This is Horse Racing
As the spring steeplechase season fades and the summer season begins, we take a look back at the highlight of the spring. No doubt it was the Iroquois Steeplechase when Willie Mullins traveled the world with Nichols Canyon and Shaneshill May 14. With the $500,000 Brown Advisory Iroquois Cheltenham Challenge on the table, the top class hurdlers finished second and third behind Rawnaq in the race of the year.
TIHR caught up with Mullins (2) and Walsh after their heroic effort fell just short. Here’s the rest of their thoughts, comments and observations on the Iroquois and American steeplechasing.
Racing around the world from Beverley in the morning to Charles Town at night. While you're watching, think about the veterans who sacrificed for our freedom. There is nothing more free than watching horse race on Memorial Day Weekend. We are so lucky. Here’s your Saturday Special for the beginning of your Memorial Day Weekend.
Fair Hill. Real money. Real betting.
The Spring season comes to a close with Fair Hill’s annual Memorial Day card. Funnel cake and snow cones. Exactas and trifectas. Graded stakes winners and promising newcomers on the flat. Well-meant maidens and Saratoga-bound fillies and mares. High-rated handicap hurdlers clash for a cool $45,000 in the feature. And quality timber horses meander around Fair Hill’s iconic timber course.
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.
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.
Rain, rain go away. That will undoubtedly be the sentiment overnight Friday into Saturday as a significant amount of the wet stuff is expected in the Baltimore area for the 141st running of the Preakness Stakes and its supporting stakes program.
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.”
The biggest weekend on the Maryland circuit gets underway Friday with a blockbuster card highlighted by a loaded renewal of the Grade 3 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes on what could be the best weather day of the spring to date. The forecast calls for 70-degree temperatures and plenty of sunshine - a far cry from what's expected Saturday for the 141st Preakness Stakes at Old Hilltop.
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.
If you’re a steeplechase horseman in Maryland or Pennsylvania, or maybe a show rider from the local private school, you know the van. It’s a silver straight truck with a blue and white stripe around the middle, white International king cab, with a red silhouette of a jumping horse.
One may never confuse Eric Guillot with being an overly religious man. The quick-quipping Cajun is frequently crass, ever ebullient and unapologetically irreverent, but get to know him a bit and one will occasionally uncover a man of unique substance, intelligence and even a touch of humility.
The formal portion of the post-position draw just wrapped Wednesday night and a massive crowd gathered a little more than an arm’s length from the table of Gary Sherlock. The group swarmed to the connections of Nyquist – trainer Doug O’Neill, owner Paul Reddam and jockey Mario Gutierrez – and with good reason, he’s the Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness Stakes favorite after all.
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. Photography Tod Marks has the recap.
Champion and Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist will face 10 foes in his quest to stay undefeated and take the next step toward a possible Triple Crown bid in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
Wednesday was jog day at Pimlico Race Course for Reddam Racing’s Nyquist, who has been on a somewhat unusual training schedule of alternating days of jogging and galloping throughout the Kentucky Derby winner’s unblemished eight-race career.
Just before the start of the second race at the Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville, Tenn. May 14, Bailey Poorman looked concerned. Her friend and co-worker, 10-pound apprentice Keri Brion, was about to ride Lune De Caro in the handicap hurdle.
“Do you think she can do it?” Poorman asked with equal parts pride and worry. “How cool would it be to win your first race on that horse, and here?”
About six minutes later, Poorman – and everyone else – knew the answer.
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 how difficult it was to get a horse from 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.
Last year we rolled out what we called the Preakness Preview Bucket, a collection of the best work coming from the Maryland Jockey Club’s publicity staff in advance of the second jewel of the Triple Crown. We’re bringing it back this year as Nyquist gears up for the Preakness and in advance of our team hitting the ground in Baltimore later this week. First up is Sandy McKee’s look back at Hansel, dominating winner of the 1991 Preakness, and a roundup of Monday’s activity for each member of the 2016 field.