Radnor recap: Why, Certainly!

MALVERN, Pa. – Things were different a year ago. Be Certain hadn’t yet seen a race course, let alone a National Fence. Planets Aligned had just tasted his first success following two disastrous steeplechase starts. And Chip Miller caught Matt McCarron at the wire to win the National Hunt Cup. Some 363 days and 4:54 … Read more

Iroquois recap: Man’s Shirt

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – If Good Night Shirt emerged in the 2007 Iroquois, he arrived in the 2008 edition with a performance that shouted professionalism, polish and panache. Last year’s steeplechase champion opened 2008 with a win at Atlanta April 12 in his typical style – overwhelming yet a little unkempt – thanks to a couple … Read more

Decreasing the negatives

Any discussion on the topic of horse safety should focus in part on removing pieces of the danger puzzle. Having accurate data (see previous post) tells outsiders we care about our horses and should be automatically available. But there are plenty of other points to consider. The NSA took a great step several years ago … Read more

Horse safety matters, everywhere

How tidy is your house? In the past week I have discussed steeplechase horse safety with reporters from The Baltimore Sun (before Eight Belles) and the Wilmington News-Journal (after). Both wanted to know how safe, or unsafe, steeplechase racing was. I answered the questions, but I’m not sure I provided much in the way of … Read more

Askim wins Maryland Hunt Cup

As Ann Stewart jogged/walked/floated to the Maryland Hunt Cup winner’s circle, she laughed at the magnitude of it all. “This is too much for a little old lady,” she said. Little, maybe. Old, not really. And if it’s too much, then she’s fooling everyone. Stewart won her fourth Hunt Cup as a trainer – all … Read more

Derby on Speed Dial

It’s raining. Hard. It rained yesterday. Hard. Today is Derby Day at Churchill Downs. Get out the wellies and trilby, it’s proper chasing weather. At least the trainers will have a built-in excuse; didn’t handle the track, couldn’t stand up out there, was slipping and sliding like a fat man on a frozen pond. Ah … Read more

Paint By Numbers – Brown 20

Richard Dutrow sidled between a throng of people and the concrete wall of the trainer’s tower on the backside. Muttering all the time. “Excuse me, Babe. Get away from all these people. Let me slide in there.” Dutrow slid and stood by himself, leaning along the outside rail. His eyes glanced left and then right, … Read more

Who’s That Guy?

The thin green sign hangs from the white nylon rope, just like all the others around the backside of Keeneland. The wind knocks it into the concrete side of Barn 29, just up the hill from the track kitchen. A simple nameplate denoting a parking place. White, stenciled lettering. Every trainer stabled at Keeneland has one.

Sovereign Duty wins Royal Chase

"Image"Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard swept the first two placings in Keeneland’s only steeplechase, the $160,125 Royal Chase (Gr. I) Thursday afternoon as Sovereign Duty rallied in the final yards to edge Sweet Shani by a neck. The winner, ridden by Danielle Hodsdon, covered the 2 1/2 miles and 13 fences in 4:58.13. Best Attack finished third.

Back on Track

Todd Pletcher’s back. Did he really go anywhere? The reigning Eclipse Award-winning trainer appeared to spin off the Derby trail as the Derby preps began to wane. The Toyota Blue Grass loomed as the last tollbooth. In typical Pletcher style, he paid the toll for his car and the car behind him (and tipped the … Read more