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Monday, May 05, 2008


There were many happy stories in horse racing this past weekend - none of which are being addressed in a lot of media outlets but hey, horse racing industry members knew this would happen, right?
The stories and commentaries coming out today are shocking in a way. LISTS more than half a dozen articles from around the continent nearly trashing horse racing.

(photo of BIG BROWN after the Derby by TINA HINES. COURTESY

On the TODAY SHOW, GOOD MORNING AMERICA, Larry Jones had to explain what happened.

The most stunning of course is the reported request of an investigation by PETA against jockey Gabriel Saez.

Granted, a lot of jockeys have NO IDEA whether a horse is warming good, bad or indifferent or galloping in a race with some problem. MANY of them simply are not horsepeople. They don't know or care.

I don't know if this is the case of Gabriel Saez, he could be an ace horseman - but he's just 20 years old.

He could have been really involved with the heat of the stretch run of the Derby to not notice the filly IF she felt funny.
I did think he was a little silly with the whip as he was a clear 2nd but heat of the moment stuff I guess.

It is sad that BIG BROWN'S stellar win to remain undefeated is never going to be talked about as it should be.

This is a superior racehorse

No one is racing against him in the Preakness against him, figuratively speaking. Anyone who does, well, is racing for 2nd and 3rd money or less.

Good luck Big Brown.

(Paul Moran, a longtime horse racing writer, wrote a column on his blog today that blames the owner for racing a filly against the boys...see a link to it below)


JIM AND SUSAN HILL from Alberta had never been to the races when one of their horses won.
So what a perfect time to end that streak when they hopped on their private jet and flew to New York to watch their little New York bred filly NORTHERN NETTI crush fillies in the Bouwerie Stakes at Belmont yesterday.
The undefeated City Zip gal, a $90,000 2yo purchase, won by almost 10 lengths in a stunnning performance.
She received a 99 Beyer Figure for the 7 furlongs in 1:21.
Eibar Coa rode but Tyler Pizarro was named.
She is trained by Reade Baker.

Here's the recap from New York...
Entering Sunday’s 31st running of the $109,300 Bouwerie for three-year-old New York-bred fillies at seven furlongs, Dance Gal Dance was a formidable adversary. She had won all four of her career starts for trainer Tim Ritvo and was understandably the 3-2 post-time favorite of the Belmont Park crowd of 4,576.

But when the race was over, the only undefeated filly was Jim and Susan Hill’s Northern Netti, a Canadian invader who sat off the leader, then blew her away in the stretch for a 9 ¼-length victory worth $22.80 to the $2 win players. The big price helped account for a Pick 6 Carryover for Wednesday of $48,557.

A daughter of City Zip, Northern Netti made her first start outside of Woodbine an impressive one as she stalked Dance Gal Dance’s pace of 22.28; 45.25 and 1:08.96 on the fast main track. When jockey Eibar Coa gave her the `go,’ she dug in and left her six rivals reeling, stopping the clock in 1:21.24.

“I knew nothing at all about the horse,” said Coa, who picked up the mount after his own mount, Love Co, was scratched. “She finished up well. I am glad she was outside so she could break and sit. She was very professional.”

She was also the third of Coa’s four winners on the afternoon.

Now 3 for 3, Northern Netti will likely step up in her next start, the Grade 1, $250,000 Acorn for three-year-old fillies at a mile on Belmont Stakes Day, Saturday, June 7. Among those she will likely meet is Zaftig, who won Saturday’s Grade 2 Nassau County, covering seven furlongs in 1:22.74 in her 5 ¼-length victory.

“Well, she’s undefeated, and she can run,” said trainer Reade Baker of Northern Netti. “There was nothing for her at home and we saw this race, and we wanted to win a stakes with her. I am kind of surprised at the price. I thought on paper she stacked up with the rest of them. We are going to come back for the Acorn. She’s fast, she’s impressive, and she deserves a chance.”


NOT BOURBON launched himself higher up on the QUEEN'S PLATE CONTENDERS list with a strong win in the QUEENSTON STAKES on Saturday.
The big chestnut turned the tables on his headstrong arch rival STUCK IN TRAFFIC and overtook that one with a quick move inside the quarter-pole.
Not Bourbon, owned and bred by Charles Fipke, ran a 96 Beyer Figure in the score.
Jono Jones rode the Roger Attfield trainee.
NOT BOURBON is by Fipke's stallion NOT IMPOSSIBLE, who died at a young age and was a full brother to Fipke's champion PERFECT SOUL.
Not Bourbon's mum, BOURBON BELLE, a millionaire Storm Boot mare who had big trouble at races past 6 furlongs.

KESAGAMI, winner of the Coronation Futurity, finished last in the Queenston and is perhaps off the Plate trail.
In other Plate news, SEBASTIAN'S SONG finished last in an allowance race and appears to be off the Plate trail as well.


race 1 - 2 furlongs for 2yo fillies
The babies were getting drenched as the rain just came hammering down
With long, powerful strides, FANCI CANDI won her 2nd career start for Tom Tysdal and trainer STEVE ASMUSSEN.
Alex Brown, exercise rider for the stable, touted the filly quite well at the handicapping seminar in the morning and the filly did not disappoint.
She's an Oklahoma-bred by Wertaloona (Afleet) and she was just getting going when the race ended.

Some other notable races on the day..
DUBAI GOLD was miles behind the field in race 3, an allowance/optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles, and the half mile went in :48. But in early stretch, David Clark gave this Deputy Commander gelding his cue and he rallied fast up the rail to win in his first Woodbine start for Terry Hamilton and trainer Alec Fehr.
Looks like a nice claim.

BOLD CORKY is suddenly a really good horse. The Bold Executive-Sweey Corky, Secret Claim gal was claimed for a pittance last year but improved in the fall.
This year,she's 2 for 2 in allowance races, winning the 5th on Saturday for non-winners of 1 'other than'. Owned by Rainbow Stable and All Day Stables and trained by Willie Armata, Bold Corky bobbled at the start but blew past for a super win at 7 to 2.

YES IT'S BULL proved he likes Woodbine's Polytrack better than Oaklawn's dirt.
The grey 3yo by Yes It's True won the 8th race, an allowance, in steady fashion, reeling in Queen's Plate hopeful PALMERS in mid stretch and holding off huge longshot PEGASUS REIGN.
PALMERS led late but may have moved too soon.


As normal as the track seemed to be on Saturday, times-wise, it was opposite yesterday, partly because of the strong wins.
The times were sizzling on Polytrack.

Race 1 was interesting in that offspring of the sire CIANO CAT finished 1-2 in the 1 1/16 mile maiden race for $25,000 and both offspring were making their 1st starts at the distance.
CIANORTE (whom I bet and picked when he made his 2008 debut on Apr. 19 when he finished 8th) led all the way to win at big odds for Kingfield Racing and trainer Catherine Day Phillips.
Anthony Stephen rode the gelding well (horse had 1st time blinkers too).

Michael Van Every's KINTYRE won his maiden from just off a 4 horse speed duel in race 3, winning his maiden in his 16th start with a huge class drop back down to $12,500 claiming.
He is another winner for the sire Kinshasa (Mr. Prospector), who has had several at the meeting.
Mike Wright was the winning trainer.

First time blinkers last year (2007) worked for NO DILETTANTE - worked again yesterday.
The Bev Buck owned/trained/bred gelding battled on the pace and would not let Red Raffles pass him in the allowance race for older guys.
The Bold Executive gelding was winning his 3rd start off the layoff and it was his 4th score in 34 races.

1st time LASIX worked for MISS TERRA, coming off the layoff to win race 5 for maidens, $12,500.
She was one of several on-the-pace winners over the very fast Polytrack. A Bold 'n Flashy 4yo bred by her owner Dom Romeo, she was the first winner for jockey David Garcia this year. Pat Parente trains and the filly was 30 to 1.

Classy stakes placed HUMBLE JANET may be a force in the older mare ranks locally and what a nice change that will be since that division is almost always weak.
The Arkansas bred crushed an allowance field in race 6 in her first race since October. She is owned by Millennium Farms and trained by Steve Asmussen.

Geoff Roy's MIMI COOPER went very fast on the pace in race 7 for $50K claiming, 3yo fillies, and still won. She is 3 for 3 in her career and is trained by Wray Lawrence.

DANCINGALLTHEWAY might be an interesting Plate prospect if he can handle route distances. He returned from his winter vacation (and 2 races at route distances as 2 last year) win a 6 furlong maiden allowance over heavy favourite GRAZETTES LANDING in 1:08.66, an 89 Beyer Figure.
(That's how fast the track was, just misses the track record, doesn't break 90 on the Beyer scale.)
The gelding is by the deceased sire A FLEETS DANCER.

In race 9, promsiing Plate eligible JUNGLE BREW rallied fast to be 2nd to longshot debut winner FIELD COMMISSION, a Minshall Farms-bred SERVICE STRIPE colt owned by trainer Danny Vella and Solera Farm.
It was the 2nd debut winner to win for Vella and jockey Rob Landry at the meeting.
The race was a slow one, though, with the winner posting a 70.

GREAT ADDICTION came from nowhere to win the finale for $25K claiming for his favourite peeps - Dura Racing and Mike Doyle and Emma Wilson.
He's 6 for 35 now and is by Favorite Trick.


Two-time Canadian champion TRUE METROPOLITAN
(photo of him on Saturday by elvis_hitler2000 at came back to the races on Saturday and set a track record at Hastings Park. A Floroda-bred by Proud and True, the gelding raced the distance in 109.87 over a "good" in the $52,262 George Royal Stakes at Hastings on Saturday.

He's headed to Woodbine for the Canada day feature, the DOMINION DAY STAKES.

PETA requests that Eight Belles jockey Gabriel Saez be suspended

associated press story...

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is seeking the suspension of Eight Belles' jockey after the filly had to be euthanized following her second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.

Gabriel Saez was riding Eight Belles when she broke both front ankles while galloping out a quarter of a mile past the wire. She was euthanized on the track.

PETA faxed a letter Sunday to Kentucky's racing authority claiming the filly was "doubtlessly injured before the finish" and asked that Saez be suspended while Eight Belles' death is investigated.

"What we really want to know, did he feel anything along the way?" PETA spokeswoman Kathy Guillermo said. "If he didn't then we can probably blame the fact that they're allowed to whip the horses mercilessly."

Eight Belles trainer Larry Jones said the filly was clearly happy when she crossed the finish line.

"I don't know how in the heck they can even come close to saying that," Jones told The Associated Press on Sunday. "She has her ears up, clearly galloping out."

Guillermo said if Saez is found at fault, the group wants the second-place prize of $400,000 won by Eight Belles to be revoked.

Saez, a 20-year-old Panama native, was riding in his first Kentucky Derby. He frequently rides for Jones.

A call to the jockeys' room at Delaware Park, where Saez raced on Sunday, went unanswered.

Eight Belles, the first filly since 1999 to run in the Derby, appeared fine until collapsing while galloping out after the finish.

The letter to the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority also sought a ban on whipping, limits on races and the age of racehorses, and a move to softer, artificial surfaces for all courses.

(story written before opening day) they're off!; Fort Erie track races into 111th season today Posted By HARLAN ABBEY
The Welland Tribune.

If the operation performed on jockey Eddie Robinson last year could be performed on the thoroughbred Wholelottabourbon, trainer Nick Gonzalez definitely would be on hand when the Fort Erie Race Track opens its 111th season today. The first race field leaves the starting gate at 1:05 p.m.

Robinson had the major ligament in his knee replaced, missed all of the 2007 season and only began riding again a few weeks ago. It was his longest "vacation" in 28 years of riding. He has mounts on Runaway Widow in today's first race, Noble Fritz in the third and Kissinthefield in the eighth.

Gonzalez, champion Fort Erie trainer in 2006 and runner-up last year, trained 'Bourbon to be Canada's champion two-year-old in 2002, but the gelding's subsequent career has been hindered by a bowed tendon, which more often than not ends or compromises a thoroughbred's future. He's entered in today's fourth race (Chad Beckon up), a far cry from the class of race in which he competed in 2002. Today's race has a $12,760 purse and entries can be claimed for $7,500.

It's unlikely that 'Bourbon would be claimed by another trainer, as the racing soundness of any horse with an "old bow" is questionable from start to start. And once the horse is too sore to run, he'll be retired, given time (best - and only - cure for a bowed tendon) and then be brought back to the track next year ... if possible.

Gonzalez would like to be on hand to see the barn's pet compete, but his string at Woodbine, supervised by his wife Martha, has been off to a sensational start at Woodbine. Today, Stuck In Traffic, one of the early favourites for the June 22 Queen's Plate, seeks his second win of the season in a $150,000 stakes race.

(Note - 'Bourbon' finished 2nd and was not claimed)
FORT ERIE'S featured race on opening day was won by the lightly raced by promising TRIGONE (Diplomatic Jet) who beat TOTHEMOONANDBACK in 58.42 at 5 furlongs. Trigione is owned by P. Paoine and partners and trained by Dominic Polsinelli.

Do you agree with him? Should she have run in the Derby?
I'm not sure the guy is a real racing fan but does he make good points?


  • At 10:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sometimes I think people are ridiculous. Sure. Running in the Derby killed Eight Belles. Never run a filly against the boys. PETA--an organization that already misrepresents itself--wanting to blame the jockey. Whatever. The fact that the filly finished a clear second in the Derby, well ahead of the other struggling colts, proved that she belonged there. Many fillies have contested the Derby in its long history--none of them have died. Of note, Eight Belles is in fact the first HORSE, male or female, to die in any of the 134 runnings of the Kentucky Derby. She wasn't sent to her death for the greed of the connections. Did running in the Preakness kill Barbaro? The gate incident aside, did anyone question why he should or should not have run in that race? It was a very tragic and unfortunate set of circumstances and I feel terribly for Eight Belles and her connections, but blaming them for her death is ludicrous. She proved she belonged, and she proved she was a special horse. I wonder what people would say if it had been a colt or gelding who broke down.

    Gimme a break.

  • At 1:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It was a shame to see such a grand filly die on the track, but she did it doing what she was bred to do and if any of you so called watchers were actually watching she was coming down the lane with her ears pricked and focused on the one thing that stood in her way, The horse in front of her. To subject her jockey to a hearing and suspending him is assinine. I have a better word for it but I know that wont get printed. Yes it was a tragedy but let us remember Eight Belles for her courage and guts in the greates two minutes in sports. I also applaud her connections, they stood by their guns by saying she belonged there, and she did. Unfortunately her body wasnt as strong as her desire. That is the hardest thing about this sport, our horses sometimes give to much for us,

  • At 2:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I too can't tell you how bad I feel for what happened to Eight Belles - but to blame the jockey or any of the connections?
    I've seen things happen after the wire before but it's usually heart related.
    I did speak to a jockey who told me it also could've been the fact that she was so unbelievably tired from running such a huge race that galloping out she might've been exhausted enough to feel like she was going to fall - so she tried to "catch" herself - and that's how she did that to her ankles. (Think about olympic athletes who run a race and are so exhausted afterwards they just collapse after the finish - but - they have their hands to catch them). If she was that exhausted and felt like she was going to fall it's possible that she threw her front legs out in front of her in such a was as to try to "catch" herself - and of course with how fragile their legs are they just snapped because they weren't moving/placing themselves the way they are supposed to.
    These animals are so smart (look at Ginger Punch "hurdling" what she thought was something on the track she needed to avoid) - it's possible poor Eight Belles just tried to keep herself from falling down.
    Whatever it was - to blame the jockey or any of her connections is rediculous.
    I can't imagine she could move as well as she did through the stretch if she had something so drastically wrong with her that would cause both ankles to snap!

  • At 2:53 PM, Anonymous Tom M said…

    Eight Belles' breakdown was very unfortunate for everyone involved and for racing. I was not a fan of hers but she did impress me very much during the Derby. She took all the boys could give, was not intimidated, and held her own throughout the race. She ran a great race. Very impressed!

    Not impressed with all the recriminations, the I told you so's, the second guessing games.

    To put the blame on anyone especially the jockey is ridiculous. Seems like PETA will latch on to anything they can exploit.

    And JEN, a couple of your statements???

    1) About some jockeys not knowing or caring how a horse is warming up, "good bad or indifferent". Well I would assume when jockeys are sitting on top of a horse about to run 35 or more MPH in amoungst 10, 15 or more other horses they might care just alittle about the possiblity of going down in amoungst them or in front of them. Even if "they simply are not horsepeople".

    2) On Gabriel Saez: You said "he could have been really involved with the heat of the stretch run of the Derby to notice" if the filly felt funny. Well I would hope that a jockey would be really involved in the stretch run. Besides if he had felt something funny don't you think self preservation would have clicked in and he would have moved her to the outside. Afterall there were 18 other horses behind them who could have run overtop of them both.

    I never like to see any horse breakdown at anytime, unfortunately it does happen and racing gets another black eye. Polytrack hasn't stopped it - we just don't here about it.

  • At 8:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Reading "expert comments" on the death of Eight Belles from everybody and his brother, both on the net and in the media... people continue to amaze me! Having no clue about the subject matter only seems to spur them on to speak louder. And now the PETA freaks are blaming the jockey... Wait til the media gets wind of the fact that Big Brown is running on two quarter cracks up front, can only imagine the headlines then.

  • At 5:57 AM, Blogger Jen Morrison said…

    When I said they don't know or care, I meant that they don't know about horses enough or care.
    There are simply some riders in the world that are not horsepeople, not horse lovers. This cannot be disputed.
    Of course they care about their own lives and many will scratch a horse if he or she feels sore before or during the race.
    When you are in the heat of the moment, sometimes I think it is possible that you are focussed on the task at hand, maybe it is possible that a 20yo kid did not feel any wobbling, lugging in - if she was doing any of these things.

  • At 7:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Jen, I have noticed you like to make comments about peoples age a lot. What does this have to do with anything. Are you so old that young people offend you or something?

    Also, since when did you become a mind reader? How do you know what was going through Saez's mind? or how he was and/or would be able to react in 'the heat of the moment"?

    You sound just as bad as the 'media' that are jumping to conclusions about this incident.

  • At 7:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You've got to feel for the horse when tragedy strikes but clearly it is an occupational hazard. If you can't handle the downside of horse-racing then find another sport. Regarding PETA, they are a ridiculous organization who compares the treatment of animals to the treatment of human beings(concentration camps). They're director is a very cynical individual with a twisted mind. Race-horses are bred to run. They are working animals and they are cared for better than most humans. Sorry the filly had to be destroyed. I am also sorry for the other horses that have broken down and were put down in the last month. They never got any press and PETA didn't shed a tear either.

  • At 10:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    PETA needs to screw off. Do they really think that the jockey wanted that to happen to Eight Belles? Its not fair that they get to tarnish our good sport with their bull sh@*. If someone is beating a horse, than yes fry him. But when a horse breaks down on the track its an accident, no a tragedy and she should be mourned not made into a activist spectical.

  • At 10:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree when you say that there are some people who aren't true horse poeople, but I think it is a bold statement to say that they don't care. Maybe short of knowledge yes! Many of these riders ride because it's for the love of the game and when they scratch a horse it's not only cause "they care about thier own lives", but also because it is inhumane and they don't feel it's right for the horse. We all try to do the right thing by horse and rider, but unfortunately it doesn't always workout. The bottomline is that it was a tragedy that such a classy filly needed to be put down, and thankfully it happened where it did cause God only knows what could have happened if say it occured in an earlier part durring the race. In my opinion no one is at fault and my condolences go out to the owner and trainer of Eight Belles, to not only suffer a huge loss but then deal with all the nonsense about how it was too tuff of a race for a filly. She put the rest of the boys to shame!!!
    R.I.P. Eight Belles


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