Power Up Paynter

Once upon a time there were two horses named MC’s Dream and Bradleberry. Both were potential stars, showing great promise from the time they were mere tots. You will find no record of either horse, but be assured they are here as big as life, with a stranglehold on the 3-year-old division.

MC’s Dream and Bradleberry have morphed into Paynter and Bodemeister, with their new names holding great significance to their trainer Bob Baffert, who, thanks to owner Ahmed Zayat, gets to train one horse named after his son, Bode, and another after the contractor who built the house in which Bode will grow up.

What is remarkable about this story is that when the year began, no one outside of Baffert’s barn and the Zayat household had heard of MC’s Dream or Bradleberry or Paynter or Bodemeister or whatever their names were at the time.

On Feb. 11, Bodemeister burst on the scene with a vengeance, not only demolishing a field of maidens, but surprising even Baffert and Zayat with his 9 1/4-length romp in a blazing 1:34 2/5 for the mile. Behind him was another highly touted Baffert colt named Stirred Up, who actually went off as the favorite.

Several days later, Zayat, still surprised, but delighted over Bodemeister’s brilliant performance, alerted yours truly that he had a better one in the barn named MC’s Dream. Yeah, sure, we’ve heard that one before. There’s always a better one in the barn. Not even a week had passed when MC’s Dream, now Paynter, showed up in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race and blew his opponents away by 4 1/2 lengths in a blistering 1:02.98. So highly touted was he that he was sent off as the 2-5 favorite. Maybe he did have a better one in the barn.

It was obvious Zayat had two brilliant colts on his hands, but there was no way either one could be ready for the Kentucky Derby or likely any of the other Triple Crown races. Here it was now a couple of weeks into March and neither colt had done anything but break their maidens, with Paynter having only that one 5 1/2-furlong race.

But what most people didn’t realize was just how special and extraordinary both these colts were. Everyone who had ever been around them surely knew.

Bloodstock agent David Ingordo knew when he bought them for Zayat at the Keeneland September yearling sale, paying $325,000 for Paynter and $260,000 for Bodemeister.

Although he loved Bodemeister, Paynter was the first horse on his short list for Zayat.

“He was a very good sized, strong colt for an Awesome Again and he had the physical look of a two-turn, dirt horse, with the pedigree to go with it,” Ingordo said. “And he was out of a full-sister to Tiznow. I remember how strong he was and how much I liked his shoulder, head, and neck. I was pretty pumped up when we were able to buy him.”

Not a bad recommendation from the man who picked out Zenyatta and scores of other top-class horses.

After purchasing both colts, Zayat sent them and his other young horses to J.B. McKathan in Florida. McKathan has been breaking and training good horses since he had Silver Charm and other major stars for Baffert.

McKathan thought so highly of Paynter he took his picture to send to Zayat's son Justin and used it as his screen saver on his phone. He hasn’t changed it since.

“Paynter was more of a big strapping colt than Bodemeister,” he recalled. “He was just a really gorgeous classy colt. When you get to be around good horses you know one when you see him. He never had a bad day. He was really solid and sound and just a great horse to be around; really classy.

“He was fast, but he never broke the stopwatch or anything like that. When you have these really talented horses, we’re just trying to slow them down the whole time. They’ll work fast sometimes, but not because we want them to. We just want to keep them under control and let them ease on down there. He was never rank and wanting to run off. He had a really good mind and that always helps.”

McKathan never worked Paynter and Bodemeister together. The last thing you want to do with young talented horses is have two express trains going full throttle together.

McKathan provided ample preparation for one’s first close-up encounter with Paynter.

“Wait until you see him; he is gorgeous,” he said. “He is a really really good-looking dude. You stand next to him and you’re going to be impressed. Believe me when I say a horse is good looking he is good looking.”

Although you have high-profile names, such as Bob Baffert and Ahmed Zayat, closely associated with the Paynter – Bodemeister story, the central figure could very well be Justin, Zayat’s oldest son who is 20 years old and attends New York University (NYU), and has been deeply involved in the Zayat Thoroughbred operation since he was 13 when his father started the stable.

Each year, Zayat has his main trainers come to the farm to look at the babies and choose which ones they’d like to train. The Zayat team then decides which horses to send to which trainers. Last year, Baffert was unable to go and asked Justin to choose the horses for him. He chose Paynter and Bodemeister.

“My dad loves Awesome Again and I know Bob loves him,” Justin said. “Whenever we get an Awesome Again my first thought is to give him to Bob. Paynter’s dam  (Tizso, by Cee’s Tizzy) is a full-sister to Tiznow and his pedigree screams classic distance. I knew he was Bob’s horse from day one. I saw him on the farm and I wanted to know if he was progressing, so I asked J.B. to send me a picture of him every few weeks. And he just kept looking better and better. I felt this was a Bob Baffert horse and I went with my gut."

As for Bodemeister, Justin said, "I know Bob likes a certain type of horse, with classic pedigrees, and Bodemeister is by Empire Maker, and Bob trainer Pioneerof the Nile for us and he's by Empire Maker. It was a pretty easy decision for me.

“When we allocate our horses, before we send them to their respective trainers we have a contest. We each pick the ones we think are going to be the stars, the allowance horses, and the less talented ones. We have this competition every year. We try to give each trainer at least one “A” colt and one “A” filly, and one colt we feel can get them to the Derby. You could say Bob got lucky last year.”

The year before, they gave Steve Asmussen Nehro, the year before that they gave Pletcher Eskendereya, and the year before that they gave Bill Mott Pioneerof the Nile, who they eventually transferred to Baffert. In 2008, they gave Mott Z Humor and Asmussen Z Fortune, both of whom were major players on the Derby trail.

Nehro and Pioneerof the Nile both finished second in the Kentucky Derby and Eskendereya, who would have been a prohibitive favorite in the Run for the Roses, was injured and retired shortly before the race.

Although the Zayats had to be thrilled to be such a major force on the Derby scene, those were tough breaks. But Zayat and Justin remained upbeat and optimistic, and kept persevering, knowing their time would come to hold up the Derby trophy or the Woodlawn Vase or the Belmont Stakes trophy.

But never could they have imagined what was in store with Paynter and Bodemeister in 2012. The Zayats would be thrilled, teased, and in the end frustrated and disappointed by a series of gut-wrenching defeats in all three Triple Crown races.

Bodemeister, despite his inexperience looked like the horse that could defy history and become the first horse to win the Derby without having started at 2 since Apollo in 1882.

Following a gutsy second to grade I winner Creative Cause in the San Felipe, the son of Empire Maker romped by 9 1/2 lengths in the Arkansas Derby for his third consecutive triple-digit Beyer speed figure. All of a sudden, the Zayats had one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby.

Meanwhile, with Paynter, Baffert and Zayat did something so bold and so completely out of character, it was thought by many that they were rushing the colt and jeopardizing his career. They had decided to go straight from the 5 1/2-furlong maiden race to the Santa Anita Derby. Despite bobbling at the start and dropping back to sixth, Paynter still finished fourth, beaten only 3 ¾ lengths by I’ll Have Another. Baffert actually thought he should have won with a better trip.

A week before the Derby, Paynter was back in the Derby Trial Stakes, but the track came up a sloppy mess and he wound up going head and head with two other horses through a brutal half in :45 1/5. He put those two horse away, but was caught in the final furlong by Hierro, the mile run in a snappy 1:35 1/5.

A week later, Bodemeister wound up a slight favorite in the Kentucky Derby, but cooked himself with ridiculous fractions of :45 1/5 and 1:09 4/5. Every horse near him cracked, but he amazingly kept going, opening up a three-length lead at the eighth pole and seemingly home free.

The Baffert and Zayat families watched on the big screen in the paddock, but their jubilation quickly turned to heartbreak, as I’ll Have Another came charging late to beat Bode by 1 1/2 lengths. A good deal of the talk after the race was about the remarkable race Bodemeister ran in defeat. But the bottom line is that the Zayats had suffered their third second-place finish in the Derby in four years.

Zayat is an emotional person who wears his heart on his sleeve, but after seeing the anguish on the face of Justin and the tears shed by Bode Baffert, he felt he had to keep his own emotions in check. The feelings of disappointment and frustration he kept contained soon were replaced by a feeling of pride in his horse and what he accomplished. And more importantly, the Preakness was in two weeks and provided a new beginning.

It was decided to bring both Bodemeister and Paynter to Pimlico, with Paynter running in a 1 1/16-mile allowance raceon Preakness to get him back on the winning track and give Zayat an idea just how the track was playing.

If the Zayats thought the Derby defeat was agonizing, they had to be devastated in the Preakness watching Bodemeister again set all the pace and getting nailed right on the wire by I’ll Have Another.

Bodemeister had done enough and it was time to turn their attention to Paynter for the Belmont Stakes. Optimism ran high, despite Paynter having had only four lifetime starts and having to stretch out from 1 1/16 miles to 1 1/2 miles.

The morning of the Belmont, Zayat and his family and several friends gathered in their mobile home, which they rent and park on the backstretch overnight in order to observe the Jewish Sabbath. Following their morning prayers, they indulged in a feast of bagels and lox and whitefish and other culinary delights, including a cake inscribed with the words, “Power Up Paynter,” before preparing to head to the races. When TVG showed the stretch runs of the Derby and Preakness, Zayat let out one word: “Torture!”

Little did he know he would be in for more torture.

Earlier on the Belmont card, Justin Phillip was nailed in the final stride in the True North Stakes.

In the Belmont, once again, it was Zayat’s silks on the lead every step of the way. Paynter turned back the challenge of Atigun at the head of the stretch and set sail for home, but Mike Smith came off the rail in the furlong allowing Union Rags to sneak through and win by a neck.

The three Triple Crown races comprise a total of approximately 3.8 miles. Zayat’s two horses led for all but about 10 feet of those 3.8 miles and didn’t win any of the three races. But Zayat never complained and complimented the winners and expressed his pride in his own horses for their toughness and courage.

“Racing owes me nothing,” Zayat said. “I love this sport and each race is a new beginning.”

His new beginning was now the Haskell Invitational, which would kick off racing’s second season.

Bodemeister was ticketed to return in Monmouth’s premier event, but a fever kept him out of the race, and it was quickly decided to substitute Paynter. Baffert felt he was unable to attend, and Zayat, who was spending the summer in Del Mar, also couldn’t attend because his youngest daughter, Emma, had a temperature of 102, and as Zayat says, “Family always comes first.”

So it was up to Justin to represent the family and hopefully accept the trophy following the race. That would be the fulfillment of a dream, as Justin was born in Teaneck, N.J., which is located close to Hackensack, where Zayat has his office. To not only attend his first big victory in person, but represent the entire family would be a moment he would treasure for the rest of his life.

It took less than a minute and 49 seconds for his dream to become a reality, as Paynter finally showed the greatness everyone saw in him.

Most everyone expected him to go to the lead, but it was Gemologist who rushed to the front after Paynter broke a bit slowly. Paynter, headstrong early, finally settled in second through a quarter in :23 4/5 and a half in :48 flat. He engaged Gemologist on the far turn through three-quarters in 1:11 1/5 and it was apparent that Paynter was in total control. Gemologist was already under heavy pressure and was hit once left-handed with the whip by Javier Castellano, while Rafael Bejarano, who had replaced Mike Smith, was still motionless on Paynter.

Turning for home, Gemologist was done, but Nonios, who had been tracking the pace from the inside, swung to the outside and seemed ready to pounce on Paynter. But when Bejarano set him down, Paynter found another gear and spurted clear to win going away by 3 ¾ lengths in a solid 1:48 4/5 for the 1 1/8 miles.

Justin immediately received a call from his father. “He was the happiest guy in the world,” he said. “He was yelling and screaming, ‘Oh My God , Oh my God.’ This horse has run so hard in all his races, and we gave him such a grueling campaign; from a maiden to the Santa Anita Derby. Finally, this was the breakout race we’d been hoping for. He’s always kind of lived in Bode’s shadow, but he made his mark today. The Belmont was such a tough loss after all we asked of him. Turning for home when Nonios made that run at him, I was going, ‘Please don’t do this to me again.’”

Said Zayat: “You could hear me screaming from California to New Jersey. Never in my life have I screamed that much. This was so gratifying and validated all of Bob’s hype. I’ve never seen him so confident before. I would have loved to be there, but I couldn’t leave my daughter.”

If Zayat could have seen Justin leading in Paynter with his sister Ashley and sitting at the winner’s podium answering questions from the media he would have burst with pride.

“This has been a dream my whole life,” Justin said. “I’ve been waiting to be at a big win in person. Whenever we’ve won I’ve never been there. I always had to watch it on TV. To finally be there in person after the whole Triple Crown and running second, second, and second, and then finally breaking through and to do it in New Jersey, there’s nothing better.”

So begins the second season for the Zayat family. From the early days of 2012 watching Paynter and Bodemeister develop into bonafide stars, through a Triple Crown ordeal that would have broken most owners, and finally a major victory in their home state, the Zayats have experienced racing’s gamut of emotions. As strong as they have always been as a family, the laughter, the thrills, and the tears they have experienced this year have bonded them even further. And they owe it all to the speed, class, and courage of two special 3-year-old colts. That is the true magic of horse racing.

67 Comments

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Dr Drunkinbum

On the track prior to the Haskell Paynter looked spectacular, a super duper trooper and it didn't seem he would be a party pooper. I have him as the number one 3yo with Bodemeister number two. Paynter could dominate the rest of the year. What do you think, Alex'BigFan? How did he look?

30 Jul 2012 9:41 PM
Cris

Wonderful story about two very talented young horses. To have both in one year. Wow. Mike is the regular rider for the Zombie in the Bing Crosby on the same day at Del Mar. I will be looking for all three at Breeders Cup.

30 Jul 2012 10:03 PM
Deltalady

Love what Mr. Zayat said, "Racing owes me nothing!"  Just a ton of class.  Thanks for this wonderful back-story, Steve. Really heartwarming.

30 Jul 2012 10:05 PM
GunBow

More great stuff from Steve.

It's clear Paynter has been the #1 star from the beginning, and after conceding that title to Bodemeister in the spring, looks to be #1 again.  Bodemeister is a very special colt, and has accomplished more than Paynter.  But I really like Paynter's versatility.  

Bodemeister hasn't proven that he can rate and win a big race.  Until he does, I will see him as vulnerable to other speed. Paynter, on the otherhand, showed in the Haskell he can stalk and pounce and still ran fast(108 Beyer).

How good were the Cali 3 year olds?  Baffert had to send Bodemeister to Arkansas because a 2nd place finish in the SA Derby might not have been enough to qualify.  And with I'll Have Another and Creative Cause, I think Baffert thought a 2nd was a real possibility.

30 Jul 2012 10:13 PM
El Kabong

Oh and it sounds like the best is yet to come. Justin seems to have paid close attention all this time. Maybe the luck resides in him.  Dad should step aside and let the young man exercise his fate. It couldn't hurt and besides, that would give Ahmed more time for what matters..... Family.

Thanks for sharing Steve. Boy the eye for the future talent is really a gift and Mr. Ingordo seems to have quite the radar.

I like the way the Zayat's spread the talent to different trainers. Their derby fortune is bound to come. Meantime, I hope they are focused on celebrating in November. I'll be there in SoCal and I would love to see some fortune shine on the Blue and Yellow silks for Mr. Zayat and speedy Bob.

30 Jul 2012 10:28 PM
Paseana

That's just a beautiful feel-good story, Steve, and hopefully, the ending is a long way from being written!

Your story was particularly meaningful to me because you put it up on the day that Ahmed Zayat was on with Steve Byk for an extended interview on ATR this morning.  I didn't know much about Zayat other than he is a very wealthy man who owns a whole bunch of good horses.  The interview with Steve this morning was both captivating and enlightening.

He came across as a thoroughly delightful and genuinely nice man, and very well grounded indeed.  He made a fan out of me for sure, and now you come along with this piece and totally validate my impression!

Thank you!  I wish Mr. Zayat and his family all the best.  There can never be too many wonderful people in this game, and he certainly seems to be one of them!

30 Jul 2012 10:41 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

I love having the Tiznow connection in Paynter, and I love having the Zayats in racing. They really are pure class and a ton of fun and I hope they win a lot of huge races. They've had heartbreaking moments but always bounce back quick with dignity, and never lose their passion, hopes, and dreams. It was nice to hear that yell. At first I thought it was a moose and a mountain lion tangling.

30 Jul 2012 10:49 PM
an ole railbird

 good story, steve. this is just the begaining, for this horse. paynter showed greatness in the belmont. when in history have we seen a horse run a 11/2, like he did, with no more experince than he had? i think it has not been done before.

 congrats, to bullet bob baffert & crew.

  "an ole railbird"

30 Jul 2012 11:04 PM
Alex'sBigFan

It is 11:45 PM Monday evening and I just finished reading this article, anticipating it's debut all day!  Absolutely fantastic article, Steve and what a great Haskell it was.  Those exact words came out of my mouth today to my neighbor who I called to tell of the events of the race, I said to her, "Paynter is gorgeous."  Just like that.  Gemologist and Dullahan are fine looking colts as well.  But Paynter turns the head.  Headstrong is the word Steve, he was a handful in front of me in the post parade.  He certainly did not disappoint and I am so happy for the Zayat family and the Baffert family.  I saw who I am assuming is Justin and I am thrilled for him.  For what many tout as Baffert's second string, Paynter was anything but that.  Paynter is truly a star now.  This is probably what Marilyn on our blog here dreamt, it wasn't the Derby but the Haskell that Paynter would eventually win.

I saw our Steve in the Winner's Circle looking very elegant in his royal blue shirt and suit jacket too!

I must add that Mario Gutierrez, on board Handsome Mike is just adorable and so humble and gracious to all the fans.  He and O'Neil were signing autographs which I missed as our car overheated on the GSParkway two exits away from Monmouth Park; for awhile there I thought I wasn't even going to get to the race but thank God I did.  I called out to Mario as they came through the tunnel to "Born To Run" and got a big smile from him and gave him a thumbs up!

It was such a great Haskell Day and it is such a fun place and fun race to be at.  It seems like these two special colts are going to carry the 3 yr. olds the rest of the way this year.  I think it says a lot about the horse when it can ship across country like that and still win.  I wish you many more wins gorgeous Paynter.

31 Jul 2012 12:02 AM
Bigtex

Terrific, Steve!

You gotta get us some pics of Paynter!

31 Jul 2012 12:46 AM
ksweatman9

I'm sure it was hard to watch your horse come in second in all 3 legs of the triple crown, but every cloud has a silver lining, and I think the lining will be gold for Zayat. I'm glad Union Rags was able to take the Belmont win with him into retirement. Nothing against Mr. Zayat, ofcoarse. I'll Have Another ran his guts out for a one way trip to Japan and he's still probably trying to understand what he did wrong. Yes indeed, the winners turned out to be Bode, Paynter, and Mr. Zayat. Who knew? The big question, will we ever get to see who's better between the two? Oh, that's probably not a fair request to make, is it? The Breeder's Cup classic would be the perfect place for a duel. I don't blame anyone for not wanting to go head to head with either of these ponies. They are both at the top of their game. However, the true test of a good thoroughbred today is seeing if they can keep running without falling apart. So, we'll see.

31 Jul 2012 3:58 AM
Zen4Zen

What a wonderful tale of two terrific colts; thanks, Steve.  There's no better horse racing journalist than you in the U.S.  It is always a pleasure to read your work.

31 Jul 2012 5:35 AM
Steve Haskin

Thank you, Zen, I appreciate the kind words. I love the Zayat family. They're very warm people, and they are so passionate about the sport.

Thanks, everyone for your comments.

31 Jul 2012 7:28 AM
Rachel NH

So far this year only one horse has a "stranglehold" on the 3 year-old colt division, and that's I'll Have Another" with 2 Triple Crown wins, the Grade 1 Santa Anita and another Graded stakes win. Nobody comes close.

Either of these 2 truly nice colts will have to win against older horses in the BCC or JCGC and be dominant in a couple of other Grade 1's in order to take over from IHA.

31 Jul 2012 9:47 AM
joanne halsey

I was watching the horses come thru the tunnel for the Haskell, as I do every year, and I see two handlers holding this gorgeous horse who is not only on his toes but looks like he owns Monmouth!  The last horse I saw look like that when he walked the ring at Belmont Park was Holy Bull.  Paynter is not only gorgeous (my very words too when I saw him) but he was under a hand ride as he rounded the top of the stretch.  Great ride by the Gypsy (Bejarano -he travels everywhere and can win) great training by Baffert and Barnes (I would expect no less - you were missed Bobby) and great owners.  The Zayats (love the part about his trailer for the Sabbath) not only own some of the most beautiful racehorses I have ever seen but they have their priorities straight. Glad Justin had his moment in the spotlight - good luck at NYU.  God truly blessed this family and they seem to appreciate every moment, nice to hear.  Thanks for a great article Steve.  How about one about David Ingordo, I would love to know his secrets for picking out such fabulous yearlings (Love to Zen)! Thank you Monmouth for a great Haskell, once again!

31 Jul 2012 9:48 AM
Steve Haskin

Rachel, if you want to dwell on semantics, stranglehold on the division refers to horses still in training. I didnt say stranglehold on the division championship. In the NTRA poll, I have I'll Have Another ranked as the No. 1 horse in the country of any age or sex.

31 Jul 2012 9:59 AM
Karen in Texas

Thanks, Steve, for this tale of the Zayats, Bodemeister, Paynter, and the perennial Bob Baffert. All are deserving of much continuing success! What an exciting and unusual year of racing this has been.

31 Jul 2012 11:00 AM
Bill Two

Glad to see Zayat's karma improve. The family sure has a stable anyone would love to have.  This is just what racing needs in the wake of the departure of Union Rags and IHA.  Love to see Zayat and company enjoy their success. One thing you can say about them: they're not afraid to race their horses.  Good luck to them!

31 Jul 2012 11:07 AM
Delrene

Thanks so much Steve for this "tale of two horses".  I hail from California and have seen these two including IHA and Creative Cause.  I think it has been just the greatest season and it's isn't over yet.  Paynter is breathtaking.......  Looking foward to the Breeders Cup.  Great backstory on a terrific trainer, classy horse family and two beautiful colts.  

31 Jul 2012 11:42 AM
Wrensflight

Another wonderful story, Steve, about the tale behind the spotlights. I've said before that both Bodemeister and Paynter showed their true class even in defeat, and it was great to see Paynter strut his stuff in the Haskell. I wish both colts and their Zayat family a brilliant future.

31 Jul 2012 11:54 AM
smarie

What a great way to heal an ailing heart - training horses like Paynter and Bodemeister. Mr. Baffert's heart must be beating full of excitement and pride. I know very little of the Zayat family, but from what I have read here it sounds like they are a definite asset to Thoroughbred racing. Speaking of family though, doesn't Bob Baffert have other children? One never hears about them, only about Bode. I hope they are around to share in their father's successes and defeats as well.

31 Jul 2012 12:37 PM
Linda in Texas

joanne halsey - your description of Paynter is shared, he looked fantastic and plain flat gorgeous. He came to race and he exuded some super strength in his body language. It was a breath taker

just watching him walk to the gate.

Paynter won one for Alex'sBigFan, she mentioned she wanted Baffert to win so Paynter did outside of his home state. That was great.

And Steve, a wonderful story. I happen to like Bodemeister, don't know why, i just do. Probably a super big beautiful specimen of a race horse to be basically honest.

And my other favorite race over the week end was RAIL TRIP winning The San Diego at Del Mar. Samantha Seigel's oldie but goodie. Great competitive race and ride. He also

looked quite fit.

Mr. Zayat and his family, fortunately for their horses,  happen to get attached to them and treat them like true family members. That may bother some, but i love it.

Question though off subject:

What is going to be said if Havre de Grace HOY is purchased by someone not from the United States?  I think i asked that question in a politically correct manner.

Thanks Steve.

31 Jul 2012 1:38 PM
longtimeracingfan

Steve, for sure you are the King of the Backstory!! Long may you reign!!!

..and your frontstories ain't exactly chopped liver...

I missed Paynter's victory as I was helping a friend whose Anatolian Shepherd dog had THIRTEEN puppies! [No, the movie has already been done, about a St. Bernard.] As they grow it's going to be a madhouse. Luckily at least ten are already spoken for.

Everybody's moaning about seconds in the TC series... Alydar comes to mind in this too. In the long run it still shows these are top class colts, and they DID beat everybody else in those races. So they are certainly nothing to be disappointed over. Yeah, everyone wants to win those big races, but ya know, Zenyatta was/is still the great one she is, even if one horse did hang in just inches too far for her to catch. He was obviously a top class colt himself, as it took that to beat the amazin' Z.

So Z families, whether Zenyatta's or Zayats, are showing to be worthwhile members of racing's upper echelons, not socially, but in terms of real class. Long may they remain.

And please keep having David Ingordo pick your youngsters...

31 Jul 2012 1:42 PM
Shelby's Best Pal

I always enjoy reading your stories.  Thank you. Paynter was very exciting to watch last weekend and I appreciate your thoughts on Bob Baffert.  He is so good for racing.

31 Jul 2012 2:18 PM
robinm

Great story Steve.  I remember that coming into the "Triple Crown Trail" all the talk was about what a deep and talented field of 3 yr olds were competing this year.  Particularly with so many participants from the BC Juvenile having came back to score in Grade 1's.  So here we are with many of the 2 yr old stars either gone or having disappointed. I was so

disappointed when Rags was injured, and so VERY disappointed when his owner chose to retire him; in fact, I told my husband my heart wasn't really into racing right now - just too many disappointments this year.  Then along come Bodemeister and Paynter; two beautiful and talented colts that everyone can get enthusiastic about.  I would love to see these colts stay in the game beyond this season.  Here's to good luck, good fortune and good sportsmanship.  Something tells me we can count on Mr Zayat to allow us to enjoy these colts for awhile.  

31 Jul 2012 2:32 PM
trackjack

Thanks, Steve, for another well done masterpiece. Bodemeister, Paynter and the Zayats have truly given us moments to remember, but you Steve, are the best 'Painter' of all as you weave your storytelling magic. Thanks again.

DRF is reporting that Paynter has a fever that puts his status for the Travers in question according to Bob Baffert. Oh the ups and downs of ownership!

Steve, any updates on Bodemeister's status?

31 Jul 2012 3:03 PM
joanne halsey

To Linda in Texas - you're right, Paynter did just take your breath away and I also agree with you about BODE - I am a big fan of his too.  I wasn't at the Affirmed and Alydar matches, but I'll Have Another and Bode gave me what I imagine were the same kind of thrills.  I look forward to Bode's return as I think he too is a grand

specimen of horse flesh :)  I was looking forward to him running in the Haskell but Paynter went in as an understudy and came out a star!

31 Jul 2012 3:30 PM
Rachel NH

Ouch! Didn't realize I was "semantic-a-ting"...

31 Jul 2012 4:50 PM
I like Candy

To me, Paynter seems to be a bold colt.  After Baffert declared him his finest 3yo, I made of point of seeing him close up (before the SA Derby), and he looked me right in the eye.

On a personal note, this is the first time in my life that I have experienced most of the major 3yo players up close in person, and I feel very fortunate for that.  It truly makes a difference.

31 Jul 2012 5:04 PM
Go Team Z

Beautiful article! I was fortunate to be at the Haskell and marveled at the strength and resolve of Paynter, the control and calmness of Bejarano and mostly at the class and elegance of the Zayat family. Daughter Ashley and son Justin represented beautifully! Continued success. Well deserved!

31 Jul 2012 5:05 PM
Lammtarra'sArc

Again this is a true showing on how great of a Sire Awesome Again is.  Still severely underrated.  Congrats to the Zayat Family, and continued success.

31 Jul 2012 6:01 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Dr. D.,

Yes Paynter certainly is a great looking colt.  It is so different seeing them in person.  Gemologist is pretty grand looking too.  Paynter came right into the Winner's Circle, I got a good look, and he did not even look like he had run a race!  Poor thing has now spiked a fever, hopefully it is very shortlived and he is vanned to Saratoga soon.  Maybe he has a touch of what is going around Baffert's barn.  Hold on to your hat, Dr. Hansen is doing the blue tail thing again, Hansen runs with a blue tail this Saturday in the WVA Derby, oh no.  Worst case of Haskell fever on record - me - dressed for Hansen and he's not even there!  Worst case of continuing Derby fever - Dr. Hansen!  The breed is so gorgeous it really doesn't need any embellishments.  Do horses see in color?  If so I would just love to know what they are thinking when they get a load of this tail in front of them!!!  

31 Jul 2012 7:27 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Steve,

How did Brujo look on the Haskell undercard race?  I heard he came in fourth.  Not too bad since he has not run since January I believe.  Sounds like he'll improve quickly.  I missed Brujo's race so I am curious as to how he looked.

31 Jul 2012 7:33 PM
ceil rock

Brujo was extremely washed out in the post parade - just a nervous wreck. He was never a factor in the race. Hopefully he'll learn to relax in the future.

31 Jul 2012 9:24 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Alex'sBigFan

   Brujo looked OK pre-race, nothing special. He ran pretty good considering the layoff and it being the first U.S. race. He seemed to lack running room for awhile in the race but does look like he has a competitive nature. I expect more from him in the future. I wouldn't count him out yet. I think they should paint Hansen's nose red. It might give him an edge in a photo finish. Then the jockey could dress up as Santa and we'd really have a jolly good show !!!!

31 Jul 2012 9:42 PM
ksweatman9

A word on Hansen and the blue tail. Dare I ask what the significance of the color blue is? I must've missed the punch line on that one. We all know the good doctor is a bit eccentric. He's just having fun and making the most of every minute of racing his pretty colt. That's nice, actually. Well, perhaps not so nice for the horse. I hope Hansen doesn't end up an agitated mess or doc's fun and games may come back to bite him in the butt. I'm glad to hear that they plan to keep Hansen on the track a couple more years. I hope it works out, what a refreshing idea. I like that. Just think Hansen, it will be you and doc for another 2 years. That thought should get you running like a bat out of hell. Good luck!

01 Aug 2012 3:36 AM
ceil rock

Dr. Hansen is a Kentucky fan, and the team colors are blue and white. Also, he said children send him drawings of the horse and frequently they color his mane and tail blue. I personally think it is a pretty silly thing to do, but Hansen is his horse, not mine. (If he was mine, I'd be pointing for the King's Bishop and the Dirt Mile, not the Travers and the Classic.)

01 Aug 2012 10:49 AM
ksweatman9

Thank you for the heads up on the blue tail. I suppose the Classic is as much a dream for owners as the Kentucky Derby is, so whether or not it may be the best placement for the horse, it's probably irresistable. However, Dr. Hansen is quite clever and I trust he will make the right choice when it comes to picking races. He always has the option to change his mind, and he might do that. Time will tell. Speaking of the Breeder's Cup, will we be graced with the presence of a European superstar like Danedream or Frankel this year? Oh, I hope so! How wonderful that would be.

01 Aug 2012 1:03 PM
Householder

Sure Baffert may have thought he could have won the Santa Anita Derby but when I looked out into the paddock that number 4, I'll Have" a something looked spectacular.  CC and the eventual Derby winner toyed with that "cheap" speed. To run second in the Belmont and then to take the Haskell once again leaves the rest of us wondering what could have been.  

Looking forward to Creative Cause on the turf and some talented 3-Year olds against G.O.D and Acclamation in the Pacific Classic.

And according to the trainer Lava Man came out of the Triple Crown just fine!

01 Aug 2012 3:29 PM
marilyn braudrick

Hi Steve, I am the Marulyn Braudrick who contacted you way back when in Feb./March about the dream i had about Paynter, then MC's dream  I've never had a dream about a race horse in my life, even though we have %'s of 5 of them.  And there was another (POINT GIVEN) blogger who wrote in and said he favored Paynter also Well, Paynter finally fulfilled my dream-and Point Given's faith in him.  He's a star now and he can go the distance as proven in the belmont and the haskell, if he goes in the pennsylvania derby the the dream then becomes literal as it was a derby that he won in my dream.  

Marilyn, no longer a "deer in the headlights", now a SEER" (PS It's been a very convoluted pathway for him to this point)

01 Aug 2012 6:20 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Can't resist another blue tail conversation so here are the colts in the West Va Derby:

Macho Bull:  "I'm way too macho, ain't nobody gonna color my tail."

Macho Macho:  "That goes double for me."

Le Bernardin:  "SacreBleu!" "Sacred Blue!"  

Bourbon Courage:  "I see it but I don't believe it, and I only had one shot of bourbon before the race."

Hero of Order:  "It must be some kind of new fly repellant or something so flys don't bother our tails."

Z Camelot:  "What's the dude's name, Blue Tail Flying?"

Called to Serve:  "Better change that to "The Great Blue and White Hope."

Morgan's Guerrilla:  "I hightailed it out of the barn so they couldn't do my tail too since I'm his stablemate."  

Macho Bull:  "Hansen wore "Blue Velvet", oh, oh, oh, bluer than velvet was his tail!"

Le Bernardin:  "Allez garcons!  Let's go boys, nobody's gonna leave us feeling blue.  Let's catch up to that "Devil In A Blue Tail."

All in good fun.  Best of luck to Hansen on Saturday.  I love him and wish him all the best.

Big congrats to Frankel on his win today.  Awesome!

01 Aug 2012 6:56 PM
Steve Haskin

Hi Marilyn, it just shows, some dreams take a while to come true. You still have the Pa. Derby to  make it official.

Cheryl, Brujo ran kind of dull, but he only got beat a couple of lengths and I think he was a bit short, not having run since Jan. It was also his first two-turn race. He deserves another shot.

Trackjack, Bodemeister is still trying to recover from a grueling spring, and the fever didnt help. I'm looking for them tp keep him shorter and point for the BC Dirt Mile. He wont run against Paynter.

01 Aug 2012 7:03 PM
Mister Frisky

Hi Steve,Very nice article on the Zayat stable.They have a great attitude and approach to racing.They are the kind of owners fans like to pull for.Im sure they will be a force for years to come.On a different subject,did you get a chance to see the video of Toby's Corner last Saturday night at Penn National?New track record but he really didn't beat all that much.What caught my eye was he finally ran like his pedigree said he should.He finally showed the style of his dad and grandpa.Been waiting for him to go to the front and let it roll.I think his win sets him up nice for late summer and fall.You know I love all things Mister Frisky related.

01 Aug 2012 10:44 PM
I like Candy

Householder:  Loved your post.  Lava Man was the cherry on top of the triple crown cake!!  As you said, he came out of it great... time of his life.

Looking at the pictures I took during the Robert Lewis stakes, Ill Have Another was so bored during his romp in the stretch that he was eyeballing the crowd!  The full sibling to Royal Delta wore himself out in a futile atempt to chase down the champ, and has never covered... oh, what could have been.

02 Aug 2012 2:47 PM
robinm

ksweatman9 - Unfortunately, it seems Frankel will not come over for the BC and in fact, I've heard it likely he will run only 1 or 2 more times before retiring to the breeding shed.  He certainly looks impressive in his wins but for me, his is another case of protecting a win streak.  He is being touted as the best race horse of all time but I'm not convinced.  Frankel has a "rabbit" in all his races; a ploy used occasionally in route races but can't say I've seen it before for a miler.  I also question his race times; they seem slow, though I admit I'm used to the times posted on the firm turf we usually see on the west coast here in America.  Could be his times are excellent considering the ground he is running on. At least his next scheduled race is to be at 10 furlongs which shows they are willing to test him, at least a little.

02 Aug 2012 3:41 PM
ceil rock

There aren't many races at 10 furlongs in Europe (not very many here either for that matter), so their options are pretty limited. Teddy Grimthorpe, Juddmonte's racing manager, said a couple of weeks ago that they would have strongly considered the Breeder's Cup Classic if Santa Anita still had a synthetic track. Frankel can only run against the horses who show up, and he's made mincemeat of them, rabbit or no rabbit. Juddmonte had an injury scare earlier this year and they are not going to risk him just to prove a point.

02 Aug 2012 6:16 PM
Slew

Steve, superb story telling...as usual.  Only you can weave such a melodic tapestry.

After the way Paynter ran in the Belmont, there was no other horse going to take the Haskell away from him.  Thrilled to watch it.

Both Paynter and Bodemeister have been sensational, and I can't wait to see more from them.  

03 Aug 2012 11:06 AM
Pedigree Ann

Ceil Rock, I have to disagree.

There are a lot of G1 10f races in GB/Ire at the top level, too many of them IMO. The Eclipse S, the Champion S, the York International (whatever the sponsor), the Prince of Wales at Royal Ascot, the Irish Champion S, the Tattersalls' Gold Cup, nicely spaced throughout the year. All for 3 and up. Frankel could have stepped up any time since the Eclipse (late June/early July) of his 3yo year. Of course, he would have had to face So You Think and Workforce in that race; he might have lost.

03 Aug 2012 1:18 PM
Freetex

Thank you for the inspiration Steve.  I've felt a little let down and blue since the news about I'll Have Another leaving for Japan and the injured list that just continued to grow this year.

Its wonderful to know there are owners and trainers besides the Mosses and John Sherriffs who care so deeply about their horses and racing.

I feel we have two stand-out colts to look forward to in the weeks to come.  

Thanks again, it helps.

03 Aug 2012 5:05 PM
Cassandra.Says

KSweatman:

"Agitated mess" indeed. I didn't (couldn't bear to) watch the Derby walking ring but I heard there was some maniac running around hurling things through the air. "Agitated mess" is the right phrase for Hansen when he emerged. I thought he would be a vet scratch. I've never seen a horse so badly broken out.

There was a news report that KH was solicited by several racing secretaries of . . . less prominent racetracks who said they'd let him dye the horse if he'd run Hansen at their track. A new way to map out your horse's itinerary.

03 Aug 2012 8:20 PM
duchess

Robin - I think the fact that so few want to run their horses against Frankel says it all. You usually only see that with the very best.

Marilyn - your Derby dream might still come true for Paynter. Along with the Pennsylvania Derby we also have the lucrative Indiana Derby still to come in the fall, and Baffert has shipped some pretty good horses to Indiana for that race before, such as Lookin at Lucky.

Steve, thanks you for the blog about the Zayats. They sure sound like they are caring and responsible owners. I wish them all the luck in the world with their two star colts.

04 Aug 2012 1:10 AM
Paula Higgins

Steve, this was a wonderful post. It helped lift my spirits to read about Mr. Zayat, his horses and family. We have had some losses in my family the past 3 weeks and (my beloved sister-in-law to cancer and my 14 year old Miniature Schnauzer, also to cancer). It is good to get back here and read about the horses and see familiar names. It is comforting in its own way.

04 Aug 2012 2:28 PM
Mike Relva

Cassandra

Are you sure you don't have an axe to grind regarding Dr. Hansen? Seems like recalling him scolding you for remarks delivered on another blog that seemed more fiction than fact attacking him. Do I have it right?

05 Aug 2012 2:01 PM
AngelaInAbilene

Paula- Condolances on your losses.  I lost my cat this week.  25 years, 3 months & 17 days old.

06 Aug 2012 8:10 AM
JON R

Paynter is Seattle Slew's great grandson.  That's good enough for me.  

06 Aug 2012 8:39 AM
Linda in Texas

Sweet Paula Higgins. i have missed your posts and worried where you were and why. Was hoping you were on a vacation,instead i send my condolences now upon the sad news for you and your family over the loss of your sister-in-law and your little 4 footed 'soul mate' Miniature Schnauzer. I lost my Yorkie mix last year at 14. Seems it is either 13 or 14. Get past those 2 years and maybe they can make it a few more.

I wondered what your comments would be on Hansen's blue tail tip

dye job?  

Now to racing,seems i always find a horse that is owned by Semantha Siegel to comment on. This time again, it was Include Me Out, talk about persistence. She looked great. I love the Include Me Out name.

Fort Larned looked awesome, that black mask was daunting. I knew he

would win and wrote the word beside his name on my paper.

I love it when i am right. He is to be reckoned with. Hope he stays healthy.

Also Been missing Slew, tew!

And Deacon? Where are yew?

Then Lazmannick and Bob from Boston and Ted from L.A. and mz, Mike R. and Karen in Texas. And everyone else. And always Dr. Drunkinbum.

Love the name of the filly 'Platinum Flip Flops' makes me smile. She won, second time, foaled in 2009, no fancy high falutin race, but she didn't care.

It is Barbeque time in Texas and i don't mean one you do in the backyard. Just 109 yesterday.

I'm looking for a cabin by a stream in Vermont or Maine about now. Would be closer to NY,

Maryland and Kentucky.  

Three times is a charm. Got it?? Shackleford does not like Saratoga.

And a sloppy track at that. He no more wanted to race than a wet fish wanted to walk. He is at least consistent and i really really like an attitudinal horse.

Makes me feel comfortable and like i have a compadre in life!

"If i done tol' ya i don't like to do somethin' once't don't make me do it three times!" Same for Shackleford.

Looking forward to the post about your trip to Saratoga.

Thanks Steve.

06 Aug 2012 9:52 AM
Alex'sBigFan

Paula Higgins,

I'm so sorry to hear of your losses.  It has been such a tough year.  This is a place of comfort though on Steve's blogs, I know exactly what you mean and feel the same way.  I'm still somewhat in mourning too.

Anyone know what happened to Hansen?  His West Va Derby wasn't that great.  TVG showed all of two seconds of the post parade and showed Saratoga instead of his race and then showed the tape replay.  I hardly saw Hansen at all.  It was hard to notice the tail, it looked half done or something?  I thought the whole thing was going to be cobalt blue?

Oh well, something stressed Hansen out and he did not show up for this one like he should have.  Any thoughts?

06 Aug 2012 6:23 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Found a video clip of Hansen on Sat. at the race that someone posted on YouTube.  It shows the blue tail, which I could not tell on TVG, and he looks gorgeous if he was going to be in Cirque de Soleil.

Here's the link:

www.youtube.com/watch

Hope that's the right link.  Thanks to whoever posted it.

06 Aug 2012 7:04 PM
Racingfan

Nice article Steve!  Really like both horses and looking forward to seeing more of them.  Hope they race next year too!  Anyone else getting a little bummed reading about stud deals for the other 3 year olds while our poor Derby winner had to leave the country?  Can't understand why nobody wanted him (I know there were offers but they were pretty small for a double classic winner in my opinion).  Also, anyone but me playing the Breeders Cup fantasy handicapping game?  

07 Aug 2012 9:09 PM
Karen in Texas

Paula----Sorry to hear of your difficult losses this summer. Our pets are especially sad because they are our "forever children." My 17 year old cat died of squamous cell Ca in May, and I'm still not "normal" at this point in time.

Linda in Texas----I've been posting regularly on Steve's blog as well as on "What's Going On Here" and "Around The Globe". If you haven't been reading the Globe segments, I highly recommend them--most enlightening!

Alex'sBigFan----Hansen's race was covered well by HRTV, so I was able to see the post parade et al. His tail wasn't half as garish as I feared it would be--it was sort of a wedge of blue toward the bottom 1/3 or 1/4 only. He did not appear upset as they went to the gate; calm at first, then on his toes right before loading. He never looked like the Hansen we know once the race started, in my opinion. I've read (on another site) that Maker was really unhappy with Mike's ride. Others are saying that Hansen became the victim of a situation similar to the Cigar/Dare and Go scenario in California in the '90's.

Steve----Are we going to get some Haskin pictures from Saratoga?? (Please!)

08 Aug 2012 11:55 AM
Mike Relva

Paula

That goes double for me. Very sorry to hear of your loss.

08 Aug 2012 12:54 PM
Alex'sBigFan

For some reason the link did not type out, here it is again:

www.youtube.com/watch

Z4_4XAnYjI

It is entitled "Is Anybody Out There" and is set to that song.  I found it by googling Hansen West Virginia Derby.

08 Aug 2012 6:26 PM
Paula Higgins

Thank you all very much for your kind words. It's been a tough time, but it helps to come here. AbigailinAbilene, I am very sorry about your kitty. I thought my girl kitty, Tabitha, lived a long life at 20 years. Twenty-five has to be just about a record for longevity.

Linda in Texas, I loved the idea of painting Hansen's tail blue as long as it is harmless to the horse. You are right about years 13 and 14 being the hump years. My Uncle's beagle lived to 20. It just wasn't meant to be and I am grateful for what I had with him.

08 Aug 2012 10:14 PM
Linda in Texas

Thanks Karen in Texas - i missed your post on July 31, sorry about that. Even if i had read it, i still would have listed you anyway. I enjoy your knowledge and posts. And i will take your advice on the other two blogs.

Frankly speaking, i learn so much from everyone's posts. So many smart folks with knowledge here that i try to tuck away in parts of my brain to save for later.

JON R - to me Paynter even runs like Seattle Slew. Realized that the first time i saw him race. Carries his body the way Slew did.

And his coat is pretty close to Slew's also. Head shape and soft eyes in addition. Looks like an up close photo i have of Seattle Slew i used as my desktop picture for a year.

I wonder sometimes if maybe i refer to the past too often, but then we all are what we came from and that is the past. It is relevant to the present and the future. Simplistic i realize but true.

Thank you Steve.

09 Aug 2012 2:19 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Sorry the link just does not want to print.  I typed it out three times.  If you want to see Hansen and the blue tail walking out from Sat. go to YouTube and just type in Hansen West Virginia Derby and it comes right up under the title "Is Anybody Out There."

Karen in Texas,

Thanks for that info.

Poor Hansen, maybe his "early childhood" with mommie dearest hasn't helped but at least he has a doctor who loves him now.  I am remembering the article of how Hansen's mother nearly killed his sibling and was not much better with him.  I'd point him towards the King's Bishop and BC Dirt Mile, not the Travers and BC Classic after this WVA performance.

I can't see blaming Smith, he caught the red eye from CA just to ride him.  I don't think it's Mike at all.  Hansen's performances are baffling.  C'mon what happened to our 2 yr. old champ?  And who will ride him in Saratoga?

Glad Paynter is feeling better.

09 Aug 2012 6:33 PM
Householder

I was looking at some of my photographs of the 2009 Breeder's Cup at Santa Anita and it looks like I took a picture of one horse working between races.  Interesting... does anyone recall this?

09 Aug 2012 6:43 PM
JoyJackson21

What excited me about racing this year, more than any other year in recent memory, was the racing from the 3 year olds coming out of California in preparation for the 2012 Triple Crown.  

I'll Have Another blew me away his very first race.  His very first race!!  That chestnut colt was fabulous, he had the look of a champion, and I knew he could be a great one.  Creative Cause and Bodemeister came along and I saw their potential.  Rousing Sermon was trying to peak around the same time.  Liaison was showing promise, too.  IHA grew steadily, as did Creative Cause, as did Bodemeister.  The talent they were all displaying was just awesome to behold.

Then, in the Santa Anita Derby, came Paynter and Blueskiesnrainbows onto this talented yet crowded scene.  Four soul-stirring horses storming down the track together, all magnificent, I'll Have Another pulling off an incredibly impressive and breathtaking win.  At that time, I couldn't remember when I had been so excited about the finish of a race.  I'll Have Another blew me away again.  (IHA would soon prove to me the thrills he provides when racing weren't nearly over - LOL).  Creative Cause was impressive in defeat.  Blueskiesnrainbows knocked my socks off with his grittiness all the way to the wire.  And Paynter -- Paynter ran an eye-popping race in fourth.  I was impressed and wrote down his name in my Thoroughbred Journal, my own personal notes on horses to watch in the future.  I made a note of each performance and kept each horse in my "Sure Thing" file.  At the same time, in Arkansas, Bodemeister had become the talk of the racing industry in winning the Arkansas Derby.  The California horses were scary-good, had put the world on alert that they were the class of the 3 year old division in 2012 and the Triple Crown races were just ahead.  As far as I was concerned, a Cali horse would win the Triple Crown and that horse would be IHA.

As we all know, I'll Have Another put together a mind-blowingly impressive amount of beyond thrilling wins this year and is the best horse in the country, either retired or still in training.  Bodemeister is lightning in a bottle who unfortunately, just like Alydar did in his 3 year old season, kept meeting up with a rival that was more superior.  (Bodemeister is still a great horse, just as we all know Alydar was a great horse in his own right.  Losing to Affirmed didn't diminish his greatness in the least, in fact, probably enhanced it a little.) Creative Cause still shows great potential.  Blueskiesnrainbows is still peaking, looks fabulous, and will prove himself to be a mighty competitor as well.

But it is Paynter who has stepped up to the plate with courage when asked by to Bob Baffert and Mr. Zayat, and took up the Herculean feat to win the Belmont Stakes with little seasoning under his belt.  I had every confidence in Paynter's ability to win the race, after IHA had to be scratched and retired due to injury.  Paynter had grit and courage in him and he was a prime member of this group of great horses in 2012 from California.  He would try his hardest, I knew that.  And that's exactly what he did.  What a spectacular revelation Paynter was on the Belmont course that day.  Though he lost by a neck, to me he was a winner.  He did everything that was asked of him, and much more besides, and almost pulled it off in spectacular fashion, despite his handicaps in the race.  Paynter was a champion.

So it was no surprise when Paynter won the Haskell like a true professional.  Paynter has blossomed and matured before my eyes this year and I couldn't be prouder of him.  

I'll Have Another will always be Number One in my book, the thoughts of his races this year thrills me still - even in IHA's retirement - and it is my hope and my prayer I'll Have Another will win 3 Year Old Male of the Year, as well as Horse of the Year because he deserves it.  IHA was pure greatness this year and it was an honor to see that magnificent horse in action.  However, I have a little soft spot in my heart for Paynter, too.  He's fun to watch, just as I'll Have Another was.  You give Paynter a task and he goes out and tries his best to accomplish it.  My kind of horse.  He's consistent.  Now that I'll Have Another is retired and living happily in Japan, Paynter may be the next star on the horizon.  I'm so happy for him, and very proud of him.  And I don't even own him! - LOL.  Good luck to Paynter and Bodemeister the rest of the year.

And great good luck to my handsome champion, I'll Have Another, in his new happy life in Japan.  He's doing well and seems to be adjusting nicely there.  He's so easy-going, which is helping him in his adjustment period there.  The videos and pictures of IHA frolicking in his new home have been heartwarming.  They bring smiles to your face.  IHA's a consumate professional and champion, even while adjusting to retirement half way around the world.  He's a joyous marvel.  Much love to him always, and hope to see him in person next year.

12 Aug 2012 11:30 PM

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