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Spectacular May 10th Event – The 67th Annual – Is A Chance To Experience Horse Racing As It Was Meant To Be
A Grand Reprise of Tennessee’s Historic Central Role in U.S. Horse Racing
“Sports Image Times Highly Recommends this Great Event! “
2007 Iroquois Steeplechase-Photo by: Jeff Kluss
NASHVILLE, Tenn., March 13, 2008 — Long before the first running of the Kentucky Derby, Tennessee – not Kentucky – was regarded as the center of horse breeding and racing in the United States. In keeping with Tennessee’s long and storied equine culture, the Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville remains one of the best horse races in the country – attracting top horses and the crème de la crème of Southern society.
Presented by Bank of America and benefiting Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, the Iroquois Steeplechase occurs the second Saturday of every May – the week after another popular horse race: the Kentucky Derby. The story of how Kentucky’s race became more well known than Tennessee’s is a long tale involving another popular Southern sport: politics. Worldwide popularity does have its consequences, however, and those seeking a pure, non-commercialized horse racing experience make it a point to be in Nashville’s Percy Warner Park, the site of the Iroquois, on race day. This year, the 67th running of the Iroquois Steeplechase will be May 10, 2008.
“If you want to see what horse racing was meant to be, and why Tennessee was the first center of America’s horse racing industry, come to the Iroquois,” said Henry Hooker, Iroquois Steeplechase Race Committee chairman. “If not for the nefarious wranglings of our state politicians at the turn of the 20th Century, the Iroquois Steeplechase would be one example – admittedly, a very fine example – of a booming horse racing industry in our state. Because it is the last surviving, and thriving, example of what horse racing could have been in Tennessee, it is all the more special. There is nothing like it. It’s the real thing in all of its unadulterated, charming glory.”
Bells of the Iroquois-Photo by: Jeff Kluss
The Iroquois’ race day purses and bonuses total $415,000, the second highest purse in American steeplechasing. While the large purses attract the best horses and jockeys on the National Steeplechase Association circuit, it is the tradition and pageantry of the Iroquois that draw a who’s who list of Southern society. Private box seats are filled with seersucker suits and mint juleps, and a rainbow of infield tents provides shade to young, jovial spectators celebrating as the pack rounds the final turn.
“The Iroquois Steeplechase has long been a major part of Nashville and Tennessee’s heritage – it is our traditional rite of spring,” Hooker said. “The excitement and prestige that were part of its first running are not only still present today, but seem to increase each year.”
Tennessee’s renown as the center for thoroughbred horses and horse racing reached its pinnacle during the 19th century. Andrew Jackson ran a horse in Tennessee’s first official race in 1804 and soon became known as the leading breeder and racer in the state prior to becoming president in 1829. During this time, the Tennessee thoroughbred had no superior in the United States. After becoming president, Jackson took three horses to Washington, D.C. to race and was the last president to race horses in the nation’s capital.
By 1839, there were at least 10 established racetracks in Tennessee and more than 20 organized jockey clubs. The same year, William Giles Harding placed the Belle Meade horse farm in Nashville at the center of the horse racing region. Belle Meade remained a famous stud farm from the 1830’s until the turn of the century.
In 1906, the Tennessee General Assembly passed an anti-betting law, bringing an end to horse racing in Tennessee for many years. However, the void was filled in 1941 with the first running of the Iroquois Steeplechase – named for Pierre Lorillard’s Iroquois, the first American-bred horse to win the English Derby. Iroquois’s victory was such a big event that Wall Street closed temporarily to celebrate. After his racing career, Iroquois was brought back to Belle Meade to stand at stud. The Iroquois Steeplechase has run continuously since 1941, except for 1945 when it was suspended because of World War II.
“Through the years, the greatest steeplechase horses in America have competed in the Iroquois. Past winners include four Eclipse Award winners – Flatterer, Lonesome Glory, Correggio and All Gong. The Eclipse Award is the highest award bestowed on a race horse by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association,” said Hooker. “This year is no different. With some of the top horses on today’s circuit returning, we can expect another historic race.”
Good Night Shirt – 2007 Iroquois winner, National Steeplechase Association single-season earnings record holder and leading candidate for the 2007 Eclipse Award – is anticipated to return for a chance at his second consecutive Iroquois win.
Photo by: Jeff Kluss
Should Good Night Shirt, jockeyed by Willie Dowling, reprise his performance in 2008, he would be the 13th horse in history to win the Iroquois two years in a row. His Iroquois win last year was his first of the 2007 season and acted as a springboard toward breaking the National Steeplechase Association single-season earnings record with $314,163.
While two-time Iroquois winner Sur La Tete and recently retired, three-time Eclipse winner and National Steeplechase Association career earnings record holder McDynamo were heavy favorites in the 2007 Iroquois, Good Night Shirt surprised the Nashville crowd by taking an early lead and maintaining it throughout the race. Sur La Tete, jockeyed by Christopher Read, and Chivite, jockeyed by Paddy Young, placed second and third.
Six races are held throughout the day, including the Bright Hour Amateur Hurdle. The Iroquois course, regarded as one of the best racing surfaces in the country, is maintained year-round with a computer-controlled, golf course style irrigation system. Below the course turf is 640 tons of sand that helps the course retain moisture and provides cushion to the horses in an effort to reduce race injuries. The Iroquois was one of the first steeplechase courses to use an irrigation system.
“The Iroquois is one of the best maintained steeplechase courses, which allows the best horses on the NSA circuit to perform to their highest ability,” said Dwight Hall, clerk of the course for the Iroquois Steeplechase. “Ultimately, this means more exciting races and a better race day experience for spectators.“
Recent improvements to the Iroquois include an increased purse size, a new tailgating area and an additional jumbotron for live viewing on race day. So the Iroquois has soft courses, big purses, fast horses and thrilling finishes. For information on advance ticket purchases, corporate tents, and tailgating and RV spaces, visit http://www.iroquoissteeplechase.org or call (615) 343-4231.
About the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt
The Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt is a leading provider of pediatric care, ranked 23rd in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Living by the principle of “family-centered care,” Children’s Hospital provides top-level care while including the family as an essential element of a child’s treatment plan. Children’s Hospital is a place to hope and a place to heal for patients and their families. Constructed in 2004, the freestanding children’s hospital is filled with state-of-the-art equipment and information systems to provide the best treatment for patients and offers a variety of family accommodations to help fulfill its mission. With 222 beds dedicated to high-level pediatric, subspecialty treatment, and trauma care the hospital is also a teaching and research facility, training many of the future’s top pediatric physicians. In addition, research conducted here is helping to shape the way the nation cares for children. Children’s Hospital features Centers of Excellence for the treatment of diabetes and congenital heart disorders and offers services for cancer care, organ and bone marrow transplants, level 4 neonatal intensive care, level 1 pediatric trauma care, treatment for developmental disorders, healing broken bones and everything in between.
June 22, 2007 Los Angeles, CA
Jeff Kluss/ Sports Image Times
Since we just came out of the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes and are running toward the Preakness, we wanted to furnish our readers with an educational experience that brings to life the daily struggles within this wonderful sport of Thoroughbred Racing.
Joy Scott shows her attitude
Photo by: Linda Shier
When you talk of Jockeys and Thoroughbred Racing you don’t normally think of the female gender taking part in such a competitive sport. Why is this? Because women in this sport are far and few between and historically they don’t last nearly as long as their male counterparts. Why? Maybe it is about priorities, possibly about a glass ceiling, or maybe it is simply the way it is. My partner in crime and our great Equine Editor and Photographer Linda Shier met up with one of the major exceptions in the business who has been at it for over 25 years. This incredible lady is one of the best kept secrets since she is located in Southern California and runs at Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, and other less notable tracks. Her name is Joy Scott and this is an interview with a West Coast icon of the Industry.
Joy Scott at early morning workout at Santa Anita
Photo by: Linda Shier
Home for Joy is Azusa, California where she has resided for about the last three years and prior to that was Arcadia for over 17 years. She is a native Californian from the San Fernando Valley. She is a true Valley Girl that went to Valley College and has a 19 year old son name Jesse Sanchez. Jesse loves horses but rides socially only since his time is into team sports such as hockey and football. Now Mom is coaching him on girls now versus taking in all the games and practices.
Joy left home at the age of 11 to live with her grandmother and then at 15 really got hooked on horses. She started by exercising everyone’s horses at the track. She started with exercising horses and breaking them to a bridle. She was a “horse child”. Joy sat on her first donkey at the age of 9 months. At 15 ½ she began working with horses in earnest by training them to a bridle, She worked with Lori Grouve who was a female jockey and at that time one of the very few. She was a hard-working woman that was quite a mentor for Joy. Joy learned from the ground up with Lori and taught her how to sit a saddle. Joy first started racing horses in Endurance Events. Then she began working at Hollywood Park and worked for Tommy Burns, who taught her a European style of riding. Tommy was her second mentor that looked out for her at the age of 17 when she was truly bitten by the bug. She remembers the moment of a Chestnut Colt that she felt one with the horse. At that time she didn’t tell anyone she wanted to be a jockey since she stated everyone would have thought she was nuts. But at the time of working with the Chestnut Colt was when she determined she was going to ride competitively.
All 4 feet 10 inches of True Grit
Photo by: Linda Shier
Tommy sent her with about 7 horses to work. After breaking and working those seven horses and learning much more from her new friends in the business, she met Bobby Garcia who was a jockey of some notoriety. Bobby liked to teach and was important to Joy since he taught her how to ride competitively. He took Joy under his wing, Bobby is still a great friend today even though he doesn’t ride anymore. When he does see her he always tells Joy how he is so proud of her and what she has accomplished. He always treated her as an equal in the business and never tried to take advantage. He became more of a father figure.
Then she met John Treasure who had about 60 colts in training which were some really nice horses which she helped break. This was another huge leap in her learning and experience process and she learned a lot by doing this. Joy always took the jobs that nobody else wanted such as training the young horses. She turned what many perceived as a bunch of “negatives” and turned them into positives in her career path.
Bobby Garcia taught Joy the essentials basics and the technical aspects of riding. He tried to teach Joy how to walk like a jockey, but she just couldn’t do that. Attitude is a lot of riding though and he imparted that to Joy as well. Everyone that succeeds always has a mentor, and Bobby Garcia became Joy’s for a number of years.
Early morning workout at Santa Anita
I asked her if she was aware that they are formalizing a jockey college at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. To which she responded that she didn’t know if the process could be formalized without the dues being paid. “It’s a lot of hard work and hard times, and all of it builds character” Joy stated. “It takes time and understanding. You have to become one with the animal and appreciate the horse’s personality and you only get that over time.”
Paradise Ranch asked Joy to come out and teach students in the art of being a Jockey. It’s a Survivalist Sport…..according to Joy. “It’s like running away to join the circus , and its about that hard to do as well.” She stuck it out in California and virtually all her peers were male. She had folks advise her to go to Pennsylvania and hook up with the circuits that have women jockey events. “It is more art than a science, and a lot of it is mastering yourself and being able to understand the horse completely.”
Joy is the only woman left of all that tried to become jockeys back in 1994.Christine Davenport, and others would ride in practices and they would typically only last about 3 years. But the one constant that has kept Joy focused and what she calls “the best thing she had in her life” was her son and knowing she was doing it as much for him as she was for herself.
We at Sports Image Times want to thank Joy Scott for this great insight into what it takes to be a woman and make it in one of the most competitive sports in the world. We wish her all the best, and highly recommend that any of our readers when they find themselves out on the West Coast, go to Santa Anita or Hollywood Park and enjoy an evening watching some great racing as well as a great jockey, Joy Scott.
Special thanks to Santa Anita for allowing us to shoot Joy. We highly recommend you visit this great track whenever you happen to be in the Los Angeles area.
Lexington, KY April 25, 2007
Keeneland is the experience we have been looking for throughout our adventures through the sporting world. This is a facility that is second to none, and has some of the friendliest folks working there we have ever experienced as well.
We were covering the Rolex **** Three Day Event at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington and figured that we should drop by Keeneland to see what all the hoopla we have heard over the years was all about and did we ever find out. There were only two days left in their Spring season of racing and the air was filled with electricity as we were driving through Lexington to get there. The incredible horse farms on the way there set the mood and when you see the incredible red and white structures of Calumet Farms is when you start understanding what the history of Thoroughbred racing in Kentucky is all about.
We then approached the entrance framed within large stone columns which stood like big monoliths welcoming you to racing history. Keeneland was first opened in 1936 and is definitely the Queen of all the racing facilities in the United States. The drive up the magnificent lane with brick insets along the way is exciting. The estate is covered with beautiful stone structures that look like they should be at Camelot with King Arthur presiding.
We pull into the parking lot and walk up to the administration building to get our credentials and are greeted by some of the friendliest smiles and helpful folks. Our adventure begins in spite of the rain and cool temperatures as we proceed to the main gate. Once we go through the gate we enter into a brick-lined courtyard which has large oaks and willows and a huge Rolex clock with the name Keeneland at the top. This is the trademark of Keeneland and of course is a clear demonstration of the classy side of the facility. The courtyard is the area where the horses for the next race are brought up from the bordering barns. The grooms begin their warm-ups prior to the race by walking them around on the brick-lined paths. The other commanding feature of the courtyard is how the walls are covered in ivy and the entire feature is lined with great green hedges.
Next the horses are then taken to another adjoining yard lined with hedges where the jockeys join their steeds. Once they have been paraded around to the observing betters then they go through a tunnel toward the track. Of course the public is not allowed in the tunnel area so you must traverse to your seat via the route of the betting windows. You can cut the excitement with a knife and like most tracks there is an air of fun mixed with the serious concentration of pouring over the racing forms.
When we approached the front of the stands we saw what folks had been telling us about concerning some of the renovations at Keeneland. The infield is sporting a nice new electronic leader/tote board replete with a great jumbo-tron television screen and then another screen which is an electronic representation of the positioning of the horses as they go around the track much like you see on the television watching the NASCAR races. This is a great addition and is the only one like it that we have seen and was a great investment by Keeneland for the fans.
Of course you can’t have a race without the bugler calling to colors before the race, and as at most tracks you have a gentleman that has been a fixture at the facility for years. Keeneland is no different. After watching seven races we finally decided to have our ritual track-side meal of a great hot-dog covered in mustard.
To make a short story of a great day, Sports Image Times definitely recommends that if you have never had the pleasure of visiting Keeneland get moving when they have their next racing season beginning on October 5th through the 27th. For that matter, even if they aren’t running the ponies you still need to visit them. It is definitely a great facility with great employees and can provide smiles galore when you walk through the gate.
Story by: Jeff Kluss/ Sports Image Times
Copyright Sports Image Times 2007
By Ellis Starr
Street Sense—————— Great Hunter
With a record of one win each in two meetings, Street Sense and Great Hunter promise to make the 83rd running of the Grade 1, $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes a memorable one. Great Hunter won the Grade 1 Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity last fall on the all weather track at Keeneland, with Street Sense checking in third after leading in the stretch, then four weeks later Street Sense turned the tables on his rival with a smashing 10-length win in the Grade 1 Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. With both classy colts having returned from four months on the bench to win graded stakes last month and with both likely to run even better in their second starts of 2007, we can not ask for a better race to watch and wager on. Adding excitement to the mix is Dominican, who won the Rushaway Stakes three weeks ago on the all weather track at Turfway Park, running faster than Hard Spun did one race later when victorious in the Grade 2 Lane’s End Stakes. Starbase, Teuflesberg and Zanjero round out the compact yet extremely talented field.
Dominican dominated a 10-horse field in the Rushaway Stakes, winning by five lengths and earning a career best 109 Equibase Speed Figure. To put that effort into perspective, one race later Hard Spun won the Grade 2 Lane’s End Stakes and earned a 101. Since Dominican had been away from the races for four months before the Rushaway it is reasonable to assume he should run even better in the Blue Grass, and his recent workout at Keeneland on April 8 may be a further indicator that he is in better physical shape than before the Rushaway. Having won over the all weather track at Keeneland last October in a two-turn race is another positive factor. Dominican is the only one of the three recent stakes winners who needs to run first or second in the Blue Grass to attain enough graded stakes earnings to run in the Kentucky Derby, as only the 20 horses with the most earnings in graded stakes can enter the starting gate at Churchill Downs three weeks for now. This factor adds incentive for Dominican’s jockey and trainer to get him home on top in the Blue Grass.
Street Sense, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and champion 2-year-old male for 2006, came back to the races in March and after four months off like he had never left, winning the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby by a nose over Any Given Saturday and earning a 114 , only one point shy of the 115 he earned when in peak condition winning the Juvenile. With many horses, a big effort following a layoff might result in a regression, but Street Sense was relaxed for most of the Tampa Bay Derby, finding a spot on the rail for the stretch run and really only having to run hard for the last five-sixteenths of the race. Street Sense also has a positive experience over the all weather track at Keeneland with his third-place finish behind Great Hunter in the Breeders’ Futurity last fall. As such, I am expecting another top effort in the Blue Grass to put Street Sense in position to peak on Kentucky Derby Day.
Great Hunter, like Street Sense and Dominican, returned to the races after four months off in March and more than picked up where he left off, winning the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes with a powerful turn of foot on the turn to go from sixth to first by a length and one-half in three-sixteenths of a mile, then maintaining his margin to the wire. Great Hunter earned a career best 112 Figure for that effort, and as he won the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity last fall over this all weather track and as he should improve in his second start off a layoff, Great Hunter has every right to run well enough to win his second graded stakes at Keeneland.
In an effort to bring you up to speed for the upcoming Triple Crown events starting with the
Kentucky Derby on May 5th, we are going to be listing the top money winner Jockeys and Horses as we progress in the Season. Also, since the 2 Year Old Auction at Keeneland is such an important event for potential 3 year olds we will be covering that as well on April 17th.
Top Jockeys By Earnings as of 03.18.07
|Jockey Name||Starts||1st||2nd||3rd||Earnings||Winning %||Top 3 %|
|Garrett K. Gomez||289||72||53||43||$4,396,060||25%||58%|
|John R. Velazquez||270||62||45||32||$3,696,007||23%||51%|
|Corey S. Nakatani||180||25||26||26||$2,738,095||14%||43%|
|David Romero Flores||244||44||31||24||$2,343,603||18%||41%|
|Edgar S. Prado||304||55||38||33||$2,336,041||18%||41%|
|Cornelio H. Velasquez||413||64||50||47||$2,106,399||15%||39%|
|Ramon A. Dominguez||216||54||27||38||$1,830,268||25%||55%|
|Aaron T. Gryder||232||28||32||36||$1,611,164||12%||41%|
|Corey J. Lanerie||245||38||47||38||$1,471,575||16%||50%|
|Michael J. Luzzi||235||37||40||34||$1,407,159||16%||47%|
|Russell A. Baze||235||79||44||44||$1,327,584||34%||71%|
Kent J. Desormeaux
Top Horses By Earnings as of 03.18.07
|Horse Name||Starts||1st||2nd||3rd||Earnings||Winning %||Top 3 %|
|Rags to Riches||3||3||0||0||$357,600||100%||100%|
|Song of Navarone||2||1||0||1||$312,180||50%||100%|
|Tough Tiz’s Sis||3||2||1||0||$164,000||67%||100%|
Nobiz Like Showbiz wins at Gulfstream Park
Nobiz Like Shobiz kicked off his road to Churchill Downs with a wire-to-wire, 1 1/2 length win over Drums of Thunder in the Holy Bull Stakes (GIII) at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. Scat Daddy was third, another 1 1/4 lengths back in the one-mile, $150,000 race for 3-year-olds that serves as the first key Kentucky Derby prep at the south Florida track.
Sent off as the heavy favorite at 3-5, Nobiz Like Showbiz was a bit reluctant to go into the outside gate in the field of eight. However, once the field was sent on his way, Nobiz Like Shobiz broke very well, basically in tandem with second choice Scat Daddy to his inside. That pair traveled together for more than a half-mile of the one-turn race, with Scat Daddy being ridden harder by his jockey John Velazquez than Cornelio Velasquez on Nobiz Like Shobiz.
When Scat Daddy began to fade nearing the stretch, Nobiz Like Shobiz appeared to be home free. A fresh challenge came in the form of longshot Drums of Thunder and Manuel Cruz, who had been chasing the leaders from the three path. Nobiz Like Shobiz didn’t switch leads until mid-stretch, which apparently caused him to drift in towards the rail. Once Velasquez got him straightened out, though, he leveled off nicely and cruised under the wire with his foes comfortably behind. Drums of Thunder was likewise unthreatened by Scat Daddy, who was some eight lengths clear of his stablemate Sam P. Pop Goes the Tiger, Bold Start, One of the Best, and Dukes Flying Tiger completed the finish.
Owned and bred by Elizabeth Valando, Nobiz Like Shobiz notched his third win in four starts, with his only loss coming to Scat Daddy in the Champagne (GI) last October.
Trainer Barclay Tagg, who won the 2003 Kentucky Derby with Funny Cide, liked what he saw.
“It was exactly what I wanted,” Tagg said. “I wanted to get a good race in him without undue stress to win the race. We’ll see how he comes out of this race. Maybe the Fountain of Youth (Mar. 3 at Gulfstream) will be next.”
The winner paid $3.40, $3 and $2.10. Drums of Thunder returned $9.40 and $2.40 as a 27-1 outsider. Scat Daddy paid $2.10 to show. The $2 exacta was worth $46.40.
Three-year-old sprinters were also in action on the card at Gulfstream Saturday, with Adore the Gold, much like Nobiz Like Shobiz in the Holy Bull, going wire-to-wire to score his first graded stakes win in the 6 1/2 furlong Swale Stakes (GII).
The mid-Atlantic based Adore the Gold had finished a well-beaten fifth in the Nashua (GIII), his only prior graded race, but had been working extremely well for trainer Michael Gorham in preparation for this. Adore the Gold broke alertly from post two, securing the rail under Corneilo Velasquez. Under pressure the entire time from Forefathers during a quick half-mile in :44.69 seconds, Adore the Gold refused to give up the lead, keeping Forefathers at bay to win by 3/4 of a length. Forefathers was 6 1/4 lengths in front of 3-2 favorite Cowtown Cat.
“We’ll stretch him out, but we just don’t know where or when yet,” Gorham said. “Cornelio got after him and straightened him out. We wanted to get out there and get a position, but he was so quick, he didn’t want to take him back. So he let him hold his spot.”
Adore the Gold paid $7.20, $3.80 and $2.60. Forefathers, who began his career at Lingfield in Great Britain, returned $4.40 and $2.60. Cowtown Cat paid $2.20 to show. Reata’s Rocket finished fourth. Gunfight, Storm Trust and First Cavalry rounded out the field.
Nobiz Like Shobiz is the first stakes winner for his sire Albert the Great. With the subject colt his top earner, Albert the Great finished 2006 ranked 13th on the second crop sire list. He currently stands at Three Chimneys Farm in Versailles, Kentucky. Overall, he has two crops, with two Puerto Rican stakes winners, Albert the Gold (GII) and Prensa Hipica (GI), in addition to Nobiz Like Shobiz. By 1994 Kentucky Derby winner Go For Gin, Albert the Great did not compete in the American Classic, but won over $3 million in just two seasons of racing. Among his 22 starts came victories in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI), Suburban Handicap (GII), Brooklyn Handicap (GII), Dwyer (GII) and Widener Handicap (GIII). In the latter race, he set a new track record at Hialeah of 1:45 2/5 for 1-1/8 miles. Overall, he won or placed in 17 of 21 career starts, including hold the distinction of defeat all three winners (Fusaichi Pegasus, Red Bullet, Commendable) of the 2000 Triple Crown events. In addition to a good deal of stamina, he ran the fastest 1 1/4 miles (1:59.24) by a 3-year-old in the history of New York racing.
Nobiz Like Shobiz is out of Nightstorm, also bred and raced by Valando. Nightstorm raced just six times, winning once. She has produced three runners, including Nobiz Like Shobiz, with him being her lone stakes horse to date. She is a daughter of leading sire Storm Cat, which makes Nobiz Like Shobiz inbred 5×4 to Northern Dancer. He also has the same cross to his fourth dam Swoon’s Tune, a half-sister to Gulfstream Park Handicap winner Court Recess, she also produced 1973 Kentucky Oaks winner Bag of Tunes and the multiple graded stakes winning filly Swingtime. Dosage Index: 1.44 –by Mark Hoard
Photo by: Linda Shier/SIT/ http://www.photobylinda.com
Jan. 29 (Bloomberg) — Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, who shattered his right hind ankle as an undefeated 3-year-old in pursuit of horse racing’s Triple Crown, lost “his biggest race” and was euthanized today.Barbaro, who won the Derby by the largest margin in 60 years, suffered multiple fractures on May 20, 2006, when he took a misstep 200 yards from the starting gate in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.
The horse, whose injury and recovery inspired widespread public affection, was euthanized after developing a painful inflammation in both front feet similar to a condition in his left rear hoof, his surgeon, Dr. Dean Richardson, said at a news conference.
“It literally left him with not a leg to stand on,” said Richardson, who directed care for the horse at a Pennsylvania veterinary hospital. “It’s not going to be something that’s easy to forget.”
Fans at the Preakness watched jockey Edgar Prado try to pull up the colt, who worsened his injury by continuing to run. Barbaro earlier broke through the starting gate prematurely.
“I thought that this horse had the potential to be an all- time great,” Andy Beyer, an author and Washington Post columnist who developed a widely used handicapping system, said in a telephone interview. He was a self-professed skeptic about previous Triple Crown contenders. “Barbaro was the real thing.”
Affirmed was the last Triple Crown champion, in 1978.
Barbaro underwent what doctors termed “risky” surgery Jan. 27 when a deep abscess was discovered in the right foot, which had healed by year’s end. Pins were inserted in the cannon bone, the long bone in the front of the lower leg, and the leg was rigged in an external device to take the weight off the foot and give doctors access to the injury.
Richard said at the time there was a risk of a fracture in the weight-bearing leg and the front legs.
“Barbaro had many, many good days. Last night for the first night ever, he struggled with what he was doing; he wasn’t comfortable lying down and he wasn’t comfortable standing up,” Richardson said, adding pain medications were intensified. “He was a completely different horse.”
Richardson, who always said he could tell how Barbaro felt by looking in his eyes, said when he looked at him today, “you could see he was upset. It was more than we wanted him to go through.”
Barbaro, suspended in a sling, was euthanized at 10:30 a.m. New York time. Richardson said it was the right time and that he had sometimes waited too long in the past.
“This was not a news flash for the Jacksons,” Richardson said. “As a typical egotistical surgeon, I would just love to prove what I could do, but I had to do what was best for my patient.”
Barbaro’s owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, were with the horse during the procedure.
“I would like now for all of us to say a prayer for Barbaro,” said Gretchen. “Grief is the price we all pay for love.”
Barbaro was stricken July 12 with a painful inflammation in his left hind leg, which had been bearing more weight than usual since the accident. The severe case of laminitis, as the affliction is called, set in quickly. Surgeons removed 80 percent of the hoof wall.
Setback: The horse suffered a setback Jan. 9 when a new cast put on his other hind leg became uncomfortable because of further separation in the hoof. A month earlier, Richardson said the colt’s recovery was advancing and he would be released from the hospital in the “not too distant future.” Barbaro had been recuperating in the intensive-care unit of the University’s George D. Widener Hospital, 36 miles southwest of Philadelphia in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.
From the outset, Richardson gave Barbaro a 50-50 chance of survival and warned about the complications that would arise from laminitis.
Richardson fused the shattered bones by implanting a plate and screws May 21 and holding them in place with a cast that covered the hoof to the hock. The original operation lasted more than four hours.
The surgeon said he had fixed horses with similar injuries, but never one with a combination that caused so much damage. Most racehorses who suffer serious leg injuries are euthanized at the track.
“The race of healing this fracture is the one we’d like him to win,” Richardson said two days after the surgery. “It’s probably his biggest race.”
Barbaro, trained by Michael Matz, became the sixth horse to win the Derby after entering the race undefeated. His 6 1/2- length win was the widest margin since Triple Crown winner Assault won by eight lengths in 1946.
Barbaro won his first race at Delaware Park in October 2005, followed by an eight-length victory in the Laurel Futurity and the Tropical Park Derby.
He won the Holy Bull on a sloppy track and boosted his record to five straight victories with a win April 1, 2006, at the Florida Derby, five weeks before the Kentucky Derby. He became the first horse in 50 years to win the first leg of the Triple Crown after a layoff of five weeks or more.
Barbaro’s tragedy caught the attention of the nation. The hospital established an e-mail address for well-wishers, who kept crashing the internal system. The response prompted Richardson to note that the colt, dark-bay with a white star on the forehead, didn’t have a keyboard in his stable. Carrots, apples, flowers and horse treats were delivered daily.
“His memory will live forever,” said Alex Waldrop, chief executive officer of the NTRA. “America’s compassion and love for Barbaro speak to the incredible bond that people share with thoroughbreds and our sport.”
His popularity was compared by some with that of Seabiscuit, the tiny colt who became champion in the 1930s.
“Seabiscuit and Barbaro bore very little resemblance as racehorses: Seabiscuit was unfashionably bred and unfortunately conformed, and rose from origins of embarrassing futility; Barbaro was a splendid creature who never lost a race until his last,” said Laura Hillenbrand, the author of `Seabiscuit,” a best-selling book that was made into a movie. “In terms of their public appeal, Seabiscuit’s story is one of a public’s identification with the underdog; Barbaro’s is one of the public’s compassion for the injured.”
Had Barbaro survived, Hillenbrand said in an e-mail interview, he would have shared with Seabiscuit “a supreme triumph in the face of impossible odds.”
The Jacksons, who bred and owned the horse, lived 10 miles away from the hospital in West Grove, Pennsylvania, and visited Barbaro at least twice a day. They spent tens of thousands of dollars on hospital bills to save the life of the colt, valued at $25 million before his injury.
“The sad part in Barbaro’s case is the American public won’t get a chance to see him continue his racing career,” Roy Jackson, whose horse earned more than $2.3 million in six starts, said earlier. “We probably didn’t see his greatest race.”
By Nancy Kercheval reprinted with permission
Last Updated: January 29, 2007 17:02 EST