National Race Masters Blog

Back to Blog Home…

Submitted by John Piesen on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 12:00 AM

When a fellow named Ken Duke, at the ripe old age of 44, last week won his very first PGA tour championship, and the Yankees on Sunday celebrated its ever-popular Oldtimers’ Day, it got me to thinking that the biggest story of the year in our world of horse racing is that every day seems to be Oldtimers’ Day.
In fact this is the story of the year in racing. Let the racing media check it out. That is if there were a racing media.
Need reasons?
Here are reasons.
If I’m missing any examples, please let me know. Possibly when you’re ringing
888 612 2283 for my fabulously successful daily racing selections.
First and foremost...
The Triple Crown
The Derby: the winning trainer was Shug McGaughey, a Kentucky native who had spent a lifetime chasing his Derby dreams, only to get there with Orb at age 61.
You say 61 isn’t that old.
Well, read on.
D. Wayne Lukas and Gary Stevens combined their talents learned from a combined 80 years
in the game to win the Preakness with Oxbow -- on the lead no less. At the time, Lukas was
77 and Stevens 50, making them the oldest trainer-jockey combo to win the Preakness.
And, yes, I know that Cot Campbell was never much of a trainer or a rider, but, at age 85,
he became the oldest owner of a Belmont Stakes winner when Palace Malice upset
the Derby and Preakness winners in the third jewel of the crown.
In his ’70s, Campbell wrote a best-seller. In his ’80s, he wins the Belmont. What does he do for an encore?
Then there is Ron McAnally, who will turn 81 next month.
Back in the day, McAnally, raised as an orphan in rural northern Kentucky, trained a nice horse named John Henry, as well as Breeders’ Cup winners Paseana, Bayakoa and Northern Spur. What made Northern Spur so unique is that he was a grass champion owned by Charles Cella, who has never found it necessary to build a grass course at Oaklawn Park, which his family has owned for more than a century.
By the by, OP just announced a zillion-dollar expansion of its casino. But no turf course.
McAnally meanwhile doesn’t know much about casinos. But he’s learned something about training racehorses in his 60 years on the track. John Henry came along before there were
Eclipse Awards, but RA has won those four Breeders’ Cup races, three Eclipses as
leading trainer, and induction into the Racing Hall of Fame long before many of us were born.
As for the present, McAnally has already won three stakes this year on the southern
California circuit with Suggestive Boy and Interaction, and likes his chances at Del Mar with recently acquired Argentine 4-year-olds Di Giorgio and Safety Belt
In addition, McAnally is the single nicest person you or I will ever get to meet on the racetrack.
Let him know on July 11 -- his 81st birthday.
Hey, Ron is just a kid compared to a certain owner in the United Kingdom.
That of course would be one Queen Elizabeth of England, who, this year will celebrate
a mere 60 years on the throne.
Over that time, the Queen’s passion has been racing, and her silks have been flown to
multiple historic victories in her native land and abroad.
But noting like last week.
That’s when Estimate, flying the Queen’s silks, blew away an all-star field at Royal Ascot to become the first Gold Cup winner owned by a reigning market in the 127-year history
of the race.
And, yes, that was the Queen -- at age 87 -- jumping for joy in the winner’s circle.
Perhaps we’ll see the Queen at the Saratoga Yearling Sales.
As always, however, there is a villain in our midst.
At age 82, media mogul Rupert Murdoch has decided to cut back. After all, he was
and is undergoing a contentious and very costly divorce from his gorgeous young wife.
Murdoch, like the Queen a racing fan for six decades, decided the best way to save
a buck was to eliminate the racing coverage in the New York Post. In doing so,
on Belmont Eve, he summarily authorized the axing of the newspaper’s three racing fulltimers -- Ed Fontaine, John DaSilva and Anthony Affrunti.
In one fell swoop, we saw the best racing sheet in North America turned into a page
of useless agate, featuring the Monticello Raceway entries and results.
Funny, I always thought that that 007 character was fiction.
Speaking of the Triple Crown, here’s an example of why it is so difficult to predict in advance.
On March 12, seven weeks before the Derby, here is how ESPN ranked its
Derby Top Ten:
1.   Verrazano
2.   Flashback
3.   Itsmyluckyday
4.  Violence
5.  Normandy Invasion
6.  Revolutionry
7.  Shanghai Bobby
8.  Super Ninety Nine
9.  Golden Cents
Not only did the list wind up not including the winner of a single Triple Crown race, but of the 10 horses listed, only two have since won a race of any kind.
That’s why picking baseball is a lot easier than picking horses.
Exhibit A our beloved Buccos -- especially as dogs.
On the other had, there is nothing beloved about trainer Pletcher.
Those two "Top Ten" horses who have since won races? They are Verrazano
and Overanalyze, both (natch) trained by The Toddster.
Last Saturday, Dreaming of Julia managed to get beat at 1-5, but don’t worry: the
Todd squad won back-to-back stakes that evening at Colonial Downs -- with Hudson Steele and Channel Isle.
Todd is prepared to win (as usual) every 2-year-old race at Saratoga, and has
Cross Traffic, perhaps the best older horse in America, primed for the Whitney.
In the meantime, they are running the 150K Victory Ride Stakes Saturday at Belmont,
and Todd is running three of the eight 3-year-old fillies entered: the coupled
favored entry of Kauai Katie and Teen Pauline, and Fusachiswonderful, the second
That doesn’t mean Todd won’t be 1-2-3 (see Dreaming of Julia), but I’ve learned over the years that you bet against him at your own risk.
The irony here is that the unbeaten Lovely Syn would have been odds-on in this race, but
she had the misfortune to break down in training the other morning. Fortunately, it
appears the filly will be saved for breeding.
Speaking of Fusaichiswonderful, this brings me to my favorite race of the weekend
-- the 150K Iowa Oaks Saturday evening at Prairie Meadows.
The race is a match of two super 3-year-old fillies: So Many Ways, owned by Maggi Moss, and ridden by Calvin Borel, and Fiftyshadesofhay, trained by Bob Baffert, and ridden by
Martin Garcia.
So Many Ways has already won the Spinaway at Saratoga, and the Eight Belles
at Churchill Downs, and Fiftyshadesofhay exits a victory in the Black-Eyed Susan
on Preakness Eve at Pimlico.
So Many Ways appears to be the best ever from Maggi, whose previous claim
to fame was walking out on a blind date with D. Lukas, but she must first prove
herself at two-turns. This is her opportunity.
Bullet Bob meantime already is complaining about his filly’s post -- outside in the field
of 10.
The race goes at 9:46 p.m. Eastern.

Join the discussion


Forgot password

Keep me logged in