Archive for April, 2010

2009 NCHA Western Nationals $3K Novice

Friday, April 30th, 2010
Earned: $3,811


Savor the slop: Kentucky Derby 2010

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Lookin at Lucky will be lookin’ at the inside rail unless he gets a jump on 19 other contenders in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. The 2-1 favorite drew the “unlucky” one hole, While second-favorite and front runner Sidney’s Candy drew the second least-favorite, far outside post.

The gulf between the favorites is especially wide since with an 80 percent chance of thunderstorms in the Louisville forecast, the already sloppy track is certain to be sloppy or sloppier on Saturday. Except for Lookin At Lucky’s win on a fast track in the Rebel at Oaklawn, the one-two favorites have raced strictly on synthetic surfaces rated fast.

Mine That Bird

Mine That Bird

Sloppy conditions and a rail trip were the winning ticket last year for 50-1 shot Mine That Bird, while 4-1 favorite Smarty Jones ran his unbeaten record to seven on a sloppy track in the 2007 Kentucky Derby.

Only five of this year’s 20 Derby contenders have raced on a sloppy track: the lone filly in the field, Devil May Care (6-1), when she won her maiden at Saratoga by 4 3/4 lengths going 6 furlongs; Mission Impazible (15-1) with a win at 6 furlongs; Super Saver (12-1-) with a 7-length win at one mile; Backtalk (40-1) with a one mile win at Delta Downs; and Discreetly Mine 25-1), who finished out of the money.

If the race turns into a speed duel, as some think it will, Super Saver with Calvin “Bo-Rail” Borel aboard could be in the money. It was Borel who rode Mine That Bird to victory last year and was atop Super Saver for a close second in the G1 Arkansas Derby on April 10.

Super Saver savored victory at Churchill Downs last fall, when he closed out his 2-year-old campaign with a 5-length win in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club.

Super Saver, Sidney’s Candy and you’re Lookin at Lucky – how’s that for a trifecta box?

For the complete 2010 Kentucky Derby lineup with trainers and owners, click here.

2009 NCHA Western Nationals $10K Novice

Thursday, April 29th, 2010
Earned: $4,561


Sunny’s Halo: Looking back

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

sunnys_haloThe 139th running of the Kentucky Derby is just days away and prep races for the big event, including the Arkansas Derby on April 10, have been analyzed down to minute details.

If Line of David, long-shot winner of this year’s Arkansas Derby, were to win the Kentucky Derby, he would be only the third horse to win both races. Smarty Jones accomplished the feat in 2004 and Sunny’s Halo (pictured)  in 1983. It was Sunny’s Halo who first put Oaklawn on the map as a prep venue for the “Run for the Roses.”

Bred in Ontario, by a retired Toronto stockbroker out of his only mare, Sunny’s Halo was named champion 2-year-old colt in Canada. But he came to the Kentucky Derby with just two starts at three (he also won Oaklawn’s Rebel Stakes, as did Smarty Jones), at the time, the lightest 3-year-old campaign of any Derby winner since Jet Pilot in 1947.

He was sent off in the 1983 Kentucky Derby as the second choice in a field of 20, under Eddie Delahoussaye, the previous year’s winner on Gato Del Sol. Never more than a length off of a slow pace, Sunny’s Halo took the lead in the turn and drew off to win by two lengths.

Contending with a nasty skin rash up to the day of the race, Sunny’s Halo was the odds-on favorite in the Preakness, but finished sixth to Deputed Testamony on a sloppy track. Later in the season he placed second and third, respectively, in the G3 Volante Handicap and the G1 Whitney Stakes, then won the Invitational Super Derby at Louisiana Downs.

With a career record of nine wins in 20 starts, three  second-place and two third-place finishes, and $1.25 million, Sunny’s Halo was syndicated following his Super Derby win and stood the early part of his stud career at Domino Stud, then Walmac International in Kentucky. He later became the all-time leading sire of Thoroughbreds in Texas and died in 2003 at Double S Thoroughbred Farm, Tyler, TX. He is buried at the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs.

Several years ago, I talked with Sunny’s Halo’s trainer, David Cross Jr., about the flashy chestnut’s career. It was Cross who advised David Foster to breed his mare Mostly Sunny to Halo.

Sunny’s Halo as a yearling:
He showed so much even as a yearling. He just had everything going for him. He was like a kid that if you had him in the school room, he’d be the last one to walk out.

Sunny’s Halo in the saddling paddock on Kentucky Derby Day:
In those days, it was a small indoor paddock with hardly enough room for ten horses. They asked me if I’d take the horse out of the stall because there were so many horse in there and he was acting so well.

So we put him in the paddock and he was looking, but it was like he was looking right through you. I’d heard the old-timers talking about it when I was a kid – the look of eagles. They’re looking at you, but they’re looking right on through you like you’re just not there.

I was never as confident in my life as I was that day. He would have gone through a brick wall that day and that was all there was to it. I’d never seen anything like that or haven’t since. You have to be in the presence of it to understand.

Sunny’s Halo in the Preakness:
He broke out in a rash after the Derby. We had vets from all over the country and nobody could put their finger on it. I came within one inch of scratching him that day. I’d brought a vet out from New York and he said to go ahead and run him. We had a syndication going for $15 million provided he run in the Preakness.

He probably would have still gotten by that day, but he was knocked right to his knees coming out of the gate and that finished him, making up all that ground.

Sunny Halo’s running style:
You could set the horse anywhere you wanted him. He had a lot of natural speed. You could set him up close to the pace and you could call on this horse again, if you pushed that other button.

Sunny Halo’s breeding:
He was owned by a very small breeder up in Canada – a man with one mare. The horse didn’t come out of a big farm and Kentucky never really acknowledged him.

Super Stakes sire recap

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Sixty-seven different stallions sired money earners at the $3 million XTO Energy NCHA Super Stakes which wrapped up April 16 in Fort Worth, Texas. Here’s a look at how they fared, based on earnings of their progeny in finals and paying go-rounds of the Super Stakes and Super Stakes Classic:

SIRE Super Stakes Earnings
HIGH BROW CAT $553,881
DUAL REY $401,627
SMOOTH AS A CAT $364,372
DUAL PEP $128,938
TR DUAL REY $64,474
CD ROYAL $59,163


2010 NCHA Super Stakes Classic Ltd Non-Pro

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
Earned: $5,961


A Gift from the Desert

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

The world’s most exclusive exhibition of equine art and artifacts goes on display at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY on May 29 through October 15, 2010, in conjunction with the FEI World Equestrian Games.

Sponsored by the Saudi Arabian Equestrian Federation, to showcase the impact of the Arabian Horse throughout the ages, A Gift from the Desert features more than 400 pieces from museums and private lenders around the world, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Oxford University, the Ashmolean Museum, the Egyptian Museum of Cairo, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the National Museum of Warsaw, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the American Museum of Natural History.

“In a world where differences between cultures are often the cause of fear, this exhibit will be a celebration of a common bond that unites people of widely divergent backgrounds – the mutual love and admiration we all share for the glorious Arabian horse,” said John Nicholson, executive director of the Kentucky Horse Park.

Among the priceless works of art and artifacts are the Standard of Ur (circa 2,600 BCE), the first depiction of equine driving; and the Kikkuli tablet, the world’s earliest known treatise on horse care and training from the Hittite civilization.

Some items are expected to be particularly popular with visitors, including the robes and dagger used by T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) in his famous march across the desert; an outstanding collection of Orientalist paintings depicting Near Eastern life and equestrian culture; depictions of the earliest Arabian-type horses from Egypt’s New Kingdom; and a stunning selection, many bejeweled, of saddles, tack, armor, and arms from the Ottoman Empire.

For more information: