Thursday, August 25, 2016

HRN: New Golden Era of Racing, Part Four: Songbird

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. . .


"
Each year, a number of talented racehorses step foot on the track and offer great performances. But it is not every year that several truly elite horses keep the racing atmosphere electric with one brilliant performance after another. In 2016, American racing fans have witnessed a plethora of fantastic performances from superb horses. Some of these horses may go down as all-time greats, some may not, but regardless, it is a great time to be a racing fan. This series features these horses.


Part Four: Songbird

American racing has been no stranger to brilliant females in recent years, and Songbird certainly fits the bill. . ."

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

Friday, August 19, 2016

HRN: New Golden Era of Racing, Part Three: Frosted

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. . .


"
Each year, a number of talented racehorses step foot on the track and offer great performances. But it is not every year that several truly elite horses keep the racing atmosphere electric with one brilliant performance after another. In 2016, American racing fans have witnessed a plethora of fantastic performances from superb horses. Some of these horses may go down as all-time greats, some may not, but regardless, it is a great time to be a racing fan. This series features these horses.


Part Three: Frosted

2015 was the year of American Pharoah. Lost in his shadow, however, was a gray colt waiting to find the spotlight. That colt – Frosted. . ."


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

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

HRN: New Golden Era of Racing, Part Two: California Chrome

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. . .


"When American Pharoah galloped into history and, like the first rainfall at the end of a long drought, became the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, racing fans got a taste of “the good ol’ days.” But when he crossed the wire for the final time and captured the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) at Keeneland, fans had to wonder how long they would have to wait to witness another all-time great.


It turns out that they would not have to wait long; in fact, they had already witnessed the making of a couple greats at that very Breeders’ Cup. As American Pharoah retired to stallion duty at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud, he left the door open for a number of Thoroughbreds to continue what appears to be the modern golden era of American horse racing.

Although American Pharoah accomplished the feat for which the racing world had been waiting nearly four decades, he was not the first all-time great the sport has witnessed in recent years. The twelfth Triple Crown winner came on the heels of the likes of Curlin, Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra, and Wise Dan. Though all of these horses, American Pharoah included, are now enjoying retirement, this new golden age lives on.

Through the first eight months of 2016, a number of horses have contributed to a brilliant year of racing already. In this brief new series, I will feature these horses individually and separately – the ones that have the potential to be considered all-time greats, or that have even already reached that status.

Part Two: California Chrome

Before there was American Pharoah, there was California Chrome. . ."

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

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

HRN: New Golden Era of Racing, Part One: Beholder

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. . .


"When American Pharoah galloped into history and, like the first rainfall at the end of a long drought, became the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, racing fans got a taste of “the good ol’ days.” But when he crossed the wire for the final time and captured the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) at Keeneland, fans had to wonder how long they would have to wait to witness another all-time great.


It turns out that they would not have to wait long; in fact, they had already witnessed the making of a couple greats at that very Breeders’ Cup. As American Pharoah retired to stallion duty at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud, he left the door open for a number of Thoroughbreds to continue what appears to be the modern golden era of American horse racing.

Although American Pharoah accomplished the feat for which the racing world had been waiting nearly four decades, he was not the first all-time great the sport has witnessed in recent years. The twelfth Triple Crown winner came on the heels of the likes of Curlin, Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra, and Wise Dan. Though all of these horses, American Pharoah included, are now enjoying retirement, this new golden age lives on.

Through the first eight months of 2016, a number of horses have contributed to a brilliant year of racing already. In this brief new series, I will feature these horses individually and separately – the ones that have the potential to be considered all-time greats, or that have even already reached that status.

Part One: Beholder

This daughter of Henny Hughes is certainly not new to the scene..."

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

Sunday, July 24, 2016

HRN: 2016 Lone Star Park Meet in Photos

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. . .


"Lone Star Park became my second home this year – second only to my actual home, of course. Texas racing has fallen upon hard times, but the Grand Prairie track has always been one of my favorite places and I made an effort to make it there every weekend I possibly could during its spring Thoroughbred meet.

Whether it was under the blindingly bright sunny skies of the morning or afternoon, brilliantly colorful sunset skies of the evening, or the dark skies of the night, times spent at Lone Star were enjoyable. Old friendships were strengthened, new friendships were formed, and – of course – old and new favorite Texas racehorses brought a smile to my face.

It was rare that I visited the track without my camera, and by the time the meet ended this past weekend, I had taken thousands upon thousands of photos at the beautiful Texas track. With so many trips to the track, I was able to experiment with my photography, and ended up with some of my new favorite photos. It was a terrific spring meet at Lone Star, and I will always have these photos by which to remember it..."

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

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Valor Farm Foals of 2016

Spring is a time of growth and new beginnings. As the grass and trees grow and become greener, the days become longer and warmer. And on Thoroughbred farms, new foals are brought into the world. Springtime on a Thoroughbred farm is a time of growth and hopes for the future, represented by the long, clumsy legs of foals romping in the pasture or sprawled in the grass as they nap in the warm sun.

Thanks to the hospitality of manager Ken Carson and other farm staff, I have made numerous visits to Valor Farm in Pilot Point, Texas, this spring and summer to follow the foals born there this year. With my camera in tow, I have watched the foals grow and develop alongside their dams, learning the quirks and personalities of many of them along the way. In trying to visit the farm on numerous occasions, I was able to observe how several of the foals developed throughout the spring. Some days the foals – and the weather – cooperated better than other days, which led to some gaps in photos, a handful of lower quality photos, and a few photos that did not as clearly show a foal's development. Nonetheless, it was quite the journey to watch the foals grow over the months.

Built in 1991, Valor Farm was founded by Clarence and Dorothy Scharbauer – four years after a colt Dorothy owned with her daughter, Pamela, won the Kentucky Derby. That colt was none other than Alysheba, a Hall of Famer and winner of three Eclipse Awards – including the 1988 award for Horse of the Year. Dorothy, a racehorse enthusiast and owner for most of her life, passed away in 2005. Clarence, once the president of the American Quarter Horse Association and a Hall of Fame member of that organization, passed away in 2014.

The Texas Thoroughbred industry itself is unfortunately on an undeniable decline with no relief in sight with the repeal of rules that would have allowed historical racing machines. Valor has seen its own struggles because of the condition of the Lone Star State's Thoroughbred industry and now, the near 400-acre farm is up for sale. 

Nonetheless, the legacy of the Scharbauers carries on. Valor remains one of the top breeding farms in the region, standing four stallions  including perennial leading Texas sires Early Flyer and My Golden Song. Horses bred by Valor or the Scharbauer family – or sired by Valor stallions  in recent years have found remarkable success, among them graded stakes winners Fiftyshadesofgold, He's Comin in Hot, Promise Me Silver and Thegirlinthatsong.

Could the youngsters I've been photographing all spring someday develop into graded stakes winners, as well? Only time will tell, but regardless, it has been fun watching them grow and will only continue to be interesting once their racing careers begin.

My Golden Song - Hadenough, by Hadif – Filly born January 14, 2016

A very strong, stout filly with height, this blaze-faced beauty has turned gray like her sire, My Golden Song. That Valor stallion has been among the top leading sires in Texas perennially since 2012 and is by legendary sire Unbridled's Song. My Golden Song is the sire of the graded stakes winners Fiftyshadesofgold and Thegirlinthatsong, as well as a plethora of other stakes winners. This filly's dam, Hadenough, is a daughter of former Valor stallion Hadif – who is also the broodmare sire of Fiftyshadesofgold. This filly is from the same direct female family as Hall of Famer Damascus.


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My Golden Song - Pack Your P J's, by Gold Legend  Filly born January 27, 2016

Another blaze-faced My Golden Song filly with impressive size, this filly is a daughter of the Gold Legend mare Pack Your P J's. Gold Legend was a former Valor stallion who sired the likes of grade one winner Heritage of Gold and Texas champion brothers Gold Coyote and Coyote Legend. Pack Your P J's is out of Deep Finesse, the dam of the stakes-placed Carol's Flyer.


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Early Flyer - Window to the Soul, by Naevus  Filly born February 16, 2016

This filly has grown to be a big, stout foal with good bone and plenty of spunk. Her sire, Early Flyer, has ranked among the top five sires in Texas for the past seven years – even siring the most winners among Texas sires in 2012 and 2013. While Early Flyer won two graded stakes during his racing career, this filly's dam – Window to the Soul – never won a race. However, both of her foals that have raced so far have won, and she is out of the blacktype-placed Nancy's Gem, who is also the dam of TTA Sales Futurity winner Forrest G.


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My Golden Song - Most Magic, by Magic Cat – Colt born March 10, 2016

This big colt is leggy and muscular, and looks as if he will grow to be very tall. He is a son of Valor's outstanding stallion and one of the top sires in Texas, My Golden Song. This colt's dam, Most Magic, is a daughter of Better Than Most – a daughter of Alysheba's full sister, and the dam of Texas champion and stakes winner Worldventurer, the stakes-winning and graded stakes-placed W V Jetsetter (another Texas champion), and the multiple stakes-winning More Than Most. This colt is a full brother to the multiple stakes-placed runner Better Than Magic.


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Jet Phone  My Golden Native, by My Golden Song  Filly born March 14, 2016

A filly that has developed very nicely and also has a bold demeanor, this is a daughter of Jet Phone – the sire of the likes of multiple stakes winners Aces N Kings and W V Jetsetter, the latter of which placed in graded stakes at Saratoga and Monmouth. This filly's dam, My Golden Native, won once in six starts and with her oldest foal a two-year-old, none of her offspring have raced yet. But the mare is a half-sister to the blacktype-winning Soaring Native and is a daughter of elite Texas sire My Golden Song.

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My Golden Song – Bonita Belle, by Magic Cat – Filly born March 31, 2016

This elegant filly is a daughter of Valor stallion My Golden Song, one of Texas' perennial leading sires and a top sire of fillies. This filly's dam, Bonita Belle, is out of the great broodmare Alysbelle – a full sister to Alysheba. The influence of Alysbelle has brought Scharbauer homebreds great success, as she is the granddam of Thegirlinthatsong, Texas champion and stakes winner Worldventurer, the stakes-winning and graded stakes-placed W V Jetsetter (another Texas champion), and the multiple stakes-winning More Than Most. Alysbelle is also the great-granddam of Fiftyshadesofgold.


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Notional  One Eyed Beauty, by City Zip  Colt

A very well-put-together colt, this chestnut also exudes confidence with his strong personality. He is by the graded stakes-winning son of In Excess, Notional, who is the sire of the likes of graded stakes winner Far Right, and stakes winners Cake Pop and Hopeful Notion. This colt's dam, One Eyed Beauty, was the winner of four races who showed early talent, finishing fourth in the E. L. Gaylord Memorial Stakes at Remington Park. In that race, she was beaten by future grade one winner Shotgun Gulch, Afleet Alex's half-sister Stormin Maggy, and eventual stakes winner Right to Rule; she also finished ahead of future stakes winners Ruby's Big Band and Her Sweet Saint. Aside from her record on the track, One Eyed Beauty is a daughter of tremendous sire City Zip – the sire of champion runners Catch a Glimpse, Dayatthespa, and Work All Week. She is also out of a royally bred mare, Spectacular Indy – who is by champion racehorse and sire A.P. Indy and out of a daughter of the legendary Spectacular Bid. This makes One Eyed Beauty a half-sister to the multiple group stakes-winning Russian racemare Stella Rossa.


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Too Much Bling  The Lady Rigali, by Horse Chestnut  Filly born April 16, 2016


This balanced, strong filly is a daughter of Too Much Bling, who has topped the Texas sires list for the past three years. None of The Lady Rigali's other foals have raced yet, but she is a daughter of South African Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year Horse Chestnut – already a proven sire of dams, as he is a champion broodmare sire in Jamaica and the broodmare sire of grade/group one winners Cannock Chase, Smart Call and Suggestive Boy.




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Silver City  Flying Native, by Early Flyer - Colt born April 25, 2016

This colt has quickly grown bigger and stronger, developing good muscle definition. He is a son of former Valor stallion Silver City, who in 2014 was the leading first crop sire in Texas and the 20th-leading first crop sire in the nation. His offspring include the graded stakes-winning filly Promise Me Silver; the stakes-winning, graded stakes-placed Silverhill; and the blacktype-placed runners Silver Akantha and Silver Doddge. This colt's dam, Flying Native, won her debut impressively and raced again on three more occasions – all at the blacktype level. She never hit the board in any of those outings, although she did finish a good fourth in the Princess Stakes at Louisiana Downs. All three of Flying Native's offspring that have raced, have won.

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Silver City – Coryphee, by Hadif – Colt born May 5, 2016

A leggy colt who looks to have the potential to become an athletic runner, this colt is a son of Silver City – the 2014 leading first crop sire in Texas and that year's 20th-leading first crop sire in the nation, and the sire of many stakes runners, including the brilliant graded stakes-winning filly Promise Me Silver. His dam, Coryphee, is quite the producer herself, having previously foaled stakes winners Triumph and Song and Bravura, and the stakes-placed Mama's Temper


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Too Much Bling – Significant Tri, by Irish Sur – Colt born May 6, 2016

A strong-looking, balanced colt with good muscle definition, this son of leading Texas sire Too Much Bling has developed well over the weeks. He is out of the Florida-bred mare Significant Tri, who ended her career with back-to-back black-type wins in the Sunshine State. Of her eight offspring to race, six are winners.


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