California Chrome’s first crop of foals is being born. The first is a strapping big colt out of Pay the Man on January 20th at Calumet Farm. While Chrome needs no
introduction, this youngster’s dam is impressive in her own right. Pay the Man is the highest-earning Ohio-bred filly in history. She won 27 of 76 starts over nine seasons of racing for $1,058,511, highlighted by 21 statebred stakes victories and 14 additional stakes placings. She was purchased as a broodmare for $95,000 and this is her third foal.
California Chrome’s second foal was born just two days later, also a colt.
California Chrome was bred to a reported 145 mares in 2017 with a stud fee of $40,000. Prepare for a cuteness overload.
2017 Horse of the Year, Gun Runner, topped off his racing career by winning the Pegasus World Cup today in Florida. The 5-year old chestnut colt ran a tremendous race, pulling away from West Coast in the stretch and bringing home $7 million of the $16 million purse. This was Gun Runner’s fifth straight win in Grade 1 races.
Gun Runner missed the inaugural Pegasus World Cup last year. He was stabled in mandatory quarantine at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans after an outbreak of equine herpes virus. Gulfstream Park insisted that he pass a blood test and a nasal swab to come to the track. His blood test came back negative but his owners refused to do the nasal swab because the test has a high number of false positives. The cold would have been sidelined for 30 more days if he had tested positive, which would have kept him from other races.
Gun Runner retires with nearly $16 million in earnings. His will go to stud in February.
For jockey Florent Geroux, the win was the final in a trifecta of achievements. On Thursday night, Gun Runner received the Eclipse Award as Horse of the Year. On Friday, he flew to Chicago where he took — and passed — the oral portion of his citizenship exam, and on Saturday he won the Pegasus World Cup. But for Geroux, the victories were tinged with sadness. His father, Dominique Geroux, a retired jockey and trainer died after a fall on Christmas morning. The elder Geroux had planned to come to the US to watch his son ride Gun Runner’s last race.
“You ride a thousand horses a year, and this one, there’s just something special,” said Geroux of his connection in Gun Runner. “I’m not a true believer in that, but I do believe now.”
Florent Geroux, after winning the 2017 Breeders Cup on Gun Runner
Horse trainer Joe Herrick and Lovely Finish, his filly, who were both burned at the San Luis Rey Downs Training Center in Bonsall on December 7 during the Lilac fire. The trainer lost six other horses in the fire but he and Lovely Finish managed to escape together, although both suffered extensive burns. Herrick says he always felt a bond with her, but that this experience made it even stronger. You can see how much the two care about each other. So many horses didn’t make it out, to see her progress in her recovery is inspiring.
This year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic was billed as the rematch of the Dubai World Cup, where Arrowgate sprinted by Gun Runner in the home stretch. But this time, Gun
Runner led wire to wire. Arrowgate, the defending Breeders’ Cup champion, broke poorly and never found his stride. Whether he just doesn’t like the Del Mar track — as he’s shown in the past. Or maybe he’s just not interested in racing any more, as Bob Baffert speculated. Having amassed more than $17 million dollars in winning — the most of any race horse ever, maybe he was just glad this was his last race.
Whatever the reason, it was Collected who challenged Gun Runner in the stretch. But Gun Runner put on a burst of speed and won decisively by 2 1/4 lengths.
What is it about the Del Mar track?
There’s been a lot written about track surfaces in the past few years as racing tries to reduce the number of breakdowns and injuries. In 2015, Del Mar returned to a dirt surface after eight years of using Polytrack, a synthetic surface. That year, nine horses broke down. In 2016, that number increased to 16.
While synthetic surfaces have their issues, the dirt track at Del Mar is deep and some horses just don’t like it. In August of this year, Arrowgate experienced a stunning upset, finishing 15 1/4 lengths behind Accelerate in the San Diego Handicap.
As one owner told me last week, “This isn’t California racing.” He meant that California racing is all about speed. Speed has been muted in this meet because Del Mar suffered a rash of fatal injuries last year, and it was a public relations nightmare.
So far this meet, there has been one fatality on the dirt main track (and one on the grass). There also have been slower-than-slow times, but at least it has been consistently slow, morning and afternoon.
Some trainers like the track, and others hate it. There have been multiple soft-tissue injuries to horses who have been sent to the farm and whom you won’t see again at the meet. A few owners won’t let their horses run.
Helen “Penny” Chenery, known as “Secretariat’s Mom” and the First Lady of Racing, died September 16th from complications following a stroke. Chenery was 95.
Chenery is best known for breathing life into her father’s Meadow Stable when his failing health left him unable to manage the farm. This part of her story became immortalized in the Disney movie, Secretariat, which shows her working against the odds in an industry dominated by men.
What the movie didn’t tell us was what an interesting and accomplished woman Penny Chenery was even before she bred Riva Ridge and Secretariat, fulfilling her father’s dream to win the Kentucky Derby not once, but twice.
Penny graduated from Smith College in 1943. Eager to help with the war effort, her first job was working for the naval architecture firm that designed Normandy landing craft. She then served as a nurse’s aide in a stateside hospital. In 1946, Chenery went to France and Germany with the American Red Cross, working with demobilizing GIs. Once home, she
entered Columbia Business School, one of only 20 women in her class. However, just six months before graduation, she became engaged to Jack Tweedy, a Columbia Law graduate. Her father pressured her to quit and concentrate on her wedding and she complied.
Chenery put that business school training to work when she ran Meadow Stable, taking the farm out of the red while also breeding two of the best racehorses ever.
Chenery went on to blaze more trails in the Thoroughbred Racing industry. To name just a few of her accomplishments, she was the first female president of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, was one of the first women elected to the Jockey Club, was the president of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, helped form the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and, in 2006 won the Eclipse Award of Merit for lifetime contributions to the Thoroughbred industry. In recent years, she advocated for laminitis research and care advancement as well as efforts to ban the use of performance-enhancing drugs in racing.
A true ambassador for the sport of racing, she was a great advocate for the horses. As she put it, “The horse can’t talk – but I can.”
This maiden claiming race at Canterbury Park had more than its share of drama. One horse flipped in the gate and was scratched. A second horse bolted and ran off before getting caught and scratched. Tiz a Princess then reared and dropped her rider, but that wasn’t enough. Moments after the horses broke from the gate, Tiz a
Princess took a sharp left toward the infield, losing her jockey again(!) and then jumped the rail.
But that wasn’t the end of it. As the horses headed into the far turn, Tiz a Princess jumped the rail again into the path of the oncoming runners. The jockeys on the leading horses, Jareth Loveberry on Razipat and Leslie Mawing on Battle Chic, anticipated an incident and slowed up their horses, altering course to avoid Tiz a Princess. The rest of the field slowed up as well.
Maybe Tiz a Princess should consider a career change. Steeplechasing might be a good choice.
There may not have been a Triple Crown winner this year, but Belmont stakes was an exciting race regardless, with Tapwrit closing in on Irish War Cry, who ran a strong race.
Tapwrit is only the second horse to win the Belmont from the #2 post position. He the tenth horse to have won the Belmont after running in the Kentucky Derby (Tapwrit finished 6th) and sitting out the Preakness.