12/30/2003 12:00AM

2003 racing timeline


Year in Review

Jan. 13 - Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye retires after a nearly 35-year career that saw him win 6,384 races. Delahoussaye, 51, had suffered head and neck injuries in a spill at Del Mar in August 2002.

Jan. 19 - Little Current, the oldest living winner of a Triple Crown race, dies at 32. He won the Preakness and Belmont in 1974.

Jan. 27 - Azeri, the unanimous choice for the older filly or mare Eclipse Award, is named Horse of the Year in a runaway victory. War Emblem, the 2002 Derby and Preakness winner, is a distant second.

Feb. 14 - Legendary jockey John Longden, the only person to both ride (Count Fleet) and train (Majestic Prince) a Kentucky Derby winner, dies at age 96.

March 4 - Lady's Secret, the 1986 Horse of the Year and a daughter of Secretariat, dies at 21 as a result of foaling complications.

March 17 - Calumet Farm owner Henryk de Kwiatkowski, whose best horses included the sire Danzig, dies at age 79.

March 20 - Chris Harn, the mastermind of the 2002 Breeders' Cup pick six betting scandal, is sentenced to one year in prison after cooperating with authorities. His co-conspirators, Glen DaSilva and Derrick Davis, get longer sentences: two years and more than three years.

March 29 - Moon Ballad and jockey Frankie Dettori beat Harlan's Holiday by five lengths in the $6 million Dubai World Cup.

April 29 - Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay Jr., seriously injured in a spill March 1 at Santa Anita, announces his retirement after nearly 40 years of riding. Pincay, 56, holds the record for lifetime wins with 9,530.

May 2 - Trainer Nick Zito gets his first Kentucky Oaks win as Bird Town scores an 18-1 upset at Churchill Downs.

May 3 - Funny Cide wins the Kentucky Derby under Jose Santos, becoming the first New York-bred Derby winner and the first gelding to win since 1929. Funny Cide's subsequent rags-to-riches attempt to sweep the Triple Crown grabs the country's attention for weeks.

May 10 - An article in the Miami Herald newspaper speculates that a photograph of the Derby finish may show Santos carrying an electrical device aboard Funny Cide. The "suspicious" photo turns out to be an optical illusion, and an inquiry by Churchill Downs clears the jockey in two days.

May 17 - Funny Cide puts any questions about the Derby to rest, winning the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico by 9 3/4 lengths. Empire Maker, the Derby runner-up, skips the race.

June 7 - Funny Cide's Triple Crown hopes are dashed as he finishes third in the Belmont Stakes. Empire Maker holds off Ten Most Wanted for the victory.

June 9 - Spectacular Bid, a champion at ages 2, 3, and 4 who nearly swept the 1979 Triple Crown, dies at age 27.

June 14 - A report by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer claims that the management of the New York Racing Association turned a blind eye to corruption among mutuel tellers, raising the specter of indictments for top NYRA officials and putting the association's future in doubt.

July 22 - Ferdinand, the 1986 Kentucky Derby winner and 1987 Horse of the Year, is reported to have died in Japan in 2002 at age 19. Some believe the champion's life may have ended in a slaughterhouse, but his fate is ultimately unclear.

July 25 - "Seabiscuit," starring Tobey Maguire, Chris Cooper, Jeff Bridges, and jockey Gary Stevens, opens in theaters. Based on Laura Hillenbrand's best seller, the movie will go on to make more than $120 million at the box office.

Aug. 4 - The late Sonny Hine, best known as the trainer of Skip Away, is inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame. Other inductees are jockey Mike Smith and the horses Precisionist and Dance Smartly.

Aug. 16 - In a wild finish at the Arlington Million, Storming Home spooks at the wire and throws jockey Gary Stevens into the path of an onrushing horse. Stevens suffers a collapsed lung and a fractured vertebra but returns to riding within weeks. Sulamani is declared the winner.

Aug. 23 - With Funny Cide and Empire Maker both scratched due to illness, Ten Most Wanted rolls to a 4 1/2-length win in the $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga under Pat Day.

Aug. 24 - Argentine import Candy Ride bursts onto the scene with a track-record victory over Medaglia d'Oro in the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

Sept. 27 - Mineshaft crushes his opponents in the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont for his fourth Grade 1 victory of the year. Empire Maker misses the race with a foot bruise and is soon retired to stud - and so is Mineshaft, with an ankle chip.

Sept. 28 - Got Koko snaps Azeri's 11-race win streak in the $300,000 Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita.

Oct. 4 - Sightseek's victory in the Beldame Stakes at Belmont gives trainer Bobby Frankel a record 23 Grade 1 wins in 2003, breaking D. Wayne Lukas's record of 22 in 1987.

Oct. 12 - Racing icon Bill Shoemaker, winner of 8,833 races and four Kentucky Derbies, dies at age 72. A name synonymous with the sport, Shoemaker was the winningest jockey ever until Pincay broke his record.

Oct. 25 - Pleasantly Perfect takes the Breeders' Cup Classic, giving trainer Richard Mandella four wins on the championship card at Santa Anita. His others are Halfbridled (Juvenile Fillies), Action This Day (Juvenile), and Johar (Turf - dead heat with High Chaparral). The rest of the Breeders' Cup winners: Adoration (Distaff), Six Perfections (Mile), Cajun Beat (Sprint), and Islington (Filly and Mare Turf).

Dec. 6 - Daily Racing Form executive columnist Joe Hirsch retires after 55 years covering the sport.