Haskin Photo Blog: Journey with the Greats

With my cup runneth over with 3-year-olds these days, I had it suggested to me to run more old photos of great horses. So that is just what I did. They're not exactly professional and a few are downright amateurish, but they're all from the heart. Some of these, mainly Secretariat and Riva Ridge, have been posted on earlier blogs, but this is more of a gallery of greats, with many of the photos accompanied by personalized captions in an effort to bring the readers closer to these magnificent horses and their personalities. So, step back in time and enjoy the images of racing and the horses who made history.

Damascus, the horse who started it all. He was tough and durable, a real blue-collar horse who had the most explosive, devastating move I've ever seen, even to this day. It is only fitting that in my first photo of him at Claiborne Farm he is dashing through his paddock caked in dirt.

And how did Damascus get covered in dirt? He loved getting down and dirty in his paddock, just as he did on the racetrack.

Laffit Pincay raises his whip in triumph after 4-year-old Affirmed defeated 3-year-old Spectacular Bid in their epic Horse of the Year showdown in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Yours truly with Alydar.

This isn't a very good photo, but it's one of my favorites for nostalgic reasons. This is Dr. Fager at Saratoga about to work five furlongs for the following week's Washington Park Handicap, in which he set a new world record for the mile. The day before, I had purchased my first camera, a Kodak Brownie Instamatic, and just as Dr. Fager stepped on to the track, the skies opened up. As everyone ran for cover, I went the other way, dashing to the rail to get my quick shot of Dr. Fager. As you can see, the exercise rider and pony rider are looking at this idiot who's running out in the pouring rain to take a photo. Despite the poor quality and composition, you can see still see that rich blood bay coat and how Dr. Fager is already in a zone, focused on the task at hand, his neck slightly arched and nostrils flared . I've kept this photo in my wallet ever since.

These next three photos of Secretariat were published in an earlier blog, but I decided to post them again. This first one is after being saddled in the Preakness. I had photographed him looking straight ahead, and when he heard the click of the shutter, he turned his head and looked right at me...or through me. It was a memorable one-on-one moment with a legend.

This one is of Secretariat and Riva Ridge at Belmont Park going out for separate works on the turf course in September. The slow mile was of no help to Big Red after Penny Tweedy and Lucien Laurin decided to run the colt in the Woodward Stakes and scratch Riva Ridge when the track came up sloppy. Secretariat had just broken the world record for 1 1/8 miles two weeks earlier after having been sick and now he was being asked to come back quickly and stretch out to 1 1/2 miles. Prove Out still had to run the second-fastest mile and a half in Belmont history in the mud to beat him.

Finally, this is my favorite shot of Secretariat at stud. When we approached the fence, he went over and picked up a large branch and brought it over, defying me to try pull it out of his mouth. I felt like I was playing fetch with a dog.

This shot of Riva Ridge the morning after his record-breaking victory in the Brooklyn Handicap also has been published, but it is way too cute not to post again. Riva was such a sweetheart, By the way, that kid holding him is Steve Jordan, who is in charge of the holding barn at NYRA where the horses go before a race. Jordan celebrated his 64th birthday last Belmont Day.

Seattle Slew, with Jean Cruguet up, and Billy Turner on the pony, on a beautiful, quiet morning at Belmont.

Forego never met a camera he didn't like. Here, several unsuspecting fans got a rare treat when the Mighty Forego came to the paddock one afternoon for a short visit.

Speaking of Forego's likes, he always enjoyed a visit from Eddie Hayward, knowing a bag of apples came with the visit.

Check out the bright, intelligent eye of Spectacular Bid as he cools out following his victory in the Preakness.

Spectacular Bid's eyes became as big as saucers everytime he walked by Davona Dale, whose pinned ears suggests she's not enamored with the great Bid. She had just won the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes the day before, and as far as she was concerned, she was the royalty in the stakes barn.

The one and only Exceller in happier days.

Following a rare battle between Kentucky Derby winners, the victorious Canonero II heads to the winner's circle after his American record-breaking victory in the Stymie Handicap, as the vanquished Riva Ridge goes to get unsaddled. Notice Canonero's jockey is Gustavo Avila, who was summoned from Venezuela to ride the colt following several disappointing performances for new owner King Ranch. Avila, of course, piloted Canonero to his stunning victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

If Bob Baffert's friends thought he was goofy, imagine what his Kentucky Derby winners Silver Charm and Real Quiet are thinking.

A.P. Indy greets a visitor during his first year at stud. Who knew?

Affirmed gallops around the Oklahoma training track as a 4-year-old as he prepares for the Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup. Few horses had as kind a disposition as Affirmed. He and Riva Ridge were a pleasure to be around, even as stallions.

Secretariat's farewell at Aqueduct. Once again he put on a show, breaking off into a show horse canter. As he headed back toward the clubhouse turn, a shaft of light beamed down directly on him and seemed to illuminate him, creating a surreal final image.

Finally, Secretariat rises like the Phoenix at his new home at Claiborne Farm.


Leave a Comment:


Oh Steve, those are great!! I could look at pictures like this for days and days! More please :)

It's amazing how horses figure out what cameras are and that they need to pose for them.

08 Feb 2013 3:48 PM
steve from st louis

Steve, what a treat you've provided showing off these pictures of the all-time greats of our generation. Your memories brought each photo to life for me. You've truly been blessed to be the one to document this gallery. Surely you can look through your home albums for more of these royal subjects.

08 Feb 2013 3:53 PM

Thank you for sharing your photos Steve.  They're a real treasure.  Because of the great Secretariat, I'm a forever racing fan and OTTB owner.

08 Feb 2013 3:58 PM

Wow!! What a wonderful collection. I envy you. As a writer of historical articles the hardest part is getting pictures. I look forward to seeing more of them.

Thank you!!

08 Feb 2013 4:01 PM
Heidi Carpenter

Beautiful photos--I love seeing them, even if they've been published before. Thanks for sharing, Steve!

08 Feb 2013 4:06 PM

What a perfect set of pictures for a break on a Friday afternoon.  Thanks, Steve!

They're all wonderful.  Special kudos to the kitten with Riva Ridge, who is sitting on that post thinking, "yeah, you and who else, buddy!"

And that picture of Forego with the apples is very unusual, not because of the apples, but, you know, I'm not sure I have ever seen a picture of him before he retired where his legs were naked!

08 Feb 2013 4:10 PM

Enjoyed these SO MUCH!   Many I'd never seen before.

08 Feb 2013 4:28 PM

Many thanks, Steve, for this spectacular visit through the past. Although Secretariat will always be my favorite horse and athlete of all time, my childhood heroes were Damascus and Dr. Fager. I had a scrapbook filled with photos of them, along with Buckpasser, Cicada, and a few others, but it has unfortunately been lost somewhere along the line. Your photos bring these great horses back to life.

08 Feb 2013 4:48 PM
anita b

Thanks Steve,

 The pictures are great. From the heart. Never have been to Kentucky, so I see it through your pictures.

Feel free to do more photos-

 Anita Carter

08 Feb 2013 4:58 PM

Steve, thank you for these beautiful photos and memories.  What a ham and prankster Secretariat was; those are the whitest stockings I have ever seen!  And, now I want to review some of Damascus' races.....no, all of their races!

08 Feb 2013 5:13 PM

There will never be greats like these anymore.They were once in a lifetime. Thanks to Steve for keeping them in our memories and hearts forever.

08 Feb 2013 5:22 PM
Terry M.

You are the luckiest person in the world to have known and photographed all these great horses. So many people, myself included, have only seen them in magazines or on television. You brought back great memories!

08 Feb 2013 5:35 PM
Past The Grandstand

Mr. Haskin, this piece is great. It was a true pleasure to see photos of these great heroes of the track, and your descriptions provided great additions to picturing the moments captured in the photos. Thank you for posting.

Mary Cage


08 Feb 2013 5:37 PM
Abigail Anderson

Steve! I just love looking at your photos and hadn't seen several of these before. Sweet Riva and Steve Jordan is just a great, great shot. And your fave of Secretariat Is just adorable. Even though I've seen it before, it always makes me smile. I'm certain he was opening up an exchange with you there, since as you noted, I've seen dogs use toys as an overture when they want to play. Really appreciated the shots of The Bid and absolutely love the exchange with Davona Dale. And I can't forget to note that you still have the "Haskin Look" all these years later -- unmistakably a Haskin! I envy your getting to meet Alydar -- I just adored this horse. Such courage and class. What was his temperament like? (I know that Slew was a pickle, but always wondered about Alydar.) And how on earth did you manage to sneak up on Baffert like that? Last but not least, loved the story of your Kodak and the shots of muddy Damascus zooming around his paddock. It's just great to go back over the years with you, Steve. Really brightens up my February. Thank you!

08 Feb 2013 5:55 PM

WOW--At the moment, I'm too emotional and crying too hard to say much of anything. How can I thank you enough for sharing these wonderful photos. These were, and will always be, among the greatest of the Greats. They will never be forgotten. Secretariat will always be first and foremost in my heart, along with the immortal Citation.

08 Feb 2013 6:37 PM

Wow, Steve!  I envy you your memories attached to these photos.  Thank you so much for sharing.  

I have to say, my Slew looks to be a bit on the thin side in this photo.  But he's still gorgeous.

They are all so beautiful and elegant....and big hams too!

08 Feb 2013 6:45 PM

Great photos!  Thanks so much.

08 Feb 2013 7:00 PM
carol in utah

Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful memories.....could I request one of these of "the girls"...don't know if that's even possible ..thanks again they are all glorious

08 Feb 2013 7:03 PM
Criminal Type

Great Photos Steve. I love the one of you and Alydar..I so loved that horse.Like Sham, another great horse born in the wrong year. And the Bid, I was at his Preakness and the nerve of that Davona Dale turning her nose up at the Bid..Haha. She was some filly. I also really like the picture of young AP Indy and your daughter. She's a very lucky girl to have a father such as you that exposed her to so many of the greats.

08 Feb 2013 7:08 PM
Steve Haskin

Thank you, everyone, for your comments. I do admit how fortunate I've been, and love sharing them with those who lived through it, and especially those who are too young.

Carol in Utah, all the photos with great fillies are with my daughter. If you go to my albums on Facebook, you will find it there. I believe I also posted many of them on one of previous blogs.

08 Feb 2013 7:10 PM
Steve Haskin

Criminal Type, one of my big regrets is that I misplaced my photo of Sham taken in the Preakness saddling area, right after I took Secretariat's photo. People don't realize what a magnificent-looking horse he was. It was a great shot and showed him off in all his grandeur.

08 Feb 2013 7:12 PM
Senator L

U da man Steve! Thanks for posting

It amazes me the pleasure i get from looking at these beautiful animals. I wasn't around for Damascus, but I sure like the top picture

08 Feb 2013 7:59 PM

These are wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing them. I love the story about the photo of Dr. Fager. I also have to admit that the pic of Spectacular Bid and Davona Dale is particularly entertaining to me. You have to love those fillies.

08 Feb 2013 8:41 PM
Paula Higgins

Steve, these pictures have me close to tears. These horses were such gifts to all of us and you did an incredible job shooting these candids. I loved each and every one. The one of Exceller makes me very sad. The one of Secretariat with the stick is hilarious. What a character. The picture of Riva Ridge with the kitty is adorable. How lucky are we, that you were there to take these pictures.

08 Feb 2013 9:01 PM

My OTTB is a son of Eastern Echo, sired by Damascus. Loved the Mud Man, though I will say my guy is quite careful not to get TOO dirty ;o)

And oh, my heart aches seeing Exceller. Such a shame.

08 Feb 2013 9:07 PM
Bill Rinker

Thanks Steve, those are really nice photos, and your personal touch  makes them all the more memorable.

08 Feb 2013 9:52 PM
Steel Dragon

AS your photo clearly substantiates, Mrs. Tweedy used to feel bad for the lop-eared,  unimpressive looking Riva Ridge when observing him standing side-by-side with his incredibly handsome stablemate. Still burns me up that RR was completely ignored in the dreadful Secretariat movie. And only one of the sloppiest tracks I ever saw prevented him from winning the TC.

BTW, Forego liked apples but truly LOVED bananas...

08 Feb 2013 9:59 PM

" It was a memorable one-on-one moment with a legend. "

Secretariat was probably thinking the same...

08 Feb 2013 10:10 PM

Steve, you photos evoke many wonderful, happy memories along with some distressing, disturbing events in racing history. Thanks for sharing your precious moments.

08 Feb 2013 11:01 PM

Nothing but Sweetness!!!...On your next "Journey with the Greats" would you please include the "Immortal John Henry"???...ty for a wonderful trip...

08 Feb 2013 11:07 PM

Thank you for posting these wonderful photos, Mr. Haskin. I enjoyed them all. I was especially touched by the picture of Exceller. Such a beautiful animal. What happened to him and to the great Ferdinand should never, ever happen to ANY horse. How anyone can have a horse and then decide that it is worth nothing but what meat packers will pay defies all attempts to comprehend.

These pictures brought back some wonderful memories. Thank you again.

08 Feb 2013 11:30 PM

On the occasion of the eve of the great John Nerud's 100th Birthday, how apropos that I should see your wonderful shot of "The Doc" in the rain at my beloved hometown track! All of your shots and subjects are so very special, and like many, I was obsessed with Big Red, however it is Dr. Fager who was really my 1st love! Though I only saw him race once live from the rail in the Whitney, I would revel in the tales I'd hear from my mentor at The Saratogian, Landon Manning, about how fierce "The Doc" was and how feisty his Trainer Mr. Nerud was, too! How I wanted to go to the Big A to see even just one of his races against Damascus, but I was actually a very young girl covering my classmates in the Little League & Pop Warner, and would have to wait several years 'til I went to college in the City before I could frequent the Big A & Big Sandy! Thank you so very much Steve for turning my boring Friday night into an emotionally charged stroll down Memory Lane with your always stellar work, even behind the lens of what was my 1st camera, too!

09 Feb 2013 12:30 AM

Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful photos.  You have a rich history of so many of our favorite horses.  Thanks, again!

09 Feb 2013 1:08 AM

Many thanks for sharing the memories. Nothing soothes the soul like the sight of a horse. As for greatness, aren't they all?

09 Feb 2013 2:30 AM
Criminal Type

Steve, Too bad, I would have loved to have seen that photo of Sham. He WAS a great looking hourse. I was 12 the year Secretariat won the Triple Crown. I know I've mentioned this in previous blogs, but my grandfather took me to the Preakness that year because He knew we were going to see something special. He was quite knowledgable about racing and I can remember him talking about seeing Seabiscuit, Citation, Damascus, Dr Fager, Tim Tam, Kelso who was the first great one I got to see run though I barely remember it. He used to love driving me by Sagamore telling me stories about Discovery, Native Dancer, Bed O Roses.

The year Spectacular Bid ran I was 17 and I can clearly remember us talking about the run of Triple Crown winners and he was certain Buddy Delp had another one. I remember him being so dissapointed after the Belmont. If he were here today, I think he would be astonished that Affirmed was the last one.

Steel Dragon, it's funny you said that about the banana's. I tell people my little Arab loves them and they laugh at me. But he does, in fact he loves all fruit except citrus and I suspect he would eat that if I peeled it for him. Strawberries and pineapple are his big favorites.

09 Feb 2013 5:47 AM

Steve, amazing.  This is what is great about racing.  The magnificent horse.

09 Feb 2013 8:26 AM

Steve, I got to see Sham back in 1989. He still had his awesome,dark "Pretense" color. It's too bad he got treated like a criminal in the Secretariat movie....but you and I know better! I love the $2.50 coat you have on with Alydar.....It's awesome baby!

09 Feb 2013 10:13 AM
Bill Two

Thank you, Steve, for posting these great pictures.  Mwill: If you want to see power personified just take a look at Damascus in the Preakness.  He made one of the most powerful sustained moves around horses on a track severely biased towards speed on the rail that I have ever seen.  What a racehorse!

09 Feb 2013 10:55 AM

This great collection of pictures was enough to get me signed on here again.  Thanks for sharing, Steve.  Where has all the greatest gone in todays racing?

09 Feb 2013 10:56 AM
Pedigree Ann

Steve - did you lose the negatives, too? Being a methodical mathematical type, my negatives get labeled and stored properly as soon as they got home. Even from my Brownie (no Instamatics yet).

Look at the definition of muscles in Affirmed! I loved him back then, knew he was better than Alydar coming into the Triple Crown, and this shows why. I remember seeing an interview on TV with the Wolfsons and Affirmed, who stood with his nose draped over Patrice's shoulder while she petted him, as if he were just a big dog.

Re: the Baffert picture. Silver Charm was pretty sweet-natured, too. When I went on the Three Chimneys tour, he was the stallion who was led out for the tourists to pat and have their photos taken with.

09 Feb 2013 12:16 PM

Wow, what beautiful pictures and great memories.  I always wondered how Affirmed beat one of my favorites of all time The Bid, but who's to say.  I LOVE the photo of Bid and Davona Dale, that's too funny.  Thanks for sharing.  It brought me to tears too.  The greats of decades past.  Wow.

09 Feb 2013 12:36 PM

What fabulous opportunities to be around these wonderful creatures you have had.  I am so jealous of you.  

09 Feb 2013 12:36 PM
Love 'em all

If ever I needed a treat it was today, Mr. Haskin.  Right before coming to this site, I read an article on the 30th anniversary of Shergar's abduction.  I was feeling so blue! Then seeing all these marvelous pictures of our favorites ... and with your comments ... was the best treatment I could've asked for to rid me of the sadness I was feeling!  Makes you appreciate these wonderful creatures more than ever.  

They're all winners, but I especially like the first two pictures.  There's nothing better than to see a horse ... just love being a horse ... mud and all.  Thank you.

09 Feb 2013 12:58 PM
Susan from VA

Thanks for all these great photos.  It is such a treat to see them.  My friends visited Secretariat when he was at stud and have a photograph of them standing next to him with their hands on him.  A few years back they went on another Grand Tour of Kentucky, and none of the farms even allowed them near any of the stallions.  Of course I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere near Dynaformer, but are all of today's studs vicious or is everybody afraid of liability issues?

09 Feb 2013 1:47 PM

Thanks for the break. Love the 3yr olds but good to see real history. Just have to wait and see if they make any of their own. I'm curious, who else is in your wallet?

09 Feb 2013 2:56 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Great photos Steve. I was glad to see Point of Entry win. He hasn't been getting enough credit, and Animal Kingdom has been overhyped. This was Point of Entry's fourth Grade One win, and he was second in the BC turf by half a length. Animal Kingdom only has one Grade One win, and only four wins overall out of ten races.

09 Feb 2013 4:15 PM

Thanks for visually immortalizing these fabulous horses.  The photos of the great Alydar and Exceller sadly pulled at my heart strings and your commical shots of Secretariat with the stick and Dirty Damascus were heartwarming to me.   Again, thanks for sharing Steve.  

09 Feb 2013 4:36 PM

Beautiful stuff Steve...love looking at the great ones in the paddock

09 Feb 2013 6:05 PM

Ahhhh Steve!    You have given me an early Valentine's Day present!  To see some of my ALL time favorites int he same blog, is more than I could have ever hoped for.

Secretariat, the mighty Forego, DAMASCUS and the equally mighty DR. Fager.....our generation has truly been blessed to see some of the finest examples of the breed EVER!

Thanks you so much for this!   Do you happen to have the pix of Damascus, Dr. Fager and Forego on your Facebook page, that I could perhaps print out?   Or are these available somewhere to purchase?

09 Feb 2013 6:31 PM

Steve, out of sheer curiosity, who was the horse with the worst temperament you had the pleasure of meeting? They say the great Goldikova preferred fingers over mints. LOL.

09 Feb 2013 6:35 PM

WOW!! Thanks soo much steve for taking us back in time to see these amazing greats! Beautiful pictures! made my day.

09 Feb 2013 7:05 PM
Doctor CJ

Wow.  I'll echo everyone else who thanked you for the trip down Memory Lane!  So much of the first half of my life was in this column and it brought back waves of nostalgia.  I worked for Harbor View Farm as a young adult and also had many a laugh with Alydar's exercise rider and trainer.  I remember being quite torn between the two horses during that Triple Crown series.  Had my hands on the great John Henry only a few days before he won his first Arlington Million (speaking of watching your fingers...).  Curious about your response to the above question about temperament.

The reason we don't see this sort of greatness any more is that the industry as a whole has substituted pharmacology for stamina and breeders look for black type instead of a "nick".  And no one selects for soundness these days; there's no money in it.  It has been sad to watch the Sport of Kings deteriorate over the past 30 years.

Thanks for bringing back the best of times.  Please keep it up.

09 Feb 2013 7:59 PM

This was wonderful.  And a special thanks for mentioning Excellor.  A great precursor for the Derby to come!

09 Feb 2013 10:28 PM

Steve, your pictures are wonderful and create such a wonderful archive of this most beautiful sport.  I could look at pictures of horses for hours on end, sometimes do!  Today, I ran across a current picture of Steppenwolfer.  What a race horse!  Loved watching him, too.  He is in beautiful condition, such muscle!  His steel gray coat faded to almost white, black knees and hocks, still dark mane and tail.  He is just strikingly handsome.  And in terrific hands.  His future is accounted for.

09 Feb 2013 11:34 PM
The Deacon

Being this old sentimental geezer, that photo of Dr. Fager just put me over the edge. I have many photos of him but never saw that one before. My heart skipped a beat, it took me back to 1968 when I saw him run. He was the perfect race horse. Could run at any distance, carry weight and feared no one. He was the best of the best. A horse who was all business.

Thanks for this trip down memory lane. How beautiful was Affirmed. To this day I don't think he gets the credit he deserves. A horse who argueably had more tough races then any horse whoever stepped ona race track............

Thanks Steve, you made my day.

10 Feb 2013 2:46 AM

Exceller and Ferdinand didn't meet their ugly fate without reward, even though it was for fellow horses and not themselves. Their disgraceful deaths brought awareness to the issue of horse slaughter. Racing fans will always remember them and we will try to prevent history from repeating itself. Which brings me to the horse who perhaps suffered a fate worse than theirs, dear sweet Alydar. We can't mention Exceller and Ferdinand without remembering Alydar. To be killed at the hands of your caretakers is the ultimate betrayal, and for money, when you gave so much. Ofcoarse he wasn't the first horse to meet such a fate, nor will he be the last, and I hear the road to hell is well traveled. People don't really believe they "get away" with such evil deeds, do they? Rest in peace, beautiful noble horses.

10 Feb 2013 9:46 AM
Pedigree Ann

Do you know whom Dr. Fager resembles in that photo? His Felinity, My Own True Love Cougar II. Especially in the bow of the neck and the shape of the head, and in the rich bay color. Strange, since they are in no way closely related.

Agree that Riva Ridge had gotten the short end of the stick in history and in the Secretariat movie. It was Riva who saved the farm, then Sec paid for the estate taxes after Mr. Chenery passed away. But that wasn't dramatic enough for a movie.

10 Feb 2013 10:28 AM


Thank you for sharing. Have you ever considered having these photo collections bound and made into a book? These photos show so much of what real thoroughbreds are like not racing.  Would be awesome tribute and best seller to treasure for all time.

Thank you again!.  Love it

10 Feb 2013 11:56 AM

Thank you so much, Steve. These were the horses that meant the world to me as a child. I watched their races on television and read as much as I could about them.

Secretariat won the Triple Crown when I was 15. When many teenage girls had posters of their crushes from movies or rock music, my bedroom featured a poster of Secretariat.

Your commentary about the horses as individuals bring them to life in a way that the photos alone wouldn't. As a writer myself, it's the narrative accompanying the photos that makes this blog so special.

Once again, I am in awe not only of your writing skill, but the heart that shines through everything you write. Thank you.

10 Feb 2013 12:48 PM

Thank you so much, Steve for sharing these with us!  There was no TV coverage in Tennessee except the Triple Crown in the mid-60's, so I missed the Damacus/Dr. Fager/Buckpasser years.  I am thrilled to see those guys.  Any of Buckpasser?

10 Feb 2013 2:06 PM

Steve - not looking to brown nose, but you are as much a treasure as the words and pictures you share for us to enjoy.

10 Feb 2013 2:42 PM

Doctor CJ, you are on the money, unfortunately.

10 Feb 2013 3:40 PM
Matthew W

Steve, I saw Affirmed in the saddling barn, on Santa Anita Derby day, and it looked like he was asleep, he was so calm! I saw him run several times, he was something! I saw 'Bid one time, on a cool, windy day, in The Strub---my brother and I ran up the path from the saddling barn towards the receiving barn, Bid was the last horse I saw. Relaunch was a robust buttermilk grey of much class, Travers winner Valdez, regally bred, beautiful chestnut, Flying Paster a stunning presence, balanced blood bay who reeked of class----three head-turners, then came Bid, Spectacular Bid, dark grey, large head, and leggy--he looked all legs, the fourth best looking of the quartet. I made some comment to my brother about his looks, and Bud Delp chimed in, I cannot remember his words, but he was dressed like a Vegas hotshot, quite a character! My brother took his words to heart, and bet a straight Bid/Paster exacta. To this day, he says it was the easiest money he ever won at the track. Shoe made an early move into torrid fractions, I thought Paster had him, we were standing at Clockers Corner, where you could see horses in their lean, as they went around the far turn. As a horse tires, they lose their lean and bear out. After running a one-turn mile in under 1:33, Bid held his lean and just cruised home, the most amazing performance I ever saw in person. Years later, I was toying with making a cross-country roadie, just to meet, for one last time, the neatest horse I ever saw---alas, I didn't, Bid passed away, then I saw those iconic pictures of The Bid in old age. The greatest horse I ever saw run,  whom I thought to be rather ordinary looking---evolved into an incredible looking animal in his old age!

10 Feb 2013 4:31 PM

These wonderful photos never get old, Steve, and I don't know how to thank you enough for them. Seeing Davona Dale put Bid in his place makes me hope you'll do one of these photographic retrospectives on great fillies and mares. My memories go back to Bowl of Flowers, Cicada and Affectionately. I've had a lot of favorites over the years. Ruffian, of course, but also want to mention Moccasin, Bayakoa, and my all-time personal favorite, Lady's Secret.

I also will never forget Royal Heroine, winner of the 1984 Breeder's Cup Mile in which she set a track and North American record. Before the BC, she had been involved in a horrible 3-horse accident during the Santa Ana Handicap. The two other fillies involved both died. They were High Haven and Sweet Diane. But the classy, courageous Royal Heroine came out of that terrible spill to win several more stakes races. With your encyclopedic knowledge of the sport, Steve, I'm sure you remember that race. Perhaps you were at Santa Anita that day. The jockeys involved were Fernando Toro, Ray Sibille and Laffit Pincay. Royal Heroine is not often on people's lists of greats, but I've never forgotten her.

10 Feb 2013 5:06 PM

I cannot thank you enough for sharing these wonderful photos from the past. These are amazing to look at again and again.  Your commentary on the horses makes it real to me and better than reading any book.  ( Although I do try and read up on all these wonderful horses)  You are a national treasure, Steve.  Keep them coming.

10 Feb 2013 5:18 PM
Uncle Smiley


Thanks for the gallery.

How about a book...Haskin on Horses, each page a photo of an interesting horse with a paragraph from you about the focus of attention.


10 Feb 2013 9:36 PM
Steel Dragon

Deacon, I never saw a horse transform or mature as much from age 3 to 4 like Affirmed did. I think he put on about 150 lbs of muscle.

10 Feb 2013 11:55 PM
Sandy McDonald

Awesome, fabulous, wonderful, terrific and thank you!!

11 Feb 2013 12:05 AM
Steve Haskin

Thank you again, everyone, for your kind words. I'm glad the photos rekindled so many memories and provided images of a time many readers werent able to experience.

AndFanofallthree, what can I say? That was extremely nice of you to say. I appreciate it.

11 Feb 2013 9:00 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

You are such a great gift to us Steve. I really loved your article about John Nerud and his 100th party that I read this morning. It really lifted my spirits. Thank you very much for the gift that is you and keep those fabulous articles, photos, compassion, wit and extraordinary writing style coming.

11 Feb 2013 10:06 AM
Mike Relva


As usual your talent goes far beyond writing. My regret is never getting to visit Secretariat and Slew.

11 Feb 2013 11:21 AM
Steve Haskin

Thank you, Dr. D. and Mike. You're making me blush

11 Feb 2013 12:31 PM

Talk about a small world.  My sister and I are front and center in the picture of Forego in the paddock of Belmont.  This brings back such wonderful memories.  Anytime Forego made an appearance we were there, even if we came down with "Forego Flu"  and couldn't make it to work. Thanks for the memories!

11 Feb 2013 1:50 PM
Grande Fan

Thank you, Steve, for sharing these memory evoking photos. Like many Big Red fans, I felt connected to Secretariat - born in the year of horse - the same year as his sire Bold Ruler, graduated high school the year Secretariat won the triple crown and we both started a new chapter in life. All of these great creatures have been a gift to us, to share and to celebrate. You are the one who writes their stories and bring them to life for us to remember and to discover. Thank you, and please continue - you have a rare talent.

11 Feb 2013 7:41 PM

Still cannot put Dr. Fager ahead of Damascus, eh?

12 Feb 2013 6:50 AM

Thanks for the memories, Steve.  I especially like the one of 'Bid and Davona Dale.  What was that saying about a picture says a thousand words?

On our tour of Claiborne in 1984:

'Bid:  was already whitening up and our escort warned us to stand back from the fence because 'Bid has a routine.  Across his paddock the mighty 'Bid was chewing grass, ignoring us.  Our escort gave a whistle and after a moment or two 'Bid lifted his head, straightened himself, looked directly at us and then came flying at us at a full gallop.  A few yards from us 'Bid applied his brakes, sliding his front hooves into the dirt, spraying the dirt right at us. As he came to a stop he looked right at us as if to say, "Hi".  Our escort said "he loves to do that."

Riva Ridge: in the middle of his paddock, taking his good old time, Riva Ridge finally began to make his way over, trotting horizontally, left and right.  I thought for a second I was watching a Standardbred, not a Derby and Belmont winner who saved Meadow Stable. Riva Ridge took his time coming a little closer on each turn until he finally trotted up to us at the fence, draped his head over, as if to say "Hi".  What a character.

Thanks again, Steve, you keep these memories alive.  

12 Feb 2013 10:44 AM

What more can be said of Dr. Fager that hasn't already been said, but I wonder how many remember his half-sister, Ta Wee. A blazingly fast sprinter who could also carry weight, she's also a member of the Hall of Fame.

Ta Wee had 15 wins from 21 starts, was twice champion sprinter, and she won 13 stakes. As a 3-yr-old, she beat older males in the Vosburgh Stakes. As a 4-yr-old, Ta Wee carried 140 pounds in the Fall Highweight Handicap, and 142 in the Interborough Handicap. She won both races. As a broodmare, she had five foals, all winners. Her son, Great Above, sired Holy Bull.

Great fillies and mares...Steve, if you have some photos of them in your collection, I sure hope you use them for one of these retrospectives some day.

12 Feb 2013 11:13 AM
Judi Tilley

I don't usually comment on your blogs - although I do truly enjoy them, Steve. I could spend days end upon end hearing all your horse stories and enjoying the lives of each of these wonderful, noble souls vicariously through you. So I just wanted to add my humble thanks for appreciating and acknowledging the beauty and value of each of their lives, and how the connections that they have made with us -- each in their own way -- have forged strong bonds even if we have never had the good fortune to meet them in person. Please continue to share your stories and pictures with us so that we can enjoy them for years to come. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

12 Feb 2013 2:23 PM

It means so much to me read your captions for each fantastic photo.

Thank you for sharing and still caring.  

What a treasure.  One of my keepers.

12 Feb 2013 5:27 PM
El Kabong

Boy, that Alydar keeps some tough looking company. Thanks for the stories and pictures. The Spectacular Bid Davona Dale picture and caption was hysterical. I think she looks a bit embarrassed by old saucer eyes starring at her like that.

Slew, I was thinking the same thing about Seattle Slew. Throw that kid a sandwich, a slice, a dog, he looks starving.

12 Feb 2013 6:21 PM
Steel Dragon

Maybe the Slew picture was taken after his illness. Baby Huey does look a little gaunt there...

12 Feb 2013 10:00 PM

Thanks very much for sharing Steve! All wonderful and an extra special treat seeing Damascus photos I had not seen before. What a warrior! I have a framed photo of him coming to the wire in the Woodward that is my own favorite. What became my fondest memory of Frank Whiteley was a pleasant spring afternoon at his Camden SC home just months before his passing talking about so many great horses and their races. His extreme old age had exacted a toll physically, however, he was sharp as a tack and as he relished doing, opened up a window to a period when he and his charges thrilled us all. But when he talked of Damascus, his eyes lit up like a kid at Christmas and there were no details left untold of every race ran by the horse he considered the greatest ever. I miss more than can be imagined, hearing his vivid descriptions of everything about that incredible Woodward performance. Again, thanks for triggering for me some of my very fondest memories.

12 Feb 2013 11:07 PM
Donna M

Steve,  These pictures MADE my day,  loved to See Dr. Fager in COLOR!  Loved Secretariat with the stick..  wow!!  incredible pictures and I was wondering, do you have a book published with your photos and stories?   JUST LOVE YOU!!!  You are the best!

13 Feb 2013 12:49 PM
Old Old Cat

Thank you again Steve for your articles and photos.  You really seem to know what strikes a chord in the hearts of your racing fans.  The photos are beautiful, for a brownie instamatic they are spectacular..

13 Feb 2013 1:30 PM

Looking at the black and white Riva Ridge Photo: Hope Riva Ridge was not hungry because that carrot size kitten could have been in great danger.

13 Feb 2013 4:31 PM

oh how I wish you would do a book with your wonderful photos and remarks! Everyone loves them and the memories they take us back to...I hope you will do this someday.  It would be grand.

13 Feb 2013 5:18 PM
Jean in Chicago

Dear Steve,

 I've debated with myself as to send this because I didn't want to sound too soppy, but here goes.  When I want to look at a conformation portrait of a horse, I pull out my Richard Stone Reeves books.   But its your photos I look at when I want to see them being horses.  Damascus with his tail up and flying, Davona Dale saying 'back off Stud, we girls call the shots'  and Silver Charm wondering what this crazy person is doing sprawled on the ground.  Thank you again and boy are we glad you got that camera.

13 Feb 2013 5:37 PM
Steve Haskin

Jean in Chicago, that doesnt sound soppy to me. I appreciate your kinds words, thank you.

Thanks for the thought, Deb, but as I've told people who mention that, it's not easy finding a publisher, and I dont know if there would be widespread interest in it.

Watch it, Donna, I dont take "Love You's" lightly :). But thank you.

13 Feb 2013 7:34 PM

Speaking of great fillies and mares...I just have to pop on to wish Rachel Alexandra all the best after her surgery from foaling complications. Her new foal looked very big. According to this morning's story, the foal has been placed on a nurse mare. Once again I'm thankful for modern veterinary medicine.

14 Feb 2013 10:21 AM
Mike Relva


Please consider on writing a book on Zenyatta.

15 Feb 2013 10:34 PM

Hi Steve,

All I can say is "Wow!".  These pictures are beautiful.  Dr. Fager, Secretariat, Riva Ridge, Canonero II, Affirmed, Spectacular Bid, Exceller, Alydar, Forego, Damascus, Seattle Slew, Real Quiet, Silver Charm, A.P. Indy.  Just a real Who's Who of incredible Classics chammpion horses.  The pictures of all of these great, incredible, champion horses are thrilling to see.  I have goose bumps looking at them.  You are a lucky man to have been up close to so many incredible champion horses.  You have been blessed.  Thank you for sharing your photo collection with us, and thank you for sharing your memories with us.  I almost feel as if I was there with these great ones myself.  I love horses in all of their majesty.  I think you do too, Steve.  It shows in your photography and in your journlism.  Thanks, again!

18 Feb 2013 8:43 PM

I cannot believe that publishers wouldn't be falling all over themselves to get anything from you and your memories.  And the manuscript would be "richly furnished" by your photos.  Perhaps appropriate conformation shots or illustrations could be included.  But as far as the racing world is concerned, the real draw would be your memories.  And I am fairly certain there are people outside the racing world who appreciate looking at famous horses and reading your (and selected others") anecdotes.  You could present it as a "coffee table" book!  Go Steve!!

20 Feb 2013 9:40 AM
Lise from Maine

Hi Steve,

You are so fortunate to have had the opportunies to be in contact with so many beautiful horses.

Those photos are so lovely. Thanks for sharing them.

I was introduced to horse racing in 2006 when a friend of mine took me to Scarborough Downs (harness racing)just outside of Portland, Maine to watch Barbaro win the Kentucky Derby, and even since then I was hooked on horse racing.

I have learned a great deal more since then and pay more attention to the races, the horses, the trainers, and the jockeys.

I absolutely love this sport.

Thank you!

Lise from Maine

28 Feb 2013 1:50 PM

Recent Posts



Social Media

More Blogs