Opinion Columns

Hovdey: Race riding will be on display in Matriarch

Somebody, bring a camera.

The parade of riders filing out of the Del Mar jockeys room at a quarter past three on Sunday afternoon will be a sight to see. No one will need a program to match names and faces.

Hovdey: Brown takes three to tango in Hollywood Derby

Chad Brown was planning to be at Del Mar – home of the 2017 Breeders’ Cup – this weekend when half a dozen of his runners will populate the $300,000 Hollywood Derby and the $300,000 Matriarch. Really, he was.

“I’ve never been to Del Mar, never won a race there,” Brown said Thursday from New York. “And I wanted to come out. But …”

Here it comes. East Coast excuse No. 487 for a trainer blowing off a stakes date in California. Okay, go ahead.

Jerardi: Changing surfaces cause for tricky figure-making

The first four dirt races at Aqueduct last Saturday were a figure-makers dream. The final times made sense in relation to what was expected, and the apparent outlier, Elate, a first-time starter, emphatically announced herself as a stakes horse with a dominating 12 1/2-length win. Then they ran the Remsen, the fifth dirt race and the third 1 1/8-mile race on the card.

Hovdey: Battle over slaughter rejoined at symposium

There will be something for everyone at the various attractions of the Global Symposium on Gaming & Racing early next week in Tucson, Ariz., where industry leaders are gathering to gnaw on the thorny issues of the sport and run up a tab.

Hovdey: For Blue Tone, age 7 is the new 4

It is fitting that Sunday’s $100,000 Native Diver at Del Mar has intergenerational appeal since Native Diver himself spanned an entire era. He raced 81 times over seven seasons, won 34 stakes, and in 1967 became only the seventh Thoroughbred to earn more than a million dollars. He is also buried at Del Mar.

Hovdey: Hendricks tries to be Zen about Om's BC loss

Emily Shields
Om (12), gets to the wire just a little too late, missing by a nose to Obviously in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint.

It has been 20 years since Cigar ran his last race, in the 1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Woodbine, while more than 76 years have passed since Seabiscuit took his final bow with a victory in the 1940 Santa Anita Handicap. Yet their names live on, in more ways than one, and on Saturday their memories will be summoned once again in significant bicoastal races at Del Mar and Aqueduct.

Hovdey: Eurton still feeling a buzz from Champagne Room's win

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Hovdey: Eurton still feeling a buzz
Barbara D. Livingston
Trained by Peter Eurton, Champagne Room wins the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and makes her case for an Eclipse Award.

It seems like a dream, but it wasn’t. Three Saturdays ago, at a time of day when a trainer might be hustling to make the first race for a $10,000 claimer or bottom-level maiden, Peter Eurton and his crew led Champagne Room into the dazzling sunlight of the Santa Anita Park walking ring for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Watchmaker: Still more great things from 2-year-old class

As noted in this space last week about the strongly run Breeders’ Cup Juvenile by Classic Empire and Not This Time, there is much optimism for this year’s class of 2-year-old males. More encouraging signs came Saturday in stakes victories from Mastery and Gunnevera.

Hovdey: While his opponents worked, Buckpasser played

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Hovdey: In 1966, Buckpasser was content to toy with his foes

Do not be impressed with the reputation of any modern racehorse until time is spent with the record and the reality of Buckpasser, the Horse of the Year of 1966.

It has not taken 50 years to appreciate this monster. On the contrary, he was feared in the flesh, a relentless 3-year-old machine who blew off the Triple Crown races and won everything else worth winning. Picture Arrogate, plus eight more starts and nine more stakes victories.

King: Our Stormin Norman's big fig no fluke

Due to the popularity of Beyer Speed Figures, one is usually betting with the crowd when backing a high-figure horse. But some exceptions can arise, creating value on a fast horse when the public views a big figure as a fluke or as a result of favorable circumstances.

I’m hopeful such an occasion presents itself Saturday when Our Stormin Norman races in the Delta Jackpot with by far the top last-race Beyer Speed Figure, an 88; he earned the figure winning a maiden race on the lead at Keeneland on Oct. 23.

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