Ben’s Cat

May 16, 2014: Ben's Cat digs in to catch Great Attack in the stretch of the Jim McKay Turf Sprint at Pimlico.

May 16, 2014: Ben’s Cat charges down the stretch at Pimlico.

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!

May 16, 2014: Ben's Cat catches up to Great Attack.

May 16, 2014: Ben’s Cat catches up to Great Attack in the off-the-turf Jim McKay Turf Sprint.

May 16, 2014: Ben's Cat passes Great Attack in the Pimlico stretch.

May 16, 2014: Ben’s Cat puts a head in front of Great Attack in the Pimlico stretch.

May 16, 2014: Ben's Cat, the hover horse.

May 16, 2014: Ben’s Cat, the hover horse.

May 16, 2014: This is usually what most horses see of Ben's Cat.

May 16, 2014: This is usually what most horses see of Ben’s Cat.

May 17, 2013: Ben's Cat catches up to Bridgetown and Spring to the Sky on his way to win the 2013 Jim McKay Turf Sprint.

May 17, 2013: Ben’s Cat catches up to Bridgetown and Spring to the Sky on his way to win the 2013 Jim McKay Turf Sprint.

May 16, 2014: Ben's Cat.

May 16, 2014: Ben’s Cat.

Max is Back!

Jul 21, 2012: Silver Max heads into the winner's circle at Colonial Downs after the Grade 2 Virginia Derby.

Jul 21, 2012: Silver Max heads into the winner’s circle at Colonial Downs after the Grade 2 Virginia Derby.

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!

Jul 21, 2012: Silver Max in the Colonial Downs paddock before the Virginia Derby.

Jul 21, 2012: Silver Max in the Colonial Downs paddock before the Virginia Derby.

Jul 21, 2012: Silver Max with his Virginia Derby garland.

Jul 21, 2012: Silver Max with his matching Virginia Derby garland.

Jul 21, 2012: Silver Max at Colonial Downs, cooling off after a hot and sticky evening of racing.

Jul 21, 2012: Silver Max at Colonial Downs, cooling off after a hot and sticky evening of racing.

Apr 30, 2014: Silver Max and co-owner Mark Bacon at Churchill Downs.

Apr 30, 2014: Silver Max and co-owner Mark Bacon at Churchill Downs.

Apr 30, 2014: Come on guys, the whole bucket?

Apr 30, 2014: Splash!

Apr 30, 2014: Silver Max waits patiently for more peppermints during his bath.

Apr 30, 2014: Silver Max waits patiently for more peppermints during his bath.

Apr 30, 2014: Silver Max, all clean!

Apr 30, 2014: Silver Max, all clean!

Apr 30, 2014: Here guys, you can have some of that water back.

Apr 30, 2014: Here guys, you can have some of that water back.

Apr 30, 2014: Silver Max, ready to dry off and dig into some hay.

Apr 30, 2014: Silver Max, ready to dry off and dig into some hay.

Seek Again

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.

Apr 29, 2014: Seek Again gets a bath at Churchill Downs.

Apr 29, 2014: Seek Again gets a bath at Churchill Downs.

Kid Cruz

Congrats to Kid Cruz and his connections on his win in the Easy Goer Stakes today on the Belmont undercard!

May 17, 2014: Kid Cruz gets in a little snack behind the Stakes Barn after his run in the Preakness.

May 17, 2014: Kid Cruz gets in a little snack behind the Stakes Barn after his run in the Preakness.

Paddy O’Prado

May 21, 2011: Paddy O'Prado in the stretch of the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes.

May 21, 2011: Paddy O’Prado and Kent Desormeaux in the stretch of the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes.

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.

May 21, 2011: Paddy O'Prado at Pimlico for the Dixie Stakes.

May 21, 2011: Paddy O’Prado at Pimlico for the Dixie Stakes.

 

More California Chrome

May 17, 2014: California Chrome in the stretch of the Preakness.

May 17, 2014: California Chrome and Victor Espinoza in the stretch of the Preakness.

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.

May 1, 2014: California Chrome at Churchill Downs.

May 1, 2014: California Chrome and exercise rider Willie Delgado at Churchill Downs.

May 1, 2014: California Chrome at Churchill Downs.

May 1, 2014: California Chrome gallops at Churchill Downs.

May 1, 2014: California Chrome at Churchill Downs.

May 1, 2014: California Chrome and Willie Delgado at Churchill Downs.

May 1, 2014: California Chrome and Willie Delgado at Churchill Downs.

May 1, 2014: California Chrome and Willie Delgado at Churchill Downs.

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:

May 1, 2014: California Chrome gets a bath in at Churchill Downs.

May 1, 2014: California Chrome gets a bath at Churchill Downs.

May 1, 2014: California Chrome gets a bath at Churchill Downs.

May 1, 2014: A rather goofy, playful California Chrome gets a bath at Churchill Downs.

May 17, 2014: California Chrome is lead over for the Preakness.

May 17, 2014: California Chrome is led over for the Preakness.

May 17, 2014: California Chrome and Victor Espinoza take off to win the Preakness by 1 ½ lengths.

May 17, 2014: California Chrome and Victor Espinoza take off to win the Preakness by 1 ½ lengths.

May 17, 2014: California Chrome gets some love from Willie Delgado after his win in the Preakness.

May 17, 2014: California Chrome gets some love from Willie Delgado after his win in the Preakness.

May 17, 2014: California Chrome and his happy people: Willie Delgado, Steve Coburn, and Victor Espinoza.

May 17, 2014: California Chrome and his happy people after the Preakness: Willie Delgado, Steve Coburn, and Victor Espinoza.

May 17, 2014: California Chrome gets a hug from co-owner Steve Coburn.

May 17, 2014: California Chrome gets a hug from co-owner Steve Coburn after the Preakness.

May 17, 2014: What exactly do you mean by "no"?

May 17, 2014: What exactly do you mean by “no”?

May 17, 2014: Look, a helicopter!

May 17, 2014: Look, a helicopter!

May 17, 2014: California Chrome after his bath.

May 17, 2014: California Chrome after his bath.

Apr 30, 2014: California Chrome.

Apr 30, 2014: California Chrome.

Seeing Spots

May 16, 2014: Golden Lad has an interesting coat pattern.

May 16, 2014: Golden Lad has an interesting coat pattern.

Golden Lad is a Medaglia d’Oro half-brother to stakes winner R Gypsy Gold and Grade 2 winner Broadway’s Alibi, who was also 2nd in the 2012 Kentucky Oaks. Golden Lad is a Grade 3 winner himself, having won the Razorback this year at Oaklawn Park.

The first thing you’ll notice about him is his coat, which looks a bit like it was doused in bleach. I’m sure there’s a perfectly scientific explanation behind it, but I was never a student of genetics. The spots aren’t confined to his chest, as they continue around his girth and trail down his hind end. I kept seeing him galloping at Churchill Downs, but at first I thought it was just a colt covered in lather. It wasn’t until I saw him in the field for the Pimlico Special that I realized who those spots belonged to.

See spots run?

May 16, 2014: Golden Lad on his way to be saddled for the Grade 3 Pimlico Special.

May 16, 2014: Golden Lad on his way to be saddled for the Grade 3 Pimlico Special.

May 16, 2014: Golden Lad's shoulder spots.

May 16, 2014: Golden Lad’s shoulder spots.

May 16, 2014: Spots on the other side, too.

May 16, 2014: Spots on the other side, too.

May 16, 2014: The Grade 3 Pimlico Special.

May 16, 2014: The Grade 3 Pimlico Special.

May 16, 2014: Golden Lad's spotted hind end.

May 16, 2014: Golden Lad’s spotted hind end.

He’s an Allstar

May 17, 2014: Allstar heads back to the barn after running 4th in the James W. Murphy Stakes at Pimlico.

May 17, 2014: Allstar heads back to the barn after running 4th in the James W. Murphy Stakes at Pimlico.

This handsome 3-year-old gelding is Allstar, a son of Flower Alley trained by Marcus Vitali. He ran 4th on the turf in the James W. Murphy Stakes at Pimlico on the Preakness undercard, and I thought he was absolutely stunning. Allstar tried Grade 1 company in the Florida Derby earlier this year, but came in a distant last to the winner, Constitution.

May 17, 2014: Allstar checks out the crowd at Pimlico.

May 17, 2014: Allstar checks out the crowd at Pimlico.

Chitu

Apr 30, 2014: Chitu gallops at Churchill Downs during the time set aside for Derby and Oaks runners.

Apr 30, 2014: Chitu gallops at Churchill Downs during the time set aside for Derby and Oaks contenders.

Chitu, 9th in this year’s Kentucky Derby, is a handsome son of Henny Hughes out of the A.P. Indy mare Ocean Queen. Chitu won the Grade 3 Sunland Derby in March, and has won 3 of 5 starts so far in his career for trainer Bob Baffert.

Apr 29, 2014: Chitu steps out on the track for a morning gallop.

Apr 29, 2014: Chitu steps out on the track for a morning gallop.

Apr 30, 2014: Chitu schools in the Churchill Downs paddock.

Apr 30, 2014: Chitu schools in the Churchill Downs paddock.

Apr 29, 2014: Early morning exercise.

Apr 29, 2014: Early morning exercise for Mr. Handsome.

Apr 29, 2014: Clean Chitu.

Apr 29, 2014: Clean Chitu.

Midnight Lucky

May 1, 2014: Midnight Lucky out for a gallop at Churchill Downs.

May 1, 2014: Midnight Lucky out for a gallop at Churchill Downs.

Midnight Lucky looked great at Churchill Downs in the week leading up to her start in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff on May 3, but I wasn’t sure what sort of performance she would put in after a one-year layoff. She certainly answered any questions I might have had, because she beat a nice group of fillies and mares by 4 1/2 lengths. Love this filly!

Apr 30, 2014: Midnight Lucky schooling in the paddock.

Apr 30, 2014: Midnight Lucky schooling in the paddock.

Apr 30, 2014: Midnight Lucky gets some love from Baffert's team.

Apr 30, 2014: Midnight Lucky gets some love from Baffert’s team. She was so incredibly relaxed that nothing seemed to phase her.

Apr 29, 2014: Midnight Lucky gets a morning bath.

Apr 29, 2014: Midnight Lucky gets a morning bath.