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.