Chris McGrath

Liberal Arts A Ferraro Family Adventure

His father had long since ceased training, but they still always stood at the same point by the Santa Anita paddock. "There was a spot there, where the horses come out from the saddling enclosure and make a right," Evan Ferraro recalls. "From there you could look at them straight on, so you could see their conformation, their joints, and my dad would point stuff out to me." And there was one filly by In Excess (Ire) that just blew the veteran horseman away: a Harris Farms homebred, saddled by...

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Stud Fees Central To Correcting November Polarization

So we're hearing it at last: the dreaded "C" word. Correction. After a bull run as long as the one we've seen in international bloodstock, we're now hearing this and other words chosen to discourage undue alarm. Last week, on the conclusion of their November Sale, Keeneland officials resorted to adjectives as queasy as "pragmatic" and "solid" to describe trade. "Correction" has a bolder implication: that if the market's down, then so it jolly well should be; values had reached an unsustainable high, and have merely been rocked back onto...

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Big Picture Shows Yearling Market Holding Firm

If a tree falls in the forest and there's nobody there to hear it, does it still make a sound? We'll leave their old teaser to the philosophers, to debate whether noise still qualifies as "sound" if it doesn't reach anyone's ear. But for a long time now our own industry has been puzzling over a still more perplexing version: if a tree falls in the forest, or indeed if a war breaks out in Europe, or a pandemic sweeps the planet, or central banks have to douse the fires...

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Bonne Chance Team Making Their Own Luck

Playing chess with nature. That's what Jean-Luc Lagardère called it, and the analogy has always resonated with Alberto Figueiredo. How, for instance, do we account for the sheer size of King Of Steel (Wootton Bassett {GB}), who sealed his place among the elite sophomores of Europe with his Group 1 success at Ascot last Saturday? You don't particularly see that bulk in the sire; and, tragically, it wasn't in the dam either. In her case, the disparity proved fatal. "She was a good, medium-sized mare but he was so big...

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Keeneland Breeder Spotlight: Rigney Savoring Sweet Flavor of Success

Richard Rigney says that nothing in life gives him a bigger kick than his horses. To understand just what that means, it might help to know his idea of a vacation. A few years ago, for instance, he went on a shooting range in Russia. Not that startling, perhaps: this was obviously before the war in Ukraine. It's just the caliber of the ordnance that was a little unusual. "Shooting a bazooka is so fun," Rigney says. "My wife Tammy was like, 'You know what? I think it's okay that...

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Keeneland Breeder Spotlight: How Greg Goodman, A Good Texan, Became a Brilliant Kentuckian

They call it "nominative determinism." Your name suggests your path in life: like the world's fastest man being a Bolt. On that basis, you would say that being born a Goodman raises expectation enough--without then going ahead and buying yourself a farm named Mt. Brilliant. The last year or so, however, suggests that things are playing out much as they should. Last September, TOBA presented Greg Goodman with the Robert N. Clay Award for his work in preserving horse country around Lexington from development. In April, the KTA/KTOB honored him...

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Sikura: No Simple Solutions for a Fractured Sport

At a time that so plainly demands leadership, where better to come than the desk of John Sikura? A man of notably independent outlook, the owner of Hill 'n' Dale can be relied upon for a perspective that combines candor and detachment with flair and imagination. And those are all assets that appear to be in short supply right now. For while our community's emotional response to the traumas at Saratoga this summer was one of shared horror and grief, the polarization of opinion since has been emotive. Much as...

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Keeneland Breeder Spotlight: Mandy Pope's Whisper Hill Turning Up The Volume

Even a horse on the end of a chain can be a conveyance to horizons without end. At Keeneland last week, Mandy Pope's equine journey reached a fresh milestone: five seven-figure yearlings sold from Whisper Hill Farm in Book I. But the road remains the same as the one she stumbled across in a neighboring yard at four years of age. "We lived in a small farming town in North Carolina, outside of Raleigh," Pope recalls. "People there were still using horses to plow their fields. And there was this...

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Different Hats Keep McDonald Ever Hopeful

Perhaps it is called the Hopeful Stakes because that's the most anyone can ever be with a Thoroughbred. But if nearly any purchaser at Keeneland over the next couple of weeks would like to be contesting that race, a year from now, then one consignor might give them not just hope but something closer to confidence. Okay, so a trifecta for Eaton Sales graduates in the Saratoga Grade I last year featured only the winner, Forte (Violence), from the 2021 Keeneland September Sale. Runner-up Gulfport (Uncle Mo) and third Blazing...

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This Side Up: Whether For Hard Profit Or Soft Power, Passion Is No Commodity

It's the transfer window over in Europe--and not just because they're between soccer seasons. They have also seen big money paid, both at auction and in private trade, to switch jockey silks at Royal Ascot this week. A couple of the top races have been won by a significant new investor, Wathnan Racing. Apparently, the people involved were eager to maintain a low profile, but it's tricky to remain incognito when the meeting's most storied trophy is being presented by the new King of England while Frankie Dettori, that least...

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This Side Up: First Among Equals

They talk about the glass ceiling, though back in 1992 Shelley Riley ran into something more like a glass wall. For a few strides, it looked as though she was going to make history as she watched Casual Lies--a Lear Fan colt she had found as a short yearling for $7,500--lead into the stretch with most of the Kentucky Derby field in trouble. But then that invisible barrier came down, and Lil E. Tee ran by to win by a length. Her reward? Later that year, somebody claiming to represent...

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This Side Up: Plus Ca Change….

At a time when so many people seem to be allowing a duty of vigilance to crumble into morbid defeatism, it seems a little unfair that our sport should be going through such a hard time even as we approach the 50th anniversary of the most luminous tour de force in the story of the modern breed. Of course, as some powerful evocations of the time have lately reminded us, Secretariat arrived as a sunbeam into a wider world darkened by Vietnam and civic unrest. And nor should we deceive...

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