Here & There: May 14

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We feel a little like Garrison Keillor around here – “It’s been a quiet week in Lake…” It’s been a hectic week in Thoroughbred racing… There is nothing like spring in the world of Thoroughbred racing as Joe, Tom and Sean have been crisscrossing the country from Churchill Downs for the Derby to Percy Warner Park for the Iroquois. 

This week, it’s the Preakness in Baltimore, Radnor in Pennsylvania, High Hope in Kentucky…and soon it will be Saratoga. Here’s a little of this and a little of that from our notebooks.

Worth Repeating
“I’m an old man, 84 is 84. But you learn something new everyday. That’s what’s really interesting. Horses show you a lot of things that you can’t believe. You learn if you are open to it. Every time I have a young person wanting to learn something and I tell him, ‘Do this,’ and they say ‘I know.’ I always say ‘You don’t know and you’re never going to.’ I’ve spent 63 years around horses, I still don’t know.” – Trainer Manny Azpurua, to The Special at Saratoga last summer

“The unknown is Social Inclusion. How good is he? You go back through his races, they were pretty impressive.” – Trainer Graham Motion, about the Preakness field

“I don’t know if I’ve ever been to this part of Pimlico Race Course.” – Track announcer Dave Rodman, at the quarter-pole gap Tuesday morning

“We call it the moonwalk.” – Assistant trainer Alan Sherman, on California Chrome’s habit of backing out of horse vans

“This time I’ll deal with the traffic.” – California Chrome’s exercise rider Willie Delgado, who used to watch the Preakness from home when he lived in Maryland 

“I’ll tell you what, that horse is going to have something to say about the Belmont. He can run and he’s got the pedigree, too.” – Veteran trainer Leon Blusiewicz on Tonalist, the Peter Pan winner trained by fellow Saratoga offseason regular Christophe Clement

“Anything worth publishing?” – Trainer to clockers after breezing a horse Tuesday morning on the Oklahoma Training Track

“Please be a maiden 2-year-old.” – Oklahoma Clocker Bob Hamlin as an Ian Wilkes-trainee breezed past the stand (Sorry Bob, it wasn’t a 2-year-old)

“Go practice your speech for Thursday.” – TIHR’s Tom Law to Sean Clancy, who was having trouble getting anything accomplished before the Alibi Breakfast Thursday

“I guess it’ll be a lonely table.” – Trainer Tim Keefe, when told his table was next to Clancy’s table at the Alibi Breakfast

“Don’t ever watch horse racing again.” – Miles Clancy, 5, to a distracted parent Tuesday

“If he takes to the track in Baltimore, I want to tell you, you’re going to see a different horse, too.” – Art Sherman on Derby winner California Chrome

“He stole my rider, that guy, didn’t he, old Art?” Trainer Wesley Ward, who sends out Pablo del Monte in the Preakness. Victor Espinoza rode the Giant’s Causeway colt last time in the Blue Grass at Keeneland

“We’re going to do our best and we’re going to try hard to beat the Chrome.” – Ron Sanchez, whose Rontos Racing campaigns Social Inclusion

“This is a horse of a lifetime and I think the horse showed that he belongs to [with] group.” – Sanchez on Social Inclusion

“Much like one morning at Churchill, I had date and time wrong…” – TIHR’s Tom Law, after a conference call schedule went awry

“That was one of the big reasons for me to get in the tack, to make sure we would get around I would take care of him.” – Trainer Russell Haynes, after prepping Virginia Gold Cup winner Hot Rize with a spin around the Grand National

“After the Grand National, Teddy Mulligan came in town for Easter and Teddy was harping on Willie about riding him. Teddy called me and told me to call Willie, he said he would keep it in mind and we locked it down the Sunday before Gold Cup.” – Haynes, about how he confirmed leading jockey Willie McCarthy aboard Hot Rize

“They let you make decisions with the horse, they trust that you get on the horse everyday and know what’s right. They sell, ‘Hell yeah, kick on.’ They were all there Saturday. The celebration was a big one.” – Haynes, about his partners in Hot Rize

“I could have a plane, but then I couldn’t have horses.” – Owner Andre Brewster, on the economics of Thoroughbred racing

“When I sold all my cattle, I sold 400 of them and got three horses.” – Owner/breeder Bob Kinsley, on the economics of Thoroughbred racing

“Mine’s got experience. Some of it isn’t very good.” – Trainer discussing his horse’s chances at Saturday’s Iroquois

“My ears are starting to hurt.” – Jump jockey Willie McCarthy, on if he was still smiling Monday after a triple at the Iroquois Saturday

“I haven’t seen anyone win a championship with 12 winners.” – McCarthy, whose dozen winners so far in 2014 are only four less than Paddy Young needed to take the 2013 championship

“Willie could win on a billy goat right now.” – Steeplechase fan after McCarthy’s triple at the Iroquois

“Just a little bit too short for him, but that’s racing.” – Trainer Hill Parker, after late-running Rudyard K lost the $75,000 Marcellus Frost hurdle stakes by a neck Saturday

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to remind millions of horse racing fans about how important it is to know what’s below and call 811 before they dig.” – Victor Espinoza in press release announcing Common Ground Alliance’s continued sponsorship of Kentucky Derby-winning jockey


Reporters in Training
Pimlico hosted several contingents of elementary school students for a tour of the backside Tuesday morning. The groups got to see the track, the stable area and a few Preakness contenders.

The first-graders from Arlington Elementary peppered the Social Inclusion team with observations and questions:

“Do they fight?”

“Do they use cold water or hot for their bath?”

“Look at those big ears. I bet they could hear everything.’

“I didn’t know they had ears.”

“Everything has ears.”

“He’s got big lips.”

“Do they brush their teeth?”

“Are there girl horses and boy horses here?”

Social Inclusion posed for photos. Stablemate Hey Leroy, who will run in Saturday’s Dixie Handicap, entertained with a bath and several wet flicks of his tail. Trainer Manny Azpurua stood nearby and smiled.

“I love it,” he said. “Listen to the future.”