Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fitting End

Jeffrey Tucker, founding partner of hedge fund investment group Fairfield Greenwich Group, has abruptly stopped all new construction on his huge horse farm (Stonebridge Farm) in Schuylerville NY (just outside Saratoga NY). He also wants to sell his thoroughbreds after losing some $7.5 billion in the Bernard Madoff scandal, according to the Times Union.

How fitting that on the last day of 2008, this article about Tucker is run on the front page of the Times Union (Albany, NY) in an "above the fold" story.

It's been an interesting year, in and out of the racing game. We saw a big triple crown hope fail to live up to expectations, Curlin, Eight Belles, Zenyatta, more talk of synthetic surfaces, attendance and handle declines, rain and more rain at the Spa, and a new 2 day format of the Breeders Cup.

For all the latest news and more as 2009 approaches, grab the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance feed.

We now turn the page, hope springs eternal, for tomorrow our 2 year old crops turns 3, and the optimist in me begs to come out.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Recession Proof?

As we read news articles and blogs about the state of economy further killing track handle and attendance, this report from NBC Nightly News of 12/29/08 reports that not only are State Lottery sales up in 29 of 42 states that sell lottery numbers and scratch off tickets but 22 states will have record sales in 2008. Many people apparently feel that if they have a few bucks left in the week to gamble with, it is far easier and certainty less challenging mentally to throw a buck on the counter of the local convenience store and buy a scratch off ticket rather than bury ones head in the Daily Racing Form and figure out a horse to bet on.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Saturday This n That

On this relatively mild day on the east coast NYRA runs its last Graded Stakes race of 2008, the $100,000 Grade III Gravesend Handicap over 6 Furlongs. When I think of Gravesend, I think of the Gravesend section of Brooklyn, having been there many times on business when living in the the NY City area. The Gravesend Handicap traces its roots back to the long gone Gravesend Bay Racetrack in Brooklyn New York.

For some great background history on the Racetrack and one particular race run way back in 1894, check out the Brooklyn Backstretch site.

As far as the 2008 edition, look for Lucky Island to run strong. With trainer Kiernan McLaughlin in Florida, assistant trainer Art Magnuson, who grew up a stones throw from Saratoga in Clifton Park NY, will saddle Lucky Island with Alan Garcia aboard.

On the west coast, Santa Anita opened with a opening day crowd of 33,100 -- an increase from last year's opening day crowd of 30,156. Check out Mary Forney's Blog for a report on the day featuring a Grade 1 Malibu Stakes win by Bob Black Jack.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

218 Days

Till opening day at Saratoga...Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Quote of the Day

"The best menu for a horse is hay, water and oats"
-John B. Simoni, New York Racing and Wagering Board.

These comments were made with reference to the ban on certain type of anabolic steroids for Thoroughbred and Standardbred Horses in New York State effective January 1, 2009. There will be no grace period and apparently the Racing and Wagering Board will be tough in enforcing the ban.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Quotes on Racing from Costas Now Year in Review Special

The HBO Costas Now Year in Review special as well as the follow up Costas Now Overtime on had some interesting quotes on Thoroughbred racing.

Bob Costas on Big Brown coming up short in the Triple Crown Chase:

"Another reminder that in the drama without a script that is sports, nothing is certain."

Charles Barkley responding to the question of Did he Bet on Big Brown:

"I don't bet on Animals"

Barkley on gambling on horses in general:

"Anything you hit, will run fast. That is not a big deal to me."

John McEnroe on Steroids in Sports:

"The dirtiest Sport right now is Horse Racing."

McEnroe speaking of past legal use of steroids in horse racing:

"Why was it legal"

Monday, December 15, 2008

Costas Now Year in Review Special

HBO Sports Show COSTAS NOW will have a live 90 minute broadcast on December 17 using a town hall setting. Hosted by Bob Costas, COSTAS NOW will focus on some of the biggest sports stories to emerge in 2008. Each segment will include a video segment, followed by a live panel discussion hosted by Bob Costas.

Any bets on if any Thoroughbred Stories will make the cut? Will The Big Brown triple crown chase get a mention, or perhaps the Eight Belles Tragedy? Or maybe these stories are no longer in the public memory bank, crowded out by other sports stories in the public eye this year such as Swimmer Michael Phelps, and the Giants dramatic Super Bowl Victory? The special will air on HBO from 9-10:30 pm Eastern time on Wednesday December 17th.

Ice Storm

As Saratoga County residents recover from the Ice Storm, a horse on a Saratoga County Farm peacefully enjoys the day.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Sports Illustrated Pictures of The Year: Zilch

The advertising challenged Sports Illustrated December 12, 2008 issue titled "Pictures of the Year" with subtitle "The Best Sports Photos of 2008" has no horse racing photos of any kind.

We already knew that Sports Illustrated did not cover this years Breeders Cup, but now SI apparently has abandoned horse racing coverage entirely. Photos of Big Brown, Curlin, Zenyatta, the Triple Crown Series, and all International Horse Racing photos were deemed not worthy of making the the Pictures of the Year issue.

The magazine (back when people actually got ink on their hands and read magazines) was once known for its horse racing photos, including Cover Shots over the years featuring Seattle Slew (twice), Secretariat and Kelso. It now ignores the sport.

In this "Pictures of The Year" issue you can find photos of the NFL, NBA, MLB, College Football and Basketball, Synchronized Swimming, Golf, Amateur Wrestling, NASCAR, INDY Racing, Formula One Racing, Soccer, The Summer Olympics, Rodeo, Ping Pong (yes, Ping Pong), and Greyhound Racing from Coral Brighton & Hove Greyhound Stadium in Great Britain. But you will find not one Horse Racing photograph of any kind.

SI's last Horse Racing Cover Photo was of Smarty Jones, pictured above, in an issue dated May 10, 2004

Monday, December 08, 2008


Only 1 week after 7 year old Wanderin Boy was euthanized after suffering an injury in the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct, 2 year old filly Megadiva was put down after breaking her front right leg in the 4th race at the Big A on Sunday 12/07/08. Jockey Rajiv Maragh also took a tumble off Megadiva. Rajiv took off the rest of his mounts for the day but is apparently ok. Fatality rates have been low at NYRA tracks in 2008, I believe this is the 23rd, but as always you wish it was Zero.

Last week in reading about the death of Wanderin Boy, I came across several writers, including Alan over at Left at the Gate, write about something I always wondered about. If these same horses were just out in a field or just stabled on someone's farm would the injury rate be significantly any less?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

2009 NYRA Stakes Schedule

Hats off to reader/commenter LJK, who tipped me off to the news that NYRA has released the Stakes Schedule for 2009 including the 2009 Saratoga Meet. The good news here is that every Saturday has a Grade 1 race, unlike 2008 when the 3rd weekend at the Spa saw no Graded Stakes races whatsoever, which yours truly was not happy about.

As pointed out by LJK, you can find the 2009 Stakes schedule by following this link over at

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Maylan Studart on Fox Network

19 Year old Female Jockey Maylan Studart has been getting quite the attention in the press and in the blogosphere and now has hit National Television with an appearance on the Fox Network's Fox and Friends on December 2nd. Beware, my leftist friends, Maylan states on her own blog that she loves Bill O'Reilly and watches Fox Network all the time. Maylan has 7 wins, 10 seconds and 7 third place finishes out of 56 starts at Aqueduct this Winter.

You can find the link to the Fox Interview here.