This Side Up

This Side Up: Manners Maketh Mandaloun

How ironic, that a man with a nearly anguished instinct for self-effacement should have left so indelible an impression on our walk of life--one he strolled so quietly that he insisted on registering his silks, with The Jockey Club in Britain, simply in the name of Mr. K. Abdullah. How many others who covet the Turf's great prizes, in contrast, elbow their way through the crowd in preening advertisement of their wealth and acuity? If we learn much about such people from their presumption of some deeper dignity, from a...

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This Side Up: A Channel of American Merit

It doesn't make me mad anymore. Maybe it's just the idealism of youth ebbing away. But I have also begun to understand the virtue of markets. If people want to breed to unproven stallions, that's their prerogative. I can always buy a mare, send her to a sire of runners, and see y'all in the starting gate. If I'm right, the odds are in my favor; I get value from the market. And if I'm wrong, well, no need to be angry. Even in setting all that aside, however, it's...

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This Side Up: John Keeps Bob Honest In Sham

We all trust that life must be better in 2021. But the immediate question is whether it will be 'Good' or maybe 'Sweet'? Right now, I'd settle for either. But it certainly looks an auspicious coincidence that the first race to sharpen focus on the Triple Crown trail--the opening leg of an adventure that reliably sustains us year in, year out--should include, among just five runners, one colt named Life Is Good and another out of Life Is Sweet (Storm Cat). Their respective trainers, Bob Baffert and John Shirreffs, dominate...

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This Side Up: The Elusive Lesson of 'Can't Miss' Sires

He has trademarked the move, his name reliably invoked whenever a horse picks off his rivals with the kind of flair that luminously separates him from the herd. Yet just about the only time I ever saw one glide through an elite field with quite the same extraterrestrial contempt as Arazi (Blushing Groom {Fr}) in the 1991 GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile was the following May, at the same track, when that nimbus-among-the-shadows exhibition was reprised along the backstretch by a horse called... Arazi. His discovery of mortal limitations, both in...

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This Side Up: If You Can Run, You Won't Have to Hide

"When you figure it out, let me know." Those were the parting words of a highly esteemed breeder this week, after we exchanged a few thoughts on the diminishing viability of stallions once they have covered their first book of mares. Not that "diminishing," as an adjective, is really equal to the case. I suppose you could diminish down a lift shaft, but it wouldn't be the first word that would occur to you in the time available. Spoiler alert: I haven't figured it out. But I think I know...

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This Side Up: Cutting Down Scepticism on Fees

Bought yourself a mare in Lexington this week? Good for you. You have kept the faith. In many cases, that will be because you have seen it all before: you've ridden out bumps in the economy, and eked out value from these stoical and enduring creatures by borrowing their impassive engagement with the patient rhythms of Nature. It's a long game, after all, one that will absorb pandemics and presidential cycles like a passing April shower. But even the longest journey starts with a single step. And many of you...

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This Side Up: A Coup d'Etat to Benefit Us All

In these days of wilful division and reluctant separation, perhaps the wider world could for once learn something from our own community. For while our preoccupations may be frivolous, relative to such momentous challenges as the securing of democracy or public health, they do at least inculcate precisely the kind of calm forbearance most needed, right now, to quell the hysteria and despair infecting national wellbeing. It's pouring with rain? Go feed your horse and clean out the stall. Middle of a heatwave? Go feed your horse and clean out...

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This Side Up: Breeders' Cup Hits Pay Dirt at a Mile

Less is more, they say. Don't worry, that's not a facetious observation on the counting of votes. It's just that some of us still feel that the expansion of the Breeders' Cup into a second day, in 2007, somewhat diluted its trademark intensity. A couple of years previously they had faced a similar calculation, in Britain, about adding a fourth day to the Cheltenham Festival: would the guarantee of another lucrative full house, at this phenomenally popular climax of the jumps season, represent a legitimate trade-off for the inevitable erosion...

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This Side Up: Young Guns Seek Juvenile Momentum

You can't really resent someone hoarding the ammunition, if he only needs it because he's being forced to play Russian roulette. That's pretty much how things are for all those new, unproven stallions who corral such huge books of mares. Yes, I remain ever aggrieved on behalf of those quiet achievers who never get commercial traction, despite results that will almost invariably prove beyond their emerging rivals. But I do feel increasing sympathy for the young guns, because their margin for error is zero. They have to land running, or...

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This Side Up: A Very Different Experience-but Euro Strategy Same as Ever

It's the baby I can't get out of my mind, try as I might. Maybe you feel it shouldn't have been out at all, on such an evening and in such a place: sitting there in its diaper, on a table, under the adoring smiles of the good-looking couple who had brought it into the raucous bar. But then the infant looked very much at home, alternately raising a glass of bourbon and a cheroot to its lips. Only in L.A.; only on Halloween. On closer inspection, of course, the...

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This Side Up: Too Much Heart for Most, Too Much Head for the Rest

So long, old big head. Most who fit that description are good; just not quite as good as they think. But you showed an indomitability rooted, not in arrogance, but in an awareness that the odds of life are seldom easy; that the crown must be earned, not just ceremonially conferred. In your case, it just needed a little extra by way of circumference. The retirement from stud of Tiznow (Cee's Tizzy), announced this week, is poignantly timed. In a few days' time, a fresh name will be carved on...

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This Side Up: Fee Cuts Can Reboot the System

As we have come to expect, in a trading environment that nowadays owes so much to their boss, it was the guys at Spendthrift who first put their heads over the parapet. This week, anyway. To be fair, the original lead actually came from Chuck Fipke--a match for the unorthodoxy and initiative even of B. Wayne Hughes, and prepared way back in the spring to waive his 2020 stallion fees altogether. Fipke reasoned that his entire pitch was to small breeders, who were already looking down the barrel as the...

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