Opinion Columns

Watchmaker: West Coast wears crown as top 3-year-old male

Barbara D. Livingston
West Coast scores a dominant win in the Pennsylvania Derby on Saturday.

There was little, if any, doubt following his romp in last month’s Travers that West Coast had emerged as the best 3-year-old male in the country. But in our game, there can often be a big difference between “best,” and “most accomplished,” a distinction that can prove critical in an Eclipse Award context.

Hovdey: A great horse really can come from anywhere

There is a small stakes race on the Oklahoma Derby undercard at Remington Park this Sunday honoring a horse named Kip Deville. Good for them.

Kip Deville was a classy gray scrapper who didn’t care where he ran or who he ran against. He won big races in California, Kentucky, New York, and Florida, and the biggest of all in New Jersey, with a one-length upset of the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Mile. After winning 12 of 30 starts and $3.3 million, Kip Deville met a sad end at age 7 in 2010, after a nasty battle with colic and laminitis.

Hovdey: Game On Dude gets rep as ‘El Exigente'

In a quiet ceremony on Wednesday afternoon, the ashes of champions Charismatic and Hidden Lake were laid to rest beneath their recently delivered headstones in one of the two memorial gardens at Old Friends Equine near Georgetown, Ky.

They are in good company.

The special ground is dedicated to the memory of the late Nikki Bacharach, the daughter of Old Friends benefactor Burt Bacharach, whose Grade 1 winner Afternoon Deelites is an Old Friends resident. Charismatic and Hidden Lake are now there alongside Hall of Famers Noor and Skip Away.

Hovdey: In a man's world, Penny Chenery held her own

In her acceptance of the Award of Merit at the Eclipse Awards dinner in Beverly Hills, in January of 2006, Penny Chenery shared the story of the day she learned the lesson that would mark the rest of her racing life.

The scene was the 1950 Kentucky Derby. Chenery, 28 at the time, was there with her father, Christopher Chenery, proprietor of Virginia’s Meadow Stud. As they watched stable star Hill Prince parade to the post, Penny’s heart swelled with excitement.

“I knew he would win,” Chenery said. “He was supposed to win.”

Watchmaker: Betting public deserves to see critical disqualification replays

Before I get to thoughts on some of Saturday’s stakes action, a rant:

Horseplayers have to struggle and fight for every inch they get, but there are some routine services the industry should provide them without question or debate. For example, it should be a given that when a horse is disqualified, there should be some form of explanation to the betting public, a constituency that some track managements seem to forget extends far beyond the gates of their facilities and reaches to other tracks, simulcast emporiums, homes, and mobile phones everywhere.

Hovdey: Grappling with grim reminders of racing's perils

No one should need any reminders that the training and racing of Thoroughbreds is a dangerous endeavor. We get them anyway.

On Thursday at Delaware Park, five jockeys went down like living dominoes on the far turn of the turf course when the lead horse slipped and fell. Three jockeys got up.

Hovdey: Once again, O'Brien tries to scale the Frankel summit

The Brits and Irish are starting to get excited about Aidan O’Brien’s steady march toward the record for most Grade 1 stakes wins in a season. They call them Group 1 over there, which is clearly a reference to the class system so deeply rooted in European culture. But never mind.

Hovdey: Spawr on ice while Skye Diamonds preps for Breeders' Cup

Alternate title: 
Hovdey: Spawr on ice while Skye Diamonds preps for Breeders' Cup
Benoit & Associates
Skye Diamonds has won five of her six starts in 2017.

Most of us, finding ourselves awake at 3 a.m., wallow in Fitzgerald’s brooding idea that “in a real dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning, day after day.” Then we turn over and struggle back to sleep.

Except for Bill Spawr. For Spawr, a trainer for more than 40 of his 77 years, by 3 a.m. he is well into a bright new working day, already prowling his stable, peering into the stalls of sleepy headed Thoroughbreds, deciding who gets to do what and when.

Hovdey: Fair horsemen share stage with big-top trainers

“Where’s the Ferris wheel?”

The question was not out of line. Eddie Truman stood in the long, skinny Los Alamitos walking ring and scanned the horizon while waiting to give his jock a leg up in the second race on opening day. All he saw were comfortable suburbs, a couple of mega-churches, and big-box stores in the distance.

Hovdey: Risenhoover moves earth and sky for Del Mar win

It’s a roll of the dice naming a Thoroughbred after someone near and dear. If the horse is hopelessly slow, or runs in bottom-level claimers, that’s one thing. But bad things can happen, and sometimes do.

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