SUBSCRIBE TODAY Smiley face  Get updates via email! 




We Are Flying Solo

Showing posts with label OTTB. Show all posts
Showing posts with label OTTB. Show all posts

June 6, 2015

Belmont Day: It’s Still A Small World!

In less than four hours (post parade at 6:40 pm Eastern Time, live stream from NBC here), Bob Baffert-trained colt, American Pharaoh will make his bid for the Triple Crown & Belmont Park’s last quarter-mile of track will once again ask if anyone can meet the challenge last conquered 37 years ago in Affirmed’s triumph (click for video).

Did I hear my name??
I don’t think I can NOT watch.

Fun Triple Crown History & Graphics:
Fab Infographics    |    Past Belmont Winners

Despite my ever-present worry for these young athletes, there is an uncanny series of connections between this afternoon’s grueling 1.5-mile thunder of hearts & hooves & the dappled liver chestnut I just hosed off after a short hill session.

American Pharaoh was sired by another Baffert-trained stallion, Pioneerof the Nile.  The latter made his own attempt at much-coveted garlands when he ran in the 2009 Kentucky Derby.  If it doesn’t immediately pop to mind, that was the year of 50-1 longshot, Mine That Bird’s incredible upset.

Under the guidance of legendary jockey, Calvin Borel (who also steals the show starring as himself in the film portrayal I JUST saw), that determined little gelding started dead last & ended up leaving the entire field of prestigious hopefuls in his wake on the way to collect his roses.



So why can’t I look away?

Some recent perusing of Equibase, made my eyes bug out (ok, it’s not that hard, but still…).  Encore’s own sire, Crowd Pleaser, was a 1995 PA-bred turf champion by AP Indy, winning his owners over $600,000 on the track.

And his last jockey in his final stakes wins (including the 2000 Sycamore Stakes, covering just over 1.5 miles on the beautiful grass of Keeneland Park, where he beat an Irish TB named Royal Strand who had set the track record just the year before)…was none other than Calvin Borel (who was finally inducted into the Hall of  Fame in 2013...I think winning over $125M earns him a spot!).

Click to embiggen
However, even if Pharaoh doesn't carry our historic connection across the wire first, breaking from #7 atop Curlin' son, Keen Ice, is Hall of Fame jockey, Kent Desormeaux, who rode Crowd Pleaser's dam, British mare Creaking Board in her last race in 1993, for yet another household racing name, trainer Bobby Frankel.

Regardless, just as I say in eventing:  may everyone keep the steel side down & run home safely!!

Will we see one?  Seattle Slew's 1977 Triple Crown trophy

May 17, 2015

Winners Don't Always Carry Ribbons

Partner love from Dr. Kim Keeton
Our sport is, above all, about partnership & horsemanship.  Winning comes in many forms & it’s not always about a number.  Every time I work an event, I see the people who display the best of those values, who achieve the quietest form of greatness.

And they are not always the ones holding a ribbon on Day 3.

Greatness I saw included young T3DE rider Laura Duhamel, who walked into the secretary's office at the end of endurance day & withdrew.  Although she & Fate's Patriot had only a single refusal on XC, she felt her horse just wasn't quite right & chose to take him home, putting her partner first so they could try again another day.

Lost with a map like this? Surely not!
Or Rebecca Barber, another Training 3DE entry. She found herself halfway through phase D…lost & desperately circling for the next jump.  Just as she reached her maximum time on course, she decided to retire.  All of our hearts fell with her as she walked back to stabling.

But after hanging up her bridle, she stayed to help others with a big smile for the remainder of the competition. It earned her the award that is my favorite to give: the Sportsmanship Award.

Which included an autographed copy of Training of the Three-day Event Horse and Rider, with a handwritten note from author God Jim Wofford himself, a prize I’d guess many of us would cage fight for (or you can buy new on Amazon...for $500?!!).  Not to mention the rest of the loot in her packed bag.

It’s Never Just A Dressage Show

Just getting there is an accomplishment on its own.  Completion of a long format event is yet another.  So each & every entry gets my resounding applause.

BN3DE Bonnie Coulter's grin says it all when she & 21-yr-old QH Otto Be Lucky finish Phase D (& place 5th!); thanks, Erica, for the WIN selfie!
Winning one of our special awards takes yet another level of heart & dedication, so a HUGE TFS shout-out to:

Donkey gets Becky's happy face!
Best Conditioned Horse, primary sponsor So8ths Farm:
Donkey Hote (I get to say his name again, yessss!), owned & ridden by Sue Goepfert; they were also a close 2nd both in the N3DE division & for the N3DE TIP award by a mere 2.9 points.

Lowest Scoring Adult Amateur, sponsored by BlackWatch Stables (must be a member of your Area Adult Rider program): Dr. Kim Keeton & Evita-Veron, T3DE division winners.

Effenzauber effen-gallops!
Best Turned Out in Jog-Ups, sponsored by Higher Standards Leather Care, Cowboy Magic, Brant Gamma Photos, Dover Saddlery, & Grand Meadows:
  • Training – Louisa Flaig & Effenzauber
  • Novice – Ann Bower & Prosecco
  • Beginner Novice – Patricia Thompson & The Dark Knight
Red Fury even pauses winningly
Highest Scoring TB, sponsored by The Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Incentive Program (TIP; some divisions did not have any riders who gave me numbers, hence the gaps):
  • Novice 3DE – Paychecker, with Minge Wiseman, who also won the N3DE division on their stunning 28.1 dressage score.
  • Beginner Novice 3DE – Red Fury, with our friend Nobie Cannon; they were 2nd in their division as well,  behind winner Emma Boswell & Sprite by only 0.3 points!!
  • Training HT – Laurelin, with Lisa Borgia, who also won the Open Training HT.
  • Novice HT – Action Jackson, with Erin Kimmer, 4th in Open Novice on a lovely 27.3.
And of course, CONGRATULATIONS to Kim, Minge, & Emma for winning the T/N/BN 3DE division, respectively!!!  In all three, the top three were separated by less than a single stadium rail (well, Novice had a whopping 5.2 pt spread, close enough), so well done under intense pressure.

Brad's mule is easy to spot
Moar Thank You

From the first day I met him, during a long format clinic with Becky Holder, where I tortured took Solo, farm owner Brad Turley has been beyond generous & supportive of both the long format & the adult amateur.  You can read his message in the gorgeous (not that I’m biased...) event program (apologies to those who got hard copies, subjected to printer error, but the linked .pdf has correct format).    

Thank you to Horse Junkies United, The Cheraw Chronicle, & Leslie Threlkeld with Eventing Nation for your articles (including a new one just yesterday), social media sharing, & Leslie's onsite help not only with media, but as Assistant Organizer!

BN3DE Don Warren & Sunny One adorably on their way to 6th
Thank you to the ever-wonderful Becky Holder for bringing her students down the road to participate; your support & presence throughout the event helps show our sport how much it matters!

Sorry, you just got photobombed by a Holder AND a TARDIS portajohn
To Dr. Debbie Williamson, owner of Williamson Equine Veterinary Associates, & Dr. Marsha Severt, of Brown Creek Equine Hospital (along with asst. Stephanie Graham, as Dr. Skip, Marsha’s husband & co-owner of their practice, couldn’t make it this year), who take time away from their own practices to help keep the horses safe & healthy.  To JJ Johnson, Radio Control Queen from here to Rolex & beyond, for enabling vital communication & sharing her vast experience with me!

JJ makes XC run smooth as silk; N3DE Heather King & CF Baltic Royal Tee
I Swear, This Post Has An End

If this were the Oscars, the band would have begun playing long ago; there are just too many thank you’s to clinicians, farm staff, volunteers, builders, riders & more, but hey, I did write a program for that…

It takes more than a village, really, it takes something akin to a metropolis, but the result…even I don’t have enough words to encompass it.  And while I can’t give away any secrets, 2016 is going to be even bigger, with even more features!

Have you started your trot sets yet?

N3DE Samantha Messamer & Finn McCool contemplate next year's plan

May 3, 2015

Don't Expect Sentences In Satuday's So8ths 3DE Update Of Blogger-Exploding Epicness

Moar prize oogling!  Thanks, of course, to all these people & more:

Mary Ellen at Logorific did a fantastic job on the long banners!!

A better picture of Beka's surprise that made me sniffle:

It's been my nametag decoration...
Meghann went overboard & sent beautiful certificates & a sample for display:


The lovely banners will frame tonight's Derby party & dinner display in the little indoor out back:



And the reason I do it, the reason you all need to do it...

N3DE XC: Jodie Stowell & Island Fever lock on to the stone wall

If Becky's picked her #1... (N3DE rider Alcy Christie & Abraxis in the Phase C Assist box)

N3DE:  Sabine Desper & Adamek pause for their super crew!


Solo's Minon Erica looks like she got the temp check job in the 10-minute box! (who else stands at the horse's butt?)

Amanda Miller-Atkins & Barley clear N3DE gorgeous XC Fence 1

N3DE Julia Burke jogs Davignio for the Ground Jury before proceeding to Phase D:  XC!

N3DE Ann Bower & Prosecco (also "Best Turned Out" for their division jogs!) clear the XC Frame

...is because this.  Donkey Hode (who won Best Conditioned over all divisions!), currently in 2nd place in the N3DE explains it all, walking back to the barn with an equine smile.
Because it's just zen, man...

March 22, 2015

Blogger Meets, Vol. II: I Add My Approval To The Owls’

Savannah sidewalk to hotel
Because I met royalty in Savannah at the end of January.   (Click here for Vol. I)

*pauses to accept shaming for being so many stories behind*

I had been emailing Beka (yes, THE Beka, unerringly witty author of “The Owls Approve) at the beginning of the year when she worried that Archie may need surgery for his irritatingly persistent leg wound (not that I would know aaaanything about those, ahem, orange money-eaters…).  Perfect chance to use one of the top perks of being a member of your USEA Adult Riders program:  hidden opt-in membership to what I have named Eventer Mafia, aka whatever help you need, wherever you are.

My view while writing, hence distraction!
Uh, Mafia?

The credit for the name goes to BFF, who applied it to another organization her husband was heavily involved in.  Both groups follow the classic model, though:  participate, volunteer for jobs, you meet people, they know people, people know people…and before long, everyone in EventLand becomes Kevin Bacon.  Although it’s usually far fewer than six degrees in this microcosm of HorseWorld (why do I like to name things like theme parks?).

Bet you didn’t think a horse blog post could connect owls, Kevin Bacon, & the Mafia.  Hey, a motto of mine is that we all have to be good at something.

Classic
Back To Beka

As she was concerned about Archie having to stand in a trailer post-op, should that occasion arise, I immediately whipped out one of my other skills of questionable merit:  attempting to solve everyone else’s problems.

Although in HorseWorld (“Tiger Trap” would be a great roller coaster name), it’s what we do, asking is not a pre-requisite!  I consider it paying it forward; there aren’t enough fingers in the noses of the world’s toddlers to count the number of people who have helped & taught me over the years decades.

I did at least email Beka with the offer before I threw resources at her, to slightly reduce creep-factor.  As I sent a quick text to find the contact information for several great vets & farm owners in GA, my brain had a rare moment of remembering something useful.

“Hey Beka – don’t you live in Savannah??”

Yes, yes she does.

“OMG, I will be there in two weeks for a work conference, wanna meet up?”  I mean, because, we both write about our horses & use dripping sarcasm on the interwebz.  Obviously we are both weird & crazy (in the best way), how could we not be besties??


Of Course We Did!

World tiny-ness:  Beka’s office was two block from our conference hotel by the Port.  Archie was a 45 minute ride from downtown, did I still want to meet him?  ABSOLUTELY!  One cannot meet a Beka without an Archie, it would just be wrong.

She walked over to my hotel & after a dinner date, we headed out to Archie’s home.  Beka herself was even more awesome in person than I suspected.  Not only hilarious, but compassionate, saavy, & unfazed by my habit of talking without pausing for breath.  I loved her immediately.

Beautiful portrait by Beka
Teh Archie

There was little moonlight when we parked under the Spanish moss at the farm.  My kind of place, casual, practical, organized, with nice, airy facilities for our southern summers.  I’d of course seen pictures of Beka’s incredibly sexy beast online, but I was in no way expecting what she brought back from the paddock.

You may have noticed I’ve become a teeeeensy bit of a TB nerd.  I’m moderately competent at guessing major bloodlines based on build & type.  However, when Archie stepped into the light, all I could say was, “Wow.”

Bold, intelligent eyes sized me up from a gorgeous, classic head, the kind I haven’t seen in a long time.  Archie looked like he was chiseled from a perfect model of the old British Thoroughbreds & he moved with a gliding confidence & precision that was simply stunning.  I believe my response was something tasteful & eloquent, along the lines of, “Holy shit, Beka, you have an incredible horse!”  Yeah, I’m much better in writing, LOL.

Photo shamelessly lifted from Beka's lovely work; pics in the dark suck.  :-(
 Archie stood patiently (perhaps swayed by my eagerly stuffing a carrot in his face) while Beka changed his bandages (his wound looked great!) & we proceeded to blind him about 47 times with camera & iThingy attempts at selfies.  Note:  we both kinda suck at selfies, heh.

No drugs were involved in the making of this picture
I remained stumped though; I told Beka, “Don’t tell me his breeding, I’m going to test myself!

Don’t worry,” she answered, “I don’t even remember it anyway, LOL!”  Sweet, no accidental clues!

Did You Win In The Game With Yourself?

Nope.  The closest I could get was “some ooold, high-end European blood.”  Then I made her requested she look it up before I exploded.

The Prince
No wonder – I’m not sure I’ve ever knowingly met a horse in the last decade who had Princequillo on the first page.  That exquisite British stud who nearly died on the ship carrying he & his dam to the US, away from the war where his sire died in artillery fire.  He was so sickly when the ship landed, he sold cheap...and became the greatest distance runner in US history alongside Kelso & was grandsire to Secretariat.
 
Not only that, but he was bred to the phenomenal mare, Baby League – I would have loved to have met La Dauphine, the filly that resulted!  Add in the strong lines of Nashua through Archie’s damsire, Seattle Slew on top (along with the obviously epic stallion, Chop Chop, nooo, I’m not biased at alllll…. ;P), & the fact that he’s a Storm Bird grandson, who are known for their athleticism & grit…no wonder I stopped breathing for a second!!

Wrap It Up, Rambling (Wo)Man

Classy woman.  Classy horse.  I am now part of yet another fandom (although sorry, Beka, Cumberbatch might outrank you on the fangirl list, but not on the awesome People Who Live In Normal World list!).  Does this mean I have to start a G+ group or something?

Beka, it was an honour, a pleasure, & a relief from fish conference stress (oh, it starts wayyyy before the conference itself) that I needed even more than I knew. 

By the way, you now need to move to NC so we can hang out & compile unbeatable sarcastic comebacks while galloping walking (like they are sound when you want them to be) horses though the woods.  I’ll get you in the Mafia…

March 17, 2015

Touching The Triple Crown

Post sponsored by DerbyCraze.com, OnlineDerbyAction.com, HorseBettingInsider.com

In Kentucky's bluegrass & limestone, where I spent 10 years of my youth, there is one day that has been sacred, every single year, since 1875 : the first Saturday in May.  Derby Day.

One amazing filly; from southerngaming.com
In fact, the year we moved east from southern California, 1988, I was eight years old, & while we'd breathlessly watched Alysheba's gritty victory in '87, I'll never forget Winning Colors pushing her white bridle across the wire to become only the 3rd filly in what is now 140 years to wear the roses.  She not only led, untouchable save for Forty-Niner's late surge, start to finish, & went on to pocket over $1.5 million in her 19 starts, there hasn't been another since.

Those of us who don't normally follow racing, even those who don't know a thing about horses, still can't help but stop for "The Greatest Two Minutes In Sports."  Both legends & tragedies have unfolded over that mile-and-a-quarter, driven by the breathtaking power of pounding hooves & the stories that run beside them.

Aristides, 1st Ky Derby winner
Even The Race Has A Story

Just like the athletes, the Ky Derby sprung from English roots:  the Epsom Derby is the second race in the English Triple Crown (between the 2,000 Guineas & the St. Leger) & remains Britain's richest race.  Also run every year, beginning in 1780, this 1.5-mile contest was watched by a Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., the grandson of William Clark (yes, as in THE Lewis & Clark!).  Upon arriving home (all the cool kids live in KY, naturally), Clark promptly founded the Louisville Jockey Club as a fund-raiser to build a great American racetrack.

Even more illustrious history, along with guides to whose names we might hear on this year's irresistable call are all at your fingertips at sites like DerbyCraze.com & OnlineDerbyAction.com, where you can peruse your favourite Derby legends as well,  and HorseBettingInsider.com, which additionally lets you follow the Triple Crown, the Breeders Cup, & other top stakes races around the world.

Alysheba with Chris McCarron, stunning in blue & white
It's Only The First Race...

The Triple Crown:  does it even need an introduction?  There have only been 11 horses to win the title, although the official name did not exist until the 2nd winner in 1930, Gallant Fox (poor Sir Barton, but we still count him!).

We held our collective breath in 2014 as the brilliant chestnut, California Chrome, came so close.  Winning the Derby & the Preakness Stakes handily, he still finished 4th in the grueling 1.5-mile Belmont Stakes after suffering in-race injuries.  Nonetheless, he joined a prestigious list of 22 horses since 1932, including my own Alysheba, the son of Alydar, Affirmed's career rival (like Chrome, he came in 4th in the Belmont), who have "almost were."

Fun fact:  If you look at Chrome's pedigree, you will see a great-great-grandsire on top is the Irish stallion, Caro...who sired Winning Colors. 

It's A Thoroughbred Thing So I Had To!

Yes, after the sponsors contacted me about a Derby post, I immediately had to find out how many Triple Crown legends stood proudly in Encore's family tree (the pictorial version is still a work in progress, but a fun one).  I have been fully assimilated into TB-geek-land!  And the results are in:

2 legends: Eddie Arcaro soothes a chiseled Citation
A quick glance at his pedigree immediately shows the common, but no less phenomenal Seattle Slew (1977), Secretariat (1973), & War Admiral (1937).  Their stories, along with the spectacular Citation (1948), one of only three major North American Thoroughbreds (along with Cigar & Zenyatta) to win at least 16 consecutive major stakes races, I shared here

Digging a little deeper, I discovered that he directly carries the blood of SIX of these champions.  Putting my hand on Encore's shoulder, I can almost hear the rush of the Winner's Circle at Belmont Park...

The Additional Three:

Gallant Fox:  (1930)  Ridden to victory by jockey Earl Sande, he was the 1930 Champion 3-Year-Old Colt & Horse of the Year 1957 Hall of Fame Inductee.  Earning $328,165 in an era of hard luck, his sire line produced a Canadian mare, Ciboulette, who foaled a Northern Dancer colt named Night Shift, Crowd Pleaser's (Encore's sire) damsire.  Gallant Fox was the only TC winner whose son equaled his feat:  he sired 1935 Triple Crown winner, Omaha.

Gallant Fox with his dam, the "Matriarch" herself
Interestingly, his dam was a British mare named St. Margeurite, considered one of the "Matriarchs of the Turf."  A stakes winner in her own right, she was also the grand-dam of the English Triple Crown winner & damsire to Man O'War, Rock Sand.

Count Fleet...apparently worthy of your furs
Count Fleet:  (1943)  Sired by the 1928 Derby winner, Reigh Count, this Ky-bred colt was undefeated as a 3-yr-old, even though he was injured while winning the 1943 Wood Memorial, a Derby prep race.  He recovered in time to win the Derby by 3 lengths & became a wartime hero by the time the Belmont rolled around.

Only two other horses dared to challenge him there -- Fairy Manhurst (there's an unfortunate name for you) & Deseronto -- but he & jockey Johnny Longden left them in 25 lengths of dust, which stood as a record until Secretariat's unforgettable 31-length lead three decades later.

"The Count" was owned by the wife of John D. Hertz, of rental car fame & he sired a mare named Sequence in 1946. Her Nashua daughter, Gold Digger, gave us Mr. Prospector, father of Encore's damsire, Allen's Prospect.  Count Fleet lived to the ripe age of 33 at his Ky stud farm; his son, Count Turf, also won the Ky Derby in 1951.

The Other Five...Strands In The Web

Allen's Prospect in MD
Sir Barton (1919) was a son of the British stud, Star Shoot, who also sired the unforutnately-named Uncle, producer of the rich damline of Allen's Prospect.  Sir Barton's damsire was Hanover, an American stallion in Tettau's (Encore's dam) damline.

Omaha (1935), as mentioned, was sired by Gallant Fox, out of a Wrack mare named Flambino.  This  made him a full brother to Flares, Ciboulette's grand-sire.

Whirlaway's (1941) sire was the unparalleled British stallion, Blenheim, contributor to innumerable great lines, out of a mare by the equally influential American stud, Sweep.  Blenheim appears many times in Encore's past, but most closely as the sire of the French stallion, Mahmoud, who fathered Silver Fog, the mare bred to Citation, as well as Almahmoud, grand-dam to Northern Dancer.  Sweep surfaces most as the sire of the great mare, Brushup, who gave birth to War Admiral himself.

Hail To Reason: easy on the eyes
Assault (1946) was out of a mare called Igual, by Equipoise, an American stallion who was Silver Fog's damsire.  Igual was also the grand-daughter of Masda, a full sister of Man O'War.  Assault's sire was a son of St. German, the British damsire of Galla Colors, grand-dam of Hail To Reason.

Affirmed (1978) was a grand-son of Raise A Native, most famous as the sire of "Mr. P," & a Native Dancer son.  Our last Triple Crown winner's damline also includes Mahmoud, War Admiral, & another French stallion named Sir Gallahad.  The latter was a son of famed show jumping foundation sire, Teddy, & sired not only Galla Colors, but the mare Double Time, in Seattle Slew's sireline, and Betty Derr, grand-dam of Iron Reward, who gave birth to Swaps

Slew shows Affirmed his heels
The 1978 Marlboro Cup even featured a rare meeting of the last 2 Triple Crown winners:  Seattle Slew's refusal to give in, though, left Affirmed 3 lengths behind at the wire.  After Slew left the track with a career racing record of 14 firsts & 2 seconds in 17 races, earning $1,208,726, he sired well over 100 Stakes-winners & was a champion Broodmare sire.  Even though Affirmed was the last to take the big trophy, it was Slew that earned the title of 'the most complete thoroughbred the industry has ever seen.'

It's a close call, though, when you watch the magic of Secretariat's unforgettable Belmont... 

January 28, 2015

Can You Identify These Suspicious Characters?

With my usual heartless cruelty, I left you dangling in suspense with our earlier "Tease Twit" (uhhhh, that just doesn't sound right...).  I hope you didn't pass out after holding your breath, awaiting celebrity identification.

Because I'm not giving it to you.  *my favourite evil laughter goes here*

I'm not sure what dastardly plots lie within the realm of possibility, but tonight certainly saw a gathering that could result in trouble awesomeness of epic proportions.

Pop quizzes are more fun!  Can you name these enigmatic faces?
If you get all three right, I personally guarantee* an extra two points on your next dressage test.


And no, "dork" does not count as an answer, however true it may be.

Ok, one hint:  this is the view outside my current window --


*All guarantees not necessarily guaranteed