Friday, February 5, 2016

HRN: Racing's Future: Julia Ferreira

Each time I post a new article on my Horse Racing Nation blog, I post a notice on this blogThese notices include an excerpt from the beginning of that article and a link to the piece. My latest Horse Racing Nation article is. . .

""Racing’s Future" is a Q&A series in which I aspire to help everyone in the industry. In addition to shining a spotlight on youth who plan to have a career in horse racing, I hope that the opinions expressed in their responses will offer industry leaders insight into what a younger audience believes the sport should improve upon.

Meet Julia Ferreira

Julia Ferreira, from Ontario, Canada, is a 15-year-old horse racing enthusiast. She has had a passion for racing since she was very little, and it has only grown –  in particular due to her following of and trips to the races at Woodbine.

Click here to read the rest of my newest Horse Racing Nation article.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Work Published in Latest Issue of "American Racehorse"

The January/February 2016 issue of American Racehorse features both an article and photography of mine.

The article, a combined reprint of Racing's Future features, is a Q&A with two teen racing fans from Texas. It can be found on page 51 (although the online view designates it as page 53).

The photos are included with the article "Paper Trail" by Jen Roytz on page 45 (designated as page 47 online).

The online version of the magazine can be accessed here.

Friday, January 29, 2016

HRN: Racing's Future: Chris Crestik

Each time I post a new article on my Horse Racing Nation blog, I post a notice on this blogThese notices include an excerpt from the beginning of that article and a link to the piece. My latest Horse Racing Nation article is. . .

Racing's Future: Chris Crestik

""Racing’s Future” is a Q&A series in which I aspire to help everyone in the industry. In addition to shining a spotlight on youth who plan to have a career in horse racing, I hope that the opinions expressed in their responses will offer industry leaders insight into what a younger audience believes the sport should improve upon.

Meet Chris Crestik

From San Diego, California comes 16-year-old Chris Crestik, a lifelong racing fan. He is now a photographer for a Spanish horse racing website called . In addition to his involvement with horse racing, he is a two-sport athlete, playing varsity football and throwing shot put/discus for his school's varsity track and field team. He is also a top student pursuing a full IB diploma. Follow him on Twitter, @chriscrestik, and Instagram, @riders.up, for his pictures and handicapping selections. . ."

Click here to read the rest of my newest Horse Racing Nation article.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Guest Blog Contest: Sixth Place | Pharoah's Phuture Phoals, by Madison Feldhahn

With a new year comes new stallions. This is no longer the year of the Pharoah –  at least for racing, that is. 2016 is the year American Pharoah walks into the breeding shed with some of the top mares from around the country and even the world (yes, I'm talking about you, Rags). If American Pharoah fails at stud, it won't be due to a shortage of quality mares. On that note, let's take a look at 'Pharoah's Phuture Phoals.'

American Pharoah/Untouched Talent

Untouched Talent, a Storm Cat mare, sold as a yearling for $310,000 in 2005 before making her way back to the auction ring as a two-year-old in the Barretts March Sale ($500,000) and the Fasig-Tipton November Sale ($850,000). She went on to win the Juan Gonzales Memorial Stakes (5 furlongs) and the Sorrento Stakes (6 1/2 furlongs). Untouched Talent also finished second in both the Del Mar Debutante (7 furlongs) and the Alcibiades Stakes (1 1/16 miles). I thought it was interesting to note the riders she had for each race: Roberto Gonzales, Victor Espinoza, David Flores and Patrick Valenzuela, respectively.

DAM: Parade Queen (A.P. Indy-Spanish Queen) won the grade three Miss Revere Stakes (1 1/16 miles T) and the grade three Joe Namath Handicap (1 1/16 miles T) before finishing her career with a fourth in the grade three Bewitch Stakes (1 1/2 miles T). Her first foal, Peace Officer (by Deputy Minister), was unraced. After being bred to Kingmambo, Parade Queen produced a 2001 colt named Obay (GB) who eventually became a group one winner. In 2006, King Gulch (Gulch), a gelding, became a  blacktype winner. Her most successful recent foal is Top Billing (by Curlin), a grade two-placed five-year old. Top Billing fractured his cannon bone in 2014 and finished fourth in the 2015 grade three Pimlico Special Stakes (1 3/16 miles). 

SIRE: Storm Cat (Storm Bird-Terlingua) won the grade one Young American Stakes (1 1/16 miles) and then finished second the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (1 mile). Some of his best mares include Life Is Sweet, winner of the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, and Untouched Talent, dam of Bodemeister.  Arguably, Giant’s Causeway is Storm Cat’s best son. In his only start on U.S. dirt, Giant’s Causeway finished second to Tiznow in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Giant’s Causeway has sired Take Charge Brandi and Carpe Diem, to name a few. From 381 mares, Storm Cat has 669 runners and 313 winners (46%). Of those 313 winners, 25 won a stakes race (8%).

In 2007, Untouched Talent was sold at the Keeneland November sale for $1,200,000 in foal to Unbridled's Song. The resulting colt never started. In 2009, the Storm Cat mare gave birth to an Empire Maker colt. The colt was sent to the Keeneland September Sale and sold for $260,000.  This colt, Bodemeister, went on to win the Arkansas Derby and finish second in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Untouched Talent was not bred in 2010.  In 2011, she produced Fascinating, a Smart Strike filly. The filly sold for $1,300,000 at the Keeneland September Sale and became a multiple graded stakes-placed racer. Untouched Talent foaled a Tiznow filly in 2012. That filly is currently a maiden winner, but is still on the track.

Untouched Talent made it to the sales ring once more. She was sold for $5,000,000 in foal to Unbridled's Song. The final foal from this cross is a chestnut colt who broke his maiden at Pimlico. In 2014 and 2015, Untouched Talent gave birth to Galileo fillies, both of whom are still unnamed.

As for the American Pharoah cross, the resulting foal with have inbreeding to Secretariat (4DX5D), Terlingua (5SX3D), Storm Bird (5SX3D) and Storm Cat (4SX2D).  Not to be a down and outer, but Pioneerof the Nile has not produced much other than American Pharoah. If you ignore all but the best son of the sire, he has only ever produced grade two winners. I don't believe his stud fee will stay above $100,000 for much longer. One thing to note in Pioneerof the Nile's pedigree is his sire, Empire Maker. Untouched Talent's best foal to date (Bodemeister) was based off the Empire Maker/Untouched Talent cross. Ending on that note, the American Pharoah/Untouched Talent foal could be just as good, or better than, Bodemeister. This is one to keep your eye on.

American Pharoah/Charming

Charming, by Seeking the Gold and out of Take Charge Lady, sold for $3,200,000 at Keeneland September. However, she never did much on the track. She won her maiden special weight (6 ½ furlongs) and then finished second in an allowance (one mile), both times under John Velazquez. For her final career start, Charming did not finish in the Serena’s Song Stakes. 

DAM: Take Charge Lady (Dehere-Felicita) won the Alcibiades Stakes (1 1/16 miles), Silverbulletday Stakes (1 1/16 miles), Fair Grounds Oaks (1 1/16 miles), Ashland Stakes (1 1/16 miles), Dogwood Stakes (1 1/16 miles), Arlington Matron Handicap (1 ⅛ miles) and the Spinster Stakes (1 ⅛ miles), twice. She also finished second in the Kentucky Oaks (1 ⅛ miles). In 2009, Take Charge Lady produced an A.P. Indy colt named Take Charge Indy. Take Charge Indy went on to win the Florida Derby – defeating Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags – and the Alysheba Stakes. He now stands at WinStar Farm for $17,500. His first crop are yearlings in 2016. After being bred to Unbridled’s Song, Will Take Charge was foaled in 2010. Will Take Charge won the Smarty Jones Stakes, Rebel Stakes, Travers Stakes, Pennsylvania Derby, Clark Handicap and the Oaklawn Handicap. He entered stud in 2015 and is standing for $30,000 in 2016 at Three Chimneys Farm. Take Charge Lady produced a 2012 filly named I’ll Take Charge (by Indian Charlie), a 2013 filly named Conquering (by War Front) and has a 2015 unnamed War Front Filly. 

SIRE: Seeking the Gold (Mr. Prospector-Con Game) won the Swale Stakes, Peter Pan Stakes, Dwyer Stakes and Super Derby. He finished second in the Wood Memorial, Haskell Invitational, Travers Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He currently has 29 stallions at stud. He sired Dubai Millennium winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and the Dubai World Cup, Jazil – winner of the Belmont Stakes, and Flanders – winner of the Spinaway and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, where she defeated Serena’s Song. As a broodmare sire, Seeking the Gold has 228 winners from 490 runners (47%). Sixteen of his winners won a stakes race (7%).

Take Charge Lady was bred to Unbridled’s Song in 2009 and produced a colt, Siete C. He sold at Keeneland September for $210,000. He is still racing as a five-year-old but has yet to win anything other than an allowance optional claiming. Undoubtedly, Charming’s best foal is Take Charge Brandi. She was a product of a Giant’s Causeway cross. As a yearling, she sold for $435,000 at the Keeneland September Sale. Her biggest wins were the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (1 1/16 miles), Delta Downs Princess Stakes (1 mile), Starlet Stakes (1 1/16 miles) and the Martha Washington Stakes (1 mile). Take Charge Brand recently sold for $6,000,000 at the Keeneland November Sale. 

Charming produced a War Front filly in 2013. The filly has been named Take Charge Tressa and has yet to start. Charming also has colt by War Front that was foaled in 2014. 

Charming seems to be a short distance speed horse. American Pharoah has speed on his dam’s side and stamina on his sire’s. Combined together, the foal should do well around two turns but I’m doubtful the resulting foal will be able to reach 1 ½ miles. However, 1 ¼ and 1 ⅜ miles should be no problem.

American Pharoah/Rags to Riches

Rags to Riches, by A.P. Indy and out of Better Than Honour, is probably one of the most successful racing mares of the 21st century. As a yearling, she sold at the Keeneland September Sale for $1,900,000. She finished fourth in a maiden special weight (5 ½ furlongs) before winning her maiden going 7 furlongs. She then went on to win the Las Virgenes Stakes (1 mile), Santa Anita Oaks (1 1/16 miles), Kentucky Oaks (1 ⅛ miles) and the Belmont Stakes (1 ½ miles). She finished her career with a second in the Gazelle Stakes (1 ⅛ miles). 

DAM: Better Than Honour (Deputy Minister-Blush with Pride) finished second in the 1999 grade one Acorn Stakes (1 mile) and third in the Mother Goose Stakes (1 ⅛ miles). Her 2003 foal, Jazil (by Seeking the Gold), won the Belmont Stakes. In 2004, Rags to Riches (by A.P. Indy) was foaled.  Casino Drive (by Mineshaft) is a 2005 grade two winner. Better Than Honour has a 2013 Bernardini filly who is yet to be named. 

SIRE: A.P. Indy (Seattle Slew-Weekend Surprise) was sold at Keeneland July for $2,900,000 before he won the Hollywood Futurity (1 1/16 miles), San Rafael Stakes (1 mile), Santa Anita Derby (1 ⅛ miles) and Peter Pan Stakes (1 ⅛ miles). He also won the Belmont Stakes (1 ½ miles) and the Breeders Cup Classic (1 ¼ miles). As a sire, some of A.P. Indy’s foals include Bernardini (2006 Eclipse Champion Three-Year-Old Male), Dreaming of Julia (The Frizette), Friesan Fire (Louisiana Derby), Mineshaft (Jockey Club Gold Cup), Pulpit (sire of Tapit), Rags to Riches (Belmont Stakes), Malibu Moon (sire of Kentucky Derby winner Orb), Majestic Warrior (sire of Kentucky Oaks winner Princess of Sylmar) and Honor Code (2015 Eclipse Champion Older Dirt Male). Mares by A.P. Indy have produced 598 runners, 299 of whom are winners (50%). Of those winners, 29 are stakes winners (9%).

As a broodmare, Rags to Riches produced a 2009 Giant’s Causeway filly. The filly was later named Opulence. In 2010, Rags to Riches foaled a colt by Henrythenavigator. He was also unraced. A 2011 colt and a 2012 gelding both by Galileo  were named Rhett Butler and Rich and Righteous, respectively, and are unraced as well. Rags to Riches gave birth to a Galileo colt named Never So Few. He is the only foal by Rags to Riches to race; he finished eighth in a maiden special weight (1 1/16 miles) on the turf in his career debut earlier this month. The broodmare also has an unnamed 2014 filly by Galileo. 

Both dam and sire won the Belmont Stakes, proving they have the stamina needed for classic distances. Both dam and sire have won at a seven furlong distance. Out of all of the mares that American Pharoah will breed to, I am most excited for this cross. The foal should be able to succeed at all distances.

American Pharoah has been given every chance to succeed as a sire. If he doesn't, we can't blame the broodmares. The pedigrees these broodmares carry are some of the best in the world and while not all of them are proven producers, perhaps they just need the right sire to come along.  

Friday, January 22, 2016

HRN: Racing's Future: Mary Eddy

Each time I post a new article on my Horse Racing Nation blog, I post a notice on this blogThese notices include an excerpt from the beginning of that article and a link to the piece. My latest Horse Racing Nation article is. . .

"“Racing’s Future” is a Q&A series in which I aspire to help everyone in the industry. In addition to shining a spotlight on youth who plan to have a career in horse racing, I hope that the opinions expressed in their responses will offer industry leaders insight into what a younger audience believes the sport should improve upon.

Meet Mary Eddy

17-year-old Mary Eddy has been attending the races at Saratoga Race Course since she was an infant and for the past four years, she has volunteered for Old Friends at their New York location, Cabin Creek. In doing so, she has won two volunteering awards: The Thoroughbred Charities of America Youth Essay Contest and a local news station award for 13 teenagers who perform outstanding volunteer service in their community. Her essay for the TCA was published in The Blood-Horse in October 2014 and she was featured on her local news station for their award. . ."

Click here to read the rest of my newest Horse Racing Nation article.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Guest Blog Contest: Fifth Place | Derby Dreaming: A Tale Of Two Colts, by Jordan Sigmon

Derby Dreaming: A Tale Of Two Colts
By Jordan Sigmon

May 22, 2015: the day I fell in love with a little bay colt that many would soon know. This little bay colt is Swipe, and right from the start he had me dreaming of the First Saturday in May.

May 22 was the day that Swipe debuted. He didn’t win, but nevertheless I had a feeling this colt was special. In all honesty, when they turned for home in that race, and he was still so far back I had lost all hope. Then, he came flying down the outside, just in time to get up for second. After that race Swipe moved straight into stakes company – a bold move – but I knew he’d run his heart out no matter where he finished. He did just that, finishing a distant but gutsy third in the Tremont Stakes just a few days before the Belmont.

I had a friend that was there that day and she took some pictures of him for me. When I received those pictures one thing stood out to me – something that would make me fall even more in love with him. It was his eyes; they had a kind and gentle look to them, but they also looked very thoughtful. If I looked at the picture the right way, it almost looked like he was staring right at me straight through my phone screen.

Photo by Emily Gricco
Then along came Exaggerator. In fact, he debuted on the same day as the Tremont, only his race was at Santa Anita. He finished fifth in his debut and even though it wasn’t all that flashy, something about him just stuck out to me. I still haven’t quite been able to put my finger on it. But once again I had had my heart stolen.

About a month later, Swipe went back to California for the Summer Juvenile Championship Stakes. He wasn’t facing the toughest field, but that didn’t mean it’d be easy. I knew with his running style, the long stretch at Los Al would suit him well. The stretch run showed me just how good he was. Not far from the wire it looked like Mrazek was home free; then my boy came flying down the outside to nail him right on the wire. Watching him walk into the winner’s circle for the first time was the best feeling. Not only had he broken his maiden, but he had done it in a stakes race.

Soon after this, Exaggerator made his second start. I had a really good feeling as they loaded into the gates, and as it turns out there was a good reason for that. He displayed an explosive kick down the stretch to get up for the win by a short nose. All bias aside, it was one of the most impressive maiden performances I saw all year.

On August 8, Swipe made his graded stakes debut in the G2 Best Pal Stakes. He was facing a pretty good field, including the very highly regarded Nyquist. He wound up finishing a distant second, but no matter what, I was proud of how he’d run. About a week later, Exaggerator made his own graded stakes debut in the G2 Saratoga Special. He drew the dreaded one-hole, but that didn’t faze him one bit. He sat near the back of the pack early, although he was just a few lengths of the leaders. At the top of the stretch, Exaggerator bulled his way through horses and fought off a game Saratoga Mischief to win going away.

Following this win, Exaggerator got a little virus so he had to take some time off. In the meantime, Swipe continued to race. Next up for Swipe was the G1 Del Mar Futurity, where he would face Nyquist for the second time in a row. Once again Swipe was second, and even though Nyquist won by open lengths, Swipe got closer this time.

After that, Swipe headed back to Santa Anita for the G1 Frontrunner Stakes. Several people thought he may be able to beat Nyquist in this spot, because of the extra distance. And in fact, these people were almost right – almost. Swipe came charging up the rail and even got his head in front twice, but Nyquist bumped him several times throughout the stretch.

The following weekend, Exaggerator returned in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity. He’d been training well up to the race, and it wasn’t going to be easy going around two turns for the first time after a seven-week layoff. Exaggerator made the lead in the stretch and looked like he was going to draw off, but the time off and the stretch-out caught up to him, as Brody’s Cause flew past late to win.

Both colts had run well enough to earn a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, which I was looking forward to watching on TV until my parents surprised me with tickets. I was ecstatic that I was going to get to see my boys run in person, and even though it would’ve been nice for one of them to win, second and fourth in the Breeders’ Cup was more than enough to make me proud.

One picture I took of Swipe in the paddock stuck out to me more than any other picture I took the whole weekend. He was looking straight at me, but the more I look at it, the more it feels like he was looking straight through me.

Swipe before the Breeders' Cup Juvenile
Photo by Jordan Sigmon

There was a picture of Exaggerator that stuck out to me, too. It was during the post parade, and he was bouncing up and down the whole time. My friend and I agreed that it reminded us of a little jack rabbit, so we started calling him 'Rabbit' whenever we talked about him.

Exaggerator in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile post parade
Photo by Jordan Sigmon
Swipe was done for the year after the Breeders’ Cup, but Exaggerator still had one more race in him – the $1,000,000 Delta Downs Jackpot. Not only did he handle a sloppy track in this race, but he showed versatility and fight. Straying from his usual running style, Exaggerator went straight to the front and never looked back, holding off a strong challenge from Sunny Ridge.
After that race, I talked to Kimberly McCormack about what Exaggerator was like as a foal and a yearling. 

“He was always very sure of himself [probably because] his dam always raised very confident foals,”she said. “He also always ate his midday meal laying down, and we would have to walk in and set the pan by their face.” 

One of the most interesting things I found out about him is that, “he loved his Jolly Ball and would play fetch with it.” The last thig that stuck out to me in our conversation was when she said how he always took everything they tried with him, as if they were just supposed to do it.
Towards the end of the year, it was announced that Swipe had had surgery to remove a bone chip, and that it’s possible that he won’t make it back in time for the Triple Crown races. I was devastated, of course, but unlike many who run from things like this, I choose to stay hopeful that the little bay colt that stole my heart last May will make it back in time. I hope that come May 7 this year, both of my boys will make it to the starting gate in the Run for the Roses.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Guest Blog Contest: Fourth Place | What Horse Racing Gives Us, by Christine Oser

What Horse Racing Gives Us
By Christine Oser

What is it about horse racing that attracts so many different people?

Maybe it is the chance to make money, whether you are at the betting window or in an owner’s box. Put a few dollars down on the right horse and you can come away with even more. Horse racing gives people that rooting interest that sports are all about, especially with money on the line. As the horses round the final turn of a race the crowd grows louder, the grip on programs get firmer, and the rails throughout the grandstand are hit harder, all with the hope of the bettor’s pick hitting that wire first.

While betting is the more casual way to make money, others enjoy investing in the horses. Some people just love the horses and others find syndicates a fun way to bond with friends. If you’re lucky enough, your horse can pay for itself in earnings or even make you a profit. Plus it is always a good feeling getting your picture taken in the winner’s circle.

It could possibly be the glamour of the sport that attracts people. Beautiful people mixed with beautiful horses. Men show up in collared shirts and blazers while women pull out their sundresses and hats. Come Kentucky Derby day, it is all about the hat. Big hats, small hats, simple hats, flamboyant hats – you name it. Some will choose a cute fascinator while others seem to live by “go big or go home.” Whatever your choice of style may be, it sometimes just feels nice to have an excuse to dress up and go out.

Maybe the magic of horses and kids draws families to the track. I remember watching the movie Dreamer over and over again when I was younger. In my fifth grade year, Churchill Downs hosted a Dreamer Day. Not only were there races and activities for kids, but the kids were able to meet one of the horses that played in the movie. There is still a picture of that moment in the kitchen at home. I do not remember what the horse’s name was, but I do remember being awestruck at being right next to a racehorse.

It’s heartwarming to see people share their passion of horses with the kids at the track. Whenever a track pony or a horse working out in the morning stops at the rail for kids to pet, you can see the wonder that comes into the kids’ eyes. And if we try hard enough, maybe we can keep that wonder there and capture new racing fans.

Perhaps it is the majesty of a horse that draws a crowd. An animal big and powerful, yet willing to grace us with their companionship. One that can leap through the air and assert itself as a force to be reckoned with. These horses know the crowd is there to see them, and they put on a show. Whether they are striking a pose for a camera or running near 40 miles per hour on the track, showing off is natural to these animals. It never ceases to amaze me how smart horses are. They know that they are competing with other horses, and their will to win is astounding. Some of the most exciting moments in horse racing are when two horses in a stretch run look each other in the eye and battle it out for victory.

Horse racing offers us all these things, but I believe it all comes back to the horse and his spirit. Though it has been said time and time again, there really is “something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a person,” and that is what makes horse racing attractive to so many different people.