05/08/2009 1:57PM

Calvin's choice, Peter Pan


Stonestreet Stables sent out a press release to the media this afternoon.  Here are some noteworthy tidbits:

"Stonestreet Stables, majority owner of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, and partern Harold T. McCormick announced today that Calvin Borel has agreed to ride Kentucky Oaks winner Rachel Alexandra for the current racing season."

"It came down to the facts that he knows and loves this horse, that he knows how to get the most from her and he knows how to win," said Jess Jackson..."They were an amazing team at the Kentucky Oaks - winning by over 20 lengths.  We think this is a perfect match of rider and horse. 

"If she continues to be in perfect condition, our intention will be to run her in the Preakness," Jackson said, adding that the final decision would be made next week.


Congratulations to FIJIKING for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling contest.  Next week's exercise will be the Preakness Stakes. 


Jay Hovdey wrote an article today calling for more outrage over Paragallo's actions.  Could you either send me his email so I can ask him who I can write or ask him to write a follow up that gives this type of info for anyone who might be inclined to write.  This whole thing really bugs me and I am willing to take acton on it.  I am intrigued to find out whether one of my names was chosen for the little colt who was rescued by Old Friends.  Thanks.  Cruelty really bugs me!

Your best bet may be to e-mail your questions and comments to editor@drf.com.  For more information on Old Friends, head on over to www.oldfriendsequine.org


I have much more respect for MM than Da Tara, but given the apparent likelihood that Regal Ransom will run, I'd say that he's the one that could be dangerous if a slow pace develops.

It looks as though Regal Ransom is off the trail for the time being with his short-term goals the Woody Stephens and/or Dwyer.  I'm sure a speed candidate will emerge from the pack in the next few weeks.


Burt - MTB is a gelding, the Sheiks would have no use for him

I'm not so sure about that.  Remember that Godolphin privately purchased both Jose Adan and City Style over the winter with eyes on the American classics (geldings aren't eligible in the European classics).  City Style won both of his starts on grass in Dubai this winter, and is scheduled to run in a listed stake at seven furlongs on Saturday at Haydock Park in England. 
Jose Adan finished eighth in the UAE Derby behind stablemates Regal Ransom and Desert Party.
While it's highly uncommon, and sometimes fiscally irresponsible, to privately purchase geldings with no breeding value, Godolphin will pay top dollar for what they perceive to be top horses.  I don't see them flying this Bird anytime soon, however.


The Peter Pan looks like one of the more interesting races on the horizon this weekend.  There are three "big" names in the field, and I think they all have question marks. 
HELLO BROADWAY is adding blinkers because he bore out badly during the backstretch run of his recent entry-level allowance win at 2-5 odds over the Keeneland polytrack.  His good early speed is an asset, but can we trust him not to bolt into the parking lot? 
CHARITABLE MAN probably didn't care for the polytrack nor the nine furlong distance in his first start off the long layoff when ambitiously spotted in the Blue Grass.  He should appreciate returning to one-turn racing while switching to dirt, but are we sure that this is the same horse that won both of his starts so impressively as a two-year-old?  Remember that he had a screw inserted into his left shin after suffering a saucer fracture following his Futurity score. 
IMPERIAL COUNCIL is talented, but he's his own worst enemy.  He's a handful in the paddock, and actually flipped over prior to his disappointing performance in the Wood Memorial.  Can we be sure that he'll be on his best behavior on Saturday?
Because of these question marks, I'll take a shot with a nutty longshot.  STATELY CHARACTER finished 47 lengths behind Dunkirk three starts back at Gulfstream, but he can be excused for that race as he reportedly bled through his Lasix.  He did better in his two subsequent outings, and he attempted to rally from last over a speed-favoring track in the Florida Derby.  Although no match for the top three runners that day, he tried all the way to the wire.  He'll need some pace up front to help him, but is worth a try at big odds.


Enjoy the weekend.

Take care,


Captain Bodgit More than 1 year ago
Mr. Illman, I'm convinced that 1997 was the best year of horseracing in the last 20 years. You had Formal Gold, Skip Away, and Will Way burning up tracks in the East, while Gentlemen and co. blazed the way in the West. Hidden Lake was an awesome filly, Cheif Bearheart was running big on grass, Silver Charm, Captain Bodgit, Free House and Touch Gold made the Triple Crown awesome, and Favorite Trick was an undefeated 2 year old. Can we please get a list of the top Beyers from that year? It should be impressive. Also, what is the best year of the last 20 in your opinion?
Steve T. More than 1 year ago
This whole thing with the owner's collusion and RA unfortunately reinforces my belief that the owners ARE the center of the problem in horse racing. They could instantaneously stop the drug problem but they don't... They could keep their horses at the track, but they don't... And now they maneuver behind the scenes to control the races. I have a piece of news for you all - this sport is NOT your personal playground, you have been in charge for the last 200 years and YOU are responsible for the mess this sport is in. What you don't seem to comprehend is that without us feeding the machine, there is no sport. What we got to see is what goes on every day. How disheartening - I think it is time to find another sport.
Annie More than 1 year ago
Tencentcielo, Hilarious! It's a good thing we have a little humor on here to provide some relief from some of the things that have been going on in racing. In your defense, you have adopted horses that nobody else wanted (now you know why). lol But, now you have a proven winner. Sweet little Rachel. Good luck with your horse! Annie
Van Savant More than 1 year ago
chok; I may be in the minority, but it is my belief that Rachel Alexandra ran the fastest race of her life, and expended significant effort in so doing. It may not have looked taxing, but it had to have been. So with that said, it is my guess that the race was much more taxing than a paid workout. Although she appears to have been well-managed, and well-spotted for her 2009 campaign, I will be interested to see how she reacts should she run in the Preakness.
DRS More than 1 year ago
Steve T - great points on the owners really being the ones responsible for ruining this sport. Every point you made there rings true. They buy the horses they think they can run things like their personal playground. I don't think it is time to abandon the sport and no the sport isn't going anywhere. The problem is the sport is always so reluctant to change and the bettors are always the ones getting screwed, this is very obvious. I'll tell you why it is not time to find another sport - because there is nothing like the beauty of horses and there is nothing like the thrill of betting on them at whatever capacity you choose too. I would think all of us find it a challenge every time you flip the page to a new race and one you can get multiple times a day every day of the year. I used to be such a big baseball, hockey, football fan etc and slowly...or maybe not so slowly racing has drawn me closer. And in combination maybe the other sports pushed me away, mainly due to areas outside of the control of the athletes participating. Refs really do ruin sporting events. Take for example the Detroit hockey game last week where the ref blew that unreal whistle early while the puck was sitting outside the crease before the Red Wing scored. Now, if you are a Red Wings fan - how do you not feel like a fraud victim? Like everything you supported for 82 games all season wasn't a rip off? Maybe it is only my sentiment and I'm not even a fan of the Red Wings but it just cheapens everything. All other sports have the same issues as horse racing whether you believe it or not. It is always the fans getting screwed and its always about the owners and players. Baseball has their own drug issues which are more rampant I would argue than in racing. Not to mention the way fans are being treated at places like the new Yanks home with high ticket prices and bad customer service. Clearly, the owners in the sport of racing forgot who makes the sport go and that is us in this blog and all of the people around the world like us who play horses. The problem racing will always have is that it is usually supported by an aging population. Not that everyone is old, but if you did a statistic on the age of fans by percentage, I would think the 18-30 crowd is in the extreme minority, although I am part of it. What we really all need to do, is step up and create a new generation of horse racing fans, horse players, and people involved in the industry whether that is from a management side or a horsemen side and training. This is a phase of the game where people like IEAH and Zayat think they can buy the sport or tell everyone what to do. I have news for everyone, reputations have been ruined in a day by the incidents with RA so I'm not even worried about. Zayat will get his, shame on anyone who actually supported those connections before the Derby. Anyone following the sport can see their management methods of their racing stable. It is over though, RA will run and lets hope she spanks the boys regardless of how you feel about her purchase and her running in the race. Beyond that, though, we all should do our best to promote our sport to the youth of America. Not sure if anyone saw the article here: http://www.nyra.com/belmont/stories/May052009.shtml This is the first step I have seen by anyone to reach out to kids, and kudos for Kiaran for participating. I personally am going to reach out to NYRA community relations to see if I can start some kind of program to get kids out to the races, show them the backside and the barn I work in, introduce them to the jockey's, take them in the paddock for a race, go out get something to eat in the grandstand and watch the races and maybe even get their picture taken in the winners circle. We should all reach out to the youth and show them the right way because, as you all know, when you are hooked you are hooked, and I don't mean about gambling. The sport has a way of fascinating the minds of those who get to experience things the right way at the races. I was hooked the year Funny Cide won the Derby/Preakness. My father took me to the Belmont that year and even though he lost that race I had so much fun. He took me back to the barn and I got to walk the shedrow for the first time. I fell in love with Mariensky when she won the Just a Game. It was just a truely great experience and that is all it took.
tinky More than 1 year ago
BEBC – "Is there anyone on this blog who thinks RA had anything more than a workout in the Oaks?" I've refrained from commenting on this previously, even though others have made similar remarks, but now its time for some clarification. The idea that a horse that wins easily by a wide margin is not taxed by the effort is sheer nonsense. And that is especially true when the horse in question runs very fast, as RA did in the Oaks. While it is obviously the case that such a race won't be as taxing as one which features a heated battle to the wire, running fast depletes horses to a meaningful degree, irrespective of whether or not they were under a drive at the finish. "As far as the comments about switching trainers, come on. You pay millions for a horse not one of us has the right to criticize the actions of a new owner, especially in light of how these guys handled Curlin." That's ridiculous. You're suggesting that if RA hadn't been sold, and her previous owners had made the same decision, it would have been fine to criticize them. What an owner pays for a horse has nothing to do with whether or not their management of the horse is wise. Of course he can do whatever he likes with his new toy, but his actions are always fair game when it comes to criticism.
slewofdamascus More than 1 year ago
Vic, try and e-mail sometime when you get the chance. If RA were not entered, I'd be all over the MM and even BD, although the latter will have to be a freak to win with only one 7-furlong race in tow, imo. Viv, you have done a great job over the years identifying these top contenders, you have my complete respect as a talent evaluator. I meant to say in what was supposed to be a one post and done affair, that RA sits on the cusp - for me - of being the greatest 3yo North American racehorse - male or female - that I have ever seen in the 22 years I have been playing this game, possibly better than any top 3yo filly or colt that I have seen since '87. Rating should pose no problem for a filly of her ability and when it's time to go I believe she will take our collective breaths away when she gets her motor running. Please remember that Borel said this is the best horse - period - that he's ever been on. Not much has been written or said about that, strangely. Think about that statement. How strong would Street Sense be in this Preakness? I'd have to believe that he'd go favored (perhaps even with RA in the field), given his Beyers. If indeed Borel considers him to be a cut below RA, that's a strong statement, and while I virtually never take a rider at his word (or for their handicapping ability, generally speaking), I think his comment is a truthful one, especially after he backed it up by dumping MTB. Based on what I saw from Racheal going back 3 races now (when she first entered into my awareness), I believe there is good reason for Borel to honestly believe she's the best horse - male or female - that he's ever been on, including Street Sense (and obviously including his other Derby winner, MTB). While I expect a rider to always say good things about their top mounts regardless of the truth, I believe Borel is being 100% truthful in his opinion, and it is just opinion, as mine is. We could be wrong. If I am, I will lose a lot of money. I want a fast track. I wanted to add one more point. There is, imo, a big difference in the track condition that RA faced and the ones the boys faced. A big difference. RA ran on a manageable track, one that should have suited several of her competitors, while MTB was the only horse in the KD to truly handle the gooey mess a day later. Remember that there was a 2 hour break between the last dirt race and the KD, and in that time the track got sticky and gooey, and it became an extremely tiring oval that would punish the frontrunners and reak havoc with virtually all of the rest, a total mess that made the outcome (the winner) completely unpredictable. It could have been anyone, and while I think MTB was set to outrun his odds, there's no way, imo, he wins the race on a fast track or even a sloppy or wet-fast track like the one RA ran on and the one that was present during the early races on KD day, which was not tiring and favored frontrunners on or near the rail. I consider the KD a draw-a-line-through-it kind of race, a distinction I do not give the Oaks. I will try to post again after the Preakness, but in any case I wish everyone a great Preakness weekend and a great Summer! ps: look for Puddy De Luca running this week in a small stake at Bel, a very strong winner of her last 2 from Philly.
Jeff More than 1 year ago
This is TOTAL conspiracy. The fact that the two owners of the first two finishers of the Derby conspired (primarily due to Allen) together to find a way to keep Rachel out of the race is proof positive. The real question to be raised is why did Zayat originally go public with Allen's phone call?
Annie More than 1 year ago
Steve/Laura, That makes it all the more impressive what Laura has done! Annie
Annie More than 1 year ago
SR Vegas, Hi, about time you got back here. RE: Rags/Henry foal I love Cinderella for a filly. That would be so cute! How about Search for Riches for a colt? Annie