This is Horse Racing
Thanksgiving is over and done, leftovers in the fridge, shopping for Christmas underway and time to start padding the bankroll for the last push of 2015. The holiday weekend always packs a plethora of quality stakes action and this year’s feast is no exception, with graded stakes coast to coast and plenty in between.
Barely seven months from his last start, nearly three years removed from the biggest win of his racing career and in a venue that feels nothing like the racetrack, Called To Serve was still turning heads and still winning.
Dawalan will be the name everyone remembers from Saturday’s Colonial Cup, but the whole day looked like one of the season’s best on paper and lived up to it on the course. Sixty-six horses started in the seven races at Springdale Race Course, with plenty of signature performances beyond the Grade 1 feature.
Ross Geraghty leaned over the left side of Dawalan and summed up the Colonial Cup.
“It’s not too often you worry about reaching the front too soon in a Grade 1,” Geraghty said as Ronnie Raymond led the 5-year-old in circles after the $100,000 stakes.
Bill Ryan, an attorney from Albany, New York, was so impressed with Darby Dan Farm during a trip to Lexington a few years ago that he wrote owner John Phillips a letter.
He didn’t expect a reply, but he got one and a piece of a horse, too.
It’s come down to this . . . the last steeplechase meet of 2015 and the last time the TIHR handicappers take a swing at picking winners – unless we get brave and start doing picks for Aqueduct or Gulfstream Park or Penn National.
The Colonial Cup. It always conjures 1970, when the race was the first $100,000 steeplechase in North America, when men wore overcoats to the races and women put on rain hats, when Marion du Pont Scott played host to the everyone, when the race was a big idea nobody really knew would even make it 1970.
Ah, the Saturday before Thanksgiving. It’s about time to get to the grocery store and fill the cart for the big feast. Or to catch up on that reading you might not get to with the holidays bearing down in earnest. Maybe time to catch some college football rivalry games that actually mean something. Or perhaps time to get to South Carolina for the last jump race meeting of the season and the Colonial Cup at Camden.
Trainer Kate Dalton’s 2015 already includes a career-high five wins, a likely novice hurdle championship and a medication violation she succeeded in appealing. A big finish would pretty much fit right into the script, and she goes for it with Diplomat in Saturday’s Grade 1 Colonial Cup at Springdale Race Course in Camden, S.C.
Like a guy down at the mill or a master mechanic at the local garage, Gustavian shows up every day and does his job. It’s been four years and 15 races, and the 9-year-old gelding has once – once – not finished among the top three over jumps.
Quietly, always quietly, Cyril Murphy trains some of the best steeplechase horses in the country at owner Irv Naylor’s farm near Butler, Md. A former jockey, whose American career included several seasons riding for Tom Voss, Murphy aims Dawalan, Rawnaq and Able Deputy at Saturday’s Grade 1 Colonial Cup in Camden, S.C.
At the Montpelier and Callaway Gardens steeplechase meets Nov. 7 and 8, jockey Darren Nagle won six races. But he singled out one. “The one that didn’t count was probably the most important one,” he said with a laugh after riding out for trainer Graham Motion Friday.
Canada geese returned to the infield of Saratoga's Oklahoma Training Track Sunday morning, a pit stop on their migration and a place nearly vacant of its equine inhabitants sans for a few stragglers soon to join their fowl friends at warmer points south.
“Definitely more geese than horses,” said Dave Lynett, one of regular clockers who works the Oklahoma with Joe Williams and Bob Hamlin.
The geese indeed outnumbered the horses on the final day of offseason training at the Oklahoma and people did, too. The final day’s work tab included just five names, all horses trained by Jim Bond, and only about twice that number trained on a dry, sunny and crisp mid-November morning in upstate New York.
The Iroquois Steeplechase, the richest spring meeting on the American jump-racing calendar, teams up with England’s Cheltenham Racecourse, home of the world famous Cheltenham Festival, on a $500,000 bonus next year.
The days are certainly getting shorter now and we’re steamrolling fast toward Thanksgiving. Plenty of top-shelf racing remains on the schedule between now and then and we’ve got you covered in this week’s edition of Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud, home of Alternation, Broken Vow and Cowboy Cal.
In about a week, it will be over. The 2015 National Steeplechase Association season will join the 120 or so before it in the past. In advance of the Colonial Cup next Saturday Nov. 21, let’s try to get caught up on the season that was.
Every owner, trainer or rider that came with a horse to last month’s Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover at the Kentucky Horse Park also brought at least one fascinating story with them to Lexington.
Amazingly we're a week removed from the 2015 Breeders' Cup World Championships yet still in the process of unpacking, digging out and going through notes and voice recorders for snippets of information from a whirlwind weekend in Lexington.
The Breeders’ Cup is in the books. So too are nearly all the state-bred championship events. The steeplechase season isn’t far behind, with just four meetings to go.
Despite that annual void at the top of the heap there’s a surprising amount of quality, interesting and competitive racing on tap for the final two months of 2015. One such day is Saturday. It’s so good that we’re bringing back the Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud, home of Alternation, Broken Vow and Cowboy Cal.
Four more? That’s it? Yes, jump-racing fans, only four race meets remain on the 2015 steeplechase calendar. And three of them are this weekend. The jumpers head to Georgia and Virginia Saturday and South Carolina Sunday. Then it’s a bye week, and the season wraps up with the Colonial Cup in Camden, S.C. Nov. 21.