Classic Recap: Fort Repels Attack

Whether you call it karma or any other name, there comes a time and place in everyone’s life when positive forces meet at once and create moments to cherish for all time.

For a 4-year-old Thoroughbred named Fort Larned, his trainer Ian Wilkes, owner and breeder Janis Whitham, and jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., those positive forces came together on racing’s greatest day and in its richest race, the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. It was here in front of over 50,000 fans that Fort Larned dug down deep to hold off Mucho Macho Man in one of the great stretch battles in Breeders’ Cup history.

On the mornings of Nov. 2 and 3, hopes ran high at Barn 99 in the far corner of the Santa Anita backstretch. For the 80-year-old Whitham and her family, this was hallowed ground. Not only was it the home of her longtime trainer, Ron McAnally, it also had been home for her and her late husband Frank’s Hall of Fame filly Bayakoa, who scored back-to-back victories in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I) in 1989 and ’90. Now, here was Whitham 22 years later back in the Breeders’ Cup with Bayakoa’s grandson.

“When Mrs. Whitham asked me if she could stable her horse in my barn, I said, ‘Are you kidding? If I don’t have a stall I’ll move one of my horses out and make room,” McAnally said. “If you need an exercise rider or anything else, just let me know.’

“Mrs. Whitham is the classiest, nicest lady you’ll ever meet. She always studied the horses and the pedigrees and knew about every one of them. She was the one who got Frank interested. Both of them have always accepted defeat graciously and would look ahead to the next race.”

For Whitham, this was the continuation of the legacy she and her husband had built more than two decades earlier.

“We’re excited. We’re here,” she said while walking back to the grandstand from the barn. “It’s the big stage and we have the whole family here, as well as our racing family that was pretty special to us. Ricardo, Bayakoa’s groom, still works for Ron. And Eduardo (McAnally’s longtime assistant Eduardo Inda who went out on his own) has one horse in Ron’s barn. We just spent 15 minutes talking about Bayakoa.”

Whitham experienced one of the most bittersweet feelings ever following a victory. It was while dueling with Bayakoa down the stretch in the 1990 Breeders’ Cup Distaff that Go For Wand suffered her fatal injury, falling heavily to the ground in front of a horrified crowd at Belmont Park.

“That was terrible,” she said. “The main thing they remember was the injury to Go For Wand. They don’t remember Bayakoa’s courage or her victory in the Distaff the year before. It was all such a numbing experience you didn’t even feel like you ran that day.”

Whitham, whose husband was killed in a plane crash in 1993, is a fourth generation descendant of pioneer families that moved to Kansas from Indiana and Iowa. She named Fort Larned after an old fort in western Kansas.

For Wilkes, who worked as assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Carl Nafzger and has shared his barn for almost 20 years, this was his opportunity to stamp his own footprints in racing’s history books. Although Nafzger was the trainer of record of 2007 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Street Sense, he’ll be the first person to tell you that Wilkes was just as instrumental in the colt’s success as he was. It was Wilkes who made it a lot easier for Nafzger to semi-retire several years ago, taking over the majority of his horses and clients.

The Whithams began sending horses to Nafzger about eight years ago, knowing they were soon going to turn their horses over to Wilkes once Nafzger began cutting back.

When Fort Larned captured the Whitney Handicap (gr. I) this year, Nafzger helped celebrate following the race, feeling like a proud father.

“Now you figured out how I did so good,” Nafzger said at the time. “I had Ian behind me. When I was getting all the glory (with Kentucky Derby and grade I Travers winner Street Sense, Travers winner Unshaded, and the grade I Alabama winners Banshee Breeze and Lady Joanne) Ian was back in Kentucky working.”

Nov. 3, the day of the Classic, also was a special day for Hernandez, who was celebrating his 27th birthday. Following the Classic he said, “Fort Larned gave me the greatest birthday present ever.”

Hernandez, despite his success aboard Fort Larned, on whom he has won four of five starts, is not among the elite riders in the country and is still pretty much an every day working stiff. The day after his Whitney victory he was at Ellis Park to ride one of Wilkes’ horses in s $7,500 maiden claiming race.

So, one of the most popular storylines was in place for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Following Fort Larned’s third-place finish as the 5-2 favorite in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) over a deep, wet track he was not fond of, the colt was ignored in the Classic, going off at 9-1 in the 12-horse field.

The overwhelming 6-5 favorite was the brilliant and consistent Game On Dude, trained by Bob Baffert, who had been shut out so far in the two-day event. With the earlier victories of Royal Delta in the previous day’s Ladies Classic (gr. I), Groupie Doll in the Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I), and Wise Dan in the Mile (gr. IT), the pressure was on Game On Dude to overtake all three for Horse of the Year honors. Many believed a victory in the Classic would all but clinch the award for the son of Awesome Again.

With the Santa Anita dirt surface showing an extreme speed bias, it looked as if it would play to Game On Dude’s advantage. Another who looked to be coming into the Classic in top form and with the right running style was the towering Mucho Macho Man, who along with Fort Larned were the last two Classic horses to arrive at Santa Anita following the postponement of their flight due to the devastating storm back east.

Although Fort Larned was out of harm’s way in Kentucky, he had to wait an extra day for the flight out of New York that included Mucho Macho Man. Instead of taking off from JFK as originally scheduled, the remaining New York horses had to van up to Newburgh, N.Y. and fly out of Stewart International Airport. They stopped in Kentucky to pick up Fort Larned and the others and then flew to California, arriving three days before the race.

After being put in his new stall, Fort Larned was given a bath just to cool him off from the long trip and then walked around the shed.

Many of the handicappers felt Fort Larned might be at a disadvantage going 1 1/4 miles after the way he tired in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. But in reality, if ever a horse was made for 1 1/4 miles at Santa Anita it was Fort Larned. Not only did his maternal granddam Bayakoa win three grade I stakes at Santa Anita, his dam, Arlucea, is by Broad Brush, winner of the Santa Anita Handicap. Broad Brush’s sire, Ack Ack, also won the Santa Anita Handicap. Fort Larned’s sire, E Dubai, is out of a mare by Lord at War, who won the Santa Anita Handicap. Also in Fort Larned’s pedigree is Bold Bidder, winner of the mile and a quarter Strub Stakes at Santa Anita. And E Dubai himself won the mile and a quarter Suburban Handicap (gr. II) and finished second in the mile and a quarter Travers (gr. I) and Super Derby (gr. I).

In a race where most of the major stars have changed hands over their career, it was refreshing to see a horse like Fort Larned and the close bond between his owner and trainer. Game On Dude began his career with trainer Mike Mareina before being sold. Ron the Greek had previously had three trainers before being sold and turned over to Bill Mott. Flat Out also was sent to Mott after being trained by Scooter Dickey for most of his career. Richard’s Kid had been trained by Dick Small and Bob Baffert before being sold and sent to Doug O’Neill. And Mucho Macho Man began his career trained by Bill White before being sold and turned over to Kathy Ritvo.

The big question was who would take advantage of the speed-biased track. At the break, it was Fort Larned, who had won the Cornhusker Handicap (gr. III) at Prairie Meadows wire to wire, who went to the front, with Mucho Macho Man taking up the chase from the outside. No one knew it at the time, but the race was over. The pair would maintain that position all the way to the finish.

Game On Dude for whatever reason couldn’t keep up, dropping back to sixth. To Honor and Serve and Handsome Mike were right behind through a lively opening quarter in :23.20. Fort Larned led by a half-length over Mucho Macho Man after a half in :46.50.

Wilkes’ strategy to run the closers off their feet early seemed to be paying off, as the quick pace had the field strung out nearly 20 lengths.

“The break was everything,” Wilkes said. “If he didn’t break well he’d have no chance. I had to take the closers out of their game, because if I sat around and waited for them they were gonna get you.”

Hernandez added, “In the post parade he showed how fired up he was. He was on his game today, and this is the kind of horse where you need to stay out of his way and let him do his own thing. After Ian put the blinkers on him last fall at Churchill Downs he’s become more forward.”

With Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Flat Out, Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) and Stephen Foster (gr. I) winner Ron the Greek, and two-time Pacific Classic (gr. I) winner Richard’s Kid all some 15 to 20 lengths back, they were at the mercy of Fort Larned’s speed and acceleration, which he had demonstrated in the Whitney when he blew his field away nearing the top of stretch with an electrifying turn of foot. Now, it was time for Hernandez to pull the trigger again and separate himself from the closers.

He gave Fort Larned the green light and the colt quickly opened several lengths on Mucho Macho Man through a testing third quarter in :23.62. He went around the far turn in :24.54, as Mucho Macho Man made his run at him. Those two quick quarters, combined with the fast pace, buried the rest of the field, as the two leaders pulled well clear of the pack, getting the mile in 1:34.66.

Now the battle was on. Mucho Macho Man, under Mike Smith, pulled on near even terms, but Fort Larned dug in gamely and refused to let him get by. They continued their battle the entire length of stretch, pulling seven lengths clear of the others. As much as Mucho Macho Man tried, he could not get by Fort Larned, who hit the wire a half-length in front, covering the mile and a quarter in a sharp 2:00.11. It was 6 1/2 lengths back to Flat Out, who finished three-quarters of a length ahead of his stablemate Ron the Greek. Game On Dude was never a factor, fading to seventh.

As soon as they passed the wire, a figure came darting toward the track, literally leaping off the ground and shouting with joy. It was none other than Charles Lopresti, who had just won the Breeders' Cup Mile with Wise Dan. Lopresti wrapped his arms around Wilkes in a bear hug, releasing whatever emotion he still had stored up inside him. Lopresti, Wilkes, and Buff Bradley, trainer of the brilliant Groupie Doll, winner of the Filly & Mare Sprint earlier in the day, had formed a bonding friendship as the "Little Guys" from Kentucky who were going to Santa Anita as a team, dreaming of sweeping their respective Breeders' Cup races. It was yet another dream on this day that came true.  

Fortunately, for Wilkes’ wife, Tracey, she did not have to endure watching this gut-wrenching stretch battle.

“As soon as they came out of the gate and I knew he had gotten away well I turned my back to the track for the entire race,” she said. “I just couldn’t bear to watch it, and Mrs. Whitham’s grandson Travis had to tell me where he was.

“I can’t believe this. I just feel so awesome for Ian. He deserves this win. He’s been involved with so many good horses with Carl, but this is his horse. He got him from the start and has worked for three years with him. And it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. To Ian, it’s not about the money; it’s all about the horses.”

It was difficult for Tracey to contain her emotion after the race and come to the realization of what had just happened.

“I have to watch the replay to really believe that we actually won,” she said. “This is so special. The kids are both here and there are so many friends of ours who have followed us a long way. I can’t even tell you how many text messages I’ve gotten already. We would never take anything away from Carl Nafzger; he’s our family. But this was the notch on Ian’s belt that shows he’s as good a trainer as Carl is and has followed in his footsteps. And I know Carl is going to be very proud of him. I can’t wait to see them when they get together.

“And how awesome to win this for Mrs. Whitham. You think how far back she goes with this horse’s family. One thing about Mrs. Whitham, she’s been in this industry for a while and has had some of the biggest trainers train for her. But she chose Ian and stuck with him. We have very loyal owners, who switched from Carl to Ian without any questions. I don’t think we’ve had anybody who’s jumped ship.”

Back in Kentucky, Nafzger watched the race with his wife Wanda and just about lost it when Fort Larned prevailed.

“We got to get a new couch, because I tore our couch apart watching that stretch run,” he said.

Nafzger waited about an hour for all the post-race hoopla to die down before calling Wilkes. The first thing Wilkes said to him was, “We did it.” The victory also stirred up memories of a young Australian exercise rider who had just arrived in America in 1989.

“My assistant at the time, Sharon Peters, who also was from Australia, had pointed out this young kid on a horse,” Nafzger recalled. “I watched him ride and told her, ‘Don’t let this boy out of my sight.’ He was a natural and had such great hands. We hired him and the following year he was exercising Unbridled and rode him right through his victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Now to see him win the Classic on his own as a trainer makes us so proud.

“It’s such a great story. This is all about Ian. I had nothing to do with it. We’ve learned a lot from each other over the years. Ian has always been a student of the game and understanding how a race should be run. He has a natural feel for a good horse. When he took over in January of 2006 and I just kept a few horses for Mr. (James) Tafel, he never changed anything and just kept building. We’ve had a great relationship and I’m as proud of him as if he were my own son. Wanda and I are out of this world right now.”

But as Wilkes always points out, “You have to have the horse,” and Fort Larned has been a project from the beginning. Even Whitham’s son, Clay, admitted, “I never thought the horse was that good, because he was so slow developing. He was just a plain bay horse and nothing more. He wasn’t flashy at all. He finally grew up at Churchill Downs last November in the slop. When he won the Skip Away (gr. III) at Gulfstream this winter and set a track record, I finally thought, ‘Hey, he’s got some talent.’ But I sure wasn’t counting on winning this race.”

Clay’s assessment of Fort Larned was justified as the colt made little impression early in his career, scoring only a maiden victory in his first six starts. His only try in stakes competition resulted in an eighth-place finish in the Arlington Classic. It was after a dismal showing in a Churchill Downs allowance race, in which he finished 10th, beaten over 21 lengths, that Wilkes decided to try blinkers. In his next start, an off-the-turf allowance race in the slop at Churchill, he won by 6 3/4 lengths and a new career was born -- not only for Fort Larned, but for his trainer as well.

Because of the colt’s long pasterns in front and back, Wilkes runs him in four bandages to prevent them from rubbing against each other.

Although Janis Whitham, who keeps a dozen mares and about 10 horses in training, has been in the sport for decades, this one got to her, especially with her beloved Bayakoa playing such an important role.

“It brought tears to my eyes to see that guy come down the stretch like that,” she said.

Everyone connected with Fort Larned paid tribute to Mucho Macho Man and the job Ritvo has done with him. When told that Mucho Macho Man is a June 15 foal and should be even better next year, Wilkes replied, “Don’t say that, because I’m coming back next year.”

Said Ritvo, “What can you do? He ran a winning race. The winner was a great horse today. He ran a great race. Congratulations to Mr. Wilkes and his whole team. I’m so proud of my horse. He gave 100 percent today.”

Mucho Macho Man was an amazing story himself and came so close to culminating what has been a fairy tale saga for both him and Ritvo. To show how far they have come, on June 15, 2008. Ritvo, stricken with cariomyapathy, lay in a hospital bed in Miami, Fla., hooked up to an IV of dopamine, a heart muscle stimulant that was keeping her alive. For six months, her family didn’t know if each day would be her last.

Some 250 miles away in Ocala, a strapping bay colt was born at Carole and John Rio’s farm, unusually late for a Thoroughbred. When the foal was delivered in the field, he was feared dead, as he lay motionless on the ground.. They worked feverishly to restore him and said prayers over his “lifeless” body. Then, to everyone’s surprise, the colt suddenly rose to his feet and ran off. That’s when the Rios began calling him Lazarus.

Five months later, as the weanling colt romped about his paddock, Ritvo also “rose” from the dead following a successful heart transplant. Six months later, she was back at the racetrack training horses.

As if pre-ordained, Ritvo and the colt, named Mucho Macho Man, would one day embark on a fairy tale journey that brought them to the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), where Mucho Macho Man finished third. And now, here they were only a half-length away from winning the richest race in America and a possible shot at Horse of the Year.

Although disappointed in Game On Dude’s peformance and his own Breeders’ Cup shutout, Baffert has been able to put things in different perspective this year following his heart attack in Dubai in March.

“It was a tough day for me, but I’ve had tougher,” he said. “Joe Torre (part owner of Game In Dude) told me you’ve got to forget it. Things that happened five seconds ago, you’ve got to let them go and move on. And that’s what will happen.”

The morning after the race, as Fort Larned was out for his morning walk, Wilkes commented how well he came out of the race.

“He looks like he never ran,” he said. “He’s full of himself. It’s fantastic to have won this for the Whithams; they are wonderful people. When you have people like that in racing that’s what it’s all about. I’ve been fortunate to take over for a bunch of great owners. It was a testament to Carl because he put them all together, and to carry on what he started was very special.

“This has all been very humbling. It still hasn’t sunk in yet. And I don’t think I want it to.”

69 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Dr Drunkinbum

Fort Larned and Mucho Macho man were fashionably late to the party and were the life of the Classic party. They were clearly the class of the party too. My Classic bet was three horses to win. I wanted to bet Mucho Macho also but his odds were too low. I bet Fort Larned, Nonios and I bet Brilliant Speed as a just in case bet. It appeared that this could be a wide open Classic and on a different surface it might have been but the top two really put on a show, easily dominating the rest of the field. I thought Fort Larned and Mucho Macho had the most impressive wins in 2012 in the division. It was nice to see them up there. I think on a different surface it could have been the same conclusion. Those two warriors were ready for war on Saturday. Isn't it great to see that kind of battle in the Classic again? I love Mucho Macho but I was begging him not to overtake Fort Larned in the stretch. It sure looked like he would but Fort Larned was not about to give in on his jockey's birthday. Well done Steve. Thank you.

05 Nov 2012 9:21 PM
Pik4Joel

Hi Steve - really nice to meet you and Lenny at SA - your picks were very close to my own - Trinniberg kills the late Pik 4, but got a solid late double to get out...A side note: you got me to go to Lost and Found to search for the Starlight Stables jacket - I figured this was my big chance to claim some of the upper-crust swag left behind by the Drunk Riche...Um, what I found was that there were two sweatshirts, one a Redskins pullover with what looked to be chicken marsala sauce spilled on it, the other a Russell Athletic sweatshirt like I had in 8th grade...The selection of walking canes was pretty cool - there was one that had an elkhorn handle that I was tempted to claim, but then I would have ruined my karma and broken my leg on the steps leading to the Press Box, so I left...No jacket, but I bet you could find another - I also bet that Shareta would win, so I am not too reliable, but a bigger fan of you guys than ever - thank you for your kindness and sense of humor...Regards to Lenny, see you next year! We will go to the Monrovia Pizza Company for some delicious pie - my treat! - Best - Joel

05 Nov 2012 9:38 PM
Mister Frisky

Fort Larned was tough like his Grandma.No way MMM was getting by that guy, rail bias or not.

05 Nov 2012 9:58 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Wow, what an article Steve.  Excellent.  What stories.  How cute, they flew to KY to pick up Fort Larned.  Wow, that says a lot, Royal Delta, Flat Out, Shanghai Bobby, Fort Larned, and MMM arrive on late flights and win on a completely different track than what they are used to.  Now that's talent!  That must have been some horse flight of champions in the air!  

Ritvo did a wonderful job with MMM.  Look how he's grown and matured from the little boy who kept losing his shoes that we knew.

Excellent Classic and BC races despite the lack of coverage.

Dude's pooped I guess.  His track, with a speed bias, he's gotta be spent or just not his day.  I was pretty sure Flat Out would be in the money somewhere and he did not disappoint.  Fort Larned looked beautiful, maybe he was saying on that flight let's do this all for Paynter.

Dr. D., Linda, et al thanks for all the concern and warm wishes, I answeered you just now on Steve's last article prior to this new one.

It's been horrendous here but I am fine.  Bless you all.

05 Nov 2012 10:33 PM
Cassandra.Says

The "racetrack test" doesn't test the reproductive system. (Don't ask; it still hurts.)

Undistinguished daughters of poor producing great racemares are great buys and often overlooked.

Lots of examples of distaff talent skipping a generation. Who was it who said "The family is stronger than the individual?"

If you haven't noticed, reread Steve's pre-Cup rundown of the fields. Boy, Steve, were you sharp! Some great contrarian calls.

It was nice to see that little-touted outcross stud Mizzen Mast with TWO B.C. winning fillies in Mizdirection and Flotilla. After making The Cross of Northern Dancer and Mr. P., and then breeding the progeny to each other, there's a place one might look next.

If Animal Kingdom cracks something else I'm going to be very disappointed. That was a big promise he threw to us -- "Get on me. I'm baaack!"

05 Nov 2012 10:42 PM
Paula Higgins

It was a great classic. My heart was with Mucho Macho Man. Just really like him. He is so gutsy. He always tries his best. I was very happy to see how well he ran. He did himself proud. Kathy Ritvo has done a wonderful job with him. She is an amazing person in her own right. Having taken care of more than a few heart transplant patients, I know that not all of them handle it as well as she did. She just got on with her life. Good for her. Fort Larned was pretty spectacular from start to finish. I felt very bad for Bob Baffert. He is a wonderful trainer and a great guy, but he has had a very tough year. The loss of his father and his heart attack being at the top of that list. I was hoping for better for him out of at least one of his races. I hope he has a much better year next year.

05 Nov 2012 11:17 PM
Davids

Steve, thank-you for another marvellous, extremely thoughtful, piece of writing. I had to skip over the 1990 Distaff tragedy, still too painful to remember.

Did you notice how well the 2008 crop stacked up in the BC results? I remember reading in the racing media the constant harangue: "what a poor crop these 2011 three year olds are."

Perhaps the 'March/April' fashion of some scribes to write off 3 year old crops, as being poor, can finally cease. Moreover, you can hardly hope to pique an interest in a novice by deriding the 'product.'  

05 Nov 2012 11:40 PM
ksweatman9

Congratulations Fort Larned and friends. It was a nice stretch duel, both horses terrific, and both connections deserving of the win. However, it came on the heels of the best race in the entire event, the mile. No horse was going to outshine "Danny" boy and what can you possibly say about Animal Kingdom, except, he is an awesome beast. After such a long lay off and all of his physical problems, and he DID THAT. WOW. He should've ran in the classic, probably would've won. Derby winners are special, and he proved that to be true. Hope we see more of both of them. Like I was saying, the BC classic, what classic? It was all about the mile this year.

06 Nov 2012 5:27 AM
Agnes

Steve Haskin is a treasure.  I never get to the races and half the time my computer won't even show them to me, but Steve's eloquent writing puts me right there and it all becomes real.  How lucky we are to have such a great writer for our sport.

06 Nov 2012 7:00 AM
Saratoga AJ

You have to root for Kathy Ritvo and Mucho Macho Man next year. In his favor is, as Steve pointed out, he's a late maturing June colt. Also, huge sized horses usually mature later too, and he's all of that.I waged a lot on him to win Saturday, but he gave his all and I can't complain.

As for HOTY, it has to be Wise Dan.   After his devasting performance Saturday, I just wish the Brits had the nerve to send their so called greatest horse ever, Frankel, over to the BC. They sent their second best miler, Excelerbration, who's only loses were to Frankel. That is until Dan easily beat him.

And a 1:31.7 mile? WOW. That's only a couple of ticks off the world record. Did Frankel ever approach a time like that? No. Even allowing for the perhaps deeper European surfaces, it still makes you wonder if Dan is indeed  

in the same league as Frankel.

06 Nov 2012 8:06 AM
E O P

Congratulations to all the connections of Fort Larned.  A fabulous race.  

As a snide aside, now all of those fans who believe that it's the jocks and not the horses can state emphatically that Brian Hernandez Jr. out rode Mike Smith and Willie Martinez out rode John Velazquez and best of all just for Bob Baffert and the connections of Game on Dude now we all know for sure that Chantal Sutherland can out ride Bejarano.

Karma.  How sweet is the picture of Bob sitting alone in the stands rueing the fact that his horse didn't break well in the biggest race of the day!  Who do you think will ride that horse next time?

06 Nov 2012 8:13 AM
CHIEF PICAWINNA

I hope you parlayed the longshots in the classic with Wise Dan in the Mile a $55 mutual for a two dollar bet.All the other longshots finished up the track.

06 Nov 2012 8:48 AM
Ozarks

Those of you who were able to watch the Classic were indeed fortunate.  Our local NBC affiliate, KSDK in St. Louis, pre-empted the scheduled race to show a re-hash of the St. Louis Cardinals post-season games -- as if we weren't bombarded and inundated with baseball throughout the spring, summer and fall.  They couldn't even spare 5 minutes to show the race, even if they didn't want to show the entire hour.  Then, they said the Classic would be re-broadcast from 12:30 AM to 1:30 AM, but didn't; instead, they showed a re-run of CSI Miami.  Horse-racing fans in the St. Louis area just cannot get a break from the local TV stations.  My e-mail to them has gone unanswered (no surprise there).  After such a good two-days of racing shown on NBC-Sports, what a let down.  Thanks for allowing me to vent and congrats to Fort Larned and his connections.

06 Nov 2012 8:55 AM
TerriZ

I'm so glad that the Blood Horse sent their team to report on the Breeders Cup. This was another terrific article by the BH's most talented writer.

It's wonderful to read about a small-time family breeding operation and their long standing relationship with their trainers and their horses.

I'm so happy for the wonderful trainer, Ian Wilkes, and all the terrific horsemen and trainers associated with him.

And now, the late  Bayacoa has a great winner. I wonder if E Dubai will be staying in Pennsylvania with Smarty Jones after his son won the Classic.

And Mucho Macho Man's connections were very classy in defeat. MMM had a 117 Beyer and Mike Smith said that he wasn't defeated.

What a classic race in the BC Classic.

06 Nov 2012 9:50 AM
Mister Frisky

Steve,Curious to get your opinion of the BC as a whole.Some great performances by Fort Larned.Wise Dan,Royal D and a few others.I for one think the event has been diluted and watered down.Look at the first two races Friday.Juv spr, after a am scratch and a gate scratch you end up with five horses and a maiden winner.Next race marathon,morning scratch and for these ond straight year two Euros don't even finish.Horrible performances by the Godolphin second stringers.And Baffert seems to have lost his edge.

06 Nov 2012 10:10 AM
John from Baltimore

If it aint broke don't fix it and oh well I should of used Chantel.

06 Nov 2012 10:52 AM
Wrensflight

Thanks again, Steve, for giving us yet another view of the story behind the horse. You really make racing come alive on the page. It was an exceptional stretch run in the Classic, and both Fort Larned and Mucho Macho Man demonstrated their class and talent. I was also impressed with Animal Kingdom's return. Too bad his jockey wasn't able to get him out of traffic. Hopefully he'll stay sound and have an opportunity to resume a successful career.

Ozarks, next time check for websites that offer live streaming of the classic races. I don't have TV service and use the internet to watch all of the races I just can't miss.

06 Nov 2012 11:21 AM
slee

What a weekend.  A few thoughts --

Congratulations to Mrs. Whitham.  What a wonderful tribute to her wonderful mare Bayakoa, that her grandson would come and do this.

I saw Fort Larned's dismal finish at Arlington and when I watched the video of the Whitney I could not believe this was the same horse.  Then I read Steve's column last week and bet an hour's worth of raking leaves that he'd beat Game on Dude.  Thanks Steve!

And I share EOP's view on Baffert and Sutherland.  Game on Dude ran his heart out for Sutherland but Saturday he never tried.  Possibly coincidence.....or not.

And fie on NBC for their late coverage on Saturday.  Bad enough NBC "proper" didn't show the races, but luckily I have satellite and can get their other channels.  So I turn to the start of the races and what do I get?  The end of the Towson/Delaware football game.  I knew NBC wasn't going to show Saturday's first race, and, ok, so they didn't know the Towson/Delaware game would go to OT.  But then the announcers at the game said "we'll switch coverage to the Breeder's Cup as soon as we finish here, and don't worry, they won't open the gates without you."  I don't know if they were lying or badly informed (I suspect the latter), but by the time the game finished, the Fillies & Mares Sprint was over too.  When the Breeders' Cup came on, did NBC show the whole race?  No.  They showed Groupie Doll's stretch run!  Come on, it was a sprint people - show the whole #*$% race like you said you would and give your talking heads a few seconds less to talk about the Classic that was still hours away.  Overall I think their coverage was better than last year's, but still needs work.

And congrats to the veterinarians for their ongoing screening, both in the barns and at the gates.  

Oh - and last but not least - Shanghai Bobby - what a hoot.  I thought for a second he was going to turn around completely and ask somebody to come play with him!

06 Nov 2012 11:27 AM
Ranagulzion

Great article Steve ...really enjoted it.

06 Nov 2012 1:48 PM
lunar spook

even though i had mmm to win , the only bet i came close to winning all day , i still enjoyed that epic stretch run !

06 Nov 2012 2:02 PM
Sam Santschi

Great analysis Steve and Great win for Fort Larned, owners and Ian Wilkes.  Truly a nice and humble group. With the inside speed bias apparent and with Baffert firing blanks all weekend, Classic was ripe for FL and MMM to do what they did.  Thought THAS would surprise and he did but in a bad way though.   Bet FL and MMM WPS and in multiple exactas per your advice and the conveyor belt (plus their ability)brought them home.  Heart was on MMM to finish first but wallet more happy with the result.  Hope both will come back next year and I just got an email alert this morning that Midnight Transfer, my favorite little guy from this year's 3 yr olds is back on the worktab.  What fun! Thanks.

06 Nov 2012 2:47 PM
kincsem

It is so nice when good old fashioned horsemen win the big race. Thanks for the nice profile, Steve.

06 Nov 2012 3:46 PM
Delrene

Dear Steve - Aftr reading this article I am reliving the race again.  My first Breeder's Cup and what a couple of exciting days.  It was very nice meeting you at Zenyatta's party - and your analysis of the Classic is spot on.  I loved every minute of every race.  What a stretch run and so good to know the backstory on this wonderful group of people.  Thanks for bringing it to those who didn't get the opportunity to see it in person.  

06 Nov 2012 4:10 PM
Bigtex

Cassandra…

I had a great view for the BC Mile and was right at the finish line when Animal Kingdom just exploded!  I was so excited to see that he's back as well!  He is a tremendous horse and it was good to see him blow by Excelebration.

Steve, thank you for your kind hospitality.  It was great to meet you and visit.  It was quite interesting to escort various owners down to the paddock, winner's circle, etc.  They certainly are not all the same in terms of social graces!  Benjamin Leon and his entourage were very gracious and a kind group of people.

06 Nov 2012 4:44 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Alex'sBigFan

  Good to see you here, alive and reasonably well !!!!!!

06 Nov 2012 5:10 PM
TripleCrownKaren

All i can say, Steve is sometimes the nice guys DO finish first....and second!    The stretch duel between Fort Larned and my long time favorite, Mucho Macho Man was everything a racing fan hopes to see when they go to the track for these big days!   I think Kathy Ritvo & Mike Smith have absolutely NO shame in finishing second!   I've been watching Fort Larned all along, but I know how "Macho" is in a stretch duel.....he just does NOT give up and has so much heart!   This was a race that I think everyone will look back on as one of the GREAT stretch duels of recent times.   CONGRATS to connections of both of these horses!    Nice to know we'll be seeing more of them!  Also was thrilled to see Shanghai Bobby's run.....looked to me like he still needs to "mature" a little bit with his bit of loafing waiting for the others to catch up to him....he's the kind of horse that could give you a heart attack at the betting window!  :)

06 Nov 2012 5:53 PM
sceptre

A most deserving breeder/owner has won the BC Classic. The Whithams are, in the very best sense, throwbacks to what we once had. But, on top of that the Whithams are classy and humble people. They often breed their blue-blooded mares (and Arlucea is unquestionably that) to fairly unfashionable/contrarian stallions, yet time and again they produce quality runners. A few years back I tried, unsuccessfully, to purchase from them Izarra for a client. Clay Whitham was a pleasure to deal with, and it became obvious that their horses meant more to them than $. For years (I believe until only recently) Mrs. Whitham's breeding stock and foals were boarded with the Penn brothers. They too are throwbacks, and I'm sure also deserve credit for this success...On a separate note, I was a bit surprised that the telecast failed to mention that the winner was Bayakoa's grandson. They did mention Bayakoa, but not the winner's familial connection. Wouldn't have expected either Gary Stevens (poor as usual), or Randy Moss to know this, but Tom Hammond is usually up on such things. They missed a golden opportunity to underline Racing's rich heritage.    

06 Nov 2012 7:12 PM
Lammtarra's Arc

Saratoga AJ-  Your comment is pure and utter nonsense IMO.  Your judging Excelebration off a race in which he comes off of a 2 week rest, after running a lights out race in the QEII over very soft conditions at Ascot to come over here and run on a course that is as firm as you can get, and around a left handed turn in which he has never run.  Give me a FRESH Excelebration vs Wise Dan and we will see a much different more competitive result.  THEN you can start you nonsense about Frankel who would have left EVERY horse that ran this weekend in his wake at any distance up to 10.5f.   Wise Dan is a brilliant Miler who ran under HIS normal conditions, and track layout.  Bring that talented, and great Miler to Ascot in June for the Sussex and will see how he does.  AOB shipped his charge, now it is time for Lopresti to ship his the opposite direction next spring. Oh and Wise Dan hardly buried him considering he beat him by 2 lengths.

06 Nov 2012 7:22 PM
JorgeG

Beautiful piece Mr. Haskin!!!

Shangai Bobby showed a lot of courage, heart.....but we should pay attention to the VERY SLOW time. (1:44.58). No derby winner in that race.

06 Nov 2012 7:24 PM
Steel Dragon

Where are all the sore losers? I guess this ain't the place to vent...

06 Nov 2012 8:41 PM
davidr

Fort Larned loved the Santa Anita track; I hope they bring him back for the Santa Anita Handicap in March! Also, I can't believe NBC only showed the Classic and not any of the previous BC races. That's never happened.

06 Nov 2012 8:47 PM
Age of Reason

Midnight Lute, your denigration of Wise Dan comes across as sour grapes, in my humble opinion. Ranagulzion, you were right in your prediction that Wise Dan would emerge from the BC Mile as the leading HOY contender...Hey, I've been wrong enough times in my life that I've learned to be the first to admit when I was wrong, and I'd rather eat crow while it's hot! Royal Delta also has a very legitimate HOY case (her Ladies' Classic performance was very Azeri-like), but I will applaud Wise Dan if he is awarded our highest honor. On another note, and as someone has previously noted I will be seriously heartbroken if Animal Kingdom fractures anything else; I'm sure this hasn't been said before about a Kentucky Derby winner (at least in my lifetime), but as Animal Kingdom gets ready to turn 5 it seems that we still haven't seen the best of him.

I heard speculation before the BC Mile that Lopresti was thinking about running Wise Dan in the Dubai World Cup; boy, with Animal Kingdom, Royal Delta and Wise Dan all in the race, what a barn-burner that would be!

06 Nov 2012 9:24 PM
Paula Higgins

You know EOP, I never take pleasure in watching the disappointment of others. Personally, I felt really bad for Bob Baffert. He works very hard and he has had a very tough year with the loss of his father and his heart attack. As for Chantal Sutherland, she retired. ITA that Wise Dan should be HOTY.

06 Nov 2012 9:38 PM
Alex'sBigFan

ksweatman9,

My sentiments exactly on Animal Kingdom!  Amazing he had 2 career injury setbacks and to show up like this and take second is remarkable.  He ran huge and is a great athlete, agreed, he is truly a special Derby winner and he is showing us that.

Ok,Now.............this HOY business.....hmmmmmm........what

is the criteria again?.........One must win at least one Grade I?............ok, no horse can beat Colitis and Laminitis down the stretch of life and he did win the GI Haskell Invitational, the way I see it, taking nothing away from Wise Dan, this year's measurement of HOY requirements and criteria is taken off the track, Paynter still gets my vote.

Yes the NBC coverage was pitiful this year, only coming in on the

Classic in my area as well.  I got the TVG race replays after the fact, for what it is worth given the state of emergency and power outages in NJ, I may as well be thankful for seeing the BC races at all.  My point exactly though, is they show the TC races and the summer races, and when they get to the culmination of the racing year they bottom out with no coverage, go figure.  Great way to capture and maintain new fans, n'est-ce pas?

06 Nov 2012 9:57 PM
Alex'sBigFan

I know we are all going to get knee deep in the HOY thing soon enough.  I just rewatched Royal Delta's win in the Ladies Classic for the 10th time or so.  She could be the 4th female HOY yet.  She was posing and did not even look winded afterwards.  They say she poses for cameras too the way Zenyatta did, that intelligence and awareness is there.  Her headgear made her look like she had white pearls on top of her forehead and looked beautiful.  A  regal princess.  If not for Paynter's heroics there is quite a case for Royal Delta and Wise Dan as well, but I still choose Paynter as much as I just LOVE Royal Delta.  It's hard, but it's just my opinion that HOY extends beyond the track this go round.

06 Nov 2012 11:43 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Awesome Again's rising stud fee solidifies my HOY choice too, Paynter!  He's the sire of Dude and Paynter.  Japan may have IHA, but I think we have the edge on that one too so far because we have his sire with proven genetics Flower Alley.  The HOY mix is tough, IHA, Royal Delta, Dude, Wise Dan, but my choice still remains the same.

06 Nov 2012 11:56 PM
mz

I paid attention to either you or the other horse racing news guys and downloaded the App from Santa Anita and actually got to see Groupie Doll LIVE on my IPad.

I must remember this the next time I want to  make fun of how much we use the dumb things.  

And  I'm sorry if this has already been answered:  is Animal Kingdom staying in training?  This year, Wise Dan = HOY but if there is a futures book for HOY, I want to put some bucks down on AK.

.  

07 Nov 2012 12:12 AM
Footlick

Midnight Lute, I agree 100%.  You are wasting your time trying to explain.  And Age of Reason, Midnight Lute actually stated that Wise Dan was a brilliant miler, so I don't quite understand where Wise Dan was being denigrated.............

07 Nov 2012 12:32 AM
The Deacon

Your well written blog Steve is totally miles ahead of the actual races themselves. Congrats to all the connections of all the winners. Most impressive to me were the races of Trinniberg, Wise Dan and especially Animal Kingdom. AK had such a long layoff, if the race was 1 furlong longer I think he wins. My choice for HOTY is still I'll Have Another. The 3 grade ones and the grade 2 he won was simply amazing. I urge the voters to go back and re-watch those races. No sour grapes here, I decided not to do any betting. I just wanted to enjoy the races. I feel bad for Bob Baffert. Three triple crown near misses, a heart attack and then to be shut out in all BC races. He must be a tough guy to handle all of that.

I have a lot of respect for him. Horse racing is the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows, so cruel........... I didn't see any Triple Crown standouts either. He probably hasn't raced yet.

Steve, how did Awesome Feather come out of her race. I was shocked she didn't fire, thought she may have gotten hurt. Royal Delta and Our Miss Aurelia ran lights out.

Lastly the BC telecasts can do without Bob Neumeier and Mike Battaglia. Their picks and rumblings were a waste of time in my book. I love listening to Gary Stevens and Jerry Bailey, both are so knowledgeable........happy Thanksgiving to all.

07 Nov 2012 3:10 AM
Cassandra.Says

E O P: (and Paula and John from Baltimore)

Since you bring it up -- a little history on Chantal and the Dude.

They thought maybe he was a Derby horse, but he didn't show enough in the preps, backing up to 7th in the Fla Derby. Baffert got him after a part owner sold out and ran him in the Derby Trial where he was fifth. He won the Lone Star Derby and was 4th in the Belmont, which isn't nada but I thought it was his race to lose at the top of the stretch and he was outgamed by three others.

8 month break. Next spring Bejarano won an optional claiming on him, not impressively. Baffert had four going in the Santa Anita Hcp. Garcia, who had won on the Dude, rode something else. Bejarano rode something else. Nobody wanted him so Chantal got the ride.

The rest is history. This third-rate horse with a series of "bid and faltered" lines on his pps was suddenly a star. Or was he? Next under David Flores "bid and faltered" in the Charles Town Classic. With Martin Garcia, 3rd in the Lone Star Hcp. Chantal got him back in a memorable Hwd Gold Cup where he was headed by Twirling Candy, came back and outgamed him, only to be nipped by a nostril at the wire by late closing First Dude. Remember that one?

The girl and the horse were greater together than the sum of their parts.

So when people say it looks good on Baffert, it's based on a feeling that jocking Chantal off was an act of consummate ingratitude.

07 Nov 2012 4:22 AM
lunar spook

I hate to burst the bubble early but shanghai bobby will NOT be a factor in the triple crown hunt , he is a speed horse who can barely get a mile much less anything more , capo bastone and ive had enough will be the ones to watch !

07 Nov 2012 8:28 AM
Saratoga AJ

Lute,

Don't give me excuses. Dan whupped Excelerbration fair and square. And Frankel didn't show up, and thus lost his chance to confirm how good he is. A win here would have done a lot for his legacy. More so than beating up on the same horses across the pond.

So we'll never know if Dan could have beaten the so called super horse. And after following racing for over 50 years, I've seen enough to know the only sure thing in Horse Racing is that there is no such thing as a sure thing.

Dan is a rarity in today's Racing. He not only wins, but he wins at different distances over all three of today's racing surfaces. And his Beyers are on the top of each. How many other horses today can accomplish that?

07 Nov 2012 8:54 AM
Linda in Texas

Steve, this was a wonderful wrap up and a story made for a book. I had a feeling for Fort Larned the first time he ran. I heard in the post Classic interview that Fort Larned has a brother. I believe Mrs. Whitham said his name was Fort Wallace as she leaned over with a twinkle in her voice to reveal. She is just delightful. The entire family structure as regards Fort Larned is amazing.

And to the sale, having Havre de Grace and Plum Pretty on the same farm under the same blue skies is

a dream come true no doubt for their purchaser Ms. Pope. Plum Pretty is as her name implies. She is truly beautiful as well as Havre de Grace.

Take a look at Plum Pretty's up close photo on Bloodhorse.com.

Goodness how perfect can one face/head be?  

Alex'sBigFan. So good to know you

all are okay and safe. Simple things like just having the ability to put gas in one's vehicle is something we take for

granted until we lose it. The Jersey Shore and especially Cape May which i dearly love, the very point of Cape May is awesome, as you look across the water to the wonderful old lighthouse. The brightly painted shore homes and the ambiance i am so afraid will probably have been destroyed. But i hope will be rebuilt in due time.

Thank you Steve. Going to go back and read your article again and indulge my good imagination to picture myself as being right there on the outside looking in.

Saratoga AJ - i totally agree One Hundred Percent. Wise Dan is awesome. I think the connections sent their "b" horse Excelerbration to make a showing and if he lost, no harm done to Frankel. Wise Dan is no fluke. And just rewatching him race is a treat. But The Good Mr. "Deacon" is right "I'll Have Another" Hands Down, Hooves Up HOTY!

07 Nov 2012 11:34 AM
Footlick

Saratoga AJ- it is sad that you have to make such an effort to try to downgrade Frankel.  They never had plans to run here.  Wise Dan had conditions all in favor of him and he still couldn't beat Excelebration as easily as Frankel did.  And airplanes go both ways.  Wise Dan could have easily crashed the British Champions Day party and run in the QEII.  Of course, Americans seem to feel that it is the duty of Europeans to fly here to run and not reciprocate, with the exception of Wesley Ward and last year Todd Pletcher.  And, amazing as it is, even when they didn't do that well last year, the British were extremely gracious and loved the fact that they came.  They respect racing from all over the world.  They have held Wise Dan in high regard all year.  They also realize that running a 2 turn mile on a 7 furlong course with a rock hard turf course won't tell anyone which horse has the most ability, because it is biased toward the handier horse of the two.  And on BC day, that was Wise Dan.  Too bad you are so biased you cannot appreciate.

07 Nov 2012 11:38 AM
Footlick

Linda in Texas- Frankel and Excelebration have different owners and trainers.  Frankel was never, ever under consideration for the BC

07 Nov 2012 2:17 PM
Age of Reason

Footlick, I have almost always found great delight in reading your comments on this and other sites, but I must take exception with your last post. Don't look now, but your Euro-centrism may be showing. You criticized AJ for supposedly "downgrading Frankel", yet contradicted yourself in your reasoning. You implied that Frankel not running in the Breeders' Cup Mile is a non-issue because "they never had plans to run here", then immediately make an issue of the fact that Wise Dan didn't run in the QE-2, when his connections clearly never had plans to run there, either. Second, your negative comparison of Wise Dan to Frankel based on the reasoning that Wise Dan didn't beat Excelebration by a Frankel-like margin is ridiculous, and you know it. I've seen you correct people several times on HRN for trying to compare winning margins from race to race, so why are you doing it now? Besides, it isn't as if (as you said) that Wise Dan somehow "couldn't" beat Excelebration by more, for as many reporters noted Wise Dan won the Mile by a geared-down margin because he had the field at his mercy, and a blowout win would have just been overkill. I could point out several other things you said as well, like your statement that the Santa Anita turf course was somehow "rock hard" (simply false, even metaphorically so--and besides, would you have been happier with a pathetically drenched swamp-like turf course a la Monmouth in '07?), but suffice it so say that it seems to me that it is you who are too biased to fully appreciate Wise Dan's truly fine performance over the weekend, not the other way around.

07 Nov 2012 2:32 PM
DontHateMe

Hate to tell Mrs. Whitham that I do remember the Breeders cup race between Bayakoa and Go For Wand. Not just because of the injury, but for the fact that Go For Wand was about to lay the smack down on Bayacoa before she got injured. I think we could all see that coming!

07 Nov 2012 2:53 PM
Slew

I thoroughly enjoyed the BC races, and even moreso..Steve's recap.  The right person for the inside story.

Congrats to all the winners.

I really feel terrible for Bob Baffert, who has had heart aches all year, literally and figuratively.  Yes, I believe Chantal had a special rapport with Game on Dude...but..they lost to Dross last year in the Classic...and didn't Chantal just get married and retire from horse racing?  

Footlick:  Kenny McPeek has also run his string in the UK, and Carl O'Callahan took Kinsale King to the UK after his Meydan win.  The British are happy to see American trainers bring their horses, and quite a few of them do.

I did hit a trifecta...unfortunately it was for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th as Beholder beat them out in the Juvenile.  But Mizdirection did come through for me.  She and Royal Delta were the only winners I managed to pick.  But it didn't stop me from enjoying every race.  I did feel bad about The Fugue, who I felt was actually the best in her race, but who was kept pinned to the rail.  

07 Nov 2012 2:57 PM
Slew

I should have added that I thought Fort Larned ran an exceptional race, especially in his ability to stay ahead of Mike Smith on MMM.  (Of course my Ron the Greek, even with the fast pace, just couldn't get up there in time.)

As far as HOY...here we go again.  As good as Wise Dan may be, it's Royal Delta for me.  I thought she was the star of the 2 day meet, and she's coming back to run next year too.

07 Nov 2012 3:02 PM
Saratoga AJ

Footlick,

The Brits almost always rank their horses higher than those here. I believe the last American horse to be ranked #1 by the Brits was Curlin over four years ago. Even Zenyatta never was ranked #1. Right or wrong, they are prejudice about their horses, no doubt about it.

I am not trying to belittle Frankel, merely expressing my feeling that there may be a bit of exaggeration going on here.

And to tell you the truth, I would bet on Dan if they met. I'm sure he'd be the overlay! :)  

07 Nov 2012 3:26 PM
lunar spook

SARATOGA AJ-Do you really think wise dan would have beat excelebration if he was the one that had to travel 5000 miles , go thru qaurantine , race in strange weather on a strange course ? i think not ! if the american horses are as eager to show how good they are why dont they start making some trips to europe ?

07 Nov 2012 4:10 PM
Steel Dragon

Bombay Duck would've buried this juvenile crop.

07 Nov 2012 5:11 PM
Footlick

Age of Reason- whatever you think, the turf course at Santa Anita has been a freeway.  It is a hard, fast course that does not have a lot of cushion.  It has produced ultra fast times.  Whatever you think about me, go right ahead and think it.  You seem very sensitive on the subject of Wise Dan and if it makes you feel better to lash out at me or Midnight Lute you go right ahead.  Much has been made by many about the ease which Wise Dan beat Excelebration, and you all ignore the fact that it was Excelebration who shipped from the UK and went through quarantine and the had to run on a course much harder and tighter than he ever encountered.  I mentioned Wise Dan not shipping because he did not have to go through what Excelebration did.  I also mentioned the ease which Frankel defeated Excelebration, on courses suited to a European hors I might add so Excelebration would not have been at the disadvantage of having to handle courses and conditions that he had never seen before, because everyone was saying look how easily Wise Dan beat the celebrated Euro and that Frankel must be overrated because this celebrated Euro could not beat OUR horse.  So I pointed out that Frankel actually defeated this horse easier thanWise Dan did.  Do you realize how rare it is that a European horse wins by the margins Frankelhas won by?  AndI don't know how many times I have to repeat that I think Wise Dan is a wonderful horse.  If it makes you happy to label me and decide I do not appreciate the horse, the go ahead.  I'm done.

07 Nov 2012 5:22 PM
Saratoga AJ

Footlick,

The Brits almost always rank their horses higher than those here. I believe the last American horse to be ranked #1 by the Brits was Curlin over four years ago. Even Zenyatta never was ranked #1. Right or wrong, they are prejudice about their horses, no doubt about it.

I am not trying to belittle Frankel, merely expressing my feeling that there may be a bit of exaggeration going on here.

And to tell you the truth, I would bet on Dan if they met. I'm sure he'd be the overlay! :)  

07 Nov 2012 5:23 PM
Saratoga AJ

lunar spook,

Absolutely. He still would have beaten him, or perhaps any other horse, especially at one mile on grass. 2 week comeback? Why not. That horse is in a rare zone and has been all year. The amazing thing is he can do it on dirt, synthetic and grass. He tops both Beyer lists, grass and dirt/synthetic and actually has the top 3 Beyer ratings for grass. The surface doesn't seem to matter.

It will be fun to see what he does at 6. That's prime time for a gelding. And we really haven't had a truly great gelding since the days of John Henry, Forego and the immortal Kelso. Racing sure could use a star that shows up year after year and beats the best. Colts never hang around long enough. Geldings do.    

07 Nov 2012 5:44 PM
CHIEF PICAWINNA

As a reminder for those that have forgotten last year there were 9 starters from the Breeders Cup juvenile that started in the KD out of 20 in the race.The highest finish was third.I am going to test my thesis that the early developing colts will already have peaked long before the first Saturday in May and in 2013 there wont be any Breeders Cup starters that finish in the top 3.

07 Nov 2012 6:36 PM
Cassandra.Says

All Frankel's races are on YouTube. Why don't you just watch them if you suspect those who have watched them are over-rating him? Especially watch how many pounds and lengths he is superior to Excelebration.

Slew: Yes, Chantal just announced her retirement, but it was after she was jocked off Game on Dude. It doesn't strain credulity that such a humiliation and ingratitude led to that decision. (Or maybe she's pregnant. I don't really know.)

Game on Dude has earned c. $3 million in 21 starts, of which c. $2.5 million was earned in the nine starts Chantal was riding him. It really sticks out if you look at his whole career. Never good in the gate, but worst ever break in the Classic, and Ole Bid and Faltered returned to form. Yeah, Dross and others beat him but with Chantal he was game in defeat.

"Rapport" is a little misty to describe this. Before ever sitting on a racehorse, Chantal was an accomplished show jumping and dressage rider. Show jumping is a lot about keeping your horse's courage up, and dressage has centuries of technique devoted to establishing your unquestioned leadership without inhibiting your horse's elan and forward impulse.

There were probably dozens of potentially good horses that Chantal could have improved dramatically had anyone introduced them to her rather than trivializing her special skills.

07 Nov 2012 7:08 PM
Cassandra.Says

Saratoga A J:

Good grief. Now we're on to geldings as the stars to give racing continuity. The poorly bred, poorly made, too slow, or rogues who are early culls from the breeding population.

Connect the damned dots. Which in racing have their own websites, legions of fans, do encores? (Beat geldings.)

No wonder you lot didn't ratify the ERA.

07 Nov 2012 7:14 PM
Lammtarra's Arc

Age of Reason- No not at all. I called Wise Dan a brilliant Miler....because he is.  I just don't like when people run their mouth about a horse's result by being ignorant.  Like I said bring wise Dan the other way, and run the Queen Anne or the Sussex and let him do his thing.  He certainly will not post any 1:31's...but at least I get to see this fine creature run over the historic Rowley Mile, or Stewards Cup Course at goodwood.  He has the brilliance...send him!.

07 Nov 2012 8:15 PM
Saratoga AJ

Casandra,

You sound like you don't know what your talking about, dear. You certainly no nothing about the greats of years passed.

So Kelso and Forego were "the poorly bred, poorly made, too slow, or rogues who are early culls from the breeding population".

Outrageously naive comment.

They were huge stars because of longevity. There was no need to cut their great careers short because of the rush to get them in the breeding shed. Thus they were allowed to reach their full potential. If a race horse is ranked by the toughness of the competition, surely Kelso is the greatest of all time. He beat more great or very good horses, more champions, for a longer period of time than any other thoroughbred in modern history. FIVE HOTY titles in a row. Five. Against  the who's who of the early half of the 1960's. Do a little research.

That's the kind of race horse that becomes a star, and builds a fan base that lasts over several seasons. Racing sure could use  another Kelso.

I am not saying Wise Dan is in that category yet. But since he won't be  breeding anytime soon, he does have a shot at becoming one of the greats. With longevity.

07 Nov 2012 9:36 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Rachel Alexandra was a amazing. I think she actually is underrated because her dominance, stunning fractions and fast final times weren't continued after an amazing string of wins. She ran times and fractions that Dr. Fager would be proud of. The Mother Goose was 1:33.60 at the mile with a 9f time of 1:46.33, and The Haskell was the mile in 1:34.29 and the 9f in 1:47.21. She won nine in a row before finally being given a long break and then losing in her comeback race six months later. With the great ones who have a series of races like Dr. Fager and Damascus or Affirmed and Alydar the debate still won't be completely settled but at least people have something to argue about. If they never meet there is no answer. Great ones are great ones and that is it. If you wanted the dream matchup you'd have to throw Animal Kingdom in there with Wise Dan and Frankel. If you had three races they'd each probably win one. Groupie Doll wowed me, Little Mike shocked me, Trinniberg surprised me but it was brilliance resurrected so it shouldn't have, the duel between Fort Larned and Much Macho was a duel for the ages. The juvenile gave me Derby Fever. In the mile my WPS bet was Obviously who I thought would set the track record that day but Wise Dan was spectacular. Before Derby 2011 Steve Haskin said that Animal Kingdom was one that really caught the eye. Well he still catches the eye, unless you blink. I couldn't believe he got second. He came out of nowhere. If we get to see more than a few races from him next year we will be blessed. He is special.

07 Nov 2012 10:50 PM
Greg R

Back to Fort Larned and Mucho Macho Man.......!

Considering that F L got the jump on M M M and then M M M made up the margin ON THAT TRACK and running wider than the winner, I think that M M M was at least equally good in the Classic. I thought all along that M M M had the right profile to win a big race at ten furlongs on a fast track.  I just didn't count on F L's proving as good at ten f. as he had at nine f.

Flat Out's good run made you wonder, though, what he could have done that day on a fair racetrack.

08 Nov 2012 12:03 AM
Coldfacts

The MR. Prospector sire line continues its dominance of the BCC with 5 victories in the last 6 years. I wonder if Darley will try to retrieve E Dubai for the resumption of stud duties in the US. He is the fastest son of the great stallion. It appeared he was not getting the level of support befitting his pedigree and speed.

Ranagulzion,

Congratulations on some of your picks. However  you need to temper your enthusiasm as only two of them won.

Mucho Macho Man:

I did not specified that he could not win. I highlighted that THAS had defeated him on three of the four occasions they met.

Noble Tune:

He performed better that I anticipated due to the under performance of many of Euros. He was handily beaten by the one that showed up.

NB: Let me reiterate two victories in moderate times does not equate to star on the rise. That was the bigger point I was communicating.

Trinniberg:

He performed on a track that was tailor made for speed. My selection Sum Of The Parts was not good enough but ran well.

Wise Dan:

Should be HOY. The race did not turn out the way I expected. The surface appeared rock hard and that ended that chances of the closers. Animal Kingdom will be tough in 2013 if he can stay sound.

Groupie Doll:

I preferred DAD. Groupie Doll is an exceptional sprinter.

Rennesgotzip and Great Attack:

Who is Unbridled's Note? My selection lost a heart breaker. However I made a substantial profit from the race as I boxed him with the winner.

Optimizer:

He only wins when the opposition is mediocre. I was spot on.

"You lost your files but have you lost your mind"

Being incorrect does not equate to a lost of one's mind. In a horse race anything can happen. You have made predictions in the past that have not exactly turned out the way you expected. Did you loose your mind in those cases? Who would have believed that Speedy Bob would not have recorded a victory over the two days? Who would have believed that Little Mike would have defeated Point Of Entry and Sir Nicolas?

I will joint those who are of the opinion that the tack was not fair as it was extremely speed favotring. That said many horses under performed. It's the nature of the game.

Enjoy the victories recorded by your selections. You have been overdue for a good day as far too many occasions your face has been  covered with eggs.

08 Nov 2012 7:22 AM
Davids

Well, for what it's worth, my most exciting moments were watching Tapizar demolish the field with pure speed (great coaching by Richard Migliore), Hightail giving D. Wayne Lukas another BC trophy, and He's Had Enough's courageous attempt in extreme difficulty - most 2 year olds would have 'had enough' and retreated.

The racing 'gods' were blind to Bob Baffert, which was a shame, and the track bias was unfair. Fantastic 2 days though.

08 Nov 2012 2:14 PM
Ranagulzion

Coldfacts,

I see you're warming up. Keep trying until you get hot my friend. You'll need to be sizzling in 2013 to match strides with yors truly (LOL).

08 Nov 2012 4:53 PM
arrrrgh arrrgh ARRRGGGGH!

Saratoga AJ- Wise Dan is no John henry, or Forego. Now he will turn 6...will see how much longer he can win at the top level.  I will root for him. I always have love for the Geldings!

08 Nov 2012 7:14 PM
arrrrgh arrrgh ARRRGGGGH!

I agree with Lunar Spook and Midnight Lute.  If America finally has a solid top shelf turf horse...send him over the pond, and let him run in one of the 150 year old GR1 mile races, and show his ability to the part of the world on their courses. Why not the Dubai Carnival?.  The world cup, Dubai Duty Free Stakes or the Godolphin Mile?. Let see him run!

08 Nov 2012 7:18 PM
Coldfacts

Ranagulzion,

Just as one swallow a summer doesn't make, one day identifying two 9-5 and one 7-1 winner does not an expert handicapper make.

I did not go cold as I continue to follow the themes and posts but have limited myself to very few posts.

Self confidence is good. However, your history suggests many crash and burn moments await you are ahead.

That specified, let take this opportunity to again congratulate you on your good 9-5 day.

NB: Trinniberg lost his three races proceeding his BC victory. Does he deserve the eclipse for champion sprinter?

09 Nov 2012 8:03 AM
Ranagulzion

Coldfacts,

The inaccuracy of your Breeder's Cup selections etc tells the tale about your coldness (never mind the absence of facts).  Following the blog without posting is like a horse being prepared for a big race on long gallops only or on a few breezes. Admit it bro, you're a "short horse" on here (LOL). You need a couple of blog posting "races" under your belt to match strides with Rana (LOL).

10 Nov 2012 9:26 AM

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