Haskin's Derby Trail: The Powers of Illusion

Not everything on the Derby trail is what it seems. There are so many twists and turns it is often futile to plot a course and expect every step to go as planned. This applies to everyone, not just trainers and owners.

So, when all the “experts” say a horse can’t go a mile and a quarter or is too slow or is regressing instead of moving forward, that doesn’t necessarily make it so.

Picture the following scenario. A horse begins his career in spectacular fashion, but does so against maidens, state-breds, and in a non-graded stakes that is not known for producing Derby winners. On top of that, his sire was a sprinter/miler who had not produced any distance horses; his dam never won over a mile in 39 career starts, and his broodmare sire was a champion sprinter.

In the horse’s fourth career start, going a mile in a non-graded stakes, he opens a two-length lead at the eighth pole and then has to be hard-ridden in the final furlong, hanging on to win by three-quarters of a length, while coming home his final half in a sluggish :51 3/5 and slowing down to a :26 1/5 final quarter.

His last three three Beyer figures drop from a 105 to a 97 to a 95.

Clearly, this is a horse who will not get a mile and a quarter and who is going the wrong way, getting slower instead of faster. In short, this is a good horse, but not a Kentucky Derby horse.

That horse was named Smarty Jones. To demonstrate how unpredictable this sport is, Smarty’s dam, I’ll Get Along, sold as a yearling to small-time Pennsylvania owners and breeders Roy and Pat Chapman for $40,000. In 2001, I’ll Get Along dropped an Elusive Quality colt who they would name Smarty Jones after Pat Chapman’s mother. Later that same year, the Chapmans sold I’ll Get Along at the Keeneland November mixed sale for $130,000 to Cloverleaf Farm, just a few weeks before their trainer, Bob Camac, and his wife were murdered. Crushed over losing their trainer and good friend, the Chapmans decided to get out of the sport and sell all their horses, but were dissuaded from selling the Elusive Quality colt by their farm manager, who thought he could be something special.

We all know what happened after that. Smarty Jones improved with every start following that mile non-graded stakes (the Southwest), winning the Rebel, Arkansas Derby, Kentucky Derby, and Preakness (by a record 11 1/2 lengths), becoming one of the most beloved and popular horses in history and a hero to the city of Philadelphia. Later that same year, Cloverleaf Farm took advantage of Smarty Jones’ nationwide popularity, selling I’ll Get Along, in foal to Elusive Quality, at the Fasig-Tipton November mixed sale for $5 million.

The resulting foal, however, would run 16 times, with only one win, one second, and one third, and eventually was sent to Argentina. Of I’ll Get Along’s next six foals, three were unraced, one was born dead, and the remaining two won a combined three races in 13 starts.

This is just one example of why we should always expect the unexpected on the Derby trail, and in fact all aspects of the Thoroughbred industry, from the racetrack to the breeding shed. While there are those who are more experienced and knowledgeable, whether at handicapping, training, or breeding, it is always wise to adhere to the old saying, “There is nothing like a horse to make a person look like an ass.”

If you don’t think that’s true, how did Mine That Bird win the Derby by 6 1/2 lengths, despite having a feeble high Beyer figure of 81 and finishing out of the money at Sunland Park? How did Animal Kingdom win the Derby in his first ever start on dirt, something that had never been done before? How did a New York-bred gelding win the Derby when no New York-bred had ever won and no gelding had won in 74 years? How did Giacomo win the Derby having won only one of seven career starts and coming off five consecutive defeats? How did I’ll Have Another win the Derby from post 19, having had only one start in the previous three months and ridden by an unknown jockey from Hastings Park in Vancouver, Canada? And how did Big Brown win the Derby from post 20, while becoming the first horse in 93 years to win with only three career starts?

Statistical formulas, history, and even common sense are fine for occupying your mind as you follow these noble steeds on the perilous Derby trail. But if you expect them to actually pinpoint the Derby winner in that 20-horse cavalry charge, you’re likely in for a rude awakening. That’s not to say we shouldn’t try. What else are you going to do in January and February? Those lucky (and I stress the word lucky) enough to actually ferret out that elusive Derby winner and cash a ticket will have bragging rights for an entire year. And the earlier you find him the harder you can beat your chest. Just don’t take the search or the conquest too seriously. You can bet there is a horse right around the corner just waiting to make you feel like an ass. 

Wait a minute. How about that first-time starter Integrity who won so impressively at Gulfstream Thursday? Sure looks like a Derby horse to me…“Gee, that’s better. Muddah, Faddah kindly disregard this letter.”


Leave a Comment:

El Kabong

EL KABONG!!!!!!!

Nice wake up call Steve. A little perspective never hurt the tribe. Smarty is a great example. I could think of million reasons to discredit him that year. Plus, I was all in on Tapit and a horse named Rock Hard Ten, who's DQ from 2 to 3 in the SA Derby cost him enough graded stakes earnings to make the cut for Kentucky(the new point system may help avoid  such tragedies:). But nothing was worse than that sloppy, rail hugging victory of Mine That BIrd. I remember the tickets in my hand, forming a golf ball in my clinched fist. The pit of my stomach was tight, as if a mule had kicked it. I could not grasp the feeling of WAY OFF that was flowing in every vein of my body. And it wasn't the money now represented by white ball on the floor at Emerald Downs. It was that feeling that I had waisted(my feeling then-not now) months of time and effort on what Derkin correctly stated was "an imPOSSiible result?"  Yes, your horse and ass speech is well timed. As always, thank you.

11 Jan 2013 4:16 PM

Ugh, how did Giacomo even get in the Derby? It's not a knock, just a lamentation, I hate that 20 horse cavalry charge! We can talk pedigrees all we want, but I guess sometimes it really is something unknown! Godspeed to all of them, I will never turn my back on this sport, but I really want a Derby winner who can bring home the TC!

11 Jan 2013 5:54 PM
Junie Wise

So what your saying Steve is that the Royal Lodge Winner,Steeler still has a "Shot"...He Won at 1 Nile from off the pace and now has 10 points to his credit...I heard over the Holiday's that the Owner had a small outbreak of "Derby Fever" and New Year's Eve they has a Party with Mint Juleps & Kentucky Burgoo!!!!....As of Today you can get 200 to 1 on him in Las


11 Jan 2013 8:29 PM

Very well stated Steve and great advice to expect the unexpected and keep an open mind about everything these pre-Derby months.  

My goodness I just watched the video of the horse loose on Route 1.  He took off on "Whiskey Bottom Road" so I guess he figured he'd go out and get a little "Shanghai Bobby'd" like the rest of us!!!!!!  Gosh, seriously though hope Jeremy Rose is ok, he got thrown and kudos to the rescuers who drove off after him.  Talk about apropro names!  The loose horse's name is "Bullet Catcher" out of a "Wild Rush" mare.  Nothing like taking a wild rush down Whiskey Bottom Road!  Glad all are safe.  We now know Bullet Catcher can run well on pavement too with minimal shoe damage.

11 Jan 2013 11:55 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

I'm not sure who will win the Derby this year but I do know that the Derby is the fashion event of the year and that the winner will have a pedigree and a manicure, and his or her's coat will be brushed and their tail combed, and despite having just emerged out of a war zone to cross the finish line first will be more than ready to look their best to have their picture taken. Unless it rains. Of course the muddahs tend to win those because they don't really care how they look for the photo.

12 Jan 2013 1:07 AM
Paula Higgins

This was just great Steve. I loved the Smarty Jones opening. He is one of my all time favorites. You are so right about throwing out the formulas when looking for the Derby winner. As for Giacomo, it gladdened my heart to see him win the Derby. It's also about the connections and there were no more deserving people than John Shirreffs and Jerry and Ann Moss. As for the 20 horse field, I do agree they should trim it down to around 15. I think when you have a huge field, it can be a deal breaker with too much traffic and a bad trip, even for a good horse. But, I think a super horse will overcome even a 20 horse field. The problem with the triple crown is usually the last leg, the Belmont. We need a healthy, fast horse, with lots of stamina to get there. It will happen again.

12 Jan 2013 1:19 AM
Mike Relva


Well done!

12 Jan 2013 2:00 AM

Mr. Haskin,

This has to be one of your most thought provoking blogs in a long time.  Being the bad student of English that I am I had to revisit the definition of Illusion.

something with deceptive appearance: something that deceives the senses or mind, e.g. by appearing to exist when it does not or appearing to be one thing when it is in fact another.

false idea: a false idea, conception, or belief about somebody or something.

deceptive power of appearances: the ability of appearances to deceive the mind and senses, or the capacity of the mind and senses to be deceived by appearances

Well you have confirmed that we have all been existing in an illusionary world as it relates to the Derby. The big question must be, are there any truisms regarding the Derby?

12 Jan 2013 8:37 AM

A slight correction - Mine That Bird was 2nd in the Borderland Derby and 4th in the Sunland Derby. He was therefore on the board and in the money in his two starts a Sunland Park. His record was no worse than that of Ferdinand heading into the Derby.

I touted MIB heading into the BCJ where he finished last. Irrespective of what the thoughts were about him heading into the Derby he was the only 2YO champion on the field.

While Smarty Jones’ dam sires Smile will be remembered for being a runner up and also winner of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, he did set a NTR of 1:49 flat in the 9F Fairmount Derby. It is not out of the realms of possibility that one his broodmares had the potential produce a Derby caliber horse. In addition, Believe It another one of In Reality was broodmare sire of the 1998 Derby winner Real Quiet.  But I do agree Smarty Jones’ pedigree up to the 3rd generation did not suggest he would be effective at 10F. His 4th generation has Secretariat, Northern Dancer and Sir Ivor.

Giacomo: I wagered this colt in the Derby despite his record. This colt was void of tactical speed and consequently had to be ridden from the start of each race to keep in touch with high cruisers Consolidator, Declan’ Moon  and other fast CA colts. Despite being ridden all the way he still found extra in the stretch to close on the leaders when they kicked for home.  It was overwhelmingly clear that the fast tracks in CA were unsuitable for his running style. What was also overwhelmingly clear was his stamina reservoir. I theorized that 10F strip at Churchill Downs was no California Speedway and Giacomo’s stamina would be a major weapon in a speed Derby filled field.  He was not a difficult choice if the proper analysis was applied.

12 Jan 2013 9:33 AM
Pedigree Ann

I have to repeat what I have written before - only noting that Smile, the damsire of Smarty Jones, had been awarded the Eclipse award for sprinting is wildly misleading. First of all, in those days it was unofficially a 'sprinter/miler' award and often given to horses who could stay but won major sprints as well, like Precisionist. Not only did Smile win the G1 Arlington Classic at 9f, he placed in the G1 American Derby at 10f. Moreover, Smarty's dam was a half-sister-in-blood to Basie, who won the 10f Delaware Hcp. There was a lot of staying power on the damside of Elusive Quality as well (Hero's Honor, Sir Ivor, Dedicate); he wouldn't have been the first miler sort to sire major 10f winners, viz. Olympia.

Only those who look at pedigrees superficially would have concluded Smarty was a total wash at 10f. I put him on the maybe/maybe-not category. Not to mention he was helped by the monsoon an hour before the race that resulted in a packed down the track like a freeway and allowed patent non-stayer Lion Heart to run second.

12 Jan 2013 9:55 AM
Shelby's Best Pal

Oh boy, I love all things "Smarty."  Thanks for the memories.  And you're so right.  What else do we have going on in January and February? As for contenders, Oaklawn Park impresses me with their prep schedule and purse increases.

12 Jan 2013 10:21 AM
Needler in Virginia

Thanks AGAIN, Steve..........how often we say that, but we REALLY, REALLY mean it! As always, you're spot on.

Paula, what we need is a sound horse, with stamina for more than a mile, a creature not many are breeding these days. God help you if your 2 YO doesn't work at the sales in splits under 10 (possibly a SLIGHT exaggeration, but not by much).....and by the way, does anyone remember The Green Monkey? 'Nuf said. We're still the only country that thinks the "best" distance for a horse is a mile and a quarter, but I seem to remember that other days and other times called for a versatile, sound athlete who was comfortable at almost any distance, including those (ref D Wayne Lukas) "marathons that no one runs anymore".

You watch: not one of the Derby Darlings mentioned in January will leave the gate on the 1st Saturday in May, and we'll probably be surprised yet again. But that's OK, too. I love the surprises.....they keep us alert!

Cheers and safe trips.

12 Jan 2013 10:32 AM
Steve Haskin

Coldfacts, although it is a matter of semantics, in the money denotes the top 3, referring to the three payoff spots -- win, place, and show. On the board denotes the top 4, referring to the four placings shown on the tote BOARD (hence, on the board).

The same record as Ferdinand? Finishing 2nd and 4th at Sunland Park and racing in Canada at 2? Ferdinand had won or placed in five graded stakes, including the grade I Santa Anita Derby and Hollywood Futurity behind the eventual Kentucky Derby favorite Snow Chief. You might want to think twice about that comment.

12 Jan 2013 10:38 AM

Steve, you are so right on with your assessmentof what the Derby

fever conjures up in the days leading to the greatest race in the world. Not only is it a guessing game, because probably 99% have never run a mile and a quarter, but the twenty horse field can always be a reason for the best horse not winning. But, I think the appeal of superfectas that exceed most of our wishes, help bring out this crazy addiction to every little step these 3 year olds take in their development, not to mention just how much fun we have doing it.

12 Jan 2013 12:10 PM

Mr. Haskin,

The more I revisit the theme of your blog, the more I realize that it accurately depicts what I have been guilty of over the years. Is there such a thing as good guilt and bad guilt?

I have often used historic data to eliminate buzz horses from the Derby top spot. Below are the basis on which I eliminated some of the #1 ranked colts in your Derby Dozen.

Creative Cause: His sire Giants Causeway bred 3,000 mares up to 2011 and only accounted for 5 Derby starters and none have hit the board. Stallions that are bred 190-200 mares per year have not sired a Derby winner to date. (Overbred/Abused) His dam was a G1 winning millionaire and mares from this category have a strained relationship with Derby in particular and Triple Crown in general. While he had the talent to hit the board, under no circumstance would I place him on top. He did not hit the board.

Looking AT Lucky: He was sired by Smart Strike who just happened to be the dam sire of the previous year Derby winner Mine That Bird. Nowhere in the 50 years of Derby history that I have charted has the dam sire of a previous year Derby winner ended up being the sire of the winner the following year. A very simplistic reason for eliminating a top class colt from the top spot but a Derby victory for LAL was bucking history. He did not hit the board.

Uncle Mo. He was considered the next Secretariat and the Derby was considered over. Disagreements with these claims were not enough to eliminate him from the top spot. However, he was a BCJ winner and the BCJ/Derby double had only been achieved once. It took 23 year for this feat to achieved occur and the colt that achieved it massacred the opposition in his BCJ victory. Uncle Mo was an OK winner of the BCJ. Who expected a feat that took 23 year to occur to be repeated in a mere 4 years? He did not start in the Derby.

I have been criticized for being shackled to Derby history and tailoring facts to suit my conclusions. These may very well be valid criticisms, but the policy works for me and in my case I consider my guilt as good.

12 Jan 2013 12:14 PM

Very well said, Steve. And I love the muddah-faddah reference; I remember that song very well!

I think I'll stick to picking the horse with the coolest name and pretty color.

12 Jan 2013 1:51 PM

As a relative newcomer to the sport, my most recent history is about the last 3 years. The first year, things were mostly a blur, but in 2011 and 2012 I started noticing how many horses that were on the Derby Trail in January were on the shelf by that first Saturday in May. In 2012, I started keeping notes, and unfortunately, I saw 30+ fall off the Trail before that first Saturday in May.  Most were due to injury (bone chips is a frequent reason given).

So, my fear is not just missing that once in a lifetime horse who seems to come from nowhere, or backing a horse who just flames out late in the Derby prep season -- my fear is backing that favorite who all of a sudden is yanked from the ranks of Derby contenders to being placed "on the shelf" because of injury.  Of those that fell off last year, only a handful have returned to training.  Most seem to have been retired to breed more of the same!   To save wear and tear, I'm trying to keep my expectations low and "not fall in love."  Too frustrating to do otherwise!

12 Jan 2013 2:14 PM
Susan from VA

Actually, a lot of people, including myself, remember The Green Monkey - just not for being a winner!

12 Jan 2013 2:48 PM

I always thought trying to predict the Kentucky Derby was an enjoyable, arcane, past time ending in "oh well, better luck next year."  You choose your favorites and hope they stay healthy, are not overtaxed, and possibly get in the Derby.

I would say putting names in hats and pulling out the winner is 'almost' as successful as following certain bloodlines. I should know, the last time I 'had a winner' in the Kentucky Derby was 28 years ago. Perhaps as a child I had better 'luck.' Mind you, not choosing the winner has not dulled the passion.

I have read certain 'theories' in this blog - you wouldn't want to test that theory with say the stallion Galileo. He has large crops and his progeny win the classics.

By the way, the Prix du Jockey Club is run at 2,100 metres - a similar distance to the Kentucky Derby.

12 Jan 2013 3:14 PM

"There is nothing like a horse to make a person look like an ass", now that is a tested, tried and true statement if ever there was one. If you are the type of person to bet the farm on a pony, better be prepared to live in your truck. I thought Mine that Bird my have had a panic attack in the final quarter mile of the derby from being suffocated by mud slop. Not the case, as the Preakness and Belmont would later reveal. Bird's inconsistency to perform was probably between his ears. I still love the pint size gelding. He is a lesson as to why you don't bet the farm on this game. I was thinking the other day, wouldn't it be something if a filly swept the triple crown. How many of us would go into cardiac arrest? After big Z, who knows?

12 Jan 2013 7:35 PM
Pedigree Ann

Davids - the Prix du Jockey Club was given the designation as "The French Derby" by British observers many years ago, when it was still 2400m (12f). The change to 2100m is quite recent, in 2005.

You see, once upon a time, it was the Grand Prix de Paris at 3000m (15f) that was the goal of the French spring/summer classic season. This was the race in which Nearco, the Italian Derby winner, defeated the winners of the English, Irish and French Derbies, a race for the ages.

But in the mid-1980s, the powers that be in France decided this was too long a race for modern classic horses, so they cut it back to 2000m (10f). However the, GP de Paris takes place AFTER the Jockey Club; the progression of distances was upset. So when the Jockey Club was cut back to 2100m, the GP de Paris was made 2400m, the true Derby distance. This made a logical distance progression and, IMHO, moved the 'Derby' distinction from the Jockey Club to the GP de Paris. The lazy observer who hasn't paid attention to the distance changes might still call the Jockey Club a Derby, but it has been made into a Derby prep.

12 Jan 2013 7:39 PM

Yes, Pedigree Ann, I remember the changes. Although I do know the history I believe its wonderful that a knowledgeable person like yourself writes these informative posts, otherwise the 'history of racing' will be lost in the general language.  

If truth be told, the "French Derby" was shortened because the stamina lines in Europe were being supplanted by the Northern Dancer line and Mr Prospector line blood which excel at a slightly shorter distance than 2,400.

The Aga Khan has been trying to 'remedy' this problem over the past 10 years or so.

12 Jan 2013 9:43 PM
Age of Reason

El Kabong and Ksweatman, while it's fair to say that by now we've gotten over the shock of Mine That Bird, I think the awe will be lingering in our minds for years to come. I went back and watched his race the other day and found myself saying, "I STILL don't believe it!"

By the way Steve, I've beenw wanting to post a comment for several days from my mobile device but kept getting error messages that my email address was invalid. I can only log on via computer. Something for your tech support crew to work on in their spare time? :)

12 Jan 2013 10:35 PM
Paula Higgins

Needler In Virginia, I couldn't agree with you more. We need a fast, sound horse with stamina. Then they need to fall into the right hands. If they don't end up in the right hands, it's all for naught. In a million years did we ever think we would see a horse like Zenyatta? No, but there she was and she fell into exactly the right hands. The triple crown wasn't on her resume (accent over the e), but by the time she finished her run, nobody cared. As for a great filly winning the triple crown, it could happen. After Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, racing against the boys is looking like more of an option than ever before. Boy, would I love to see that.

12 Jan 2013 10:49 PM

Have you ever been at the track and watched the post parade after you've placed your bets?

I do this thing, which is the lazy way out: Go to the track with my bets written down and then I place my bets. I go outside, I'm a railbird, and enjoy the horses. Then the post parade happens and I "see" how my pick actually looks at that moment....the moment of disappointment happens and I have enough time to change my bet usually. But I'm superstitious about changing my bet. Point is.....it depends on the kind of day the winning horse has had up to that point. You can discover who the jockey will be, read past performances  and know about the horse's pedigree and training...but when you see him in the post parade I think it's an important sign. Remember Donerail?   He's my favorite underdog!

13 Jan 2013 12:10 AM

Paula Higgins,

“In a million years did we ever think we would see a horse like Zenyatta? ”

I recognize that many posts about Zenyatta are packed with emotions. I try to keep the contributors making such post honest by providing some cold facts. There are two mares that rival Zenyatta. One is forgotten the other not as hyped.  

Genuine Risk is one of three fillies to win the Derby. The Derby is considered one of the toughest races to win. If that was not enough Genuine Risk was runner up in the Preakness and Belmont. She is one of only two fillies to participate in all three races comprising the ultimate test for 3Yos i.e., Triple Crown. However, she is the only one to finish on the board in all three races. Two colts stood in her way of being the first female Triple Crown winner.  The Triple Crown comprises three races covering 31.5F that are contested in five weeks. Many big strong colt and geldings are not subjected to this challenge because of its enormity.  Genuine Risk could have been kept within her gender and dominate but her connection choose to take on the ultimate challenge for a thoroughbred. Does Zenyatta’s record reflect any such challenge? No! Did she race against the best 3YOs from her crop? No! Would her unbeaten run have lasted to her final start if she raced against the likes of Hard Spun, Curlin, Rags To Riches and Street Sense? Unlikely!

Black Caviar is yet to be beaten in 22 starts with one of her victories being achieved outside of Australia.  She is just as are probably more revered than Zenyatta.

Zenyatta  is an exceptional race mare but she is not alone in this category and certainly not the best mare to have graced the tracks in the in the last 35 years

13 Jan 2013 8:10 AM


I take it that whatever the approach one takes in analyzing the outcome of a race, the objective remains that of finding the winner or placing a winning bet. If the approach does not accomplish the objective, then it should be abandoned.

I am always amused by the following approach:

The horse Choice Wan cannot win because of his pedigree or because he won race X which has never produced a Derby winner. Choice Wan finishes down the line. The proponents of the theory then say –I told you so.

They overlook the fact that Choice Wan might have been beaten by better horses. They seldom state whether their approach led them to the winner.

If anyone has found an approach that always works and is not spending his winters in his bungalow on the Mediterranean, I say - how come?

Once again, I say that whatever characteristics a horse possesses, whether through heredity or environment, will be displayed in that horse’s performance. Pedigree is only useful when one is trying to assess the potential of untested horses.

13 Jan 2013 9:29 AM


Your post is loaded with valid points. The point you have missed is the fact that some approaches are used to eliminate some contender from the top spot and not from the Derby entirely. In a field of 20 there has to be a process of elimination. We all use different methodologies. My approach just happens  to be base on some historic data.  I try not to focus one a likely winner as my win wagers are not very large as compared to my exotic wagers. In addition to the illusions associated with the Derby it is also a race of

The history of the Derby denotes that certain sire lines and certain horses are less likely to win. This fact might not sit well with Derby purists but the history is there for all to see. To some the history of this race is insignificance. I consider those who harbor this belief wrong.  

In 2012 I was overly optimistic that the A P Indy sire line would have produced its  first Derby winner based on the number of preps won by horses from this sire line. I was prepared to ignore the fact that the Derby has been dominated by the RAN/Mr. Prospector sire line. I received a profound reminder as to which sire line ruled the rose at Churchill Downs. The first four pass the post were from RAN/Mr. Prospector. No horse from the A P Indy sire line came close and all the contenders that had overwhelming Derby negatives bit the dust.

All the top 3YOs are from the Northern Dancer sire line. The top colt from Mr. Prospector sire line is Fortify. The Mr. P line horses are significantly outnumbered at this point. The most interesting colt from this line is Footbridge. He is still a maiden and Mr. Haskin thinks I am crazy to suggest that he should have given him a mention. Derby and Preakness runner up Bodemeister made his first start on 1/16/2012. It was a losing effort a 51/2F. Footbridge made his debut on 12/26/2012 that was also a losing effort at 61/2F. Do not be surprise if this colt is propelled to Derby contention in his next two starts as I think he is that good and he has history on his side. I would not bet against a talented colt from this line as it rules the TC. History supports my claim.

13 Jan 2013 11:08 AM
Pedigree Ann

Jersey Boy -

So true. A pedigree is a blueprint of possibilities or likelihoods, but no guarantees are implied. You may breed a horse you think will be a Belmont-type horse (Java Gold x Slew O Gold mare) and get Kona Gold. But it doesn't work the other way around - breed Henny Hughes with a Speightstown mare and you might get a Quarter Horse, but you ain't gonna get a stayer.

13 Jan 2013 11:38 AM
El Kabong

Age of Reason,

The shock wore off when Mine That Bird proved himself in the Preakness. In very different circumstances, he proved to me he was no fluke and that I had seriously made a blunder in not considering his chances. I'm mean, I really blew it. In my form, which I saved, I found the other day. I had drawn a line threw his PP's and wrote, NO WAY. EEEEHAW!!!!!

13 Jan 2013 12:54 PM


You wrote about Footbridge:

“Do not be surprised if this colt is propelled to Derby contention in his next two starts”.

Nothing will surprise me because I judge horses by their performance.

All horses are well-bred. Just ask the guys who bred to Scat Daddy and Into Mischief.

There is one fact that never changes. Regardless of pedigree, the horse that covers the distance the fastest is the winner. Also, there are usually many horses with similar pedigrees. But only one will win. Which one? That is where the money is made.

If I use history as my guide, I will have to conclude that Footbridge’s chance of winning a graded stakes race of any kind, is only 39/488 or 8%. That is the percentage of his sire, Street Cry, taken from the Stallion Register in the Bloodhorse. I will wait for the performance.

Pedigree Ann:

You are right, but every once in a while I read the following description of Danehill.

“As a three-year-old, following a third place in the 2,000 Guineas behind Nashwan and a fourth place in the Irish equivalent, Danehill was switched to shorter distances and developed into a champion sprinter”.(Wikipedia)

As you know, Danehill is one of the greatest sires of all time. This is why I go with performance. I wait to see what will happen.

13 Jan 2013 2:41 PM
Lise from Maine


Nice article.

What will happen to some horses with this new "point" system rather than earnings in terms of qualifying for the Kentucky Derby?

There are some critics to the new point system.

I fear that some good horses will not make it into the Kentucky Derby.

Thank you!

13 Jan 2013 3:18 PM
Age of Reason

You're a gem, Steve--just logged in via my phone for the first time!

Coldfacts, if we're in a contest to see who pointed out Footbridge first, I'd like it noted that I mentioned him last week on HRN. By the way, he worked a bullet 5 furlongs today at Hollywood in :59.60. He may well continue to fly under the radar, as Powerful looks to be the next California buzz horse and has captured lots of attention even though he hasn't started yet. The Drysdale-trained son of A.P. Indy was reportedly bought specifically as a Derby horse for 1.9 million, so he's got shades of Fusaichi Pegasus deja vu written all over him!

13 Jan 2013 11:22 PM

Age of Reason,

I am taking no credit for first mentioning Footbridge as I am well aware that he must have been quietly whispered in CA. He showed me enough on debut to indicate that he might just run to his exceptional pedigree. There is always uncertainty as to whether they will ever run to their pedigrees. A P Indy was exceptionally well-bred being by a Triple Crown winner out of a dam  sired by a TC winner as well. He ran to his pedigree so it can happen.  Footbridge dam sire Dubai Millennium was dam sire of the 2011 Dubai World Cup winner. His second dam was sired by Deputy Minister who had the distinction of being dam sire of both Rags To Riches and Curlin the winner and runner up in the 2007 Belmont. Throw in Belmont winners Jazil and Sarava and Footbridge’s dam line is awash with stamina. No need to mention his sire Street Cry. Just think Zenyatta!

Powerful has a proven classic pedigree if Rags To Riches is used as a measure as she was also by A P Indy out of a Deputy Minister broodmare. In spite of his pedigree I cannot help but think that his sire A P Indy will not have a Derby winner just like some of the great before him i.e.,  Secretariat,  Affirmed,  Skip Away, Spectacular Bid, Damascus to name a few. If I can put my pessimism aside and focus on Bernardini there might be hope. He is son of A P Indy that had a late start and due to lack of earnings was unable to make the Derby. His Preakness victory two weeks after the Derby suggested that he would have been a worthy opponent for runaway winner Barbaro. I believe he would have won.

I am more convinced that horses from the RAN/Mr. Prospector sire line are the ones on which focus should be placed. They have a proven track record in the TC races. Sixteen Derby victories and a combine 34 victories shared between the Preakness and Belmont is testament to this sire’s line dominance. I am anxiously awaiting the dirt debut of Avie’s Quality the son of Elusive Quality. I think he is serious racehorse that will also be one from the line that will continue its dominance.

14 Jan 2013 10:38 AM
Rusty Weisner

Jersey Boy,

"Pedigree is only useful when one is trying to assess the potential of untested horses."

That's precisely why it's useful in talking about the Kentucky Derby, where all the horses are untested at the distance (plus the large field and the long stretch).

I'll agree with you that it's an exception, though.  I remember ColdFacts liked a slow but well-pedigreed horse called Najjaar at Oaklawn last year.  He was applying the wrong handicapping angle to the 1 1/8 mile races on a fast track with a short stretch.  And the poor horse was just slow!

But this pedigree layman thinks he and other pedigree-oriented commenters are useful on the subject of early season Derby prospects, because pedigree is relevant for that race.  There's also something else:  you can't just go on performance in the futures betting, which a lot of people here participate in.

14 Jan 2013 11:22 AM
Pedigree Ann

Jersey Boy -

As you pointed out, Danehill was tried twice at 8f, both in the first part of his 3yo year and over straight courses.(The Curragh has a minor right-handed elbow in its mile course). He had already won at 7f, and his first two damside sires, His Majesty and Buckpasser; it is possible that he was going through some sort of growing pains at the time of the Guineas races. Since his previous races had not been at top class (a maiden and a listed race), maybe he was just not up to G1 company at that stage. Also, his only G1 win was in softer ground, after running on good and good/firm during the rest of that season; remember, in GB talk, good is normal, non-rain affected ground, and firm is approaching hard. His career just wasn't long or diverse enough to expose what his true proclivities were. Same problem with Danzig - 3 starts before injury was not nearly enough to figure what he could or couldn't do.

The trouble with having so much money and prestige built up for sprint and mile races recently is that if a horse has a hiccup or two trying longer, the tendency is not to keep trying (requires changing the training regime maybe? Too much effort.)

Take Twilight Agenda, another listed winner who finished last in the Irish Guineas, in which Danehill was 4th by 4.5 lengths. So long as he was in Ireland, he was kept at sprint distances - 6f, 7f - except for the two 8f races, in which he tanked. Exported to the US at 5, he won the G1 Meadowlands Cup at 10f, and was second in two other G1 races at 10f, the Santa Anita H and BC Classic. On turf, he the G2 BC Del Mar H and Col. Koester H at 8f turf. He grew up and blossomed.

14 Jan 2013 11:32 AM


14 Jan 2013 11:51 AM
Age of Reason

Coldfacts, I was only kidding on Footbridge--who, by the way, is entered in  Friday's 6f msw @ SA. Time to hop on the Derby trail! And speaking of Powerful (I can't remember the source on this one, take it with a grain of salt as it might be speculation), I think he may be entered in the same race. Oh, how I love this time of year!

14 Jan 2013 1:39 PM

Rusty Weisner

Pedigree Ann

I agree with all you said. The problem is that we only find out the pedigree power of new sires until years later.

As a bettor, I say--is this horse fast enough, at say, one mile? If he is, do I have reason to think that he will run 10 furlongs faster than the others in the race on a dry track, bearing in mind that there are questions about many of them?. That is when I look at the pedigree. If the track is wet, there is not much handicapping that I can do.

However, I believe the most under-rated difficulty in handicapping is the willingness of the horse to be rated. A horse that can be rated is very hard to assess. Some of them will get a mile because they are amenable to rating. This can often lead to the wrong conclusion that they can win at the same level at longer distances.

Having said all of this, I would never have thought beforehand that Danehill would sire stayers.

I will add though that as a boy, I remember reading that some breeders felt that the ideal horse would be a cross between Northern Dancer and Ribot. I imagine most of those breeders did not live to see that they were right. Danehill is such a horse.

14 Jan 2013 2:39 PM

Jersey Boy

"Pedigree is only useful when one is trying to assess the potential of untested horses."

That’s a reasonable point. However, there are other factors that are used in the assessment of potential. If horse has never contested a race over a certain distance, would it be untested over that distance? If the answer to this question is yes, then few if any of those that will contest the 2013 Derby would have been tested at 10F. Therefore the entire field would be untested at the Derby distance. Based on your point above pedigree analysis would be useful as one of the factors is assessing their respective potential to effectively stay the untested distance. If this is true, then we have all been engaging in the appropriate analysis ahead of the Derby.

I always have a default regarding pedigree as it relates to the horses I like. I normally state that if they run to their pedigrees then the sky is the limit. In the majority of cases horses under perform their pedigrees and in isolated cases there are those that out perform their pedigrees. Example – Holy Bull.

If get excited about a horse’s pedigree my assessment of its potential is not solely based on this. I observe how it covers ground. I look for energy efficient strides, a smooth action with plenty of extension when it is asked for a maximum effort. Irrespective of its pedigree if the horse does not reflect the athleticism to be a top class thoroughbred on various or a preferred surface then it be low down my list.

14 Jan 2013 2:40 PM

“The Drysdale-trained son of A.P. Indy was reportedly bought specifically as a Derby horse for 1.9 million, so he's got shades of Fusaichi Pegasus deja vu written all over him!”

Powerful has a litany of Derby negatives least amongst them is the schedule late start to his racing career. High price yearlings are cursed when it comes to the Derby. Between 2003 and 2012 six of the nine Derby winners were Homebreds. The most expensive was Big Brown whose price was under $150K and the least expensive was Mine That Bird under $10K.  

Fusaichi Pegasus was the most expensive yearling to win the Derby and I can see the comparison between the two. However, Fusaichi Pegasus hailed from the most successful sire line in TC history. Powerful, is from a sire line that has produced one Derby winner in the last 28 years.  I can understand the $4.4M paid for Fusaichi Pegasus as his sire line had produced 9 previous Derby winners. However, to pay $1.9M for colt from a sire line with such a dismal Derby record is ludicrous. Is there any reference to Derby history when these purchases are being made? How can I become a bloodstock agent? I would not necessary recommend horses but rather discourage the purchase of many if the Derby is the ultimate objective.

This colt could turn out to be a champion and make an ass out of me but doubt it.

14 Jan 2013 3:10 PM

Mr Haskin, you wrote a great article as usual, right to the point, being careful only to praise and not to wrongfully accuse. My concern is other, Doesn't anyone deal with horses anymore simply because they just love horses? God, everyone is a self-proclaimed horse guru these days...

14 Jan 2013 5:40 PM
Jean in Chicago

Davids:  Both Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector were from Nearco's line--Northern Dancer on his sire side and Mr. Prospector on his dam's side.  We just need another Frederico Tesio instead of people breeding for the quick sale.

14 Jan 2013 5:44 PM
It aint easy being good!

Steve when do we kick off the Derby dozen? Also great article there are a few lessons when betting the derby. No longer does it matter what post your running in except hole 1. I disregarded Ill have another and AK because of the post but it seems as though post positions doesnt matter. Also I have learned that the hype horse never wins. Some people hate the fact that there are 20 horses running but one it bumps the odds up and two I find it exciting because only once a year will you see a field that large!

14 Jan 2013 5:58 PM

The two guys in the Chrysler car dealership's storefront window on Friday morning in Maryland:

"Hey Joe, ah, our cars have a lot of horsepower in 'em, eh, right?" Scratching his head.

"Yeah Pete, why."

"Ah, Joe, take a look out the window and tell me if you see what I see in the parking lot?"

"Oh man, I've been in this job too long Pete.  I guess this fella came to investigate the horsepower for himself.  What the heck......."

I don't blame Bullet Catcher at all!  After all it was Friday and he wanted to get to Happy Hour early down Wiskey Bottom Road and make his escape out of Laurel Park!  All I know is Bullet Catcher should bet bet heavily in his next race and we can add pavement to his surface repertoire, he is 1-1-1 now out of six, or if you want to call Friday a win he is 2-1-1!!!!!  His wild rush escapade on Route 1 ended safely at the Chrysler dealership and I was just imagining what the salesmen saw looking out that window!!!!!

14 Jan 2013 6:30 PM
Mike from Michigan

I was looking at some pictures of Sunday Silence the other day and noticed that Shanghai Bobby and Sunday Silence bear an uncanny resemblence in the face, check-it out.

14 Jan 2013 9:29 PM
Age of Reason

I'm surprised at you, Coldfacts. The very point of this entire article and discussion has been about how background, including pedigree, and by extrapolation sales history etc. have no necessary impact on a horse's Derby chances, yet you referred to Powerful as " cursed " (strong word in my book) because of those very reasons. I'm no fan of the horse, just playing Devil's advocate and would love to see what others think also. I highly recommend you read Joe Drape's "The Epic Quest for the Triple Crown" about the 2000 TC season; it reveals what a master Drysdale truly is. I honestly doubt the Apollo Rule will fall in the foreseeable future, at least not this decade, but if there's a man who could topple it, Drysdale is he whom thou seekest. I've read widespread rumors that Gary Stevens (speaking of masters!...) has his eye on Powerful, and the colt has generated more buzz on the HRN board than anything I ever remember, including Eblouissante. Just some food for thought!

14 Jan 2013 10:21 PM
Pedigree Ann

Jean in Chicago -

From your mouth to God's ear, as the saying goes. True breeders, ones who were interested in improving the breed as well as having top runners, are rare on the ground anymore. Developing female families over generations in the same stud has been the hallmark of great breeders.

Nowadays, mares are bred to whatever stallion is hot at the sales, with no regard for suitability, and are unloaded if they don't have a SW in the first few foals. Such a waste.

15 Jan 2013 9:54 AM
steve from st louis

I am convinced the Commonwealth of Kentucky is so enamoured with the "bluegrass" infused Mint Julep because it's so baffling an exercise to breed a Derby winner.

We get to pick over the 30,000 or so foals each year with a fine-tooth comb after half as many make it to a starting gate while breeders hope they can catch lightning in a bottle breeding the less than best to the not quite perfect while hoping for one in a million foal or a little less than that. A good horse, they say, can come from anywhere, and that point is proven every May.

The brewers at Brown-Forman distillery cook their mash each year hoping for a great product just like those commercial bloodhorse breeders. Here's a toast to both of 'em.

15 Jan 2013 10:52 AM


In support of Footbridge you wrote:

“I would not bet against a talented colt from this line as it rules the TC.”

Which member of that sire line would you bet to win? All of them?

Footbridge was beaten 4 ½ lengths by Forest Boy who is still a maiden after 5 starts.

Do you prefer Footbridge over your earlier rage, Revolutionary, about whom you wrote, 4 days ago,

“Assuming his performance was based on his natural ability the Derby is over.”?

Revolutionary is from the Nasrullah  line.

Do you plan to tout the entire field?

15 Jan 2013 12:09 PM

Age of Reason,

Let take this opportunity to beg your forgiveness for the use of the word ‘Cursed’. In retrospect I could have use the term dismal Derby record to describe high priced yearlings. I also agree that none of what I specified matters. Mr. Haskin could not have done a better job in highlighting the illusions associated with the great race. However, there are some specific Derby trends that are difficult to ignore.

I must concede I am shackled to Derby history. I recognized that in a sport of glorious uncertainties being shackled to its history is not wise. I have been reminded of my strained relationship with wisdom constantly. However, the sport of thoroughbred racing is loaded with statistics, records and trends. There are some specific Derby trends that are difficult to ignore. I have tried many times to ignore these trends and get constant reminders that the history of the race must be respected.

I have tried over the years to develop a profile of a potential Derby winner using historic information. I never used BRIS/Beyer figures as I do not understand them and consider the meaningless to my objective. Below are few of my approaches:

Homebreds: I will always be high on a talented homebred as they have dominated the last 9 Derbies with 6 victories. The reason for their dominance remains puzzling as they are often not the most fashionably bred and not the most favored leaving the starting gates.

Unraced/Lightly race/Low level broodmares: Their horses seem to have a monopoly on the Triple Crown races. Consider this fact; the dams of SA Derby runner up Creative Cause and FL Derby winner Take Charge Indy were G1 winning millionaires. Both colts finish off the board. What was the race records of the winning broodmare Archs Gal Edith (1 Starts, 1 Win, Career Earnings: $25,800). This is one of the most significant trend associate with Derby winners. I recognized that this broodmare category contains the largest band but there is no reason for G1 winning mares being MIA.

RAN/Mr. Prospector sire line:  I look for the talented colts/fillies from this line each year. One has to search very hard to find a record in Derby/TC history that this line has not either established or achieved. Once a horse from this line enters the starting gates it has a 42% chance of winning the Derby. The RAN line won its first Derby in 1969. Since then RAN line stallions have been responsible for 17 Derby winners. This is certainly no illusion but colt facts.

Northern Dancer/ Turn To Broodmare lines: I always get excited when talented horses from these broodmare lines emerge. Northern Dancer line mares have produced the winners of 20 TC races.

There are some very talented/buzz 3YOs around that are not from the dominant sire line. I am not too focused on them as I am monitoring those on my shortlist from the RAN/Mr. Prospector sire line.  They are Capo Bastone, Fortify, Mountain Eagle, Gunderman, Footbridge, Melvin and Avie's Quality. The aforementioned group may not appear to be much but have the distinction of being representatives of the most powerful force in Derby/TC history.

15 Jan 2013 2:09 PM


What are you saying?

You wrote:

“Once a horse from this line (RAN) enters the starting gates it has a 42% chance of winning the Derby.”

Your sire line statistics may be correct, but your conclusion is all wrong.

If 7 horses from the same sire line enter the starting gate and that sire line wins 42% of the races run, each horse from that sire line has only a 6% chance of winning. You have to divide the 42 by 7.

The horses race against each other, remember?

15 Jan 2013 4:04 PM

As Coldfacts astutely points out trends with Derby winners and such, I have to agree with him.  

5 years ago, I started to use the  RAN/Mr. P sire line as a key angle to identifying my potential KD winner.  That angle, along with many of the other breeding angles he has discussed at length here, has been an extreme help when capping and identifying colts that end up in the winners circle on the TC trail.

15 Jan 2013 4:18 PM


“Assuming his performance was based on his natural ability the Derby is over.”?

The above extract from my post regarding Revolutionary was in response to a fellow poster. What I saw that day was a horse that went 1:36 and a bit and came back to the winner enclosure with more energy than he had leaving the paddock. This colt was never mentioned in any previous or subsequent post. To suggest that I was all the rage over him is inaccurate.  He is not even on my list as I do not believe his performance was natural.

“Footbridge was beaten 4 ½ lengths by Forest Boy who is still a maiden after 5 starts”

Do you believe by citing the above fact that it is to be used to measure the potential of Footbridge? Footbridge is not a sprinter. He did not get the best trip and was wrapped up late and therefore could have finished closer.

Secretariat finished fourth, beaten 1¼ length, in his first race at the Big A when he was impeded at the start, forced to take up on the backstretch and then could not make up the ground. His loss to maiden was not used to measure his potential. You should know better and stop trying to be funny.

“Do you plan to tout the entire field?’

The Derby field has not been finalized and consequently your question is baseless.

“Which member of that sire line would you bet to win? All of them?”

In a court of law there would be an objection on the basis of a question being asked and answered. All of them should have been followed by the exclamation sign.

Again, the Derby field has not been finalized and therefore I am not in a position to answer the quest as asked? Try to be more futuristic in phrasing questions about an unassembled Derby field..

15 Jan 2013 7:50 PM

Jersey Boy,

Footbridge did not race with Salix and the performance enhancer will not be administered to him for his start on Friday.

15 Jan 2013 8:31 PM
The Deacon

Linda in Texas:

Took a few days off, just got back, catching up on my blog reading. Funny, a horse named Deacon Speakin but not named after me. Hope he turns ut to be a good one though.

Got my nickname many years ago. Used to play a lot of basketball back in the day. I threw up a lot of long shots that somehow went in and my team mates nicknamed me "Deacon". Fun at the time.

Steve:  Really enjoyed reading the last 2 blogs. Very good insight this early in the triple crown trail.

Only comment I have on any horse is Shanghai Bobby, my gut tells me he doesn't want 10 furlongs.

Also I might add,

History tells us that only 1 horse that has won the Breeders Cup Juvenille has also won the Derby.

Question for Coldfacts: Did anyone see I'll Have Another winning the Derby and Preakness last January?

I would bet not so let folks have their dreams and lets all have fun on this 2013 Derby trail.

Please folks no more Draynay copycats.

Everyone has a right to an opinion.

Heck man, I haven't picked a Derby winner since Street Sense but I still have fun with it.

Welcome back to all the regular bloggers and to all the new ones as well..........

16 Jan 2013 4:31 AM
Mike from Michigan

Z Big Apple.....watch-out for this one on the Derby Trail.  I think he will do big things.

16 Jan 2013 6:06 AM

Mr. Haskin,

As previously mentioned this particular blog has forced me to reevaluate all the historic data that I use yearly to eliminate certain horses as likely winners of the Derby. This has nothing to do with their abilities but more to do with what the data repeatedly reflects.

One bid of data that you and your supporters are likely to find meaningless is the correlation between numbers of mares bred by stallions and Derby winners. Now I got knocked down by Mr. Ervin when I raised this subject previously. Why raise it again? I was guilty of focusing on one stallion i.e., Giants Causeway due to his top ranked colt Creative Cause. Consequently, I will provide a broader picture of the point I was trying to make in a poorly written post that was loaded with grammatical errors and void of sufficient details.

Mares bred between 2002 and 2009 accounted for the 3YOs comprising the Derby fields’ between 2006 - 2012. Between 2002 and 2009, 75 different stallions bred between 150 - 200 mares and many achieved these marks in multiple years. Five attained the 200 mares mark i.e. Grand Slam, Giant's Causeway (twice), Lion Heart, Fusaichi Pegasus and Chapel Royal. These stallions in combination bred 22,600 mares over the 7 years specified. Of the few foals that were fortunate to become Derby starters none hit the board.

The seven stallions that sired the Derby winners between 2006 - 2012 bred the following number of mares:

2002 - Dynaformer: 104 mares (Barbaro 2006)

2003 – Street Cry: 129 mares ( Streeet Sense 2007)

2004 – Boundary: 37 mares (Big Brown 2008)

2005 – Birdstone: 69 Mares (Mine That Bird 2009)

2006 – Miaria’s Mon: 131 Mares (Super Saver 2010)

2007 – Leriodesanimaux:  47 mares (Animal Kingdom 2011)

2008  - Flower Alley: 66 mares ( I’ll Have Another 2012)

Does this mean that a stallion that has sired 150 or mares in a season is unlikely to be a Derby wining sire? Strictly from the historic sample it is highly unlikely. I know it’s too simplistic and needs more analysis and a bigger sample. For what it worth, if this trend holds up we are all in trouble with our fancied horses for 2013:

Footbridge – Street Cry (169 mares bred)

Avie's Quality – Elusive Quality (151 mares bred)

Shanghai Bobby - Harlans Holiday (165 mares bred)

Uncaptured – Lion Heart (180 mares bred)

Voilence - Medaglia d'Oro (194 mares bred)

Normandy Invasion – Tapit (170 mars bred)

Listed above are some of the top rated and promising 3YOs who are unlikely to win the Derby if this trend continues. Into Mischief the sire of the talented Goldencents bred only 61 mares in 2009. Could he be the one?

16 Jan 2013 7:44 AM
Zenyatta John

Thanks Mr Haskin, I thoroughly enjoy the Derby season and anticipate your blog post every week as it adds thoughtful insight and flare to the Run for The Roses.

I can't be the only one who thinks that every week it gets 'hijacked' by Cold Facts comments. Good gracious, when you write 10 comments and most of them as long as Mr Haskin's blog itself, it's time to develop some restraint.

16 Jan 2013 8:18 AM


You wrote:

"Footbridge did not race with Salix and the performance enhancer will not be administered to him for his start on Friday."

So what?

About Revolutionary, you wrote:

"He is not even on my list as I do not believe his performance was natural."

Are you casting aspersions again?

16 Jan 2013 8:50 AM


Now I am being funny. I will compare Footbridge to Secretariat.

By the way, you do not have to tell me what happens in a court of law. I have a law degree and I am married to a lawyer.

16 Jan 2013 9:42 AM
Pedigree Ann

"Homebreds: I will always be high on a talented homebred as they have dominated the last 9 Derbies with 6 victories. The reason for their dominance remains puzzling as they are often not the most fashionably bred and not the most favored leaving the starting gates."

Homebred racers need not conform to the dictates of fashion. The breeder is free to find the best mating for a particular mare, instead of choosing a "hot" (highly advertised, top selling) stallion. Cee's Song produced better offspring with the regional sire Cee's Tizzy than she did going to Storm Cat. But boy howdy those Storm Cats sold well.

16 Jan 2013 10:25 AM

Jersey Boy,

OK, I admit my math is bad.  It’s probably my primary level education. I actually meant to specify that of the 43 Derbies contested between 1969 and 2012, the RAN/Mr. Prospector sire line has won 18. This equates to 41.86%.  The sire line therefore heads into the 2013 Derby with a 42% win rate calculated over the last 43.  Kindly forgive my misstatement.

16 Jan 2013 10:33 AM
Age of Reason

Jersey Boy, since you have a legal background I suspect I'm not the only one who thought of phrases like "Non sequitur" and "Post hoc ergo propter hoc" when reading Cold Facts' post about a supposed  correlation between a sire's possibility of Derby success and the number of mares bred. No doubt you're more skilled in rhetoric than I, and I'd love to see your rebuttal. :)

16 Jan 2013 11:19 AM
Rusty Weisner


So your contribution is to flatter the host and then insult someone who's commented here regularly for at least two years and to whom people gladly respond?

16 Jan 2013 11:57 AM

Back to the real issue. My choice is Violence. However, if he falters or a better horse emerges, I will switch at the drop of a hat. My aim is to make a winning bet, not to prove that I was right.

16 Jan 2013 12:39 PM
Steve Haskin

Let's stay civil, folks. Whether you take issue with Coldfacts or not, he is still a welcome contributor here and is entited to state his facts. Anyone is free to disagree with him or simply ignore him. But this is an open forum for all kinds of ideas, as long as they remain on the subject.

16 Jan 2013 2:03 PM


Your observation of the correlation between the number of mares covered by stallions of Derby hopefuls and the chance of siring a Derby winner is excellent.  Perhaps you could go a step further to postulate some probable reason, bearing in mind that these stallions usually throw good stakes quality horses.  Is it that the offspring of these overbred stallions need more time to develop?  

Another correlation worth examining is that between the number of colts that breakdown or get hurt before Derby day and the overbred stallions.  This could possible help in eliminating the "puffs" from the early Derby hopefuls.  

16 Jan 2013 3:33 PM

Thanks, Steve for your information and insights as we begin this 2013 trail.  Always look forward to your articles and 'Dozen' as I try to treat this low-grade fever I get starting this time of the year.  

Enjoy everyone's comments as we go down this trail again.

And so, Happy Trails to all, until we meet again when Steve gives us his picks, and I can pull the trigger on my 5 horse Tri box winning bet.  

16 Jan 2013 11:07 PM
Mike Relva


I'm aware what a special horse Genuine Risk was. I sent peppermints to her just days before she died. My impression is you're very well versed and possess a wealth of knowledge. That being said, a well known figue in racing stated last year Zenyatta in foal would still create a massive happening on racing fans if she made an appearance on any raceday. Some get it,others don't.

16 Jan 2013 11:52 PM
Uncle Smiley


Can we change leads and look to jockeys who might dominate some four or so months from now?

Dominguez, Napravnik, Gutierrez?

Curious to see if you have an opinion here.


16 Jan 2013 11:57 PM

Perhaps a better quantitative measure of sire lines, as successful Kentucky Derby production, would be to divine what percentage of the total foal crop is made of each line.

Who knows, if one line is providing most of the crop then how successful is that line really. Fashion will always dictate success.

17 Jan 2013 1:23 AM


This is a lot of fun. It is the best opportunity I have to entertain myself while improving my proficiency with the internet. This blog is also to be credited with my new skill as a typist.

I love to poke fun at Coldfacts. I imagine things will be hilarious if Footbridge wins tomorrow by daylight. I do not believe he gets mad at me.

Coldfacts. Remember my old suggestion. Prepare your entries in Word, then copy and paste here.

Word will help you with the editing.

17 Jan 2013 8:07 AM

Hi Steve,

Good article - well done.

May I suggest not using the term small-time when referencing connections?  Everyone has the same dreams and as you point out, money doesn’t define success in horse racing.

Just as a note, (I'm sure that you know), SMILE, Smarty's dam-sire, won the Arlington Classic (G1) at 9f and was a top class short router.

Keep up the good work - looking forward to your articles.



17 Jan 2013 11:00 AM

Hi Mike From Michigan,

Federico Tesio spoke of a horses ‘Nervous Energy’ and believed that it was essential to breed top race horses but that it could be lost by over racing or breeding.  Bull Hancock believed that you could over breed a stallion.

As the crop sizes have increased the percentage of SW has dropped for most stallions.  Stallions with ~10% SW (or more) used to be relatively common.  Now they’re rare.



17 Jan 2013 11:42 AM


"Are you casting aspersions again?"

What aspersions have I casted in the past? I have seen a horse far too often runs out of its skin and in its next start it cannot get out of its own way. It’s no secret that I always have question marks over charges from certain stables, particularly those that are plagued with MIA syndrome. A horse that returns to the winning enclosure kicking and bucking after what appeared to be a strong 8F gallop has clearly not expended any energy. The Derby is 10F with an average mile split of 1:36 and a bit. With Revolutionary’s energy reservoir the Derby would be a walk in the park if not for the fact that he is from a stable with a record of one win from 37 starters and plagued with MIA syndrome . Now that’s no illusion just cold facts.

“I love to poke fun at Coldfacts”

You are not alone in this activity so there is no need to feel bad. I have been subjected to ridicule all my life.  I am a big boy and can take it. I make myself difficult to understand so I am guilty exposing myself to pokes.

“Prepare your entries in Word, then copy and paste here”

If by entries you mean contributions/posts, I currently prepare all submission in Word. However, my writing and editing skills are poor. I do try to edit prior to hitting the submit button but in most instances what is displayed on the monitor is overridden by what is being read from the brain. Going forwards I will try my utmost to do better. You must remember I am not as academically inclined as most of the Mr. Haskin’s supporters.  

“Word will help you with the editing”

I am well aware of the program’s capabilities regarding spell check and editing. However, it is limited in the editing capabilities.

17 Jan 2013 12:04 PM

Uncle Smiley,

“Can we change leads and look to jockeys who might dominate some four or so months from now?”

I would give the vote to Napravnik. In New York Mr. Dominguez is like a one eye king in a blind man’s country.  He gets the best mounts and he is good. He will therefore always win a trailer load of races. I prefer a Jockey that is capable of making a horse into a winner and not one that is always a passenger.  

Napravnik is the more versatile rider and has proven that she has the capabilities of making winners out of horses with less  than stellar PPs.

17 Jan 2013 12:24 PM
Steve Haskin

Never Bend, where do I equate small-time with money? Small-time owners and breeders themselves admit to be small-time owners or breeders. When you own only three weanlings and race one or two horses you are a small-time owner and breeder. It is a fact, not an insult.

17 Jan 2013 1:03 PM
Uncle Smiley


Now you got me going to Equibase to substantiate statistics. Napravnik and Dominguez, cut their teeth at Delaware Park.  Llke to compare their comparative Saratoga stats last year too.

But judging the ridership of Rosie and Ramon, well, De gustibus non est disputandum.

Hope we see the two in the triple this year


17 Jan 2013 7:35 PM

Age of Reason:

I had money on Derby winners I'll Have Another and Super saver in the Future Pools.

My approach was simple.

I added the DRF Speed Figure to the Track Variant for performances over a mile or longer on a dry track, and went with the ones near the top.

It is a simple system. I use it in all races, regardless of the name of the race. It works for me.

The Kentucky Derby is just another race to the bettor. The horse that covers the distance fastest will be the winner.

I predict the result will be the same this year.

17 Jan 2013 7:55 PM
Julie June Stewart

A great article Steve - as always, it makes one mull things over. The one question I keep pondering is how many past Derby Winners would even qualify under the new Derby point system?  There are probably some articles out there that I missed when Churchill Downs stepped away from Graded Stakes Earnings to a selective point system for a smaller pool of races.  If anyone has seen that discussion, I would love to read it.  My intuition tells me that several of the Derby Champs Mr. Haskin mentions wouldn't have had enough points to enter the run for the roses.....  

17 Jan 2013 9:19 PM
Paula Higgins

Coldfacts, I always enjoy your posts and you write well enough. You have horse smarts and that trumps the ability to edit.

17 Jan 2013 10:09 PM

Go Paynter!  He wins "Moment Of The Year" too along now with the Vox Populi.  He can just continue right on along to HOY if it was up to me.  I would hardly classify his recovery as a "moment" though, more like a 5 month long, arduous, touch and go, critical period.  I hope for Paynter now that he remembers it only as a brief "moment" that horrible ordeal and he is happy go lucky back at Santa Antia where he belongs.  He's home, finally.  I'd put him in Sports Illustrated too as one of the Most Amazing Animals ever, he can win that one too.  PowerUpPaynter!

17 Jan 2013 10:58 PM
Uncle Smiley


Thanks for the nod to Allen Sherman..

Makes me think of Abott and Costello..

Where the mudder eats the fodder.

Those old Flatland's days!


17 Jan 2013 11:04 PM
Steve Haskin

Uncl Smiley, I'm glad somebody got it :) Abbott and Costello are my all-time favorites. Their horse racing routines are classic. Did you live in Flatlands?

18 Jan 2013 6:34 AM

Cold facts:

You asked:

“What aspersions have I casted in the past?”

Do a web search on - Coldfacts cocktail  bloodhorse

18 Jan 2013 11:33 AM
Karen in Texas

Julie June Stewart,

This article lists Kentucky Derby winners and their respective points under the new system for ~15 years. On any of the comparison lists I have seen, Smarty Jones has had the highest number, 160 points; and of course he competed in the Southwest Stakes, the Rebel, and the Arkansas Derby. War Emblem had 0 points; one of the criticisms of the new system being that the Illinois Derby is not included. Is this the type of information you wanted?


18 Jan 2013 12:30 PM

Julie June Stewart,

You make a very good point about past Derby winners and the current points system.  I believe that Secretariat's chances of qualifying under the current system would be endangered since he ran horibly in the Wood Memorial, beaten into third place by Angle Light and Sham because of a reported abscess in the mouth.

You can find some debate of the system on Pete Denks' Blog: Unlocking Winners, under the heading, Leading Astray, Gary Stevens.

18 Jan 2013 2:02 PM

I really enjoy everyone's strategy & analysis, especially yours, Steve!  I can say that the last two years my choices have been triggered by gleaning as much info as I can in the week leading up to the Derby.  

I don't remember if it was the Robert B Lewis or the San Felipe last year but Steve you made your most compelling case for a derby winner when you wrote about I'll Have Another after his performance.  It was a great pedigree analysis to back up a powerful performance!  

Heed the Steve!!

18 Jan 2013 5:46 PM

Well, Footbridge the supposed next good thing, finished well going

6½ furlongs, but was beaten 5½  lengths. His supporters thought that he would like a longer distance. He got easily run down at a mile.

Conclusion?  He is not all he is cracked up to be. After 2 starts he is still a maiden.

I wait for the next buzz horse.

18 Jan 2013 5:57 PM
Karen in Texas


Churchill Downs estimated ~40 points would get a horse into the gate for the Derby under the new system. Secretariat would have had 50 points for the Gotham and his third place in the Wood would have garnered another 20 points. That should have been enough.

18 Jan 2013 6:23 PM
Age of Reason

To Coldfacts and all the Footbridge fans, if you haven't yet seen his race from today here's the link: www.bloodhorse.com/.../race-results . Just copy and paste into a new browser window then hit enter. Honestly, I really don't know what to make of the fella at this point, since we have two very different races to look at. In his first msw he came from nowhere and ran into the show spot down the lane at a sprint distance, then today he took the opposite tack and tried to wire another msw field at a two-turn mile. He lost by 3/4 of a length, getting caught in the final 1/16 by a stalking Baffert-trained Curlin colt who has some promise of his own. A commenter on DRF yesterday noted that of all the two-turn races at Santa Anita yesterday, only Eblouissante did not lead wire-to-wire, so Footbridge's jock may have simply been trying to take advantage of a perceived track bias. That's well and good, but perhaps it backfired if that isn't the colt's natural style. The first quarter in 22 and change did him no good, but all the internal and closing fractions seemed quite solid; take that with a grain of salt as I calculated them in my head and I'm certainly no Math major. ;) With a few exceptions (Street Sense, Cry And Catch Me), Street Cry's offspring seem to be well-endowed with that Late Development Syndrome with which Ranagulzion (accurately overall, imo) tagged A.P. Indy 'way back. Heck, who says Footbridge has to make the Triple Crown? His sire and damsire both won the Dubai World Cup, so let him go for that if a Derby bid doesn't work out; I'll root for him all the way!

18 Jan 2013 7:11 PM
El Kabong

Julie June Stewart,

your effort to determine whether past winners of the KD would have qualified misses the point of why the system has changed. Apply it to the last 15 years at most if you want a fair reading. Going back further is pointless. The new system attempts to balance the changes in the industry in breeding, training, surfaces, and the misguided influx that money can buy you what you want, i.e. the Delta Downs Jackpot having a say on the Derby entrants. Point is, the best horses for the Derby do not emerge until March, April. To sway the qualifying method to reflect this is to accept the truth. To stick to an antiquated system denies that things have changed and oh have they changed. But the point of this change is to adapt and give us the best in May in the gate, under the current trends in the industry. Like it or not, things have changed. And while I hate to tell folks they can't just buy their way into the qualifying system..ie Delta Downs Jackpot..... their is good reason based on the record of those entrants, at the exclusion of more qualified horses, to fix the system. You must not examine in a vacuum of controlled atmosphere if you want real answers to a question that lies in an atmosphere that is an ever changing one.

18 Jan 2013 8:40 PM
Uncle Smiley


Albany ave between J and K.


Marine Theater.

Hong Kong on Flatlands and Flatbush.


18 Jan 2013 8:57 PM
El Kabong


You should visit the site that Karen in Texas has provided us with for facts on the matter. And for the record, my reference to the last 15 years to Julie June Stewart was made without having seen Karens post reflecting on the past 15 years. I just tossed that out off the top of my head as a starting point for relevance for the new system. Good info, even for Dinosaurs.

18 Jan 2013 9:23 PM

Gee Steve....here's what the promising colt said,

"Here I am at Camp Grenada.

Camp is very entertaining,

and they say we'll have some fun if it stops raining..."

Your blog is so true....no matter how we study the charts and the pedigrees, come the first Saturday in May, any one of twenty horses can win...depending on the weather,(still tornado time) the track,(sometime it's a swamp) the jockey,(Edie Arcaro) the trip,(Borel on the rail) and even the horse's mood (ala Point Given). There are so many variables, we study pedigrees and track records, we forecast our choices, then cross our fingers, spin around 3 times and hope for the best.

Last year I felt Union Rags was over-hyped, wasn’t bred for the distance, and wouldn’t get 10f even if he paid the jockey to carry him.  UR shut me up in the Belmont.  It was a shock to me. (especially since I was disappointed over the loss of a possible Triple Crown, and was cheering for Paynter all the way.)

I was taken aback by Coldfacts comments about Zenyatta.  She never even started racing until November of her 3 year old year.  And she was the first female to win the Breeder’s Cup Classic.  As far as 3 year olds…Rachel Alexandra won the Kentucky Oaks by 20 lengths, then took on the boys 2 weeks later winning the Preakness.  So he really should consider the impact these fillies had on racing and its myriad fans, and not just relate everything to the Kentucky Derby alone.

I learned so long ago….whatever horse you might think is the best, just might not make it into the gate on Derby Day.  Case in point:  I watched Vindication win the 2002 BC Juvenile.  Not only did I peg him as a Derby winner, I pronounced him a Triple Crown winner.  He looked like Slew, acted like Slew, ran like Slew, was a son of Slew, I thought he was Slew re-incarnated.  My heart fell when he never got to the Derby due to an injury.  I just won’t pick this early.  Then there was I Want Revenge, scratched the morning of…darn! Or the best horse of 2001, Point Given who made the gate but just didn’t feel like running that day.

What does one do about a horse like Violence, who looks promising….and then I think about all the Pletcher- trained super stars who just never made it into the gate on Derby day…and doubts set in.  

Oh gosh…Steve…you got me….I’m back to making my list of potentials….and they’re looking awfully good!  I just can’t wait for your first Derby Dozen.  And now I analyze not only pedigrees and records, but trainer and jockey records….my head is spinning already. The carousel is now in motion…..I’ll take the black horse!

“All the counselors hate the waiters

And the lake has alligators

And the head coach wants no sissies

So he reads to us from something called Ulysses.”

18 Jan 2013 9:29 PM
Paula Higgins

Yes, it was great to see Paynter win The Year's Best Moment. It certainly was by a longshot. Also great to see Eblouissante win her second race. She is coming along.

19 Jan 2013 12:08 AM


"Now I am being funny. I will compare Footbridge to Secretariat."

There is a world of difference between trying to be funny and actually being funny. My allegation was that you were trying to be funny but did not achieve your objective. Was it so difficult to recognize that I was not comparing Footbridge to Secretariat but merely their experiences of being beaten by maidens on their respective debuts? To evaluate Footbridge potential on his loos to a colt that had been beaten five times previously, is to suggest that Forrest Boy is the standard by which he is to be judges.  Let reiterate, you should know better

“By the way, you do not have to tell me what happens in a court of law. I have a law degree and I am married to a lawyer.”

Well sir, I ascribe to you intellectual and academic dominion and feel privileged to be having exchanges with one that possess a legal background. Based on your legal training and court room experience, you should have known that the objection to which I referred would have been upheld by the presiding Judge. Sharp lawyers do not ask and answer questions during either direct questioning or during cross. In one instance you would be leading the witness and in the other you would have provided the information you requested. Not good!

"Footbridge did not race with Salix and the performance enhancer will not be administered to him for his start on Friday."

So what?

Your question reflects an unforgivable level of ignorance of the impact of this product on the performance of horses. Its impact can be best evaluated by answering two questions.

Why do many European connections that participate in the Breeders Cup have a product that is not allowed in their racing jurisdiction administered?

Why do Racing Forms reflect first time Salix for those being administered with the product?

If you are capable of answering these questions my learned colleague, you will better appreciate the relevance of my point.  

19 Jan 2013 7:21 AM


You are no doubt salivating to submit your assessment of Footbridge’s performance.  So before your legal mind is put to work, let me be preemptive and provide some points.

Footbridge had no excuse for his loss. He led from the gates and had a trouble free trip and just could not repel the challenge of Curly Top. I did not expect him to lead but when they have class they either have tactical or closing speed. He clearly made significant improvement between races and that is a big positive.  Curley Top clearly has more lactic acid tolerance as his two previous starts were at 1 1/6m.  Irrespective, Footbridge should have found a way to win as the really good ones do. He does not appear to be in full racing shape as there are some muscles that are not fully defined. He is not a physically imposing colt but neither was his dad. Watching him in motion to the starting gate, I got the impression he might have issue in hind area. I could be wrong as one can never be accurate with just views being beamed via satellite.

Do not be too hard on the colt as he tried hard and was not on Salix that could have made a difference.  Derby winner Street Sense lost three of his first four starts before his massacre in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.  I am still on board.

19 Jan 2013 7:54 AM


“Do a web search on - Coldfacts cocktail  bloodhorse”

If you were the owner of a colt that spotted the field 5L in the Gll Breeders Cup Juvenile (Turf) and flew home like a bird to win in hand, you no doubt would think you have a world beater. If you then discovered that said colt could not subsequently beat an allowance field, would you cast aspersions?

I have been in this game long enough to know that when a horse delivers that type of performance and cannot get out its own way subsequently, it has suffered serious damage. The animal will look fine physically but those internal organs have been damage beyond repair.

I was not always a nonentity and owned a few thoroughbreds in a previous life.  I know what can be done to these majestic animals to get them to deliver supernatural performances. This is why there are so many substances that are banned. If not for this oversights these defenseless animals would be high tech laboratories competing against each other. Forget testing as a certain high profile cyclist finally admitted to being juiced while winning 7 titles in one of the toughest physical test in any sporting discipline.

19 Jan 2013 8:26 AM


You made that reference to Street Sense, when discussing Footbridge.

Street Sense was a Grade 1 winner as a 2yo.

As I have always said, I judge them by their performance. Footbridge has an excellent chance to win a maiden race next time out. He is not another Street Sense. He is a 3yo maiden.

19 Jan 2013 11:13 AM
Linda in Texas

Slew - Happy New Year. You never disappoint with your great remarks.

You are a substantial contributor to Mr. Haskin's Blog and i hope you know you are appreciated and respected. I too had such high hopes for Vindication and sadly, of course, he is no longer with us but was Champion 2 Year Old Colt in 2002. He was such a handsome stallion and some of his progeny still race. I always do a double take when i see him listed on a pedigree. I loved his daddy! Still do and always will. Long live the  memories of the one and only Seattle Slew.


19 Jan 2013 12:25 PM


“I was taken aback by Coldfacts comments about Zenyatta”

I am of the opinion that I was fair regarding Zenyatta. She is indeed the first female to win the BCC and is an exceptional race horse. However, it is advisable that her fans do not post emotionally driven over the top statements that serve to diminish the achievement of other mares.

I agree she had a late start to her racing career and for many thoroughbreds this is a good thing. She was tougher and more mature when she started racing. This makes Genuine Risk’s achievement even more impressive. As developing filly she took on the best colts of her generation in the Derby and won. Two weeks later she took on the carry overs from the Derby and fresh colts in the Preakness and beat all but one. Three weeks later she contested the Belmont with another set of old and new faces and beat all but one. She never ended her career with one lost but was not managed to beat up on a set of overmatched females. Two colts stood in her way of being the first feral TC winner. Each year there is BCC winner. However, there have only been 11 TC winners in the last 94 years and this denotes the enormity of the task for those who dare to undertake it.  There are other female that could have been highlighted but I consider the appropriately named Genuine Risk a sufficient example.

Zenyatta's career must be taken in context. She avoided a contest with the best colt of her generation in the 2008 BCC. She was beaten by Rachael for HOY and  given that said award  the following year controversially. She must be given credit where due but not place on a pedestal ahead of other mares whom have been where she dared to trod.

19 Jan 2013 12:47 PM


I enjoyed your article, as always. I also enjoy reading all of the comments.

It is interesting how differently people view horseracing and what aspects of it they enjoy the most.

I myself enjoy racing because I love horses. I love to watch these beautiful creatures. I am not a betting person nor do I study pedigrees, numbers or things of that nature much. I am impressed by those who do. Their knowledge is amazing. However, there are some like myself who are content to follow racing in a very simple way and Mr Haskin, you help us by writing blogs that are full of useful, easy to read information.

I love this time of year because Derby fever is getting started and we can follow promising newly turned 3 year olds as they begin their 3 year old campaigns. We know that some previously unknown to most horses will emerge as possible Derby candidates, and it is always intetesting to see how the best of last year's 2 year olds will do this year.

I pray that all horses stay safe and sound, and jocks too.

19 Jan 2013 2:29 PM
Jean in Chicago

Coldfacts,  I agree with Paula Higgins.  I like your posts.  Although I would call the Raise A Native line the Native Dancer line (just my bias, first horse I fell in love with.)  And if you really want troubles editing, I will quite happily loan you a cat that thinks walking across the keyboard while I'm trying to type is being helpful.

19 Jan 2013 2:31 PM
Age of Reason

Coldfacts and friends,

Footbridge may not have ran yesterday as hoped, but I just watched another Street Cry colt this afternoon who showed some promise first time on dirt. Elmutahid (Street Cry--turf graded stakes winner Alwajeeha, by Dixieland Band) scored at Gulfstream in a 9-furlong msw (off the turf) quite impressively; he opened up daylight on the first turn and was never challenged, seemingly running the well-bred field into the ground as he ran off to a 5-length win. The closing fractions weren't anything to rave about, but it was a visually impressive win for a colt who'd made all 4 previous starts on turf, and besides has now had 4 straight races at 8.5 furlongs or longer. Check out the replay, race 3: www.bloodhorse.com/.../race-results

19 Jan 2013 3:21 PM
Paula Higgins

Coldfacts, I just saw your response about Zenyatta. Here we disagree. Genuine Risk was a great horse and Black Caviar is a great racehorse. But neither are, or were, the equal of Zenyatta. Black Caviar is a sprinter on grass. Zenyatta is a distance runner on dirt and synthetics. Zenyatta came from dead last every time and won with the exception of one loss that was essentially a win in everyone's book because it was that close. No horse does that every time. But she did. Zenyatta's stride was enormous. Her only competition was Secretariat in length of stride (and I believe her's was measured as sl. wider). Her competition in both Breeders Cup Classics was tougher than Black Caviar's. Black Caviar is revered by the Aussies and all who love horse racing, including me. But Zenyatta is an immortal. Read the coverage written by the Brits and all the U.S. writers (you can still goggle most of it) when she was racing. Even Andy Beyer, not one of Zenyatta's biggest fans, admitted after the 2010 Classic that you could make a legitimate case that she was the greatest mare or filly to ever race. I know it must have killed him to write that sentence. As for Zenyatta not running in the Derby, who cares? Take a look at what she did do. It was spectacular. Ruffian is her closest comeptition in my opinion. She had phenomenal ability. But sadly, we will never know the full extent of how much more she could have accomplished.

19 Jan 2013 5:17 PM

Karen In Texas,

Should I say thanks for keeping me honest wth your fact-checker re Secretariat and the current points sstem? (LOL) Anyway, the point is that minor infirmities such as an abscess in a horses' mouth should not jeopardize that one's chance of making the Derby field because of some arbitrary points allocation system ...do you agree?

El Kabong,

I can understand why you don't like checking the past Derby winners against the current points system ...it doesn't support your position.  The justification that you are making for this arbitrary points system does no concur with the reasons given by the Churchill Downs Authoriies for changing the system. What they wanted was to conrol the entry process for their marquee event ...which meant dishing dirt (pardon the pun) to competitors like Hawthorne (Illinois Derby).

I'll say this one more time: this system will not improve the quality of the Kentucky Derby ...it diminishes the quality of the horse race and the chance of having a truly run race (void of a false pace) on a consistent basis. I'll patintly wait to see a returnto the far superior Graded Earnins System. BTW you did not answered my questions in our previous discussion on this matter about exactly what problems of the past system needed fixing ...I asked you to name two or three and I'll await your answer. Also you keep knocking the Delta Jackpot whichs only about ten years old an you cannot name any horse that has been denied a legitimate shot at  Derby glory due to a Delta Jackpot winner, which by the way was never a gift on a platter for any of those horses.  Earning your way into the Derby and prompting the promoters to increase purses where they are able to, is a better system to improve the sport than some whimsical politically motivated idea.  

The best horses of the breed are from what you may regard as the "dinosaur era" my friend (LOL)...Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Spectacular Bid, Easy Goer, Sunday Silence etc.  

19 Jan 2013 5:56 PM

Before the Derby speculation begins, I would like to put an end now to Coldfacts insistence on the dominance of the RAN line.  I've said before that Coldfacts goes back too far genetically.  He continues to compare statistics of RAN to current sires.  Truth be told...Ran was born in 1961.  The only other sire that can be compared to RAN is Northern Dancer also born in 1961.  You would be hard pressed to find a horse running today who isn't part Northern Dancer, including Euro champions.  Northern Dancer, sired by Nearctic was out of Natalma, by Native Dancer.  RAN was sired by Native Dancer.  

So coldfacts...perhaps consider RAN's son, Mr Prospector (1970)when comparisons are made to Secretariat or Slew or Affirmed.  However, AP Indy was not born until 1989.  Most of his sons were champions and are champion sires.  Of course, you can go back to Nearco and Nasrullah...but why?  Each successive generation does dilute the original, but also enhances, freshens and adds new influences to the bloodline.  

As to jockeys, Rosie is in the top 10 in the nation.  Ramon Dominguez was thrown yesterday at Aqueduct, and has a displaced skull fracture.

Ron the Greek destroyed the field in the Sunshine Millions Classic by about 10 lenths.  In the lead, MMM suddenly dropped back.  Mike Smith was trying to save him...he felt something went wrong with MMM.

Oxbow destroyed the field by 10 lengths in the LeComte.

19 Jan 2013 6:14 PM
Uncle Smiley


Let's hope Ramon Dominguez pulls through his injury, and continues his sterling career.


19 Jan 2013 10:39 PM


Oxbow, looks like he is just getting started after a mile and a 16th. He destroyed the Lecomte field today! Does anybody know if he has stopped running yet?

19 Jan 2013 11:12 PM
Steve Haskin

Uncle Smiley, thank goodness the prognosis looks good.

I lived on East 53rd St. between Ave K and L. So not really that far from you.

19 Jan 2013 11:15 PM
Paula Higgins

I saw the Eclipse Awards tonite. This show needs an infusion of life. Maybe it was just the crowd, which seemed somewhat lifeless and I don't think there was any music. Not that it should be a Cecil B. DeMille production, but it needs a little energy for the sake of the viewing public. In any event, everyone we thought would win, won. I was very happy for Mr. Morton Fink, Wise Dan's owner. What a gentleman he is; a very gracious man. He said he had waited 40 years for a great horse. I was also happy for Dale Romans, who won for best trainer. Ramon Dominguez seems to be doing well, thankfully.

20 Jan 2013 1:24 AM

Age of Reason,

I'll agree with you that Elmutahid looks very promising indeed. I'll put him on my Derby watch list. His pedigree has the Rasmussen factor, inbreed to a superior broodmare (Natalma) via Raise The Standard on the sire's side and Northern Dancer on the dam side, within the  first five generations.  Good call.

20 Jan 2013 1:41 AM
El Kabong


You don't like what I have to say on this subject but please, grow up, and don't distort what I say...

El Kabong,

I can understand why you don't like checking the past Derby winners against the current points system ...it doesn't support your position.

What I did say

"Apply it to the last 15 years at most if you want a fair reading. Going back further is pointless."

I never, let me repeat never said the point system shouldn't be checked against past derby winners and I believe Karen put your concerns for Secretariat making it to the Derby on this system to rest. She also gave you the facts on the last 15 years of who would have made it in and who wouldn't have made it in. But there is good reason to believe that had this system been in place at the time Mine That Bird and War Emblem would have adjusted their campaigns and not relied on the old, win one and your in system. That is the biggest flaw in your argument to try and apply this system to events which have already occurred. It's just not fair to assume that knowing the rules, that any one of them would not have changed their campaigns. And you would need to go back and tally points for all of the possible entrants, not just one, to determine what the qualifying number would be for that year. If you want you can do that, but that too is a waist of time given what I have already pointed out to you about trying to judge history under modern criteria. It's a task for a fool. Disagree with me all you want, but please don't put words in mouth, it's tasteless.

20 Jan 2013 8:45 AM
El Kabong


I did answer your questions but let me put it in a list for you.

1. This system is weighted to give more credit to horses who win a 3 instead of 2. This is the feature I like most. If you want the best horses to run in a race in May, why reach back to their form at 2. Does this make any sense to you? Problem one fixed.

2. This system is weighted to give more credit to horses who win at longer distances (1 mile +). If you want the horses who are most able to get 10F, why would you judge them on their efforts of one turn sprints? This system will favor those horses who are most talented at stretching out. Most of them will run in sprints to build foundation at two, but they won't get credit until they excel at longer distances. This will help get 20 horses who are more qualified at running 2 turns into the Derby. Problem 2 fixed. You think the Derby will be spoiled if it doesn't have a rabbit to ruin the pace? That is just plain crazy.

3. The new system will not allow any track, not just the folks at Delta Downs, to distort the entry process by putting up the bucks for a win one and your in ticket. I have used the Delta Downs Jackpot not because I don't appreciate their efforts to support the thoroughbred industry, I just don't think it helps the effort of those in Louisville who are trying to bring us the best race. There is no way that the efforts of a 2 year old, running on a bullring track against a group of horses who for the most part, will not be heard from again on the Derby trail, should be given a ticket to Louisville. They should do us all a favor and use that money to build a better track. Problem 3 fixed.

What I can't fix is you putting words in my mouth.

"The best horses of the breed are from what you may regard as the "dinosaur era" my friend (LOL)...Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Spectacular Bid, Easy Goer, Sunday Silence etc. "

My dinosaur reference was not meant for this era or the great horses who ran then. It was meant for you and anyone else who does not see the need for change. Pick up your knuckles and walk upright. And stop distorting my words.

20 Jan 2013 9:20 AM

Age of Reason,

Elmutahid victory was impressive but not impacting. I concur that the closing fractions were pedestrian and more consistent with a Turf horse switching to a sloppy track. Is he worthy of being place on DWL? Any horse from the Mr. P sire line that shows promise is worthy. What does the Derby history chart reflect for this colt?

He is a January foal and these foals rarely wear the roses. Those who backed Gemologist in the 2012 Derby would know this. Grindstone was the last January foal to win the Derby. In spite of his maturity advantage he won by a whisker.

The 2007 Derby winner Street Sense was by Street Cry via a Dixieland Band mare. Elmutahid’s shares sire and was also produced from a Dixieland Band mare.  What are the prospects of this combination producing another Derby winner? Highly unlikely! However, the RAN/ Mr. P sire line is accustom to setting records and both Street Cry and Dixieland Band have stellar records as sire and dam sire.  Monarchos, Street Sense and Eight Belles were produced from Dixieland Band mares. Zenyatta, Street Sense and Shocking were sire by Street Cry.

I think Elmutahid is a Synthetic/Turf type horse. However, Churchill Downs has been very kind to horses that perform well on these surfaces. Barbaro, PioneerOf A Nile, Mine That Bird, Animal Kingdom, Went The Day Well, Master Oh Hounds etc., either won or perform creditably on the CD surface. Went The Day Well the 4th place finisher in the 2012 Derby finished 4th in his dirt debut at Gulfstream Park in a 9F race completed in 1:51.03.  

Derby negatives and slow time have never stopped the RAN/Mr. P line horses and it is unlikely to start now. Keep an open mind.

20 Jan 2013 9:47 AM

El Kabong,

Your post on 20 Jan 2013 9:20 AM is loaded with a mix of cold facts and humor. Love it! However, you have to take it easy on my learned colleague Ranagulzion as I am the rented mule on the blog and can take a flogging.

“There is no way that the efforts of a 2 year old, running on a bullring track against a group of horses who for the most part, will not be heard from again on the Derby trail, should be given a ticket to Louisville.”

While I understand the point you are trying to make in the above extract from your post, care must be taken in not discrediting horses from a particular race. The likes of Goldencents, Rule and Sabercat exited the Delta Jackpot and either won or placed in subsequent Derby preps.

Rule won the (G3) Sam Davis and finished a determined 3rd in the (G1) FL Derby.

Sabercat finished 3rd in the (G1) AK Derby.

Goldencents  has already won the (G3) Sham and is likely to be a major player in the remaining preps.

The Sunland Derby was not on the radar as a significant Derby prep until Mine That Bird exited the race in 4th to win the RFTR.

20 Jan 2013 11:12 AM
Pedigree Ann

"Oxbow, looks like he is just getting started after a mile and a 16th. He destroyed the Lecomte field today! Does anybody know if he has stopped running yet?"

Well, when he is allowed to run 12+ second splits for 6f (1:13.34) on the lead, he ought to be able to win. What was surprising was the distance he won by. Golden Soul did a good job of actually passing horses late. GS has a decent ped for distance, may prefer turf later.

20 Jan 2013 11:17 AM


Again my learned colleague you have missed the point. Street Sense contested four races before the BCJ and lost three. Based on the start of Footbridge’s career (12/26/2012) did you expect him to win a Gl race as a 2YO? Some horses get off to slow starts and should not be prematurely written off. I do not consider Footbridge’s start particularly slow. Footbridge closed from far behind in his first race and led from the gates in his second. Can you specify what kind of colt we have seen on display?

You referred to him a buzz horse. Do you recall his starting odds on debut? I think it was 7-1. No buzz horse would debut at 7-1. Let me reiterate, if Footbridge run to his exceptional pedigree he will be a monster. I was a bit disappointed with his runner up finish but he showed a different dimension and a lot of fight in deep stretch. That all one can ask for from a young thoroughbred.

In a previous post you hastened to highlight that Forrest Boy who was then a maiden after five starts and now six, had finished ahead of Footbridge. As the astute attorney you are, this bit of information was considered sufficient for you to rest your case on Footbridge’s ability. If my recollection is correct Forrest Boy could not get him off his bridle in their next meeting and finished off the board.

You have declared chosen profession and I sincerely hope that your opening arguments and rebuttals are significantly better than those you have electrified us with.  

20 Jan 2013 11:19 AM


Revist the exploits of a colt by the named Consolidator

20 Jan 2013 11:28 AM
Karen in Texas


No, of course I do not want to see a horse left out of the Derby field due to an oral abscess, but that alone is not likely to exclude any contender under either the old system or the newer points version. I have not "fact checked" so much as I familiarized myself with the new race groupings and their assigned points immediately after the change was announced.

The question asked by Julie June Stewart seemed to me to be sincere. I found your answer to her to be somewhat disingenuous. Secretariat's Wood was only one race; had you forgotten his Gotham? By the way, the other five horses named in your 1/19/13 5:56 P.M. post had between 110-160 points under the new system, with Easy Goer having the most.

This new system may not work; CDI has said they would review it (the allowed races) annually, and make changes/adjustments if needed. Maybe the Illinois Derby will be added; no one knows at this point. Trainers were given enough notice to plan/adjust schedules. I am not totally for or against the new system, but will need to see it in actuality before forming a strong opinion either way.

20 Jan 2013 12:56 PM


You are trying to take a rational approach in your entry on

19 Jan 2013 6:14 PM

Good luck.

I say never argue with references of irrelevance.

(I made this entry because of a test my doctor asked me to conduct.

She is dead right).

20 Jan 2013 1:42 PM
Steve Haskin

Footbridge has gotten a lot of ink on here for a maiden. Sometimes things are very simple. It is very possible he simply was beaten by a good horse, trained by Baffert, who was getting blinkers off and was dropping back from a pair of 1 1/16 mile races, while Footbridge was stretching out from a single 6 1/2 furlong race to a mile. Not easy to do, especially on the lead. Curly Top had the experience and the bottom. Footbridge probably doesnt want to go to the front, so watch him next time with this race under his belt.

Uncle Smiley, I meant East 57th Street, not 53rd.

20 Jan 2013 5:17 PM
El Kabong


I am glad you see my point about the DDJ, it has no business guaranteeing a spot in the Derby. Does it deserve to be a part of the process? Absolutely, and the role it now has is perfect. If Goldencents earns his way into the derby, the DDJ rightfully deserves credit for attracting a Derby talent(I still wish they would use those delta dollars to fix the ring). I do not take that opportunity away from them nor do I want to take away anything from the distinguished list of milers you mentioned:)

20 Jan 2013 5:44 PM
Uncle Smiley


And I said Hong Kong for the local Chinese Restaurant.  It actually was New China Inn.  In my case its old timers coming on.

Wow 57th. St.  That is almost Canarsie.. East of Kings Highway!

Certainly everyone is pulling for Ramon.  Sounds like he wont be in the Triple Crown mix this season.

Hope he is back soon... No later than the opening of the Spa, if not much earlier.


20 Jan 2013 6:15 PM
El Kabong

Ever wonder why some people seem so against any change at all? I do. Has the past been that good to us? These folks seem rather content to ignore the changes all around us. Would if we all just ignored change? I'd like to see what the racing form looked like on stone chiseled tablets but I don't think I'd would like to hall such burden to the track or smack it on my hip and yell, get Up seven, like I do sometimes with the paper version. No, we have to change some things. But I don't think I'd change my mind about change. We need it. It's Sunday night and I wish some things didn't have to change. I miss my weekly dose of Andy Rooney.

20 Jan 2013 7:33 PM

Karen in Texas,

I trust that you get my point about Secretariat's sub-par performance in the Wood Memorial ...the HOTY as a 2YO and one of the greatest 3YOs of all time would fetch a mere 50 points going into the Derby (barely scraping through because he suffered a minor ailment that afected him in the Wood Memorial) is preposterous ...viewed from any angle. Thats my point to Julie June Stewart et al ...no insincerity intended my dear.

Karen I am never opposed to change when it is obviously needed.  Can you make the case for moving from the Graded Earnings System to this ...er "half-baked" disruption of a sacred racing tradition?convinc  

20 Jan 2013 9:16 PM


I use to condemn Lucas for pushing his steeds too hard causing too many career ending injuries. Instead, I came to realize he is just doing his job, and what we really need is more trainers like him. It is this constant treating of todays race horses like they are too fragile that has really given us the fragile horses we have today. Lucas is old school, and that is a good thing. If a horse can't hold up to racing then we shouldn't be breeding to this type of horse. Simply stated , we need more trainers like him, then maybe we wouldn't be seeing so many horses that can't make it through their sophmore year. It seems to me that last year, Lucas's Optimizer was still racing at the end of the year, while many 3 year olds were gone from racing. It's not the trainers job to baby the horses so they can race 3 or 4 times and be gone, but maybbe it's his job to expose those that were bred from unsound stallions that are passing fragility on to their progeny.

21 Jan 2013 12:08 AM
The Deacon

I'll Have Another deserved horse of the year in my book.

I won't say anymore about it but this, horse racing is at an all time low. The only excitement and credibility is Steve's writing.

The show was boring as well.

No arguement with the rest of the winners though.

No sour grapes, just an opinion........

21 Jan 2013 2:41 AM

I believe with those above who agree that the CDI points system is a positive step in re-directing those on the Derby Trail to compete in the important prep races for the Kentucky Derby.

Any fool could see that the graded money earnings system was becoming amorphous, with various obscure 'derby preps' outweighing many traditional preps by the sheer amount of prize money on offer.

Obviously, the new point system needs some correction but lets give it a chance to re-shape and reinvigorate the 'race for the roses.'

Racing needs some radical changes for its own survival, the status quo or sitting on your hands is not the answer.

21 Jan 2013 5:34 AM

Sorry for the subject, but:

How come the winner of the Robert B. Lewis (G2), Santa Anita Derby (G1), Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes(G1)is not the Horse of the year?

21 Jan 2013 10:36 AM
Karen in Texas


I cannot/will not make a case for the Derby qualifying system having been changed. As I said previously, I am going to observe the new points system "in action" before making a judgement.

And let me try this again---Secretariat would have had 70 points under the new system as far as I can determine. He had a bad day in the Wood, but would have been okay according to CDI's estimates. They (CDI) may need to adjust the points needed from year to year, as I believe El Kabong mentioned above. Peace.

21 Jan 2013 11:03 AM
Karen in Texas


I thought the Eclipse show was strangely boring as well. Most of the attempts at humor didn't seem to be very funny. I was delighted to see Dale Romans win the trainer's award though, and thought he provided the show's highlight with his, "and I don't care what the NY Times thinks!", quip.

21 Jan 2013 11:35 AM


You are at liberty to endorse Mr. Lukas’s questionable policy of over racing young thoroughbreds. However, many thoroughbred lovers find it disturbing.  

Listed below is an example of why this policy is disturbing:


05/27/2012 - MSW; 4 1/2F - finished 5th

06/08/2012 – MSW; 5 1/2F - finished 3rd (12 Days)

06/30/2012 – Bashford Manor Glll, 6F, finished 4th (22 Days)

07/22/2012 – Sanford Gll, 6F, finished 7th (22 Days)

08/04/2012 – MSW; 6 1/2F finished 3rd (13 Days)

08/23/2012 – MSW ; 5 1/2F, finished 3rd (19 Days)

08/30/2012 With Anticipation Gll, 1 1/6M finished 6th (7 Days)

10/06/2012 Breeder Futurity Gl, 1 1/6M finished 6th (37 Days)

11/02/2016 Breeders Cup J Sprint , 6F finished 1st (27 Days)

11/17/2012 Delta Jackpot Glll, 1 1/16M, finished 6th (15 Days

In the above series of races this colt covered 64.75 furlongs with one victory to his credit. He made starts at five different tracks and on three different surfaces. He was entered in 4 graded races in spite of not being able to win any of the four MSW races he contested. He exited a MSW with a loss and 7 days later was entered in a 1 1/6M Gll Stakes on a turf. The colt won a big purse in the Breeder Cup Juvenile Sprint in its 9th start and was given only  14 days rest before contesting his 10th start.

If he were an old claimer being used to fill races it would be understandable. However, he was purchased by his current owners for $325K. Would you purchase a young horse and endorse the racing schedule above.

You might be of the opinion that programs like the one above are geared to making young thoroughbreds tougher but many will conclude that such programs reflect blatant abuse of willing and defenseless animals. You are well advised to return to your initial position and condemn such practices.

Needless to mention that the colt is out of training with an injury.

21 Jan 2013 1:48 PM

Mr. Haskin

“Footbridge has gotten a lot of ink on here for a maiden.”

I gather from the above that too much time is being spent on a colt that has not yet won a race. Are maidens less worthy of evaluation than winners? I pose the question as there seems to be an emphasis on the maiden status of the colt as oppose to the promise he has shown.  

If Footbridge was deemed to be an average maiden no time would be spent evaluating his prospects as a likely Derby horse. Based on his pedigree and performances to date there are those who believe he will be better than those that have so far finished ahead of him. Consequently, his maiden status is irrelevant as that will changes in due course. If he had won his last start there would not be much difference in his status as he would only be maiden winner.

NB: I agree with your assessment of the race.

21 Jan 2013 2:44 PM
Age of Reason

You're right, Steve, as usual. I apologize for taking up too much space on Footbridge when there's a slew of other colts who are more deserving of the attention--namely, at this point, any colt who's actually broken his maiden I suppose. But becoming a fan of an as-yet unproven runner and rooting for it from the beginning is what puts joy in the sport, no?

Coldfacts, I might disagree with your asessment of Elmutahid as a turf horse, because at this point it would be speculation; after all, did he not just break his maiden on the main track at first asking after four winless efforts on turf (with an average turf finish of 5th)? Also, Elmutahid's pedigree gives no clear indication of what his preferred surface might end up being. Sire Street Cry of course is from the European bloodlines of turf stars like Troy and Machiavellian, but won the Dubai World Cup and his record as a sire of dirt/all-weather runners is no secret. By contrast, dam Alwajeeha (Dixieland Band/Seattle Slew)has the opposite profile: an American-style dirt pedigree, but she was a G1 winner on turf (QEII). I just finished watching all 5 of Elmutahid's races in chronological order, and I'm no trained eye but in spite of frequent rankness and other maturity issues, he seems to run more like the sterotypical dirt horse. Don't forget too that his 9-furlong time on Saturday was faster than the Sunshine Millions Distaff later on the card. Hopefully this one will give us plenty of excitement to cheer for down the road regardless!

21 Jan 2013 3:25 PM

There have been some exchanges between supporters and me regarding Footbridge. Now I am well aware that he is still a maiden and probably should not be the subject of any exchange until he at least wins a race.  In his two races the three colts that have finished ahead of him had at least two previous starts.

His most recent start was contested at a mile. To better evaluate this colt’s ability I compared the splits and final time of his race to those of the Glll Sham Stakes contested at the same distance on 1/5/2012.

Goldencents Sham Stakes - 23, 46.31, 1:10.06, 1:22.84, 1:36.50

Footbridge MSW: 22.83, 46.81, 1:11.25, 1:23.55, 1:36.23

I have been advises to cease and desist from this practice as it is meaningless. I agree it might not be the best to judge a maiden winner and runner up. However, if Curley Top who finished 1L ahead of Footbridge recorded a winning time of 1:38 and a bit on a comparative track, the prospects of both winning a stakes race without significant improvement would be very remote.

Most if not all the colts that contested the Sham Stakes had Salix administered. The winner Goldencents was making his 4th start and third at a mile or longer.  The runner up Dan’s Legacy was making his 9th start and fifth at a mile or longer.  Third place finisher Manando who led and was caught late was making his 5th start and had previously won at a 1 1/6M.

A colt that is attempting a mile in its second start and without the added benefits of Salix, sets racehorse fractions on the lead and is caught late in a time faster than that recorded by more experienced colts, certainly merits serious evaluation even with its maiden status.

In reviewer Footbridge’s recent race it evident the need trim down to a competitive racing weight as he appeared to be big, strong and heavy.

21 Jan 2013 4:21 PM
Steve Haskin

Coldfacts, you see to be very defensive. As someone who dals in facts, isit not a fact he has received a lot of ink here? Is that a derogatory comment? Did I not offer my own opinion about the colt as to why he possibly got beat last time out? Did anyone here say he didnt have a bright future? My comments on him were strictly positive.

21 Jan 2013 4:31 PM
Karen in Texas


Oh, dear, I left out Secretariat's points for his DQ to second in the Champagne, so he gets +4 for that.

Sorry, Steve, I'll now get off this subject.

21 Jan 2013 4:44 PM

Age of Reason,

I reviewed all Elmutahid’s races on turf as well and I think I need to walk back my assessment about him being a Turf/Synthetic type. In his turf races he is normally forwardly placed but does not have the finishing kick of a genuine turf horses. In his dirt debut he showed similar early speed but sustained his gallop throughout.

My only concern is the 40.34 recorded for the last three furlongs. The spits for his first 6F were comparable to those set in the race won by Ron The Greek. However, thereafter the splits were 2-3 seconds slower. I am not expecting a developing 3YO to run as fast as mature Gl horses but 1:50 to 1:51 would have signal Elmutahid as a serious Derby horse. It was his first race on dirt and he is expected to improve. He has been placed on my DWL.

21 Jan 2013 6:08 PM

First, ever since Rock Hard Ten was shut out of the Derby for not enough $$, the clamor has risen from owners, trainers, and fans to establish a point system. (as is already established in other countries of the world.)  I think we need to give it a chance.

Comparing times of different races, and ignoring weather, track conditions, surfaces, and ages of the horses,is a superfluous exercise that quickly becomes irrelevant.

Jersey Boy: I'd love to know what your doctor's test was.  And...apparently, since  the challenge made was never answered, your point on irrelevance is strong.  (but I'm sick and tired of hearing about RAN getting compared to stallions who have been at stud for so much less time.)

Deacon and Jorge:  It would appear Eclipse voters have a "What have you done for me lately?" attitude.  Although Wise Dan certainly deserves accolades, I personally felt Royal Delta did more...as did IHA.

As to racing horses often....how did Rapid Redux do?  What about Citation?  Of course, the USA-bred seems more pampered and fragile.  Euros will race often.  One year at Royal Ascot, a top G1 horse came in 3rd in a Wednesday race.  24 hours later, he ran again and won the G1 race.

Trainers often feel it's a matter of what the horse needs.  Most all trainers agree that running a race is the best exercise a horse can have.  However, while some horses thrive on the competition, others do better with mild workouts on a daily basis between races. Just because a horse is not racing, does not mean he is not galloping.

Just my opinion.

By the way, where is DR. D.?  Is he on another bender?  or did Ted from LA shanghai him?

22 Jan 2013 10:09 AM


Lukas won the Lecomte and Smarty Jones this weekend.

My wallet is full.

What's in your wallet?

22 Jan 2013 12:00 PM
Bill Two

Steve, you put it perfectly.  People really need to look at this puzzle from this perspective.  Thinking outside the box - sometimes way  outside - is usually helpful when it comes to this race.

22 Jan 2013 12:36 PM


The test answered the question-what effect does arguing over matters of no relevance to an issue, have upon the person who is convinced that the matter raised is irrelevant.

You only find out if you stop.

22 Jan 2013 1:42 PM


Your happiness regarding your return on investment is understandable.  I did not wager any of Mr. Lukas’s winners on the weekend. I could provide a list of horses trained by the HOF trainer that have been victims of his destructive program but it would be pointless.

A 2YO maiden that secures its first victory in its 9th start in a $500K race deserves to be given a break and freshened for a 3YO campaign.  This very willing colt was asked to make his 10th start two weeks after securing the $300K winner portion of the purse associated with the race in which it broke its maiden. Although he finished 4th he was badly beaten and appeared very tired.

You might be a fan of the trainer but you do not have to substitute your pupils with $ signs.

22 Jan 2013 2:59 PM
Uncle Smiley


Your wisdom in matters flat racing might have no parallel.

Your answer to my changing leads jockey question defied conventional wisdom.

So now, I present my last challange.

Given three tracks, from NY to Delaware, where would your prefer to have lunch before entering the track?

The tracks are: Aqueduct, Parx, Delaware Park.

You cannot eat at any restaurants at these venues, but pick local venues within ten mile radius.


22 Jan 2013 9:13 PM

Uncle Smiley,

You kindness is questionable since my response to your question defied conventional wisdom. I certainly do not possess superior wisdom regarding flat racing. It is obvious you access Mr. Haskin’s blogs regularly and you are probably using a new ID. You therefore would have noticed that I am regularly ridiculed for my positions. If I depicted wisdom my contributions would be embraced and not discredited. I am the blog’s rented mule.

Forgive me if I did not address your question in suitable a way. Mr. Dominguez is an excellent rider. During the winter meet in New York most of the top riders relocate to Florida with the big outfits but Mr. Dominguez does not. He therefore pick of the best mounts and is competing against mostly apprentices and second string rider. The quote ‘In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king’ is applicable. The jockey colony in the winter in New York is normally weak and the superior rider is king. His record is enhanced as a result of this. Would he be as dominant in either Florida or CA against top riders? Unlikely! He is a mere passenger on many of his mounts and will invariably be dominant.

I much prefer riders that face greater challenges and dominate.

You already knew the answer to your question before it was posed. My response merely highlighted why Mr. D dominates and my preference of the three riders' you proposed.

I avoided restaurants at all cost. Food sustains life and I have worked behind the scene!

23 Jan 2013 8:52 AM

Uncle Smiley,

I stated previously that your kindness was questionable but failed to add that your sarcasm was overwhelmingly clear. Your approach is not dissimilar to another contributor who posted his disguised ridicule under another ID.

Why would anyone assume that one’s perceived wisdom regarding flat racing would automatically extend to riders and restaurants? Sir, you might perceive me to be green but I am not a vegetable. I respectfully request that you select another contributor to play your games.

23 Jan 2013 10:10 AM

Coldfacts: just read yout post of

19 Jan 2013 12:47 PM.  

"Zenyatta avoided the best colt of her generation in 2008."  Exactly who would that be?  If you're referring to Curlin, I beleive he lost the 2008 BCC to Gosden's Ravens Pass.  And Zen went on to defeat the best males in the world in the 2009 BCC....and lost by a nose in the 2010 BCC.  Rachael Alexandra did deservedly win HOY in 2009, but she never beat Zenyatta since she never faced Zenyatta on any track.

If you think I'm emotional, you betcha!  I'm tired of people who won't give horses their due. 19-1, mostly G1 races....a re-incarnated Silky Sullivan.  

With the likes of miler Goldikova, and Frankel, and So You Think, Midday, and the Coolmore arsenal, I get emotional about Snow Fairy too.  She's a fast turf filly who constantly took on the boys and either beat them or ran up their heels to the wire.  I don't think she ever got the credit she deserved, but whenever she ran, she stirred my heart like few others.

And I really think, Coldfacts, it's time you stopped trying to play the victim.  You make outrageaous, unacceptable pronouncements, and are surprised when people react to your pedantic tirades?  If you make a statement

and it's proven false, don't try claiming people are picking on you.

And you write comments so lengthy and so often, maybe you should take the time to spell check yourself...rather than keep making excuses of English being a 2nd language...after all, you've been commenting on these blogs for a few years already.

23 Jan 2013 7:43 PM
Uncle Smiley


You are truly a fenom!

You possess a literary spirt that belies my suspicion that you are, indeed, several authors under your cognomen.

Glad to see that you backed off on your critique of Dominguez.

But I do agree with your assessment of Napravnik.

She is the best out there.

And,  sincerely, you never had to get a hot dog for lunch at some track?


23 Jan 2013 8:07 PM
cuba"s classic chef de race

The most entertaining part is to see The horseracingnation.com 500 hundred horses to find the derby winner and he may not even be included in that monster list yet. wow!! i did find huge family deficiencies in about 490 horses on that list and that is a good sign to be patient.

23 Jan 2013 8:10 PM
Uncle Smiley


Uncle Smiley is my only identity on the web.

You have an understanding of racing that is deep.

Part of any day I am priviledged to watch live racing at a track includes having a good lunch.

Only seeking advice from an obvious expert.

So let it be written, so let it be done..


23 Jan 2013 8:24 PM
cuba"s classic chef de race

My friend Steve, one thing is to take advice from an expert and other to be sure that he is right... Last year my identity was a little similar to the one i am using now but due to an Email change i decided to change my identity a little but the thing that has not change is my passion for this race. even the most ordinary person can bring an extraordinary hope. Steve, i do feel it's too soon to reach a conclusion about the possible outcome of this derby,but also the value could be great now if you are open to read all the comments and not only the experts. thanks god this is a free country.

24 Jan 2013 7:42 PM
cuba"s classic chef de race

If Shanghai Bobby win the Kentucky derby!! Todd Pletcher should win the trainer of the century award,just an opinion to start warming up.  

25 Jan 2013 6:51 PM
cuba"s classic chef de race

I hope the experts got rich last year, because my only error was the Santa Anita track expressway feeling but this is not 2012. what can you do now? i hope to find who i am now because i know Boston harbor,mt livermoore,S.beauty,best turn,valid appeal,S.mesa,lion hart,etc etc will have to run out of their skin,this are a few names later i will tell you the rest.

26 Jan 2013 9:21 PM
Age of Reason

Keelerman, I hope Steve will forgive me for continuing our discussion from the Holy Bull blog since it was taken down...Yes, Tiz A Minister's stretch run was very impressive--no sour grapes here! Honestly though, I thought Qiaona's stretch run in the filly counterpart was plain otherwordly. I know the closing fractions would indicate that the rest of the field was gasping for air inside the final furlong (and their final time was over a second slower than the boys despite similar fractions so Tiz A Minister's and Omega Star's beyers should come back good), but I still had to pick my jaw off the floor after the finish. There are a couple ways of looking the Cal Breeders colts race, and I'll just mention them in the order they come to me. First, you mentioned Omega Star might prefer synthetic/turf courses, being by Candy Ride; however, with the way he's ran over the Santa Anita and Aqueduct dirt tracks, and being out of a Fusaichi Pegasus mare, I see it as unlikely; also, the way O.S. seemed to hang slightly in the final furlong wasn't really reminiscent of a turf runner. Then too, you noted that Tiz A Minister has already ran well on turf, which reminded me of the old saying that turf form tends to transfer well to a sloppy track, and vice versa. That boded well for T.A.M., but it might also indicate that Omega Star would not do well on the lawn. And finally, some might say that Leparoux moved too soon (for once) on Omega Star, considering he was on a colt trying mud and two turns for the first time; but Denman did note that O.S. was "eager to run" on the far turn, so who knows? Regardless, I'll be sticking with Omega Star for the time being!

28 Jan 2013 10:26 AM


I have a lot of respect for you.

You have a wealth of knowledge and I appreciate your input. You've helped many of us and I commend you for picking a 40 to 1 shot to finish 3rd in the Holy Bull and help me to $195.00 trifecta.

This business is all about $$$$$ and owners expect a return on their investment and Lukas is a pro at managing horses. Look at the top trainers in the business. Four of them where his assistants.

I know this first hand because 2 of those trainers train for us and learned all they know from the "Coach"

Keep your information flowing.



28 Jan 2013 2:24 PM

Age of Reason;

"Otherworldly" is a perfect description for Qiaona's performance! And while the final fractions weren't all that impressive, I'll venture to guess that Qiaona ran her personal final half-mile in a very respectable time indeed.

Your reference to the old saying about turf form transferring well to the main track is very insightful. The thought had crossed my mind as well, but since Tiz a Minister still hasn't gotten an opportunity to try his talents on a fast track, I'm going to hope for the moment that he will run to his pedigree and successfully transfer that turn-of-foot to dry tracks.

That said, if Tiz a Minister and Omega Star were to meet next week in a one-mile race on a fast track, I would definitely side with the latter, for many of the reasons you outlined.

I've really enjoyed talking with you! Perhaps we could resume this conversation in the future, the next time one colt or the other is entered to race?


28 Jan 2013 9:57 PM
Uncle Smiley


Moving into Kentucky in earl May.

I see battle emiting from: Verrazano, Shanghai Bobby, and Oxbow.

Is Game on Dude the one?

I know you are above being a prognosticator.

Yet, as expert, you must have a point of view, with reason.


13 Mar 2013 7:58 PM

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