Kent Desormeaux shivered and shook, let out a few yelps and then one big “Aaaah” as he sat down in the Pimlico Race Course jocks’ room after the Preakness Saturday.
It's Preakness morning. It's raining. It's 55 degrees. But this is a game played outdoors. Be prepared. Here's a little this and that from Preakness Week.
Take a deep breath, the Irish invasion is over, but steeplechase is far from finished. The jumpers venture to Radnor for its annual strong card and travel to High Hope for an entry-packed card at Kentucky’s only steeplechase meet. There should be a chalkboard or two at Radnor and look out at High Hope, Rusty Arnold usually has the inside scoop on the jumpers.
Keith Desormeaux walked out of Thursday’s Alibi Breakfast at Pimlico and – after wondering why the ever-quotable Eric Guillot didn’t attend – started talking horses. “The horse who changed my racing life is Texas Red and there’s nobody even close,” the trainer said. “That horse was a gift from God ever since the hammer dropped at the sale.”
Owner Irv Naylor's magical season hit a crescendo on Saturday when his Rawnaq fought off two top-flight European runners from the powerful Willie Mullins barn in the Grade 1 Iroquois Steeplechase at Percy Warner Park in Nashville, Tenn. Photographer Tod Marks has the recap in pictures.
Driving down Versailles Road past Keeneland Race Course in his small horse van on a warm spring morning, his son riding in the back with two mares headed to the breeding shed, Alfred Nuckols Jr. commented on how difficult it was to get a horse from the farm to the racetrack and how little the general public knew about the task.
Nuckols didn’t say it in a sanctimonious way, far from it, but in a general acknowledging sort of way.
Boyd Martin laughed at the thought. It was moments after winning the Asheville Regional Airport $75,000 Wellington Eventing Showcase on Blackfoot Mystery in February.
“I feel sorry for the jockeys who have ever ridden him,” Martin said.
There were three.
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.
With 30 horses during the recently concluded meet at Saratoga and 40 at Belmont Park, Rudy Rodriguez was busy. Asked about making an appointment for a Stable Tour, Rodriguez laughed, “I’m here all day.”
Yes, there is life beyond the Preakness today. Racing from the Curragh to York in Europe and Arlington Park to Miles Park in America. All eyes are on Nyquist and the rest of the Preakness card, but there’s plenty of strong racing around the world. Here’s your Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud, home of Alternation, Broken Vow and Cowboy Cal, for May 21. Stay out of the rain and enjoy.
Willie Mullins raised both hands.
Like a crossing guard in front of an inferno, Mullins stood as Rachel Robins slowed Nichols Canyon, the six-time Grade 1 winner, sides heaving, nostrils flaring like hazards on a flipped-over car, tossed his head in the air and searched for balance. David Porter halted Shaneshill. The Grade 2 winner stopped, sidestepped, blowing hard, but nothing like Nichols Canyon.