Twenty-five and counting

Walking through the entrance gates at Churchill Downs Friday felt in stark contrast to what it was like back on May 2, 1998. That day marked Kentucky Derby No. 1 and helped fulfill a personal goal to be on the scene of America’s greatest race. How it came about has been well told, especially so … Read more

It’s Better There

Four years. Four long years. Different this year. Very different. A tear or two welled into my eyes as I hugged Candida Baker. And then George Baker. Outside Terminal 2 at Heathrow on a beautiful sun-filled Sunday morning. Four beautiful days at Cheltenham in the books (the liver and the bank, too). “You have made … Read more

The Special’s Halloran takes aim at NHC

For this first-time qualifier, the road to the NHC ran through Lexington. Prior to last year, I had never been to Kentucky, but in April I made the first of what would be four trips in 2023. The primary purpose was to conduct interviews for a book I am writing on the Cody Dorman-Cody’s Wish … Read more

Happy Birthday, Cody

When Cody Dorman got his tablet just before Christmas six years ago, one of the first times he used it to communicate he asked his mother, Leslie, to bring him to the window so he could watch the snow. “Cody loved the snow,” Kelly Dorman said Monday, outside the stallion barn at Jonabell Farm in … Read more

James Graham wins 3,000

Congratulations to jockey James Graham for winning his 3,000th career race this weekend. The Irish native guided Vortex to win at Fair Grounds Sunday. “It’s quite emotional actually. I came here in 2002 and all I ever wanted was a shot,” Graham said. “I wish my mum was still alive to see this. Thank you … Read more

Sendoff for a champion

Churchill Downs bugler Steve Buttleman, dressed in his race-day uniform – red jacket, white pants, shiny black boots – stood on the grass at Haven Hill cemetery in Columbia, Ky., Friday, a crisp, fall day on which morning rain had given way to afternoon sunshine and blue skies. Buttleman raised the bugle to his mouth … Read more

After an exhilarating win, a crushing loss

The Delta Airlines plane had just pushed away from the gate at LAX Sunday, when the phone buzzed with an incoming call from Kelly Dorman. I figured he and his family had made it to Atlanta, where they would catch a connecting flight back to Lexington, and maybe he was calling to continue to revel … Read more

Mud not the only memory from Far Hills 2023.

There’s nothing like Far Hills mud. After a day like Saturday, you find it everywhere – car tires and floor mats, shoes, pant legs, socks even a splotch on your binoculars. Sticky and reddish-brown, there’s something different about it, and I’m not even a horse. Saturday featured plenty of mud, dampness, rain and wind, even … Read more

Driving Jonathan Sheppard

It was 2008. Jonathan Sheppard was in yet another chapter of his storied career and The Blood-Horse magazine wanted a feature story. Steeplechase Times still existed, and I still wrote freelance articles for other racing publications.