…I’ve ever been to $100,000 in cash!
I love the quiet of mornings at the track.
I’m planning on spending a week in Louisville for the Derby, but until then, old pictures will have to suffice. These were all personally taken by me at Churchill Downs during 2012, 2013, and 2014 Derby weeks.
Regally Ready (More Than Ready x Kivi) is seven years old this year, and while he may no longer be a Grade 1 caliber horse, he’s done rather well with a slight step down in class. He’s made eight well-spaced starts so far in 2014 for Steve Asmussen, with three stakes wins and a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Arcadia. He has five wins overall on the year, one of which was an allowance optional claiming race that I was able to catch in person at Churchill Downs. I’ve seen him race at that particular track a few times, including when he won the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
Elevated, a lovely gray colt by Jump Start, caught my eye at Pimlico back in May. He didn’t run particularly well that day, but he’s previously won and placed in stakes races. I thought his blinkers were interesting, as they have a full, enclosed cup over his left eye:
It turns out there’s a good reason for this gorgeous guy to wear those blinkers.
He only has one eye!
Ben’s Cat is one of those horses that almost always finds a way to win, having a record to date of 41 starts, 27 1st place finishes, 4 seconds, and 3 thirds with earnings of over $2.1 million. The tough little gelding turned eight years old in 2014, but that hasn’t slowed him down. While we were in Baltimore for the Preakness, we had the pleasure of seeing his versatility on display as he won the Jim McKay Turf Sprint for the third time–a race that actually came off the turf and was run on the main track due to a ton of rain the night before.
We have the owner, trainer, and breeder of Ben’s Cat to thank for his longevity. King Leatherbury gave him the time and care necessary to recover from a broken pelvis at age 2, so that he would finally make the races at age 4. The rest is history!
One of my favorite horses in training right now is Silver Max, still the only horse to have beaten two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan since that one’s win streak started in the summer of 2012. I’ve been following Max since he broke his maiden in early 2012, and I couldn’t be more pleased to see him continue his career this year. He has excelled on the turf, and it looks like he’s still got it at 5 years of age–he won the Grade 2 Firecracker at the end of June in his first race back since a 4th in the Breeders’ Cup Mile in November 2013.
I’ve seen Silver Max race a few times in person, and happened to be walking by Dale Romans’ barn at Churchill Downs at the end of April while he was out getting a bath. Co-owner Mark Bacon was unwrapping peppermints for Max, so I had a chance to speak to him for a few minutes. He seemed really pleased with his horse’s progress at that point, and it looks like it was well-founded optimism. I hope Silver Max continues his winning ways this year!
Seek Again, a Speightstown colt trained by Bill Mott, ran 3rd in the Grade 1 Manhattan at Belmont today behind the Ramsey’s Real Solution. His only other start this year was the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on the Kentucky Derby undercard, where he was 2nd by a head to two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan.
Congrats to Kid Cruz and his connections on his win in the Easy Goer Stakes today on the Belmont undercard!
Paddy O’Prado was one of my favorite 3-year-olds of 2010, and I was at Pimlico on Preakness day in 2011 to see him win the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes. He sustained an injury in that race, so it unfortunately turned out to be his final start. He’s now standing at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky and his first crop of foals are yearlings as of 2014.
Paddy is by the fantastic Irish-bred stallion El Prado out of the mare Fun House, who was a Grade 2 winner herself during her racing days. Fun House is also the dam of recent Kentucky Oaks winner, Untapable.
California Chrome is heading into Saturday’s Belmont as a huge favorite, and deservedly so. Here’s hoping that his win streak continues and that he gives us a Triple Crown! I won’t be in New York to witness it in person, but I was able to get to the Kentucky Derby and Preakness this year.
The photos included here are from Churchill Downs and Pimlico. What a handsome colt.
A big thank you to my friend Amy for the following two photos of California Chrome getting a bath. She braved a huge throng of reporters, photographers, and fans to get these pictures. Huge. She and I have put thousands of miles on my car while traveling to Kentucky, Maryland, and Virginia for racing and sales. I’m staying home for the Belmont, but she’ll be there!
Yes, I’m completely and utterly jealous.
Now for more Chrome: