Andrea Branchini

What's In A Name: Mendel's Secret

4th-Kentucky Downs, $156,800, Msw, 9-1, 2yo, 1mT, 1:37.03, fm, nose. MENDEL'S SECRET (c, 2, Mendelssohn--Donnie's Secret, by Tiger Ridge) O-Turman Racing Stable, LLC; B-Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds (KY); T-Michael J. Maker The name of Kentucky Downs 9-1-2022 brave post-to-post winner MENDEL'S SECRET (2yo, Mendelssohn--Donnie's Secret, by Tiger Ridge) is intriguing on many levels. It is very likely that there is a close connection with up-and-coming freshman sire MENDELSSOHN (2015 Bay Horse by Scat Daddy out of Leslie's Lady, by Tricky Creek), named after the great Romantic composer Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847). But...

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What's in a Name? Lost Ark, Park Avenue, and Autostrada

1st-Belmont, $90,000, Msw, 7-3, 2yo, 5 1/2f, 1:04.38, ft, 5 1/2 lengths. LOST ARK (c, 2, Violence--Marion Ravenwood {SW, $112,598}, by A.P. Indy) is a half-brother to both GI Belmont S. runner-up Nest (Curlin), GISW, $1,130,550 and GI Santa Anita H. winner Idol (Curlin), GISW, $426,964. Sales History: $275,000 Ylg '21 KEESEP. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $49,500. O-Harrell Ventures, LLC; B-Ashview Farm & Colts Neck Stables (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher. There is a tight connection between horse and dam in the name of Belmont 2yo winner Lost Ark. Marion Ravenwood is...

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What's in a Name? Mr. Baffert, Doppelganger, and More

Mr. Baffert, c, 2, Bodemeister--Commandaria, by Smart Strike. Monterrico, 11-14, Maiden, 1000m. B-Sanford Robertson (KY). The one and only Mr. Bob Baffert has had quite a share of intriguingly named winners in the last few weeks. Incidentally, Baffert is himself the namesake of a brilliant Peruvian (and U.S.-bred) colt by his old alumnus Bodemeister--the 2-year-old being a fast horse who won by almost five lengths at five furlongs on his racetrack debut (from another hemisphere in more ways than one?). 8th-Los Alamitos, $54,312, Msw, 12-11, 2yo, 6f, 1:09.21, ft, 3...

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What's in a Name: Trafalgar, Miles D, Vergara, Amendment Nineteen, Vantarsi

"England expects that every man will do his duty" were the eloquent and terrifying orders of Viscount Horatio Nelson before the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), where the great admiral annihilated the French fleet and destroyed Napoleon's maritime ambitions forever--losing his life to an enemy musket ball in the bargain. The Oct. 2 Churchill Downs winner TRAFALGAR, a courageous come-from-the-next-county closer, has more than done his duty and is thoughtfully named. 7th-Churchill Downs, $122,699, Msw, 10-2, 2yo, 1m, 1:35.61, ft, 2 1/4 lengths. TRAFALGAR (c, 2, Lord Nelson--Southern Drifter, by Dixie...

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What's In a Name: Gervais

Kudos to whoever was creative and subtle enough to name GERVAIS a horse by DISTORTED HUMOR. The winner of a handicap race at Meydan last week has just that almost risqué name. English actor Ricky Gervais is the creator of The Office, a TV program that stretched the borders of mainstream humor in the UK and in the US. Moreover, Ricky Gervais has presented the Golden Globes five times, always under the threat of being fired because of his outrageous sense of humor and his cutting, take-no-prisoner jokes. With Gervais...

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What's in a Name: Audarya

The winner of the GI Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf was named by her fortunate owner after a Sardinian wine company, according to her trainer--the great James Fanshawe of Pegasus Stables in Newmarket. Among the wines that the Audarya winery produces are their versions of the increasingly popular Cannonau (red, goes well with red meats, separates the men from the boys) and old stalwart Vermentino (white, goes with seafood and cheeses, separates the female side in all of us). The winery website states that "Audarya means 'nobility of the...

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What's in a Name: Whiskey and Rye

6th-Pimlico, $50,120, Msw, 9-24, 2yo, f, 6f, 1:10.88, ft. WHISKEY AND RYE (f, 2, Maclean's Music--Ava G, by Afternoon Deelites) Sales history: $150,000 2yo '20 EASMAY. Lifetime Record: 2-1-0-0, $25,200. O-Mens Grille Racing; B-Alex Venneri Racing, LLC (KY); T-Hamilton A. Smith. The brave 2-year-old winning filly WHISKEY AND RYE carries another ingenious name derived from the famous song "American Pie" by Don McLean, an American singer-songwriter who had his very great day in the sun in the early '70s. "And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye/Singin' this'll...

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Letters to the Editor: Andrea Branchini

There are many ways in which this 2020 Keeneland September Sale is different from previous editions, but to me one is the absence of Cris Caldwell, for sure. I still expect to see him quipping from the auctioneer's rostrum or happily strolling around the pavilion--memories that lead me to reflect on the mysterious, inexplicable power of presence and personality--something Cris had in spades. A smile, a joke, a friendly gesture, that is all we can ask from a person we do not know well in a public business place. Cris...

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What's In a Name: Mihos

by Andrea Branchini 6th-Gulfstream, $40,700, Alw (NW2$X), Opt. Clm ($62,500), 4-17, 4yo/up, 7f, 1:22.55, ft MIHOS (c, 4, Cairo Prince--Feline Flatline, by Lion Heart) O-Centennial Farms; B-Wayne, Gray & Bryan Lyster (KY); T-James A. Jerkens Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton. The Gulfstream Park winner Mihos runs like an Egyptian, and a very feline one at that. In the ancient mythology of Egypt, "Mihos was a lion-god and was depicted as a lion or a lion-headed man", according to Google. Keep in mind that this colt...

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What's In a Name: Apogee

by Andrea Branchini APOGEE (f, 3, Malibu Moon--My Limit, by Wagon Limit) The name of Christophe Clement's recent 3-year-old winner at Tampa Bay Downs is wise to lunar science and astronomy. She is by Malibu Moon out of My Limit, and her name is Apogee, which, according to the Google Dictionary, is "the point in the orbit of the moon or a satellite at which it is furthest from the earth." Brainy, inventive name. An Italian native, Andrea Branchini now lives in Lexington, KY, where he works in the equine...

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What's in a Name? Taraz

TARAZ (f, 3, Into Mischief--Silk Route, by Empire Maker) Oaklawn, 2-1, Martha Washington S., 1m, 1:38.64. The unbeaten 'TDN Rising Star' and Oaklawn winner owes her name to a smart historical/geographical connection. The 3-year-old is out of the mare Silk Route. The 2000-year-old city of Taraz (now in Kazakhstan) was a major trade center in the inland regions of the Silk Route, which was a series of ancient trade networks that connected China and the Far East with countries in Europe and the Middle East. Sharp, sophisticated name. An Italian...

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What's in a Name? Day the Music Died
What's in a Name? Day the Music Died

by Andrea Branchini DAY THE MUSIC DIED (g, 5, Maclean's Music--Kelly's Question, by Mr. Greeley) Laurel Park, 1-31, Alw, 6f, 1:10.95. O-Electric Rooster Racing Stable, LLC; B-R. Larry Johnson (MD). The recent Laurel winner Day the Music Died is poetry in motion, literally. Don McLean is the author of the 1971 song and world hit "American Pie," whose most famous and often repeated verse is the refrain line "the day the music died." The song is supposedly about the plane crash in 1959 that killed early rock and roll performers...

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