Defending America

There was a column written recently about the “decline” of the American superstar and the “ascendancy” of the English superstar. According to the column, America’s “liberal use of drugs” is the culprit for the U.S. decline, while the exportation to England of young horses with Northern Dancer blood was said to be the contributing factor to the rise of the British superstar.

This is based on what, two recent superstars, Frankel and Sea the Stars? Yes, there have been several superstar fillies worldwide, such as Goldikova and Zarkova in France and Black Caviar in Australia. But they are no more superstars than Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra, and perhaps even Rags to Riches, whose career unfortunately was cut short.

How many people have heard of the following horses – Pour Moi, New Approach, Authorized, Sir Percy, Motivator, North Light, and Kris Kin? Well, other than Sea the Stars, Workforce, and Camelot, these are the past seven winners of the English Derby. So, where is this supposed inundation of English superstars? Among the last 11 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winners are Solemia, Dylan Thomas, Rail Link, Hurricane Run, Bago, Dalakhani, and Marienbard. Not exactly household names, and this is the race that is supposed the determine the European champion.

The question that needs to be asked is whether it is possible, just possible, that the reason there have been several superstars in England recently is that the overall quality of their horses has actually declined, thus enabling certain horses with extraordinary talent to stand out more than they normally would. We’re not saying that is the case, and we’re taking nothing away from the amazing talents of Frankel or Sea the Stars, but in Europe there are fewer barometers to help define a horse’s greatness. Final times mean little or nothing, nor do closing fractions and speed figures. There is no gauge in Europe other than a horse’s record, number of prestigious races won, and the competition he or she faced, which is  relative, considering the fewer number of group I stakes in England compared to the U.S., thus making it more difficult to assess one’s competition. Frankel did receive an all-time high Timeform Rating of 147 in the Queen Anne Stakes, but that is just what it says, a rating, and is purely subjective. And subjectivity shouldn’t determine superstars.

We have thrilled to Frankel’s victories as much as anyone, and we wrote an extensive column about him last fall. It is safe to say we will never see his like again. But does a rare freak like Frankel or Sea the Stars define the superstar status of an entire nation and denigrate the status of the American superstar?

It is well established that our recent superstar females easily stack up with the great fillies of Europe, Australia, and Japan. Unfortunately, many of our budding superstar males have fallen victim to injury. Who knows how special Smarty Jones could have been, or Afleet Alex, or even Animal Kingdom and I’ll Have Another. Who will doubt that Big Brown’s performances in the Florida Derby, Kentucky Derby, and Preakness were other worldly? He was one Breeders’ Cup Classic victory over Raven’s Pass away from true superstardom, but also fell victim to injury. Ghostzapper performed some of the most amazing feats in the history of the sport, despite his unsoundness. Perhaps it has been the effect of drugs long-term that has contributed to the unsoundness of our recent stars, but drugs certainly didn’t diminish their talent and what they did accomplish.

As far as the so-called decline of superstars after the glory days of the 1970s, America had the “misfortune” of having two superstars from the same crop in 1989. How often has that happened in England since Mill Reef and Brigadier Gerard in 1971? Just imagine if Easy Goer and Sunday Silence did not come along in the same year. Either one would have won the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and Easy Goer would have added the Whitney, Travers, Woodward, and Jockey Club Gold Cup.

We recall Giant’s Causeway and Sakhee being hailed as superstars in Europe, but both were out-gutted by Tiznow in the 2000 and 2001 BC Classic, respectively, when they tried to threaten America’s dominance on dirt. Finishing up the track in the 2001 Classic was superstar Galileo, sire of Frankel.

What if Alysheba hadn’t come along in one of the deepest and most talented 3-year-old crops in memory? As it is he still put together a Hall of Fame career worthy of superstar status. It is safe to say Personal Ensign and Lady’s Secret can be considered superstars. And we haven’t even mentioned John Henry, one of the greatest geldings of all time. Following the Kentucky Derby, Fusaichi Pegasus, one of the most magnificent-looking horses we have ever seen, was considered a potential superstar, but he, too, was plagued by unsoundness. The talent has been there, but the soundness hasn’t.

Let’s face it, the majority of our 3-year-old superstars, mainly our Triple Crown winners, came along in years where there were few if any major stars. Other than Alydar, how many major stars were there who competed against Triple Crown winners? Secretariat had one horse, Sham (Forego was an unfinished product in the Derby and nowhere near what he was to become); Seattle Slew had no one; Citation had one, his own stablemate Coaltown. Can anyone name any of the horses who finished behind Count Fleet, Whirlaway or Assault?

That has been the nature of the sport throughout history. A Triple Crown sweep and the birth of a 3-year-old superstar occur pretty much when there is one exceptional horse and little competition. All the “great” Triple Crown winners, with the exception of Count Fleet, proved their greatness after the Triple Crown. But horses were sounder back then and given the opportunity to continue their careers. Back in the Triple Crown-winning days, it was rare to have as many as 20 horses in the Derby. The fields were smaller and the number of proven stakes winners was far fewer. You had cheap claimers and inferior allowance horses competing in the Derby. Now, there are 19 or 20 horses in the Derby every year and each one of them has to qualify in graded stakes races in order to get in the race. You rarely had 12-14 horses in the Belmont, but that is the norm now, as is the increase in fresh horses, some of whom skipped the Preakness after the Derby, and some of whom simply were late-developers. All those factors make the Triple Crown much harder to sweep now than it was in the past.

We admit, we haven’t had a male counterpart to Frankel in many years, but let’s also remember that Frankel’s accomplishments can be equated to an American superstar who never competed at a mile and a quarter (the country’s classic distance), and we have had very few of those, if any.

It is important to remember that superstardom in England is often based on a single year of racing, as English Derby winners rarely race at 4. Only the Ballydoyle horses of Aidan O’Brien and the Juddmonte horses can be counted on year after year to race as older horses. So, in many cases, greatness in England is determined by perhaps a half-dozen races. Frankel is the rare exception with 14 races over a three-year-period. That’s still less than five races a year.

The bottom line is that we don’t feel it is fair to make such a broad statement regarding the ascent and decent of superstars, based on the heroics of two horses. And it is not fair to denigrate the talent of the American Thoroughbred when it is not given the opportunity to demonstrate that talent over the course of an entire career.

American blood has indeed been diluted with the inundation of speed, and perhaps we have been “breeding the bone” out of the Thoroughbred, all for the sake of the sales market and the instant gratification that is primary in so many owners. But we still have the ability to produce a superstar colt. One of these years we’ll get one that stays sound, and we, too, will be able to rejoice in the heroics of a horse like Frankel over a period of time.


Leave a Comment:


I think this is a silly article that invokes images of the inane "We're number 1" and "USA USA" chants.  Anyone not recognizing the descent of American racing into mediocrity is simply in denial.  Comparing second-tier horses like Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra and Rags to Riches to American superstars of the past, let alone to the international superstars we've seen come along in recent years, is ludicrous.  Inferior breeding, poor training methods, short-term profitability and drugs have finally taken their toll.  But hey, there are people who still believe the U.S. is "the greatest country in the world" despite reams of data on virtually every aspect of a nation's life that confirm it isn't.  American racing has simply gone along with downward trend.  

18 Oct 2012 2:25 PM

Carry on kidding yourself Haskin!!  America is not the centre of the horse racing universe and hasnt been for some time.  Fill your boots with your boots with your beliefs, trouble is noone outside America shares your views... perhaps you should have watched the interview David Redvers gave last week as to why the top owners in the world go to Tattersalls these days.. you would have cried.

18 Oct 2012 2:32 PM

Oh Steve, Steve, Steve, thank you thank you. Well said. It bothers me that Frankel, as wonderful as he is, hasn't been able to establish his greatness by way of times and coarse records. Time don't count across the pond. So, judgement must come from the caliber of competition the horse faces. Well, that's the big question mark for me and yes, I do love Frankel. However, why is his 13-0 better than Zenyatta's 19-0? And Black Caviar? Ah, he's a boy, is that it? I don't subscribe to the theory that a horse has to be undefeated to achieve true greatness. That's absolutely not the case, and I'm not biased against Euro horses. I know this is apples and oranges, but Red Rum and Desert Orchid are on top of my list of all time favorite horses. The two superstars were "bulletproof" and I loved them both. I'd like to believe Frankel is as great as he's slated to be, but I need to see more. 14 notches in his saddle and no evidence of strong competition just doesn't prove it to me. Zenyatta's come from behind style made her special and set her apart from the rest, it also costed her a final victory. My opinion, she is as good as Frankel, as well as many of our legends from yesteryear. Brits have commented that Frankel would've beaten Secretariat on Big Red's best day. That would've been the Belmont, and Frankel will never even run that far. He would have to do much more to prove himself the greatest horse of all time to me, but I'm a fan. I think he is awesome.

18 Oct 2012 2:40 PM
Ted from LA

The last paragraph speaks to the American problem.  Short term greed overrides doing the right thing.  We'll always have Tebow.  That's the second American problem.

18 Oct 2012 2:45 PM
steve from st louis

"One of these years, we'll (USA)get one that stays sound..." Why? How? Taking away 2-year-old's race-day medication will shorten their already limited  90-day shelf life during their initial campaign while promising 3-year-olds now see the starting gate four, five  times tops before they're asked to get 10 furlongs under 126 pounds on the first Saturday of May and then 9 1/2 furlongs 14 days later.

If I had a promising juvenile, I would race them in less-demanding races over turf, where the pace is more reasonable and the going is less jarring and keep my fingers and eyes crossed. Even that option, however, didn't save Big Brown from  early retirement because of his sire's trait of passing along foot problems.

18 Oct 2012 3:25 PM
Abigail Anderson


That article badly needed to be rebutted and I'm glad that you stepped up to do it!

As a serious thoroughbred researcher with a particular interest in Northern Dancer's European & British descendants, I certainly concur with your observation that many of these descendants (as well as the great non-Northern Dancers) were hardly household names anywhere, even in the UK where the vast majority raced. And we certainly have had our share of outstanding North American thoroughbreds since the "decade of champions" in the 1970's. The critique launched in said article was facile at best, since we all know (I think!) that while it is true that it was the people across the pond who gave Northern Dancer a chance at "bloodline immortality," one cannot criticize an entire industry over a period of 50+ years without acknowledging the complex interface of a number of important factors.

I would just add that anyone looking at Frankel's pedigree would see fairly quickly that without American & Canadian sire lines and families he would never have come into being at all.

18 Oct 2012 3:25 PM

Dear Mr. Haskin,

Wow.  Just wow.  Your impassioned, reasoned and scholarly defense of the American Thoroughbred should be required reading for all owners, trainers and fans of racing.   You take the racing press to school in less than 1,400 words.  Thank you!

18 Oct 2012 3:33 PM

I disgaree with the main tenets of what Beyer is trying to argue but Steve, like so many others, falls into the trap of repeatedly writing England and English.

I know we write our Group races as ENG-but i'd ask Steve and other turf writers to think for a minute and try to understand who much offence they are causing Scottish and Welsh racefans by constantly referring to ENGLAND ENGLAND, ENGLAND again and again and again.

18 Oct 2012 3:53 PM

I can hear the barrel being scraped... to imply that Frankel is great because he is racing against inferior horses, gee you can't stand the reality that American racehorses are the Lance Armstrongs of the racing world (except less successful)can you Mr Haskin... Is that the best you can do?. Then again, when you have to roll out the "God Bless the American thoroughbred" drivel you must be clutching at straws!!

18 Oct 2012 4:21 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


  To call Zenyatta second tier is absolutely insane, and to include Rags To Riches, and Rachel Alexandra in your second tier classification is also psychotic and proves that you know absolutely nothing about horse racing or reality. If you are able to, reread the article and you will find that it is balanced and admits some of our shortcomings. We all know that Frankel and a few others are great horses but that doesn't mean we have to degrade American greats beyond what is true to elevate the status of a few great ones in Europe. They are all great anyway. The courage it takes to compete at those levels let alone win at the top levels is phenominal. I don't even think there is a second tier, only the greatest and amazing creatures putting their life on the line every race.

18 Oct 2012 4:42 PM
Age of Reason

"Second-tier horses like Zenyatta [and] Rachel Alexandra", Saroman? Seriously? It was your own British racing press (well, besides a few chumps like John McCririck--talk about the decline of sport!) who thought Zenyatta was the greatest thing to happen in America since indoor plumbing. And speaking of words invoking things, doesn't your screen name invoke the evil white wizard from Lord of the Rings?

18 Oct 2012 4:47 PM

"One of these years we’ll get one that stays sound, and we, too, will be able to rejoice in the heroics of a horse like Frankel over a period of time."

Sorry Steve, but this made me chuckle.

Even if we had a 3yr old male who could stay sound, if they put together a decent 3yr old campaign there would still only be a 0.1% chance of ever seeing them run again at 4. Stallion managers would be calling night and day and waving dollar bills by the millions. The lure of the breeding shed is just too great here and there's little to NO incentive for owners to run their prized sperm banks another season. Insurance costs, risk of injury and that scariest of all outcomes....a loss, send them to the shed after one important stakes victory. How many of this years 3yr olds who were retired early could have come back after some rest and rehab?

The Easy Goers & Sunday Silences, the Silver Charms & Free Houses and Real Quiets of recent yesteryear are gone. I'm just glad I'm old enough to have been able to experience some great horses in my time who had owners not afraid to bring them back after 3. Would Alysheba's legend be what it is today had he retired off his 3 wins in 10 starts as a 3yr old? Would we even know or remember Personal Ensign had she not come back after having 5 screws inserted into a fractured pastern??

We may produce another outstanding racehorse (heck, I'll Have Another could have been that superstar...) but we'll never know it if no one is willing to give them a chance to prove it on the track. The race to the breeding shed just doesn't hold the same appeal....

18 Oct 2012 5:33 PM


Great article.

It is remarkable that anyone would even think there can be a decline in the quality of horses in one country. It is simply impossible. The horses racing today all trace back to the same bloodlines-Northern Dancer, Hail to Reason, Ribot, Raise a Native and Bold Ruler, mainly. If any bloodline begins to dominate, the breeders will simply switch to it.

For a horse to become a superstar that horse has to be superior to its contemporaries. However, such superiority does not make the horse a great racehorse. In this regard, I am still bemused by the fact that some people call Affirmed a great racehorse. He was not in my mind. He was just superior to the horses he raced against.

The main advantage Europeans have is that their racing is conducted largely on grass which seems to be a kinder surface to racehorses. In fact, some European courses are watered to ensure they do not become too firm. American horses have to endure running on hard grass courses, sealed dirt and sloppy dirt, while travelling around ovals with sharp turns. It is amazing they survive as long as they do.

There is one more comment I would like to make though. I believe that Galileo was the most underrated racehorse of our time. Anyone who watches his wins in the Epsom and Irish Derbies and is not struck by the performances must not pay too much attention to European racing. We might be witnessing the next great bloodline develop. His sons are making it as sires (in Europe).

Timeform was wrong about Galileo.

18 Oct 2012 5:34 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

People can say whatever they want about America or the faults of American racing but don't think you're going to come on here and degrade the horses. Zenyatta is the real Queen. Queen Zenyatta earned her title, it wasn't handed to her on a sliver platter. She was astonishing, doing what nobody has ever done before running from last to first 19 times in a row. She was a warrior and is a kind sole to boot. Not to mention, a great dancer. An athlete of her caliber is rare indeed, as is an athlete of Frankel's caliber.

18 Oct 2012 5:41 PM

Age of Reason- just wanted to say thanks for the comment on the other site.  It was appreciated.

18 Oct 2012 5:55 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Rags to Riches won the Kentucky Oaks then beat Curlin in the Belmont Stakes in one of the best and most grueling battles ever run. She gets overlooked because her career was cut short by injury. Their intention was to continue racing her. You probably remember Curlin, won the BC Classic and the Dubai World Cup. Rachel was amazing too, she just ran too many tough races too quick. On another note, I think Stay Thirsty had a big shot to win the Classic this year. It's too bad that Repole is going through with his promise he made last year to boycott the BC this year because they chose SA over Belmont Park.

18 Oct 2012 5:59 PM

I've read your blogs time and time again Mr. Haskin, but I've never commented on one.  But this year, I'm so saddened and disgusted by everything that has gone on.

We are looking at a three year old crop that has just been decimated by injury.  What looked so promising at the start of the year, some magnificent animals, and so so many of them retired already to stud.  I'll Have Another, Union Rags, Creative Cause... I know the list is much longer but without doing research, I'm just going to stop there.

All these wonderful careers cut short by... injury... unsoundness... and uh... what are we doing?  Sending them all to stand at stud where they can pass along all these potential issues to their progeny.  Should this be happening?  I personally think the answer should be a resounding NO WAY!  Why would you take your mare to these guys?  They have demonstrated great speed, great heart, and in the end, complete crap for legs.  I keep hoping one day thoroughbred owner's will wake up and realize that continuing to breed to horses that are retired for soundness issues only continues to promote unsoundness.

Yearlings are primped and polished, but on the ground, we have farriers jacking their legs around to get them looking straight for the sales and influencing bone development.  I'm not going to lie, I think the heavy emphasis on the yearling sales is really killing the breed.  People in it just for the profit, pinhookers, etc. who aren't focused on what may be best for the animal but just on making a quick buck?  Greed is destroying our horses.

18 Oct 2012 6:02 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


    So mind your P's and Q's when you don't know what you're talking about. That means be careful how many Pints and Quarts you drink at the Pub in case you didn't know.

18 Oct 2012 6:07 PM

New Approach, not New Approval won the Derby in 2008.  Like Frankel he is a son of Galileo and his first crop of two year olds are doing quite well this year.  His best runner is Dawn Approach who is 6 for 6 and is likely to be named a champion.

18 Oct 2012 6:14 PM


This is a provocative article and your fourth paragraph certainly shows that you are playing devil's advocate here. Although, I quote you, "Final times mean little or nothing, nor do closing fractions and speed figures. There is no gauge in Europe other than a horse’s record, number of prestigious races won, and the competition he or she faced, which is  relative...", one has to admit that the record of European invaders to North America, including a number of second stringers have been quite stellar (Cape Blanco and Red Rocks comes readily to mind).

It will be very interesting to see how Frankel's "beating stick" Excelebration, performs against the undoubted class of Wise Dan in this year's Breeder's Cup mile on the Santa Anita Turf. This could give us a more accurate guage comparitively on Frankel's quality (although not necessarily, if for some reason the horses do not run true to form).

It is time for the connections of American horses like Point of Entry, Wise Dan and Summer Front to go to Europe and shine. Lets see how this year's Breeder's Cup go first.  

18 Oct 2012 6:15 PM

Only Frankel and Sea The Stars????  

There aren´t SUPERSTARS???  Please…… Check this friends…..:

(Goldikova, Zarkava, Sea The Stars, Frankel, )

Dylan Thomas


Ouija Board

Rock of Gribraltar

Duke of Marmalade




Fame and Glory



Hurricane Run


Obviously this is an American website.

18 Oct 2012 6:20 PM

I'm American and know of all those horses that aren't considered household names.

18 Oct 2012 6:23 PM

Zenyatta was second to none. I'm talkin' across the board. She had it all. Her style was pure heart stopping excitement. Her personality is larger than life. To watch her dance and prance her way through the post parade was worth the price of admission. She is elegant, graceful and sound. She is a gentle good natured gift to her legions of fans. A champion who won against the best that dared to challenge her, and she set track records in the process. There isn't a Cartier horse who could cast a shadow over big Z. She embodies the concept of a perfect thoroughbred.

18 Oct 2012 7:25 PM

spinround- was going to mention that but thought others would before me.

18 Oct 2012 7:45 PM
Age of Reason

Footlick, on your first comment:

No prob, that's what friends are for. There's a reason why HRN is openly mocked by some as the anything-goes Amateur Hour of horse racing websites. The "journalist" we both took issue with is clearly playing puppet for the Old Guard mentality, and I haven't seen a single article yet from this person bearing any semblance of objectivity, instead leaving me with a clear impression that s/he has multiple axes to grind (you might remember a recent article supposedly refuting the notion of "East Coast Bias" which was laughed to scorn on Twitter even by that bastion of E.C.B., drf itself) . But of course, that's water under the bridge. Don't ever hesitate to speak up for what you feel is the truth! We fought a war over that (nod to my British comrades;)...

18 Oct 2012 7:52 PM

As far as Giant's Causeway andd Sakhee are concerned, they were running on what they must have considered a bullring and running on an unfamiliar surface.  They did exceedingly well and it was very sporting for their connections to run them.  Tiznow had all the advantages in both races and barely beat the turf horses.  Give the two Euros a little more credit.

18 Oct 2012 10:03 PM
Age of Reason

Ksweatman--I knew as soon as I saw the Euro comment(s) bashing Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra both in one breath that they'd stepped over the line. We Americans can (and have! Boy, have we!) debate and sling mud on RA-vs.-Z until the cows come home, and if a 'foreigner' had merely insulted one or the other it wouldn't have raised much of a ruckus; we're used to it, after all. But for someone to take the two icons of American racing thus far in the 21st century and smear them both in one sentence, well, that was too far.

Ranagulzion: I'm probably not alone in stating that, in many ways, I'm anticipating the Breeders Cup Mile as much if not more than any of the other BC races. Wise Dan may be the best thing we've had since Lure, Mr. Commons is a personal (albeit setimental) favorite of mine, and Obviously is just plain fun to watch. I think Excelebration will have his hands plenty full with those three, Little Mike and others in the Mile; didn't he beat Cityscape in the Jacques le Marois by a similar margin as Wise Dan did in the Woodbine Mile, by the way? If there's a way the Americans might be able to beat the Euros, it could be by just running them off their feet; heck, Presious Passion nearly pulled it off, and for similar pace reasons the Euro sprinters haven't won, placed, or showed in the Turf Sprint. I think a frenetic early pace in the Mile, which I would predict is likely, might well throw Excelebration off his game. Or am I over-analyzing things?

18 Oct 2012 10:04 PM
Paula Higgins

The comments made by the first two posters are absolute rubbish. I think if your British you know what "rubbish" means. My country first. America may or may not be in decline. The verdict is still out. HOWEVER, even in decline we would still be the greatest country on earth for the next 100 years. Take it to the bank. Ted from LA cut it out. There is LA and then there is the rest of the country. As for Zenyatta being second tier, Dr Drunkinbum and ksweatman said it very well. I have very little to add except this: I would rather have had the great and incomparable Zenyatta than Frankel. He is brilliant, but there have been other brilliant male horses here and in Europe. She is without peer among female horses in the last 100 years and that includes Black Caviar, et al.

Steve, you should have been a lawyer (I mean that in a positive way). I agree with everything you said. It was a very well reasoned and cogent argument. For my money, I will take an American trained horse every day of the week. My only complaint is that we breed too much for speed and not enough for stamina and soundness. As for most American horses being the equine "equivalent of Lance Armstrong," more rubbish. Most horses are not drugged in the manner that Armstrong was doping. Huge difference and a very poor analogy. People need to stop indicting the whole horse racing profession.

18 Oct 2012 10:33 PM
Mike Relva


"Second Tier", you would do cartwheels to own a horse anywhere as talented as Zenyatta. Thanks for the comic relief.

18 Oct 2012 10:37 PM
Mike Relva


Are you for real? lmao

18 Oct 2012 10:39 PM
Paula Higgins

OMG I just read Beyer's article! He just glories in making these grand pronouncements and expects everyone to take them as fact. My favorites were his comments about Zenyatta. He ended up eating those words. Andrew Beyer is a negative Nelly and I think he needs a mood elevating drug. He has been coasting on these Beyer Speed Figures for a very long time. Enough already. As for British horse racing experts thinking Frankel is the greatest horse of all time, what a shock. He is a great horse no doubt about it. But I think Dr. Fager, Secretariat and Seattle Slew, Man O' War etc. would have something to say about that. When Frankel runs the Belmont, or a classic distance for that matter, in record shattering time, let me know. Then they can make that claim.

18 Oct 2012 11:07 PM

I agree with what Steve Haskin is saying. For all his brilliance Frankel doesn't deserve a 147 Timeform rating. That puts him above the following: Sea Bird II, Brigadier Gerard, Abernant, Ribot, Mill Reef, Dancing Brave, Dubai Millenium, Sea the Stars, Shergar, Vaguely Noble,etc. The majority of the above horses accomplished a lot more then he did. His average number of starts a year are what? 4? He never raced outside of Great Britain. It took them nearly his whole career to race him beyond a mile. They're treating him like Zenyatta was treated. Like a pampered princess. For what?

It's possible they suffer from what have you done for me lately? Horses from yesteryear become faded memories. Their part in history become old news.

19 Oct 2012 12:08 AM
Lammtarra's Arc

Steve you are a wonderful writer, but this is your WORST piece.  First off the horses you mention in Europe are either Irish Bred, or French aside from Frankel.  What you said about Giants Causeway is laughable....the fact that he gave such a strong run over the dirt first time vs your SUPER Tiznow shows the versatility of that fine racer.  Again BAD example with Galileo going first time over dirt also.  You actually gonna compare Zenyatta to Zarkava?, or Goldikova?...those fillies beat horses that came from everywhere and did it to the highest level every time out.  Goldikova winning HOW MANY GR1's?? Vs open company.    3-4 in the breeders cup mile.  Zarkava toying with the Arc field going last to first...(Ya ya zenyatta did that too), but not vs the quality that Goldikova, or Zarkava did.  Not to mention Zarkava creaming Goldikova over a mile how many times while both were in their 3yr old year?.  Your a smart enough man to know that the tracks in Europe don't need times(even though they do keep record of splits) because they are extremely demanding courses.  People in America laugh at the straight mile races, but fail to see the demand that those courses ask of the horse.  The Rowley Mile at Newmarket?,,,go see a fly over, and you'll see the dips, and rises. MUCH more demanding then running a one turn, or even stupider a two turn mile. Would have been interesting to see  Tiznow at Newmarket , or Ascot and see how great America's horse was on TURF.

How about the fact that all the major racing countries focus on TURF then any other surface, or how about the fact that Meydan was built and ditched dirt for Tapeta, because they know who the draw is, and who isn't.  You all tooted your horns when Silver charm, Well Armed, Curlin all won the Dubai world cup vs horses who had no business on a dirt course to begin with....and since they changed to Tapeta...america is 0-3 in the World Cup.  How about also mentioning other tremendous horses like Dubai Millennium, Ouija Board, Conduit, High Chaparral....

I just cannot fathom how a mare like Zenyatta is highly touted by EVERYONE there and they fail to really see past their own ignorance.  Give me list of Multiple GR1 winners she beat who were actually 10f horses?.  In 2010 she got beat by a 9f dirt horse, in 2009 she beat Turf horses who never ran over the surface before, and it was her back about the fact she almost got beat by a Sprinter(switch), and a English Handicap horse(St.Trinians)?  What did she do besides DANCE, and look gorgeous?.  Who did she beat to be considered one of the greatest(Ya I am talking to YOU MIKE SMITH).  As for Rachel, She never won at 10f, she beat boys twice(a joke of a Woodward vs WHO?) and the Preakness over Mine that Bird.... then she lost to allowance horses like Zardana, and Persistently(Really PERSISTENTLY??)  You act like the winners of the ARC are Least Solemia has graded stakes wins, and GR1 placings.  Not to mention that Besides Orfevre, there was NO Snow Fairy, no Nathanial, no Cirrus Des Aigles, and NO DANEDREAM(which I would assume you would call a fluke also, but considering she has multiple GR1 wins she is hardly a fluke.  I love that NO american horse has won the BC Turf in x years but you all shrug it off as (OH well it's only Turf it won't help with Stud fees because they don't run on your dirt tracks) But when Giants Causeway, or Galileo lose first time out on Dirt you critisize them, or down play their legacies as racers.  Funny but Last time I checked Giant's Causeway, and Galileo babies are kicking the snot out of most stallions world wide.  Nice to know ol' Tiznow is an ok sire for dirt horses...only in the USA.  

19 Oct 2012 12:22 AM
Lammtarra's Arc


Your comment about Excelebration, and using him as a measuring stick is ridiculous.  He is going from straight, or one turn miles, to a tiny 3/4mile bullring.  Go run a true mile at Newmarket over the Rowley course and will see how great Wise Dan is...

19 Oct 2012 12:29 AM

Mr. Haskin,

I applaud you for having the courage to write this article, knowing just how scathing some of the replies would be. I can see the fireworks have begun, and I would like to address my first commemt to Ted in LA: Congratulations on submitting one of the dumbest replies ever. The blog is about American vs. English HORSES and all you can do is flaunt your liberal political ignorance. Amazing.

As to the merits of the Brit's arguments - of course they are going to be very proud of their champions and their achievememts and they should be. Sea The Stars and Frankel are both wonderful, exciting racehorses. And yes, horses racing in England aren't racing on medications which unfortunately can't be said of most of the horses racing in the United States. But, this country has had many incredibly talented runners over the years that I would argue are every bit as good or are better than any English or any European runners past or present. The misguided poster who claimed that Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra were second tier runners is as clueless as they come. It can be difficult to compare horses from different countries as training methods, jock's riding styles, racing surfaces and, of course, medications make for an apples/oranges type of argument. I wish that Frankel had come to the US to race, but that isn't going to happen. We don't often send our stars overseas to race either with the exception of sending them to Dubai.

Let the Brits glory in Frankel and his best horse in the world rating. It's no skin off our nose. We will always have our stars of the past and will have upcoming ones in the future to get excited about.

God bless the USA!

19 Oct 2012 12:51 AM
Steve Haskin

I was just going to let people voice their opinions regardless of how absurd they may. Zenyatta second-tier is no more than a juvenile, ignorant comment. I am only commenting to those who decided the read into the column what they wanted, as opposed to the actual content. If anyone reads this column regularly, they would know there is no bigger supporter of European racing than myself, and no one has followed it closer (for 45 years) than I have, going back to Sea-Bird and Ribot. And my previous columns on Frankel, starting last year, show the admiration I have for the horse. The intent of this column was to defend the American Thoroughbred following some comments from a fellow American that I found off base. I did not imply that “British” racing was inferior in any way, only that there is no basis to the statement that they are “now” producing more superstars than America. There are just as many superstars in Europe now than there has always been. If anything, less. I'm talking last 10 years. I only mention Frankel and Sea the Stars, because those are the only two British horses mentioned in the column. I also say that the crtiteria used to judge the merits of a horse are fewer in Europe, because of the lack of data, and the fact that Europeans retire their classic horses just as quickly as we do.

When I talk about the overall quality of European racing and Frankel’s competition, I mention it in question form only and go on to say that is likely is NOT the case. But it is still something one can ask, just as they can ask it of American superstars.

To the person who rattled off a long list of names on British “superstars,” the vast majority of them were very good horses, but not superstars in the sense of a Frankel or Sea the Stars.

I am just trying to say that we still produce a good number of very talented horses, several of whom were superstar worthy had it not been for injury. I did list the shortcomings of American racing as a possible reason for the unsoundness. But that does not apply to talent.

Because so many European horses come here to race, I think we know more about these horses than Europeans know about American horses. That is evident in some of the comments on here. And please do not throw up the “drug” references. European trainers cant wait to use Lasix when they come here. They don’t have to use it. But they choose to. Yes, they want to level the playing field, and that is fine, but they do have the opportunity to show everyone that the Euros can beat the Americans without Lasix if they want to.

19 Oct 2012 4:22 AM

Anyone who thinks Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra are rubbish racehorses is talking out of their proverbial.  I say that as a European and a racehorse purist.  I dont care where the brilliant racehorses come from just that we get to see them. When hugely talented horses are rubbished to prove a point about who has the best racing then its meaningless. I have never once downplayed the talent of one single USA star, check all my posts. Point One. How can one single poster here say America has the best horses in the world when they cant even get on the racecourse more than 5 times in a row let alone get on a plane and take on someething across the sea.  The horses of Europe travel all over the world racing in all jurisdictions win lose or draw. FACT. Point Two.  There are several posters here talking about Wise Dan taking on Excelebration.  Wise Dan may win, he may not but whatever the outcome what is the likelihood Wise Dan is going to get on a plane and prove himself elsewhere? What arrogance do you hold to believe that a horse has to come to the USA to prove his talent. You are stuck in a time warp and whilst you all carry on with the "let the Europeans come here and prove themselves" chestbeating, the rest of the racehorse world is turning on its axis and moving on and away.  This is fatal flaw you have with your system.  You believe American racing is still the barometer to gauge a horse.  Its not and that is the problem so many of the ignorant posters have on here. You dont have to worry about what I think but the Masters of the Universe who are buying, breeding, racing and setting down the future bloodlines do not think so either. They are buying horses to race on the world stage of which America is falling off into the orchestra pit.  Paula Harris says give me the American thoroughbred any day of the week, well Paula, you can have it because until the medication and the breakdowns stop, no-one else wants it.  As for berating Frankel, having re-read the article several times it comes across that Mr Haskin and American racing is jealous because he is not theirs.  Shame is Frankel is an absolute superstar and is everyones.  He defies the norm for a racehorse with his stride and speed.  I have yet to read an article in Europe that has pitted him up against Secretariat or other American superstars so am wondering if you lot are making it up to stir up some Yankee sentiments.  No one in their right minds who knows and loves the racehorse would ever seriously slam a champion from the past or present and yet I can see twenty odd envious little posters do exactly that right above.  Build a bridge and get over it.

19 Oct 2012 4:56 AM

Outstanding, Steve!

I don't know if it's comical or a sad state to see grown adults depreciate horses in order to elevate their own when the REAL STORY is to grasp at some form of superiority that they so desperately need to attach to themselves!  I don't know if it's "hoof envy" or some other type of "…..envy"!

I think it's worth noting the handling of Zenyatta and the patience shown in letting her develop, and, the progression of her race schedule.  We got to see her flourish and do it soundly.  Frankel is a thing of beauty!  He's running on softer ground.  He's not being thrust into the fray the way Rachel Alexandra was in her 3 year old season.  Thus, we get to see Frankel flourish and flourish soundly!  Conversely, Rachel, who was ABSOLUTELY brilliant, peaking, my guess, around the Mother Goose race or the Preakness, maybe the Haskell, began a slow decline and began to succumb to her harsh schedule.

Then, we've seen the brilliance of Arazi fresh off the turf in Europe to run 1st in the Breeders Cup Juvenile……but then…..8th in the KY Derby…..and 11th in the BC Mile.  As great as Arazi's debut was, it didn't match up to Uncle Mo's BC Juvenile performance!  Could our surfaces have had a little something to do with Arazi's decline???  

This is such an "apples to oranges" issue, I don't see how some of you can denigrate these beautiful, courageous, pour your heart out, creatures just because they don't reside on your side of the pond when the real issue is your need for a booster shot to your self esteem???

No one can argue with the success of Frankel and Sea the Stars.  Black Caviar is an unbeatable talent!  But guess what, she came up with an injury on the European soil, didn't she?  Perhaps we should give a horse like Cape Blanco a little more credit for running successfully on both sides without coming up lame.  How could we possibly compare with so many factors contributing to the success and / or failure of all these horses?  I thank you, Steve, for your objectivity!  It wasn't an, "Americans against the World!" article, just one written to question the assertion of the ABSOLUTENESS that the SCALES HAVE BEEN TIPPED, by AB!

HOORAY to the greatness we get to witness WHEREVER these horses may run!!!  May we see more great horses flourish and flourish soundly!

Perhaps we could've…….I'll Have Another……Union Rags……Ruffian…….Animal Kingdom…….Barbaro…..Smarty Jones…..Sham……Algorithms…….Eskendereya…… MacLean's Music……perhaps Darwin……perhaps Paynter or Executiveprivilege……

Let's be greatful for Zarkava, Goldikova, Workforce, Frankel, Citation, Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra, Personal Ensign, Harbinger, Nearco, Spectacular Bid, Dr. Fager, Ribot…a couple horses called Big Red...

Hey, let's be grateful for:

Sadlers Wells

Bold Ruler


Northern Dancer

Mr. Prospector


Urban Sea



19 Oct 2012 5:50 AM

I am surprised by your Rah Rah America #1 stance. You know very well we no longer breed for staying power and stamina. The American racing organizations retire horses after short racing careers with horses like Zenyatta being the exception. We had two superstars with Zenyatta and Rachel and Rachel barely started her 4 year old campaign before retired from her owners going to the well to many times. The poor filly was spent. There IS a decline in the quality of our thoroughbreds; just read the recent comments by Larry Bramladge, DVM about the frequency of injuries on the track. Americans sell their best stock to England and Japan or to the highest bidder. It is always about money, not sport in America. There are no more horses like Kelso, Discovery, Secretariat or Cigar.

Really, Steve, I think the problem is staring us in the face and the decline of the horses precedes the glaring problem of the decline of attendance at the tracks.

19 Oct 2012 9:42 AM
Carlotta Cooper

I think some Americans are more inclined to praise British horses these days because of the increase in media coverage of British racing. How many people followed British or European racing much 20-30 years ago if they weren't in the horse industry? The only people who recognized the names of English or Irish runners were hard core bettors and breeders back then. But now even casual fans have opinions about yearlings at Tattersalls.

It would be nice to have sounder horses in the U.S. but I don't think it's all due to medication. It's breeding choices.

19 Oct 2012 9:51 AM

Bigtex- as far as I know Boutin was thoroughly against the operation after Arazi's BCJ win to remove chips, saying that they weren't bothering him.  Then it took Arazi longer to recouperate than they expected.  Again, Boutin advised to not run in the Derby as he wouldn't be properly prepared.  Again, Boutin was vetoed, and the rest is history.  The grooms said Valenzuela moved way too early with Arazi.  He did run an amazing internal 3 furlongs to reach contention, but then flattened out.  He was never the same horse afterwards.  Cauthen rode Arazi in his one prep before the Derby and wanted to ride him in the Derby.

19 Oct 2012 10:17 AM

A few points:

1. Sea the Stars was not an "English" horse.  He was bred and trained in Ireland.

2. For those asking "what has Frankel actually beaten?" I will point out 20 individual Group 1 winners of 45 Group 1 races.

3. Just because you have not heard of a horse, does not mean the horse is not worth knowing about.  I make the radical suggestion of educating yourself in what goes on away from your own shores!

19 Oct 2012 10:22 AM

Racing Post covers American racing and informs the UK readers and other readers from Europe about American horses.  They are aware of our horses.  Wise Dan is equally weighted with Excellebration.  They feel that he can win the Mile, but don't really understand why he is not trying the Classic, where they feel he would be a more certain winner.

The problem that I have is, as another person posted, that we "demand" their horses to come over here and prove their ratings without reciprocating and sending our major horses there.  If we want Frankel to come here and run 10f on dirt, then we should send Wise Dan or Game On Dude there to run on turf.  It is just fair.  But that will never happen.

19 Oct 2012 10:36 AM
Blind Luck

I think we are bitterly dissappointed that Frankel is not coming to the Breeders Cup.  Thank you Steve for being a champion of the American racehorse.  PS: I love Zenyatta, Rachael & Rags to Riches.  There are many horses on both side of the pond that deserve to be considered exceptional!  Boo hoo that Frankel is not coming to try his luck in America!

19 Oct 2012 10:43 AM

Steve, where's the moderating? Lunar Spook's post should not have passed it. Not only is it off topic, but its content is limited to personal insult.

19 Oct 2012 10:51 AM

Big Tex:

Arazi ran the most devastating two-year-old race I've ever seen and geriatrics precludes my seeing its like again. It was like a B movie; one looked for Mickie Roonie hanging over the rail with a watch. The hero is left at the post and begins running as the field rounds the club house turn . . .

Calf knees.

19 Oct 2012 10:58 AM

But WHY does Frankel need to race in America?

If American champions regularly travelled to Europe to race I'd understand your point, but they don't!  Not one American champion has ever travelled to race in Europe.

19 Oct 2012 11:01 AM

Frankel's reputation derives mainly from the visuals -- he has won by a total of 80 lengths if memory serves (not be to taken for granted). He was also clearly not a miler, and everybody but his trainer could see it. Was there a person anywhere, except in his own yard, who doubted he would win laughing at 10 furlongs?

The last question was "Who did he beat?" and his punching bag Excelerbate answered that by rather handily seeing off a field full of international grade one winners.

A bold horse with a timid trainer.

19 Oct 2012 11:16 AM

A final point:

The World Thoroughbred Rankings (compiled by senior handicappers from across the world) rate only 3 US trained horses in the Top 10 (comprising 15 horses):

I'll Have Another - joint 4th

Bodemeister - joint 6th

Wise Dan - joint 10th

Does this mean that EVERYONE in the world is wrong about the superiority of US horses?  Could any one of those 3 beat Frankel?  If not, what is the point in sending Frankel to Breeders' Cup?  He is a turf bred horse and will stand at stud in Europe.  Juddmonte don't need to send him to the USA to confirm his place in history.

19 Oct 2012 11:21 AM
Steve Haskin

Caasandra Says, it has been deleted.

PNewmarket, do you want to know why Americans don’t go to Europe to race? Because the money is here. Do you think European horses come here strictly for the glory? If the Breeders' Cup were run in Europe, with $2 to $5 million purses, Americans would go there. Where can you run in Europe for that kind of money? Of course, there are some exceptions, like the Ballydoyle invasion every year, but for the most part it’s all about the money. The few Americans who have gone to Royal Ascot did pretty good, and they were just ordinary horses. America has sent only one horse to Europe for a Guineas race – the Irish 2,000 Guineas – and he won. And he (Fourstars Allstar) was just an OK horse.

19 Oct 2012 11:24 AM

PNkt-thanks for saying what you did in both posts

19 Oct 2012 11:25 AM
Steve Haskin

PNkt, who says Juddmonte has to send Frankel here to confirm his place in history? Americans, myself included, would have loved to see him race at Santa Anita because of who he was named after. It would have created tremendous interest in this year's Breeders' Cup. But it has nothing to do with his reputation. That has already been solidified. He is truly one of the greats. Whether he is better than mile and a half horses like Ribot, Sea-Bird, Nijinsky, Mill Reef etc who won major stakes in more than one country is open to debate. If there is one thing you CAN positively say about Frankel, which I did in the column, we will never see another horse like him again, who can win consistently by amazing margins.

19 Oct 2012 11:32 AM

It is not Juddmonte's job to promote Breeders' Cup or American racing.

My point is that it is not right for American racing fans, not all of them I grant you, to jump up and down saying "Frankel MUST come to the US to be considered a champ" when the same criteria about travelling is not applied to US horses.

Times DO mean little to nothing in Europe, that is because our racetracks are all different.  You can't compare a mile at Newmarket to a mile at Epsom or Longchamp, or anywhere else.

It is the obsession with speed, speed, speed that has seen the reputation of the American horse slide in the eyes of the rest of the racing world.

Perhaps we'll just have to agree to disagree.  I will be at Ascot tomorrow, and have been priviledged to see him race in the flesh 7 times already, and I am safe and secure in my opinion that he is the finest Thoroughbred I will ever see.

19 Oct 2012 11:46 AM
Mike Relva

Midnight Lute

What's "ridiculous" is your rather limited knowledge of racing is on display when bashing Zenyatta and RA. Can you name any other two horses in the past decade that's captured racings imagination? Amusing, when HOF trainers and the like declaring Zenyatta as one of the all time best.

19 Oct 2012 11:49 AM
Mike Relva


Another excellent read, I agree.

19 Oct 2012 11:50 AM
Steve Haskin

"It's not right for Americans to jump up and down and say Frankel MUST come to the US to be considered a champ"

Who is doing that?

19 Oct 2012 11:55 AM

I rather see Orfevre run! that thoroughbred is the best horse running today.

Frankel does win big because he has a long stride that is geared for long straightaways. Frankel cannot run long turns. that is why he is no show at Epsom and Longchamp.

19 Oct 2012 12:04 PM

I keep saying "one more thing" but still I keep coming back!

The problem is, what defines greatness?  

If it is the horse that wins over a mile and a half then are you saying that all sprinters/milers/long distance/jumps horses are no good and can't even be considered for honours?

If it is about times then are we saying that a horse that sets a track record in a claiming race is superior to horses that win Group/Graded races over the same course and distance?

If it's about winning distances then I guess Eclipse beats them all!

There are too many variables to consider.  It is not an "Us versus Them" debate, it should be about appreciating great horses where ever they are.

19 Oct 2012 12:09 PM
Arts and Letters

Both Europe and America (and Australia) have had “Superstars” lately.  I’d make the case that many – but not all -- of them aren’t at the same level as “Superstars” from the past – although Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra, Black Caviar, and Frankel  should be on anyone’s list of great horses – maybe not right at the top, but definitely on the list somewhere.

It’s not fair asking if any of them are “household names” – racing is not the major sport it used to be anywhere, although it seems to still be quite popular in Europe and Australia.  But they’re definitely household names if there’s a horse racing fan in the home!

It does seem apparent that more North American horses are injured early and never get the chance to fulfill their potential.  Of course there are injuries and fatalities in all countries, but the numbers do seem higher here.  Look at this year – how many horses that we were excited about early in the year are still around?  The Europeans and Australians seem to last longer, when given the chance.

“It is important to remember that superstardom in England is often based on a single year of racing, as English Derby winners rarely race at 4.”  Same here, for the most part.  How many recent Kentucky Derby winners have run at 4?  Yes, there is the occasional Zenyatta and Havre de Grace, but for the most part, many promising horses are still retired after their 3 year old career (if they haven’t already been injured).

This argument about superstars ties into the problem that so many racing “fans” seem to have – ie you can’t be a fan of a certain horse/country unless you denigrate everyone else.  It seems very reminiscent of those people who couldn’t appreciate both Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra but had to badmouth one or the other.

I’m lucky – I get to watch many of the big races from both Europe and North America.  Personally, I find the European ones more fun and exciting (and it’s more likely the horses I’m rooting for will stick around, at least for the whole year) – but I still enjoy the North American races and cheer for the US superstars whenever they come along.  But I no longer allow myself to get invested in any horse until after the Belmont.  There doesn’t seem much point, since we know that most of the good ones won’t still be around on Breeders Cup day.  But you’re right.  Maybe someday we’ll get a fluke who is sound, can last a couple of years, and will recall the great American horses of the past.  Until then, though,  I’m not holding my breath.

19 Oct 2012 12:38 PM

Steve- why don't we talk about the horses we have sent to the Arc, who weren't just ordinary horses.  Most of the American horses lately have been 2 yr olds, and even Wesley Ward has said all the major two year olds, the ones pointed toward the Classics weren't in those races.  Where are our participants in any PDF the Derbyshire there, the Arc,  the various top mile races? The arc has a substantial purse.  Any of their gr1 races could be targeted.  They aren't.  The Arc would be worth the trip for any of our top horses.  But with no meds and a difficult course, we are no shows.

As far as who is saying Frankel has to run here to show how great he is...... Just go to all the websites about horse racing and see how many are saying that

19 Oct 2012 12:50 PM
Arts and Letters

I have to laugh at the people who say Frankel isn’t special because he never won at a mile and a half like Secretariat did.  The mile and a half is once again the standard for superstardom in the US?  When did that happen?  Did I miss a memo?  

So, using that standard, that means wonderful animals like Zenyatta, Curlin, and Rachel no longer get to be called superstars?  I believe that would also rule out Sunday Silence, Alysheba, and every other horse that hasn’t won the Belmont or the Breeders Cup Marathon, or some mile and a half grade one on turf.  (how many of those are there, anyway?  A handful?)  If that’s the new standard, then I guess the original article was right, and there are no more US superstars. <insert hysterical laughter here>

We don’t ask our own champions to excel at a mile and a half anymore.  Why should we expect it of Frankel?  

19 Oct 2012 1:05 PM
Arts and Letters

PNKT – I believe Omaha ran in the Ascot Gold Cup and finished second by a nose.  But that’s going back a ways.  

19 Oct 2012 1:07 PM

OK.  I stayed out as long as I could

I think our core problem is that now that racing is truly international, we expect to see all the good horses that we read about running where we can actually see them.  It's a disappointment when a really good one "gets away" like Frankel.  I too would have loved for his connections to have taken him out of his comfort zone .. But they won't and that gives me pause when we talk "great",  I thought the same thing about Zenyatta -- I was disappointed until the very last race and then I saw that maybe she was what everyone was saying but that didn't change the way they wrapped her in wool when they cherry picked her races.

Steve, you have to admit that for the regular American horseplayer, there is a lack of knowledge about any horse outside your country.  It's changing, but when you read some posts on here and you're not an American, it turns you off.  Why can't some admit that horse racing goes in cycles and right now, the best are NOT in the U.S.?  Doesn't mean it won't change again.

(And yes, the jingoism of some of the Euros is equally off putting --  without Northern Dancer, where would Frankel be?  And without Nearco, where would the Dancer be?  See-- cycles)

Final Comment :  don't no one go dissing my man Ted.  I agree 100% with his comments and I really, really hope that all the "ladies" in the binders rise up and vote with their soup ladles and ovens.  Up the revolution!

19 Oct 2012 1:23 PM

PNkt and Footlick are the posters who are the voice of reason on this thread.  Silly me Ive forgotten the American Royal Ascot winners, can you refresh the memory Steve, it would of course provide fodder for all the die hards to champion the shy and reserving american racehorse abroad but very happy to acknowledge these horses.  Chuckys post made me laugh. Chucky clearly has no idea of the talent of Frankel or that that talent was very well known around Newmarket many many moons before he ever stepped foot on a racecourse... time and again the posts on here come back to jealousy that Frankel is not a US dirt horse. Is it really that unbearable?

19 Oct 2012 1:24 PM
Age of Reason


Since you removed Lunar Spook's post, I ask that you delete Ted from LA's as well. It was baseless and classless, derogatory and offensive to refer to former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin and the entire Tea Party as (in "Ted's" own words) "signs of American decline". Lunar Spook was simply rebutting that smear, but since Lunar Spook's post was deleted I ask that Ted from LA's comment be removed also, to preserve a semblance of fairness.

19 Oct 2012 1:28 PM
Arts and Letters

I would also make the case that beating X number of grade/group 1 winners actually means more in Europe.  According to a quick count on Wikipedia, there are only 32 group 1 races in Great Britain versus  111 US grade 1 races.  Presumably, that forces the best British horses to run against each other more often and helps to ensure that the winner is a higher level horse.  Whereas, the Americans can spread out and avoid each other if they wish, making it easier for mediocre horses to become grade 1 winners.  

So, statistically speaking, beating 20 group 1 winners is probably a greater achievement than beating 20 grade 1’s.

19 Oct 2012 1:35 PM

My iPad inserted quite an interesting phrase in my post- lol.  It should have read any of their Derbies if that is actually the correct plural.  Even the French Derby which is a more manageable 10f, I believe

19 Oct 2012 1:45 PM

Arts and Letters:  Tom Rolfe went to the Arc (in65?) and did pretty well considering he ran the "wrong" way and up and down.  But he was owned by Mellon -- as close to a Euro patrician as any Amer could be?

19 Oct 2012 1:45 PM

Arts and Letters - The mile and a half has always been the standard in europe and if you look at all the comparisons being made with Frankel, it is always to the greats (Ribot, Seathestars, Dancing Brave, Mill Reef, Brigadier Gerard) who have won prestigious races at 12 furlongs.

You never see Frankel compared to great milers like Miesque or Goldikova when he was winning all them mile races.

Truth is this horse long reaching stride are design for long straightaways and soft to firm ground. Doubtful he can win on tracks with long turns and deep tracks.

19 Oct 2012 1:48 PM

The negative Zenyatta comments are ridiculous. Zenyatta might have been pampered like Frankel but she did put it on the line at TWO BREEDERS CUP CLASSICS!!.. what watershed or championship race did Frankel ever run? He skipped, the 12F Derby, and as an older horse he skipped the 2 most prestigious 12F race in europe, the King George VI and Arc de Trioumphe.

19 Oct 2012 1:52 PM

There are great horses worldwide. I watched a video of a spanish horse dancing around a bull who was trying to gore him. He was the most graceful creature I'd ever seen, it was an amazing, unbelievable sight to behold. No, I don't support horses's taking on bulls. I'm making a point. Horses are wonderful creatures, God's gift to us. Hunt horses, dressage, horses, flat racers, ALL of them are special and deserve respect. HOWEVER, the comment about Zenyatta "almost losing" to this one and that one will not go unanswered. THAT was the beauty of how she ran. THAT was the element of excitement. THAT was Zenyatta's gift to her fans. The heart stopping thrill of nipping her rivals at the finish line was her plan. THAT was Zenyatta.

19 Oct 2012 2:04 PM
Arts and Letters

“What defines greatness?”  I’d say it’s some combination of the following:

- a horse that is unbeaten or close to unbeaten OR

- may not win every race but has longevity and durability

- has a story, something the public can grab onto

- has charisma

- does something unexpected or something that has never/rarely been done

- overcomes adversity

- carries weight (probably a thing of the past)

- wins over a variety of distances and/or surfaces OR excels at a certain distance/surface

IMHO, age, sex, nationality, appearance, and distance don’t matter when it comes to greatness.

If we believe a horse can’t be great unless it wins at the classic distance (which varies depending on country) then why have we spent the last several decades breeding for speed?

19 Oct 2012 2:16 PM
lunar spook




NUFF SAID!!!!!!!!

19 Oct 2012 2:22 PM

In all the back-and–forth it is nice to see that the connections of Frankel have kept their feet on the ground and will run him only if the going is suitable.

"What I have always said is that as long as we are happy the ground is safe for Frankel that will be our call. We are going to walk it and the intention is to run if we can." So said  Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager, today.

By the way, has anyone ever thought that a horse that cannot dominate his opponents at a mile could be belittled as a slug that needs 12 furlongs to excel? Just being the devil.

19 Oct 2012 2:28 PM
jean thomas

i'm not sure but didn,t spectacular bid fail at a mile and one half twice in his career and did it take anything from his brillance  

19 Oct 2012 2:37 PM

Did anybody mention Round Table? He's number 1 of all time in my book. I'm totally convinced Round Table would have taken all the aforementioned horses to school!....Anywhere in the world,anyplace,any time,under equal weights,irregardless of field size or track condition.....dirt,turf or distance. Good article covered every angle!

19 Oct 2012 2:38 PM

Midnight Lute,

Did you see Wise Dan in the Fourstardave on soft turf at Saratoga or in the Woodbine Mile over that long home stretch? if not vist youtube.  Wise Dan is a monster my friend. Given that he's a gelding I hope that the connections send him to Royal Ascot and Dubai next year to strut his stuff. Its a pity that you're already apologising for Excelebration, not knowing if he'll take to the Santa Anita course.

19 Oct 2012 2:46 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

If I was a billionaire like Mike Repole I would have paid big bucks to try to coax them to bring Frankel over for the Breeder's Cup. I wonder if Frankel will run another race or just retire of he is scratched tomorrow, and if he runs another race where would it be? Is SA totally out if he scratches tomorrow? Regardless, I think we should settle this argument on the track. Whichever country wins the most races at the BC this year wins the argument as having the most superstars. Case settled. Finito. End of story. Speaking of the BC, I don't think Game On Dude is unbeatable at 10f, in fact he won't even be on my Pk3, Pk4 etc tickets. Most likely single is Groupie Doll but I do think that is the race It's Tricky might have a shot in so I would include her if she goes in the sprint. Good luck Frankel.

19 Oct 2012 4:12 PM

Great post Steve.

Of course we're going to get the usual bandwagon jumpers who like to spew their condescending garbage because they think it makes them more knowledgeable than the rest of us.  Probably if these knowledgeable types lived in Europe, they would praise the American horses and trash the Euros.  It mazes me how they always seem to come out of the woodwork when they have an opportunity to trash and be disrespectful, and yet we never see or hear from them when it comes to pure horse racing knowledge.

19 Oct 2012 4:14 PM

Arts and Letters

You’re correct when stating that Omaha ran second by a nose in the Gold Cup.  In fact, he ran four races as a four year-old between May 9 and July 2, 1936, all in England and all in stakes.  He won the first two then finished 2nd by a nose in the Ascot Gold Cup to Quashed, and 2nd by a neck to Tak Ajbar.  These races ranged in distances from 12F to 16.5F and were his first and only runs on turf, which ranged from soft to good to firm, an indication that Omaha would have been a top world class thoroughbred if he ran exclusively in Europe and on turf.

One big regret I have about American horses not running in Europe is Round Table never getting the chance to show just how good he really was on turf on the so-called world stage.  I think he was definitely top ten turf horse anywhere all-time.

19 Oct 2012 4:26 PM
Steve Haskin

Age of Reason, Ted From LA's comment has been deleted.

19 Oct 2012 4:34 PM

I remember an article that was about Tom Rolfe's Arc run.  The French considered his run excellent and brave, but they also considered his best distance 10f.  I believe he actually had the lead or was fighting for it at the 10f mark.  They appreciated the effort in what they knew was a difficult task for him.

19 Oct 2012 4:40 PM
Steve Haskin

Footlick, Tom Rolfe was taken way too wide by Bill Shoemaker, who didnt know the course and got hung out to dry. He actually did run  well, especially considering he was in against the great Sea-Bird. Runner-up Reliance was a top-class French colt and the third horse, Diatome, came right back and won the Washington D.C. International.

19 Oct 2012 4:47 PM

Ranagulzion- you know he was just stating a fact.  Nobody knows until they get here how they will adapt.  Not all the Euros do.  It is not an excuse, just a fact of shipping across an ocean to a much warmer climate and a much smaller, tighter couse than they have ever experienced.

19 Oct 2012 4:52 PM

Steve- that is what I was trying to say.  Maybe I didn't phrase it well enough.  The French were impressed with his performance and praised it.

As far as Shoe's ride, that is just part of the game.  Cordero gave a brilliant ride on Tryptich in one of her Arc runs.  He said, and I am paraphrasing from memory so maybe I am mistaken, " they told me she was over the top, and she tried to quit on me in the stretch but I wasn't going to let her.  She responded.

19 Oct 2012 4:56 PM

Laz- Sending Round Table would have been great.  I fell he would have been very competitive also.

19 Oct 2012 5:00 PM

I just want to say that when I championed Ted, it was not for any Sarah Palin post, which I never did see.

And I really liked Tom Rolfe and thought his lack of track experience got him more than the distance .  Of course the ride didn't help

On the other side of Amer riders in Europe, didn't Baeza get the congrats for Roberto over the Brigadier?

19 Oct 2012 5:16 PM

It is funny I read Beyer's column a few days ago and I was planning to leave a comment there and then I saw this. Basically I agree with a good bit (but not all of course) of what Steve is saying.

1. I will never consider Frankel one of the greatest of all time with his current record and it isn't because he didn't come to America, it is because the owners have just been too conservative with him. Check the news, they may even scratch him tomorrow if they find the ground is "unsafe" AKA really heavy which he has never run on. It's too bad too, because I think Frankel could potentially be the greatest of all time--but he would need to ship and win some international races or somehow face adversity (like more distance)to seal the deal. I mean look at Black Caviar--that took a lot of guts to go to England, and even though she only won by a nose, that shows me that something special that makes a champion. Never seen that from Frankel (but I wish I had). How many miles did Cigar and Bayakoa travel around the country? Or look at Goldikova, certainly not as great as Frankel in some ways, but they at least took a very challenging schedule with her.

2. I actually do think Beyer has something of a point lurking in his piece, but I also think he completely overstates it. I do think that there has been a decline in the "warrior" horses in the U.S, and reliance on drugs and breeding more for speed may be at least somewhat to blame. But I agree with Steve that we have definitely had some superstars here, and I think Beyer's overall argument just doesn't ring very true (at least to me).

Anyways, keep up all the great work Steve--I always enjoy your columns!

19 Oct 2012 5:30 PM
Mike Relva

Laz, Ranagulzion

Great to have you two commenting here. Nice work.

19 Oct 2012 5:37 PM

mz- It was a brilliant ride by Baeza.

19 Oct 2012 5:55 PM
Lammtarra's Arc

Steve Haskin-  Yes there is plenty of purse money in Europe.  You just have to know the races to understand that.

Arc- $5.2 million USD

Champion Stakes - $2.1 million USD

Irish Champion Stakes - $975,000 USD

Juddmonte International - $ 1.2 million USD

Prince Of Wales Stakes - $ 640,000 USD

Prix Jacques le Marois - $780,000 USD

Prix de la Foret - $ 400,000 USD

Prix Vermeille - $ 455,000 USD

Haydock Sprint Cup - $ 400,000

Prix de l'Opéra - $ 520,000 USD

etc etc etc...

Steve do you think those whopping purses attached to G3, or G2 races take away from the bigger G1 races because the purses are so big, and top horses like My Miss Aurelia Vs Questing, and Alpha vs Golden Ticket run at Parx instead of the bigger races at Belmont? Big purses are great, but the field also have to reflect the Quality. Watching Rachel beat the DANGEROUS Macho again in the woodward and listening to how people talked her up after...she beat MACHO AGAIN. Or again Zenyatta...beating St.Trinians(a Handicap Horse) in a GR1...those are the fields that made them the super mares they are today.  American GR1 fields are terrible, and just watching the west coast GR1's proves my point. ( SORRY RELVA but all your west coast bias, and bitching at me won't change that fact).

19 Oct 2012 6:30 PM
Bob from Boston


It's nice to see your post counts up.  You deserve it with your well writen articles.  Ted from LA is a very close friend of mine.  He is sorry if he offended anyone by expressing his opinion.  The last thing he wanted to do was make cyber enemies.  XOXO mz.  Let he (or she) who is without sin cast the first stone).

19 Oct 2012 7:18 PM


 Concerning Frankel, I would not say that "we will never see another horse like him again". You never know whats coming in the future.

19 Oct 2012 7:51 PM
Mike Relva

Midnight Lute

It's not bitching. Just a fact you know next to nothing and if you ENCOUNTER trainers and writers that's been in the business longer than you can count, you would get laughed out of the room. Sinple as that.

19 Oct 2012 8:27 PM

Tom Rolfe (Champion), owned by Raymond Guest (not P. Melon) ran in the Arc. It's a  bit fuzzy now, but I think Carry Back (Champion) also ran in the Arc. But, what I really wish to bring out is the fact that the vast majority of America's true champions-its real talents-were dirt horses, and that includes a Tom Rolfe and Carry Back. America then, and for the most part now, breeds for the dirt. Britain, France, etc. offer no high profile dirt races, so it's purely sporting gestures when our very few venture over there. Yes, Dubai offered that rare exception, but now they have switched to synthetic. So, it has always been difficult/impossible to compare our superstars to their's. As I recall there was only one occasion in modern times where a true US superstar planned to venture overseas to run on their turf-after first proving his turf merit here (unlike Tom Rolfe and C. Back). But, Buckpasser failed to demonstate an affinity for the turf in the Bowling Green, so the trip/plan was aborted. Imagine had he passed the test-doubt then that anything in Europe could have stopped him...Now is another matter, but from say at least 1950-1980, Europe had Ribot, Sea Bird, Mill Reef, B. Gerard, Nijinsky II and, perhaps a few others, while we had vast multiples of that number of true elites-albeit dirt elites. Since that time there has been a raid on our prized bloodstock, and this combined with the demise of many of our top breeding/racing farms has contributed to the decline of America's lofty position.    

19 Oct 2012 8:50 PM
Steve Haskin

Bob from Boston, this isnt the venue to spew out one's political views, especially doing it in an obnoxious manner.

19 Oct 2012 9:25 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

I betcha Britain doesn't have any benched cricket players still owed 114 million U.S. dollars. I don't know how many quid that is.

19 Oct 2012 9:38 PM

Buckpasser was wearing the European style of shoe, which was flat, in his turf race because they needed to see if he could have handled the turf with those shoes.  Poker and Assagai were wearing the stickers or turn-downs, which gave them more traction.  Baeza said Buckpasser was slipping the whole way.  I think he did well to finish as close as he did.  Would have won if he were wearing the traditional American turf shoe.  But then they would not have known if he could have handled the Euro shoe.  So, I think he didn't show affinity for that type of shoe, not necessarily not showing affinity for the turf.  He was not far behind the turf champion Assagai and if I remember correctly he was giving away weight too.

Carry Back did run in the Arc, as well as The Fisherman(?), although just going on memory as I am too lazy tonight to look it up.

As far as breeding for dirt, you have to also say that Europe breeds for turf.  So any of their horses who come here and perform well on the dirt should be applauded.  Giant's Causeway, it should be noted was bred for the dirt.  And Sahkee's bottom line had dirt breeding.  I know sceptre could say more about this as someone very knowledgeable about breeding, but didn't the Europeans buy our horses from our yearling sales and make successful turf horses our of them?

19 Oct 2012 9:47 PM
Arts and Letters

I seem to recall that Lure was going to run in England (can't remember which race) but there was a problem with quarantine and he ended up not going.  Too bad!

Oh, and Lonesome Glory won a jumping race over there.  Anyone remember which one?

But the numbers are pretty small, especially compared to all the Europeans coming over here for the Breeders Cup and the big turf races.  I for one would LOVE to see more North Americans heading abroad.

As an aside, I will always believe So You Think was a better horse than he showed in Europe and the US.

19 Oct 2012 10:11 PM

Wasn't Lure vaccinated for EPM, and was not allowed to run in England because he tested positive for it because of the vaccine?

19 Oct 2012 10:53 PM

Arts and Letters- the Aussies feel the same way.

19 Oct 2012 10:53 PM
Paula Higgins

Dooquila, the name is Higgins, not Harris. My comments were directed at Saroman re: Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra. My comments about U.S. racing were directed at you. I have a very high regard for Frankel, Sea The Stars, Goldikova, Zarakava, and especially that other great girl from Australia, Black Caviar (bringing her over to England from Australia was incredibly gutsy and she pulled it off). But if given the chance to own any one of the above, I can say without reservation it would be Zenyatta.  I believe she is the greatest female horse of the past 100 years and that includes the great Ruffian, who is a very close second. I also prefer dirt and synthetics to grass, and around 2 turns. I think it is a better measure of a horse. That's one reason I like U.S. racing better. Do I think Frankel could do that? Yes, in a heartbeat. How he would do against other great U.S. dirt horses in the history of racing is a question with no answer. They are gone, and he races on grass.  I agree with those that believe you should value each horse for what they have accomplished. These are all great horses. Not one of them is "second tier." Ted/Bob, no offense taken:).

19 Oct 2012 11:13 PM

Sceptre I loved your post.  Another point is that so many European champions and turf stars were bred in America to begin with including Dancing Brave and Mill Reef, both top ten Time Form rated all-time, and the triple winner Nijinsky, who was born in Oshawa, Ontario.  The point about America breeding primary for dirt is a crucial point, IMO.  If we bred strictly for turf I believe we would be more than competitive on the world turf stage.  

20 Oct 2012 12:37 AM

There was a 2 hour radio show on Radio 5 Live on Thursday which attempted to try and rank Frankel amongst the greats. Of course there was no conclusive agreement but good old Brough Scott-who was popular with American fans in the 80s and 90s-threw in Secretariat as his Number 1.

We could argue for ever and a day about Frankel's merits his pros and cons but I want the American posters on here to try to understand why Frankel is so special to people here and also understand that i'm afraid there's no comparison, in public recognition, between him and Rachel or Z or any of the Triple Crown hopefuls of the last decade.

Can you imagine if Wayne Lukas had this horse? Henry and Wayne went into career tailspins around the same time and 2006 found Henry not only losing money but undertgoing his first battle with cancer. The 2007 Oaks Victory revived everyting, followed by Midday and Twice Over. Now he's fighting a second battle and it was simply dreadful watching the news last night with him barely able to speak when asked about Frankel for 15 seconds of the piece.

There is another major part to the Frankel story and he has really has shone a light on how much British racing has changed over the last 5,10,15 years.

I can remember going to Ascot just over 10 years and bemoaning the fact that British racing was so fan unfriendly compared to American. Entrance fees are a separate issue-eg.. Members entrance today is the same price as Club House at Saratoga for the whole meet-but British racecourse Executives have gone to the Breeders' Cups etc over the years and melded the best of British with what they've seen fans enjoying at American tracks.

Frankel comes along just at the point when QIPCO Champion Series is created-the one thing that QIPCO and Ascot needed was an emerging superstar to put the event on the map straight away.

They got that superstar. The marketing for this race. For this horse. The public perception of Frankel outweighs anything for any horse in the US. I've seen the last 4 Triple Crown attempts, I saw Zenyatta at 2 Breeders' Cup-Rachel winning and losing at Saratoga.

Only Rachel winning the Woodward comes even close to the atmosphere building up for Frankel. But what did American racing actually achieve with Rachel's win. Well the fans witnessed a disgraceful piece of butchery by Calvin that probably ruined the rest of her career and the crowds in the picnic area still leave the track way before the main races are run-in a manner and speed that it sometimes looks like there's a bomb-scare at the track.

And what do American Racings PR gurus do to try and get fans to the track-search for an American Frankel?. Oh Bejesus.. Let's have a Fake mid-Summer St Patricks Day at Saratoga... Never mind the fact that the Olympic Games had just started in London

and they could have had a British day-and even better a Brazilian one in 4 years time....

I'm afraid that American fans are deluded when it comes to how popular you believe your modern day major horses are. Frankel is the most popular flat horse ever here-there's no doubt about that because all our horses that the General publics knowledge years after theyve run have been jumps horses-with the exception of Shergar who is remembered now for his kidnapping rathe than his racing career.

I challenge any of you to board an Amtrak train and cross the crountry. It's a good way of talking to people. You can move about.. People get on and off. Most people will have a low opinion of racing, the others (as has happened to me)..will say yes I bet on Funny soamething..oh God what was the name....

20 Oct 2012 4:37 AM
Steve Haskin

dalcross, although I disagree with some of what you say, especially regarding Zenyatta, that was a very good post. Bottom line, let's hope Frankel gets decent enough ground and puts on one final show.

20 Oct 2012 5:22 AM

Lazmanick the European and Arabs who brought up the Northern Dancer and other sires from American auctions, developed these bloodlines by using slower sound stock.  America went the other way and focused on injecting more speed into the pedigrees.  All horses at auction were available to everyone and not all the so called "cherry picked" sales toppers went on to achieve any great success on either dirt or turf or otherwise. Now after a couple of decades the effects are apparent and one way has flourished the other has not.  American and Canadian buyers were at Tattersalls in numbers not previously seen before this year and there is a reason for that.  Interestingly, some of the most in demand yearlings were by Manduro and Monsun, this suggests breeders are looking to solidify further future bloodstock. The worldwide superstars of today have exactly the same historical grand sires as the US dirt horse that cant manage two campaigns and result in the resentment and questionning of a horse like Frankels ability in the article above. Even the golden oldies that you namecheck like Nijinsky, Mill Reef etc share these amazing bloodlines and yet look at the difference in results.  I also agree very much with Arts and Letters re So You Think.  An absolute monster who in a parrallel universe would have won more than he did on Turf/Tapeta and Dirt.

20 Oct 2012 5:27 AM

For those who are bashing "North American breeding" I would like to remind you that most of those English superstars are loaded with that undesirable North American blood....have you looked at their pedigrees?  For example, superstar Frankel traces back to the GREAT Native Dancer 5 times!!!  

20 Oct 2012 9:43 AM

When the rhetoric does not always match the facts.

I looked in the Bloodhorse Stallion Register to see which stallions are at the top of the list in terms of fees.

From 100k-150k, the sires are:

Bernardini, Dynaformer, Street Cry, Tapit, Distorted Humor and Medaglia d’Oro.

From 75k-85k, the sires are:

Giant’s Causeway, Smart Strike, Tiznow, Unbridleds’s Song and War Front.

Dynaformer and Street Cry sired winners of the 2-mile Melbourne Cup.  Distorted Humor sired a Belmont winner. Smart Strike sired English Channel.

Who is the dominant sire-of–sires in America?. It is AP Indy who won the Belmont Stakes.

Where is this preference for speed over stamina?

European racing should not be compared to American racing because America’s best horses run on dirt in the main.

What kind of horses would they have been if the following horses raced predominantly on grass?

Alydar, Lemon Drop Kid, Unbridled, Seattle Slew, Empire maker, Ghostzapper, Creative Cause, Bodemeister, etc. No one knows.

American horses are trained for speed because the tracks are oval-shaped and the races are short. This does not mean they lack stamina. In Europe, horses are trained to tolerate rating.

20 Oct 2012 10:39 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

He did it !!!!  Beautiful !!!  Frankel, one of the greatest ever, over any turf surface.

20 Oct 2012 11:20 AM
Lammtarra's Arc

Oh and all you Frankel haters, did anyone of you see him make mince meat outta that Champions stakes field?. You all gonna tell me that field was weak too?.  Frankel one of the greatest champions on turf 14-14 and off to the shed!

20 Oct 2012 11:45 AM
Lammtarra's Arc

The BC mile is Set.  

Excelebration vs Wise Dan.

Oh and in case some of you missed it.  Excelebration ran a solid race to win the QEII.

20 Oct 2012 11:48 AM


What do the following horses have in common?

Quality Road

Union Rags

Uncle Mo

They were all clasified as being monsters by you. Wise Dan can therefore be eliminated from the top spot in the BC Mile. I wonder if Point Of Entry is also a monster?

20 Oct 2012 12:25 PM

Wow, Steve, you certainly stirred things up with this post. Well done! My concern with the American-bred Thoroughbreds is the overwhelming number of soundness issues that have cut short so many promising careers. I don't recall that being an issue in the 50's, 60's, and 70's. I agree with the individuals who commented on the fact that breeders here don't seem to be focusing on soundness and stamina, which, I believe, has been very detrimental to the breed.

Regardless, there are great horses everywhere, and it's difficult to compare horses that are trained to run so differently on different types of tracks and surfaces.

I can't disagree more with the posters who belittled Tiznow's win in the 2001 Breeder's Cup Classic. That was a sensational race and a brilliant, gutsy win. And, in my opinion, Secretariat is incomparable. But if there is any criticism to be offered regarding our American Thoroughbreds, it isn't due to lack of talent but rather because of the unwise breeding practices that have become so prevalent.

20 Oct 2012 12:45 PM
Age of Reason

Midnight Lute,

No one "hates" Frankel. That kind of empty rhetoric, where you accuse someone of "hating" something merely because they view it differently than you, belongs in the political arena if it is to be tolerated at all--and I believe that Mr. Haskin has made it abundantly clear this is not a political forum. Also, while Frankel's length-and-change win was very professional, it was hardly "making mince meat" of Cirrus Des Aigles et al; the making of mince meat is what happened to Excelebration back in the Queen Anne.

Coldfacts--The Breeders Cup and impending Triple Crown '13 Trail are upon us, so I suspected you would come out of hibernation eventually. You could have made a much more grand re-entry to BloodHorse's blogs by stating some of your own opinions instead of booing someone else's. We've all been wrong before about predicting how good a horse will turn out to be; speaking of which, wasn't Russian Greek your biggest hype on the Derby trail earlier this year?

20 Oct 2012 1:17 PM

Congrats to Frankel! An outstanding star who has given all of us so many exciting moments. Best of luck to him in his future career at stud.

20 Oct 2012 1:47 PM
Linda in Texas

I missed this article, was playing hospice to my 13 year old Nellie who was a throw away at my gate, had her for 11 years. Timid, kind, brave til the end. Cancer. That awful word has taken every family member but 2, my son and me. And 6 other pets as well.

But i think i reserve that Noun to an Adjective for the likes of the poster whose name starts with a D.

I will simply second Paula and

Lazmanick and good Dr. Drunkinbum

in their responses.

I write this after Frankel won his 14th. Great horse, great country,

great everything. Congratulations

Frankel, owners, caregivers and jockey. And i bet Bobby Frankel is

smiling the broadest.

Long Live Thoroughbred Horse Racing no matter the country of

origin or pedigree. Nothing more beautiful than when all things come together for any winning horse

on any continent and on any course.

Thank you, Steve.

20 Oct 2012 2:23 PM

Home from an amazing day at Ascot. Just wow!  I've never heard a crowd like it!

For those saying the European horses are loaded with American bloodlines, I'd point out that Northern Dancer himself is loaded with British and Italian bloodlines. If we want to go all the way back, every Thoroughbred is actually British bred!

All that aside, Frankel was amazing today and though its sad to see him retire, roll on 2016 and his first runners!

20 Oct 2012 2:29 PM

AoR- it looked pretty easy to me.

20 Oct 2012 3:38 PM

Steve, I read A. B.'s column and bristled a bit at first, then, contemplating the projection of his intent which may be - a platform by which the removal of race day medication can be achieved - I resigned myself to, so be it.

On reading your piece, and, being a racing an 'Internationalist' like yourself,  I find this "Best Horse Ever" rather tiresome.

In the UK, and to lesser degree Australia, horse racing is covered by the prime television broadcasters and press - for a horse racing fan its wonderful. Moreover, handicapping, betting on horse racing is a national pastime.

Unfortunately, in the USA there is a decline in horse racing and coverage is by the boutique, niche broadcasters- apart from the Triple Crown. How to save the ship is the big question.

As dalcross mentioned above, marketing a major enterprise like horse racing in the UK is going to involve a lot of hyperbole. Over the years, it seems that nearly every horse that wins the English Derby is the best ever.

In more recent times the marketing, promotion of, the 'best ever' has had to include the world. We now have the International Ratings to support the marketing - the horses that lead these ratings are inevitably European horses running, running in Europe, and on turf, with a sprinkling of US horses just to confirm that the UK horses are 'world beaters.'

Anyone with the slightest knowledge of dirt and turf racing know that, generally, dirt horses don't perform optimally on grass and the same can be said of grass to dirt horses. Vive la différence!!

Frankal won his final race, Sir Henry Cecil, a charismatic figure of English racing stated: “I’d be very surprised if there’s ever been better.” He was obviously comparing Sea Bird, Ribot to his champion, not Dr. Fager, Seattle Slew et al

20 Oct 2012 4:22 PM
Mike Relva

Midnight Lute

Always admired Frankel from the beginning to the end. Sounds like you're the one with the problem of hating horses, or one in particular.

20 Oct 2012 10:03 PM
Age of Reason

Bravo, Linda in Texas!

My thoughts exactly, Footlick.

20 Oct 2012 10:34 PM
Arts and Letters

A small aside -- given this recent discussion and debates, I just read something very ironic.  I recently found a Blood Horse magazine from November 24, 1934 (with a lovely photo of Discovery on the cover).  In it, there’s an article called “The Distance of Races”, which compares the distance of American races unfavourably to British ones.  Apparently, in 1934 in Britain, “less than a third of the races for 3 year olds and older horses are at less than a mile, that there are more races at a mile and a half than a mile and a quarter, and that approximately one in every eight races for older horses is at a distance greater than a mile and a half”.

The article goes on to say:

“ America we have followed the line of least resistance so long that it is an extremely difficult matter either to breed or train stayers, and it is even more difficult to find an opportunity to race them.  It has come to such a pass that we not only have destroyed distance racing, but are now trying to persuade ourselves that it was a good thing to do...Some able commentators have even advocated that we ought to increase the opportunities for sprinters, because we have so many of them.”

It goes on to accuse American racing of lacking the “backbone” to change this.

Wow!  So, if they were worried about the lack of distance racing in 1934, I can only imagine what they would have thought of today.

21 Oct 2012 12:07 AM

Linda in Texas

I share your pain.  I'm sure that your beloved Nellie will never be forgotten.  A few years back I lost my best friend to cancer.  He was a German shorthair, white with black spots and a large Mickey-Mouse ears type saddle.  Brought him home when he was 8 weeks old and lifted him onto the table in the back room of our vet when he was 14.  Like many animals, he taught me more than humans ever could becauswe everything about him was unconditional.  It takes a while to get over them when they go because we have them for so short a period of time, but their memories last forever and make our lives much better.  Keep your chin up.

21 Oct 2012 12:42 AM

Midnight Lute:

That’s it?  That list of top money races in Europe that you so painstakingly listed?  Woodbine has more million dollar races (4) than your entire list.  A three year old Canadian Bred that can’t even win a US G3 race can win more than many European horses can in a season just by competing in their Triple Crown restricted to Canadian breds.  This comment isn’t meant to disparage the Canadian bred competing in its own country.  It’s to show that the opportunity to win money is far great and often easier in N/A than it is in Europe, which is another reason why American horses don’t ship overseas, that and the fact that the preferred surface here is dirt, not turf.

21 Oct 2012 2:45 AM

Not to beat a dead horse, but on the Timeform All-Time Highweights List, there are three horses who won the Prix de l’Arc twice- Tantieme and the Italian, Ribot. The third? It is the American, Alleged, the forgotten great.

For those who care about what could happen if a top American “dirt” horse switches to grass in Europe, see Hill Rise in Wikipedia.

21 Oct 2012 10:05 AM

For me is almost imposible to compare the american and european thoroughbred industries. The differences between them are bigger than the similarities. Europe has a different context, so is an adventure to compare horses from that side of the land to the ones from America. For me is irresponsible. About the superstars, well they have enjoyed the wonderful ocation to see recently, in less than a decade, exceptional horses and mares, like Sea the Star, Frankel, Goldikova and Zarkova. Yes, superstars, but mainly there, in Europe. Only Goldikova gained the status of international superstar after two Breeders Cup triumphs. And hey, i don´t pretend to be chauvinistic, because i am not from USA; in fact, i live in Venezuela, where i admire the horses from both sides of the world. For me to transcend to the status of international superstar, the horse or the mare has to prove it in an international camp. Many european superstars have failed to do it in America, like Dancing Brave or Galileo. And the same apply to the american superstars that NEVER try to prove it in Europe. So, for me is also a risk to say today that Frankel is the best horse ever in Europe, and much much less that he es the best horse ever in the world. Yes, millions in America,  Japan, Australia or Argentine must desagree, and justifiable, because behind him there are a huge list of superstars, legends that deserve respect. Even in Europe, how you forget exceptional, wonderful horses like Sea Bird, Nijinsky, Brigadier Gerard, Mill Reef and many others. Come on!

21 Oct 2012 10:05 AM
Linda in Texas

Lazmanick - Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words.It is never easy to lose a companion that has been at your side for 11 years eventhough she was only 1 of

many. They are all special in their own ways.

I will miss her as you still do your best friend.

Many here have lost a pet and i think of them also. Bless them all.

Thank you Steve.


21 Oct 2012 9:39 PM

Age Of Reason,

I was only humoring my associate. Every horse he classified as being a monster ends up being a flop in  its subsequent race.

Even my attempt at humor ends up being displeasing. I just cannot win.

Russian Greek was never a colt I fancied. I merely commented on him at the request of a contributor. The records will reflect that he never fearured in my top five. I do believe you have the wrong contributor.

While I no longer make regular posts to Mr. Haskin's Blogs,  I read most and I have come realization that my nonsense has no place in such a forum.

22 Oct 2012 10:31 AM
Age of Reason


I am, by nature, a too-serious person. I tend to take everything seriously and at face value; I get verbal humor as well as the next person, but when I see things in writing such as comments on these BloodHorse blogs it seldom occurs to me, unless their humor is very plain, that the commenter isn't being as serious as the proverbial heart attack. That's why I think the emoticons of text-speak are a very handy thing in getting the point across. =) ;) Frankly, I shouldn't have butted in on what you said at all; I remember now that you and Ranagulzion are longtime friends and love to have friendly disagreements, so I apologize for taking your ribbing out of context. At the end of the day, you aren't commenting to please me; if I take issue with something you said, to you-know-where with Age of Reason; just speak what's on your mind. =D

22 Oct 2012 1:12 PM


I took a while to respond but welcome back buddy.

Quality Road, Uncle Mo and Union Rags are some of the most talented runners we've seen in recent years but did not get to enjoy as much because of careers abbreviated or punctuated by injury. Of the three monsters named above Quality Road had the greatest scope to be the next Spectacular Bid. He was lightening fast and could carry that speed when fully fit. His last race was a very unfortunate anti-climax (the BCC won by Blame). I think that if he had not sufferred ill-treatment at the gates in the 2009 BCC, his legacy might have been very different, as well as "Queen" Zenyatta's (he could have beaten her) but thats just my opinion.

Repole should've raced Uncle Mo as a 4YO. It was a great injustice to retire that super-talented colt so early. I was extremely disappointed with that move. It hurt the horse' reputation.

As for Union Rags, I think that his Belmont Stakes win was sweet redemption when considering all the skepticism surrounding the stamina aspect of his pedigree. He too should have been rested and brought back as a 4YO to vindicate his obvious class.

Coldfacts, the story of the above horses tell the tale of American racing. Its a lot of frustration for the racing purist, making it very difficult for one such as I to defend American breeders.

Its time to star looking seriously at the 2YOs with a view to spotting next season's leading classic aspirants. So far we lost Spurious Precision but I do like the million dollar son of Big Brown named Darwin as well as Repole's Dixie Union colt Overanalyzed. I look forward to rumbling with you again on Steve Haskin's Derby trail.

BTW Wise Dan is a soup for the BC Mile. I expect it to be a romp.    

23 Oct 2012 6:45 PM

Age of Reason,

I agree that the BC Mile is one of the major attractions of this year's Breeder's Cup but not because it is going to be that close. I believe that Wise Dan is the star attraction. Excelebration adds intrigue and Obviously is the one to finish a non-threatening runner-up IMO. After this performance Wise Dan should be a sho-in for the HOTY.

24 Oct 2012 1:00 PM


Just in case you have not closed this blog, here are two recent American-bred superstars who got overlooked-Henrythenavigator and Raven's Pass.

24 Oct 2012 4:37 PM
Age of Reason

Ranag, my dear chalk-eating friend, if Wise Dan does indeed win the Mile (I'd place it at 'round 3-1), would he be as much of a lock for HOY as Union Rags was for the Triple Crown back in the spring? ;) But seriously, my reservation about Wise Dan is that I'm far from convinced he has the high cruising speed necessary to cope with what will surely be a frenetic pace in this year's Mile. How will he react when hounded by Obviously through three-quarters in 1:09 or faster?

24 Oct 2012 5:23 PM

Age of Reason,

Unlike you, I know when its futile to oppose the chalk. Also, Wise Dan will not be hounded by Obviously. The latter is a front runner while Wise Dan can stalk or come from well off the pace if necessary.

Its time to put the Union Rags matter to rest. We all know about his misfortune, the "cajun double-team sabotage" by Borel and Desormeaux, in the Derby. I touted him for the Triple Crown but I didn't say he was a lock. The Triple crown is hardly ever a lock for any horse and I certainly never included the term in my forcasts. The horses that came closest to looking like Triple Crown locks were Big Brown and Eskendereya and we know the history.

Good luck with trying to beat Wise Dan in the BC Mile my friend.

25 Oct 2012 2:03 PM
Juho Isoviita

There is no reason to compare European racing on turf vs US racing on dirt.

European racing is like classical music vs US heavy drug user rock and roll!

15 Nov 2012 11:55 AM
Juho Isoviita

"The talent has been there, but the soundness hasn’t."

That is because horses in US are raised on hormones for muscles and raced on drugs for speed!

Not much with true horse racing to do. Just for earning a quick buck and at the same time making US thoroughbreds something that makes me sick.

And racing on dirt says it all. Dirty business, not racing at all.

15 Nov 2012 12:32 PM

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