Move Over Soccer, Here Comes Team Pharoah

2Tonko Letter to WH (1) (1)
Citing the tradition of the White House honoring America’s leading athletes, Representative Paul Tonko, the Co-Chairman of the Congressional Horse Caucus has requested the accomplishments of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and his team be honored in a White House ceremony.

In a July 14 letter to President Barack Obama, Tonko, who represents New York’s 20th Congressional District that includes Saratoga Race Course, outlined the accomplishments of American Pharoah’s Triple Crown campaign.


Video courtesy of America’s Best Racing

An American Pharoah Tail

Triple Crown winners, like Secretariat, Affirmed and Seattle Slew, are revered. This year is no different, the Millennials have taken American Pharoah as their own on his trip to win the Triple Crown.

And that means American Pharoah has his own hashtag, #HailTheTail and videos on Youtube, including an homage to his short, brushy tail. It is early to see if American Pharaoh’s own millennial peers, maybe the sharp looking Frosted or dark-maned Mubtaahij, will be early-adapters of a bobbed, piecey tail for summer-into-fall racing.

For a boots-on-the-ground recap of American Pharoah’s Triple Crown celebrations, watch this and regret all over again foregoing that trip to the Belmont.

Both videos are used with permission from America’s Best Racing

Triple Crown Belmont Stakes Press Conference #1 Transcript

 *Last night’s post-race Belmont Stakes Press Conference transcript provided by NYRA
Triple Crown Transcript 

ELMONT, N.Y. – JIM MULVIHILL:  All right, ladies and gentlemen, as we await the arrival of the owner and trainer, let’s go ahead and welcome the winning jockey, of the Triple Crown, Victor Espinoza.  Victor Espinoza.  Congratulations Victor.  Thank you.

All right.  Ladies and gentlemen, we are delighted to be joined downstairs now by the winning connections of the Belmont Stakes, an American Racing Triple Crown, American Pharoah.  We’ve got the winning connections up here and we’ll have plenty of time for questions but we would like to welcome Chris Kay of the New York Racing Association.  Chris, you have the floor.

CHRIS KAY:  Thank you.  Thank you all for being here today.  When we put this day together back in February, we thought it would be great racing, great hospitality, we had no idea et would be one of the most fantastic days and racing history and I want to thank Mr. Zayat, Mr. Baffert and Victor for making it unbelievable.  Congratulations to all of you.

JIM MULVIHILL:  Thank you for that, Chris.  Chris will be here if anyone has questions for him after we talk to the connections but now we would like to welcome from my left to the right, Justin Zayat is having a seat here, Ahmed Zayat, Trainer Bob Baffert and Jockey Victor Espinoza.

And Bob Baffert, I think I would like to start with you, maybe you can tell us what’s going through your mind right now and the last half hour.
Bob Baffert

BOB BAFFERT:  Well, before we came up here from the barn, somebody asked Bode if he was nervous and he said ten times for nervous than the Derby.  And I asked him why, and he said because the race is really, really .

We had the horse, we were hoping we had the horse, and once Victor got him in the clear, got him in that beautiful mode of the way he just goes over the ground, I just love every fraction, I love that, talking to Jill the whole way around there, hit the 37 and turning for home, I was prepared for somebody coming because I’ve gone through this so many times and I was just hoping for once, I could just tell by the eight ball that it was going to happen and all I did was just take in the crowd.  The crowd was just — it was thundering and I was just enjoying the call and the crowd, the noise, and everything happening.  Thirty-seven years, I’m part of this but you know what, that little horse, he deserved it.  He’s a great horse.  And the way he’s been all winter and this spring is just like, you know, that’s why everybody was just hoping.  And I was here in town, I was listening to every news station and people were saying, well, you know, it never happens and everybody gets up for it, but there’s something about this horse that he just brought it every time and just enjoyment to be around.  I wasn’t really as nervous as I usually am before these because I really felt I had the horse and I felt confident when I saddled him, I could tell, I told Victor in the paddock, dude, he is ready, go ahead and ride him with confidence, and he did.  And that’s the only way, ride him with extreme confidence, put him on the lead, go for it.  If he doesn’t make it, don’t worry about it, we tried.  We had fun but he just kept rocking, rolling.  What a feeling, still, it’s probably going to take a few days to sink in because I had my kids here and everybody got to enjoy it.  Savannah, she’s here somewhere.  I was holding her in my arms when she was four years old for Real Quiet and luckily she doesn’t remember that.

But this is going to be the moment, I just, we’ll never forget this.  Bode, hopefully you’ll never forget it.

What was the best part of the racing thing?

BODE BAFFERT:  Winning.

BOB BAFFERT:  He is all his mother, Jill.  But he said — my phone — he says he doesn’t want to be a horse trainer.

What do you want to be?

BODE BAFFERT:  Meteorologist.

BOB BAFFERT:  It’s a lot easier on the body.

JIM MULVIHILL:  Thanks, Bob.

Mr. Zayat, I want to go to you next, tell us what you were feeling in the stretch and immediate aftermath of the race.

AHMED ZAYAT:  As Bob just said, I don’t think it sunk in yet.  I’m feeling I’m in the company of a great race in my state, total gratifying but as Bob said before, I have been extremely confident all week.  All week.  And I looked at my wife in the post parade and I told her get ready to be the owner of the 12th Triple Crown winner.  He looked unbelievable focused.  Honest.  Relaxed.  Full of energy.  The horse, just, it’s not about any of us, and I can sit here for hours and praise the brilliant job that Bob, Victor, and team have done.  I spoke about it through the whole trade, but at this juncture it’s about the defining of the greatness of American Pharoah.  I have been through the whole time saying he’s a very good horse, he could be special but in order for you to come and win the Triple Crown, you have to define greatness, and as Bob said before, he does everything so easy.  We all wanted it.  We wanted for the sport.  So I’m happy for the horse, for the fans, and for this man who have done — you all know, in order to get a horse off an injury to come and compete and do what he does, everything have to go perfect but you have to be literally a magician.  You have to be an incredible, incredible, incredible trainer.  Jim Barnes, okay, have been with the horse in the road since March.  Have not seen his family.  That is the dedication of that team.

This man here, Victor, rode this horse like Bob always told him, you are sitting on a Ferrari.  I mean, he moves like a Ferrari, he runs like a Ferrari.  But, again, this is not about none of us, this is about American Pharoah and what does this mean to our beautiful sport.

JIM MULVIHILL:  Very good.  Well, it certainly all came together today.

Victor, now I would now like to go to you, if you could describe the trip and the decision to go straight in the lead out of the gate and tell us about the beginning and then the entire trip.

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  He walked into the gate and amazing, he was ready today.  You know what?  I notice like when I finished, I sit in the saddle, so much power, so much energy this horse he has.  Bob, he trained this horse just perfect.  Unbelievable, today’s race.  He can’t do better than any other times that I rode this horse.  Perfect.  That make my job more easy, sort of that confidence, and warming up, he was just class, all class.  You know?  He was just ready.  Broke into the gate and he was just perfect.  Another horse next to me, he move in, he moved back and as soon as he moved back, they opened the gate and he just kind of, you know, missed just a little, little touch but I send right away, my plan just open up, you know, out of the gate and hit one or two lengths and for that I can slow him down and let him just be happy and run the racetrack.  It was just so nice to be on a horse like American Pharoah.  I’m telling you on the first turn, that was the best feeling I ever had.

JIM MULVIHILL:  And how about into the stretch, tell us about, as you heard the crowd erupt, can you hear that from the saddle and tell us about the final quarter mile.

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  No, I was so concentrated on this horse.  You know what?  I’ve been here three times.  It was not easy for me.  I don’t even get excited.  I was excited the first time that I would be in the lead like one length, but turning for home, you know, this has not happened yet, I want to cross the wire.  I just grabbed the reins and he just took off.  It’s just an amazing feeling that you have when it’s like 20 yards out of the wire and you’re like three or four lengths in front.  It’s unbelievable.  At the wire, it was like, I can’t believe I did.  Nevertheless, I win the Triple Crown right now but I don’t make any money because I’m donating all the money to City of Hope.

(Applause).

JIM MULVIHILL:  From this race?

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  Yes.  Everything, I donate.  I don’t — the most important for me is just win this race because I benefit two times, I feel like a loser the last two times and then today, you know, for me today it was, the money, whatever I make I donate to people with cancer, whatever I can help, any young kids hopefully to get better, but, you know, it’s just amazing that I come here, that I win already the Triple Crown.  It’s unbelievable.  I looked at that trophy, I was excited and kind of angry because two times I can’t get it until now.

JIM MULVIHILL:  Well, you got this one.

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  I want to thank everyone, Ahmed Zayat and his family and my family and Bob, too.  Bob picked me to ride American Pharoah, that was all him.

JIM MULVIHILL:  Very good.  I know we have a lot of questions in the room and as we have them, give me a moment to relay the question so the folks in the press box can hear it.  Questions in the room.

           

            Q.  When is your next race?

JIM MULVIHILL:  The question was:  When is the next race, but in all seriousness you said he’ll race the rest of the year but now that you’ve won a Triple Crown, would you like to tell us whether we will see American Pharoah race again?

AHMED ZAYAT:  Are you kidding me?  Obviously, those decisions are made by Bob.  Bob is unbelievable caretaker.  The horse will come first.  We have to see how he comes out of the race.  But knowing Bob, knowing how competitive he is, we would like to enjoy him as long as we can but he have to come up, he have a very, very long campaign.  I personally made a promise to my family and to the fans more than anybody else.  We need to enjoy our stars and race them as long as we possibly good.

Now, saying that, I will not say things I can’t deliver.  The stud he have been sold.  He will probably retire at the end of this year.  Can this change?  Possibly, I can’t promise.  I don’t make that decision.  But as long as Bob is telling me that he’s healthy and he has it in him, I would like to enjoy him as much as I have him.

JIM MULVIHILL:  Other questions from the room.

           

            Q.  As you’re sitting here watching the replay as it came in?

JIM MULVIHILL:  The question was what was Victor thinking watching the replay as we were waiting here.

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  I want to see at the gate, he kind of snapped back a little bit, that was good.  He got his weight behind and push it, so much power there.  Just two jumps, I was right in the lead.  I mean, I was just right there, I don’t know what pole it is, half mile,  five-eights, I was having fun.

           

            Q.  Bob, earlier in the week you downplayed getting a Triple Crown but now that it’s happened, what does it mean to you?

BOB BAFFERT:  Well, I mean, I really, I wanted to see it happen but to me I really don’t, I don’t look at it as, I think the Triple Crown is about the horse.  I really think American Pharoah, the name American Pharoah will always be remembered.  It was about him because he’s the one that did it.  I mean, we were just basically passengers.  This horse could have ended up in anybody’s barn and he raised him and we just, you know, I have a great team and I was so fortunate to have a horse like that, that, you know, Jill and I, we’re going to make also — you’re not the only one giving to charity, we are giving 50,000 to thoroughbred aftercare, CARMA of California, Old Friends 50,000 and 50,000 for the permanently disabled jockeys in memory of  Bobby Adair, one of the greatest jockeys ever.  I want to share this, I want to make sure that those horses that we really love, that we have to take care of them and I just want to give back.  So win, lose, or draw I was going to do it and, you know, Jill and I, we just really enjoy this game and I’m enjoying this game more so than I ever have because, you know, I can just tell it’s brought so much joy, just with everything.  And this horse, he’s a dream come true.

You know, I don’t know if I’ll ever have another horse like that.  I’ve had some great horses.  I’m just going to enjoy this one.  And next time you see him, believe me, I will have him ready.

AHMED ZAYAT:  Hold on, I want to add to this man.  He said anybody can have this horse in his barn.  No.  Yes, nobody can make a horse, a slow horse a fast horse, nobody can, but it’s a trainer who cares, who can develop a horse.  A trainer who cares knows when to stop a horse, when we’re all tempted to run him before the Breeder’s Cup.  We scratched him on Tuesday on the race on Saturday.  Everybody in California will tell you that this horse was breezy and working honestly like people are saying like Seattle Slew.  There’s no way, if this horse will have been beaten but for him to care so much and to know that this horse, it’s the right time to do right by him and stop him, then not to lose any condition of this horse being off for 60 days and coming back and literally going like clock-wise every day, not to miss a beat in order for him to come and go — you know what?  This horse is six time Grade One winner already when we are already in June.  It takes a special trainer.  It takes a special team.  And I want to salute him and thank him, I’m grateful to you, Bob, for giving the pride for my family and everybody.  More importantly, for the sport that needed it.

Thank you so much.

(Applause)

           

            Q.  Bob, can you talk about how emotional this is for you?

BOB BAFFERT:  It’s very emotional for me because, you know, Jill carries a lot of the weight in the house because she knows how disappointed being a horse trainer can be.  The highs and lows and she keeps me going.  And Bode, who is so much like Jill, the passion, and I could tell, he’s around it, I could tell just the last couple of days, just by the way Jill and Bode were a little bit on edge.  We knew something was coming up big and, you know, Bode was prepared.  You have to prepare yourself for disappointment, otherwise it will wear on you.  And all I could think about today, it didn’t dawn on me we started walking up, I forgot to take my heart medication this morning.  I thought, oh, man.  So I had to keep cool.

But I’m glad that, Victor, it was a smooth trip for him but it’s one of those days that I’m really enjoying it, really enjoying the moment and I have a great team.   Jimmy Barnes, the staff, Mike Marlow, Los Alamitos, he had him at Los Alamitos first.  You can’t do it without a great team because you need everybody there and it was like, you know, our barn runs really smoothly and everything has — to get to this point, we were really lucky.  This horse got us here.  He had what it takes.  Not only you have to be a good horse, but you have to be able to take the constant, the turnaround.  And this horse, I have never in my life had a horse that you could ship him this many times and still, he’s amazing.  I’m telling you, I’ve never seen — he’s — there’s something about him that you measure his heart or do whatever, everybody, every genius will come out and say he’s got the biggest heart.  I don’t know.  God put him in my hands and it’s like he is just an incredible animal and so I owe it all to him.  I mean, this was American Pharoah.  And when we sent him in, we knew he was a good horse.  I saw the video.  But you got to admit, that is a great name they gave him.  You know, we would have liked to have seen BodeMister go through this but unfortunately…

JIM MULVIHILL:  Hey, Bob, we had a few follow-ups from upstairs.  Can you clarify for the record your mom’s name?

BOB BAFFERT:  Ellie and Bill Baffert, Eleanor.

JIM MULVIHILL:  There was also a question upstairs about the aluminum pad today, can you talk about the equipment?

BOB BAFFERT:  I’m going to put that pad on Ebay.

           

            Q.  Bob, what do you mean this means for the game for now and for the next few years, will it give it a boost?  Will Pharoah transcend sports?

BOB BAFFERT:  I don’t think anyone was really thinking about that.  We’re always thinking what’s he going to do.  I think we just, we get to share, I think what the Triple Crown is about, we get to share somebody great, greatness, with everybody.  Everybody got to see it.

I remember watching Secretariat, I was watching it with my dad at the lodge on a little TV, I just remember that and so I was talking to Penny Chenery today, she’s such a sweetheart, and she’s been coming, poor thing, for the last 37 years and finally getting it done and she’s just a sweetheart but it’s one of those things where I think everybody in the industry, it makes us feel really good about our sport, like anything in a championship game.  I remember watching Zenyatta win the Breeder’s Cup Classic, I felt so good about our sport.  We need something like that.  And I think just watching him run today, everybody came to see something great.

JIM MULVIHILL:  Mr. Zayat, that’s come up a lot this week, can we get your opinion, what does the Triple Crown mean for racing going forward?

JUSTIN ZAYAT:  I’m hoping it will bring a lot of young new fans into the game, a lot of owners and I hope every time I come to this track it will be as packed as it is today.

JIM MULVIHILL:  Justin, you’ve had a lot of emotional reactions throughout the Triple Crown.  Tell us after the race for you.

JUSTIN ZAYAT:  I cried today.  I didn’t throw up this time.  It was a little more emotional but I’m just so thankful to have a horse like American Pharoah to be the 12th Triple Crown winner, a dream come true for all racing.  I’m thankful for Bob Baffert, he gave us our first Derby and I’m happy we could give him a Triple Crown.

           

            Q.  Ahmed, how did you spend the day and did you end up on your long-shot specialty?

AHMED ZAYAT:  In the morning, I start talking to Lydia, I start getting really, really nervous.  I get a text message from a keen handicap person, it’s raining and they’re sealing the track and Bob would know, I became very, very nervous.  We knew that he’s coming in as best as horse can come to a race, we been saying that all week and everybody was seeing that.  Certain things are out of your hand, variable, track.  We know he doesn’t take his track where he goes.  We know that he can run on a fast track, he can run in a monsoon, literally storm.  But one thing from my experience in this game is that a tired track is probably the worst surface that any thoroughbred could run, American Pharoah or anybody else.  It’s too demanding.  A lot of them are too young, going the first time a mile-and-a-half, so I start getting really nervous.  So literally now to answer your question, all the day I’ve been watching the bias on every single race, I’m sorry, Chris, not a single bet all day, and I was really trying to figure, you know, it was all long-shot every day.  Ten-to-one, ten-to-one, seven to — I said, holy, like sometimes when the trend go this way, you start getting nervous.  That’s — I was trying to get distracted, enjoying the fans, talking about — a fun day actually.

           

            Q.  Victor, I’m curious, not just the Triple Crown but what does it feel like to be on a Grade One winner, three times in eight weeks? 

How does that happen?

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  Wow, it was amazing.  But I want to say one thing, I want to thank Martin Garcia for working this horse.

(Applause)

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  He work, he did an unbelievable job for getting him ready for the race.

What was the question?  I forgot.

           

            Q.  What does it feel like to be on a Grade One winner four times in eight weeks on four different tracks?

VICTOR ESPINOZA:  Amazing, it’s like you’re driving fast cars comparing to slow ones, but just a special horse since the first time I rode him.  I rode him the first time not even know who is American Pharoah and when I rode him, I send out of the gate and it was just unbelievable.  The only thing I can say is just, wow.  After the ride, it’s just, wow.  I don’t want to jinx myself but I think I have a Kentucky Derby winner.  Who knows what’s going to happen.  Triple Crown, it’s just amazing.  That was the best.

JIM MULVIHILL:  Another one from upstairs for you is, Mr. Zayat, what does it do for Pioneer of the Nile?

AHMED ZAYAT:  This whole line have been nothing but a blessing in my life, in our life, in our family.  Talking about this horse what he done at stables.  It’s just mindbogglingly.  I’m usually very attached to our horses and, you know, sometimes better lucky than smart and at this juncture markets were really soft and we typically when we syndicate or we sell our stallion, I think stay around 25 percent, actually this guy for this guy I stay for 75 percent.  So we became very attached to the horse.  Obviously Bob trained him.  In my opinion, he was the most underestimated — he won everything.  He literally won everything yet he didn’t have the wow effect that Pioneer — that, for example, American Pharoah has.  It’s just because he was a horse — getting the job done was out-wowing him so we did the stallion, he is a very good stallion, the sign of a good stallion, Littleprincessemma, she got injured, we know she was a very nice horse but he moved everything, it’s all the stallion.

JIM MULVIHILL:  We have time for a few more, Bob. Jennie Reese would like to know the shipping plans, going back to Churchill Downs?

BOB BAFFERT:  Yes, he’s going to Churchill Downs.  He’ll go back there and let him freshen up.  He likes the stable where he was born and grew up.  Get some bluegrass.

           

            Q.  When is he going back to Churchill?

BOB BAFFERT:  I believe tomorrow.

           

            Q.  What time will you be at the barn? 

What time does he leave?

BOB BAFFERT:  He was supposed to leave Monday but they changed the flight, so I’m not sure what time the plane leaves.  They keep changing.

           

            Q.  Will it be in the morning?

BOB BAFFERT:  I probably won’t be there in the morning.  I’m going to sleep in.  Jill says we’ll be there.

           

            Q.  Thank you, Jill.  We love you?

JIM MULVIHILL:  Last question, in the room.

           

            Q.  Bob, were you surprised, I mean, obviously you went wire-to-wire and you knew in the paddock he was ready to go.  Were you surprised in the manner in which he won?

JIM MULVIHILL:  Was Bob surprised about the manner in which he won?

BOB BAFFERT:  Well, you’re always hoping.  I thought that, you know, you’re always worried about the mile-and-a-half and so — and the track was getting a little bit deeper, the day was drawing out, but, I don’t know, he just, I could tell by Victor’s body language that he was really down the backside, in the far turn, turn for home, I was watching Victor because, like in the Derby, he just didn’t bring his A game that day and just like I said lost it, in the paddock.  In the Derby we were just lucky to get by that one and the rest of these races were so much easier on him.  So, you know, he needed one stiff race, it was the Derby so we were lucky that we won the Derby though.

JIM MULVIHILL:  Gentlemen, thank you for your time.  Congratulations again to the Belmont Stakes winner American Pharoah.

AHMED ZAYAT:  Triple Crown winner.

 

-30-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secretariat Redux, Updated Articles, Videos!

Secretariat needs no introduction.

The images of his glowing copper form streaking past the Belmont Stakes’ finish line, thereby winning the Triple Crown, are forever burnished in our collective minds.

I’ve parsed through countless (it seems) clips, articles and websites covering Secretariat. Here is a selection of my favorites. Enjoy!

UPDATES

Triple Crown 2015: Why Secretariat was the greatest ever” Jerry Izenberg, The Star Ledger

Secretariat birthplace designated historic siteAssociated Press, Virginia Pilot

SI 60 Q&A: William Nack on what ‘Pure Heart’ and Secretariat mean to himTed Keith, Sports Illustrated

“Secretariat’s Jockey on Winning the Triple Crown at Belmont, 40 Years Ago”  Andrew Cohen, The Atlantic Monthly

 

 Life & Times of Secretariat, YouTube.com, PlanetHorseDVD

VIDEOS
New Bonus!!  SECRETARIAT – Heart Of A Champion 13 minute featurette including vintage clips and clips from Disney’s Secretariat film

Penny Chenery, owner of Secretariat, sits down with BloodHorse.com‘s Lenny Shulman to share her remembrances of Big Red and his legendary career.

The Immortal SECRETARIAT, Enjoy Big Red living large on the farm, with his handlers and admirers remembering his personality and greatness. YouTube.com, cf1970

Secretariat, ESPN Classic’s SportsCentury.

Secretariat Didn’t Like Roses!, This is a rare clip of Secretariat after the 1973 Kentucky Derby. After he got the roses, he tried to bolt! Check out how mature he is, a neck like a 4- or 5-year old… YouTube

FILMS

Penny & Red, The Life of Secretariat’s Owner, 2013

Secretariat, 2010

WEB SITES
Secretariat.com: Out of the gate … and into history

Secretariat’s Meadow Blog

Secretariat. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Eddie Sweat. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

PERIODICALS
“Secretariat Remains No. 1 Name in Racing” by Ron Flatter, Special to ESPN.com

“Putting A New Light On The Derby” by Whitney Tower, Sports Illustrated, April 30, 1973 Before the 1973 Kentucky Derby, Whitney Tower scrutinizes the Derby field.

“Crunch Went The Big Red Apple” by George Plimpton, Sports Illustrated, July 09, 1973

“Pure Heart”by William Nack, Sports Illustrated, October 24, 1994. In this SI Classic from 1990, Nack relives the greatest ride of his life: Secretariat’s thrilling career as a racehorse.

“Secretariat” by Dan Illman, DRF.Com, September 23, 2010

“To the Swift: Red Smith on Secretariat”by the New York Times, June 6, 2008

BOOKS
Secretariat: The Making of a Champion By William Nack

Secretariat’s Meadow by Kate Chenery Tweedy

The Big Red Horse, The Secretariat Story by Lawence Scanlan, For young readers and up.

Secretariat, by Raymond Woolfe, Jr. and Ron Turcotte

The Horse God Built: The Untold Story of Secretariat, the World’s Greatest Racehorse by Lawrence Scanlan

 

BIZARRE

SECRETARIAT WAS NOT A CHRISTIAN” Roger Ebert, RogerEbert.com

 

Alfred Vanderbilt Selected By Racing Hall of Fame

The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame has announced
the selection of Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt to be inducted into the
Pillars of the Turf category

Through his contributions to Thoroughbred racing that resonate to this day, Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, 1912-1999, was one of the architects of the golden years of racing spanning the 20th century. The young man who devised the match race of the century between Seabiscuit and War Admiral, and whose homebred Native Dancer influences the pedigrees of Thoroughbreds to this day, became a horseman accepted as a peer by the finicky and fickle population that makes up horse racing.

Whereas Vanderbilt had to earn his racing stripes one at a time, outside of the track milieu his own pedigree from a storied American family gave him advantages in terms of access and wealth. A great-great-grandson of transportation and shipping magnate Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt, young Alfred lost his father in 1915 when the Lusitania sank. As an adult, one week might find Vanderbilt sitting outside the Dancer’s stall shooting the breeze with Lester Murray, Dancer’s groom. The next week he might be on safari with Ernest Hemingway.

As a teenager, the racing bug sank its bite into Vanderbilt and never let go. At 21, he was given his mother’s racing stable and its horse farm base in Maryland, Sagamore Farm. Racehorses raised at Sagamore include Native Dancer, Find, Bed o’ Roses and the memorably named Social Outcast. Vanderbilt’s cerise and white silks were immediately recognizable out on the track and in the winners’ circle. Those silks were last seen as his homebred filly Opening Address was sent out alone to gallop over the Aqueduct track as part of Vanderbilt’s memorial service in December 1999.

Alfred Vanderbilt sports illustrated coverVanderbilt’s involvement in racing went far beyond being an owner-breeder. He had a knack for racecourse management and brought his skills to Pimlico, the Westchester Racing Association − the precursor of the New York Racing Association (NYRA). He was chair of the board and CEO of NYRA for four years. Early on in his racing career, Vanderbilt was dissatisfied with the starting procedures of racing so he developed the starting gate; at the other end of a race, Vanderbilt pioneered the use of a photo-finish camera.

In August 1963, Vanderbilt was featured in a Sports Illustrated cover story that outlined his concerns about where racing was headed and what was needed to remedy the situation. The points made in the article concerning industry leadership and uniform standards are as relevant today as they were 52 years ago.

One of Vanderbilt’s roles outside of racing was as an advocate for veterans. He served as a lieutenant on a PT boat in the Pacific in World War II, earning a Silver Star for gallantry. After the war, he was the head of the World Veterans’ Fund.

Racing Heads to Kentucky Derby & Beyond

How can it be? The Kentucky Derby 2015 is upon us. The preps are done and the scores have been racked up to identify the 20 horses that will explode out of the starting gate next Saturday. But wait, there have been some interlopers this year, taking the focus away from the feeding frenzy of Derby fever.

Older Horses Get All The Attention

Last year’s Kentucky Derby winner, California Chrome flew over to Dubai in in mid-March to get ready for the globe’s richest race, the Dubai World Cup. He was a closing second as he ran out of track. Chrome is a colossally game colt and deserves the fervor of his fans, the Chromies.

Racing under the mantle of Dumbass Partners, Chrome’s owners elected for him to stay abroad after Dubai, sending him to Newmarket in the U.K. to get ready to run on the turf in the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 17. With Chrome’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness wins last year, the two DAP partners got carried away and started believing their own press. It was ugly. Nevertheless, hats off to them for sending Chrome on the road to face the best in the world. What are the odds we will be seeing a Stetson or two among the requisite top hats mandated by the race meet’s dress code? The prospect of the DAP boys at Royal Ascot is a scenario Mark Twain would relish.

This year, Chrome’s rival from California, Shared Belief won the San Antonio Invitational Stakes–Grade 2 (where he bested California Chrome), and the Santa Anita Handicap–Grade 1. Passing up Dubai or a run at Royal Ascot, Shared Belief was flown to West Virginia to run in the $1,500,000 Charles Town Classic Stakes–Grade 2 on April 18. Out of the gate, jockey Mike Smith felt something awry with the way Shared Belief was travelling and pulled him up. A nuclear scintigraphy scan revealed a non-displaced fracture of his right hip. Shared Belief was flown back to California and will recuperate at Pegasus Training and Equine Rehabilitation Center in Redmond Washington, one of the finest rehabilitation facilities in the U.S.

Back to the Derby

With an expected field of 20, it’s hard to tout a horse until the post positions are drawn. A horse that gets a spot close to the rail has a tough trip ahead, that is unless Calvin Borel is in the irons on El Kabeir, then all bets are off. As for the trainers of the Derby horses, they’ve done their jobs and conditioned their horses to a fine pitch. From hereon in, the trick is to keep their horses sound and well through to the finish of the race. Watch any one of those 20 horses, and you’ll see a thousand pounds of muscle and brawn ready to rumble.

In an interesting twist, South African trainer Mike De Kock has sent a Dubai-based colt to run for the roses. Mubtaahij will likely be the only horse to run without the benefit of the controversial diuretic Lasix, that is believed to prevent pulmonary hemorrhaging. Talk to five horse racing professionals about Lasix and you’ll get five differing opinions, running the gamut from whining to righteous indignation.

Whining, indignation, race day medication? Welcome to America, Mr. De Kock.

Text of the Udall Legislation to Deregulate Parimutuel Wagering

114TH CONGRESS

1ST SESSION               S.

ll

To deregulate interstate commerce with respect to parimutuel wagering on horseracing, and for other purposes.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

llllllllll

Mr. UDALL introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred

to the Committee on llllllllll

A BILL

To deregulate interstate commerce with respect to parimutuel wagering on horseracing, and for other purposes.

1 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representa2 tives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

  • SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
  • This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Teller All Gone Horse-
  • racing Deregulation Act of 2015’’.
  • 2. FINDINGS; BACKGROUND.
  • (a) IN GENERAL.—Congress makes the following 8 findings:

9 (1) Congress enacted the Interstate Horse10 racing Act of 1978 (Public Law 95–515; 15 U.S.C. 1      3001 et seq.) to regulate interstate commerce with

  • respect to parimutuel wagering on horseracing in
  • order to further the horseracing industry of the 4 United States.
  • (2) In 2000, Congress amended such Act to
  • allow parimutuel wagering by telephone and over the 7 Internet, a gambling privilege no other sport enjoys. 8 (3) The use of performance-enhancing drugs in 9 horseracing is widespread in the United States,
  • where no uniform regulations exist with respect to
  • the use of, and testing for, performance-enhancing 12 drugs in interstate horseracing.
  • (4) A 2012 New York Times investigation
  • found that, on average, every week 24 horses die
  • racing, a high equine fatality rate likely caused by
  • the misuse of permitted medication and abuse of ille-
  • gal drugs.
  • (5) A 2013 horseracing industry study found
  • that a large majority of parimutuel wagering partici20 pants avoid wagering at certain tracks and when

21 certain trainers compete because they assume illegal 22 drug use affects race results.

23 (6) Total parimutuel wagering on Thorough24 bred horseracing in the United Stated declined 30

25          percent from 2002 to 2014.

  • (7) The Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 has
  • not met its original policy goal of furthering the 3 United States horseracing industry.

4                       (b) BACKGROUND FOR INCLUDING THE NAME OF A

5 RACEHORSE IN SHORT TITLE.—The purpose in providing 6 the short title used in this Act is to honor horses who

7 died while competing in races with interstate, off-track wa8 gering authorized under the Interstate Horseracing Act of 9 1978. Teller All Gone was an American Quarter Horse 10 who last competed as a two-year old on September 3, 11 2011. A race observer noted that Teller All Gone bid,

12 dueled, and lugged in before going wrong and falling after 13 the finish line.

  • 3. REPEAL OF INTERSTATE HORSERACING ACT OF
  • (a) IN GENERAL.—The Interstate Horseracing Act 17 of 1978 (Public Law 95–515; 15 U.S.C. 3001 et seq.) is 18 hereby repealed.
  • (b) CONFORMING AMENDMENTS.—Section 5362(10)
  • of chapter 53 of title 31, United States Code, is amend-
  • ed—
  • (1) in subparagraph (B)(iii)— 23 (A) by striking subclause (I); and 1   (B) by redesignating subclauses (II), (III),
  • and (IV) as subclauses (I), (II), and (III), re-
  • spectively;
  • (2) in subparagraph (C)(iv)— 5 (A) by striking subclause (I); and
  • (B) by redesignating subclauses (II), (III),
  • and (IV) as subclauses (I), (II), and (III), re-
  • spectively;
  • (3) by striking subparagraph (D); and 10 (4) by redesignating subparagraph (E) as sub-

11          paragraph (D).

A Tip of the Hat, Kentucky Derby Style

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 Photo courtesy of goldplaited, hats by Angela Moreno

Hats. Fascinators. Chapeaus. Whatever you call them, women attending the Kentucky Derby plan what hat they will wear almost as much as which horse they will back.
Derby hats come in all shapes and sizes. Every year there are genius examples of do-it-yourself theme chapeaus that make a statement far beyond fashion. Others look like one of Cecil Beaton’s creations for the horse race in the film My Fair Lady

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 Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Snyder

If you are going to the Derby or even a Derby party, how often do you get to wear a fabulous hat? Fascinators skyrocketed onto the map after Kate Middleton married Prince William. It seemed that every other woman was wearing a one. Not quite a serious broad rimmed hat and not quite a headband, fascinators broke new ground!

The question is “What’s the secret to styling a fascinator look?” Goldplaited, a finishing salon headquartered in Chicago, has been working with clients preparing their Derby looks. The salon’s owners, sisters Mary Alice and Corinna Strong, grew up in the horse-mad Genesee Valley in New York, and have been dressing for race meets since they could walk. The Goldplaited sisters are recommending two fascinator looks, hair up and hair down, for Derby day.

On model, Lauren (below), we chose an elegant, side-swept,chignon to show off her stunning color. By pulling the hair to one side, both the style and her charming green hat are on display. Chignon’s are timeless, classy and can truly be effortless. Create your own chignon by gathering your hair into a low side pony. For added texture and detail, consider curling your hair in medium sized sections while it’s in the pony tail.Twist the hair around itself as if you are forming a bun, secure with a bobby pin that closely matches your hair color. Chignons can be shaped and pinned to your desired style.

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 Photo courtesy of goldplaited, hats by Angela Moreno

On model, Erin (below), we went for casual waves to perfectly compliment her bold, fun hat. Undone, beachy hair with texture will be the “it-style” for Spring and Summer and lucky for Derby fans, it looks great under a fascinator! To achieve this look, prep your wet hair with mousse for fullness and rough dry it. Add styling creme or texture spray to give your hair a little grit. Use a wand or large barrel curling iron to create the waves, we recommend curling medium to large sections of hair. To prevent flat hair, we recommend curling on the tighter side and letting the curls fall to a looser place over time.

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 Photo courtesy of goldplaited, hats by Angela Moreno

 

Jockey Club Shakes Off Cobwebs

Three years ago, a McKinsey & Co. report, “Driving Sustainable Growth for Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding”, gave thoroughbred racing a wake-up call: If the Jockey Club and its kin didn’t address the main issues facing racing, the sport would decline, becoming marginalized and moribund.

The McKinsey report said “to stabilize the fan base and position the industry to resume growth,” racing must:

  • refocus on the best racing through television, integrity reforms, and elevating the best product,
  • retain the core bettor by innovating wagering and providing an integrated on-track and off-track wagering platform through track-integrated ADW (advanced deposit wagering). Enhance the ownership experience through additional tools and transparency,
  • reinvest in new fans through simplified betting, social games, and promoting innovations in on-track experiences and new-look OTBs.

The kid gloves are off.

The foundation of racing integrity reforms, a national, uniform policy covering the used of race day and pre-race medications and treatments, is still not in place. At the 2013 Jockey Club Round Table, Chairman Ogden Mills Phipps raised the spector of the Jockey Club supporting federal intervention and regulation if “the current medication reform effort stalls.” With the 2014 Round Table taking place this weekend on August 10, it’s hard to deny the coincidence that a consortium of 24 leading thoroughbred trainers releasing a statement outlining a timetable to eliminate race-day medications on August 1. Time will tell if this is last minute pandering or a genuine commitment to reform.

It’s yet to be seen whether or not this will satisfy the Jockey Club. Despite the trainers’ statement, there is much divisiveness over drugging racehorses. It would be nice if the issue could be resolved within the comfortable confines of the Round Table. Given the polarity of opinions on uniform medication, it’s more likely that acceptance will be gained through a state-by-state, racetrack-by-racetrack, or even barn-by-barn dog-fight. That is, unless the feds step in with a medication policy, mandate regulation and oversee its implementation.

Effort bears fruit.

Casting aside its institutional cobwebs, the Jockey Club launched America’s Best Racing (ABR), “a multi-media new-fan development and racing awareness-building platform.” ABR’s goal is to increase the profile and visibility of North America’s best Thoroughbred racing events, focusing on the sport’s lifestyle and competition aspects.

A squad of ABR social media mavens and outreach ambassadors has infiltrated the millennial ecosystem across the nation. Bloggers, videographers and photographers report major races and events. Racing news drives ABR’s website, accompanied by track etiquette, racing and wagering tutorials, and what-to-wear — from haute to affordable. Indeed, racing’s fashion cadre includes leading young turf writers, bloodstock agents, jockeys and racetrack professionals as well as casual race-goers.

Last year, ABR initiated a roving band of young racing aficionados to promote racing peer-to-peer. This program has morphed into embedding one or two racing ambassadors in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami. Victoria Garofalo is one of the original ABR ambassadors who is working the New York/Northeast sector this year. She explains her role:

Instead of only visiting tracks for a week leading up to their biggest race we’re able to be in a market year-round and continue to cultivate and maintain — which is extremely important . My NE colleague Dan and I are able to host guests at the track when timing suits their schedule best and help create the ultimate first-time experience at the races.

When I’m not hosting guests at the races I spend the majority of my time researching the top influencers, young professional groups and the movers and shakers in the market – once I’ve identified those people I reach out about who I am and what ABR is and then once they respond we begin coordinating their trip to the track. If it’s food bloggers I might suggest they come out to a day of food trucks at the races, a fashion blogger on a day when there’s a hat contest, etc., showing people how horse racing can fit into their lives.

A good number of our guests have been bloggers – lifestyle, travel & fashion bloggers are eager to try new things and tend to share those positive experiences with their followers, which in turn, gets more people interested and aware of horseracing. Everybody knows somebody, so if every person we brought out to the races influences or brings just one friend (who brought another friend etc.) it naturally grows our wonderful sport.

Mike Johnson, who joined ABR this year, is responsible for the Chicago region. Prior to ABR, Mike was a marketing assistant at Arlington International, Chicago’s iconic racecourse. Mike describes his modus operandi:

There is a bar in town that has been great to us — it’s literally called “Derby.” Derby is outfitted with authentic retro horse racing decor, which makes for a great venue to work with. Add to the fact that it is located in a fairly young, hip part of town and it became fairly apparent this is an off-track location that not only identifies with the sport, but also could legitimately develop fans. I’ve held race watch parties, as well as three bus trips to Arlington that have over 50 people in attendance. Nearly all the attendees are eager to learn about the nuances of racing.

What I have found is that there is no shortage of “interest,” but there are undoubtedly deficiencies in education and awareness of the sport.

My role and goal has always been to create a baseline, yet lasting awareness of the top Thoroughbred racing North America has to offer. In a given day of hosting a group at the races, I want to make sure they leave with the “training wheels off.” I like for them to be able to read the program comfortably, have a solid understanding of the facts and fiction of the sport, and know how to have a blast wagering only $20 throughout the course of the day. Last but not least, I hope by the end of the races, they are already planning their next visit.

If I can ensure they have these basics covered, then the next time they visit, they’ll be able to share their knowledge with friends or family they return with. My goal would be to enact a “snowball effect.”

Televised programming finding its way.

Another component of McKinsey’s recommendations is television coverage. Network television is paying more attention to horse racing. NBC, NBCSports and Fox Sports 1 are covering major races from coast to coast. The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series has teamed up with NBC and NBCSports to broadcast hotly-contested races that qualify the winners to a guaranteed Breeders’ Cup berth, waived entry fees and travel money. The series showcases the best in racing between spring’s Triple Crown madness and the Breeders’ Cup Championships in late fall.

Jockey Club Racing Tour on Fox Sports 1 offers an eclectic mix of top races from the U.S., Canada and Dubai. NBCSports and Fox Sports 1 are cable-only viewing; availability depends on the cable provider and package subscribed to.

The challenge with relying on traditional television is the changing habits in viewing media. Tablets, smartphones, and laptops are ubiquitous. They offer the possibility of watching races while untethered from a television. Livestreaming to these devices is available for some racing, not all – which is frustrating. Considering that the millennial generation, being wooed by racing (and every other sport…) is as comfortable using a smartphone as a television remote, it makes sense to have livestreamed racing as part of a racing media package with the networks.

A mixed bag.

To educate prospective owners and provide current owners with at-their-fingertip information needed to make informed decisions about their horses, OwnerView is a first class resource.

Finding success in social media horseracing games has been elusive for the Jockey Club. Future in-house game development has been abandoned.

What’s next …

The 2014 Jockey Club Round Table will be livestreamed starting at 10 a.m. on Sunday, August 10.

(Note: Victoria Garafolo and Mike Johnson quotes from interviews)

Legendary Native Dancer Honored in Maryland

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Eric Guerin up on two time Horse of the Year Native Dancer.
Photo courtesy of NYRA/Coglianese
Last Thursday night, Native Dancer became the first horse inducted into the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame. Raised and trained at his owner-breeder Alfred G. Vanderbilt, Jr.’s Sagamore Farm in Glyndon, Maryland, Native Dancer raced for three years, mesmerizing millions of fans both at the track and on newsreels and nascent television broadcasts.

The Galloping Ghost

Dubbed the Gray Ghost, the physically stunning colt won 21 of 22 races. His only loss was in the Kentucky Derby; he came in second. Going in as favorite, given his undefeated record over a course of nine rigorous races, the Triple Crown was Native Dancer’s to lose. What came between him and the turf’s Holy Grail, was a calamitous trip — from a fraught start to running out of track in his brilliant rally to not quite take down the winner, Dark Star.

The New York Times‘ turf writer Red Smith wrote:

At the end Native Dancer was going fastest, but the end came a stride too soon. It was Dark Star’s head that caught the camera.

Disappointing as the loss was, Native Dancer’s speed and physical beauty ensnared the nation’s psyche to the extent he was on the cover of Time magazine, and, television and theater newsreels broadcast his life both on the racetrack and at Sagamore where he retired to stud.

Native Dancer’s sons exert far-reaching influence.

It is as a stallion that Native Dancer’s influence on the modern thoroughbred race horse reaches into the furthest corners of pedigrees in champions and claiming horses alike. The Dancer’s immediate offspring acquitted themselves well, among them Kentucky Derby winners Kauai King and Dancer’s Image*, and stakes horses Raise a Native and Native Charger.

Freakishly fast but physically fragile, Raise a Native sired the likes of Majestic Prince (Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner), and Alydar (second in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, graded stakes winner). Although they could be ranked at best as respectable race horses, it was Raise a Native’s sons Exclusive Native and Mr. Prospector who truly shone as sires.

Exclusive Native sired 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed and the Kentucky Derby winning filly Genuine Risk. Mr. Prospector was a sire of sires, including Fappiano, Gulch, Forty Niner and Seeking the Gold. According to international pedigree authority Sid Fernando:

Mr. Prospector, a sprinter at the track, stood at Claiborne after beginning his career in Florida, and what he brought to the table as a sire — aside from phenomenal, game altering class – was speed that stayed and combined well with the stamina of other lines.

Native Dancer’s daughters beget dynasties.

Native Dancer’s daughter Natalma was the dam of Northern Dancer, whose influence on racing is global. Independent of her Northern Dancer connection, Natalma’s daughters’ families are responsible for the likes of the great sire Machiavellian, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe victor Bago and the overpowering filly La Prevoyante.

Another of the Dancer’s daughters, Shenanigans, produced sires Icecapade and Buckfinder, the broodmare Laughter and the brilliant, ill-fated Ruffian. 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb is a direct descendant of Shenanigans.

Sixty years after the Gray Ghost of Sagamore Farm electrified the nation with his grit and ability, his bloodlines run strong. It’s only fitting that Maryland, a center for thoroughbred sport, has honored one of its own.

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Kentucky Derby winner Orb at Saratoga. His fifth dam, his great-great-great-grandmother, is Native Dancer’s daughter Shenanigans.
Photo courtesy of Liz O’Connell
*Dancer’s Image was subsequently disqualified and sent down to last place because of a positive test for a trace of the NSAID phenylbutazone.