Thursday, November 27, 2014

On hallowed ground: The Calumet cemetery

On a recent fall afternoon, after taking a peek at new-to-U.S. stallions Musketier and Red Rocks, both recently arrived at Brad Kelley's Calumet Farm for stud duties, I detoured through the equine cemetery before taking leave of the historic land. It felt, to put it lightly, very special to be there. I was like a kid in a candy store. It was cold and the sun was beginning to set, so I walked around and took photos more quickly than I'd have liked, but I did get a picture of every marker, some of which I will post here although they are not all easy to read.

Bull Lea's statue and the setting sun.
There are 63 gravestones in the Calumet cemetery, although five or six of the horses are not interred there. Sadly for racehorse cemetery aficionados like me, that means that the markers for Barbizon, Coaltown, Hill Gail, Iron Liege, and Mark-Ye-Well are figureheads only. The horse in question, who died in France and is reputed online (without sources) to have been later reburied at Calumet, is Whirlaway. Next time I'm at the Keeneland library, I will have to do some proper research and see if I can corroborate the movement of his remains to Kentucky.

Bull Lea's grave is centered at the back of the cemetery. Markers of the seven male classic winners buried or memorialized there form a semi-circle -- matching the curve of the front of the base of Bull Lea's statue (created by Portuguese-born sculptor Antonio da Costa) -- in front of the stallion. In another semi-circle across the statue lie all the mares, except for Two Lea, that produced Kentucky Derby winners. Facing outward -- looking in the same direction as his statue -- to Bull Lea's immediate left are his daughters Twilight Tear, Miz Clementine, Bewitch, Bubbley, Real Delight, Amoret, Two Lea, and Twosy; and to his immediate right, his sons Gen. Duke, Commodore M., Armed, Coaltown (not interred), Yorky, and Mark-Ye-Well (not interred). Two Lea's burial place indicates that keeping the line of Bull Lea progeny intact, minus his classic winners, superseded the importance of keeping the Derby-producing mares together.

Bull Lea's statue keeps a vigil over the cemetery.
Here is a list, organized by year of death, of the headstones:

Horse (color [as provided on stone], sex, sire, dam), YOB-YOD:
1. Slow and Easy (chestnut, f, Colin - Shyness), 1922-1944
2. *Dustwhirl (bay, f, Sweep - Ormonda), 1926-1946
3. Pensive (chestnut, c, Hyperion - §Penicuik II), 1941-1949
4. Potheen (brown, f, Wildair - Rose O'Grady), 1928-1950
5. Some Pomp (chestnut, f, Pompey - Some More), 1931-1951
6. Jane Gail (chestnut, f, Blenheim II - Lady Higloss), 1944-1952
7. Two Bob (chestnut, f, The Porter-Blessings), 1933-1953
8. Nellie Flag (chestnut, f, American Flag - Nellie Morse), 1932-1953
9. ?Whirlaway (chestnut, c, Blenheim II - §Dustwhirl), 1938-1953
10. Twilight Tear (bay, f, §Bull Lea - Lady Lark), 1941-1954
11. Hug Again (chestnut, f, Stimulus - Affection), 1931-1956
12. Unerring (brown, f, Insco - Margaret Lawrence), 1936-1956
13. Gen. Duke (brown, c, §Bull Lea - §Wistful), 1954-1958
14. Hydroplane II (chestnut, f, Hyperion - Toboggan), 1938-1958
15. Miss Rushin (bay, f, Blenheim II - Lady Erne), 1942-1958
16. *Penicuik II (chestnut, f, Buchan - Pennycomequick), 1934-1958
17. Ponder (dark bay, c, §Pensive - §Miss Rushin), 1946-1958
18. Whirl Some (gray, f, §Whirlaway - Some Pep), 1945-1958
19. Armful (black, f, Chance Shot - Negrina), 1933-1962
20. Miz Clementine (bay, f, §Bull Lea - §Two Bob), 1951-1962
21. Bewitch (brown, f, §Bull Lea - §Potheen), 1945-1962
22. Commodore M. (bay, c, §Bull Lea - Early Autumn), 1951-1963
23. Armed (bay, g, §Bull Lea - §Armful), 1941-1964
24. Bubbley (dark brown, f, §Bull Lea - §Blue Delight), 1950-1964
25. Bull Lea (bay, c, Bull Dog - Rose Leaves), 1935-1964
26. Iron Maiden (bay, f, War Admiral - Betty Derr), 1941-1964
27. Wistful (chestnut, f, Sun Again - §Easy Lass), 1946-1964
28. xCoaltown (bay, c, §Bull Lea - §Easy Lass), 1945-1965
29. Sun Again (chestnut, c, Sun Teddy - §Hug Again), 1939-1965
30. Blue Delight (brown, f, Blue Larkspur - Chicleight), 1938-1966
31. Mar-Kell (bay, f, Blenheim II - §Nellie Flag), 1939-1966
32. Waynoka (f, War Admiral - Leonissa), 1949-1966
33. Yorky (bay c, §Bull Lea - §Waynoka), 1957-1966
34. Easy Lass (brown, f, Blenheim II - §Slow and Easy), 1940-1968
35. xHill Gail (dark bay, c, §Bull Lea - §Jane Gail), 1949-1968
36. Real Delight (bay, f, §Bull Lea - §Blue Delight), 1949-1969
37. Citation (bay, c, §Bull Lea - §Hydroplane II), 1945-1970
38. xMark-Ye-Well (bay, c, §Bull Lea - §Mar-Kell), 1949-1970
39. On-and-On (bay, c, *Nasrullah - §Two Lea), 1956-1970
40. Amoret (bay, f, §Bull Lea - §Mar-Kell), 1952-1971
41. Bardstown (dark bay, g, *Alibhai - §Twilight Tear), 1952-1972
42. xIron Liege (bay, c, §Bull Lea - §Iron Maiden), 1954-1972
43. Two Lea (bay, f, §Bull Lea - §Two Bob), 1946-1973
44. A Gleam (bay, f, Blenheim II - §Two Lea), 1949-1974
45. Plum Cake (chestnut, f, §Ponder - §Real Delight), 1958-1976
46. Princess Turia (chestnut, f, Heliopolis - §Blue Delight), 1953-1975
47. Twosy (bay, f, §Bull Lea - §Two Bob), 1942-1975
48. xBarbizon (c, Polynesian - Good Blood), 1954-1982
49. Mon Ange (chestnut, f, Tom Fool - §Two Lea), 1962-1982
50. Tim Tam (dark bay, c, Tom Fool - §Two Lea), 1955-1982
51. Best Turn (dark bay or brown, c, *Turn-to - §Sweet Clementine), 1966-1984
52. Sweet Tooth (bay, f, §On-and-On - §Plum Cake), 1965-1988
53. Lucinda Lea (bay, f, §Best Turn - Little Stormy), 1975-1989
54. Sagace (Fr) (bay, c, Luthier - Seneca (Fr)), 1980-1989
55. Sweet Clementine (bay, f, Swaps - §Miz Clementine), 1960-1989
56. Alydar (chestnut, c, Raise a Native - §Sweet Tooth), 1975-1990
57. Katonka (bay, f, Minnesota Mac - Minnetonka), 1972-1990
58. Kennelot (bay, f, Gallant Man - Queen Sucree), 1974-1994
59. Lech (bay, c, Danzig - Wedding Reception), 1988-1994
60. De La Rose (bay, f, Nijinsky II - Rosetta Stone), 1978-2001
61. Gdynia (chestnut, f, Sir Ivor - Classicist), 1978-2001
62. Our Mims (bay brown f, Herbager - §Sweet Tooth), 1974-2003
63. Sugar and Spice (bay, f, Key to the Mint - §Sweet Tooth), 1977-2004

§ denotes a sire or dam also interred or memorialized at the Calumet cemetery
x not interred
? may or may not be interred
* denotes an imported horse, and is included here as it is noted on the stones.

Numbers 58-61 are burials from the Henryk de Kwiatkowski era of Calumet.

Numbers 62 and 63 were bred and raced by Calumet but died elsewhere; they were returned to their birthplace for burial.

Discrepancies or errors:

21. Bewitch: Her National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame page and other sources say she died in 1959, contrary to the 1962 on her gravestone. She is buried between Miz Clementine (died 1962) and Bubbley (died 1964).

Bewitch: Born in 1945 and died in 1962.
42. Iron Liege: He died in Japan. According to some sources, his year of death was 1971, contrary to the 1972 on his gravestone.

48. Barbizon: Sources indicate he died in 1983, contrary to the 1982 on his gravestone.

61. Gdynia: The name of her sire, Sir Ivor, is misspelled as "Siv Ivor" on her marker.

Observations and curiosities:

~On Bull Lea: Thirteen of his progeny are buried at Calumet, with four more memorialized in the cemetery, for a total of 17 markers for progeny of the farm's great foundation sire.

Triple Crown winner Citation, with his sire Bull Lea in the background.
~On Citation: Of the many things written on his two stones, it was the last two lines that caught my eye: "winner of computer race of century, April 1968".

~On Two Lea: Four of her progeny, the most of any broodmare, are buried in this cemetery. Blue Delight, Sweet Tooth, and Two Bob (Two Lea's dam) each have three sons or daughters buried, although only one of Sweet Tooth's died while living at Calumet. All of these mares are also buried at Calumet.

Two Lea, the broodmare with the most progeny buried in this cemetery.
~On Iron Maiden: She produced 1957 Kentucky Derby winner Iron Liege (who famously defeated one of my favorite horses, Gallant Man, in that race). Her daughter Iron Reward produced 1955 Kentucky Derby winner Swaps (not for Calumet), and Swaps is noted on Iron Maiden's epitaph. (Sidenote: Iron Maiden's dam Betty Derr is the eighth dam, but not through Iron Maiden, of 2014 Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome.) Calumet bred Miz Clementine to Swaps and got Sweet Clementine, who produced Best Turn, who sired Calumet champion Davona Dale (plus Cox's Ridge, not for Calumet); Best Turn, Sweet Clementine, and Miz Clementine are buried at Calumet.

Iron Maiden, dam and granddam of Kentucky Derby winners.
~The dams of two Triple Crown winners are buried at Calumet: Dustwhirl and Hydroplane II. Burials Iron Maiden, Jane Gail, Miss Rushin, Penicuik II, Princess Turia, and Two Lea foaled Kentucky Derby winners.

Citation's dam Hydroplane II. 
~1958 was a bad year: Calumet lost a Kentucky Derby winner, the dam of a Triple Crown winner, the dams of two other Kentucky Derby winners, and the well-regarded young colt Gen. Duke.

~On Alydar: His grave is the closest to the front of the entry path, on the right side walking in (on the left, from the direction Bull Lea faces). He and his stakes-winning half-sisters Our Mims (champion) and Sugar and Spice have the most ancestors buried at Calumet: Within the first four generations of their dam Sweet Tooth's pedigree, every single ancestor bar Nasrullah, his sire Nearco, and dam Mumtaz Begum, are all buried at Calumet. They are: Sweet Tooth (first generation), On-and-On and Plum Cake (second generation); Two Lea, Ponder, and Real Delight (third generation); and Bull Lea, Two Bob, Pensive, Miss Rushin, Bull Lea, and Blue Delight (fourth generation). One fifth generation ancestor, Penicuik II, is also there.

~More on Alydar: He is the last horse buried on the farm during Calumet ownership, after his death on November 15, 1990. Katonka, who also died in 1990, predeceased him, dying on July 4.

Only Alydar and Citation have both a standing headstone and a stone that lies flat. Bull Lea's stone lies flat, with a statue instead of a headstone.
~Alydar's marker faces the post naming Calumet's Kentucky Derby winners: Whirlaway, Pensive, Citation, Ponder, Hill Gail, Iron Liege, and Tim Tam on the front; Forward Pass, who was awarded the 1968 Kentucky Derby well after the fact -- the final court ruling was handed down in 1972 -- following the drug-related disqualification of Dancer's Image, on the obverse. Alydar's placement facing the Kentucky Derby monument is ironic since he ran second to Affirmed in all three of the Triple Crown races.

~Although he is not buried at Calumet, Alydar's great rival Affirmed used to stand at the farm, and he occupied the stall directly across from Alydar's.

~On Sweet Tooth: She was Broodmare of the Year in 1977, the season Our Mims was champion three-year-old filly and Alydar was a Grade 1-winning two-year-old. Her grave marker, which is taller than the headstones that predate it, identifies her as "dam of stakes winners" but only names Our Mims. Sweet Tooth (who, I was told by John Greathouse, as I recall -- he worked with her at one time -- was misnamed) was also the dam of Grade 1 winner Sugar and Spice.

No mention of Alydar or Sugar and Spice on Sweet Tooth's gravestone.
~On Forward Pass: He is the only Calumet-bred Kentucky Derby winner who does not have a marker in the cemetery. He won the Preakness Stakes on his own merits and died in Japan in 1980. [Correction: Calumet-bred Strike the Gold, who won the 1991 Kentucky Derby -- not for Calumet -- and died in Turkey in 2011, also does not have a marker.]

~On Tim Tam: His epitaph mentions that this Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner was second by "1/2 length" in the Belmont "on broken sesamoid bone."

~On Dustwhirl: Her son Whirlaway is mentioned on her epitaph, but unusually, there's no mention of his Triple Crown. Compare this to the information on Hydroplane's epitaph, for instance, which not only says that Citation won the Triple Crown but, oddly, credits her as being granddam of 1956 Preakness winner Fabius -- Fabius was sired by Citation, not out of one of her daughters.

Dustwhirl, the first Triple Crown-producing broodmare interred at Calumet.
~On Commodore M.: This horse, named by Calumet's Lucille Markey after her husband, Admiral Gene Markey, has the only marker of the 63 with no additional comments other than color, year of birth, year of death, sire, and dam. He sired just 42 foals, but one of them, Comely Nell, was the dam of Derby/Belmont winner Bold Forbes. Comely Nell's female line remains active in the 2000s; she's the fifth dam of Grade 1 winner Mushka.

~On Our Mims: This champion filly, later the namesake of Our Mims Retirement Haven, has a detailed epitaph that mentions not only her Kentucky Oaks but also that she was Rerun's Moneigh Equine Artist of the Year in 2002. The last line reads: "somebody's favorite horse."

~Twelve of the gravestones are engraved with birth and death dates, not just the years. Lucinda Lea (aged 14) and Sweet Clementine (29) died on the same day: May 1, 1989. French-bred stallion Sagace, who won the 1984 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (and was disqualified from first in the 1985 Arc), died on May 4, 1989, three days after the two mares.

~Buried or memorialized in the cemetery are 42 bay, brown, or dark bay variations; 17 chestnuts; one gray (Whirl Some); one black (Armful); and two whose colors are not identified on their stones: Barbizon (who was a dark bay), and Waynoka (registered as black).

~The youngest horse interred is Gen. Duke, who was four, and the oldest is Twosy, at 33. (Twosy became the fourth dam of 1988 Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors.)

~Hall of Fame members buried or memorialized: Citation (inducted 1959), Whirlaway (1959), Armed (1963), Twilight Tear (1963), Bewitch (1977), Two Lea (1982), Coaltown (1983), Tim Tam (1985), Real Delight (1987), and Alydar (1989). Calumet also bred and raced Hall of Famer Davona Dale (1985), but sold her as a broodmare. Bull Lea's epitaph is out-of-date: It says he is the sire of three Hall of Fame representatives, but there are now six in the U.S. and one, Bull Page (broodmare sire of Nijinsky II), in Canada.

Hall of Famer Armed, a gelding, is just one of the Horses of the Year buried here.
~Henryk de Kwiatkowski, who bought Calumet in 1992, raced 1982 champion three-year-old male and Belmont Stakes winner Conquistador Cielo. As a matter of pure coincidence, that colt's fifth dam is Dustwhirl, who is buried at Calumet.

I could go on (and on...and on), but instead I'll toss in some more headstone photos and call it a day.

Twilight Tear, filly who was named Horse of the Year as a three-year-old in 1944.
Champion Nellie Flag, the third dam of 1976 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner Bold Forbes.
Penicuik II, whose son Pensive won the 1944 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and sired Derby winner Ponder (buried at Calumet, he in turn sired Kentucky Derby winner Needles).
Potheen was the dam of four stakes winners, including champion Bewitch, who beat Citation.
1936 Kentucky Oaks winner Two Bob was the dam of champion Two Lea, who was the dam of champion Tim Tam. Two Bob was fifth dam of 1988 Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors, who won the classic 30 years after Tim Tam.
Wistful, another Kentucky Oaks winner, was co-champion three-year-old filly with stablemate Two Lea in 1949.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Souper Colossal as a yearling

'12 War Front - Soaring Emotions at Glencrest Farm in February, 2013.
Live Oak Plantations two-year-old colt Souper Colossal is by red-hot sire War Front and is the winner of all three of his lifetime starts to date, including the Tyro and the Sapling Stakes, both at Monmouth Park. He's trained by Eddie Plesa, whose handicap star Itsmyluckyday won the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga on August 30th, the day before Souper Colossals 5 1/2-length victory in the Sapling.

The sixth of his sires 29 stakes winners to get a black-type win on the dirt, Souper Colossal, who is out of the Kingmambo mare Soaring Emotions (whose granddam won the French Oaks), looks like a horse with a big future. Bred in Kentucky by Moyglare Stud, he was consigned as a foal by Padraig Campions Blandford Stud as agent to the Keeneland November sale. Glencrest Farms John Greathouse -- purchaser of Grade 1 winners Honey Ryder, Panty Raid, Devil May Care, and Zoftig -- picked him out and made the winning bid of $100,000 on behalf of Elkhorn Stable.

Elkhorn pinhooked Souper Colossal to the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale in August of 2013 through Four Star Sales, and Live Oak bought him for $350,000. (See what his catalogue page looked like as a yearling here.) Although he was not one of the more expensive War Fronts sold that year and was in fact the third cheapest of four that went through the ring at Saratoga, Souper Colossal was barely under his sire's average of $363,000, and $50,000 above the median.

Shown above and below on February 7th of his yearling year, he was 11 months old at the time these photos were taken at Glencrest -- Souper Colossal was the same age that champion Uncle Mo was in these mugshots I took of him at Glencrest in 2009, while Glencrest-raised two-time Breeders Cup Turf Sprint-G1 winner Mizdirection was ten months old in her photo yearling photo here.

Click here to read more on War Front by Sid Fernando at Who’s Hot, Who’s Not.

Souper Colossal, above and below, aged eleven months.

Souper Colossal's dad, top sire War Front at Claiborne Farm in 2014.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Early success for Pivotal's son Siyouni

The Aga Khans homebred stallion Siyouni, who stands at Haras de Bonneval in Le Mesnil-Mauger,  which is in the Normandy region of France, is off to a phenomenal start with his first crop, two-year-olds of 2014: He has sired two stakes winners and ten winners from 74 foals.

That Siyouni should sire precocious horses is not surprising. The bay son of Pivotal won four of six starts at two, including the Prix La Fleche, a Listed stakes race at Maisons-Lafitte; and the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere-Grand Criterium at Longchamp. He also placed second in the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin. Although he never won another race after the Grand Criterium in October, Siyouni ran second in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat, Group 3 Prix de Fontainebleau, the Group 3 Prix La Rochette, and third in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp-G1 at three.

In all, Siyouni made 12 starts, with four wins, four seconds, and a third, and he acted on good as well as very soft ground. He placed fourth in the St Jamess Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, his only start outside of France. Three of his wins came at a distance of 1,000 meters (about five furlongs), with only the Grand Criterium -- at 1,400 meters (seven furlongs) -- longer, and he registered three Group 1 placings at 1,600 meters (eight furlongs).

Siyouni is the first foal out of his dam, the stakes winner Sichilla, winner of the Listed 1,400-meter Prix Amandine. A daughter of Danehill, she is a half-sister to four-time Group 1 winner Slickly (by Linamix) and Grade 2 winner No Slip (Exit to Nowhere). Sichilla is also the dam of Siyouma (by Medicean), who at four won the Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes at Newbury in England and the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine in Canada; and Siyenica, Listed black-type winner who placed in two Group events, by Azamour.

Siyounis top runner is the Aga Khan’s filly Ervedya, who is undefeated in three starts including the 1,200-meter (six-furlong) Group 3 Prix de Cabourg against colts on Sunday, August 3rd. Siyounis first stakes winner was Mocklershill, who won the 1,000-meter Prix Yacowlef. A third black-type horse, Lehaim, was third in the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin and the Group 3 Prix du Bois.

It is worth noting at this early stage a pattern that is showing signs of success. Siyouni is a great-grandson of Nureyev on his male line (Pivotal-Polar Falcon-Nureyev), and both of his stakes winners have a second cross of Nureyev and a third cross of Nureyev’s Rough Shod family from their dams. Ervedya is out of a Kings Best mare, Kings Best being a son of Kingmambo, whose dam Miesque was a champion by Nureyev; and Mocklershills damsire Loup Solitaire was produced from a Nureyev mare. Sadler’s Wells and Lear Fan bring in the third strain of Rough Shod in Ervedya and Mocklershill, respectively.

Three of Siyouni’s other winners have a second cross to Nureyev: Peintre Celebre (by Nureyev) is the broodmare sire of two winners, and Dubai Destination (by Kingmambo) has one.

Siyouni is the sixth son of Pivotal to sire a Group stakes winner. His covering fee has held steady at €7,000 from 2011 to 2014.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Christophe Clement headlines the summer issue of North American Trainer

Christophe Clement during training hours at Belmont Park the morning after the Belmont Stakes.
The summer issue of North American Trainer is now available online, with my cover profile on top trainer Christophe Clement. You can read it here or access this and previous issues of North American Trainer and European Trainer through the Trainer magazine website here.

The magazine also has an interesting look at backstretch conditions in the U.S. by Bill Heller and the usual thought-provoking column from Sid Fernando, among other articles.

We decided before the Belmont Stakes that we would feature Clement in this issue. I will either be very happy or very sad, he said to me when I scheduled the morning after the Belmont -- his call -- to spend with him. His trainee, the Robert S. Evans-owned Tonalist, won the race, of course, so not only was Clement very happy but it was almost impossible to have a conversation with him for all the people coming up to congratulate him.

Clement will always be remembered as the trainer of three-time Eclipse Award winner and turf horse Gio Ponti, but in Tonalist, a son of Tapit, Clement has a leading three-year-old whose talent matches his pedigree and who could go on to do great things, too.

A brilliant sire, Tapit is not known for getting horses who want to go much further than 9 furlongs (here is a blog post on him from February, 2013), whereas Tonalists broodmare sire Pleasant Colony is a source of stamina. Incidentally, in 1981 Pleasant Colony won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, then ran third to Summing in the Belmont. Tonalist extends from one of the great female families in the stud book, tracing to Broodmare of the Year Toll Booth and Missy Baba. He is the third Belmont winner, after A.P. Indy and Lemon Drop Kid, representing this family, which also includes Horse of the Year Havre de Grace. Toll Booth is the third dam of Tonalist and Havre de Grace, while Missy Baba is the fourth dam of those two plus A.P. Indy, Lemon Drop Kid, and Preakness winner Summer Squall.

Christophe Clement is on the verge of a personal milestone: as of the morning of July 26th, his horses have won 1,489 races. It won’t be long before he hits the 1,500 mark. Should Tonalist win this afternoon’s Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga, Clement will be one step closer to achieving the momentous win and moving on towards his next milestone.

Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist back at the Clement barn shortly after his big win.
Tonalist was hand-grazed after his post-race bath.
Clement's Green Mask, owned by Abdullah Saeed Almaddah, training on the turf at Belmont, with Ruffian's grave in the background.
Live Oak Stud's six-year-old Za Approval, millionaire and winner of multiple Grade 3s for Clement.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Criquette Head-Maarek profile in the new issue of European Trainer

2013 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Treve at trainer Criquette Head-Maarek's yard.
The Summer 2014 issue of European Trainer is available online here. The magazine features our usual mix of veterinary and nutrition articles as well as my cover profile on Criquette Head-Maarek, the most successful woman trainer of all time.

Head-Maarek is among the most genuinely kind and gracious people in the racing and breeding industry, and even on an overcast and rainy day, as it was when I spent the morning with her at her Chantilly yard a short train ride from Paris, her enthusiasm is indefatigable. I was fortunate enough to spend an afternoon with her and her father Alec at their Haras du Quesnay in late 2007 and was struck by the same impression of her then as now.

Although the season has not started off on a winning note for last seasons Prix de lArc de Triomphe winner Treve, Head-Maarek has had a good start with her two-year-olds after South Bank -- a daughter of multiple Classic winner Special Duty, whom Head-Maarek also trained -- placed second in a black-type stakes race on June 26th.

My favorite photo of the morning.
Head-Maarek's yard is based near Chantilly Racecourse.
Criquette and her "Papa" Alec Head at the family's Haras du Quesnay in December, 2007.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Oaks and Derby photos

The obstructed view of Churchill Downs's famous twin spires from the backstretch.

The week leading up to the Oaks and Derby:

New at Churchill: There was a lot of buzz -- mostly positive -- about the $12 million video screen.
Untapable, ponied to the track by trainer Steve Asmussen.
Untapable training.
Paddock schooling.

My Miss Sophia was training well ahead of her second place in the Oaks.
Unbridled Forever, whose dam is 2006 Oaks winner Lemons Forever, after her final pre-race blowout leading up to the Oaks, in which she ran third.
California Chrome on the track for a jog...

...and at his barn.

Derby third Danza was training like a "boss" leading up to the race.
Grade 1 Malibu winner Shakin it Up, who was second to Central Banker by a head in a Grade 2 on Derby day, caught the eye in the morning.
Oaks Day, May 2nd:

In the La Troienne Stakes on the Oaks undercard, On Fire Baby (under Joe Johnson) won her second career Grade 1 and became a millionaire.
Marchman before winning his second consecutive Grade 3, the Twin Spires Turf Sprint.
Texas-bred filly Fiftyshadesofgold -- in the silks of the Estate of Clarence Schauerbauer, in whose silks 1987 Derby winner Alysheba also ran -- after winning the Grade 3 Eight Belles, Mike Smith up. Fiftyshadesofgold's third dam Alysbelle is a full sister to Alysheba.
Claimed for $40,000 on November 30th, Moonshine Mullin won the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes on Friday, with heavy favorite Will Take Charge unplaced.
Moonshine Mullin and Calvin Borel return to the winner's circle.
2012 Travers Stakes-G1 dead-heater Golden Ticket was second in the Alysheba.
Coin Broker, who was third in the Alysheba, under Corey Lanerie.
Win or lose, three-year-old champ and 2013 Travers winner Will Take Charge always catches the eye.
Will Take Charge and Gary Stevens.
Untapable, shortly before winning the Oaks in resounding style.
After their win, Rosie Napravnik and Untapable in a final moment of solitude.
Easing up.
John Velazquez, on the unplaced Got Lucky, rode by and asked, "Do I have enough dirt on my face?"
An outrider congratulates Untapable's connections.
Empress of Midway, who flipped in the gate and was scratched from the Oaks, walking back to the barn. Concerned assistant trainer Jack on her right never took his hand or eye off her.
Derby Day, May 3rd:

Coffee Clique after winning the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile, the first stakes on Derby day.
Making her first start in 11 months, favorite Midnight Lucky and Rosie Napravnik after winning the Grade 1 Humana Distaff. Her only loss was in last year's Kentucky Oaks.
Midnight Lucky walking to the stable area after her 4 1/2-length win.
The great face marking of Scherzinger, who was third behind Midnight Lucky.
Gary Stevens and Global View -- a rare U.S.-bred  by Galileo -- make their way to the winner's circle after the Grade 2 American Turf.
Central Banker prior to winning the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes.
He ran second by a head but the handsome Shakin it Up -- whose granddam Silverbulletday won the 1999 Kentucky Oaks -- didn't look like he'd even had a race after the Churchill Downs Stakes.
Two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan walking on his way to earn his tenth Grade 1 win, the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic -- a race he also won last year.
The owner of one of the Derby horses was ready for the walkover, with his nice shoes in a WalMart bag.
Perfect Drift was third in the 2001 Derby. In 2014, he ponied Derby winner California Chrome to the start.
California Chrome checking out the scene before the walkover.
Longshot Commanding Curve, who gave Dallas Stewart a second consecutive runner-up in the Kentucky Derby. Stewart was third in the Oaks this year with Unbridled Forever.
After the wire, Victor Espinoza on California Chrome and Jose Ortiz on Samraat (fifth) fist-bump.
A grin on Espinoza's face as it begins to sink in.
The Derby winner heads home.
After the Run for the Roses.