Haskin's Preakness Report: Family Plot

History, it is said, repeats itself, and it will do just that in the 138th Preakness Stakes. It was 25 years ago that Claiborne Farm’s Forty Niner defeated Ogden Phipps’ Seeking the Gold by a nose in a gut-wrenching stretch duel in the Haskell Invitational Handicap, run in near-100-degree temperature. Finishing fourth in the five-horse field was Private Terms, owned by Stuart Janney Jr.’s Locust Hill Farm, who missed third by only a half-length. Forty Niner was the 4-5 favorite, and Seeking the Gold and Private Terms both were 5-2 co-second choices.

Of course, we all are aware that these three powerhouse stables, which have been strongly linked for more than five generations as both partners and adversaries, are the dominant figures in the upcoming Preakness Stakes.

Many feel if Kentucky Derby winner Orb, owned in partnership by the Phipps family and Stuart Janney III, is going to be beaten at Pimlico, it will be Departing, owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, that will perpetrate the dastardly deed.

We also are aware that Claiborne Farm has been the birthplace of the Phipps and Janney horses for many generations, and all the great Phipps family champions are buried there.

Just as Orb and Departing grew up together at Claiborne Farm, so did Forty Niner , Seeking the Gold (both sons of Mr. Prospector), and Private Terms.

As a side note regarding that 1988 Haskell, the fourth-place finisher who prevented a Claiborne-Phipps-Janney sweep was Primal, who was owned and bred by Tartan Stable, the breeder of Orb’s broodmare sire Unbridled.

Also, Private Terms is by the Phipps stallion Private Account (by Damascus), out of Laughter (a three-quarter sister to Ruffian), making him a three-quarter brother to Orb’s third dam, Steel Maiden. And finally, Seeking the Gold’s broodmare sire, Buckpasser, can be found in both Orb’s male and female families.

Now, it is just a question of whether history will repeat itself in regard to the finish of the Preakness. But instead of Claiborne defeating Phipps and Janney horses, it will attempt to defeat a single horse owned by both.

As you can see, this year’s Preakness represents the history of Thoroughbred racing and the great equine and human families that built its foundation so many years ago. What we’re seeing this year is a rare glimpse into the past. The fabric of the sport has changed dramatically as all the founding families have died out and are now nothing more than mere names from a bygone era. But through it all, the Phipps dynasty lives on, and it was only a matter of time before a throwback like Orb came along to remind a new generation of horsemen and racing fans what was so special about this sport back in the so-called golden age of racing.

So, whether it is Phipps and Janney who continue on their Triple Crown quest or whether it is Claiborne Farm that ends it in Baltimore, racing will be all the better for it. After all, even if we don’t have a Triple Crown attempt this year, which would disappoint a lot of people, a rubber match between Orb and Departing and their legendary connections in the “Test of the Champion” is not such a bad alternative.

The Doll and her Hat

Speaking of paddock mates, in an unrelated item, one of the highlights of this year’s Derby experience was driving the 45 or so miles to Fred and Buff Bradley’s Indian Ridge Farm near Frankfort, Ky. to visit racing’s most beloved Odd Couple, 5-year-old Eclipse Award winner Groupie Doll and her paddock buddy, the 12-year-old gelding Brass Hat.

The latter, a grade I winner of over $2.1 million, despite suffering two fractures in his career, not only has become close friends and constant companion to Groupie Doll while last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner and champion Filly and Mare Sprinter gets her annual winter and spring freshening on the farm, he also serves as babysitter for the weanlings and yearlings, sharing their paddock, playing with them, and making sure they don’t get into any trouble.

After putting together a brilliant five-race winning streak in 2012, during which she captured three grade I stakes and two grade 2 stakes by an average margin of five lengths, Groupie Doll was beaten a nose by 2011 Travers winner Stay Thirsty in the grade I Cigar Mile, a defeat that cost her any consideration for Horse of the Year.

While Buff heads to at Churchill Downs every morning to train the horses, his wife Kim runs the farm. Kim said she knew Brass Hat would make a good companion and baby sitter by the way he gets along so well with the farm’s miniature pony Buddy.

On this particular day, Groupie Doll and Brass Hat had just finished taking turns rolling in the paddock, but Kim decided not to have them cleaned off, feeling they looked like “horses” covered in dirt. I couldn’t have agreed more.

As you can see from the photos that follow, Brass Hat and Groupie Doll are as close as two horses can be.

All photos are by Steve Haskin, please ask before taking.

Groupie Doll (left) seems in total bliss, enjoying Brass Hat's affections

You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours

Friends forever

Groupie Doll and Brass Hat enjoy attention

Grazing side by side

Buddy interacting with one of the foals

Kim Bradley also likes to interact with the foals

Who knows what Groupie Doll and Brass Hat talk about?


Leave a Comment:

Uncle Smiley


As always, great insight with wonderful pictures.

Like your throwback theory, especially since a prime example is the long shot Golden Soul  out of the line of Mr. Prospector.

If Golden Soul, by any chance,  reaches Baltimore or Belmont it could be lots of fun at the window.

Uncle Smiley

12 May 2013 8:14 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


  It is simply amazing how you take us on a journey through unexpected adventures. You continually surprise me for which I am forever grateful. Most writings are predictable. Magnificent pictorial of friendship that your words greatly enhance. Thanks again !!!!! Two warriors relaxing and enjoying the peace of friendship unencumbered by anything. It must be nice Groupie Doll and Brass Hat. It looks like you could teach us humans a few things.

   Now on to the human mind- How does anyone bet on Orb at those odds even if he is the best horse? I can't do it, ever. I have to look for odds and so far I'm probably still going for Itsmyluckyday even if he probably isn't as good. (reverse psychology?)

12 May 2013 8:18 PM
Bethany Loftis

Thank you for yet another wonderful article! The pictures of Groupie Doll and Brass Hat are absolutely adorable! Barbaro was the one who pulled me into Thoroughbred racing, and made me decide to be an equine vet, however it was Brass Hat's ability to overcome two injuries and still win that made me decide to do equine sports medicine. Love that guy!

As for the Phipps/Janney vs Claiborne, I'm looking forward to it! Reading all the great stories from the past has left me wishing I was born in the golden age of racing! Now we have the possiblity of seeing that old friendly rivalry rekindled! Orb and Departing along with their connections are bringing back the golden age of horse racing. I hope it continues and more connections follow suit! How appropriate would it be to have a Triple Crown winner this year that would combine both of these fantastic, historical families?! It would be ideal if Orb and Departing ran 1-2, but I guess we'll find out soon enough!

Looking forward to the Preakness, and as always, your wonderful stories! Thanks for the mini history lessons, an all the behind-the-scenes stories and pictures you provide!

12 May 2013 8:28 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

In Alfred Hitchcock's movie, "Family Plot" the brakes aren't working. Will Orb put on the brakes or is something left in the tank? He's won five in a row. I've only seen the last three but all were impressive, seemingly with ease. He could be a super horse. The times aren't the greatest which is one of the reasons, the backers of others have hope. False hope? We don't know. He wins. Whatever it takes. He has Shug. He has Rosario. Will it come down to the Belmont again or will the suspense be over soon? If it gets to the Belmont then Revolutionary is a formidable foe. Whatever happens, Shug, the master of running 'em where they belong and taking care of his horses has had a glorious day, but a Triple Crown could not be more fitting than to belong to Shug, who seldom tries to take them there, over the trainers who take many every year.

12 May 2013 9:32 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

If I heard what Orb means I sure don't remember but I think it might be Original Retro Behemoth (trainer, horse and jockey.) Shug-I always wondered why you didn't take them to the next step toward the Derby. Now I know. Why lose? Rosario- You made it. Keep up the good work. You showed glimpses of Pincay and Bailey at their best, the two best I ever saw. Don't regress. Orb- We don't really care if you get the Triple Crown but it would be nice after all of these years. I don't think you'd beat Affirmed, but what the heck, go for it.

12 May 2013 10:04 PM

Normandy Invasion is out of the Preakness...   Anyone else smell a rat??

Hmmm.....I read where N.I. will go on to a summer campaign. Weird, though I can see him in the Travers stakes or Breeder's Cup but a summer campaign?

I have to say this:  When Ky Derby contenders do not participate in the Preakness there's something wrong. Sorry..but I know popular opinion.  Hard to believe N.I. is not returning to the Triple Crown quest to compete, this time in an entirely different type of track AND in possibly a rain free day versus the slop of Churchill Downs on derby day.  Hmmm..... I smell a huge rat and to the casual race fans as some of my cohorts are....well,....this just feeds into those folks who believe "the fix is in."  I hate to say it.  I've always believed that the shady undercurrent of horse racing DOESN'T exist...but then THIS happens. Amazing,...especially if Orb wins (not that he's not a great horse)...but N.I. was looking great most of the race at Churchill.  I hope the real reason N.I. is out of the race is to put some weight on him as the article stated.  Scary stuff.

12 May 2013 10:50 PM

Love seeing these dirty and happy horses! Thanks Steve!

12 May 2013 11:46 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Jockey Changes:

   I'm not seeing what Lukas was talking about and I think Court is right. It wasn't a jockey error- there just wasn't enough horse there. Eventhough, the last photo I saw, Will Take Charge looks like the Incredible Hulk, I'm not seeing the switch to Smith making a difference. Itsmyluckyday- Kentucky Rain keeps falling down. From Elvis to Velasquez. What does it mean? Oye Como Va?

12 May 2013 11:48 PM
Bethany Loftis

Aleine-I don't know if I necessarily smell a rat, however there are some reserve concerns regarding his need to put some more weight back on. In my opinion, he may have come out of the derby well, but not the best Normandy Invasion he could be. I'd like to think that Porter and Brown are giving him some time to fill out, and mature. If this is the case, I believe he has the potential to be a beast during the summer and fall.

Dr. D-as always I love reading your comments! I agree with you in regards to Will Take Charge. At 17 hands and only three, he's still trying to work out how to use that big frame, and develop those muscles. I believe he's one that will get better with age and has the potential to be a top handicap horse, or the next Game On Dude. What do you think?

13 May 2013 12:36 AM
Little Bill

I didn't think the decision about N Inv. was that disturbing. Brown said as much right after the Derby. It sounds like N I doesn't carry much weight.  

13 May 2013 1:14 AM

N>I is a glorified OC Horse, he won once and he's not running because he's not that good, got into Derby with 1 win. His work up to Preakness was fair at best. No Fix, N.I not that good.

13 May 2013 1:22 AM
Splits of 12


Another impressive piece of great history. Thank you for all the information you provide for us racing fans. I find it to be very helpful especially for handicapping. The Preakness will be a very interesting race coming up on Saturday. I think it will be very hard to beat Orb. He's beaten everything thrown at him so far this season. Departing will be no different. As good as he looked winning the Illinois Derby, he'll need to come up with a super effort to knock off the Kentucky Derby champ. And even if he does,  that may not be enough. If you watch Orbs races its amazing how he locks the leaders in sight and in one fell swoop he is up to you and goes by you in an instant,  striding out like a monster. He's done it five times in a row, and I don't see while he'll stop at six. I've bet Orb four times in a row, and I won't be stopping at five. I believe Orb will be closer to the pace this time. Joel Rosario, probably won't sit 20 lengths off the lead like he did in the Derby. I see Orb sitting 5-7 lengths off the lead and when they start to round into the final turn, Rosario will give him a tap on the shoulder and let him start his wind up. As they arrive at the eighth pole Orb will have a few horses come up to him and then he'll put on the afterburners and stride out to win by 3. And then it's off to Belmont to chase an elusive piece of history. This is the 35th year since Affirmed captured the Triple Crown.

13 May 2013 1:35 AM
The Deacon

Another well written informative blog Steve, your ability to tell a story just amazes me.

Just my opinion but Departing has 2 chances of beating Orb in the Preakness of slim isn't looking good.

Dr. D: What!  Your saying Pincay and Bailey were better riders then Shoemaker or Arcaro or Hartack.

That's blasphemy my good friend. I gotta totally disagree with you on this one. I would Baeza as good as Pincay, maybe even Ycaza. I saw all the great ones ride.

Orb wins the Preakness in my opinion, the Belmont will be his toughest test...

13 May 2013 3:43 AM
Mike Monarchos

After seeing all of your great photos I'm beginning to think that you're a photographer who also writes great stories Steve. Thanks again.

13 May 2013 6:40 AM

Wow---once again you nail it. In particular, the bit on one of my favorites- Brass Hat and his little girl, Groupie Doll-

13 May 2013 7:15 AM
Shelby's Best Pal

Thank you for the interesting article and lovely photos.  I appreciate getting to see the pictures of Groupie Doll and Brass Hat.  

13 May 2013 9:07 AM

Great article.  I always enjoy reading about racing history and reminders of its Golden Age are always welcome.  Am routing for Orb and his Triple Crown.  Also enjoy stories about friendships among thoroughbreds and this of Brass Hat and Groupie Doll, a favourite, is special.  P.S. May I take these photographs?

13 May 2013 9:44 AM
Tiara Terces

Steve, you show the side of racing that helps to make people understand it is a positive relationship between two species.  I did not know Brass Hat had had two fractures.  That is inspirational that he continued and won.  

The story of the paddock mates Orb and Departing would be a great one if they finish one, two.  Will Take Charge could be better for several reasons other than being challenged to move around Vyjack.  This is his second race off of a layoff and he might be able to show more stamina. The shorter distance could also help.

Mylute is heading into hiu twelfth race and he has really outran his distance breeding limitations.  Bob Baffert said his sire could have run farther than the sprints where he was placed, so that may be the explanation.

I expect to see a speed duel between Goldencents, Titletown Five and Govenor Charlie.  Vyjack won't be far back along with Itsmyluckday and Oxbow.  I think that will leave it for the top four to be Orb, Departing, Will Take Charge and Mylute.

I hope Orb will head to the Belmont with The Triple Crown in sight.

13 May 2013 10:03 AM
Love 'em all

It's Orb for this one on May 18th ... to win ... and second going to his buddy, Departing.  

Love these picture treats, Mr. Haskin.  Thank you ... and a big thanks to the Bradleys who know how to keep horses happy.

I always rooted for Brass Hat when he ran ... even against Musketier, another of my favs at the time.  BH could be telling GD about Musketier and his collection of stuffed monkeys.  Sure do miss those old fellas!

13 May 2013 10:05 AM

Chad Brown said all along that the main objective for Normandy Invasion is the Travers. Old news and nothing ratty about it. Many of today trainers dont like running horses back in 2 weeks. Some trainers realize that some of their charges have distance limitations or are lacking fitness. A smaller Preakness field is nothing new. Think any on the fence about going to Preakness will really have something to think about after Orb's Work in 47 and Shugs 'Freaky' comment. Orb is ready to rock and dont think he will lose.

 Love the story Steve and the Pictures. Bradley's are great people. Love both Brass Hat and Groupie Doll and wonderful to see them just being horses.

13 May 2013 10:43 AM

Steve, you are a bloomin' marvel! Do you keep all this stuff in your head (in which case you have a remarkable mind), do you have a library of old Forms and registers, or what? To keep on turning out these gems time after

time with no pause for creation--

you make the Triple Crown time into

something very special indeed.

Go Orb!  

13 May 2013 10:52 AM
Pedigree Ann

I was on Brass Hat from early on in his career, when, as a spring 3yo, he ran second to the graded stakes horse, 5yo Alumni Hall at Churchill.

After he came back from the first fracture, I thought he was on his way to being one of the ones - the next John Henry or Kelso. Then he went to Dubai.

I hope the Bradleys are righteously indignant once again about Brass Hat's disqualification from his second in the World Cup over lingering traces of a joint injection, given Godolphin's current situation with the same procedure. It was a travesty.

But the trip to Dubai, then another fracture, and Brass Hat was never quite the same consistently brilliant racehorse. Sure, he had occasional races where the old Brass Hat showed up, but only occasionally.

So glad to find that he has a job  that he enjoys in his middle age.

13 May 2013 10:53 AM

How can you "smell a rat" when a trainer doesn't wheel his horse back in two weeks after losing the hardest race he has run in his life? NI looks totally in need of a freshening, only running him in the Preakness would be cause for question. To top it off, Chad Brown covets the Travers 10x more then the Preakness, it is his home race and bigger then the Preakness one to one. The "summer" campaign that confuses you is a prep race for the Travers(Jim Dandy) or even a Haskell - Travers double which should be the aim of all top 3 year olds on the East coast.

13 May 2013 11:12 AM
steve from st louis

Aleine, what are you talking about? Chad Brown thinks running back in two weeks is too much for his horse so he passes the Preakness. Some trainers tend to do that, you know, doing what's best for their horses. Do you think for one second he cares about Orb and the Triple Crown? He's running his stable, not helping Shug run his. Does that make him a rat? Puh-leeez!

Many Derby horses pass the Preakness and then show up in the Belmont or Jim Dandy or Haskell. Actually more Derby horses pass the Preakness than run in it. Every year.

The fix is in? My advice: Spend less time reading Dick Francis and more time at the track.

13 May 2013 11:55 AM
Soldier Course

Although reasonable minds can differ on this issue, I believe the last time we had a truly viable Triple Crown contender was nine years ago in 2004 with Smarty Jones. But of course Smarty lost the Belmont Stakes, as did Funny Cide the year before. Both of these horses won the Preakness by very wide margins, their jockeys hotdogging it down the lane. In my opinion, this cooked them for the Belmont Stakes. Barclay Tagg hinted at this possibility regarding Funny Cide's Preakness a few days after the race.

I can't imagine Shug McGaughey letting this happen with Orb. If he wins, and I hope he does, it'll be by 2.5 lengths max.

13 May 2013 1:06 PM
steve from st louis

Deacon, my $.02 would go on Angel Cordero Jr. Only jock who could ride three horses in the same race. At the same time. As long as the stewards weren't paying attention.

13 May 2013 1:57 PM

Aleine, your rant about Normandy Invasion skipping the Preakness not only reveals a startling lack of racing knowledge and understanding but also a chilling inability to read a calendar!  

Why in the world would Brown wheel back NI in two weeks when he was clearly a tired horse at the 1/8 pole of the Derby?  He's not a Belmont horse...look at the pedigree.  The MOST LOGICAL course of action would be to wait for the Jim Dandy or Haskell and then go for the Travers. They might even want to tackle the Dwyer over the July 4 holiday as a prep. (By the way, all of those races are run in the SUMMER!)

NI looks a bit like Chiefs Crown to me....a horse questionable at 10 furlongs in the Spring but one that might just be able to get the distance in late August.

Chad Brown is DOING THE RIGHT THING BY HIS HORSE.  Running in the Preakness just to satisfy the masses is wrong.  

13 May 2013 2:47 PM
steve from st louis

In my "day job" as a financial analyst for one of the world's biggest banks, I'm paid to find value. But if you look at The Bloodhorse's current huge sale on books, you don't need a degree in Economics to know that any Steve Haskin tome that costs $2 is a  ridiculous value. Even the "Tales From the Triple Crown", priced at $5, is better than any superfecta you might wheel. Guaranteed you learn something. That's my shameless plug for our favorite author.

13 May 2013 3:01 PM
Soldier Course

NYRA has posted two great videos re Orb on YouTube today: Orb's breeze and then a press interview with Shug McGaughey. The trainer spoke with solid confidence and seems relaxed. They're shipping later today.

13 May 2013 3:18 PM

Soldier Course IMO its the horses that skip one or both of the first two legs that will beat Orb in the final jewel.

Go back and see who beat Smarty and the others that ran with a chance to complete the triple crown, they didnt run in all three legs.

Do you know of any other sport where you can come in in the last competition of a series and be allowed to compete.

If Orb wins Saturday and losses at Belmont you read it here first.

13 May 2013 3:52 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Bethany Loftis

   Absolutely I agree and will be very surprised if Will Take Charge isn't a top handicap horse like Game On.

The Deacon

   I'm not saying that at all. I just happened to see a lot more of Pincay and Bailey than most you mentioned and Shoemaker cost me money a few times whereas I often made money off of Pincay. Personal bias is all. Bailey was amazing for awhile on all surfaces. You saw more of the old timers than I did so I believe you 100%.

13 May 2013 4:14 PM

The Doll and her Hat, absolutely adorable                                 photographs with a gorgeous 'down on the farm' storyline to boot. Fun seeing champion racehorses just being horses for a change instead of the tense atmosphere before an important race.

Steve, I know everyone says it but your writing brings such warmth to what is, essentially, a very tough business. I hope others learn to write in a similar style, many wonderful things, as you mention, have already gone from this sport.

After watching Orb this morning, and listening to what Shug McGaughey had to say, you would expect him to run extremely well.

What is this 'conspiracy theory' about Normandy Invasion? The horse is immature and not ready for the demands of this type of racing yet. Th best decision was made for the health of the horse and should be applauded.

13 May 2013 6:41 PM
Soldier Course

Chief Piccawinna:

Yes, it does seem unfair that fresh horses are allowed to run in the Preakness and/or Belmont, but the Triple Crown series has always allowed that, as far as I know. The rationale must be that extraordinary circumstances precede extraordinary achievements.

All the more reason to ration reserves wisely. A win is a win, regardless of the margin.

13 May 2013 7:10 PM
Uncle Smiley

Steve from st louis,

I think Mr Haskins should consider authoring a large format book of his equine photos, as well as an app with the same content.

Specially since an app can link photos to pps, breeding stats and all that good stuff.

What do you think, Big Steve?

Uncle Smiley

13 May 2013 8:03 PM

Chief Picawinna,

Golf and Tennis each have a Grand Slam very similiar to the Triple Crown.  The four majors in golf all have different qualifying criteria.  The Masters has a smaller more select field, and historically has invited a number of amateur to participate. The two Opens have qualifying rounds for those not automatically exempt from the money/points lists, ect.  The PGA again has its own criteria. It is closed to amateurs and often includes more regular tour members than the other events. Its not at all unheard of for players to skip - or not qualify for - one or more majors and show up at the PGA.  (John Daly would be a notable example from years gone by.)

The Triple Crown races are historically significant events on their own.  They don't constitute a playoff system or determine a "champion" per se.  Horses worthy of wearing the crown must, therefore, be able to fend off fresh challengers and stand alone at the top of the mountain.

I don't think you were really suggesting the Triple Crown is unfair, but I do think its important to distinguish this type of series from a playoff system like the NCAA Tournament or the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

13 May 2013 8:08 PM
Plod Boy Phil

TX Longhorn -

It's clear you fail to grasp the reason why Normandy Invasion was a 'tired horse' (to use your words) in the Derby.  He expended too much energy too early and did it too quickly.  There is a big difference between a horse getting tired in a race and being a 'tired horse'.

13 May 2013 9:05 PM

I watched the video of Orb's drill today; totally awesome.  He will take some beating this Sat.

I'm surprised anyone who follows racing would think there is a "fix" going on because Normandy Invasion's connections have opted to skip the Preakness.  And the Belmont too, for that matter.  Of the 18 other Derby participants, I think about 8 are wheeling back, and it seems to me that is at least a couple more than in recent years.  No fix here; just acknowledgement of the horses condition and limitations. Good horsemanship, in my opinion.

13 May 2013 9:39 PM


A family plot (your title) is a burial ground. Orb may be spaced out and Departing relegated to a departed one when Will Take Charge and Itsmyluckyday stike in Baltimore this Saturday.

That Groupie Doll/Brass Hat picture essay is pretty good. I'm a real fan of Groupie Doll ...she's an awesome racer but I think that she'll make an even better broodmare will all that Hyperion blood in her pedigree.

Dr Drunkinbum, Steve from St Louis & The Deacon, nice jockey talk. Jerry Bailey has to be one of the smartest jocks of all time IMO ...although Shoemaker, Baeza, Hartack and Cordero are right up there as Americans. If the comparison is broadened to international you'd have to throw the Brits, Lester Pigott and Pat Eddery as well as Italian Frankie Detorri into the mix.

13 May 2013 9:55 PM
Fran Loszynski

You know Steve it always makes me angry when people say horses just win because they are pushed on the track by the other horses and by thei ir jockey. When you look at these two horses you know in your heart they know what friendship is and so too when racehorses aren't friends on the track and know what they want or what is expected of them.  Someone once asked me "Do you think they know when they have won a race?"  My answer was "It is all they know!"  They either win for the love of their owners trainer or jockey or have the killer instinct that sets them alone from the rest and simply win for themselves.  These wonderful pics of these two horses just strengthens  this belief.

13 May 2013 10:04 PM
Zen's Auntie

Brass hat would look great on my ranch carting kids around for sure! I love love love that gelding!! for my young favorite Orb, it's the brother from another mother that I see upsetting the apple cart of the crown this year. Especially if is sloppy for the Belmont he may not win it but a hook up with Blazing brother Freedom Child could undo our hero.  I'll say Orb's work today also gave me chills he looks more like a triple crown winner than has any colt after his derby win in recent memory.

13 May 2013 10:19 PM
Bob from Boston


If you find Dr. Drunkinbum charming, you wait until Ted from LA shows up.  Orb, Mylute, Gov Charlie in the Preakness.

13 May 2013 10:43 PM
Ted from LA

Hello Bethany,

Do you come here often?

13 May 2013 10:46 PM
The Deacon

Dr. D:  I am just funnin' with you. Your picks were great jocks, no doubt about it. I lost on Shoemaker as well but his ride with Ferdinand in the Kentucky Derby was a thing to behold. I also loved Alvaro Pineda, was at Hollywood Park the day he died.

Steve should do a blog on the great jocks, let us vote.

Steve from St. Louis: Although a very good jockey I never cared for Cordero. I like Baeza, Ycaza and Milo Valenzuela better.

Can't argue with your pick.

13 May 2013 11:43 PM


Thanks for the article reminding us of by-gone days and the so-called golden age of racing.  I remember it well.  Thanks also for imbedding Orb's workout and Shug's interview; "Breathtaking", "sent cold chills up my back".  What I saw was a consumate professional racehorse with a fluid, easy way of going; eating up ground with huge strides well within himself.  After firing that bullit workout, I can understand Shug's choice of words.  This horse is ready.  Did you catch Shug, as he walked away, saying to one of his team; "pinch me, is this real?"  (Just kidding).  

We still have the draw and the long range weather calling for thunderstorms but I agree that this "Cold hearted Orb" certainly looks like a throwback to that golden age.  The only betting value is to find a long shot who can beat Departing to the place.


Excellent response to Chief Picawinna.  Excuse the pun, but thoroughbred racing is a different breed of sport.  Apples and Oranges.


IMO having KD horses be the only runners in the other two would not only set up a weak, small Belmont field of those still standing, it would not be good for the game. The only exception would be two rivals butting heads in all three.  Bring on all rivals and new shooters when they want to get in. A TC Winner has to beat all comers.  As TXlonghorn says, you have to stay on top of the mountain against all of them.

Thanks also Steve for the story and touching pics of Brass Hat and Groupie Doll.  We sometimes forget that these beautiful, fast runners are also horses and enjoy being horses.  I got the chance to see Brass Hat up close when he came to Thistledown and won the 2004 Ohio Derby.  He's got a job to do down on the farm and, dagnabbit, he's gonna do it good.  He's like a Grandpa to those young 'uns.  He's gonna keep 'em in line.  

14 May 2013 12:25 AM

Does this mean Brass Hat will have to become her lead pony? She might insist on it after this lovely bond. Great article (as usual) and picks, Steve.

14 May 2013 3:14 AM

orb appears to be coming into the Preakness just as good if not better than the derby. however, different track, probably different track condition , post positions will be different, pace scenario possibly different. orb has enjoyed advantageous trips in all of his recent races,having said that , he is a very good horse with a strong middle move and can finish. from a wagering perspective abnsolutely zero value. I would say, either u try to beat him or sinle him on top of exoctics. if I decide to beat him, oxbow would be my choice. provided he doesn't receive an outside post( which he has in several of his races), he was the only horse who was in hailing distance of that torrid derby pace who was still there in the latter stages,before understandably tiring late.there is no Normandy invasion for him to battle in thje stretch this time. gary stevens only enhances his chances with another ride. the cutback in distance will also aid him along with a slightly more biased tendency to forwardly placed horses, this horse makes his presence felt in every race( ark derby being the exception when way farther back early than he has ever been) definitely not a fan of d wayne lukas and his decision making and lack of realistic placement and ridiculous overconfidence in some of his horses that is unwarranted. but using all the basics of handicapping oxbow coulsd win the Preakness and offer wagering value if the price is right!

14 May 2013 6:19 AM
Bethany Loftis

Lol hi Bob from Boston/Ted from LA! I read here all the time, however I don't post all too often. I like your picks for the Preakness, but I can't decide on Gov. Charlie yet. I wouldn't mind seeing an Orb, Departing, Mylute, Goldencents outcome. Can't wait for post draw time!

14 May 2013 8:08 AM
Linda in Texas

Oh lucky you Steve. You always find what is in my heart when we are so fortunate to see the results of your side trips anyplace. Seeing Groupie Doll, and i believe she just raced, because i remember the horses when their names are called as they load the gates, and hers makes me smile. And Brass Hat, what a kind hearted horse. Yes, animals do think, they have feelings, exact ones we as humans will never fully know. It is the wonderment of how and what they really think that keeps us coming back.

The herd mentality of horses is in their ancient bloodlines. I even read one theory that opines that we humans are of horse origins. I know that will bother some, but frankly i would prefer to be from a horse than an ape. When i drive the back roads of Texas going from little town to 'littler' town, i will often see some horses standing alone in the middle of nowhere and it is those i will always stop and offer a horse treat or two to if they will come to the fence. Kindness startles some, but appreciation overcomes the inbred fear and they take to the treats quite nicely. My reward is an occasional allowing of a pat on their nose.

Loved this story. I love history and what makes us all tick and what drives us to the heat of competition in the greatness that we all strive for.

Steve, i am so glad your shutter is always open to capture the wonderful shots you bring us.

Thank you.

Normandy Invasion looked on the thin side to begin with, to perpetuate the 'rat' theory is to undermine horse racing once again.

Of all the things that one zeroes in on, digging up and looking for negativity does no good at all.

A trainer knows what his horse can or cannot do or more importantly should or should not do. We should respect that. Chad Brown is a fine trainer.

I believe that with the win of whichever on Saturday, Preakness Day in Maryland will bring more great stories of the horses of the past as we work forward to The Belmont.

Thanks again, Steve.

14 May 2013 10:04 AM
Abigail Anderson

Greetings from Montreal, Steve. I enjoyed this column so much. I know a little about the Phipps' (having been Personal Ensign's HUGEST fan) but only recently learned of the Phipps-Janney connection. I agree that it's even more special that Orb carries such a distinguished history, together with the fabulous Shug, whose training method and belief system have been wrought over time.

Thank you for the great photos of Groupie Doll and her best buddy, Brass Hat. So moving to see how much these two love one another. I hope he'll still be welcome when she has her first foal. I have a friend whose Paint mare was similarly connected to a Paint gelding. But when Inky started having foals, poor old Ollie was no longer welcome -- and it broke his heart!

14 May 2013 10:59 AM
steve from st louis

Ranagulzion: Thanks for calling us Americans on the jockey talk. Absolutely, Lester Piggott probably sat on the withers of more great horses than any jockey--I recall classics aboard Sir Ivor, Nijinsky II, Roberto and The Minstrel off the top of my head. Had almost as much excitement in his life after retirement.

14 May 2013 12:56 PM
The Peacock

It's not always necessary to be looking to make a killing, Dr.Drunkinbum. Why not settle on several exotic combos, take a little less this time,and root for the good of the sport. :)

14 May 2013 2:42 PM
Soldier Course

I'm at our neighborhood library, viewing yesterday's press conference with Shug for the fifth time. The staff knows I love Thoroughbred racing. The librarian brought me the May 13th issue of Time magazine. There's an article about the decline in interest in racing, which I won't rehash here because we've heard it all before. The good news is that the article ends on an encouraging note: the sport's "idealized past" can be rekindled by having more tracks like Keeneland and a new Triple Crown winner. Time-ly indeed.

14 May 2013 3:47 PM


14 May 2013 3:55 PM

TXLLonghorn OK Golf and Tennis have a grand slam,when was the last time someone completed the grand slam,get the picture?

14 May 2013 7:01 PM

Just looked it up in tennis the last grand slam achiever was Rod Laver in 1969.The last triple crown in horseracing was 1978 wasnt it?In golf I think only B. Jones won the grand slam and he played a long time ago.

14 May 2013 7:09 PM

trackjack I think a weight impost should be added if a triple crown is on the line because the winner of the first two legs has a disadvantage running three races in a span of 5 weeks to rested colts. I think Orb has a good shot on Saturday and will play him 1st and 2nd in different exotics.

14 May 2013 7:15 PM
Old Old Cat

another great article on the other side of horse racing

14 May 2013 8:22 PM

Steve, great article.  Love the photos of Groupie Doll and Brass Hat!

Soldier Course,

Thanks for mentioning the videos.  Did anyone else hear the rooster cockadoodledooing in ALL of the Shug videos at Belmont!  It is funny, it is as if the rooster is announcing to all who will listen that "The Derby winner is here!" Linda in Texas pointed out the rooster.  He's going in the videos of Shug on DRF as well.


A lot of trainers skip or buck out of the Preakness.  We live in a day where the goal is BCC so many don't put the colts through all the rigors of the triple crown races, which are grueling being back to back as they are.  Mr. Porter's goal I think it was written in a previous article is the Saratoga races like the King's Bishop or Travers.  So there is basically nothing fishy about Normandy Invasion skipping the Preakness, especially considering the goal of the owners.

I think Orb is dangerous.  If he has that tactical speed I think he does then he can sit close off a slow pace too, not as far back as the Derby.  Hopefully nobody goes off half-cocked like Palace Malice did in the Derby.  I think the Belmont, the Test of the Champion, is harder.  Hopefully they don't move all the horses to a stakes barn this year after they are settled.  But that is getting ahead of ourselves.  On to the Preakness first.  Good luck Orb and ItsMyLuckyDay, little Oxbow, et al.

14 May 2013 9:01 PM

Every time my heart chills down, Steve H. writes one of his wonderful articles with his super pictures and warms it up again.

Steve, we need you to keep us going.

14 May 2013 11:06 PM

Steve, thanks for your insight into the back story and historical implications of this Triple Crown quest.  Somehow it seems fitting that Orb might be "the one."  Interesting that Departing will be in the mix too. Mylute is my choice to round out the trifecta, but so many others could have something to say.

As for Groupie and Brass, a few friends and I were fortunate enough to visit them on the farm the week before the Derby also.  The photos you shared (awesome) are SO representative of what we saw: two horses sharing a true bond and very much at home just "being horses."  

The Bradleys are about the most genuine people you will ever meet, and Kim was as gracious to us on the farm as Buff (and all the staff at the barn) have been to us at the tracks.  Kudos to them for the way they approach their "business", and thanks to them for being so welcoming to fans.  Brass provided so many thrills over time, and it will be another great thrill if Groupie brings home the BC win and another championship again this year.  The Bradleys deserve all good that comes their way.

Thanks for both stories in this column. You are one of a kind.

14 May 2013 11:36 PM

Soldier Course,

Smarty, (or Senor Smarty these days!) agreed was a most viable contender for the crown and Big Brown as well.  If not for that quarter crack and lapse in time with training Big Brown stood a chance.  Then again Big Brown was capable but he had so many crazy things go so wrong so quickly, the heat, the freaking out in detention, the starter in his lane, post #1, losing a shoe in the race, being pulled up at the end before the grandstand (right in front of me I might add).  He was cooked before the starting gate poor thing.  But he (Big Brown) I think was worthy of a crown and more than capable.  IHA I think was capable too although he seemed to be cooked too shortly after arriving at Belmont and then the mystery and retirement.  Orb is home at Belmont and he should know Big Sandy better than any of them.  Like I said hopefully there is no last minute pilgrimage to a stakes barn upsetting all the horses.  But Orb's got to ace the Preakness first.  No doubt about it a fresh horse could ace the Belmont and Nick Zito is awfully quiet this year!  Where is he?  We miss him.  But in the immortal words of John Shireffs, "a Grade I is a Grade I."  Good luck Orb!!!!! I for one am tired of seeing Affirmed's name on the bottom of that list, not that I don't love Affirmed, I want another representative of the breed of thoroughbred to join that special list.  I'm all for a new TC winner to behold.

15 May 2013 12:14 AM

Plod Boy Phil, I'm sorry if I didn't state my point better as Normandy Invasion being "tired" at the 1/8 pole. He was tired...perhaps because he has stamina issues at this point in his career, and certainly a case could be made that he made his move too early. I'm not sure it's fair to blame the jockey, myself, because he appeared to inherit the lead from horses stopping. Nonetheless, he hit the front earlier than his connections would have preferred, I'm sure. That said, at the 1/8 pole, he was tired.  I personally believe it's good horsemanship to let the horse get over that experience completely before bringing him back. (Perhaps my opinion is colored by my belief that NI simply isn't in the same class as Orb, and has a better chance to win the Jim Dandy/Haskell and Travers after a break than he has of winning either the Preakness or Belmont.)

Reasonable people can dissagree, and I respect your comment. At least you weren't insinuating "the fix is in" without one single shred of evidence or reasoned logic like the previous poster.

15 May 2013 1:27 AM


Winning a single Kentucky Derby OR the Preakness OR the Belmont would be the crowning achievement in almost any horseman's career.  These are three independent events which also constitute a series.  I think we get a little fixated on the Triple Crown and forget just how great each of these historic races are on their own.

Expecting a horseman to run his dower staying horse tailor made for the Belmont in the Derby and Preakness because we MIGHT have a horse capable or worthy of sweeping all three in a given year is wrong. It's just wrong.

Likewise, if we suddenly start penalizing newcomers with additional weight - contrary to the tradition of racing where the better horses are expected to carry the most weight under allowance and handicap conditions - we significantly devalue the accomplishment of any future Crown wearer in the context of history.

Regarding the golf and tennis Grand Slams.... No golfer has won the modern professional Grand Slam. Bobby Jones won the "old" Grand Slam which included the British and US Amateurs instead of the Masters and PGA.  Ben Hogan won the first three legs in 1953 and skipped the PGA. Tiger Woods won the 4 majors consecutively, but not in the same calendar year.

Yes, Rod Laver won the men's Slam in tennis, and three women have completed it as well.

These sweeps are - and should be - exceptionally difficult and only accomplished by truly exceptional athletes...human and equine.

15 May 2013 1:55 AM
Little Bill

Wait. Are you serious?

15 May 2013 2:04 AM

Chief Picawinna,

"I think a weight impost should be added if a triple crown is on the line because the winner of the first two legs has a disadvantage running three races in a span of 5 weeks to rested colts"

With all due respect. I get the impression you haven't done a whole lot of research on the Triple Crown and what it took for each of the 12 winners to win the title Triple Crown winner. From the very beginning all entrants have carried the equal weight of 126 Ibs. None of the races have ever been handicaped and nor should they be. If a three-year-old at this stage of the game can't carry 126 Ibs. They have no business running. As for Orb being at a disavantage. What?? The Triple Crown is suppose to be hard to win. All of the previous TC winners ran in a five week span and showed us what they were made of. Three of the TC winners ran in a race a week prior to winning the Belmont and set track records in the process. I hope Orb wins on Sat. and wins the Belmont. I experienced watching all three winners in the 70's and would love nothing more than to see another another horse win the honored title of being a Triple Crown winner.

Orb, bring it home baby!!

15 May 2013 7:15 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

The Peacock

    That's a very good point and might very well be what might happen, and I'm always for the good of the sport, but even more for the good of the horses, which often go hand in hand but not always. I really won't know if I'll be going for riches or the good of the sport until I analyze the final pps and see if I get a feel for what will happen. I already know that Orb will tough so I may end up primarily just rooting for the good of the sport. I really don't have a feel yet for anyone that could upset him.


    I heard the rooster and I thought I heard him say- "Orb, bah humbug, I rule the roost here, he's just a horse, what's everyone getting all excited about? What's a Derby?"

15 May 2013 8:23 AM
Dr Drunkinbum


   The rooster also said, " I could kick Orb's butt if I wanted to, you know. Luckily for him I'm a nice guy. As long as he understands who the boss is around here, we'll get along just fine, but I would advise him to mind his pints and quarts."

15 May 2013 8:27 AM
Lise from Maine


As always I love the history that you present here.

Great story!

Also, just love those photos. They are so cute.

Thank you!

Lise from Maine

15 May 2013 10:28 AM
Blum Gone

Love, love, love the fact that Mrs. Bradley "allows" her horses to be horses.  They need a good roll and enjoy the dirt on their backs.  Mine love it.

15 May 2013 1:07 PM

Discovery thats the way I see it and I have been along on the ride since 1997 and Silver Charms attempt.

We will see if Orb breaks through in the last leg in 2013.BTW if he does one factor that he has going for him is the reluctance of his connections to use performance enhancing substances(or thats my knowledge of that issue)

I remember last year I posted that a good experiment of performance enhacers would be if S.Mcgaughey had a triple crown aspirant,when posting about Point of Entry, and my belief that he would be 1st or 2nd in the Breeders Cup Turf that was before the Saratoga meeting.

15 May 2013 1:29 PM

TXLonghorn atheletes in general in all sports have evolved physically immensely more so than the general population.The competition is a lot tougher today than it was in previuos decades in ALL SPORTS,thats why the TC was last achieved in 1978,in Tennis 1959 and has been a myth in modern Golf.

15 May 2013 1:33 PM
Soldier Course


In deciding upon "last truly viable" TC  contender, I considered only those horses (1) who won two out of the three races in the ten years since 2003; and also (2) who finished all three races. So that knocked out Giacomo, Barbaro, Street Sense, Big Brown, Mine That Bird, Super Saver, Animal Kingdom, and I'll Have Another. So that left Funny Cide, Smarty Jones, and Afleet Alex. Yes, I chose Smarty, but I am still in awe of the way Afleet Alex won the Preakness and the Belmont. So the final question for me was this: Which "loss" was the more valiant effort, Afleet Alex's Derby or Smarty's Belmont?

15 May 2013 2:17 PM
Soldier Course


Kudos to your love of Big Brown. I saw him win the Derby. I just couldn't get beyond his arrogant connections.

15 May 2013 2:44 PM
Lucky Lou

Very interesting history about the two families.  As usual, Steve, you put together a great article and awesome pictures!

I think Orb will win the Preakness and his stablemate will run second.

Best of luck to everyone!

Thank you!

15 May 2013 4:18 PM

Another great article, Steve! You always bring equine history to life in such a wonderful way.  I did not know Brass Hat had sustained two fractures, yet continued to win races after healing from each injury.  A truly remarkable (and little talked about) feat.  What a courageous and inspiring horse!  Way to go, Brass Hat!

And speaking of Brass Hat - Could anything be more adorable and charming than the photos of Brass Hat with his BFF, fabulous champion mare, Groupie Doll? - LOL.  What a great team they make together!  I am totally charmed by them.  They take care of each other, they talk to each other, they trust each other. They are an awesome team.  There is a great bond between them.  Your pictures of them in "Best Pals Forever" mode are beautiful, moving and very memorable.  I'm totally sure Brass Hat gives Groupie Doll racing advice during their "talks", and that she totally follows his advice, too! - LOL.  They are a special pair, and I want to thank you for letting us view their lovely bond up close & personal.  Beautiful, beautiful photos, Steve!

And the Orb/Departing connection:  enthralling!  Your depth of knowledge of equine history never fails to impress me, Steve.  I find the history of horse racing, no matter the country the horse is from, thoroughly fascinating.  No matter how much you think you know about horse racing, there is always much more fabulous history to unearth and admire.  What a wonderful breed horses are - their history always inspires me.  Thanks for always bringing us the 411 on the rich history of this sport, Steve.  It's a real pleasure to read your columns.

15 May 2013 4:31 PM

Soldier Course,

Man that is a good question, which loss was more valiant Smarty's Belmont or Alex's Derby.  I know Alex's Derby like the back of my hand so I would have to go back and watch a clip of Smarty's Belmont to answer.  I know Alex got bumped pretty good in that Derby and still got up a length away from Giacomo.  Have to replay Smarty's Belmont again though.

I did not really get arrogance from Big Brown's connections at all.  Mike Iavarone founded the Ruffian hospital.  He was almost crying after Big Brown's Belmont, he was practically hanging on his neck with his head buried in BB's neck.  Quite a moving photo of it somewhere.  The trainer was another story though, agree there.

Dr. D.,

Funny!  That rooster was getting his 2 cents into every one of Shug's interviews and you nailed what he said!

15 May 2013 9:04 PM

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