The attraction to Smarty Jones was nearly unavoidable in 2004. Even if you tried it was next to impossible not to root for the Pennsylvania-bred colt with the catchy name, humble connections and powerful running style.
Lacey Gaudet, who saddled Marabea to victory in last weekend’s $125,000 Claiming Crown Tiara at Gulfstream Park, grew up in a racing family in Maryland and was very much caught up in the craze for Smarty Jones.
Paddy Young walked that familiar walk, from Cathie Jackson’s clipboard at the scales in front of the Springdale Racecourse grandstand, through the narrow passage along the side, winding through the pine trees and back to the cold confines of the Camden jocks’ room.
The five-time champion has won titles here, he’s lost titles here.
On Nov. 19, Young had clawed his way back to even with Kieran Norris with a score in the Raymond G. Woolfe. Norris, 0-for-2 on a day when he needed it most, was already back in the jocks’ room after finishing seventh aboard second-time starter Etched In Time.
Like a good book, the National Steeplechase Association season comes to a conclusion, and the authors put the final chapter to bed at the Colonial Cup Races in Camden, S.C. Nov. 19. No more jump racing in the United States until March.
The signs of the pending winter season are everywhere. Leaves are gone from the trees, Christmas trees are being toted around town on the roofs of cars and in the beds of pickups, holiday lights are up or going up, Black Friday is in the books and public tree lighting events going on from coast to coast.
Lacey Gaudet is rolling. The 28-year-old Maryland-based trainer is in the midst of a career year nearly four times over, she’s locked in a battle for leading trainer honors at Laurel Park and she’s preparing to run three horses in Saturday’s Claiming Crown at Gulfstream Park.
Sue Sensor hugged and cried at the top of the grandstand. Arch Kingsley numbly walked down the far steps. Wendy Kingsley walked up the center steps in slow-motion awe. Jaime Camacho, hell, he was on the inside rail pumping his left fist and throwing a halter and shank like a cowboy throws a lasso.
“He was brilliant, wasn’t he?” Sensor said, crying, moments after the race. “Just brilliant.”
So long, Grinding Speed. After 36 starts, 10 wins, seven seconds, and two thirds, the Maryland-bred son of Grindstone out of the Cozzene mare Cozelia retires to a life of leisure with owner Michael Wharton, who bought the eventual timber champion for the paltry sum of $2,000.
Just in case you didn’t get enough fill on Thanksgiving Day the world of racing offers up another smorgasbord of action from Doncaster to Newcastle, Aqueduct to Del Mar and Churchill to Tampa. Another loaded day and Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud previews all the action.
By the fourth race at Saturday’s Colonial Cup meet at Springdale Race Course in Camden, S.C., Kieran Norris needed a win. Really needed a win. He came into the day with a 13-12 lead in the battle for the National Steeplechase Association jockeys’ championship and watched five-time champion Paddy Young win the day’s third race to force a tie.
Tom Howard thought back Monday afternoon to the days leading up to the March 6, 2014 waiver-claiming race at Oaklawn Park where he and Lewis Mathews Jr. were able to land Ivan Fallunovalot for what now looks like a bargain price of $25,000.
Sue and George Sensor won the Grade 1 Colonial Cup, the biggest race of their lives as steeplechase owners, with Top Striker Saturday at Springdale Race Course in their hometown of Camden, S.C. Trained at Springdale by Arch Kingsley, Top Striker produced a win for the locals on a day that honored the memory of the ultimate local – former race chairman Austin Brown who died in May.
Top Striker continued his late-season push, added a second consecutive graded stakes win and spoiled Rawnaq’s bid for a perfect 2016 campaign with an emphatic victory in the 47th running of the Grade 1 Colonial Cup Saturday at Springdale Race Course in Camden, S.C.