One in a Million Kind of Horse

Sometimes a free horse defies expectations. “Green Gratto is just a superhorse.” Delivery truck driver, Gaston Grant, says his horse, Green Gratto, changed his life forever. What a great story!


Gun Runner Wins the Breeders Cup Classic

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

Gun Runner wins Breeders' Cup
Gun Runner led wire to wire to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic by 2 1/4 lengths

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.

Jeff Nahill, San Diego Tribune

Obviously, a horse like Gun Runner felt fine on the surface, so it may just be a personal preference. Maybe, too Gun Runner is peaking in his career at a time when Arrogate is ready to retire.

The real surprise winner of the  2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic, however, would have been the lucky person who bet $2 on the pick-six — that person would have walked away with $388,432.60.

Secretariat’s owner, Penny Chenery, dies at 95

Penny Chenery
Penny Chenery after Secretariat won the Triple Crown.

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.

Penny Chenery
Penny Chenery, Secretariat and Ronnie Turcotte after the Triple Crown.

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

Penny Chenery with Secretariat.
Penny Chenery with Secretariat.

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.”

Potential Steeplechaser?

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

Jockeys did a great job of avoiding the fallen jockey. Little did they know that they would have to avoid the mare when she jumped back in!

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.


Tapwrit wins the Belmont Stakes

Tapwrit Wins the Belmont Stakes

Tapwrit wins the Belmont Stakes
Tapwrit, ridden by Jose Ortiz and trained by Todd Pletcher, won the 149th Belmont Stakes.

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.



Cloud Computing wins the Preakness

Any hopes for a Triple Crown this year were dashed when Amazing Dream faded at

Cloud Computing
Cloud Computing ridden by Jorge Castellano won the Preakness by a head.

the quarter pole. While Classic Empire looked like he had the race locked up, Cloud Computing rallied in the home stretch and caught Classic Empire, winning by a head. The colt had a picture-perfect ride by jockey Jorge Castellano, who stalked the leaders and waited for the pace to take their toll. Coming off of a six week rest, Cloud Computing charged around Amazing Dream (who faded to eighth).

Although Cloud Computing had qualified for the Kentucky Derby, trainer Chad Brown and owners Seth Klarman and William Lawrence decided to skip the chaos of the 20-horse Derby.

“Certainly, I’m not going to dispute the fact that I brought in a fresh horse as part of our strategy,” Brown said. “Our horse is very talented too. Classic Empire and Always Dreaming are two outstanding horses, and our strategy was, if we are ever going to beat them, let’s take them on two weeks’ rest when we have six [weeks], and it worked.”

Cloud Computing is lightly raced and prior to the Preakness won two out his four starts, never finishing off the boards.