2011 Crop No Flop

Few classic crops have been maligned more than the class of 2011. Well, perhaps it is time for the critics to re-evaluate their position.

The truth is, there have been few classic crops recently that have accomplished more over the next two years. It should be noted that we are differentiating classic crop from 3-year-old crop. Every year, we often see late-developing 3-year-olds become the dominant forces in the division, as many of the classic starters fall to injury or fail to maintain their form from the winter and spring due in many cases to the arduous nature of the Triple Crown trail.

This past weekend emphasized the impact made by last year’s classic horses, as two of its major stars – Shackleford and Stay Thirsty – made successful farewells in grade I stakes and now go to stud with unlimited potential, bringing with them an enticing blend of speed, class, and stamina.

The following demonstrates the overall impact of the horses who made their presence felt in last year’s Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes.

Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, with only one start in 17 months, turned in a spectacular performance to finish second to Horse of the Year favorite Wise Dan in the Breeders’ Cup Mile and now is considered one of the leading contenders’ for next year’s Dubai World Cup.

Preakness winner Shackleford captured the Met Mile, Clark Handicap, and Churchill Downs Stakes this year and finished second in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, Haskell Invitational, and Indiana Derby and this year’s Kelso Handicap.

Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice finished third in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, second in the Pennsylvania Derby, and third in the Haskell Invitational.

Belmont Stakes runner-up Stay Thirsty won the Travers and Jim Dandy and was third in last year’s Jockey Club Gold Cup. This year, he captured the Cigar Mile and was second, beaten a head, in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Mucho Macho Man, third in the Kentucky Derby, won this year’s Suburban Handicap and Gulfstream Park Handicap, was second, beaten a neck, in the Woodward Stakes, and ran his heart out to finish second, beaten a half-length, in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Kentucky Derby runner-up Nehro returned from an injury to finish second, beaten a nose, in this year’s Oaklawn Handicap before reinjuring himself.

Brilliant Speed, third in the Belmont Stakes, won the Saranac Stakes and placed in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, Sword Dancer, and Jamaica Handicap.

In summation, the horses who finished first, second or third in last year’s classics have gone on to win or place in 16 grade I stakes, including five Breeders’ Cup races – BC Classic twice, BC Turf, BC Mile, and BC Dirt Mile.

Also, Master of Hounds, fifth in the Kentucky Derby, went on to win a grade I stakes in Dubai and grade II stakes in Turkey this year, while placing in three other graded stakes in Dubai.

If you extend the premise into the summer, Haskell winner Coil went on to finish third against older horses in the Goodwood Stakes and this year captured the grade I Santa Anita Sprint Championship, was second in the grade II Pat O’Brien stakes, and third in the Cigar Mile.

Even looking at the horses who participated on the Derby trail, but didn’t make the Run for the Roses, To Honor and Serve came back to win last year’s Cigar Mile and Pennylvania Derby and this year’s Woodward Stakes and Westchester Stakes.

As we have been saying for years, the quality of a classic crop should not be determined until the following year after we’ve had a chance to evaluate the talent level and accomplishments of the horses who participated in the Triple Crown races. The fact that so many of the major players from last year’s classics are even still around and competing at the highest level is impressive and unusual enough. But considering how successful they’ve been in the year and a half following the Belmont, it should convince the skeptics that last year’s classic horses were much better than first thought.

The fairest of the fair

Having just returned from a magical three days in New Orleans, during which my daughter’s boyfriend of six years proposed to her outside Jackson Square, I have to mention the exhilaration felt by all of us attending opening day at Fair Grounds on Thanksgiving, which is racing’s best kept secret outside the state of Louisiana.

In addition to the warm hospitality by everyone at the track, especially Sandra Salmen, head of horsemen’s relations, and a magnificent Thanksgiving buffet feast (I’m still drooling over the cornbread stuffing), I was surprised what a festive tradition opening day has become. The grandstand was packed with enthusiastic fans, many of them parents with their children, and the ladies’ hats rivaled those seen at Churchill Downs on Derby and Oaks day. To top off the proceedings, the Thanksgiving Handicap featured several top-quality sprinters, including the victorious Delaunay, an up-and-coming star who has won five of his last six starts; Smile Sprint Handicap winner Gantry, coming off the Breeders’ Cup Sprint; and the hard-knocking multiple stakes winner Cash Refund. The final time of 1:08 4/5 demonstrated the speed and quality of the field.

What made this visit so nostalgic and gratifying was to see how beautiful the new plant has become since the devastating fire that destroyed the old grandstand in 1993. That just happened to be the last year I visited Fair Grounds. I was sent there in 1992 and ’93 at the request of ESPN to promote a new Daily Racing Form feature I had conceived, along with colleague Steve Feldman, called Derby Watch. That was 20 years ago and Derby Watch, with some conceptual changes, is still a popular feature in the DRF.

I remember suffering from such a bad case of nerves at the thought of being on TV, ESPN’s Bob Neumeier, who was interviewing me, had to give me a glass of water and massage my shoulders to calm me down. Thank goodness it was being taped and not live. And this was the second year I was doing it. The first time was with Dave Johnson and I had come down with a cold and we had to film it on the roof in the rain. I thought I had done great until I was told that the interview had run over nearly three times its allotted length and that I had drifted from one end of the platform on which we were standing to the other. It may have been the first ESPN interview in which the guest sniffled throughout the entire interview.

But even with all that, the memories I had of Fair Grounds were fond ones, and now to return two decades later the day after my daughter’s engagement made this a moment to cherish always. At least this time it was my future son-in-law who had been suffering from nerves and not me.

61 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Justine

Funny, I don't recall anyone badmouthing last year's three-year-olds. That's probably because everyone's so loudly disgruntled about this year's group of three-year-olds....

27 Nov 2012 3:18 PM
Binx Bolling

Steve,

Can you imagine how much of a spectacle the Breeder's Cup would be if it was ever held in New Orleans at Fair Grounds.  If any city can pull off an event like the Breeder's Cup, it is New Orleans.  The town is already in the rotation to host the Superbowl, Final Four and BCS/Sugar Bowls.  Why not racing's Superbowl.  Plus the weather in New Orleans in October is fantastic too.  I'm sure CDI and the State of Louisiana can figure out a way to make the dates work for a special event like the Breeder's Cup, and open to track to racing a little early.  Horsemen like the main track and the turf course.  As far as accomodating the crowd, the track already plans to use the infield for the Louisiana Derby and there is room to accommodate more temporary grandstand area.  I know mornings at Santa Anita are great, but picture the beignets in New Orleans.

27 Nov 2012 5:06 PM
Linda in Texas

Best Wishes Mandy. No place better

than Jackson Square in New Orleans.

Hope you had a Muffaletta Sandwich at the Jackson Square Market and Grocery. And the powdered sugared covered Beignets that go so well with strong N.O. coffee are unique.

And Steve, you are so spot on. How

many said right here on your place in the written word that there were not many horses worth watching what with the injuries. Not everyone can run like Man O' War.

But many of us kept the faith. It has been a nice year. The horses gave their best and that is appreciated.

Cornbread Dressing officially annoints you as a southerner Steve!

Welcome to our southern hemisphere way of good eating where in 1984 The World Fair was held in New Orleans and i was lucky enough to be there with my then husband and 2 boys. Cornbread Dressing is just a start!

So thanks for the memories for us all Steve. And to your 'to be' son in law. First of all you are gaining a talented and lovely lady! And you will be gaining a fine family young man. We love The Haskin's. Treat them all with tender loving care. And Mandy, we will work over your dad and take good care of him and remind him he has to stay home when you and your fiance go on your honeymoon! :)

Thanks again Steve, Joan, Mandy and 'future son in law.'

27 Nov 2012 6:12 PM
Steve Haskin

Linda, he proposed right after we had beignets at Cafe du Monde and then headed right to the Square. Afterward we stopped at Central Grocery and took out muffalettas and ate them on our balcony at the hotel.

27 Nov 2012 7:08 PM
TerriZ

Congrats on the engagement of your lovely daughter Mandy. And I am so glad that you had such a marvelous time in New Orleans.

Getting back to horse racing, it's just fabulous how my two favorite horses of the 2011 are uninjured and sound; they are Shackleford and Mucho Macho Man. Frank Mitchell wrote an article about the dam of Shackleford, Oatsee.

Oatsee, an Eclipse Award winning Dam of the Year, was bred by Bently Smith. And Mr. Smith bred his horses for soundness. Which brings up the question:  Why not breed quality horses for soundness?

One always reads about breeding for speed vs stamina. But why not put soundness into that equation?

I hope Shackleford will be successful as a sire and his dam is on her way to becoming a blue hen.

27 Nov 2012 8:13 PM
TerriZ

By the way, I hope that Gulfstream Park invites you down here for the Sunshine Millions and the Eclipse Awards on January 19th. There will be a luncheon on the next day honoring Mrs. Patrice Wolfson, a great horsewoman and owner of Affirmed.

Mucho Macho Man and Fort Larned are both spending the winter at Gulfstream; does this mean a rematch?

27 Nov 2012 8:19 PM
Linda in Texas

That was ideal Steve. I was curious, did anyone know he was going to propose? I remembered you mentioned a boy friend a couple of years ago i guess it was and i thought they had secretly been married. I think after 6 years it is love. But most of all the companionship for life that will count toward their happiness.

Cafe du Monde is a perfect place for him to have proposed. Did he do it right in front of Joan and yourself and everyone? I guess he must have.

Re: Muffaletta's. I was in N O for a Medical Convention to give a speech about parenting a child with Down Synrome. When it was time to fly home, i stopped and ordered 4 Muffaletta's and carried them on board. The entire cabin smelled like an Italian Market. I am basically German and French and other things, but I love anything Italian and can make them but it is the bread that is hard to duplicate. We did the same thing you all did in N O with Katz's Deli in New York City. We were staying at the Plaza across from Central Park and we took our huge sandwiches through the shi shi chandaliered lobby back to the hotel room and stood by the windows and watched the Horse Drawn Carriages parked along Central Park and the people ice skate on the pond. It was Christmas in New York.  

Great memories stay with you forever and i can still remember the Captain walking back thru the cabin asking who had the Muffaletta's? As he walked past my seat, he said 'never mind i am zeroed in on them.' There is a product that comes in a jar called Olive Salad made with green olives, pimientos and olive oil and you can almost make one if you find a country ciabatta or sourdough bread that is flatter than most. The Muffaletta came to be by the men who worked the produce stands in N O in 1906. You can 'You Tube' Muffaletta or Muffulatta and there is a great one showing how they are made.  

I know you are a very proud daddy

and rightly so.

Please know many on this blog  will probably share their stories with you as we bolster you for the big day! (first hint, extra handkerchief hidden inside Tux Jacket!)will come in handy.

Did you have your camera handy?

We hope so.

For hardliners i digressed and not a word of Horse did i mention in this long comment. But they are the heart of the matter and the reason for Hangin' With Haskin and i bet they won't mind a bit if we strayed a little from them since Steve lives and loves them too and

has such an important event to look forward to in his life.

Steve if this is too long. Please just read it yourself and delete it. Thanks so much. Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving.

27 Nov 2012 8:39 PM
Steel Dragon

Congratulations, Steve! I proposed to my wife outside the OTB on East 16th Street in Brooklyn minutes after Paraje won his first of 3 consecutive Display Handicaps. We celebrated down the street at Dubrow's. I guess we all have our own definitions of romance.  

27 Nov 2012 9:07 PM
Paula Higgins

Congratulations to the entire Haskin Family and the soon to be new addition! That is just wonderful Steve! I know you all must be so excited and happy. I wish them many long and happy years together.

As for the horses, they are quite a crop in my opinion. They really blossomed into some very good horses. I will miss Shackelford and look forward to Animal Kingdom. Mucho Macho Man will always be one of my very favorites. He tries so hard. he is a gutsy horse.

27 Nov 2012 10:45 PM
JoyJackson21

Oh my Goodness!!  How wonderful! Congratulations to your daughter and her fiance on their engagement, Steve.  The proposal sounds like it was joyful and elegant.  What a lovely, romantic venue New Orleans is in which to propose marriage.  All southern charm and great beauty.  I'm very happy for your daughter as she embarks on a new journey in her life, and for you and your wife at the glad tidings.  May your daughter and her new fiance have a lifetime of happiness together.

In regard to the column, the Class of 2011 is quite an accomplished group.  I personally love the comebacks of the mighty Animal Kingdom, and Stay Thirsty.  Shackleford is a total gentelman - he always gives an excellent effort no matter what.  The same is to be said for Mucho Macho Man as well, who I think has even higher heights to go to as a horse.  He's outstanding.  I had heard rumblings on other websites about their members thinking the talented horses from 2011 were not living up to their expectations, that the 2011 horses were not good, that their talent level was quite low.  At the end of 2012, we are hearing a far different tune from everyone - now we are hearing only accolades for the Class of 2011.  It's heartwarming to see this group of horses finally being vindicated by their racing excellence.  I think the same will prove to be true of the Class of 2012 at this same time next year.  Those that are still in training or are late bloomers will become mighty champions, and those who are now retired will begin on the road to proving themselves to be excellent at stud, or will be giving birth to their first crop of future champions.  I have high hopes for the 2011 & 2012 Classes.

Wow, Fair Grounds sounds like it is quite beautiful.  I think I would like to go there someday and see some races.  Maybe I should plan a little weekend trip down to New Orleans some time next year and visit Fairgrounds while I'm there.  I'm already planning trips to Saratoga and the 2013 Breeders' Cup for next year.  I might as well make it a travel trifecta, plan a trip to New Orleans & visit Fairgrounds as well. - LOL.

The column was enlightening, Steve.  Thank you, you did a great job, as usual.  And congratulations once again on the addition of your future son-in-law to your family.  

28 Nov 2012 12:03 AM
bijjjoux

Don't forget Royal Delta!

28 Nov 2012 3:42 AM
Barry Irwin

Steve, Graham Motion and I were saying the exact same thing last weekend after Stay Thirsty and Shackleford won Grade 1 races. This crop was much maligned during the season last year and the remarks about how substandard the horses were bordered on the mean. Now that these horses have proven how classy and versatile they are, it would be nice to see some of those detractors who knocked them come out in print with some well deserved praise for this crop, which now looks like one of the strongest in years. Thanks for stepping up Steve. Much appreciated.

28 Nov 2012 6:17 AM
Pedigree Ann

Years ago, I won the spring Keeneland on-line handicapping contest, which had as a prize a paid entry fee and some expenses for any qualifier for the Big Kahuna in Las Vegas. My first choice was Fair Grounds, because it is only the place I can find and cash on 15/1+ winners consistently. Alas, then Katrina happened and I had to go elsewhere. (Did NOT qualify.) So I have not yet managed to visit Norlins nor gone racing at the Fair Grounds. Sigh. Unless my hubby's professional association has a convention there, I'm more likely to see Belfast and Brussels again before I see Norlins.

28 Nov 2012 8:43 AM
Tiz Herself

Animal Kingdom

Shackleford

Ruler On Ice

Stay Thirsty

Mucho Macho Man

Nehro

Brilliant Speed

Coil

Soldat

All of these horses have given us memories over the last couple years and what makes it so much more special is that 2012 is the first year in a real long time where all three Classic race winners from the year Before (Derby/Preakness/Belmont) went on to race as four years old.

I for one am grateful to all of their connections and cannot wait to see more from the ones who are still racing and hope that it inspires other generations to keep star three year olds in training.

Let's not forget the other older horses that remained in training for which Wise Dan, Successful Dan, Awesome Feather, Plum Pretty, Royal Delta, Flat Out, Havre de Grace, It's Tricky, Acclamation, Caleb's Posse, TO Honor and Serve, Winter Memories, etc.

2012 was one of my favorite in recent memories. Thank you to all the connections who keep these horess in training. This Alberta girl surely appreciates it.

28 Nov 2012 9:03 AM
TerriZ

To Mr. Barry Irwin:

I hope you can bring Animal Kingdom to Ascot. Then you can beat the Euros on their own turf. And they can't complain about the firm turf or hard turns. And it would be great to honor your wonderful trainer, Graham Motion, by having the awesome Animal Kingdom race at Ascot in front of the Royal Family.

28 Nov 2012 9:08 AM
Melissa P

Congratulations on the "to be" son-in-law! Very glad you got to revisit New Orleans. Cafe du Monde is a must-visit. I remember when Dave Johnson interviewed me at the Spinster Stakes WAY back when the only "Talking Horses" on the computer was the on the old Prodigy boards. Amazing to think how long ago that was. I want to thank you for your great article on the "Class" of 2011. Appropriate word - class. I absolutely love all the horses you mentioned - Animal Kingdom showed true grit (and his connections amazing fortitude to bring him back to racing form). Shackleford danced every dance. Mucho Macho Man continues to improve. Brilliant Speed, being a Dynaformer, was a special favorite. I was a fan of his sire, and his sire's sire. Maybe this could be a wake-up call to the breeding industry that horses bred for soundness (instead of just precocious speed) are a good investment. Okay, maybe I am dreaming.

28 Nov 2012 9:46 AM
BlueHen

Happy retirement to Stay Thirsty!  Anybody else notice that any time Stay Thirsty finished on the board, it was at one of NY's tracks?  He must've known he was in his home state, haha.  We'll miss him a lot.  Congratulations on your daughter's engagement. :)

28 Nov 2012 10:00 AM
Coldfacts

TerriZ,

The section of your post listed below captured my attention.

“And Mr. Smith bred his horses for soundness. Which brings up the question:  Why not breed quality horses for soundness?”

While most breeders are focused on breeding their mares to quality and commercially appealing stallions, there is no evidence that soundness is seen as a lower priority than speed and stamina.  It is the hope of every breeder that their youngsters will stand up to the rigors of training and competition.  Irrespective of the methodical selection of mating partners that are likely to produce soundness, there is really no guarantee that a horse will not suffer from unsoundness issues.  Admittedly, if I were in the breeding business there are certain stallions I would definitely avoid due to historic unsoundness issues with their runners.

Shackleford is truly an exceptionally tough thoroughbred. I highlighted this on numerous occasions in 2011 when he was my selection for the Eclipse award for Champion 3YO male. In a series of races that commenced with his heart breaking loss in the Florida Derby and ending with a similar loss in the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile, he covered 75 ¾ furlongs in seven G1 races. He defeated every top 3YO including the Derby winner. He survived unscathed the ultimate test for 3YOs i.e., the Triple Crown. For his share toughness, consistency and body of work, I firmly believed he was deserving of the Eclipse award for Champion 3YO male. A champion should not only be determined on the basis of races won or their importance. I remain amazed to date that in an era of fragile thoroughbred, his BOD was only good enough to secure less than five votes. Caleb Posse who avoided all the top 3YO races and with whom Shackleford shared a victory and a loss in their two meetings, was just a few votes short of securing the eclipse. What were they thinking?

Will the horse affectionately known as The Shack Attack do well in the breeding barn? My guess would be no as his efforts on the track suggest he has left himself there.

28 Nov 2012 10:09 AM
lunar spook

I think the fact that this was such a balanced and deep class made it look mediocre at first because we didnt have one emerge as the next superstar horse, that said i now believe we will look back in a few yrs and appreciate how versitle this group really was !

28 Nov 2012 10:47 AM
Sam Santschi

Thanks Steve!  It was great to watch Shack go out on top and have MMM and AK back for next year.  Congratulations and thanks for sharing your family's good news with us.  NOLA always fun and magical to visit.  Next time hopefully I'll go when FG is running.  James Graham is really lighting it up down there!

28 Nov 2012 11:32 AM
Bigtex

Steve, at least you didn't pull a joe Namath and try to kiss your ESPN interviewer!

And let's not forget Uncle Mo.  Perhaps under better circumstances he might've been remembered differently.

Last time in New Orleans I had some awesome shrimp & goat cheese crepes!

28 Nov 2012 11:50 AM
Karen in Texas

Steve---Great observations and follow-up on the 3y/o's of 2011! Shackleford, Animal Kingdom, and Mucho Macho Man are my personal favorites, and it was so satisfying to see them continue to go forward successfully in 2012. Shack's victory in the Clark was perfect punctuation for his career!

Thanks so much for sharing Mandy's engagement story! New Orleans is a magical, lively, romantic city--Katrina could not keep her down. I've not been there since 1999, but plan to visit again soon.

I read on another site that Oatsee is going to be bred to Frankel. That should be a foal awaited with interest by everyone on both sides of the Atlantic!

28 Nov 2012 12:52 PM
Grande Fan

Glad the Haskin clan enjoyed NOLA and Fair Grounds. Congratulations to Mandy and her fiance....this will be her next great adventure :)

Only NOLA can make you feel so graciously welcome and always wanting to return. The racing plant and the crowds are invigorating...always looking to see who will lead the parade into triple crown - May 2013 be all celebration: on track and at home.

28 Nov 2012 1:19 PM
OsoDelDesierto

Steve, best wishes and congratulations to Mandy, her fiance, and you and the family for such a wonderful development! I can't think of a better city for such a proposal - I love NOLA (and Cafe du Monde beignets!) and hope to visit Fair Grounds to enjoy the racing there next time I'm in town.

Your blog was a delight to read and a reminder that it can be really difficult to assess the quality of a "classic crop" while they're still on the Triple Crown Trail - despite all the claims of mediocrity posted on these boards at the time, the last year and a half has really shown the talent of those who attended the 2011 dances. I'm sorry to see Shackleford and Stay Thirsty leave the track for the breeding shed, but look forward to seeing their offspring in a few years, and will still follow Animal Kingdom and Mucho Macho Man next season with high hopes of seeing some great performances from them!

28 Nov 2012 1:46 PM
longtimeracingfan

First, congratulations to all on your daughter's engagement. Here's hoping the young man at least LIKES horses a bit, doesn't have to be a horse nut like so many of us. He obviously has good taste, and if he's been her boyfriend for six years he definitely knows what's what in the Haskin family.

Like so many, I was delighted to see Animal Kingdom's strong comeback, and the late-season successes of Shackleford, Stay Thirsty, MMM, in particular, but of all who were kept in training for their 4 year old year. Some will even be back at 5, which is an exciting prospect. Lots of pertinent comments above. The only one I disagree with, only slightly, is the one that says Shackleford may have done his best on the racetracks. Methinks that a horse with an excellent dam, brought along to race into and through his fourth year, will be a success in the breeding shed. He likely won't be a flash success, but will be solid and reliable and his runners may just improve with age. So as a freshman sire--- maybe not. But watch out when he gets to his second and third crops. Just hope he can attract some good mares.

I'd vote for BC at Fair Grounds! I think it's better to move the BC around a bit... two years in one place would be the most I'd like to see. We have so many great places here in the States, why not show them off, especially one in such a picturesque community and with decent weather to boot?

Okay, Steve, last request is for a photo of the happy couple. <G>

28 Nov 2012 2:23 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Congratulations Mandy !!!  I'm sure that you have a decision making process of equality based on fair grounds.

28 Nov 2012 3:07 PM
Greg R

I wish I had kept track of all the years when it was popular to knock the classic OR 3-yr-old crop.  Hasn't that been more common than not?

When you reevaluate the 2011 bunch, as you have done so carefully, and then remember that Animal Kingdom was most likely the best of his year, that elevates his stature even more.  The fact that he couldn't complete the year was a big disappointment, so we're heartened that he is back for awhile.

Never been to Big Easy, but suppose this would be the time of year to go.  3/4 of the year, it would steam me to a glob.

28 Nov 2012 3:15 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

The Factor, Caleb's posse and Alternation weren't too shabby. Who knows how good Premier Pegasus and Archarcharch would have been without injuries but they sure gave us some 3yo thrills. I still say that Uncle Mo is underrated and never got the opportunity to show his greatness as a 3yo because of serious illness. We can be thankful for the owners of Shackleford, Mucho Macho Man, Stay Thirsty, Animal Kingdom and others for bringing them back to race as 4yo which is really the only way to ever gauge the greatness of a class. Animal Kingdom was a Derby winner who was injured. How many owners would have taken the breeding money and run rather than bring him back? "It looks like gub" It took patience, perserverence, confidence, money and dedication to bring AK back to race again, and for us fans it has already been well worth it. Stay tuned for more thrills to come.

28 Nov 2012 3:26 PM
Alex'sBigFan

A big Congratulations to Mandy!!!! How exciting for her.  What a lovely Thanksgiving and horse outing for the Haskin family.  I wish you all many, many more happy outings together at the tracks or farms.  Mandy is going to make a beautiful bride.  I'm imaging a proud Steve walking her down the aisle sometime soon.

I'm proud of Thirsty and Shackleford and Animal Kingdom.  I agree the Classic crop was pretty good.  We'll never know "what could have been" with the 3 year old crop though, besieged with all those injuries.  We'll never know if 2012 would have been the year of the next TC winner had we had an uninjured IHA. We'll just never know.

I had a great Thanksgiving too.  I drove out of the car dealership the day before with a brand new car.  No more getting towed off the middle of highways or in snowstorms.  C'mon Steve, trade in that mileage and go for it too!

28 Nov 2012 5:47 PM
Steve Haskin

Thank you, everyone, for your congratulations. It was a magical moment and I've never seen Mandy so happy. It set the stage for an unforgettable three days.

28 Nov 2012 8:19 PM
TerriZ

Coldfacts, I really appreciate your input, knowledge, and expertise on Shackleford. However, Dale Romans turned him out at the farm quite a few times to give him a break. And Romans said that after having him for a while he realized that Shack loved to be trained hard.

He's a throwback to the sturdy thoroughbreds of yesteryear. And to his great grandfather, Secretariat.

Of course, what he does in the breeding shed is quite another matter. But he surely has some great pedigree including Roberto, Dr. Fager, and Storm Cat. Some only looked at the speed and short distances in his pedigree but not the stamina. Time will tell.

29 Nov 2012 6:11 AM
Steve Haskin

Linda, if I knew I had to stay home I wouldnt have approved it. Who is going to take photos of them and drive them crazy?

We did know he was going to propose and where and when, so we made ourselves scarce and let them go off together.

Terri, unfortunately, my winter trips to Gulfstream are no more.

Steel Dragon, youre a man of my own heart :)

No BigTex, I resisted that impulse. And Dave johnson isnt quite as attractive as Suzie Kolber.

29 Nov 2012 9:47 AM
Fran Loszynski

You know Steve this is just an observation as a fan but since breeding is more for speed now those legs need maybe another year to get strong. Maybe we should run racehorses at four and five until we can get the good ole' farm horse in their blood and in their breeding. Two year-olds and three year olds are perky and light on their feet but boy coming around the Belmont bend they need wicked muscles in those hoofs and legs. Case in point, look how great Shackleford ran, and can't beat the power of Seabiscuit and Secretariat, Afleet Alex, Birdstone to mention a few. Speed and speed doesn't cut it, speed and muscle do.

29 Nov 2012 11:12 AM
Coldfacts

TerriZ,

I made a case for Shackleford to be given another chance heading into the 2012 Florida Derby after his Fountain Of Youth flop. As usual I was regarded as being crazy as the much heralded Dialed In just had to face the starter and the victory would be his. Shackleford ran his heart out that day and his heart breaking loss robbed me of major bragging rights but lined my pockets with an enormous amount of cash. The records will reflect he left the gate at 60-1. He ran his heart out in that loss and his effort in the FL Derby represented a sneak preview of what was be expected in subsequent races.  He was fully extended in Kentucky Derby, Preaknesss, Belmont, Haskell, Indiana Derby and Breeders Cup Dirt Mile. Rarely does a 3YO cover 75 ¾ furlongs in a span of 8 races.

In recent times some of our most successful stallions are not those that consistently laid their bodies on the line.  May be I have bias toward lightly race stallions whose careers’ were comprised of mostly easy victories. Sharckleford contested 18 races after breaking his maiden and I can sate without fear of being challenged that he was fully extended in all but one. His Clarke effort was by far his least stressful race.

I can only hope that I am again engaging in nonsense and that my assessment is baseless. I am the Shack Attack’s biggest fan and although I have my doubts, I hope his determination and toughness will be successfully transferred to his runners.

29 Nov 2012 11:18 AM
TerriZ

Cold Facts,

I'm having Shackelford withdrawl and memories of him are returning now that Gulfstream is opening soon. Thankfully, Mucho Macho Man will be running there as well as Animal Kingdom, Fort Larned, and Awesome Feather.

I used to call Tackleberry and Shackleford the Rodney Dangerfields of horse racing. They didn't get any respect. But boy were they game horses.

And I suspect that many of us are so attracted to Shack on many different levels. Firstly, his princely appearance and well muscled conformation harken back memories of Secretariat. And his antics on and off the track reminded me of Terlingua.He knew he was royalty and showed it.

I think it's those memories of Shack are one of the reason that Dale Romans is going to Oaklawn Park instead of Gulfstream this year.

29 Nov 2012 5:47 PM
Pedigree Ann

I was under the impression that Hard Spun gave it all he had in the Derby, BC Classic, etc. He's started out pretty well at stud.

29 Nov 2012 7:00 PM
sceptre

Your title reminds me of:

"Sugar Pops Are Tops".

29 Nov 2012 8:49 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Pedigree Ann

  I am sure that there are many successful sires who were tough customers with strenuous careers. As far as the Derby is concerned you always have to judge the fractions and performance in relation to the track surface and other races run that day. Hard Spun was superb in The Derby 2007, leading most of the way before being overtaken by Street Sense. Hard Spun gave it his all and is going to be a very successful sire. His Derby fractions were 22.96, 46.26. 1:11.13, 1:37.04. He lost by 2 1/2 lengths, the final winning time was 2:02.17. Shackleford led most of the way in Derby 2011 with fractions of 23.24, 48.63, 1:13.40, 1:37.49. He finished in 4th place losing by about 3 1/2 lengths. He had tough race after tough race for a long time. Very few horses nowadays can survive his rigorous schedule. As far as Derby's are concerned, the amazing one as far as fractions is Bodemeister this year. He led most of the way, only losing by 1 1/2 lengths. Fractions-22.32, 45.39, 1:09.80, 1:35.19. The winning time was 2:01.83. I was looking forward since 2007 to Hard Spun's career as a sire. I am looking forward to Shackleford's career as a sire. He'll be shacked up a lot. He'll be very popular with the ladies. I'm really looking forward to Bodemeister's career as a sire, out of Empire Maker, with his speed and stamina, is going to be a very popular sire and I expect his offspring to do very well.

29 Nov 2012 9:40 PM
Paseana

On the topic at hand, horseplayers are notoriously negative in their opinions.  It does seem that 3yos have to look like the 2nd coming (fill in the blank as to who) in order to get positive reviews.

I really think that the rise of "numbers" and the fact that they are so easily accessed has a lot to do with it.  The consensus seems to be that if no horse in a particular crop of 3yos has been able to earn a BSF of over, say 103, that means that they are a bunch of plugs.  OK, whatever.

Steve, you have pointed out that this "bunch of plugs" from 2011 have acquitted themselves quite well, thank you very much!  I'm really glad that you spoke up!

And congratulations to your beloved daughter Mandy.....may the happiness she has now be only a smidgen of what is to come!

30 Nov 2012 12:56 AM
JerseyBoy

This was an excellent review Steve. Nice to see the horses stayed in training as 4yos.

However, I see some comments about the duration of a horse’s racing career and his success at stud. I never thought there was any connection.

Danzig and Malibu Moon had brief careers. Northern Dancer made 18 starts. Storm Cat made 8 starts.

At the other extreme we have Dynaformer who made 30 starts and Stay Gold, sire of Orferve, the Japanese Triple Crown winner. Stay Gold made 50 starts.  Both must have had tough races because they were beaten several times.

This is a non-issue as far as I can see.

I think Stay Thirsty and To Honor and Serve will do well.

30 Nov 2012 10:26 AM
Alex'sBigFan

Dr. D.,

Too funny about Shackleford being "shacked up a lot."  Definitely agree about Hard Spun's prowess as a sire.  He's got to be near the top of the sire list.  His daughter, Questing, is rated even better than him per the Darley website.  I went flying there after reading Hard Spun stuff here, apparently he is shuttled to Australia and Street Sense too because they both come up in the stallion list at Darley USA and Darley Australia at Northwood Park and Kelvinside respectively.  More little shuttlebutts abounding from those trips I assume!  Hard Spun was my second favorite equine of all time.  He is a looker for sure, has got speed and soundness.  Maybe a modern day ironhorse.

I keep thinking of the lady I met at Belmont Park recently who was crazy about Shack.  She was all dressed in Shack's silk colors, hat and all.  She had all kinds of Shack paraphernalia and was giving out Shack bracelets to fans. She was fun and I told her she ought to go talk to Dale Romans.  She says to me, "Oh we do, he thinks we're crazy!!!"  In a nice kind of way she meant.  I am thinking of her because she must be heartbroken about Shack's retirement.  Hope she gets to visit Shack.  He was a beautiful color, resembled Curlin and Secretariat, sometimes looked like a quarterhorse, was gutsy and determined and he will be missed.

Baby Names:

Spin Out

Spun Silk

Turkospin

Whirling Dervish

Shackin' Up

The Shack Attack

Mack The Shack

What will get us through the winter now?  I know!  Steve with Zenyatta visits, Paynter visits, Smarty stories, etc. until the Derby preps begin!!!

30 Nov 2012 5:46 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Alex'sBigFan

  Sugar Shack

  Shack the Knife

  Shack Shake

  Shacklefordski

  Readymadeshack

  Shacknsack

30 Nov 2012 8:37 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Two more and that's it !!!

  Shackadellic

  Unshackled

30 Nov 2012 9:10 PM
Bigtex

Steve, but had it been Suzie Kolber…???  I know, I know you don't want it on record!

Shackleford will have:

Shack n Jive

Shack's Lil Taz

Shack's Cadillac

30 Nov 2012 11:32 PM
Bigtex

Would we get "Shackatta" from Shackleford and Zenyatta?

Or Rachelford?

30 Nov 2012 11:36 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Dr. D.,

Cute!  We'll add Love Shack and

Jack of all Shacks!  Pour me a glass of white wine and we can dream up names all night!!!  Happy weekend.  Wish I was in sunny southern Cal., it's like 37 degrees as I write this, UGH!!!!!

30 Nov 2012 11:57 PM
Alex'sBigFan

How about Oatsee and Frankel?  

Oats&Franks

Frankoat

Hey wait a minute, if Vertigineux is about 8 or 9 years old and they bred her to Bernardini to get Elbouissante, does that make her a cougar??????  Go Vertigineux!!!!!!

01 Dec 2012 12:02 AM
longtimeracingfan

Methinks Zenyatta is the one who is presently 8 years old... and there are older siblings to her, so "V and Tapit" and "V and Bernie" might have been cougar combos awhile back, but both Bernie and Tapit now have sons standing, so... not such teenage boys anymore.

STEVE!!! I have a request for you. Next time you are in Lexington it would be wonderful if you could visit Calumet in its current incarnation and do an article or blog (with photos!!) on them. Hopefully you would meet the three young stallions who will hold court there next year... one of them being Lentenor. And one other leeeetle question, I can't find anything on Nicanor, know he is retired, but where is he?? And what is he doing?? Thanks to ANYONE who can shed some light...

01 Dec 2012 2:16 PM
Ted from LA

Love Shack.

01 Dec 2012 3:15 PM
Linda in Texas

What a treat to open up my computer every day, first tab i hit is Bloodhorse.com/Blogs/Hangin'With Haskin. Voila!

And here i find all the amusement in the world. The names for Shackleford's  babies to be are clever. Poor guy isn't even finished relishing his great wins and we have him in "the shed."

Now i am thinking up names. I guess we will have to take into consideration the dam occasionally.

So far i like Sugar Shack for a filly and Mack The Shack for a colt.

Have a nice week end folks, and ABF hope you and all those affected by Sandy are finding a little more of civilization each day. No more trips to Cape May for a while i presume. I hope the Lighthouse survived off the tip of NJ across the waters from Cape May.

Be safe. Thanks Steve.

01 Dec 2012 3:22 PM
Davids

It's amazing what nerves can make you, unwittingly do. Funny story.  Yes, the perennial 'bad crop' is here to say.

Original thought, after all, takes time and contemplation. Who has time for thought with the internet ratcheting up the next 'story' before the past disappears in the blink of the eye.

Steve, with that in mind, have you had time to fashion a 'Derby Dozen' yet? I have a rough 'baker's dozen which doesn't include the 2 year old champ.

01 Dec 2012 7:28 PM
Coldfacts

I will concede that I have constantly engaged in nonsense. My greater crime is the fact that I share my nonsense with others. Let me reassure all that it’s not an attempt to be controversial.

I have repeatedly written about the success of the Raise A Native sire line.  The reason I do this to the annoyance of many is due to the fact that I am still searching for answers for its success.

Raise A Native made on 4 starts and subject to correction none were beyond 5 ½ F. He either equaled or set NTR in three of those starts. For his exploits he secured the title of Champion 2-Year Old Colt. Did the injury that ended his career rob us of a potentially great thoroughbred or did it lay the foundation for what has become the RAN stallion dynasty.

His four prominent sons sired the winners of 7 Triple Crown races and stallions connected to those sons have accounted for the winners of 41 TC races. If the Derby/Preakness winner sired by RAN is included, it brings to 50 the total number of TC races won horses sired from his dynasty.

Why mention Raise A Native a horse that was foaled in 1961? Here is a classic case of a well-bred lightly race stallion whose stallion line continues to dominate international racing 50 year after he commence stud duties. Who could have imagined that a horse that spent so little time on the track and at sprint distances could have such an impact in the breeding shed?  Another brilliant, lightly race sire was Danzig. Although Mr. Prospector made 14 starts, he was never required to lay his body down over 75 3//4F in a span of eight races. Street Cry only made 8 starts and in his first two seasons he sires horses that won the Derby , Melbourne Cup and Breeder Cup Classic. It might appear that I have again tailored the facts to support a case for lightly race stallions as opposed to those that had long hard careers.  This would be a reasonable assessment. I am sure a list of stallions that had hard knocking careers can be presented in rebuttal but none will have the legacy of Raise A Native.

Are the most successful stallions the ones that did not have hard and stressful careers?  I have not accumulated sufficient data to give an informed opinion. What I can state is that the one associated with the most success sire line made only four starts. How significant is the number and the nature of starts? Undetermined! However, if Shackleford were an orange no one would dispute that this orange had been squeezed dry in the 75 ¾ furlongs covered in 8 races.

I wish the stallion to be well but I cannot help but think that a stallion career was an afterthought for connections.  If were a farm owner Shackleford would be way down on my list of new recruits due to his road well-travelled.

On the subject of names I like ‘Shackademus’

02 Dec 2012 10:40 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

The New York Yankees are moving to Japan.

02 Dec 2012 4:04 PM
steve from st louis

Mazel Tov on your daughter's engagement. I'm sure Mandy fell in love with a good do'er. Nothing but the best. Speaking of nothing but the best, what about In Lingerie going to Frankel? That's a match made in the winner's circle. I hope they name the foal, male or female, "Bobby Sox".

03 Dec 2012 5:55 PM
Annir

Steve what are your opinions on the Vox Popli (Or whatever spelling it is) nominees?  I must say I am not too happy...I took this award to mean a horse that was special throughout the season to the fans/people  in racing.  Other than I'll Have Another it seems like the nominees are pretty much just going to be the champions this season...not really the "peoples" horses.

Without a doubt I thought Shackleford would be on there!  He had a huge fan base, danced every dance, had wonderful connections which allowed meet and greets with him before the Breeders Cup.  Or what about Paynter?  Such a courageous horse who really seemed to mean a lot to so many people.  Watching his recovery, him fighting so darn hard, and seeing how amazing he's doing now were some of the best moments this year.  Ugh maybe I'm just a big sap.... Just so disappointed with the nominees.  End rant.

04 Dec 2012 11:19 PM
TerriZ

Well Shack, the Iron Horse, has retired. And if breeders want soundness, a great pedigree, speed, and a horse that can run a mile and change, Shack is a great bargain.  It only costs $20,000 to breed to a grade one winner related to Roberto, Dr. Fager, and Storm Cat.

Shack represents a great opportunity to improve the soundness of thoroughbreds.

By the way, I was wrong about Roman's racing schedule. He is at Gulfstream. A raffle is being held to see Little Mike along with Dale Romans at Gulfstream.

50 winners will be chosen to participate on Dec 16th. The $1 raffle tickets, to benefit retired thoroughbreds and disabled jockeys will be sold at Gulfstream.

05 Dec 2012 8:31 AM
Groupie Doll

longtimeracingfan:  

Nicanor will stand stud next year at Shamrock Farms in Woodbine, Maryland.  The farm was founded by Art Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

06 Dec 2012 12:51 PM
Age of Reason

Coldfacts:

On the argument of whether or not a hard racing career can make or break stallion potential, I must respectfully disagree. Genetically, Shackleford is the same today, and will be the same until his dying day, as he was from conception. As I'm sure we would agree, it is a stallion's genes which determine his potential at stud--words like "prepotent" and "dominant", "homozygous" and "heterozygous" spring to mind.  I've never read any scientific evidence which might suggest that Shackleford's, or any breeding horse's, genes (specifically the way those genes express themselves when being passed on to offspring), which will control whether or not he makes a good stallion, could be in any way affected by the rigors of athletic training. Respectfully, I think you may have fallen into the very tempting logical fallacy of "Post hoc, ergo propter hoc"--"After this, therefore because of this". A post-hoc fallacy is a leap in logic which assumes that, if event B follows event A, then there must be a causal relationship between the two events when that isn't necessarily the case at all. It would be like a high scool student who gets an A on their exam and thinks, "Gee, I ate at McDonald's on my way to the test, and I got an A; I must have gotten an A because I ate at McDonald's before the test!" I think you may be making the same mistake in your hypothesis about lightly-raced stallions making better sires; just because stallion ABC only ran a couple times and made a better stallion, whereas stallion XYZ ran for four years and didn't do very hot at stud, does not mean that their potential for success (or lack thereof) was affected by their racing career. But of course, that's just my opinion, and I respect the obviously-well-thought-out manner in which you came to your opinion also.

06 Dec 2012 3:51 PM
Paula Higgins

Just so everyone knows, you CAN vote for Paynter by writing him in  on the Vox Populi Award on the Secretariat.com site. Alot of people complained because Paynter wasn't listed by the nominating committee. So this was the fix, which works for me. So please, consider voting for Paynter by writing him in. This is such a deserving horse and his connections are as well.

06 Dec 2012 7:17 PM
Slew

I always said this was a very good crop, but some couldn't see it because there were so many equally talented colts and fillies.  A different horse was winning each the Derby preps, and no one horse stood out above the others.

But now...their talent is blossoming...and aren't we, as fans, thrilled to see them emerge.

Congratulations on Mandy's engagement.  It was the perfect City on the perfect day.  (I know...I fell in love with New Orleans so long ago.  My daughter still lives there.  She also fell in love with NOLA and the people who live there.)

What a beautiful, perfect site for a proposal!

09 Dec 2012 8:40 AM
Slew

Age of Reason: Well stated.  Unfortunately, coldfacts tries to present his opinions as facts.

He once stated that well raced mares were less likely to be productive of winning progeny.

And coldfacts ignored us even when we were quick to point out Urban Sea and Personal Ensign as prime blue hen debunkers of his statements.

Some folks are simply too wrapped up in their own opinion to pay attention to real facts.

12 Dec 2012 8:43 AM

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