now Havre de Grace. During that time, these remarkable Amazons have conquered the boys in the Preakness, Belmont Stakes, Breeders’ Cup Classic, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Breeders’ Cup Mile (three times), Melbourne Cup (three times), Japan Cup, Woodward (twice), and Haskell Invitational, not to mention a slew of other major stakes and a United Arab Emirates Derby victory by Khawlah and a Queens Plate score by Inglorious. And Larry Jones in another year might very well have added the Kentucky Derby with the ill-fated Eight Belles, who finished second to superstar Big Brown in the Run for the Roses.

53 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Guiness

Although I will always be a die hard Zenyatta fan,  it sure is a breath of fresh air to see another filly come along and take on the boys and enter in her own era and her name doesn't begin with Z or R.

04 Sep 2011 9:25 PM
Paula Higgins

Havre de Grace is a wonderful filly and there will be more great things from her, I am certain. Between the two girls, Blind Luck and HDG I do not have a favorite yet. I like them both equally. If they run HDG in the BCC I will be in her corner if Mo doesn't run. If Mo runs, my heart will be divided. If they race her next year, and she continues to win, maybe we can talk about her in almost the same breath as Zenyatta. But not yet, and probably not ever. The Queen reigns supreme. I think the lesson here is something the Brits have been saying for a long time, good female horses hold up well against the males.

04 Sep 2011 10:38 PM
mz

I've been touting the fillies and mares over the boys all year and FINALLY, it seems like I may not just have been blowing hot air!

Steve, I think I brought up, at the beginning of the year, that the last time the Grrls had back to back HOY titles, the next year there was a Triple Crown winner.

Maybe, because of inflation, we needed to wait until we had back to back to back Grll HOY's!  Too bad Blind Luck didn't make her race against the boys but i'm looking forward to HdG and BL in the (real) Classic.

And next year?  The first filly Triple Crown winner?  

(for next weekend guys, be safe and we remember too.  And you're welcome --recall that we Cdns ended up with just about all your international flights.)

05 Sep 2011 1:25 AM
El Chico

A terrific run from Havre de Grace.  She looked very strong, and that final time of 1:49.18 is very good, considering how slow the Saratoga track has been playing this year.  Here's hoping bot her and Blind Luck's people decide to run them in the BC Classic.

05 Sep 2011 3:22 AM
Guiness

Paula,  In order for any female horse to ever rise above the queen Zenyatta, she will have to win 19 races to do so. And I don't ever see that happening again.  So ,  the queen definitly REIGNS SUPREME...

05 Sep 2011 8:21 AM
txhorsefan

Thank you for giving us some inside information and background on the story of this terrific filly!  I always enjoy how you present another picture for us to savor as we learn about these talented runners and their connections.  Her Woodward win was wonderful in my opinion because she appeared to be doing it with such ease and that is what I like to see.  We are very blessed to have had such wonderful fillies and mares to follow these last several years and they have given us so many thrills with their victories over the males.

I'm also feeling blessed that you are back to writing more often and I'm hoping this means you are feeling much better.  Keep it up!!  We missed you!!

05 Sep 2011 8:41 AM
bplotkin

There was and is only one Queen of racing.  As good as Zenyatta was, Ruffian would have eaten her up, spat her out, and been ready to go again.

05 Sep 2011 9:42 AM
Fran

I am so happy for Larry Jones and HDG.  She is amazing, and it could not happen to a nicer guy.  Good luck to all those connected with an outstanding filly.

05 Sep 2011 9:52 AM
Love 'em all

Thanks for making my day, Steve.

Was hoping you would do a tribute to Havre de Grace, and here it is!

"This thing ... it (HDG) could be golden" ... comes to mind.  Larry Jones is certainly no "Blago", but they do know a good thing when they see it, huh?  [smiling]

We're all excited about HDG ... and I'm betting Zenyatta is too.

Thanks for the HDG treat.

05 Sep 2011 9:59 AM
Focusedman

Steve,

Very nice article once again. I appreciate the insight that you give to your stories. Havre De Grace is a horse that I really respected last year because of her running style. She was the type of horse that layed it down everytime and although she didn't always win, you knew she was going to be there. If not for running with Blind Luck last year, the general public would have had a better appreciation of her before the Woodward. As a racing fan, I am appreicative that Mr. Jones and Mr. Porter give their better horses an opportunity to prove themselves against all comers even if it is met by critcism. He and Jess Jackson believed that the best should face the best regardless of gender and they proved to the racing public that their fillies were as good and mostly better than the males they faced. Horse racing public needs to make their minds up as to what they want. When owners step up and place their horses outside the norm they get viciously criticized, but when they don't, we tend to complain about the quality of fields. Keep up the good work Steve, and I look forward to your future articles.

05 Sep 2011 10:43 AM
Erin

I too am a loyal fan of Zenyatta and pwe my renewed interest in this grand sport to her connections. Dottie, her spokesperson on her website even wished Havre de Grace good luck on her race Sat.I have rooting for ever since I read Larry Jones took over training her. I loved Eight Belles. HDG has been given a second chance with him to really show what a strong and fearless filly she was all along. In return, he was brought back to us. Their union was meant to be. The need each other on many levels. I often search sites for any news on her. I am so pleased at how well so many fillies are doing which adds to excitement of competing with the boys! Yes, I hope she gets HOTY

.

05 Sep 2011 12:09 PM
Stellar Jayne

Hi Steve,

I'm happy to read this article, as it means you are feeling better, as it seems your love racing has been revived!  When one is not feeling well everything seems to have a negative connotation.  So this article shows you are really on the mend.  As Martha Stewart would say '...that's a good thing.' LOL

I'm not surprised about HdG's talent, after all she is St. Liam's daughter!  May she live a longer and happier life than her father.  I love watching her race, she looks like him and runs like hell like he did. :-)

I admire and respect Larry Jones tremendously as a trainer and person.  I laughed out loud - I live alone with 3 cats - when I read the lines and I quote: 'I'm gonna tell you something,' he began.  Y'all don't realize this, but this could be Zenyatta.'  And his team responded '...Oh yeah, right.'  

Havre de Grace, with or without the losses, will carve out her place in racing history and I'm sure it will be great!  Her record will stand on its own for who she is - an extremely talented filly.

Stay well.  More prayers are coming your way.

05 Sep 2011 1:02 PM
Anncat

This whole adventure could enter the racing history books like Affirmed and Alydar. What sort of record could Alydar have had if Affirmed had been born a year before or after, or on another planet?  What would HDG's record look like if Blind Luck had been born in Europe and stayed there?

All honors and affection to Zenyatta, but she is no longer racing - never to be forgotten. We cannot expect another of her caliber very soon.  I'd rather we stopped comparing other horses to her.

I love Blind Luck, and have since she started racing.  But Havre de Grace has earned my complete respect and admiration.  I will always root for BL, no matter what, but HDG will have my support in any other race she's in.

05 Sep 2011 1:30 PM
Paula Higgins

Guiness, ITA :). On Zenyatta's blog, they are very happy for Havre de Grace. Dottie/Zenyatta is a generous of heart kind of person and so are Zenny's fans. bplotkin, "them are fightin words" lol. Ruffian was a great horse. Pure speed. But she would have had some trouble beating Zenyatta. Not saying she wouldn't, but it would have been her toughest race ever.

mz thank you for your kind words and YES, I do remember very well the kindness and help of all the Canadians. Taking all our flights and housing people until they could get home. True friends.

05 Sep 2011 1:43 PM
Ranagulzion

Larry Jones deserves a ton of credit for raising Havre de Grace's profile in the HOTY discussion.  He is second to none in training good fillies, thats for sure.  However, HDG will need a victory over Blind Luck to emerge from that one's shadow.  As things stand right now Blind Luck can piggy back on Havre de Grace's accomplishment against males, having defeated her multiple times in the past plus in a fair and square head to head stretch duel over the classic distance of 10 Furlongs recently. HDG is very good but Blind Luck seems superior even if only by a whisker.

Having said all that, both of them will have their work cut out to deny a rampant Tizway the HOTY title this year.  I can't see any of the fillies upstaging Tizway unless either of them confront him successfully in either the JCGC or Breeder's Cup Classic.  Tizway's biggest challenges are to remain sound as a bell and fit as a fiddle.  In terms of ability and sheer class only a resurgent Uncle Mo is in his league.

05 Sep 2011 4:59 PM
BN

And once again, it's the Ladies who are providing all of the racing excitement. Here's to hoping that HdG and BL both head for the same Breeder's Cup race, and Goldikova stays healthy and happy... and who knows what could be waiting in the wings for us? Not so much another Zenyatta, as another Affirmed v. Alydar... or Sunday Silence v. Easy Goer...

05 Sep 2011 5:12 PM
Matthew W

30 mins to post--I like Big Daddy Cartel, he qualified over by far the worstest track, and I think he towers above these, and he's 6-1 right now, I just doubled up on my win/show wager!

05 Sep 2011 6:18 PM
Rita

Hi Steve, Good article about Havre de Grace I really like her but I also like Blind Luck I think their both going to be great horses.Glad you are back and hope you are doing well. I've been a little under the weather too as I've Had knee replacement surgery but doing good now until I have the other one done. Oh well take care of yourself and stay well I missed you and your stories.

05 Sep 2011 6:45 PM
Bill Two

I just hope these two meet up again in the BC Classic or Distaff.  What a pair these two are!  I have to think Blind Luck is a better filly however since she travelled to Delaware Park in the heat of the summer and beat Havre de Grace fair and square at the classic distance.  Havre de Grace still has something to prove - as good as she is.

05 Sep 2011 9:58 PM
markinsac

I give HDG credit and have taken her off my "MOST OVERRATED LIST".  It wasn't the most talented Woodward field, but HDG won fairly easily.  Credit her trainer for actually pointing his filly towards the HOTY.

For you Ruffian and Zenyatta fans who say my girl would have beaten your girl.  WE WILL NEVER KNOW AND IT'S KIND OF STUPID TO KEEP SAYING "I'M POSITIVE RUFF WOULD HAVE BEATEN ZEN OR VICE VERSA"

GIVE IT A REST!

05 Sep 2011 10:28 PM
Erin

The necessity for HDG and BL to meet was negated when HDG demolished the boys. Zenyatta and Rachel A. never met and Z's win in the BC CLASSIC and following year wins escalated her to a higher level

05 Sep 2011 11:15 PM
TerriZ

Harve de Grace put on some show at Saratoga. Her proud strut in the paddock and the show ring showed she knew she was royalty and was something special. She acted like she owned Saratoga.

Looks like we will have a terrific Breeders Cup Classic this year with her and Blind Luck battling it out.

The girls have really taken over the game in the last few years. And that's a good thing, as more female fans have been attracted to the sport.

Kudos to NBC Sports for their wonderful coverage and commentary of the major races at Saratoga this summer. Especially enlightening and enjoyable were the interviews of D. Wayne Lukas and Larry Jones.

06 Sep 2011 6:30 AM
TerriZ

PS So glad that you are back. And I hope that you continue to improve. You were missed.

06 Sep 2011 6:31 AM
Rachel NH

Why did he need to instruct his help to treat her with kid gloves?

06 Sep 2011 6:33 AM
Rachel NH

Erin: BL beating HDG 3 times sure makes BL look pretty darn good!

PS I love both

06 Sep 2011 6:36 AM
Giddyup

No doubt it took enormous courage to carry on after that Eight Belles nightmare. If HDG can get HOY honor that would make for such a great comeback story. In any event the HDG / Blind Luck rivalry is the best thing that has happened this racing season.

06 Sep 2011 7:00 AM
jamesb

I hate to be the one to say this, but the Woodward field HDG beat on Saturday was abysmal.  

Of the two GI winners in the race: Ice Box won the FL Derby at 20-1 and is 6 0-1-1 since and has been beaten an average of 7 1/2 lengths in those starts.  

Giant Oak won the Donn at 7.5-1 and is 4 0-0-2 since.

The field had a combined 7 wins from 31 starts and 1 GI win that came over six months ago.

I was a Rachel Alexandra fan also, but her seven Woodward rivals had a grand total of 3 GI wins also.  I remember the controversy over people saying Rachel's Woodward was an easier spot than the Travers in '09.

I bring this up because while it is nice to have the fillies taking on the boys in these types of races, I have to ask "Would it be happening if the handicap division wasn't so weak?"

Let's say Blame(retired at 4), Quality Road(retired at 4), or Lookin at Lucky(retired at 3) had been brought back and were entered.  Would HDG have run then?

06 Sep 2011 7:36 AM
JerseyBoy

Well-done Steve:

Havre de Grace is a fine racehorse. Her performance was outstanding.

She has beaten the older horses. Now we wait to see how she does against the 3yos.

I do not believe she will be able to handle them going 10 furlongs.

I do not know what the Track Variants were but this is how she compares to Stay Thirsty and To Honor And Serve (THAS) over 9 furlongs at Saratoga.

THAS-1:48.31, after 6 in 1:10.30. Won by 8 1/4

Stay Thirsty-1:48.78, after 6 in 1:11 1/5. Won by 4

Havre de Grace-1:49.18, after 6 in 1:11.95. Won by 1 1/4

(Last year Blame and Quality Road ran the distance in 1:48.88. Note also a track record was set the day following To Honor And Serve's race. He also had a weight advantage in his race).

All of this might be the effect of the Track Variant but I never ignore faster times produced by horses on a dry dirt track. It is a sign they might be better.

Let us hope they meet in the Breeders' Cup Classic with Blind Luck in the field.

It should be an event to remember.

06 Sep 2011 8:09 AM
barryaksarben

I have so enjoyed the girls (all of them) Quiji Board, Ashado. Rachel, Zenyatta,Rags,Goldie, Blind Luck etc, but as someone  else said there was never one like Ruffian. To have seen her was to witness everything beautiful about horses and racing. She captured my heart and has never let it go making me root for evry gutsy gal since.

06 Sep 2011 8:10 AM
Slew

I really like Havre de Grace, and have all year.  I simply wish folks would stop talking about HOY so soon.  She's beautiful, accomplished, and certainly worthy of consideration...but...I'm not ready yet to crown one horse...it's just too early...and we have so much more to see.

Some horses have huge puppy dog eyes, some have that distant look of eagles, and some have that spark of curiosity igniting them.  HDG seems to have a frail oriental aloofness to her eyes.  It's an aesthetic beauty that is compounded by her athletic grace and the ease with which she moves.  She's so lovely to watch run.

Rachel Alexandra suffered a beat-down in her win in the Woodward.  HDG rolled to triumph with ease.  Perhaps it was the difference between a 3 yr old and a 4 yr old, perhaps it was the times..which was only a difference of 1:11 seconds, both faster times than Quality Road in 2010.  

HDG certainly faced a group of seasoned veterans...but she showed them all how it should be done.  All year, the fillies have been running better times than the colts.  It should be an intriguing BC Championship!

(And before I forget...Rapid Redux won his 16th consecutive race this past weekend, equaling the record of Cigar.  Just what is the difference between the two horses?

...How about $9,699,813.00)

06 Sep 2011 10:08 AM
Ida Lee

Havre...Havre...Havre...How much more fun was the Woodward with Havre in it? First, let me say that I don't think she's as good as Zenyatta or Rachel or my beloved Ruffian...who can be? But this drop-dead-gorgeous Filly (who looks so much like a "blond" Ruffian with her long legs and long slim body)is special in her own way and runs one mean race against anybody. P.S. Just a thought that I'm sure many have had...If she is as good as we think she is, exactly how great is Blind Luck?

06 Sep 2011 11:40 AM
bellesforever

For you Ruffian and Zenyatta fans who say my girl would have beaten your girl.  WE WILL NEVER KNOW AND IT'S KIND OF STUPID TO KEEP SAYING "I'M POSITIVE RUFF WOULD HAVE BEATEN ZEN OR VICE VERSA"

GIVE IT A REST!

Thank you!!!

I do not understand the the mentality that pits horse against horse on these blogs..can't we just root for them all and pick our favorites without decimating the competition?Afterall it is for the love of the horse that brings us all together?

Thank you for the nice article on our Grace Steve..she is indeed special!She does that cruising thing and she sure is a lot of fun to watch..Bless her human companions for bringing the Grace show to all of us.

06 Sep 2011 12:51 PM
PomDeTerre

Such a shame Saint Liam had to be put down after his paddock accident- what a sire he would have become.  Harve De Grace was amazing in the Woodward, and I disagree with the poster stating she must beat Blind Luck to "come out of her shadow".  HDG has nothing to prove.  She has beaten BL.  Her connections were fully prepared to withdraw her from the Woodward IF Blind Luck entered the Personal Ensign.  That did not materialize due to Blind Luck's connections, and now HDG has left BL in her dust after beating the boys.  Don't be at all surprised when HDG goes to the BCC and Blind Luck gets entered in the Ladies' Classic.  BL's connections have already begun the dance of avoidance.

06 Sep 2011 1:58 PM
Smoking Baby

 I thought Havre de Grace might get beat the other day but she won with complete authority.  If it's possible I think she's getting even better.  As much as I like Blind Luck I think she may well have her hands full the next time these two meet.

06 Sep 2011 2:18 PM
rkieck

Snow Fairy, too.

06 Sep 2011 3:04 PM
Shutterbug

Hollendorfer has said that he is considering both the Beldame at Belmont and the Lady's Secret at Santa Anita for Blind Luck's final Breeders' Cup prep race.  He will point to whichever race comes up easier.  The fact that he would consider shipping her cross country again -- making it her 10th trip in 18 months -- rather than running at home in a prestigious Grade 1 leads me to believe that he might be apprehensive about Santa Anita's most recent dirt track.  But it certainly does NOT sound like "the dance of avoidance".

Also, there is nothing wrong with running in the BC Ladies Classic.  Havre did it last year, and small-but-mighty Blind Luck beat her.  It is not a second class race.  And imo, the BC Classic this year will be won by a European shipper.  

06 Sep 2011 3:54 PM
stelligan

I was so disappointed that a match up of RA and Zenyatta never happened, but this rivalry between BL and HdG more than makes up for it.  I started out in love with BL, but I have to give HdG her propers.  Can't wait for the next race between them, ideally in the Classic!

06 Sep 2011 4:20 PM
Ida Lee

OH PLEASE...somebody give me a break. I love Havre, she's great BUT to say she's better than Blind Luck and her connections are starting to avoid Havre? Why? Hasn't BL beat HDG 5 out of 6 times they've met. Correct me if I'm wrong...

06 Sep 2011 5:20 PM
Wil. E. Kayotay

I too hate the "my horse is better than your horse thing". I love all these beautiful animals and just want to see them race gallantly and return to the barn safely.

My input to this discussion is the potential match-up between Havre de Grace and Tizway? Tizway dazzled me with his last two wins, and he looks so much like his sire (maybe not as dark, but beautiful in his coat and conformation). We could see another Zenyatta-Blame type match-up if both go in the Classic. Can you imagine a blanket finish between Tizway, Havre de Grace, Blind Luck and Stay Thirsty? Wow! That idea gives me shivers.

06 Sep 2011 6:00 PM
Erin

Well, hasn't this tremendous filly caused such an exhilirating reaction from us all? That alone speaks for itself. Who could ask for more.  in this year of lackluster performances.  No one horse hash

06 Sep 2011 7:13 PM
markinsac

If it's a photo finish in the BC Classsic and Tizway, HDG, BL, and Stay Thirsty are involved, I'll take Blind Luck.  She know's where the wire is.

06 Sep 2011 7:19 PM
Bill Two

No way are Blind Luck's connections avoiding anybody including Havre de Grace. After travelling to Havre de Grace's home track in the heat of the mid-Atlantic summer and beating her a dirty nose on the wire after Havre de Grace had everything her own way....well, I don't see why or how Hollendorfer would be avoiding her.  He knows he can beat her at a mile and a quarter.  The question is whether Blind Luck can also defeat this less than stellar handicap division and the answer is why shouldn't she?

06 Sep 2011 9:00 PM
Erin

@ PomDeTerte&Ida Lee

I agree with you both. Gteat mature and objective comments. HDG has sparked a wonderful conversation among us all. How exciting it is. How come the male horses are having such a difficult year again, one that really really really stands out like RA,GOLDIKOVA,ZENYATTA, BL,HDG,BLACK CAVIAR?   No excuses now.Trainers and owners make racing decisions based on ability, stamina,race track and competing horses. Nothing is random in the overall goal for their horse. What is their horse really capable of and how far can we stretch the limits safely? What are our short term vs long term goals? For some, this may be their last attempt to achieve a place in history. Once again we are witnessing this truely fierce effort as the BCC is upon us. Such drama. What will we all do when it's over till Spring? I guess anticipate the new stars like John Shirreff's Eblouissante filly half-sistet to Zenyatta. And so it goes. I just love it.

06 Sep 2011 9:05 PM
Racingfan

bellesforever:  I totally agree with you about putting down horses that aren't our favorites - absolutely NOT necessary.  However, the my horse is faster/better than yours will not go away since racing is exactly that - pitting horse against horse to see who is better....

06 Sep 2011 9:20 PM
Sharon

Mr. Haskin, I am so glad you are back!!  Havre de Grace is one classy filly, love her!!  

07 Sep 2011 12:01 AM
Smoking Baby

 I'm with Ida Lee.  While I do believe Havre de Grace is getting better and that Blind Luck would have her hands full when they face, I don't think they are avoiding her.  I do get the feeling (just a feeling...no facts to back it up)that they are working against some physical issue that we don't know about that is derailing another trip back east for now.  Hopefully, I'm wrong and it's just that they needed to get her away from Del Mar.  I'm not sure why they didn't simply stable her at Hollywood or Santa Anita during the Del Mar meet.  Probably just wanted the stable star close at hand.

07 Sep 2011 8:55 AM
Slew

Bellesforever...though I agree with you to a point, don't forget that horse racing itself began when one man said to another, "My horse is better than your horse."

So perhaps we should be grateful for that mentality.  

However, once a horse is out of circulation, you might think it would stop.  But then again, aren't we all looking for the next Secretariat..Seattle Slew...Citation...????  I have absolutely no objection to anyone cheering for their favorite horse.  I do, however, strenuously object to denigrating the competition.  It's just very...unsportsmanlike, and, unfortunately, the RA/Zen controversies seemed to breed more of our evil side than anyone wished to see.  Now we have a competition between HDG and Blind Luck...but both mares, the sleek tall and graceful HDG vs the hard-knocking little mare, BL, with an amazing turn of foot.  To me, both stand head and shoulders above the boys this year because both have earned the right to our accolades.  

07 Sep 2011 10:54 AM
Fran Loszynski

I love it when a winning jockey salutes the jockey that came in second, that's class. He knows he had a worthy competitor.  I know a racehorse does the same, "oh yes he does!" (a little DeNiro, Analyze This jargon, watching that DVD too much!) listen how they snort at each other riding back to the paddock. Look at Barbaro and Zenyatta, we loved them both and yet you really couldn't say one was better than the other, really how could you. Larry Jones trained Hard Spun if I remember, what a handsome horse was he! and his foals no doubt are awesome. Larry Jones is a fine trainer. Each racehorse is great in his own right, but then again there has to be a "winner", it's a race! Hey Steve, your articles are better than ever, Yeah! into the album.

07 Sep 2011 11:59 AM
Paula Higgins

Calm down everyone. No one is going beserk saying "my horse is better than your horse." It was a very good natured back and forth/discussion. There is enough love for every horse, but of course we are all entitled to our favorites :). There is no harm in that at all. jamesb, I understand your point about Havre de Grace's competition, but even still, it was an impressive performance. Zenyatta used to get the same comments about not having tough competition and yet she was able to step it up when she had to. I think Blind Luck and Grace are two tough chicks.

07 Sep 2011 10:42 PM
Cris

Both of these fillies are coming towards the Breeders Cup in good form. This should be a great match up. When it comes to my $2 it will be on Blind Luck. She has great courage and speed, and she has dodged no one. I want to see their best on BC day and not one minute before.

10 Sep 2011 1:45 AM
Slew

Jersey Boy...QR ran the Woodward in 1:50:00.  It was 1:48.88, losing to Blame by a nose hair, in the Whitney.

11 Sep 2011 10:41 AM
TerriZ

Dear Mr. Haskin, The story of Harve de Grace and her connections is a story begging for you to tell it.

It starts with the tragic death of Saint Liam after his catestrophic injury at Lane's End in 2006. His owners, the Warrens, tried to acquire as many of his progeny as possible. William Warren said that they all resembled his sire.

Then, Eight Belles, having her same trainer and owner, has to be euthanized at the Kentucky Derby due to her two fractured front ankles.

Last year, Saint Liam's breeder, Edward Evans died fairly quickly.

And now, Saint Liam's trainer, Rick Dutrow, has been suspended for 10 years.

And here is the second filly to be running in the Classic whose sire won it in 2005.

And to boot, Rick Porter has stated that he doesn't breed horses. I wonder, if a private sale and or partnership will be set up with the Warrens and Mr. Farish along with Mr. Porter.

Wouldn't it be something if after racing, she ends up at Lane's End.

Isn't this an interesting time to be alive? I haven't seen any female who resembled her father so much as Terlingua to Secretariat or Layla Ali to Mohammad Ali.

There is a terrific Steve Haskin story in all of this.

14 Oct 2011 4:22 PM
TerriZ

Oops, I forgot to add Larry Jones retirement and return to racing. He had problems with Aluminum toxicity effecting his memory.

And he surely made her an even stronger filly, as he gallops on her with his weight of 200 lbs.

She really has flourished since she has come under his care from Anthony Dutrow.

And how about the acceptance of towards racing fillies against the boys since Zenyatta has raced? Poor Larry Jones and Rick Porter were the scapegoats of the unfortunate breakdown of Eight Belles.

October 15th has been declared as Harve de Grace Day by the govenor of Delaware.Rick Porter will be at Delaware Park to sign autographs on that date.

If she wins the Classic, it most certainly prove the existance of the Racing Gods.

What a fascinating story surrounding all of her connections.

14 Oct 2011 4:40 PM

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