Dual Grade 1 winner A. P. Indian, arguably the best sprinter in the country, is out there somewhere across the track, in the dark, in the rain – galloping, passing horses, and tugging on the wet reins held by exercise rider Moises Nava.
It’s 6:20 Thursday morning at Maryland's Fair Hill Training Center. It could pass for midnight on a ship in an empty sea.
The crew from This Is Horse Racing and The Saratoga Special awoke from their very brief post-Saratoga respite, got out and about in recent weeks and filled up their notepads and voice recorders with plenty of quips and quotes.
Sean McDermott had a choice for the timber feature at Shawan Downs Sept. 24. Jack Fisher aimed three horses at the $25,000 fall opener and gave the Irish-born jockey his choice between Two’s Company, Straight To It and Ballylifen.
The $1.25 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx was supposed to be a dry-dirt showdown between Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist and his rival, Preakness hero Exaggerator, who defeated his nemesis on a sloppy track at Pimlico and in the Haskell at Monmouth Park. But neither was a factor as 11-1 Connect, owned by Paul Pompa and trained by Chad Brown, held off Steve Asmussen's Gun Runner. Connect's win, his fourth in six lifetime starts, further muddled the 3-year-old championship picture, making spectacular Travers winner Arrogate look even better heading into the Breeders' Cup. Photographer Tod Marks was at Parx with the recap.
Undefeated champion Songbird made it 11 in a row by taking the $1 million Cotillion at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Pa., Saturday Sept. 24, over tough competitors Carina Mia and Cathryn Sophia. Now it's on to the Breeders' Cup and a possible showdown with older mares Beholder and Stellar Wind. Photographer Tod Marks was on hand to watch the champ in action.
Todd Pletcher’s spot in the Hall of Fame is as close to an absolute lock as there is in racing. He’s won seven Eclipse Awards, three U.S. classics, three Canadian classics, 10 North American earnings titles, nine Breeders’ Cup races and 145 Grade 1 stakes. Yes, 145.
Some horses are born with it. The “it” to which I’m referring is the ability to soar. It is mystifying how a 1200-pound mass of pure muscle and bone can leap through the air, looking effortless while doing so, but some horses just have the ability to seemingly fly. Much to Nicolette Merle-Smith’s liking, her new OTTB, Blazing Beryl, is one of those naturally gifted horses.
Nicolette Merle-Smith and Blazing Beryl, aka Emmie, continue to progress on the road to the Retired Racehorse Project's Thoroughbred Makeover in late October at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. Check out some images from their summer training in Virginia.
In honor of the final edition of The Special for 2016, we bring you the “Little Guy” Stable Tour. We scoured the grounds, searching Horse Haven, Oklahoma, the main track, the stakes barn, Clark’s Cottages, Gridley Street and even discovered barns inside the training track on the harness side to bring you the trainers and horses who might not have made headlines this summer, but plied their trade and earned respect. (Editor's note: Originally published in Sept. 4 issue of The Saratoga Special.)
As the final horses were led from their stalls to the walking ring the crew from Hurstland Farm gathered around the stall of Hip 248, waiting for the call over the public address system.
ST Publishing, publishers of the daily newspaper The Saratoga Special and the racing website This Is Horse Racing, will team for the third consecutive year with the New York Thoroughbred Breeders to produce a commemorative program for the organization’s Annual Awards Banquet this spring.