This Side Up: Horses, Not Humans, Back At The Epicenter

First things first: let's give their chance to the guys off the bench. Okay, so there are going to be plenty of eyeballs rolled now that three of Bob Baffert's four Derby migrants are joining a former assistant, on the same circuit, with a total of 38 starters to his name this year—especially as it was the handling of another Baffert medication violation that reportedly caused the scuffle between this same gentleman and a fellow trainer at Clocker's Corner one morning last April. (Both were fined $500.) The wiseguys will...

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From The Real To The Magical: The Power Of The Thoroughbred 

Racing is famously described as living in its own little bubble. (People often say this crossly, with exasperation.) And it is, in many ways, a world of its own. It is so specialised and so absorbing and so difficult to understand for those outside it. It even has its own language - arcane technical terms and ancient slangs which few people beyond Newmarket and Lambourn understand. Yet racing people are also human people. They do live in the real world. They watch the news. They feel the terrifying clashes of...

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This Side Up: The Heart of the Matter

You would think the heart has enough on its plate. It literally never gets a break, not for one second, never mind a vacation. Never a morning's fishing, a bourbon after dinner. Yet somehow we have ended up charging this most vital of our organs with a second burden, figurative but scarcely less momentous, as the vessel of love. So when the tireless engine of life finally fails, in one we cherish, we speak of our own hearts as being "broken." And there were many such, in Lexington on Friday,...

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'22 Secretariat Calendar Supports Charities

The 2022 Secretariat's Legacy calendar, which features the Triple Crown winner's legendary daughter Weekend Surprise and her descendants, is now available at for $25. Proceeds from the sale of the calendars goes to Bright Futures Farm, an equine rescue and sanctuary accredited by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance; Old Friends, another TAA-accredited organization; and Victory Alliance Ranch, an equine rescue and sanctuary supporting veterans and special needs children. The calendar series was launched in 2018 and has raised more than $22,000 for charities. "Racing fans, especially Secretariat fans, have loved...

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The Week in Review: Numbers Don't Lie, But They Can Be Perplexing

If you like to sift through numbers, a few stand out from Saturday's GI Runhappy Travers S. card at Saratoga Race Course. How about six Grade I stakes, whose winners all earned triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures? They weren't big-figure blowouts either. Five of those ultra-competitive races were decided by a half-length or less at the wire. Nine winning favorites from 13 races also catches the eye. As does the four-win performance by jockey Joel Rosario. But the most mind-boggling numeric notation from the summer's biggest day of racing appeared in...

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Longtime Claiborne Manager Gus Koch Dies at 74

Robert "Gus" Koch, died Saturday, March 20, 2021, at his beloved Mt. Carmel Farm, after a 24-year battle with cancer. He was 74. The retired longtime manager of Claiborne Farm, Koch was a Marine and a Vietnam veteran. Koch was the subject of one of the TDN and Keeneland's Life's Work Oral History project, and Chris McGrath's story on him may be read here. Hired when Seth Hancock took the reins at the farm, Koch was at the helm at Claiborne for 31 years, running perhaps the best lineup of...

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Holthaus Wins Eclipse 50 Contest

Mary Holthaus was selected as the winner of the NTRA Eclipse 50 Contest, which asked fans to choose their top 10 favorite Eclipse Awards champions, along with their favorite champion jockey and trainer, from the past 50 years. Holthaus, who resides in Easton, Maryland, was randomly selected from the participants who submitted a ballot. The longtime racing fan won a trip for two to Lexington to spend a day at the races at Keeneland, tour the Four Roses Bourbon Distillery and visit historic Spendthrift Farm. In the same contest, Secretariat...

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This Side Up: Honor Abides in Pegasus of Clipped Wings

It's the obvious question in South Florida this week. Back in January 2017, everything was henceforth going to be different. The language was brash, it was immoderate, it certainly wasn't to the taste of traditionalists. But like it or not, it looked a game-changer. Yet here we all are, four years on, asking whether the whole project has failed; or whether, despite its apparent humiliation, it retains enough momentum never to permit a return to the old ways? No, we're not talking about the latest senior citizen to retire to...

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The Eclipse Award Winners, Rating the Best of the Best

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Eclipse Awards, the NTRA is holding a promotion in which fans will be asked to chose the top 10 horses and the top jockey and trainer during the five-decade era. Click here to play. Here are this writer's picks. It wasn't easy. Horses: Secretariat: Champion 2-Year-Old Male (1972); Champion 3-Year-Old Male (1973); Champion Male Turf Horse (1973); Horse of the Year (1972, 1973). Could be the best horse who ever lived. What more needs to be said?   Seattle Slew: Champion 2-Year-Old Male...

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From Maine to California, These Tracks Are Gone, But Not Forgotten

Do you remember Bowie? The Marshfield Fair? Or, how about Liberty Bell? I do. I've been to them all. Someone sent me a link the other day to a list of all the defunct racetracks in the country and it got me thinking how sad it was that I had been to so many that have disappeared into the ether. That and whether or not I hold some sort of unofficial record of having attended more former racetracks than anyone else. I have been to 28 North American tracks that...

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2021 Calendar Celebrates Secretariat's Last Living Sons and Daughters

Continuing a series celebrating Secretariat's legacy through his remaining offspring, a 2021 calendar featuring the last living sons and daughters of the legendary 1973 Triple Crown winner is now available. It's the fourth annual fund-raising calendar in what has become a tradition of generating revenue for equine charities, a group that now includes Bright Futures Farm, Old Friends, and Victory Alliance Ranch. "It is humbling to see how the racing industry, and Secretariat fans in particular, have embraced this calendar series," said writer/photographer Patricia McQueen, whose creative project is part...

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Letter From Royal Ascot…From New York: Day 2

Are you lucky enough to be a real fan of the industry you live and work in? I am. And my new hero is Ian Bartlett. Never met the chap, but he is a well traveled race commentator for more than 31 years, with stints in his native England for the BBC, and for races in Ireland, France and Dubai. And now he is the voice of Royal Ascot. I urge you to listen to his outstanding race calls at The Royal meeting, which is just a five-day stand through...

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