This is Horse Racing
Keri Brion told Jimmy Day her plan for the Foxfield feature. Standing in the paddock Sept. 25, the apprentice jockey explained to the veteran trainer how she was going to settle the 7-year-old Irish-bred behind expected frontrunner Bau Bai Gold.
“Good luck,” Day said, with a smirk.
The end of an era passed with barely a whimper August 31 as Rockingham Park closed its doors for the last time.
Rockingham, slated to be torn down and redeveloped into another housing project and shopping complex, was originally built as a poor man’s Saratoga. It was the summer place for horsemen to escape Suffolk Downs during the heat of summer with horses not quite good enough for Saratoga.
The $1.25 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx was supposed to be a dry-dirt showdown between Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist and his rival, Preakness hero Exaggerator, who defeated his nemesis on a sloppy track at Pimlico and in the Haskell at Monmouth Park. But neither was a factor as 11-1 Connect, owned by Paul Pompa and trained by Chad Brown, held off Steve Asmussen's Gun Runner. Connect's win, his fourth in six lifetime starts, further muddled the 3-year-old championship picture, making spectacular Travers winner Arrogate look even better heading into the Breeders' Cup. Photographer Tod Marks was at Parx with the recap.
The crew from This Is Horse Racing and The Saratoga Special awoke from their very brief post-Saratoga respite, got out and about in recent weeks and filled up their notepads and voice recorders with plenty of quips and quotes.
Sean McDermott had a choice for the timber feature at Shawan Downs Sept. 24. Jack Fisher aimed three horses at the $25,000 fall opener and gave the Irish-born jockey his choice between Two’s Company, Straight To It and Ballylifen.
Todd Pletcher’s spot in the Hall of Fame is as close to an absolute lock as there is in racing. He’s won seven Eclipse Awards, three U.S. classics, three Canadian classics, 10 North American earnings titles, nine Breeders’ Cup races and 145 Grade 1 stakes. Yes, 145.
Undefeated champion Songbird made it 11 in a row by taking the $1 million Cotillion at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Pa., Saturday Sept. 24, over tough competitors Carina Mia and Cathryn Sophia. Now it's on to the Breeders' Cup and a possible showdown with older mares Beholder and Stellar Wind. Photographer Tod Marks was on hand to watch the champ in action.
Hurricane Sandy blasted New Jersey – and much of the East Coast – in the summer of 2012, all but stranding trainers and horses at the New Jersey track. That’s when Monmouth Park-based trainer Mike Lerman got a phone call that changed his life.
Mike Smith makes sure he’s ready at the start of every race he rides. When he rides Songbird, he double-checks everything – because the start might be the hardest part.
A little punchy from being on the road in Saratoga and Belmont Park, the steeplechase schedule gets back to its roots this weekend with stops at Shawan Downs in Maryland Saturday and the Foxfield Races in Virginia Sunday.
The former hosts eight races while the latter cards five. Each spot will be a mix of racing and socializing by the tailgate spread, while also looking to lucrative races next month at Far Hills. The intrepid TIHR handicappers are back at it. Joe won the first half title, barely, hanging on to edge Sean by two while Tom finished off the pace in third (through July 11). It’s a new ballgame in September, however, as Tom took the early lead by picking Scorpiancer at Belmont. The Clancys were blanked.
Like a baseball player hitting the ball hard – but right at fielders – Scorpiancer was due. After winning two of his first three American starts last year, the Irish-bred lost five races to begin 2016.
For a guy who got sat on by a horse Thursday afternoon, Jack Doyle is pretty cheerful.
“I’m not feeling too bad,” the steeplechase jockey said Friday, about 24 hours after falling with Rudyard K in the Grade 1 Lonesome Glory at Belmont Park. “I’m a lot more comfortable than I was yesterday.”
Stash it under your hat brim while watching youth sports, fold it in your shirt sleeve while eating dinner, email it to yourself and take a gander when you can. Laurel and Parx put on Broadway-worthy cards while there’s action all over the country, the world. Songbird is just part of the show. Here’s your Saturday Special. Enjoy.
Tepin knew something was up the moment E. J. Bowler walked out of the office, a sweet potato bigger than a Chipotle burrito and knife in hand, after training wrapped up Thursday morning at the Casse Stables' barn at Saratoga Race Course.
An English jump jockey in America is not news, not anymore. But an English jump jockey who boxes, now that’s news. Alice Mills, whose background includes three-day eventing, tetrathlon, races on the flat and over jumps and – yes – boxing, recently arrived in Maryland for a job with leading trainer Jack Fisher and will be aboard two horses at Belmont Park Thursday.
Robbie Davis watched Ribbonite dash through the stretch to win the $116,775 Lady Fingers Stakes about two weeks ago and immediately flashed back nearly 18 years to one of his biggest wins as a jockey for one of the most respected horseman of all time.
At Keeneland November in 2012, bloodstock agent Steve Young spent $310,000 to buy a weanling for owner Bob LaPenta. As a son of leading sire Tapit and Grade 2 winner Spice Island, and a half-brother to Grade 1 winner Ice Box, the colt looked the part.
Then he didn’t.
You ready for some jump racing? The National Steeplechase Association’s autumn (let’s not say fall) racing schedule comes to life Thursday at Belmont Park and extends into racing Saturday at Shawan Downs in Maryland and Sunday at Foxfield in Virginia.
Jovial, witty and distinctly British, 33-year-old U.K. transplant Tom Morley recently enjoyed his best Saratoga Race Course meeting highlighted by two graded stakes victories by Haveyougoneaway.
We’re out of the weeds – a little bit – settled down and ready for a monster day of racing highlighted by the return of champion Tepin. The mid-September edition of Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud, home of Alternation, Broken Vow and Cowboy Cal, previews all the action from Ayr to Woodbine, Albuquerque to Newmarket and Charles Town to Listowel.