Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Marq Your Bible Race #4 @ Laurel #2

Pictures from Marcus' second race at Laurel Park in Maryland, fourth race overall.

Ever since the storm incidents at Colonial, Marcus has needed a pony horse to keep him calm during saddling. It has worked wonderfully.  I can only imagine what words pass between the two.  We have been very pleased with all of Laurel's staff, including the gate crew and pony horse riders.  They don't get paid enough for what they do.
No Delay (eventual winner of race) didn't delay the race this time.
 In Marcus' last race, No Delay didn't want to go in the starting gate.

His race line read "steadied at first turn." I think this is what the racing secretary meant!

Eight of ten, not good, but not bad.  He got up as close as third before better horses passed him. He finished only seven lengths back from first.  So that's encouraging.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Joe Drape-You Sir, Are A Dope

The New York Times' Joe Drape is at it again, accusing the thoroughbred industry of drowning in drugs. This time its a video presentation on the front page of  (Here it is, for your viewing pleasure.)

My problem with Mr. Drape is that he (and others...hi!) is speaking out of whole ignorance.  He is pushing this issue in a direction that he hope will get him a medal, not correct the problem.

Peanut Gallery:  "Excuse me, what about Doug O'Neil and his suspension?!?!?!"

The California Horse Racing Commission by its own admission, stated that Doug O'Neil's horse (that' s one horse,  not horses) was never found to have illegal substances in it.  They stated that they THINK that it had an illegal substance.

Peanut Gallery: "Fine, but, but, but...what about the 2012 Triple Crown horses...we are sure they used drugs....surely some of them got busted!"

No, not one, including Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have Another was found to have any illegal substance in them.  Mr. Drape, of course, states only that no one was busted for frog venom.

Here are two other problems Mr. Drape's narrative:

Mr. Drape (and I assume its him narrating) states that drugs are being used to make horses go faster.  Then proceeds to talk about pain killing drugs.  Different drugs, different problem.  Steroids are used to make a horse go faster.  The pain killing drugs is a different issue.  That is just outright cruelty.

Mr. Drape starts at the video in Kentucky, so I assume he is going to focus on the thoroughbred race industry.  He then proceeds to talk about a Louisiana.....  Mr. Drape (and others), here is you racing education 101: quarterhorses and thoroughbred racing are two industries with a Grand Canyon size worth of differences.  Nit picky? Maybe.  But it would be like saying their are recruiting violations in the NFL.  I would expect someone who works for the New York Times and allegedly covers horse racing full time to point out and know the difference.

Peanut Gallery: "Umm....the NFL doesn't recruit like college football....oh that's the point.  Never mind."

Now, I always have to say this.  I abhor trainers that abuse horses with drugs.  I believe the rules should be tougher.  I believe people like Rick Dutrow should be thrown out of the sport forever.  However, that's all Mr. Drape ever writes about horse racing: drugs.  Its like we don't even run a sport.  Just a the biggest drug lab this side of the jungles of Columbia.  Is the NFL or MLB covered this way? No, of course not.  So, lets just give Mr. Drape an Eclipse Award and get it out of the way.  That's what he wants and it will make him go away.

I fully expect Sally Jekins of the Washington Post to do story on the issue this  week.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Good Old Days of the Thoroughbred

I just read a very good blog post on Statford Hall's web page written by one of their collection's interns.  She has been investigating the horse tack in the plantation's stable.  Through her research she discovered that Stratford bred a horse named Time O' War, a grandson of the great *pause, wait for it* Man O' War.  (one must always take a deep breath before mentioning the name Man O' War.  See the orginal Seabiscut movie starring Shirely Temple for reference.)

Anyway, one thing many thoroughbreed breeders are notorious for is looking back at the way the horse racing and breeding industries were run in the days of long ago.  Here's why: Time O' War raced 225 times! TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY FIVE TIMES and was in the money 37% of the time.  All without lasix, modern supplements, or anything else.    The writer also discovered this piece of breeding wisdom from Stafford's first resident superintendent:

“The object is not to attempt breeding on a large scale, but to make horses, and good horses at that…So that a visitor to the Northern Neck may see them in the flesh and be reminded of the time when every gentleman of this section had a horse which he was willing to back for a reasonable amount against all comers.”

*sigh* the good old days.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Colonial Meet Over

Marcus finished 10th out of 11th, wrapping up the Colonial meet with a grand total of $330 earnings! (insert rendition of Stars and Stripes Forever here).  Normally, I would not blame the weather for a horse performing poorly, but in this case, I am going to blame the weather.  Marcus made four trips to Colonial and only got actually run twice.  He is being checked over by the vet today at the trainer's farm to see if he can race again towards the end of the month.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Second race, Try #4

Marcus is go for second race today...hopefully no storms!  Race #9, post 14...30-1....ACK! :0 No word yet from Colonial about protest/whine fest.

Now, excuse me, I have to go figure out how Marcus' sister, Prepare the Way a.k.a. Glory, ended up in a field that was closed off to her by a locked gate and a five foot fence.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Between Heaven and Hell

So, after the drama that ensued that last week at Colonial (and the public meltdown I personally led that I am waiting for someone to post on You Tube), Marq Your Bible is doing OK.  The vet has looked him over and X-rayed his front legs.  He only has some minor swelling and is doing so well, that he has been entered for this Saturday! (Race 9).

Furthermore, even after all the antics Marcus pulled, his name did not land on the stewards' national list of misbehaving horses.   If it did, he would have had to prove to the stewards that he will behave in the future and thus delay any return to active racing.  Nonetheless, I have filled an official protest (OK, more like a whine fest) with Colonial Downs.  I will let you know what they say.   

To say this is a miracle straight from Heaven would be understatement.  There was a strong possibility that Marcus' racing career was over.  Instead, he gets another chance.Horse racing is a sport where there are no spiritual fence sitters.  You either accept and believe in God's message of salvation and accept His help or you hit the bottle and/or start abusing drugs. 

Horse racing is among the most spiritually challenging sport around.  One does not have teammates to fall back upon, there are no guaranteed contracts, and are thousands of variables that are out one's control.     Fortunately, many in the industry have accepted Christ and are very open about their Faith.   I reject the notion that horse racing is somehow the ultimate sin and I will explore that topic in more detail later.  It is a sport like any other and one that will make you learn real quick how little control you have over Life.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Members of the Sports Media, Listen...For Once

Is it any wonder that horsemen get mad at the likes of Joe Drape of the New York Times, Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post, or Barry at (whose second post on horse racing in two months simply read "Three Dead Horses at Saratoga) when people like them write insulting, slanderous, and seriously misguided articles about horse racing.  What happened tonight at Colonial is an example of why I personally get mad.

After several months of training and waiting, Marcus was being prepared for his second race ever at Colonial.  There were some very serious storms in the area, similar to the ones that happened a few weeks ago.  He flipped out in the saddling area, kicked the assistant trainer to the ground and took off. .
He is caught 5 mintues later and then somebody did the one thing they shouldn't have done...they brought him back to the saddling area.  With only half of a lead line, the assistant trainer  (who is an experienced steeplechase rider) had no chance with  Marcus.  Marcus broke loose again and through the middle of the post parade.

Needless to say, he was taken out of the race. Though the blessings of God, despite all the acting up, Marcus came through with only two minor bumps.  He was fit and ready to go.  Our trainer had him ready and a fluke storm made the horse act up.
That is why I get mad at you Barry, Sally, and Joe.  You have no idea how much we put into this sport and how much we have to put up with.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My Short Tribute to Sham and Pancho Martin

Word has come out that Frank "Pancho" Martin, long time trainer on the New York Racing circuit has died at the age of 86.    I did not know Mr. Martin or his most famous client, Sham, the horse that went toe-to-toe with Secretariat in 1973.  Chances are most people's incorrect opinion of Mr. Martin and Sham come via the train wreck of a movie Secretariat.  In the movie, Sham, Mr. Martin, Sham's owner, and Sham's jockey, Laffit Picay, jr., were all portrayed as arrogant jerks.  Sham in particular was portrayed as a horse straight from the pit of Hell.  To say the movie was "Disneyfied," (i.e. watered down plot that removes complex issues from the script and not necessarily because the movie was released by Walt Disney Pictures, Inc.) would be an understatement.

Thus I present a picture of my wife with the evil that is...SHAM!

Yep...real evil.  My wife said that when she met him, Sham was about to fall asleep in her arms.   It is my understanding that Sham's owner was also a kind hearted person as well as Mr. Martin and well, Laffit Picay has been one of the great ambassadors of the sport.

Equally short Marcus update:  We are go for launch on his second race.  Race #6, post position 1.  Stretching him out to one mile.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Great Race Name Change Place

In another MX missile shot to tradition, Santa Antia Park has renamed several of its graded stakes races. The Park's PR Machine stated “This has been an important process for all of us involved with live racing here at Santa Anita,” said Rick Hammerle, Santa Anita Vice President of Racing. “We did a lot of research and tried hard to make sure each name had a tangible meaning, either geographically, historically or culturally." The real reason of course is that Magna...what are they called nowadays since they declared bankruptcy? Magna International Developments? I think? Anyway, Magna Whoever conquered Santa Anita's Fall meet from the Oak Tree Racing Association. Since Oak Tree technically owns the names of the graded stakes races, Magna wasn't about to pay for the rights. So...CHANGE THEM!

Eddie D. Stakes (Gr. III)-- Morvich Friday, Sept. 28
FrontRunner Stakes (Gr. I)-- Norfolk Saturday, Sept. 29
 Awesome Again Stakes (Gr. I)-- Goodwood Saturday, Sept. 29
 Rodeo Drive Stakes (Gr. I)-- Yellow Ribbon Saturday, Sept. 29
Zenyatta Stakes (Gr. I)-- Lady’s Secret Saturday, Sept. 29
Chandelier Stakes (Gr. I)-- Oak Leaf Saturday, Sept. 29
John Henry Turf Champ. (Gr.II)-- Clement Hirsch Sunday,Sept. 30 Arroyo
Seco Mile (Gr. II)-- Oak Tree Mile Saturday, Oct. 6
Santa Anita Sprint Champ. (Gr. I)-- Ancient Title Saturday, Oct. 6

Naming a race the Awesome Again Stakes has nothing to do with his stud duty. Right? Right!  As much as I loved Zenyatta, Lady Secert was a pretty good race horse in her own right.  I know...too much to pony (hah! I said "pony") up $75,000 to create a new race.  The FrontRunner? Who? What? Really? For those who don't know, Norfolk was the name of a very good race Virginia-bred horse in the way back days.  I find this to be a personal insult because the horse was named after the City of Norfolk, a place I have called home for the last 18 years.

The only one I can possibly understand changing was the Clement Hirsch.  Mr. Hirsch founded the Oak Tree meet when no one else would fill in the gap in the Southern California racing schedule.  So, Santa Antia couldn't have that ink blot could they?  Of course I am surprised they didn't name it the Frank Stronach Stakes. 

Whats next? Selling the naming rights to a whole race course? Oh...never mind....

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Marq Your Bible First Race-Take 2

Marq Your Bible (a.k.a. Marcus) got to race very late on Saturday, July 7, with Ryan Fogelsonger as his jockey. Marcus entered the gate well. He left the gate well. He finished six of eight. Being that this his first start ever, I was nervous that he would refuse to get in the gate and give the assistant starters a hard time. Turns out, I had nothing to worry about. Even with one horse flipping out, Marcus stay perfectly calm the whole time.

The race was 5f on the turf and this is clearly not his distance. Given that he was only starting his run at the top of the stretch and that Ryan said that Marcus wanted to keep racing after the finish line, he needs at least a mile.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Marq Your Bible-Countdown on Hold...

So...everything was going great yesterday...
That's my daughter's stuff horse "Cute" at the near the finish line at Colonial...
Colonial's pony horses and their riders were as gracious as ever...
Checking out the competition....
Then, 10 minutes to post time....this arrived. A tornado touched down nearby along with some of the most surreal weather I have ever seen. There were lighting strikes across the sky about every 10 seconds. Needless to say, management cancelled the rest of the card. So...we wait until later in the week.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Marq Your Bible-All Systems Go for First Race

June 30, Race 5 at Colonial- Maiden Claiming $25,000. He has posted at 15-1 for his morning odds. Its a full field of 14 horses and there are some good horses in the race. Horse number 7 for example-Big Dutch: By War Chant out of Dutch Girl, by Holy Bull) and #9-Mott: By Artie Schiller out of Divine Diva, by Theatrical (IRE).

The above picture is Marcus' sister Prepare the Way when she made her first start at Laurel Park in 2009. She had post time odds of 70-1 and ran like a 70-1. But she look good doing it! She improved over time.

Thus, whatever happens in this first race, I am happy Marcus has made it to the track. Diana has done a wonderful job getting him into racing condition and we could not be more pleased.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Marq Your Bible-Gates His Gate Card!

The bay colored horse on the right is Marq Your Bible with his most awesome trainer Diana McClure. The big new is that "Marcus," as we call him, just got his gate card today! The plan, at the moment, is to enter him in a race at Colonial Downs. Marcus is by Marquetry and out of Red Devillette (by Oh Say). Marquetry (now living out his life at Old Friends) is sire best known for producing sprinters. His two best off spring were Squirtle Squirt and Artax, both Eclipise-awarding winning sprinters. However, as my wife continues to remind me, the female side of any horse must be taken into account. A seemingly obvious fact that escapes many in the thoroughbred business. In this case, Marcus' dam, Red Devillette, excelled at long distance races. We currently are racing Marcus under a partnership (hi Mom!). He was born at Perfect Peace Farm LLC and we still have his mom and one of his sisters.

Friday, June 22, 2012

And My Name is Not Chuck!

This is blog is more than comments and rants on horse racing.  It is also about living in the country and running a thoroughbred race horse & welsh pony farm.  The photo here is one such example.  This guy/girl, groundhog/woodchuck showed in our backyard, chowing down on white clover and has returned on three other occasions.  My children have name the animal "Nutcracker."

Thus far, I have gotten at least four unsolicited offers from people who wish to eliminate Nutcracker with a .22 rifle.  Maybe we should get Bill Murray and some plastic explosives? All joking aside, the danger of groundhogs, of course, is that they create holes in the ground big enough to snap a horse's leg, but too small for them to see.  Thus far, I have not located his home base. 

The issue with using firearms is that it seems everyone who owns a firearms, thinks they have the shooting and hunting skill of a Marine Corps sniper.   There are a number of things, bigger, more fragile things, that it could be hit other than the groundhog.  My wife (a.k.a the farm's Lone Equine Professional) has come up with a more effective and more humane solution: chocolate Ex-lax.  Groundhogs hate dirty dens (don't we all? I hope.)  The Ex-lax would cause him to "soil" his soil.  He would then get up and leave.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Frog Lickin Horses-New York Times

The New York Times in its ongoing smear campaign against horse racing has published a report about the use of exotic frog venom as a pain killer in horse racing.  Lets say from the start that the people who have been busted for this should be thrown out of the sport. And unlike what many in the New York Times' "ITS AN OUTRAGE!!!" comment section believe, offenders HAVE been thrown out of the sport for this type of infraction.  Giving a horse pain killing drugs is a horrible, horrible crime.  But that's not why they publish or comment on these stories now do they?  They most certainly don't research the story and they really don't care about the animals.  They just see something they see as outrageous, get a grenade, throw it in the closet, and run.

Take this comment about the story from Barry Petchsky of  "There's some weird counter-intuition at play when it's argued that thoroughbred racing has its doping problem under control because there are so many positive tests. But with so much money at stake...."

Well,  Barry, according to published accounts, the number of positive tests nationwide is less .4%.   If you only include serious drug offenses that actually one would consider cheating, its less than .05%.   Is that "so many" Can other sports claim that? Oh wait...they don't have a comprehensive drug testing program now do they?  So, how can you come after us when we (and maybe Olympic sports) are the only ones actually doing any testing? BTW...I would like to where "so much money" in horse racing you are talking about.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Triple Crown 2012-Its the Media's Fault

I took a few months off from blogging (formely I wrote Notes From the Farm) on horse racing and no intentions of returning just yet.  However, during this Triple Crown season, I witnessed numouerous gems from the sports media during their annual attempt to write about the sport.   Above in the blog's nameplate are actual words used by sports media during this Triple Crown season.

 In short, a number of things were said in which the writer, if one can actually call them that, never even attempted to research the subject article.  The writer simply gathered a bunch of gernades, threw them into the glass house, and ran.  We won't see them again until March 2013. Sally Jekins of the Washington Post wins this year's award. Needless to say, the industry's leaders, namely the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (a.ka. the"NTRA") have said nothing in horse racing's defense.