It’s said that confession is good for the soul.
When Mage won the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May, I confess that I was not on board. But I am enthusiastically on the Mage bandwagon for the 148th running of the $1.65 million Preakness Stakes on Saturday (May 20) at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course.
Through the years, a high percentage of horses who won the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby have gone on to snag the shorter 1 3/16-mile Preakness.
Will Mage add his name to the list of Grade I Kentucky Derby winners who subsequently captured the Grade I Preakness? I think so. And if this does happen, Mage will move on to the Grade I Belmont Stakes on June 10 with a chance to become the 14th winner of the coveted Triple Crown with a victory in the 1 1/2-mile “Test of the Champion.”
My selections for this year’s Preakness Stakes are below:
1. Mage (8-5 morning-line favorite)
2. First Mission (5-2)
3. National Treasure (4-1)
4. Perform (15-1)
WHAT ABOUT THIS SHORTER TRIP?
As far back as 16th early in the Kentucky Derby, Mage rallied to win by one length. Am I concerned that he will be running a sixteenth of a mile shorter in the Preakness than in the Kentucky Derby? No, not really, for the following three main reasons:
First, Mage did show early speed when he kicked off his career with a sparkling 3 3/4-length victory in a seven-furlong maiden special weight race at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 28.
Second, Mage passed rivals with such a rush on the far turn in the Florida Derby that he already had the lead with a furlong to go in that 1 1/8-mile affair.
And third, Mage had wrested the lead away from Two Phil’s before reaching the sixteenth pole in the Kentucky Derby. That’s significant because it means Mage was in front at the 1 3/16-mile mark in the Derby.
COULD A SLOWER PACE BE A PROBLEM FOR MAGE?
I think it’s fair to say that a fast pace helped Mage in terms of coming from a bit more than 13 lengths off the pace to win the Kentucky Derby. I don’t expect the Preakness pace to be nearly as hot early this time.
But I am not looking for the Preakness pace to be slow, either. I think National Treasure, Coffeewithchris and/or First Mission will ensure that the early tempo in the Preakness won’t be anywhere close to snail-like.
With just four races under Mage’s belt, he’s still something of a work in progress. But I’m thinking he just might be the type who might be able to adaptable to various pace scenarios. In other words, it won’t surprise me if it turns out that Mage is versatile enough to win whether a pace is fast, moderate or slow.
RECENT SUCCESS FOR “NEW SHOOTERS”
Am I worried that Mage is coming back in just two weeks after winning the Run for the Roses? No, not really.
As I mentioned earlier, the record of Kentucky Derby winners repeating in the Preakness is strong historically.
David Aragona, my morning line-making counterpart in New York, pointed out in a Daily Racing Form article this week that Mage “does have to overcome the quick turnaround, but trainer Gustavo Delgado has strong statistics with this move. DRF Formulator’s trainer pattern tool reveals that Delgado is 8 for 23 (35%, $2.39 ROI) with last-out winners coming off layoffs of one to 20 days in dirt races over the past five years, with 16 of those 23 finishing in the money.”
I find it to be extremely interesting that not one of Mage’s 17 victims in Louisville is running in the Preakness. That means all seven of Mage’s Preakness foes are a so-called “new shooter” (i.e., a horse who did not run in the Kentucky Derby).
It used to be that I would automatically take a stand against new shooters in the Preakness. For a long time, their record was poor.
From 2000 through 2016, only three new shooters won the Preakness: Red Bullet in 2000, Bernardini in 2006 and Rachel Alexandra in 2009.
But new shooters have been doing well lately. There have been three recent Preakness winners who did not run in the Kentucky Derby: Cloud Computing in 2017, Rombauer in 2021 and Early Voting in 2022.
Meanwhile, another reason that I’m so bullish on Mage winning the Preakness is it’s my opinion that the Kentucky Derby field was tougher than this one.
Many see First Mission as the biggest threat to Mage in the Preakness.
Both First Mission and Bishops Bay are highly regarded by their trainer, Brad Cox, and lots of observers. They ran one-two when debuting in a Fair Grounds maiden special weight contest at six furlongs on Feb. 19. Bishops Bay prevailed by three-quarters of a length and was credited with a robust 97 Beyer Speed Figure. First Mission received a big figure in defeat, a 96.
I think First Mission and Bishops Bay are talented colts. But I also believe they might be a tad overrated.
Just last Saturday (May 13), Bishops Bay started in the Grade III Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park. It was his stakes debut. Yes, Bishops Bay ran well. But did he win? No. He finished second to Arcangelo.
Arcangelo appears to be an up-and-coming sort in the 3-year-old male division nationally. The Peter Pan was only his fourth career start. He has an improving Beyer Speed Figure pattern of 53, 70, 84, then 97 in the Peter Pan.
But when push came to shove in the Peter Pan, Bishops Bay did not get the job done. He was defeated by a fellow 3-year-old colt whose previous top Beyer was just an 84.
First Mission is coming off a 98 Beyer Speed Figure for his victory in Keeneland’s Grade III Lexington Stakes on April 15. That 98 Beyer alone suggests that First Mission is a serious contender in the Preakness.
But even Cox conceded this week in Pimlico’s Preakness notes that First Mission probably needs to run better than he has to date in order to win the Preakness.
“I think he’s got to take a step forward,” Cox said. “I think he will take a step forward. He’s given me every reason to be super confident with what he’s done in the mornings at Churchill. His three works since the Lexington have been really good.”
Perhaps First Mission will “take a step forward” and win the Preakness. I’m just not enthused about him at 5-2 or so.
I recently wrote for Xpressbet.com that I had been interested in putting money on First Mission in the first Preakness Future Wager earlier this month “if the price was right,” meaning anything near his 15-1 morning-line price.
But when First Mission’s future odds were 9-1 near the end of betting about an hour before the Kentucky Derby, I passed. Inasmuch as I was perfectly willing to pass on First Mission at 9-1 in the Preakness Future Wager, I have absolutely zero interest in betting the Street Sense colt at around 5-2 this Saturday, though I am fully aware that he might win.
Even though First Mission got a 98 Beyer in the Lexington, I’m not blown away by his half-length win that day over Arabian Lion, who had lost his two previous starts by a combined 17 1/4 lengths.
I like Mage’s one-length win (and his 105 Beyer) over runner-up Two Phil’s in the Kentucky Derby a lot more than First Mission’s Lexington. In fact, if Two Phil’s were in the Preakness, he would be my top pick, not Mage. I thought Two Phil’s ran the best race of anyone in the Derby to finish second despite being close to such a fast early pace.
But Two Phil’s is not in the Preakness. Neither is Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old male champion Forte, who was scratched from the Kentucky Derby due to an issue with his right front foot. Even if Forte’s connections had wanted to run him in the Preakness, the colt was effectively precluded from that because of being placed on the 14-day veterinarian’s list as a result of being scratched from the Derby.
The way I see it, no Two Phil’s + no Forte = a much better chance for Mage to win the Preakness.
Can National Treasure win the Preakness? Of course he can. After all, his trainer is Bob Baffert. I think a victory in this race would be possible for Baffert even if he sent out a turtle. Okay, I would have to rule that out. But in view of the fact that Baffert has seven Preakness wins to his credit, I am not about to say National Treasure can’t win this Saturday.
Baffert did have a high opinion of National Treasure last year. The Quality Road colt was good enough to finish third to Forte and Cave Rock in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
But National Treasure’s two races this year have left something to be desired. He finished third as the 3-5 favorite in Santa Anita’s Grade III Sham Stakes on Jan. 8. After he missed Santa Anita’s Grade II San Felipe Stakes on March 4 due to a foot issue, he ran fourth at 5-2 in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby.
While Cox said that he thinks that First Mission will need to take a step forward in the Preakness, Baffert feels similarly with respect to National Treasure.
Baffert said this week in Pimlico’s Preakness notes that he thinks National Treasure “fits” in this race, but the Hall of Famer added that the colt “will have to step it up” to win.
“He is a horse that has not filled into his frame yet, but we’ve always been high on him,” Baffert said. “He hasn’t really run a bad race.”
While it’s true that National Treasure has finished third or better in four of five career starts, I consider him to be something of an underachiever so far. Maybe National Treasure will finally step up and run a biggie in the Preakness. But I am not going to back him until he does a run a biggie.
Blazing Sevens is coming off a third in Keeneland’s Grade I Blue Grass Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on April 8. His trainer, Chad Brown, has had recent success in the Preakness, winning it with Cloud Computing in 2017 and Early Voting in 2022.
I am of the opinion that Blazing Sevens (6-1 on the Preakness morning line) might be better suited to shorter, one-turn races rather than the two-turn, 1 3/16-mile Preakness. His biggest win to date came in the Grade I Champagne Stakes at Aqueduct last year, a race run on a sloppy track at one mile and around one turn.
I will be surprised if either Red Route One (10-1 on the Preakness morning line) or Perform (15-1) win the Preakness. But I can see either of them possibly coming on late to get into the superfecta.
In Red Route One’s most recent start, he got up in the last jump to win Oaklawn Park’s 1 1/8-mile Bath House Row Stakes by a head on April 22.
Perform is going into the Preakness off a come-from-behind head victory in Laurel’s 1 1/8-mile Federico Tesio Stakes on Aug. 15. He is a grandson of 2007 Preakness winner Curlin.
SECRETARIAT’S PREAKNESS: AN EPIC EARLY MOVE
The celebration of the 50th anniversary of Secretariat’s extraordinary Triple Crown sweep continues with this week’s Preakness.
The 1973 Preakness was headed by Secretariat and Sham.
Earlier that year in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, Sham finished second and Secretariat third, while both lost to Angle Light.
In the Kentucky Derby, Secretariat won by 2 1/2 lengths. This time Secretariat outran Sham, who finished second.
The Secretariat team of owner-breeder Meadow Stable, trainer Lucien Laurin and jockey Ron Turcotte went into the 1973 Preakness with some trepidation stemming from what had occurred in the 1972 Preakness with their Riva Ridge.
After Riva Ridge’s 3 1/4-length win in the Kentucky Derby, he was a 2-5 favorite in the Preakness. But then it rained and Bee Bee Bee splashed his way to a Preakness victory on a sloppy track. Riva Ridge struggled on the wet surface and finished fourth. Back on dry land in the Belmont, Riva Ridge won by seven lengths.
At the 1973 Preakness, the track was fast. So was Secretariat, who made a spectacular early move in the race.
You can watch Secretariat’s Preakness on YouTube (Chic Anderson has the call).
With regular rider Ron Turcotte aboard, Secretariat zoomed past opponents with a startling move on the clubhouse turn that put him in front shortly after straightening away on the backstretch. When Secretariat did that, Laffit Pincay Jr.’s confidence on Sham soared.
“I thought Ronnie moved too soon,” Pincay told me years later. “You don’t see horses make a move like that so early in a race and then win.”
Sham and Pincay stayed within close range of Secretariat on the backstretch. Turning for home, Secretariat led Sham by 2 1/2 lengths. They were well clear of the others.
If Secretariat’s clubhouse turn blitz would take a toll on him in the stretch, Pincay had Sham in a prime position to pounce with Sham. But Secretariat just kept on going all the way down the lane. Leading by 2 1/2 lengths with a furlong to go, Secretariat maintained a clear advantage the rest of the way home. He won by 2 1/2 lengths, much to the frustration of Pincay. Sham again had to settle for second.
“Ronnie and Secretariat just toyed with me in the stretch in the Derby,” Pincay said. “And they just toyed with me in the stretch again in the Preakness.”
Secretariat would go on to end a 25-year Triple Crown drought with a magnificent 31-length victory in the Belmont Stakes, a performance that many regard as the greatest in American racing history.
ROSS FENSTERMAKER, PRECISIONIST’S TRAINER, PASSES AWAY
It was with sadness that I recently read the news, reported by Daily Racing Form’s Steve Andersen, that trainer Ross Fenstermaker died in late April at the age of 83 after battling the effects of a stroke.
Fenstermaker’s passing brought back a flood of memories.
I first got to know Fenstermaker in the early 1980s during my time as a Daily Racing Form reporter and daily columnist at the Southern California tracks. I always enjoyed my visits to the Fenstermaker barn, be it at Santa Anita, Hollywood Park or Del Mar.
Boss Cat was of the reasons I would look forward to stopping by the Fenstermaker barn in the morning. That barn cat was quite the character, so much so that he became something of a stable area celebrity.
Fenstermaker trained for Fred Hooper. In the early 1980s, I often needed to check with Fenstermaker as to the status of such graded stakes winners as Skillful Joy and Journey at Sea.
In 1981, Hooper’s Skillful Joy won two of the three biggest races for 2-year-old fillies on the Southern California circuit, the Grade II (now Grade I) Del Mar Debutante and Grade I Hollywood Starlet Stakes.
In 1982, Journey at Sea won Hollywood Park’s Swaps Stakes, a Grade I event at the time. The following year, he finished second to a razor-sharp Interco in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap, a race in which Kentucky Derby winner Gato Del Sol ran third. The great John Henry finished fourth while on his way to the 1984 Horse of the Year title as a 9-year-old after also having been voted Horse of the Year in 1981.
But as the DRF’s Andersen put it, “Precisionist was by far Fenstermaker’s most successful runner in a 20-year training career from 1976 to 1996.”
Precisionist was Hooper’s masterpiece as a Thoroughbred breeder. Raised on Hooper’s farm near Ocala, Fla., Precisionist was involved in a scary incident as a youngster one morning.
After Precisionist unseated his rider, he ran off the training track and crashed into a farm employee’s brand new Honda.
“Precisionist miraculously was unscathed,” Deirdre Biles noted when recalling the incident in a 1985 Blood-Horse magazine article. “The Honda, however, was much the worse for the crash, its problems including a broken taillight and tailpipe.”
Biles had learned about Precisionist’s car collusion from Robert Williams Jr., the Hooper farm manager.
Williams also told Biles about the morning that both he and Hopper saw a fast workout on the farm by Precisionist. It was the second time the colt had ever worked as far as three furlongs. When the workout was over, Williams and Hooper took a look at their stopwatch. They couldn’t believe what they saw. Precisionist had zipped three furlongs in :34 flat.
“We thought we had something then,” Williams told Biles.
I will never forget the first time I laid eyes on Precisionist. The date was July 13, 1983. Precisionist made his first career start in a six-furlong maiden special weight race. Hooper loved to bet. Considering that :34 flat workout on the farm, Hooper undoubtedly contributed to Precisionist being an even-money favorite in his first start as a 2-year-old.
Precisionist seduced my eye that day when I saw him in the post parade. He was an absolutely gorgeous chestnut colt.
Years later, the renowned artist Fred Stone, who died in 2018, paid Precisionist a huge compliment.
In the 2010 book “Reflections of a Golden Age: The Racing Art of Fred Stone,” Stone said this about Precisionist: “I was awestruck when I saw him. He was the most beautiful horse I have ever painted.”
Keep in mind Stone painted such superstars as Kelso, Secretariat, Ruffian, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Cigar, Zenyatta and American Pharoah.
Precisionist not only was a stunning individual physically, he could really run. I was so impressed by his performance in his first career race that I thought he might well be the best 2-year-old in the country.
Ridden by Terry Lipham, a jockey whose skill set found him winning the 440-yard All American Futurity and the 1 1/4-mile Santa Anita Handicap, Precisionist dashed immediately to the front on that summer afternoon in 1983. After he led by three lengths early, his advantage grew to six lengths turning for home.
At the eighth pole, Precisionist still was a commanding six lengths in front. Despite Lipham restraining the youngster toward the end of the race, Precisionist prevailed by 7 1/2 lengths. While the final time of 1:10 1/5 was not sensational, to this day that was one of the most impressive debut performances I have ever seen.
Just 10 days later, Precisionist started as the 3-5 favorite in the Grade II Hollywood Juvenile Championship at six furlongs. He finished fifth, 14 1/2 lengths behind Althea, who ran six furlongs in an excellent 1:09 2/5 to win by 10 lengths. Althea would go on to be voted an Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old filly.
Precisionist emerged from his stakes debut with tender shins. That kept him away from the races until the fall.
When Precisionist was next seen under Hooper’s red, white and blue silks, he won a 6 1/2-furlong allowance contest by 4 1/2 lengths at Santa Anita on Oct. 28. He had a new jockey, Chris McCarron, on that occasion. McCarron would go on to ride Precisionist in 36 more races.
After Precisionist’s sparkling Oct. 28 allowance win on the dirt, he showed that he also could perform well on the grass. He won a division of Hollywood Park’s Hoist the Flag Stakes at one mile on the turf by a half-length on Nov. 25.
In his next start, Precisionist returned to the dirt. He was backed down to 9-5 favoritism in world’s first race for 2-year-olds worth $1 million or more, Hollywood Park’s $1,049,725 Hollywood Futurity, which was contested at 1 1/16 miles on Dec. 18.
The Hollywood Futurity was run under the lights. When I saw Precisionist arrive at the paddock, he looked like he had been through a car wash. Seeing that, I came to the conclusion that he had virtually no chance to win. He wound up 10th in the field of 12. Fali Time won. When Precisionist had sparkled at first asking in July, Fali Time had finished a well-beaten third.
As a 2-year-old, Precisionist was quite high-strung. Fenstermaker addressed this early in 1984. Hours and hours and hours were spent trying to get the hyper colt to settle down. All of the hard work paid off. Precisionist became a calm, composed and elite racehorse as a 3-year-old. Fenstermaker deserved a ton of credit for that.
What Fenstermaker did with Precisionist was similar to the job trainer John Sadler and assistant trainer/exercise rider Juan Leyva did with the fabulous Flightline. A headstrong run-off in his workouts early in his career, Flightline made the transition to being a relaxed and tractable equine athlete in his a.m. rehearsals and his races during his 2022 Horse of the Year campaign.
Precisionist won two of his first two starts as a 3-year-old, then registered a five-length victory in Santa Anita’s Grade II San Rafael Stakes by five lengths at one mile on March 3. Considering how Precisionist was in the San Rafael, Hooper no doubt felt that he had a good chance to finally realize his longtime goal of winning the Run for the Roses a second time.
The first time Hooper had a starter in the Kentucky Derby, he won it with a horse named after his son, Hoop Jr. That was in 1945. Hoop Jr. and legendary jockey Eddie Arcaro won the Derby by six lengths on a muddy track, leaving 15 foes in his wake.
Arcaro warned Hooper that winning the Kentucky Derby with the first horse he ever ran in it was the worst possible thing that could have ever happened to him. Arcaro told Hooper that he would spend millions trying to get a second Kentucky Derby victory. It turned out that second Derby win did prove to be elusive.
After Precisionist trounced his opponents in the San Rafael, he was backed down to even-money favoritism in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles. When he had a three-length lead with a furlong to go, it appeared that he was on his way to a Santa Anita Derby win and a trip to the Kentucky Derby. But Mighty Adversary overtook Precisionist in the final sixteenth to pull off a 32-1 upset. Precisionist had to settle for second.
The next morning at Fenstermaker’s barn, while Boss Cat was prowling, I asked Fenstermaker, “How in the world did Precisionist get beat by Mighty Adversary?”
“I’ll show you,” Fenstermaker said.
Fenstermaker took me over to Precisionist’s stall and showed me the colt’s injured foot.
“He popped a pus pocket,” Fenstermaker said.
The foot was a mess.
“How did he finish the race running on a foot like that?” I asked.
“Pretty amazing, isn’t it?” Fenstermaker responded.
The foot problem made it abundantly clear that there would be no Kentucky Derby for Precisionist.
“You know, this actually could be a blessing in disguise,” I said to Fenstermaker. “Missing the Kentucky Derby might be good for him in the long run. You’ve spent so much time getting him settled down, but all of that work might have gone down the drain because of the madhouse on Kentucky Derby Day.”
Because Precisionist had demonstrated early in his career that he was uncommonly fast, many people questioned whether he had the stamina to win beyond 1 1/8 miles. Getting caught late in the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby seemed to support that sentiment.
But in Precisionist’s first start going farther than 1 1/8 miles, he won Hollywood Park’s 1 1/4-mile Swaps Stakes by 10 lengths. The Swaps was a Grade I race at that time.
Precisionist would go on to sweep Santa Anita’s now-defunct Strub Series consisting of the seven-furlong Malibu Stakes, 1 1/8-mile San Fernando Stakes and 1 1/4-mile Charles H. Strub Stakes. Only five horses ever swept those three races: Round Table in 1958, Hillsdale in 1959, Ancient Title in 1974, Spectacular Bid in 1980 and Precisionist in 1985.
Later in 1985, Precisionist ran one mile to win Hollywood Park’s Grade II Mervyn LeRoy Handicap at one mile in a rapid 1:32 4/5 on May 19. Fenstermaker kindly gave me one of the shoes that Precisionist wore that day.
After finishing second in the Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup on June 23, Precisionist was sidelined by bruised feet. He did not race again until winning the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Aqueduct on Nov. 2.
For Precisionist to win the BC Sprint following such a long layoff was a testament to the colt’s ability and class. And it was nothing less than a fantastic training job on the part of Fenstermaker, as further evidenced by the fact that Precisionist was credited with a 125 Beyer Speed Figure for his BC Sprint triumph.
All these years later, Precisionist’s 125 Beyer remains the top figure ever recorded by a Breeders’ Cup winner, higher than such other esteemed Breeders’ Cup winners as Alysheba, American Pharoah, A.P. Indy, Arrogate, Cigar, Curlin Enable, Ferdinand, Ghostzapper, Gun Runner, Manila, Skip Away, Sunday Silence, Theatrical, and Zenyatta.
Below are the Beyer Speed Figures of 120 or higher ever recorded by a Breeders’ Cup winner:
125 Precisionist (1985 Sprint at Aqueduct)
124 Ghostzapper (2004 Classic at Lone Star Park)
124 Artax (1999 Sprint at Gulfstream Park)
124 Sunday Silence (1989 Classic at Gulfstream Park)
122 Alysheba (1988 Classic at Churchill Downs)
121 Very Subtle* (1987 Sprint at Hollywood Park)
120 Arrogate (2017 Classic at Santa Anita)
120 American Pharoah (2015 Classic at Keeneland)
120 Cajun Beat (2003 Sprint at Santa Anita Park)
120 Skip Away (1997 Classic at Hollywood Park)
120 Black Tie Affair (1991 Classic at Churchill Downs)
120 Proud Truth (1985 Classic at Aqueduct)
120 Princess Rooney* (1984 Distaff at Hollywood Park)
*Filly or mare
All told, Precisionist won 20 races. Finishing first or second in 30 of 46 lifetime starts, he amassed earnings of $3,485,398, which would be almost $9 million today when adjusted for inflation.
Precisionist was voted a 1985 Eclipse Award as champion sprinter. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2003.
A distinguished panel (Howard Battle, Lenny Hale, Jay Hovdey, William Nack, Pete Pedersen, Jennie Rees and Tommy Trotter) selected Blood-Horse magazine’s Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century. Precisionist did not make the list, which I believe was a mistake.
Precisionist is on my list of the Top 100 of the 20th AND 21st Centuries to have raced in North America. He is No. 75, as shown below:
1. Man o’ War (1)
2. Secretariat* (2)
3. Citation* (3)
4. Kelso (4)
5. Spectacular Bid (10)
6. Native Dancer (7)
7. Dr. Fager (6)
8. Seattle Slew* (9)
9. Count Fleet* (5)
10. Affirmed* (12)
11. Ruffian (35)
12. Swaps (20)
13. Phar Lap (22)
14. Forego (8)
15. Buckpasser (14)
16. Damascus (16)
17. Round Table (17)
19. War Admiral* (13)
20. American Phaorah*
21. Tom Fool (11)
22. Colin (15)
23. John Henry (23)
25. Regret (71)
26. Seabiscuit (25)
27. Whirlaway (26)
28. Sunday Silence (31)
29. Exterminator (29)
30. Cigar (18)
31. Nashua (24)
33. Alydar (27)
34. Easy Goer (34)
37. Alysheba (42)
38. Bold Ruler (19)
39. Personal Ensign (48)
42. Equipoise (21)
43. Gallant Fox* (28)
44. Sysonby (30)
45. Gallant Man (36)
46. Rachel Alexandra
47. Assault* (33)
48. Armed (39)
49. Sir Barton* (49)
50. Northern Dancer (43)
51. Omaha* (61)
52. Ack Ack (44)
53. Discovery (37)
54. Majestic Prince (46)
55. Arts and Letters (67)
56. Stymie (41)
57. Pan Zareta
58. Challedon (38)
59. Noor (69)
60. Skip Away (32)
62. Busher (40)
62. Gallorette (45)
63. Coaltown (47)
64. Sword Dancer (53)
65. Riva Ridge (57)
66. Grey Lag (54)
67. Devil Diver (55)
68. Dahlia (50)
69. All Along (68)
70. Zev (56)
71. Ta Wee (80)
72. Twilight Tear (59)
73. Native Diver (60)
74. Holy Bull (64)
76. Inside Information (67)
77. Shuvee (70)
78. Twenty Grand (52)
80. Alsab (65)
81. Lady’s Secret (76)
82. Genuine Risk (91)
83. A.P. Indy
84. Silver Charm (63)
85. Susan’s Girl (51)
86. Cicada (62)
87. Go for Wand (72)
88. Slew o’ Gold (58)
89. Bald Eagle (74)
90. Exceller (96)
91. Tim Tam
92. Top Flight (66)
94. Johnstown (73)
95. Princess Rooney
96. Two Lea (77)
97. Miesque (82)
98. Hoist the Flag
99. Ancient Title
100. Formal Gold
A VERY SPECIAL DAY
This week marks the anniversary of a very special day in my life.
It was on May 17, 1981, when I saw John Henry race in person for the first time. The legendary gelding won the Grade I Hollywood Invitational Turf Handicap.
It was so exciting to see John Henry win that race. But more importantly for me, I also met Tracy Gantz in the Hollywood Park press box that day. Randy Moss, now of NBC Sports, knew her. I had become friends with Moss at Louisiana Downs in 1980. He was working for publicity there, while I was that track’s first Daily Racing Form columnist.
When I let Moss know in the spring of 1981 that the DRF had promoted me to be a reporter/columnist on the Southern California circuit, he told me that I had to be sure to keep an eye out for Tracy Gantz, who at the time was the managing editor of The Thoroughbred of California breeding magazine.
“I think you two would really hit it off,” Moss said.
Well, not only is Moss a very good handicapper when it comes to horses, he’s also a terrific handicapper of people. Tracy and I have been married since 1983.
TOP 10 IN THIS WEEK’S NTRA TOP THOROUGHBRED POLL
Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes)
1. 278 Cody’s Wish (14)
2. 252 Elite Power (13)
3. 191 Proxy (2)
4. 158 Art Collector (1)
5. 152 Clairiere
6. 135 Smile Happy (1)
7. 81 Stilleto Boy
8. 64 Defunded
9. 55 In Italian
10. 52 Caravel
TOP 10 IN THIS WEEK’S NTRA TOP THREE-YEAR-OLD POLL
Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes)
1. 305 Mage (21)
2. 268 Forte (10)
3. 255 Two Phil’s
4. 231 Angel of Empire
5. 138 Practical Move (1)
5. 138 Tapit Trice
7. 99 Disarm
8. 75 First Mission
9. 68 Hit Show
10. 50 Pretty Mischievous