Haskin's Preakness Recap: Ox Tale

“Come on, Lukey! Come on, Lukey! Come on, Lukey!”

You don’t witness it very often, but one of those cheering the loudest for D. Wayne Lukas and Oxbow in the final quarter mile of the May 18 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) was one of his opponents in the race.

Once Bob Baffert realized that his colt, Govenor Charlie, was not going to overcome a slow start and would make no impact on the race, and once he realized the 3-5 favorite, Orb, was coming up empty, his attention quickly turned to the 77-year-old Lukas, his one-time idol and adversary, with whom he has bonded in recent years.

As Oxbow hit the finish line following his wire-to-wire theft of the 138th Preakness, Baffert, after rooting the colt home as if he were his own, said, “How great was that? I’m glad I came.”

It was Lukas who had called Baffert, who had been hedging about whether to run Govenor Charlie in the Preakness, and told him, “You have to come; we’ll have fun. I need some support.”

Together, they combined for a memorable weekend, with Lukas also finishing first and third in the grade II Longines Dixie Stakes with 24-1 shot Skyring and Optimizer, respectively, and Baffert winning the previous day’s Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) with Fiftyshadesofhay, the Chick Lang Stakes Presented by Apple Ford with Zee Bros, and the final race on the Preakness card with Code West.

The two “Derby Dominators” of the mid- to late ‘90s, combined to win five consecutive Kentucky Derbys, five Preaknesses (gr. I), and four Belmonts (gr. I) from 1994-2000. During that time they were fierce competitors on and off the track, competing for the attention of high profile owners, such as Robert Lewis and The Thoroughbred Corp.

But both Hall of Fame trainers and former Quarter-Horse legends have been humbled by a decade-long Triple Crown drought, during which they managed only a single Preakness score (by Baffert with Lookin at Lucky in 2010) since 2002. The passing years have mellowed both trainers and they now have a close relationship and deep admiration for each other.

Following the Preakness, Baffert sought out Lukas, put his arm around his shoulder and simply said, “That was awesome. Alright, man, congratulations.”

“We’ve shared a lot over the years, starting with our Quarter Horse background,” Baffert said. “I’m very close to Wayne now. We’ve had to deal with a lot of the same stuff. We were both very successful and hated by many. But people forget how much Wayne has done for this sport. I was over his house, and I thought I had the most awesome trophy collection until I saw his. He roots for me and I root for him. As we get older we appreciate things more. I was so happy winning the Black-Eyed Susan.”

Said Lukas, who is the only trainer in both the Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred Hall of Fame, “For Bob to come over right after the race to congratulate me really meant a lot.”

The 2013 Preakness will be remembered as the downfall of Orb and his quest to win the Triple Crown for the old-school team of trainer Shug McGaughey and co-owners Stuart Janney III and the Phipps family. While it was a bitter blow to the traditionalists who had relished their unforgettable trip down memory lane in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), the Preakness provided another great storyline, filled with historical relevance.

Lukas’s victory was his 14th in a classic event, breaking the record he held with the great “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons. And to have a 77-year-old trainer win a classic with a horse ridden by 50-year-old jockey who had had returned to the saddle this year after being retired for seven years, made it one of the most memorable dual comebacks ever. For Gary Stevens, who has won classics for both Lukas and Baffert, he now has three victories in the Derby, three in the Preakness, and three in the Belmont. The only other jockey with at least three wins in all three races is the legendary Eddie Arcaro.

But before the seven-year itch brought him back to the saddle, Stevens' thrills existed only through movies and television. The last great horse he rode before his return was "Seabiscuit" in 2003, and when you're aboard the winner of the "Race of the Century," it doesn't even matter that it was pretend and existed only on the big screen.

Just when Stevens and his achy 50-year-old knees were resigned to riding in contrived races, even as an aging crotchety rider on TV, HBO pulled the plug on their series "Luck" and Stevens was thrust back into the real world again, which meant sitting behind a microphone and analyzing races and watching other jockeys hop aboard good horses right in front of him. He could practically reach out and touch them.

Finally, the urge to get back in the saddle proved too great and Stevens decided to embark on the unthinkable -- a riding comeback, this time on real-life horses in real-life races. His return was an immediate success, but when he went through his first slump, he began having doubts. That is, until a tough, tenacious colt named Oxbow made it all worthwhile on a chilly, damp afternoon in Baltimore. 

So, history marches on in the 2013 Triple Crown. Although Oxbow is owned by Calumet Farm, it has no other connection to the dynasty built by Warren Wright and continued by his widow Lucille Markey other than the name and property. The Wright family is gone and the famed devil’s red colors were purchased years ago by the Brazilian group Stud TNT, but the record books will still bear the name of the now eight-time Preakness-winning owner.

Just when it looked as if Thoroughbred racing had lost its historical significance and had been taken over by a younger generation of owners, trainers and jockeys, here comes names like Phipps, Janney, and Calumet Farm; McGaughey and Lukas; and Gary Stevens in the first two legs of the Triple Crown to remind everyone there are no age limits in the Sport of Kings, where passion and hard work fuel youthful exuberance.

And then we come to Oxbow, who like Orb and Preakness runner-up Itsmyluckyday, is a throwback to another era, when horses made of sinews of steel raced hard and raced often, regardless of the track, surface, and distance.

If any horse deserved to be rewarded with a classic victory it is Oxbow, a son of Awesome Again – Tizamazing, by Cees Tizzy. What makes this pedigree so remarkable is that Awesome Again won the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and Tizamazing’s dam, Cees Song also produced Tiznow, two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic; Budroyale, who raced 52 times, finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic; and Tizso, dam of Paynter, the 2012 Haskell Invitational (gr. I) winner who was beaten a neck in the Belmont Stakes and later overcame tremendous odds to survive a series of ordeals that would have killed most horses. And now Cees Song has the dam of a Preakness winner. It should also be pointed out that all the aforementioned horses are full siblings by Cees Tizzy.

With his Preakness victory, Oxbow now has raced 11 times, the last 10 in a seven-month period, during which he has competed at seven different tracks in six different states from New York to California and as far south as Louisiana and Arkansas. He’s been ridden by seven different jockeys, and each time, he ran hard, often on or near the pace.

In his six races prior to the Preakness, all two-turn graded stakes, he had to overcome bad posts, wide trips, premature moves, and even being taken back to last in a 10-horse field. Four times in a five-race period he drew either post 10 or 11 and got hung wide every time, then was moved prematurely. In the Kentucky Derby he had to break from the dreaded rail. Despite making a big move to challenge for the lead along the inside through suicidal fractions of :22.57, :45.33, and 1:09.80 over a sloppy track on which he had never raced, he still managed to finish sixth in the 19-horse field and was the only horse who raced near the hot pace to finish in the top half of the field.

The only time in those six races he drew a good post and had a clean trip, he won the LeComte Stakes (gr. III) by 11 1/2 lengths, defeating eventual Kentucky Derby runner-up Golden Soul. In the Preakness, he drew perfectly in post 6, while Orb drew the rail, accompanied by a chorus of groans.

It was a frustrating winter and spring for Lukas, who kept insisting Oxbow was a special horse, despite his defeats. The colt, bred in Kentucky by Richard Santulli’s Colts Neck Stables, had been purchased at the Keeneland September yearling sale by Brad Kelley’s Bluegrass Hall, which has since morphed into Calumet Farm, for $250,000.

“That is a serious horse,” Lukas said of Oxbow back in January when Kelley still raced under the name Bluegrass Hall. “He’s maturing and getting better, and has such an efficiency of action. He enjoys it and gets in that cruising speed and just stays there.”

But after the LeComte romp came a tough half-length defeat in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) under Jon Court and a head defeat in the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) under Mike Smith, both times having to race very wide and making a premature move. When Gary Stevens hopped aboard for the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) and took the colt back to last and way out of his comfort zone, he felt he had learned a lot about him and looked forward to riding him back in the Kentucky Derby. But the blazing pace and being stuck down on the inside compromised his chances, and when Stevens worked him a half in :49 4/5 at Churchill Downs May 13 and saw how beautifully he relaxed, he started feeling as if the third time might be the charm. He and Oxbow were now a team who appeared for the first time to be in sync with each other.

Stevens needed a boost about now, as his once remarkable comeback had hit a snag and he began having doubts for the first time whether it was a wise move coming back.

Lukas was getting more and more confident with each passing day, but he felt Orb was an “exceptional horse” and a potential Triple Crown winner, and that tempered whatever enthusiasm he normally would have before a big race. Lukas also had a talented colt in Will Take Charge, who got stopped while moving with Orb in the Derby, and he threw his speedy colt Titletown Five into the mix for good measure.

Although both his main  hopes were leading 3-year-olds, with Will Take Charge having already beaten Oxbow in the Rebel and now a threat coming off the Derby debacle, Lukas’s face always seemed to light up when he discussed Oxbow.

“If he were a basketball player, he’d be a complete gym rat,” Lukas said. “He’s a tough sonofagun, and you wouldn’t be able to get him out of there. I told Gary if you go ahead and hook anybody (in the Preakness) he’ll bring them to their knees, because there’s no quit in him. If he gets the trip he’s definitely dangerous.”

Lukas’s lady friend, Laurie Krause, who has been in the horse industry all her life in the horse show world, said she would be terrified to ride Oxbow.

“That horse just cracks me up,” she said. “He’s like a little fire-breathing dragon. He has a Napoleon complex. It’s like, ‘I may be little, but you don’t want to mess with me.’ Wayne is crazy about all his horses, but he’s really fond of this one.”

There were two other works prior to the Preakness that raised the proverbial eyebrows and both were pretty much identical. On the Sunday before the race, Itsmyluckyday worked five furlongs between races at Monmouth Park and lit up the track with a :47 1/5 half, out five furlongs in :59 3/5 to the cheers of the crowd.

Trainer Eddie Plesa had made a big move following Itsmyluckyday’s 15th-place finish in the Derby, in which the colt didn’t seem to handle the sloppy track. Plesa had a chance to get John Velazquez to ride the Holy Bull (gr. III) and Gulfstream Park Derby winner and he grabbed it, replacing regular rider Elvis Trujillo.

It was Trujillo, however, who worked Itsmyluckyday. Following the work, Plesa and Trujillo put their arms around each other, and Plesa told him, “I just want to thank you. I owe you.”

Trujillo replied, “I want to thank you for the opportunity and I wish you the best of luck.”

The following day came the much-anticipated work by Orb, who was scheduled to van down to Baltimore later than same morning. The son of Malibu Moon indicated his sharpness as well, working his half in :47 flat, out in :59 2/5.

On Wednesday morning, Lukas and his eight-horse contingent arrived at Pimlico following a 12 1/2-hour van ride from Louisville.

“The horses are doing better than I am,” said Lukas, as he set up shop in his favorite corner of the Preakness Stakes barn. “That’s a long hard trip. At my age, you wouldn’t think I’d be in that truck for that many hours.”

Later that day, Mylute, Departing, and Govenor Charlie arrived on a flight from Louisville. The Preakness would be a reunion of sorts, with Orb and Departing (owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider) having grown up in the same paddock at Claiborne, adding to the old-time movie theme of this year’s Triple Crown.

The following morning, Lukas jogged his three Preakness horses, and as expected, Oxbow was like a coiled spring, jogging briskly off the track as if he wanted to do a lot more.

But it was Oxbow’s gallop the next morning that raised the spirits of everyone in the Lukas camp. The pocket rocket, who was always a handful to gallop, demonstrated the kind of controlled aggression Lukas was hoping to see. Lukas and exercise rider Rudy Quevedo had been working on getting the colt to relax and this gallop told them they had succeeded.

“I’ve been on him since he was a baby,” Quevedo said. “He has a small neck and he pulls so hard he’s difficult to gallop. Some people on TV keep saying that he gallops sideways, but he doesn’t gallop sideways; he’s just so strong you have to pull on him, because he wants to go all the time.

“But, oh, man, this last gallop, I jogged him straight and then galloped him from the wire back to the seven-eighths pole. He was strong, but relaxed this time, and when he came off the track he was jumping and kicking. I told Wayne, ‘We got this race.’”

Lukas added, “I’ve been working all week on him. I’ve even done some creative training to get him to relax. I’ve changed a few things up a little bit; gave him some open gallops; went backwards a couple of days. I know one thing; we haven’t seen his best.”

The morning of the race, Lukas was confidently talking about his superfectas, if indeed he actually bet superfectas. At the other end of the barn, McGaughey appeared to be relieving some tension by first sweeping the entire area inside and outside the entrance to the barn and raking the same area for about 15 minutes. Dell Hancock and Dilschneider showed up around 5:30 to watch Departing go to the track. “I wouldn’t miss it,” Dilschneider said.

Plesa, who was thrilled with the way Itsmyluckyday was looking and galloping, said on a scale of one to 10, his colt was a 10-plus. All he was concerned about was the weather, which was calling for possible intermittent showers.

“He’s been doing so great mentally and physically, I wish the race was last week,” he said. “I wish it was yesterday. I wish it was the first race today.”

The previous morning, Mylute had entertained a group of school kids by allowing them to pet him, while he just stood there like an old pony. A few yards away, the colt’s co-owner, Paul Bulmahn, of GoldMark Farm, was happily raking up manure outside the barn and dumping it in the manure pile. Now that’s an owner you have to admire.

Except for a light drizzle that fell for a short while in mid-afternoon, the day was dry and the track was fast, much to the delight of Plesa and most of the others.

Orb was pounded at the windows, his odds plummeting to 3-5 by post time. Everyone it seemed wanted to grab a piece of history.

The running of the race was for the most part uneventful. Stevens broke well on Oxbow, getting a minor bump from Will Take Charge, and cruised up to the lead, where Goldencents awaited after pretty much crawling to the front. Stevens looked over at Kevin Krigger, way up in the saddle on Goldencents, and saw that he was not exactly interested in any confrontations. Stevens didn’t go looking to play the role of pacesetter; it was just handed to him. Not only did Krigger not want it, neither did Julien Leparoux on Titletown Five. The speedy Govenor Charlie broke a step slowly and then was pinched back a little, winding up near the back of the pack. That left Oxbow with a length lead going into the first turn, a surprising turn of events, considering Goldencents’ trainer said the morning of the race, “We’re going.”

Stevens found himself in almost the exact same position he was in the race before on Calumet’s Skyring in the Dixie, stealing away on a non-contested lead.

Orb had broken cleanly and had the inside route all to himself, but Joel Rosario didn’t seem to want any part of the rail and eased Orb out a couple of paths. But without an escape route he was forced to remain inside horses, as the others bunched up around him. Velazquez had Itsmyluckyday out in the clear on the outside in fourth as Will Take Charge and Mylute brought up the rear through an opening quarter in :23.94.

Oxbow was still lulling them asleep on the lead through a half in :48.60, as Rosario managed to pick his way through horses and into contention, moving up into fourth, then third. But just when it looked as if Orb was going take matters in his own hands he began to lose touch with the leaders and surprisingly dropped back to seventh, while seeming fairly disinterested at that point. It is very possible, however, he was struggling with the track. Rosie Napravnik, on Mylute, had originally intended on following Orb passing the stands, but when she saw how deep the inside was, she said, "I'm getitng out of here."

When Stevens hung up a 1:13.26 three-quarters, the handwriting was on the wall. A horse with Oxbow’s tactical speed, toughness, and pedigree wasn’t about to call it quits. Stevens must have felt like a bank robber hopping in the getaway car with no one even noticing that the bank had been robbed. All he kept thinking was, "Shame on everybody."

“When I saw Oxbow’s ears fluttering back and forth at the three-eighths pole, I thought of the 1988 Kentucky Derby (aboard Winning Colors) and I asked him to kick in from there and try to get some separation from the field,” he said.

It was now obvious that Orb wasn’t going to be a factor. Departing looked to be menacing along the inside, but it was Itsmyluckyday and Mylute who proved to be the strongest horses, although the latter had a lot of ground to make up off such a soft pace. Departing had no kick after turning for home and Goldencents was done.

Oxbow, meanwhile did kick into another gear through a :24.88 quarter and spurted away to a three-length lead. The Oxbow Incident was nearing its conclusion. Itsmyluckyday took up the chase, with Mylute trying to close the gap, another two lengths behind. Orb was going at an even pace, but his best hope was a fourth-place finish. Stevens went to a series of right-handed whips and Oxbow kept finding more. Itsmyluckyday continued to peck away at the lead, but had no chance at this point of catching Oxbow.

With a solid final three-sixteenths in :19.40, Oxbow hit the wire 1 3/4 lengths in front of Itsmyluckyday, with a gallant Mylute falling a half-length short of the place spot. It was another 6 3/4 lengths back to Orb in fourth. The final time of 1:57.54 for the 1 3/16 miles was the slowest Preakness since Carry Back in 1961. It must be noted, however, that the previous day’s Pimlico Special (gr. III) was run in 1:58.50, with a three-quarter fraction in 1:14.18. The 1 1/8-mile Black-Eyed Susan, also the day before, was run in a sluggish 1:52.73.

So, for Stuart Janney, his Triple Crown attempt is not going end in victory at Belmont, as the poets would script it, in the shadow of Ruffian’s grave. For McGaughey and the Phipps family, there will be no Part Two to their long-awaited Kentucky Derby dream.

For Gary Stevens, however, he has gone from playing a broken down washed up jockey on TV to reliving real-life images of Silver Charm and Point Given draped in black-eyed susans, proving that the best scripts are the ones you write yourself.

For Wayne Lukas, he no longer lives life in excess and now is content merely being content. And that means being around his 48 horses every morning, bonding with other trainers, and even riding in a van with them for 12 1/2 hours. The only similarity between Lukas today and the old Lukas is that when he gets off that van after 12 1/2 hours, there isn’t a single crease in his jeans.

He admittedly is more comfortable now in his own skin and no longer feels he has to wake up every morning proving to others he is a superior horseman. Although he says it would have been great for racing to have Orb trying for the Triple Crown, he “gets paid to spoil the dreams,” not to mention having the satisfaction of seeing his training skills turn an aggressive free spirit like Oxbow into a classic winner.

As for Lukas still going strong at 77, Laurie Krause says, “He’s dynamic, he really is.”

But like another dynamo, Oxbow, Lukas also has learned how to relax, and after 13 years of trying to recapture past glories, he, too, is a classic winner.

All photos are by Steve Haskin.

Wayne Lukas liked what he saw from Oxbow in his final gallop Friday

Not enough light to nail the focus on this, but the action was good and showed how keen Orb was before his Friday gallop

Even after his gallop, Orb still is in the bit with his mouth open

Mylute has plenty of little hands petting him at once, as he entertains a group of school kids

No one looked or trained any better than Itsmyluckyday

Shug apparently had a lot of nervous energy on Preakness morning, as he swept and then raked the area in and around his barn for some 15 minutes

Orb is still on his toes before the race

Next three shots need no explanation

Happy Hall of Famers reunited in victory

That's the Lukas victory smile we all remember

Cake cutting time


Leave a Comment:

Mister Frisky

Hello Steve,Congrats on the tri hit.I had that with the exacta,it was a nice little return for a small investment.Orb is a very nice horse but there was way too much hype and TC talk before the Preakness.Im old enough to remember the last 3 TC winners,even saw 2 in person.I know the fans want one bad but, maybe people should you tube Affirmed.Once you see how great he was that explains why there hasn't been one since him.Now Oxbow,you were all over him for months.Best pedigree on the track, anywhere.The great Awesome Again strikes again,with Tiznows full sis on the bottom,wow.And finallly it's great for Coach Lukas and GL Stevens.Love that he runs his horses often.On the undercard he had Skyring and Optimizer making their 25th career starts.They are 4yr old colts,not geldings,sound as a pound.That my friends is the real "old school".

20 May 2013 11:51 PM

Great, great article Steve.  So a battle can be won with just a little Oxbow after all!  I too am calling the Preakness "The Oxbow Incident", after that 1943 western movie by that name starring Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, Anthony Quinn.  Since I am an old movie buff that is the first thing that came to mind.  Congratulations to Oxbow.  I loved him all along and he got my cutest vote, but I so wanted a TC winner or Lucky to win.  I am happy for Gary Stevens to come out of retirement to a Preakness win.  Little Oxbow seems to have that same resolve and grit and fighting spirit just like Paynter.  They must get that from Awesome Again.  Fine little colt indeed, a little devil just as I thought.  Congratulations too on Lucky's 2nd, it proves he did not relish the slop at Churchill and that Rob Whiteley is a great breeder.

But "The Oxbow Incident" left me still scratching my head and saying are we NEVER going to see a TC winner in our lifetime EVER AGAIN???????  Maybe the colt that can do it is not even born yet.  On to the Belmont.  It's the Pletcher fillies against maybe the Derby and Preakness winners and runners-up.  Start marketing NYRA.

21 May 2013 12:10 AM

I forgot to ask a question in the last post.  Since the pace was slower, couldn't Rosario have cut diagonally in back of the field right away saving ground and going wide and start picking horses off?  Why did he put Orb in a place that is not conducive with his running style.  He had room for a brief few seconds but got bottled up and seemed to be regressing back.  Does this mean Orb cannot rate off a slow pace and does not have the tactical speed I thought he had and is a deep closer like Zenyatta.  So why was the style changed?

21 May 2013 12:14 AM

Every cloud has a silver lining, and this triple crown drought is a cloud, make no mistake about that. Another year, no 3 year old star able to shine bright enough to etch their mark in history as the 12th triple crown king. I hope the filly, should she enter, wins the Belmont. I hope Wise Dan continues to have a good year and I hope he runs in the Breeder's Cup Classic and leaves the rest of the field in his dust. There will always be another crop of potential triple crown winners, more hopes, dreams, for those of us who are suckers for punishment. Love the "Ox Tale", that sums it up.

21 May 2013 12:28 AM

I guess I'll ask again, since no one was able to answer my question in the last blog. And I was hoping it would be addressed in this blog, because if anyone would know the answer or be able to get one, it would be Steve.

What are the two white objects that fly from Orb in the stretch, and then land on the track?

Although I hate to promote it, the NBC website has a clearer view of this during their race coverage.

The first object appears in the air just past Orb as the camera first views the horses straight-on in the stretch. Then the object falls to the ground. About 1:36 into the race.

The second white object appears at about 1:49 and you can now see that it has clearly come from Orb somewhere, although it's not clear from where exactly. And both objects can afterward be seen as the horses keep running, lying on the track.

What are the white objects? In all my 30+ years of watching racing, I have never seen anything like this, and I would just like an answer.

At first I thought that perhaps the first object was a bird, because it didn't land immediately. But then it did and landed on the track RIGHT BEHIND running horses. Birds don't do that.

Then I thought it looked like a napkin, because the first thing floated a little. But the second white object hit the ground almost immediately.

Then the worst goes through my mind - was this a 'sponging' incident of sorts? I mean, after the second white object was left behind, Orb took off and got up for 4th. And almost inexplicably he loses ground on the backstretch, just as soon as he would need that air.

I don't mean to accuse anyone of anything. But what am I to think when the incident I speak of gets NO response and isn't even addressed ANYWHERE in papers or articles, even though it is obvious, even in replays?

Please help by explaining this.

21 May 2013 12:32 AM

Steve; I've been waiting for your take on the Preakness, and as usual, you do not disappoint.  I haven't always been Mr. Lucas' biggest fan, but can't deny his success and his longevity. Likewise, I haven't always been Gary Stevens biggest fan; it seemed to me he was a little lax in keeping commitments, but he almost seems a different person this time around.  Less arrogant, or more humble; either way, I like him much better.  And while I was truly hoping for a triple crown try, since Orb could only manage 4th, Oxbow  really wasn't the spoiler.  Furthermore, I believed the Preakness, not the Belmont, would be the tougher race for Orb and I'm not really surprised by the result, though I did expect a better effort from him.  Steve mentioned Orb seemed "disinterested" falling back mid-race.  My thought was that he had "checked out".  Frankly, I'm surprised he came on for 4th though it was probably more a case of other horses slowing, than of Orb coming on.  I still believe that if Orb completes in the Belmont, he has a very good chance for 2 out of 3.  Somehow, I don't see Oxbow carrying his speed a mile and one-half and I don't think the other jocks will let Gary "walk the dog" as they did in the Preakness.  Of course, there are some nice horses who skipped the Preakness and a couple that didn't run in either the Derby or Preakness that hope to have their day.  Yes, I'm disappointed we will have to wait another year for a potential TC winner, but I'm looking forward to a competitive race come Belmont day.

21 May 2013 12:34 AM
The Deacon

Fabulous Steve just fabulous!!

Glad to see Calumet and Phipps back on top. Both deserving, legendary impacts in this hallowed sport.

Gary Stevens is amazing, maybe McCarron and Pat Day will resume riding again, who knows maybe even Jerry Baily.

Why Not!!

Sorry Dr. D: no Triple Crown winner again this year. Maybe there are just too many horses being bred nowadays. The 20 horse Derby field has to play a part in this.............

21 May 2013 1:12 AM

The Belmont becomes a great betting race. I'd love to see at least 11 starters. Whose going to set the pace? Will it be a lively one? What will Orb's odds be? I do believe Revolutionary will be the favorite at about 5/2. The final time will be in the 2:28 range....I'd be amazed if they went any faster.

21 May 2013 3:02 AM
Derby Dew

Steve, thank you, as always, for painting this rich, colorful Preakness canvas for fans everywhere to enjoy.

Although, once again disappointed by the Triple Crown drought, the story of the connections of Preakness winner Oxbow is no less worthy of our need to cheer on a Hall of Fame trainer and jockey who still have what it takes to perform on the big stage.  Good stuff!

One minor detail needs to be addressed.  If Brad Kelley is going to retain the name of Calumet Farm for his stable, he should consider buying back the famed devil red silks from the Brazilian who stole (@ $12,000?) them at auction.  Can't believe they went that cheap.

Once again, thank you Steve.  You're the best.

21 May 2013 6:11 AM

Really enjoyed your recap of the Preakness Mr. Haskin.  Two of my favorite phrases: "...proving that the best scripts are the ones you write yourself." and "...to remind everyone there are no age limits in the Sport of Kings, where passion and hard work fuel youthful exuberance."

Thank you for once again expressing in words the heart within a story.

21 May 2013 7:23 AM

WOW! SO OXBOW. Is the greatest now.

ORB had a bad race, yes but now he 's old news?

I 'll wait for a least one more race before I send him to the HALL OF FAME. (Oxbow)

This was the slowest PREAKNESS since 1961and

Oxbow benefited from it.

He won and deserves credit and accolades ..but let's keep some perspective.

21 May 2013 8:26 AM

Once again, you nailed it-great story.

21 May 2013 8:38 AM

Worth the wait.  While not written in a sentimental way, I have tears in my eyes thinking of Oxbow and his small neck and will to win.  While not my pick, I now know he should have been. Loved the article and the pictures.

21 May 2013 9:06 AM

Wonderful as always.  Was so happy to see your write up!!!!!  

21 May 2013 9:08 AM
Steve Haskin

Thanks, everyone. I actually have added several more graphs about Gary Stevens, and added a few other things throughout, including a few quotes and descriptions on the running of the race.

Pas, I will take a look at the replay. I'm assuming youre referring to the Preakness and not the Derby.

21 May 2013 9:41 AM
Shelby's Best Pal

Another wonderful story!  Thank you for bringing it to those of us watching from TVs across the country who didn't make the trip to Baltimore.  It is great how you discover so many interesting side stories and report them for the readers.  Oxbow was my choice in the Arkansas Derby and Kentucky Derby. After losing two times, I decided not to bet him in the Preakness, though I will admit to a twinge of "should I?". And the third time would have been the charm.  Oh well, I guess it's healthy to feel like a dodo some of the time. I have three weeks to recover.  Still think Orb is a special horse too.

21 May 2013 10:22 AM
Shelby's Best Pal

I met D. Wayne Lukas at Louisiana Downs when he won the Super Derby with Editor's Note.  He was so nice to the fans.  That is what I remember about him.  Plus he looked like a million bucks and smelled just great.

21 May 2013 10:24 AM

One more bit of praise heaped on your transcendent race writing art couldn't hurt ...right? Savvy overview, engaging insights and most importantly - your heartfelt love of the sport and admiration of its "heroes" rings through and true! Thanks Steve for elevating the object of our obsession-thoroughbred horse racing!!

21 May 2013 10:39 AM

Interesting observation, Pas. The race Orb ran seemed odd to me. To stop running so suddenly and then come back to be fourth is somewhat unusual. It also did not appear that Orb ran into any serious traffic.

That being said, I'm thrilled for Gary Stevens. If anyone deserves a successful comeback, it's him.

And again, thank you, Steve, for making the stories behind the racing to come alive.

21 May 2013 10:40 AM

Wonderful article once again.  Thank you Steve.  Loved the comment about the horses of the past running hard, often, at various distances, and various tracks.  We need more distance races - 1.25, 1.5, 1.75 miles, to find some stamina in the bloodlines. I think the thoroughbreds of today aren't raced often enough and not tested enough.  I'm all for animal welfare, but until they are more thoroughly tested as athletes I don't think we'll have another Triple Crown winner...unless we get another Secretariat.

Congratulations to Lukas and Stevens - respected, excellent, old school team!

21 May 2013 10:41 AM

Steve: Pas is right!! I just watched and re-watched the NBC video...strange...very strange.  It's true..it looks like solid objects and yes, they do remain on the track, although one appears to me to be trampled by another horse and disappears underfoot. I am curious now, too.  Looking forward to your analysis of this.

21 May 2013 10:56 AM
Steve Haskin

Pas, to be honest, I have no idea what that is, and he did start running after the second one landed. I wont even broach that subject right now until I have some knowledgeable people look at it. It looked as if it traveled too far to be what you mentioned, but I will look into it farther.

21 May 2013 11:30 AM
Steve Haskin

Stevie P. thank you so much for those beautiful words. I really appreciate it.

21 May 2013 11:31 AM
Steve Haskin

Also, the first object looked awfully big and just seemed to float for a while before landing a long ways away. Very odd.

21 May 2013 11:36 AM
Rachel Masen

Pas, I see it.  I didn't notice that before...

That is quite odd.

21 May 2013 11:40 AM
Steve Haskin

Also, it looked too big to be what you hint at. That would be something very small and wouldnt fly off like that, but I say that with no degree of expertise on the subject. I am, however, having someone with the expertise look at it and he will get back to me.

21 May 2013 11:46 AM
Frank J.

Steve, could it possibly have a pair or 2 of Joel's goggles? I just watched it more than once that's all I can think of.

21 May 2013 11:52 AM

Well i bet on Orb to get beat only problem was i chose the wrong horse.It was my contention he'd get some traffic problems from that one hole,when he made his move on the backstretch Titletown Five who was on his inside hip was asked for everything from Julien and went up to block the inside road,at this point is where he started to backpeddle costing all chance,Titletown Five shure did his job.

21 May 2013 11:56 AM
Steve Haskin

OK, I have your answer. The first one came from Departing, the second from Orb. It definitely was the celophane wrapping that jockeys put over their goggles before the race to keep them dry, then they peel it off before they go in the gate and usually tuck it in somewhere. But once in a while they can lose it during the race.

21 May 2013 12:03 PM
Jean in Chicago

Mary--from your comment in Steve's last column--about OxBow not having a fine pedigree.  Steve pretty much covered all the stuff I was going to put in. Budroyale also finished in the money 31 of those 52 starts, including 2nd in not only the Breeder's Cup classic, but also the Hollywood Gold Cup and the Santa Anita Handicap.

 I'd add the presence of In Reality.  When Dr.Fager and Damascus were fighting it out, In Reality was in there with them.   And a pedigree with Deputy Minister, Blushing Groom, Mr. Prospector, Lyphard and Seattle Slew looks pretty good to me.

 Awesome Again also produced Ghostzapper, Ginger Punch and Game On Dude, all of whom are pretty good horses by any measure.

21 May 2013 12:11 PM
Love 'em all

Always have been a big fan of Oxbow .... he's all heart ... gives 110%+ ... has that will to win and seems to really love what he's doing.  A happy horse is a winning horse, and Oxbow seems to be a very happy horse!  Please, keep him happy and healthy! I just love that little fella.

For those interested:  Found Oct., 2001 B-H article with tiny pic of Mike Smith wearing the old Calumet silks with Cagney (still a stud in Uruguay?) for his Brazilian owner ... winning the Carleton Burke at Santa Anita.  Last paragraph mentions the ownership of the Calumet silks.


Mr. Haskin, thank you ... you're the best.

21 May 2013 12:17 PM
anita b


 Great article as usual. I have been on an "O"-"O" all spring. Actually, days before the Preakness--I KNEW I couldn't bet an O-O exacta--that I have to in the Belmont.

 Want you to know that when my son worked at Saratogo in mid to late 90's, that Shug's stable area was always clean--the nicest area in the stables there.

I like the fact that the first 4 horses were in the Derby, too.

   Thanks again, Steve. Anita Carter

21 May 2013 12:31 PM

yes he was, I did a replay and saw what he saw I do not know what it was as I did not record the race.

21 May 2013 1:35 PM
Mister Frisky

@Jean in Chicago,I read Mary's comments as well.She might have ran for cover.Awesome Again is just like his daddy.Producing big time runners from the first crop to the last foal.Oxbow is one 3 yr old I wouldn't mind retiring after this season.Im sure the new Calumet has a few dozen mares waiting for him.With that pedigree,and a G1 classic under his belt,he could be the foundation sire that farm will need to really get going again.

21 May 2013 1:36 PM
Bill Two

I find it ironic that for years Pimlico was known as a track with a golden rail and then now it's the last place you want to be.  Amazing.  Hats off to Lukas and Stevens!  Score one for the old guys.

21 May 2013 1:46 PM

Sorry Dr. D: no Triple Crown winner again this year. Maybe there are just too many horses being bred nowadays. The 20 horse Derby field has to play a part in this.............

The Deacon 21 May 2013 1:12 AM.

There are less and less horses being bred for distance (longer route) stamina and more and more being bred for (sprint and shorter routes). The 20 horse Derby field hasn't affected this, the breeding has. The most recent chance of having a Triple Crown winner might have been last year, if I'll Have Another had not been hurt and been able to run in the Belmont. IMO.    

21 May 2013 1:59 PM


You must feel somehow vindicated by Oxbow's win in the Preakness.  All along you have been touting this colt as a much better horse than his record, not really getting a setup that suited his best running style.  Well, the Preakness couldn't have been more setup than if scripted just for him.  

To Alex's big fan

Don't overlook the dam side in Oxbow's pedigree.  Tiznow was the author of two of the gamest, grittiest performances in his two Breeder's Cup Classic wins.  In fact, many times, this has been recounted when reminiscing over Tiznow's wins.  Maybe that grit, determination and fire is coming from the dam side in Paynter and Oxbow's pedigrees as Tizamzing and Tizso are full sisters to Tiznow.  

In fact, if I am not mistaken, isn't Tiznow reviving a tail-male branch to Man O'War?

21 May 2013 2:47 PM
Sam Santschi

Steve,  Well done.  Starting to like that little, "tough sonofagun".  Got greedy and went for tri instead of exacta and Mylute spoiled it.  Funny thing, not even mad.  Always a big fan of Stevens.  Shocked by Departing's performance.  Belmont should be a real exciting race.  Maybe Lukas will end up cheering for Code West?

21 May 2013 2:49 PM
Soldier Course


I too wondered why JR didn't shoot Orb diagonally away from the rail asap after the break. Even if he'd had to pull back for a second to do this, it would not have been a problem given Orb's usual running style. For a while it looked like JR was attempting a Calvin.


Thank you for your observation. Poor Orb fell below the fold before the sun set at Pimlico. We live in a world now where trending is more important than enduring.

21 May 2013 3:33 PM
Steve Haskin

Livewire, I feel good that the horse was vindicated, not me. I just wanted to see him get good post and good trip, and he got both big-time and showed what he's capable of. And Gary Stevens fit him perfectly, but needed a couple of races to get on the same page with him.

21 May 2013 3:40 PM
Steve Haskin

Alex and Soldier, I, too, thought Rosario would take hold of him bring him off the rail, knowing how deep the rail was. That one hesitation put him in an uncompromising position. Even Rosie got the heck off the rail as soon as she saw what it was like down there. Departing looked menacing turning for home along the inside and just started laboring as soon they turned for home.

21 May 2013 3:44 PM
lunar spook

My preakness recap in one sentence: GOLDENCENTS is a grossly overated horse , how he won the santa anita still baffles my mind !!!

21 May 2013 3:50 PM
Soldier Course

The whole track was unusually deep for the Preakness. I can only imagine how the rail was. My mother (96YO) noticed the depth during the post parade, commenting that the horses seemed to be sinking.

21 May 2013 4:07 PM

All I have to say is, "Hooray for Gary Stevens!"

21 May 2013 5:05 PM

Great wrap-up, as usual, Steve.  Thanks for the pics also, they put it all together.  I especially like your take on Shug and his raking, maybe he needed that rooster to calm him down. I spent the 2011 Breeders Cup on the backside at CD and got a chance to meet D Wayne Lukas, very approachable and loves to talk horses.  Congratulations to Wayne, his team , Gary and Calumet.

I agree that Joel should have taken Orb back and moved him to the outside.  At the break they all, except Orb, moved to the middle of the track, before they began to string out.  By committing himself to the rail that early, Joel set himself up to be hemmed in.  

As I posted in your previous column, Orb was on a roll and had the opportunity to move up and outside of the leaders at the four and a half furlong pole, but, I believe Joel tightened up on him.  I think he had the room and the horse but decide it was too early and put the brakes on, discouraging Orb and costing him any chance of a win.  Orb is not as versatile as Revolutionary and after that take-up, he needed to gather himself and did get it back in gear and did make a good run to be fourth.    

21 May 2013 5:08 PM

Great race, even better article.  Thanks Steve - it's like our boots are on the ground with you.

Strange question for you - what color is Oxbow?  I've seen him listed as bay, but his coat shows up very differently in different images and on tv.  Obviously some of this has to do with whether he's dry or wet and the time of day, but sometimes he looks bay and sometimes he looks almost flea-bitten or roan.  

His damsire, Cee's Tizzy, and his sire, Relaunch, were brilliant grays, and his sire's sire, Intentionally, was an usual true-black, and both lines trace back to the unusual colorations of Bend Or and The Tetrarch.

Looking forward to the Belmont!

21 May 2013 5:12 PM

Wouldn't it be great if all of life was as a Steve Haskin's story? :-)

21 May 2013 5:56 PM

Once again rider error costs a race. If Rosie could see that the inside was too deep/tiring, why did JR keep Orb there and run him off his style? Calvin said it best when he won on Mine that Bird regarding Carl N's observations that "these are just 3 year olds, you can only expect them to run so far and so fast". Not an impressive race at all though good for Gary and D. Wayne who have given so much to the sport.

21 May 2013 6:46 PM

Steve and Soldier Course,

Thank you.  We all seem to be on the same wavelength about Orb's race, or should I say ride.  I thought it looked unusually deep too prior to the race on tv so again if it was that deep Rosario should have strategized differently before even exiting from the gate.  Orb's run was odd indeed but he did get up for 4th.  Steve used a key word "laboring" which is what they all seemed to be doing, except little Oxbow, hell bent cuppy or not!!!  I think Orb would have fared much better if Rosario had not taken him mid-pack, he's not a mid-pack runner or stalker.  it was uncomfortable and too deep to get out of it.


Great observation.  I did not see the white objects.  Glad Steve cleared it up for us.


Thanks for pointing out the dam's side of Paynter and Oxbow too. Yes you are right it could come from that side as well.  It is such a male dominated sport, the sires usually getting all the glory, that even I, a female, tend to forget the damn dams!!!!!

21 May 2013 6:49 PM

THANK YOU, STEVE! For this to not even be addressed seemed so perplexing to me. And while I have neither seen nor heard of the explanation before, I will certainly take your word for it.

21 May 2013 7:14 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

One of the flying objects might have been a cellophane wrapping but I think at least one of them was an Orbeo cookie that Rosario was snacking on when he was stuck on the rail, and he only got a chance to eat the outsides of the cookie before the inside flew out of his hand.

21 May 2013 7:19 PM
Steve Haskin

Pas, please do not take my word for it, take the word of a famous jockey and good friend of mine who I had watch it. He said that definitely is what it was "100%"

Peg645, that's a very nice thing to say. Thank you.

21 May 2013 8:54 PM
Jean in Chicago

Livewire:  yep: Man O' War, War Relic, Intent, Intentionally, In Reality, Relaunch, Cee's Tizzy, Tiznow.

  And if you look around back in his pedigree there's more Man O' War by way of War Admiral and more Fair Play down through Discovery.

  There is also a lot of Nearco from Nasrullah, Royal Charger and Northern Dancer.  I don't know how many generations you have to go in a pedigree before you can say that particular genes have no more influence or what effect it has when you keep inbreeding or backcrossing to a particular horse.              

 Hope springs eternal, but any breeder would be pretty silly to not pay as much attention to a dam's pedigree as to a stallion's.  

21 May 2013 9:50 PM

You just can't make this stuff up!  I was so disappointed in the HBO "Luck" series.  Why couldn't they have taken pages from the real world ?  What a wonderful mix of "agony of defeat" and "the thrill of victory" all in one two-week period! I did not like the sport through the eyes of a jaded and cynical ex-con, as depicted by Milch, although I must say Gary Stevens' role fit him to a tee. Of course, under the pen of Steve Haskin, it's like a running high-class soap opera that keeps you coming back for more and more and more!  That was where David Milch missed a golden opportunity to depict the sport through the eyes of a D. Wayne Lukas, a Bob Baffert, and a Shug McGaughey.  Or the Phippses, the Janneys, the "new" Calumet.  So many stories, the highs, the lows. All that was needed was for Allen Jerkens or Ron McAnally to show up and the cast of characters just jump off the pages of history.  Lukas seems to have mellowed with age (don't we all?!), but he has had his share of triumphs and tragedy (thinking of his son getting trampled by Tabasco Cat and changing all their lives forever).  Oh, what might have been for a series like "Luck" to have been in the hands of a Steve Haskin or Bill Nack.  This sport more than any other puts everyone in it deeply in touch with their emotions.  It is impossible not to get a lump in your throat when witnessing a Rachel Alexandra Preakness, or her Woodward, or Zenyatta's thrilling career, and she's still writing history.  Interest in her is insatiable, as nearly 125,000 Facebook fans can attest.  The remarkable Frankel whose trainer has had so many obstacles in his path, and the incomparable Black Caviar, whose breathtaking feats may never be matched, and the hopes of an entire nation rested on her shoulders.  Yes, there is the seamier side of the sport, and had it not been entirely the theme of the series to focus on that one dimension, had it included some of the type of drama and excitement of these two weeks just concluded,  "Luck" could have been so much more.  Now, of course, the failure of "Luck" was instrumental in a remarkable comeback of a 50-year old jockey!  Wow!  As I said in the beginning, you just can't make this stuff up!  Thanks for a wonderful piece and for providing us with more details and "the rest of the story"!  I relish your "back story" posts more than any other.

21 May 2013 9:50 PM

Steve,congrats to you for sticking with Oxbow even after I wrote that Oxbow would take you to the Poor's house.Everyone who read your Articles will know that you were always very high on Oxbow.Your keen eyes and knowledge of horse flesh makes you the number one (ichi Ban) thoroughbred writer in the world.  I really mean that. So because of you I was able to hit the exacta. I owe you a Red Stripe Beer.Excellent work Steve.

21 May 2013 9:59 PM
Plod Boy Phil


The inside was too deep ?

Did anyone watch the first race in which Rosario, from the 1 hole at a route of ground, stayed inside until midway on the turn then swung out to win going away.  

Orb did not get the perfect trip or Flow like he did in the Derby,  and as a result, he was soundly beaten.  Giacomo got a less favorable trip in his Preakness too - he managed to finish third.  

Horses change from one race to another - it's call form cycles. Peaking under a perfect scenario results in only one direction of travel - down.

Fear not. The next super horse will be here in less than 50 weeks.

21 May 2013 10:02 PM
El Kabong


I heard after the fact, that they added a substantial amount of sand to Pimlico before the Preakness. Did you hear anything about this, and if so, would that not explain some of the slow times and laboring?

21 May 2013 10:36 PM
El Kabong

Dr. D,

After hours of review, digital enhancement, technical assistance on the matter, my associates and I have confirmed the presence of Oreo filling in addition to Ding Dong cream filling. A hostess of bad innuendo here. News at eleven.

21 May 2013 10:41 PM

Pas : Your comment got me curious, then re-watched the replay and got even more curious.  At first I thought it was a patch on the jockey's left shoulder but I'm glad Steve found the answer, his (or his jockey friend) made more sense hehe.  I must say though, you have a pretty good set of eyes, I watched the replay after the live race and didn't even notice it until I saw your post here.

Steve :  I don't post much in your blogs as I enjoy just reading and learning specially from you.  It's really a joy to read your articles, not only because you are the best thoroughbred writer in history of mankind but it does give me a glimpse of what it's like to be close to the owners, the people that actually works with the horses, and last but not the least, the horses themselves.  Thank you.

21 May 2013 10:42 PM


Great observation too.  JR had that split second to move Orb out of there and chose not too.  Too early to move him generally but judging they were knee deep in dirt and too close to that rail he should have gotten him out then and there.  Better yet not even been on the rail and gone outside early.  But we can sit and armchair quarterback this thing forever we were not in that saddle having to make that decision.  Being that Orb got up for 4th I am not faulting the horse, just the ride he got.  The outcome may have been different especially if Orb had a lot left in him at that pivotal point.  Oh well, the Oxbow Incident is done.  I am really hoping a filly does not win the Belmont, although it would be cool again, but it says that this crop of males is mediocre and here we go again with 3 different winners of the tc races,  But that hasn't transpired yet, hopefully one of the Derby, Preakness winners or runners-up aces the Belmont.  But I still contend that the time lost hanging near that rail trying to get out, JR could have had Orb outside already midway picking off horses by then.  

My heart goes out to the folks in Oklahoma and all those horses that perished.  It's horrible.  Our NJ News said last night that NJ was ready to go assist as we were assisted from Oklahoma after Hurricane Sandy.  

21 May 2013 10:43 PM
The Deacon

Derbygal: More horses are being bred in today's racing world. I wasn't questioning what distance they are being bred to run at.

I heard Shug say it, Bailey on the air say it and I heard Baffert say it as well. I have also read about it.

I believe the 20 horse field in the Derby has a lot to do about it as well. Injuries in larger fields,

it takes more out of a horse running around, through and over larger fields. By the time the Belmont rolls around the horse is either hurt or exhausted. Trainers prepare fresh horses in the Belmont all the time.

21 May 2013 10:52 PM
Ted from LA

Dr. Drunkinbum is correct.  However, the first one was not cellophane wrapping either.  It was clearly a Starbucks ice coffee cup.  Watch the replay.

21 May 2013 11:41 PM

Two Preakness comments only, 98% of Handicappers for DRF,BloodHorse,HRTV,ESPN and NBC all jumped on the 'ORB' bandwagon to get a TC Winner...I say they should NEVER make a prediction for a race just give all info only..they are not special Handicappers, but just average bust out...2nd, a good Handicapper 9 out of 10 times had Tinstletown Five and Goldencents to the Lead, Governor Charlie,Oxbow,Itsmyluckyday next then the closers...then we'd see what would happen, Oxbow who I like win by default of a pace set up and I lost my bet and I did have Exacta in Derby. Preakness was a failed race once the gates opened, anyone who won with OXBOW was a amateur Handicapper. My take. No one educated in Handicapping picked Oxbow to win on the lead, if they say they did it's a lie....

21 May 2013 11:48 PM

I just watched the replay of the Florida Derby to see where Johnny V. had Orb.  Orb was in fifth at the 1/2 on the OUTSIDE.  Rosario won the Derby with Orb on the OUTSIDE.  I am surprised Shug isn't questioning this Preakness ride, Orb being kept out of his comfort zone by a jockey that knows his running style.  Even with Oxbow's win I still think Orb is special, the rail post, deep track, and jockey decision cooked him.  The rooster says they will live on to fight another day in the Belmont.

21 May 2013 11:52 PM

I believe those flying objects were me throwing away my tickets.

Was not even close on this race.

To all that hit congrats.

See you at the Belmont.

22 May 2013 9:08 AM

Lukas always rides the most gorgeous pony horses. wow.

22 May 2013 10:06 AM
Rusty Weisner

Plod Boy Phil,

That's an interesting Tuesday morning observation about Orb and the cycles of the moon.  

So who did you have?    

22 May 2013 10:08 AM

After both the Derby and Preakness it is pretty clear by the conditions of the race track that we have no idea how good any of these horses are yet. Hopefully the Belmont is fast and dry so we can make some sense of this years crop. Oxbow's win was more suspect due to pace and front runners having the advantage that day.

22 May 2013 10:16 AM
Plod Boy Phil

Rusty -

We were the only handicapping service that downgraded Orb moments after the Derby. Anyone who followed suit or made comparisons to Giacomo in the days leading up to the Preakness did so long after our data was in their hands.

Of course, posts here clearly documented this opinion.

Thanks for asking, lad.

22 May 2013 11:13 AM

Steve: Thanks for clearing up the matter of the object flying in "Orb-it"!  I must say one thing..it seems like the very keen eyed Pas sure had alot of us re-watching.  Loved the explanation from "Johnny"..true for me, too!

22 May 2013 11:20 AM
Pedigree Ann

'“That horse just cracks me up,” she said. “He’s like a little fire-breathing dragon. He has a Napoleon complex. It’s like, ‘I may be little, but you don’t want to mess with me.’ Wayne is crazy about all his horses, but he’s really fond of this one.”'

See, people? As I have paraphrased before, it isn't the size of the horse in the race, but the size of the race in the horse.

The original of this saying was often in my mind when we owned a smooth fox terrier, one of the types of small dog with a lot of fight in it (along with jaws like a steel trap).

22 May 2013 11:21 AM

Every race that Orb has won, he did it going 4-6 wide, no matter where he started.  He started in the 1 hole in the Fountain of Youth, yet he finished much the same as he did in all the others he won.  Joel rode him in his winning maiden and in the allowance race; Johnny V rode him in the Fl Derby and the FOY.  In each winning race, Orb came from at or near the back of the pack, making his move on the back stretch, well ahead of the turn, then moved into contention at the head of the stretch, at least 3 and 4 wide, every single time. Did not matter which chute he came out of, he rode the same winning forumula.  My frustration with Rosario's ride had to do with his apparent thinking he could change this horse's running style.  To me, an apprentice jockey would have looked at the charts and seen clearly that no matter what, he had to put Orb on the outside to get the best from the horse. In a 9-horse field, it should not have been an issue, (as it wasn't in the FOY, which was also a 9-horse field) yet Rosario hesitated and he cost the horse the opportunity to at least run his preferred race.  As we know, horses are creatures of habit, and they like consistency, they like to know what to expect.  No way to know for sure, but my hunch was Orb balked at where he was, it didn't "feel" right to him, and he said to heck with it.  He clearly does not like being hemmed in on the inside.

I would have a lot more respect for JR if he would have at least taken partial responsibility for Orb's poor showing, although the horse clearly had plenty of run to get up for 4th after essentially checking earlier. And I'm not saying take JR off the horse, because failure is a great teacher.  Gary Stevens had no problem assuming some responsibility for Oxbow's poor showing in the Arkansas Derby, and talked about what he learned.  That is the measure of class to me, when a jockey can give a fair analysis of his own ride and look for ways to improve.  Maybe Orb is a one-dimension horse, so what!  Round Table notably hated off tracks, and plenty of others have had their quirks.  We must move on, I know.  The Belmont looks to provide plenty of excitement, even without a TC on the line.  Always fun when a filly takes on the boys in this race, a la Rags to Riches!

22 May 2013 11:24 AM

I too was glad to see Oxbow take a win "for the old guys." D. Wayne Lukas started with Quarter horses, worked his way up to what I would call being a mega-trainer, and then, as often happens, started a decline as far as clients and truly top-notch horses go. But he never gave up. He always seemed to have a smile on his face and a ready quip for the cameras. I have never heard him say anything nasty or refuse to be interviewed. You have to appreciate his attitude through it all as he has his detractors and some are quite vocal about it. And what a wonderful comeback it has been for Gary Stevens! After years of knee problems and then retirement, he comes back to win the Preakness. If Orb couldn't win, I am glad it was Oxbow and his team. I am wondering if we will ever have another Triple Crown winner too. Breeders in this country want precocious 2 year olds that are full of speed. They don't breed for stamina; in fact, I have read where stallions who have stamina in their pedigrees are deemed unfashionable by most breeders in this country. Makes no sense to me to think that way since racing's most coveted prize is still the Triple Crown. We won't get have one with the emphasis on 6 furlong specialists IMO.

So, we wait another year to see if the seemingly impossible becomes possible. Until then, I wish everyone the best of luck in the Belmont Stakes.

Also, my thoughts and prayers go out to the horsemen and women and all who have suffered such tremendous loss in the tornado in Moore, OK. God bless you all.

22 May 2013 11:53 AM

what i find amazing is that people are saying that oxbow's preakness confrims his talnt, while orb's preakness puts his talent into question.

oxbow has won exactly 3 races in his life--a MSW, the lecomte, and the preakness, out of 12 attempts. in every race he has lost this spring everyone has bent over backward to give him the benefit of the doubt, despite having a running style that is the least prone to traffic problems--track condition, traffic, inside post, pace. only two of his wins were graded stakes.

orb has 5 wins out of 9 races; has been in the money 6 out of 9 times; and has never been worse than 4th. 3 of his win have been graded stakes, including the most important race any 3 yo will ever run. and all 5 of them came back to back.

for people like phil who insist the preakness track was playing fair--explain how all of the top 3 finishers were wide the entire race; 4 of the top 5 finishers were wide the entire race.

all of the horses that finished 6th-9th spent a lot of time on the inside at some point in the race. and orb was the only horse with an inside trip to finish anywhere near the horses with an outside trip.

as soon as rosario finally swung orb to the middle of the track in the stretch he started to make up ground. as soon as dparting was moved inside during a convincing move that began on the turn, he began running in motion. the only horses to make up ground wher the two with the widest trips of all.

phil may talk about objectivity, but no pace figure, including the best, are100% subjective--and if he doesn't know that, he isn't qualified to talk about them.

the only objective comments that can be made about a race a pure descriptions of what actually occurred that can be verified by any who watched it. any interpretation as to why the race unfolded as it did, is subjective.

one subjective opinion is no more valid or worthy than any other. it's good to keep in mind occam's razor when evaluating a race--the simplest answer is often the correct one--the simplest answer for the preakness is that the track was heavily biased toward the outside and extremely tiring on the inside.

22 May 2013 12:12 PM
Rusty Weisner

Plod Boy Phil,

I see.  You have a patent on the recorded fractional times for the Derby.  

I'll let your response soak in for everyone's delectation.  

Don't worry, you don't have to answer the question I actually posed.  Maybe it's gauche to pry.

Did your handicapping service also have a trademark on his 3/5 odds?  I mean, that kind of made me look elsewhere.  If that's the case, maybe I or anyone else who did should feel obliged to recompense you for any tickets they might might have cashed.

22 May 2013 12:22 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

El Kabong

   It was actually an Orb-eo filling not an Oreo filling but they are very similar. Both are creamy and delicious. Unfortunately for us Triple Crown enthusiasts, Rosario was busy munching on the outer, chocolatey, crunching outer disks of the delicious concoction, as a prelude to the ecstatic consumption of the creamy inside just at the precise moment he had the opportunity to leave the rail, then the scrumptious creamy inside filling flew out of his hand just as he realized his snafu and lost opportunity.

22 May 2013 12:29 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Ted from LA

   I appreciate the support and you are correct about the second object that came flying from behind the grassy knoll, discarded by a disgruntled patron who was heard screaming in disgust, "Who put coffee in my coffee??!!!"

22 May 2013 12:32 PM
Rusty Weisner

It seems that noting Orb benefited from the pace in the Derby (or that Oxbow suffered from it) is proprietary information.  But doesn't Longines own the times?

22 May 2013 12:36 PM

Below is a post I made under Mr. Haskin's Blog titled 'Oxbow and Stevens Try Again'

"I have never regarded Oxbow as a top class 3YO. He has run some nice races but has not given any indication that he will be able to win the really big ones. That stated, (Is Oxbow a mirror image of Tabasco Cat?)

The Lukas trained Tabasco Cat finished 6th behind 1994 gate to wire Derby winner Go For Gin. Ironically that Derby was contested on a sloppy track. Tabasco Cat returned in the Preakness to turn the table on the Derby victor. A feat he would repeat in the Belmont.

Oxbow finished 6th in the 2013 Derby also contested on a sloppy track. (Can lightning strike twice for Lukas with colts that finished in similar positions in their respective Derbies contested on sloppy tracks?)

Unlikely, as it would require a launch into Orbit.

(Am I being a shade too negative regarding Mr. Lukas gray colt?) History suggest that I might be as the coach is known for taking down Derby winners in the Preakness with his also rans:

1985 - Tank Prospect 7th in Derby won by Spend A Buck.

1994 – Tabasco Cat 6th in Derby won by Go For Gin.

Codex his first winner of a TC race had bypassed the Derby and was accidentally entered in the Preakness. He took down Genuine Risk in a controversial victory.

Title Town Five??

NB: Louis Quatorze finished 16th in his Derby effort and returned in the Preakness to win in a new stakes record. Yes, there is definitely hope for those classified amongst the also ran."

The three questions in brakets above have turned out to be very pertinent.

If I followed my trend of thought I would have made a handsome return on the 10th & 11th race DD.

I had 10 doubles closing on Departing @511 each. How could I have placed all my doubles on Departing. The Oxbow double was $600 plus.

I must reluctantly agree that 'stupid cannot be cured'

22 May 2013 12:55 PM
Rusty Weisner

"We were the only handicapping service that downgraded Orb moments after the Derby. Anyone who followed suit or made comparisons to Giacomo in the days leading up to the Preakness did so long after our data was in their hands."

What's next?  We can only wager in Flow(tm) scrip?

22 May 2013 1:55 PM

When Oxbow won the 2013 Preakness his sire Awesome Again joined the exclusive club of Breeders Cup Classic winner’s that have sired horse that have won Triple Crown races.

Unbridled: Grindstone (Derby); Red Bullet (Preakness); Empire Maker (Belmont)

A P Indy: Rags To Riches (Belmont); Bernardini (Preakness)

Awesome Again: Oxbow (Preakness)

Stallions with the BCC on their resumes seem to have a strained relationship with TC races despite the 10F distance of the BCC.

Awesome Again is brilliant sire and hold the distinction of being the only BCC winner that has sired a BCC winner (Ghostzapper).

Interestingly, he bred only 67 mares in 2009. He was 15yo in 2009 and still a relatively young stallion. Well, make another TC victory for a stallion that was not overbred.

Normandy Invasion and Mylute are products of stallions that bred in excess of 150 mares in 2009.  Both ran well in the Derby and Preakness but not good enough to win.

As I have highlighted repeatedly, the winners of TC races are not produced from stallions that have bred extremely large books of mares.

The stallions that bred the largest books in 2009 were Giants Cause Way and Medaglia D’ Oro i.e., 194 each. Neither of the two had a starter in the Derby nor Preakness. Tapit was a close second with 170 and although he had 15 nominated to the TC he had only one starter.

22 May 2013 2:18 PM
Soldier Course

Lunar spook:

My Preakness recap in two words: Blind switch.

22 May 2013 2:24 PM
Plod Boy Phil

papillon -

Flow figures are 100% objective as they measure relative speed based on the timings of a widely accepted mechanism.  

* We do not assign Flow figures to horses.

* We do assign a single Flow figure to a race that has been run.  Thusly,  under our methodology,  beaten lengths at fractional calls are only important in terms of a horse's position relative to the eventual race winner.  

22 May 2013 3:03 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Rusty -

Please recall that you were one of two people that attempted to discredit our view of the 2013 Derby by incorrectly comparing it to the 2012 running.  I made it very clear both here and in the room next door that the two races were nothing alike.

While individual results in racing do not prove or disprove a methodology,  we firmly stand by ours and take great pleasure in the result of the 2013 Preakness.

22 May 2013 3:10 PM

Great article Steve and LOVE the pictures again!  Like another poster, I too have wondered about Oxbow's color since he is listed as a bay but often looks more roany....is that even a word?  LOL   I do have a comment to make as to the notion that today's horses are not bred for stamina but only for precocious 2 year olds.  I could not disagree more!  If one looks at the history of racing and breeding it would be noticed that today's 2 year olds are "babied" in comparison with those of days gone by.  Back in the day most of them were racing by April at the latest and many had upwards of 10 and sometimes 20 starts during the year (more than 6-8 being too many in my opinion though).  Today we are lucky to see them before July or August and 4-6 starts is a lot.  Also, in looking at the pedigrees, virtually all of the horses have representatives of stamina in their pedigrees - look at all the Seattle Slew, Secretariat and most of all the Northern Dancer and Native Dancer etc that you see all through.  They all basically come from the same or similar lines.  What IS different now days is the WAY the horses are trained.  Today's trainers expect a colt to win 3 races in 5 weeks without preparing them with enough "bottom" to withstand the work.  If you read about those of old, you see they have much longer works and more frequently, as well as more races.  They were far more conditioned than today's horses and with more conditioning comes a less likelihood of injury.  Unfortunately racing is not so much about the "sporting" end of it as the business end today so since colts are worth more as studs they are handled with kid gloves, just trying to get that grade 1 or whatever so they can be retired.  I also don't believe that today's horses are more "unsound" either for the above reasons as well as the fact that the claimers at my local track run as often as every 2 weeks (too often in my opinion) and are not near as fashionably bred.  I was recently there and was stunned by the number of older geldings running that day who had made 40 plus starts and were still going.  I did not expect to see that much anymore after reading so much about the "unsoundness" of todays horses....   Your thoughts Steve?

22 May 2013 3:19 PM
Steel Dragon

I wonder if Shug regrets the "goose bump" workout earlier in the week. Was it really necessary?

22 May 2013 5:55 PM

So now we're left with strange track conditions in two of the tc races and I agree this is giving a muddled picture of the talent.  Orb I think is as talented after the Preakness as before he went in.  It wasn't Orb it was the ride he got.  I agree Orb's gate position doesn't matter but his outside positioning does in conjunction with his running style.  Don't understand Rosario's thinking on this one at all, since horses are creatures of habit, why keep Orb hemmed into a spot he could not get out of or was uncomfortable in?  I expect a big rebound in the Belmont if Orb is in it.  Oxbow is a good horse, but I think Orb is in another class.  They did not try to change Zenyatta's running style so why would it work with Orb?

22 May 2013 6:10 PM

Racingfan; I couldn't agree with you more in most respects.  Personally, I like that 2 year olds are started later now than in the "old days".  I say, give them as much time to mature as possible before subjecting them to the rigors of training and racing.  But once properly conditioned, I see no reason why they can't race every 2 to 3 weeks during their racing season, no matter what that should be.  Then give them a nice break before bringing them back for the next season.  Instead, the top horses are routinely run every 4 to 5 weeks, with maybe a 2 to 3 month layoff where they are not completely let down.  Of course, there are exceptions, but this seems to be the norm.  My feeling is this is a result of year-round racing, and not necessarily a good thing.  

Regarding more unsoundness in today's horses, maybe. After all, there are more horses.  But there have always been lines more prone to unsoundness, this isn't anything new.  The best way to prevent unsoundness is to breed for good structural conformation and provide proper conditioning, sufficient racing to keep a horse fit and at least every few months sufficient down time to rest and repair.

22 May 2013 6:13 PM
Linda in Texas

Racingfan - "Roany" is a good adjective regards Oxbow's color. Sometimes he looks like he has a gray sheen to him. I guess it depends on the angle of the light.

I have a car that in sunset looks light lilac, but totally silver other times. Only thing in common with Oxbow here to tie this in with the subject is it has as much horsepower as Oxbow almost but takes different fuel! Oxbow is fun to watch. I love the scrappy fella little fella and he loves himself too!

Now to a somber subject that will last many the rest of their lives, please read up on the horrific loss to my sister state Oklahoma's Racing World and Quarterhorse Industry. And send what you can to help them. Our little town just sent a caravan of DPS Troopers and Radio Station Personnel with loads of donations just received yesterday and i don't live in a monied county. More to follow.

Yes God Bless all in Oklahoma. And if anyone is looking for a ready made ranch to move in to, there are some ranches with barns, breeding sheds etc. available in central Texas. One has 3,200 acres with beautiful barns, breeding sheds, silos, home and caretakers residence, rolling hills, lakes and spring fed ready to be bought and moved in to in several counties. I am not with a real estate agency, i just travel the back roads and see the For Sale Signs and now empty paddocks. I want them filled back up with grazing thoroughbreds. One is but 100 miles from Fort Worth. Others near equi distant also to Fort Worth/Dallas. One is on 377 North near Dublin, TX and another one is located on Highway 6 north of Hico 27 miles from Meridian. Beautiful both places.

I am off subject. Sorry but i had to mention them. I woke up this morning to a beautiful day. Many won't have that same feeling for a long long time if ever.

Lovely article Steve, thank you. Full of history and information. I relished every moment and will over again each time i read it.

"Orbeo Cookie." Your wit Dr. D. is priceless with your sidekicks El Kabong and Ted from LA backing you up. Nice and refreshing moment during such awful news times.

22 May 2013 7:48 PM

Steve you always find a heartwarming, uplifting perspective from which to view every race.  I have been fond of Oxbow all season too.  Love those feisty colts!  But I did really think Orb would win.  it's been interesting reading everyone's opinion on what happened with him.  I find it impossible to be unhappy about the Preakness though - Stevens, Lukas and Oxbow are just too appealing to resist.

It was an honor to meet you Thursday at Sunrise at Old Hilltop.  For years I have printed out your articles to read them over and over.  They lift my spirits every time.

My 2 year old granddaughter, who I was holding while we spoke, said over and over with tears in her eyes when the Preakness was over "Orb?  Orb? Orb?"  She is a fan at 2 and like I told you, has Zenyatta on her bedroom wall.  Got to start them early!

22 May 2013 8:38 PM

Dr. D., El, Ted, Johnny, - you guys are killing me! LOL!

Linda and Racingfan - I study all breeds of horses and unfortunately, because the TB is a practical breed that is bred for performance rather than appearance, the JC doesn't seem to denote color standards as strictly as other breeds clubs do. A true roan would have a dark head, and when I looked for it on Oxbow after the race, he didn't. But yes, otherwise, he has that roan sheen to his coat. He may yet grey out. Usually greys start dark and become almost white as they age. But because he's still young, only DNA testing would prove anything at this point. But what a lovely look he has!

Steve - I love your writing and am mostly a reader. I rarely comment, but I knew you could set the record straight on the matter. It may have been a jockey friend of yours that translated it, but it was precipitated by you, and I appreciate it.

Coldfacts - while I think the BCC tie-in is interesting, I don't think it's completely accurate. I know AA is a great sire, but I didn't like him as a racehorse. His trainer ducked Skippy at Monmouth, I believe, even though he would have gotten 14 lbs or so. And I kind of felt as though he benefited from the fact that the BC was at CHD that year. SA finished up the track, as he never liked it there. Whereas at least Unbridled and AP have their TC wins behind them as well as the BCC wins. Does that make sense? I think the TC wins are stronger arguments for their success, and AA is more along the lines of just a well-bred horse that also won the BCC. They really don't all fall into that same category, or seem to produce TC horses for the same reasons.

22 May 2013 11:06 PM

phil--you clearly do not understand the definitions of objective and subjective.

objective refers to completely raw data, devoid of any manipulation, interpretation, flattening, methodology etc., that anyone is able to verify without training or disagreement--it is not subject to debate. objective is descriptive. it answers "what?" and "when? and "where?"

examples include: height, weight, pulse, temperature, blood count, order of finish, raw time, path, time of day, location, post number etc.

subjective refers to anything that is not purely raw data. anything that two people can disagree about is subjective. subjective is explanatory. it answers "why?" and "how?" and "because?"

the very fact that you assign a "flow figure" based upon a "methodology" proves that your figures, just like all other figures, are subjective.

subjective doesn't necessarily mean incorrect, but no one is required to accept anyone else's subjective interpretation of objective facts. and subjective analysis that is not subjected to replication and pier review, which no figures are, is as trust worthy as astrology. and in fact, figures have about the same predictive success rate as astrology...

23 May 2013 12:28 AM

Linda- Racing here in Texas is in the toillete!  Until our legislature pulls their head out, the racing business is bottom of the barrel here.  Sure, we have the facilities but we are surrounded by states with good State Bred programs and good purses.

23 May 2013 6:56 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Linda in Texas

   Thank you. I'm happy to give you, who has so much heart, a little fun to break up the sadness of the Oklahoma tragedy. Loved hearing about the ranches too.


  Thank you very much. Thanks for bringing up the very interesting subject. Sometimes it takes people awhile to respond, and I'm glad you were persistant as you should have been for such a strange and largely unnoticed event. Keep posting, your posts are great.

23 May 2013 8:50 AM
Plod Boy Phil

Papillon -

I stand corrected.

The objectivity of the Flow figure comes from the fact that we use only the raw fractional times found in any chart. The fact that we assign a figure to a race and not to the horses in the race means that there are no subjective, and often flawed, beaten lengths to time conversions.

The subjectivity exists in the track and distance specific models that were derived by a well renowned statistician who happens to be a second generation horseplayer. Of course, as you point out, despite the statistical soundness of the work,  any horseplayer could choose to question the validity and usefulness of such models.

Our work has been under peer review by handicappers for more than five years. The first and easily the most important review came in the form of a highly respected, published author of t'bred handicapping back in January of 2009. His willingness to give us credit via two feature articles in a national publication followed an eight month 'trial'.  While his seal of approval helped to put us on the map, the quality and usefulness of the figures to serious handicappers has been responsible for four straight years of growth.

Best of racing luck.

23 May 2013 10:17 AM
Steve Haskin

JuWong, thanks, but Oxbow could never take me to the poor house. I'm already there :)

Terri V, thanks so much, it was very nice meeting you. I appreciate the kind words.

El Kabong, they did add a lot of sand to the track, and Mr. Lukas was not too happy about it, because he said the track was perfect on Tuesday. But as it turned out, the track was just right for Oxbow :)

23 May 2013 10:30 AM
Rusty Weisner

Plod Boy Phil,

Here's some objective data that will provide readers (and potential subscribers to your "handicapping service") some anecdotal but nevertheless useful context.

By your methodology you "downgraded" (i.e., warned bettors off of) three of the top five Derby finishers:  Revolutionary, Golden Soul and Mylute.  Meanwhile, "upgrades" were Normandy Invasion, Palace Malice and...Vyjack.  Objectively unknown are what you actually bet personally.

Heck, it's one race, so being completely wrong is forgiveable.  What's less so is coming back after the race to lecture everyone about the lessons to be drawn from it.

And here's additional objective data:  all of the first five finishers in the Derby came off the pace and four of those came far off the pace.  The splits of the race, too, are objective and freely available data.  Objectively, pretty much any handicapper could figure Orb benefited, while Oxbow suffered, from an objectively scalding pace.  It's hard to convey how insulting it is to have you come on here, after mishandicapping the race (and flubbing the Preakness, where your sole comment about Oxbow was:  "too many races"), and treat that objective data like it's your propietary information.  It truly is disrespectful, particularly when the very author of this blog is making the same obvious points about pace.  

23 May 2013 12:59 PM

I love figuring out the "real" color of horses.

The Jockey Club says that a true gray/roan foal must have 1 gray/roan parent.


Oxbow's sire, Awesome Again, is a dark bay.  His first few generations are brown, bay and chestnut, and it's 5 generations before any grays show up (Native Dancer [twice] and Mumtaz Behum).  He has a little white on his forehead, but from the images I've seen, no white feet.

Oxbow's dam, Tizamazing, is a dark bay or brown, but there are grays all over her sire's side.  She has a big blaze and her front feet are white.

So if Oxbow is a gray or roan, which in many lighting conditions he appears to be, some gene snuck in there that didn't read the Jockey Club rules!

Sort of like Candy Spots, who won the 1963 Preakness, and who was registered as a chestnut, but would have been, in many breed registries, listed as a sabino.

Time will tell with Oxbow - we'll see if he "grays out" in a few years.

23 May 2013 1:16 PM
Soldier Course


Your mentioning Orb and Zenyatta in the same breath sparked something in my mind. Compare the videos of Zenyatta's 2009 BC Classic with Orb's Preakness, in particular their respective positions around the far turn and into the top of the stretch. See any similarities in how they were boxed in? But no similarities in how they handled it. "Looked impossible", said Trevor Denman about Zenyatta's win.

23 May 2013 3:07 PM
El Kabong


Oxbow is beach bum. That bodes well on Big Sandy if the nickname still serves up. I have a feeling we're in for a real dog fight in Elmont, and hopefully some large pools filled with grudge bets from those unwilling to believe they were wrong about their derby pick. I'm glad Java is moving to grass.  

23 May 2013 3:37 PM

Robinm, I too am happy that two year olds are started later and campaigned lighter now days. And I am in favor of the old fashioned "winter break". I just think the trainers of the top echelon of horses have gone too far the other way and the detrimental effects of that is showing up in the injury rates and the lack of a triple crown winner.

23 May 2013 3:47 PM

Soldier Course,

Maybe Zen was more versatile, maybe that is the difference between great and good, the great being Zen the champion who got herself out of the adversity.  Who knows but it's a good comparison you made.  Do you think that if Rosario had taken him outside early he would have lost ground and too much time?  One poster said in the 10 Questions article next, that it would have been foolish for Rosario to make that move early but I am not so sure.  I do agree though a great champion should overcome some adversity.  Maybe Zen was a multi-dimensional late closer and Orb is a one-dimensional late closer and only comfortable outside, I don't know what the answer is.  Only Shug and the rooster know for sure!

23 May 2013 9:06 PM

Dr. D,

Love the "Orb-eo cookies!"  Very clever and funny.  Who would have thought the icing was flying, only you!!!

I heard that if Johnny V and Joel Rosario duke it out over who is riding Orb in the Belmont that Shug will give a leg up to the Rooster to ride Orb.

23 May 2013 9:13 PM

DEACON et al.

There are thousands FEWER thoroughbreds born every year.

FEWER and FEWER. Y'all hear? (I've said this before.) In 1985, '86 and '87 there were more than 50,000. The figures have declined steadily to 22,500 (est.) in 2013.

That's fewer than HALF.

Thoroughbred racing is circling the bowl. The urban/suburban land for tracks, training centers and farms is needed for a higher and better use: strip malls and housing 'estates.' Governments are looking covetously at the income from slots that slowed the decline for a while.

A massive culling is going on. It is based a great deal on size. THAT is why your forced-up, overgrown, herring-gutted colts can't stand training. Have you noticed the fillies don't seem so troubled, and there are a lot of good older mares still going strong. They're not as big as their brothers.

23 May 2013 11:13 PM


There's some white "ticking" in the breed, a recessive trait tracing to Birdcatcher (1833).

Roans have dark heads and all their white is present at birth. There are no roan TBs, so, in its wisdom, the Jockey Club has appropriated the word for red horses that gray, and uses gray for dark horses that gray. It also used it for whites with a spot of their pigment genes, until Ky. Colonel (1946), a chestnut with high whites and a belly spot, began to sire too many sabino whites that were widely publicized.  

23 May 2013 11:49 PM

Thanks Cassandra.

You gotta love the Jockey Club's thinking - there are no roans in TBs, but they''ll take the term and use it in their own way!

AND they don't acknowledge sabinos, so extraordinary coloring like Candy Spots (1960) and the even wilder coloring of  Puchilingui (1984) and his son Sato (1996) will be listed as chestnut, bay and palomino, respectively.

But it's interesting to see how Birdcatcher, through his descendants Bend Or, The Tetrarch, Ky. Colonel, etc., show up in their far far descendants with a splash of color here and there.

It's all part of the game, and "a good horse is never a bad color."

24 May 2013 11:14 AM
Soldier Course


I don't think Orb would have lost anything if JR had gotten him off the rail immediately after the break. I think he would have won the Preakness.

Watch the replay and check the number of seconds that roll by before JR does anything with Orb. I filed all my fingernails during that interval.

Rooster's a lucky fellow. He overheard Shug telling JR how to run Orb from the #1 hole. Steve's tried to get the scoop, but Rooster's got Disney in the queue.

24 May 2013 4:27 PM

Plod boy, the next super horse will be here in less than 50 weeks, explain please.

Revolutionary in the Belmont, if the decision is made to run him.  Hopefully, JV will have the mount.  I would really like to see Govenor Charlie, but I don't think that will happen.

24 May 2013 9:31 PM

Please no one talk about Birdcatcher; what a horrific death.

Papillon, I agree with all that you have said, very simple.  I would like to say more, but I am so tired now.  I work for the Louisiana legislature, and this  session has taken a toll on my ability to think about anything other than health care reform.

Next week, it will all be over.

I'm going to stay with Revolutionary; the horse has the pedigree to win the Belmont.  More research is needed.  I have always liked Govenor Charlie, but I doubt he will go.

24 May 2013 10:51 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


   Thank you very much !!!!!  And yes, Afleet Alex was one of the greatest of alltime. I also would like to see Ritchey back in the TC picture. He sure did a good job with Alex.

25 May 2013 9:36 AM
Fran Loszynski

Great pics Steve. Love the pic of the kids with Mylute and Gary with Mr. Lukas. The greats reign supreme. I don,t believe in superstition so going to write this the Triple Crown awaits Tim Ritchey and A fleet Alex,s son

25 May 2013 10:00 AM
Fran Loszynski

I like the comment Laurie Krause made in the article about Oxbow - would like to take her back to the words about Seabiscuit Gary's movie Toby Maguire as Red Pollard said "he be little but he is fierce!" Little bit of irony there. Steve this was such a great article you always do people justice. And you always give us memories between the lines.

25 May 2013 6:08 PM
El Kabong


Gary Stevens said today that he positioned Oxbow in the 4 lane from the start for a reason. He did not want anything to do with the rail. Too Sandy? Also, that the Monday work before the Preakness was not about time and he and Wayne both knew they were sitting on a card(Win/Place) after that work and it was all they could do to not say a thing with all the Orb buzz. And how can you tactfully say, "hell I think we're in a good position to stomp on any TC aspirations."

25 May 2013 7:17 PM
Soldier Course

El Kabong:

Apparently Lukas doesn't care about being tactful because his comment after the Preakness was, "I get paid to spoil dreams." That was a coarse and ungracious remark under the circumstances. Many fans were very disappointed at that moment, not only because Orb lost but also because the Triple Crown dream was lost.

Maybe I'm missing something here and Lukas's remark is akin to saying "break a leg" in the theater world, but I don't think so. I've been following racing closely for the last eleven years, and that comment struck me as pure arrogance.

30 May 2013 2:56 PM

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