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Friday, May 16, 2008


Update, 11:22 a.m. BEHINDATTHEBAR out of Preakness, bruised foot

by Terence Dulay at


Figs don't lie.
Okay, yes they do, sometimes, they are horses after all.
But BIG BROWN, 1 to 2 in the morning line, looks miles better than the 12 he faces tomorrow in the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

NINETEEN Daily Racing Form scribes made picks in tomorrow's paper (18 are men by the way, hmmmmm) and 16 picked Big Brown. Kentucky Bear got two votes and Behindatthebar got the other.

The horse getting the most press other than Big Brown is KENTUCKY BEAR, who has never raced in Canada, but trained here last year for Woodbine's own READE BAKER and Danny Dion of the Bear Stables.

The colt trained like a "freak"during Kentucky Derby week according to the Daily Racing Form.

You could make a case for the colt actually but he must leap forward in his form again. A 90 Beyer Figure from his 3rd in the Blue Grass was a big move up, now he needs to get to 105 at least.

The one thing I have learned is that when his trainer likes one of his horses, he's not often wrong.

Below, the SCHENETADY GAZETTE interviews Baker:

“He’s beatable,” Baker said of Big Brown. “He beat all those horses at Churchill Downs, but he didn’t beat us.”


Shut out of Derby, Kentucky Bear looms as threat

By Phil Janack (Contact) Gazette Reporter

BALTIMORE — Canadian-based trainer Reade Baker was in Kentucky on the first Saturday in May, but at the wrong racetrack. Kentucky Bear, the colt he trains for Danny “Bear” Dion, was working five furlongs at Keeneland in Lexington, rather than running 11⁄4 miles at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
Baker trained Kentucky Bear during Derby week at Churchill and entered him the day that post pos­itions were drawn for the race, but the son of Mr. Greeley was one of four horses excluded due to insufficient graded stakes earnings. “It bothered me that morning, the morning of the Derby,” Baker said Thursday outside the stakes barn at Pimlico Race Course.

On Saturday, Kentucky Bear will be one of a dozen horses trying to derail Derby winner Big Brown in the 133rd Preakness.
Kentucky Bear was clocked in 59 seconds over Keeneland’s Polytrack on May 3, the fastest of nine horses on the day at the distance.

(photo taken yesterday of KENTUCKY BEAR by Condy Pierson Dulay,

“When I worked him I thought, ‘Man, that was a fabulous work,’ ” Baker said. “It doesn’t look it on paper, but I promise you, it was fabulous. I just thought at the time, ‘Holy smackers. This horse is so good.’

“You get very few that are this good and this talented. Guys like [Todd] Pletcher and the other big guys do, but for a little guy at Woodbine, it’s a rare thing. I had a talented horse that’s in great cond­ition. It seemed like a sin, wasting it at Keeneland in the morning rather than Churchill in the afternoon.”

Instead, Baker shifted gears to the 13⁄16-mile Preakness, bringing Kentucky Bear to Pimlico on May 7, six days before anyone else.

“These guys run in these races more often than I do, and they didn’t bother coming early, so I don’t know,” Baker said. “I just think 20 years ago, if you had your druthers, that’s what you did.
“You get a horse a chance to get here and get used to the surroundings and the stall and the water, school him in the paddock, back him out of the gate, all those things. He’s been great.”

The Preakness will be only the fourth career start for Kentucky Bear, a maiden winner who ran seventh in the Grade II Fountain of Youth Feb. 24 and a closing third in the Grade I Blue Grass April 12. Kentucky Bear finished 11⁄2 lengths behind Monba and Cowboy Cal, who returned to run 20th and ninth, respectively, in the Derby.

He was ridden that day for the first time by jockey Jamie Theriot, who returns in the Preakness.

“I think he would have been even tougher in the Blue Grass because I think Jamie waited too long on him,” Baker said. “I think Jamie was confident that he had those horses anytime he wanted to go to them, and he didn’t want to expose himself and have Pyro run him down in the lane. It was just too much for him to do.

“He had three big excuses in the Fountain of Youth. He grabbed himself coming out of the gate, got bothered in the first turn and bled. Any one of those three is good enough to put a line through a race, so we move on.”

Made the co-fourth choice at 15-1, Kentucky Bear will break from post 8 in the Preakness, to the immed­iate right of 1-2 program favorite Big Brown. A Sovereign Award winner as Canada’s top trainer, Baker has not been caught up in the hoopla surrounding Big Brown and his attempt at becoming the first American Triple Crown winner in 30 years.

“I don’t know what the other guys think, but I think I can beat him,” Baker said. “It happens every single day. Why is this any different? We wouldn’t do this, otherwise. We think we can win.”

Kentucky Bear is one of 11 new shooters in the Preakness which, besides the winner, has only one other Derby horse, Gayego, who ran 17th. “He’s beatable,” Baker said of Big Brown. “He beat all those horses at Churchill Downs, but he didn’t beat us.”


I will post a list of the top freshman sires next week on the link (on sidebar at right) so you can check your teams.
Prizes for the contest are still in the works, likely Woodbine stuff from the gift shop..nice stuff!

Yesterday SPEIGHTSTOWN had his first winner - a colt in England.
LORD SHANAKILL, out of Green Room by Theatrical (Ire) won at York in his 2nd career start. He's a Kentucky bred colt that was a $110,000 yearling purchase.

UPROAR IN WINNIPEG over new rules...
Who's right here...horsepeople or the regulators??

Read this story from Scott Unger and send your comments...

Trainers slam new rules by SCOTT UNGER WINNIPEG SUN the site is here:


Clayton Gray has seen a lot of things in his 40-plus years of training horses, but never has he felt so handcuffed by a set of regulations.
The Manitoba Horse Racing Commission instituted a revised five-point directive for the 2008 meet that states how a horse that has been off for an extended period of time must workout in order to be entered in a race.
This has left the majority of the trainers in the backstretch feeling like their creative strategy in training a race horse has been ripped from their hands and replaced with a standardized set of rules.

"It hurts the local guys," Gray said. "We have to fight the winter, the weather and everything under the sun to get these horses ready to run. It doesn't matter if you work him five-eights of a mile. A horse than has run will beat (a horse that hasn't raced recently) 90% of the time."

The majority of the trainers contacted yesterday had harsh words for the new regulations.
"They (MHRC) are trying to do the training for us, sitting in a chair and don't have a clue," trainer Emile Corbel said yesterday.
"If you have a sore horse, it's not going to be able to take it. There's no way."
"It's a complete fabrication and done with no thought," added trainer Martin Drexler.

Under the new directive, a horse that has not started in the past 45 days must have one workout of at least four furlongs within 30 days of entry and a two-year-old or first time starting horse must have at least two workouts not less than four furlongs or five furlongs if the race is at least six furlongs.
There are also time requirements that must be met in order for the workout to become official.

"If you tell your rider to work him, but not too fast and he misses by two seconds, then you have to work him again next week," Gray said. "These horses have been off for various injuries and you want to work them as slow as you can. If you drive a horse to the wire when he isn't fit enough, the sucker don't eat for two weeks and won't run for three months."

In Kentucky, the hub of horse racing in the world, a horse that hasn't started in 45 days has to have one workout within 20 days of entry at a distance satisfactory to the stewards of the meeting. A horse starting for the first time must complete three published workouts, one from the starting gate and one within 20 days of racing.

The Kentucky rules give trainers much more freedom in how to work a horse before it gets back on the track.
Despite the objections by the trainers, the MHRC is standing behind their decision to tighten the workout standards.

"A horse that hasn't run has to demonstrate that it's racing fit and racing sound," MHRC chairperson David Miles said, adding the trainers were given a two-week grace period to start the season. The rules officially come into play tonight.

The MHRC says the new rules with provide a more level playing group for bettors, but the trainers aren't buying that. "Unless you have by far the best horse, you never bet on a horse that is coming off a long layoff," Gray said.


Fort Erie’s unsuccessful horses find life after racing

The subject of unsuccessful race horses was shown in gruesome detail on Home Box Office channel’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumble this week, subtitled From the stable to the table in seven days.

(Editor's note: I have the links to that HBO feature on racehorses and the after-life on yesterday's post)

It showed also-rans being bought at Mountaineer Park in West Virginia by a killer buyer, who stops by weekly, taken to an auction and then being sent to slaughter houses in the U.S.
Those plants are now closed, so the unlucky thoroughbreds currently are sent to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico and they wind up on European dinner plates.

Many rescue agencies patrol the auctions and try to buy as many salvageable ex-runners as they can afford. And, thankfully, no killer buyers visit the backstretch of the Fort Erie Racetrack.

“If one ever showed up here, we’d run him down the Queen E,” declared one Fort horseman. Most unwanted or slow Fort Erie thoroughbreds wind up running in chuck wagon team races in Western Canada, or as jumper show horses, as polo ponies, or riding horses.

Imperial Bandit, who ran in the 1993 Queen’s Plate and won most of his 14 lifetime victories at the Fort, has carried this senior citizen reporter flawlessly for the last six years.
It’s not only small-time trainers and owners at small-time racetracks that are cold-hearted.

A couple of years back, a large group of thoroughbred broodmares and their foals were confiscated by the SPCA when found in an emaciated condition on a Toronto-area breeding farm. Later, they were sold at auction.

“Allen Desruisseaux and I bought three of the weanlings,” recalled Fort trainer and ex-jockey Norm Davies. “We put them in my two-horse trailer and there was room for three more. That’s how thin they were."
Davies paid only $100 for his weanling, Lady Ruquiya, who has won about $4,000 in two years, but has yet to win.

But Desruisseaux’s $200 rescue project, Tough Cinelle (Eddie Robinson up, $17.10), won Tuesday’s eighth race.
“And my wife Cathy will tell you she’s the best-looking filly or mare on the backstretch,” said the trainer, who is second in the standings with three wins and a second in five starts. Belle of the Brawl (Cory Clark) will try to avenge her runner-up finish on Monday.

*Leading the trainer standings after five days of racing is Don MacRae, who saddled two winners on Sunday, one on Monday, and two more on Tuesday.

“It’s the most successful week of racing I’ve ever had,” he said. All of his winners were heavily-favored (high of $7.20, low of $3.70) and four were ridden by Chris Griffith, a three-time Fort riding champion and the only jockey to ride more than 1,000 winners at the Fort.
The native of Barbados rode a total of three winners Tuesday and heads the riders standings with eight trips to the winner’s circle. Chad Beckon, who rode four winners Monday, has seven
MacRae said all five of his winners were dropping one claiming level or more and some were coming off long lay-offs.
“A lay-off and a class drop makes other trainers a little leery of claiming the horse. We took a shot and got away with it.” MacRae, who always has a high win and in-the-money percentage, said he has split up the riding assignments in past years. “But Chris is my best friend and this year I told him he could ‘ride the barn (have his choice).’
If you can’t be loyal to your friends...”
MacRae’s other winner last week, Larry’s Getaway, was ridden by Kris Robinson, who will have the mount on Tarillo Bay while Griffith will ride Victory Palace. Both maidens run this weekend. MacRae says Flat Rock, who won at Woodbine, may develop into a cup race contender.

Trainer of such quarter-mile cracks as Pembroke Hall, Storming On Merit and Pico Star in past campaigns, MacRae says he plans to claim a horse that can compete in the dash for cash series this year because his owner, Darryl Jackson, just loves those races.

“We want to go back to Miami and win the $50,000 Rocket Man Stakes again.”

Following Griffith and Beckon in the riders’ standings, with three wins each, are Rui Pimental, apprentice Richard Morrow, Kris Robinson, and Teddy Dacosta. Regina Sealock, Cory Clark and Daniel David have two wins each. Woodbine-based apprentices Matt Moore and Melanie Giddings expect to ride at the Fort Monday and Tuesday.

Brian Cheyne, 18, son of veteran race-trackers Gail and John, expects to make his afternoon riding debut in two or three weeks.


A must-read for those who want the horse racing industry to thrive and attract fans as we near another big race on national TV...

"More than 100,000 fans are expected to squeeze inside Pimlico Race Course for the second leg of the Triple Crown. PETA will be there, too – in full force."

"The whole notion of using animals for sport is something young people feel less comfortable with today than in the past."

“Horse racing has kind of fallen into two categories culturally in this country, both of which are a little archaic,” said Robert Thompson, a professor of sociology at Syracuse University who specializes in pop culture. “One is the category of the aristocratic Kentucky Derby. The second is of the gamblers that you would see in ‘Guys and Dolls,’ the kind of ne’re do-well that are betting on the horses.;_ylt=Aif0rytYgTUrZE77Buehh1s5nYcB?slug=jo-horses


  • At 7:46 AM, Blogger Michael said…

    PETA will be there in full force? They had just over a dozen people show at the "protest" of the KHRA...

  • At 3:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just a comment about the new rules in Manitoba. These trainers are complaining because they are being asked to prove that these horses are fit and sound to race. So if they are coming off injuries or have soreness issues and won't stay sound if you work them then I'm thinking that maybe those horses shouldn't be racing!!!!

  • At 9:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    All I can say to PETA is, go into the Preakness INFIELD and try that crap. Then see if you get out of there alive...


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