Monday, December 28, 2009

FIGHT TO SAVE MARYLAND RACING

David Cordish appears to be somewhat arrogant. Regarding the petition effort for an anti-slots-at-Arundel-Mills ballot referendum, Cordish indicated he was “unconcerned by the petition drive.  He also said, “It’s a free country . . . Good luck.  I’m supremely confident that the people have spoken, and they will speak again, if need be.”


Already the politicians are trying to undermine this effort.  Council Member James Benoit was quoted in a recent “Washington Post" article: I don't want to discount anyone's passion for an issue, but it's a long shot.  These things rarely succeed."  


Hmm, he must not have noticed the extremely successful "Trim" ballot referendum in Prince Georges County, MD, or "Proposition 13" in California or various referendums formed by citizen’s groups against gay marriage -- they were all signature driven and highly successful.  The Post, several writers for the “Baltimore Sun” and certain Maryland politicians are exhibiting standard tactics used by the development industry. Dishearten the opposition, convince them they will fail, and they will give up. 


Well I haven’t given up yet! The combined efforts of "Stop Slots at Arundel Mills" and the MD racing industry can certainly collect enough signatures to put a "No slots at Arundel Mills" referendum on the ballot.  



Dear reader, add your comment.  Scroll down and click the word “comments” below to open your comments form.” Thanks so much for reading!





Tuesday, December 15, 2009

SLOTS SKIRMISHES CONTINUE TO HURT MD RACING

Anne Arundel County Council vote is crucial to
the future of Laurel Park, and probably Pimlico, too.


The Anne Arundel County Council is scheduled to vote on
Monday, Dec. 21, on zoning for the Cordish Companies’ proposed
slots site at Arundel Mills Mall, which means no slots at historical Laurel Park Race Track.


If the State of Maryland and its counties want to earn slots gambling money from lucrative Northern Virginia, Laurel is a far more accessible location to Virginians than Arundel Mills. It's also closer to Washington, DC, and very close to Baltimore, as well.

Since Laurel, Maryland, is already a high density area and Anne Arundel Mills is not, more open space and farm land would be lost by the Anne Arundel Mills development. Additionally, I've been to Arundel Mills. It's one of those discount shopping outlets in the middle of nowhere. Laurel has two major highways that access it -- the Baltimore Washington Parkway, and I95.



Is it not obvious that if Laurel racetrack receives slot machines on site, Maryland racing will have access to far more money? Think concessions, whatever "management" or "leaseholder" fees go to the site. Capitol investment to build a better facility, a nice hotel and restaurants would, no doubt, be offered right and left.

And if your local Maryland horsemen and breeders don't get more money from slots, Maryland farms will be sold as people move to more horse friendly states, like Pennsylvania. Serious losses will haunt Maryland’s breeding and racing industry -- which, let's not forget, along with the farms that grow horses, include hay farmers, feed sellers, veterinarians, tack shops, backstretch help, trainers, mushroom growers, and farriers, to name a few.

I'd like to think the quest for state dollars isn't far more important to the Anne Arundel Country Council than posterity, and Maryland history.


The vote is expected to be a close one.

It is important for County Council members to hear from people
in the Maryland breeding and
racing industry. Also, anyone interested in conserving green space, farmland, and those people who simply love horses and racing, please contact these legislators!



PS: why can't a horseman from Kentucky of Florida who has been to Maryland races, or run their horses in Maryland contact these county council members? It's your sport, too.


Following are e-mail addresses for Council members
expected to vote on the zoning:
Daryl Jones – District 1,
daryl.jones@aacounty.org;
Ronald C. Dillon – District 3,
rdillon@aacounty.org; G.
James Benoit – District 4,
james.benoit@aacounty.org;
Cathleen M. Vitale – District 5,
cvitale@aacounty.org; Tricia L.
Johnson – District 7,
tricia.johnson@aacounty.org;





THIS LETTER APPEARED IN THE AUGUST 2 ISSUE OF THE "BLOOD HORSE."


# After Maryland legislators blocked the passing of slots for years, many of our best trainers, farms, and Maryland-bred horses left the area for neighboring states with slots gambling. West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Delaware provided lucrative bonus opportunities in their state bred programs and huge purses to owners of state bred horses. As Maryland-breds and Maryland racetracks had little to offer in comparison, our industry’s lifeblood began its slow trickle toward death.
# Our politicians pulled a cape of misinformation over the eyes of the public, insisting slots gambling would increase crime and "take the food out of the mouth’s of children."
# By 2008, Maryland was facing a financial deficit so huge that state legislators finally backed off the slots issue, and the public was allowed to vote on a referendum in the November 2008 ballot. Even Speaker of the Maryland House, Michael Busch, stopped waving his cape. On November 4, 2009, the people voted and the referendum for slots passed by an overwhelming majority.
# But the games started again late in 2008 when Governor Martin O’Malley and Maryland legislative leaders appointed a Maryland Slots Commission. Most of us had expected to see the slot machines installed at Laurel Racetrack, but we didn’t grasp the significance of the fine print within the Comission’s bidding rules. In February of 2009, Magna subsidiary, Laurel Racing Association, refused to hand over $28.5 million for the chance to bid on a slots license.
# It seems the Association had concerns about getting its money back if local zoning rules created hurdles for their project. Laurel contended the requirement of the licensing fee was without clarity, or legal authority to ensure refundability – that it was unlawful and should not be enforced. Laurel was, however, willing to put the money into escrow.
# At a scheduled hearing, the Slots Commission voted to deny Laurel a bid after ignoring representatives from the Laurel Racing Association and their request for a chance to speak.
# Meanwhile the Baltimore-based developer, Cordish Companies put up $28.5 million and waited to be granted a slot’s license. But in an effort to get the bidding reopened, Laurel sued the Maryland Slots Commission. The case finally wound up with the Maryland Court of Appeals, Maryland’s highest court. Laurel’s insistence there was no legal safeguard for the return of their money, was one of the issues the court was supposed to rule on.
# Being a longtime Maryland horse breeder and hoping to see slots installed at Laurel – a site which would have by far the most positive effect on Maryland racing and breeding – I checked the internet daily for word of the court’s ruling. I even called the court near the end of June and the woman who answered the phone said the decision would come "anytime now."
# Imagine my surprise when I checked the website early in July and read this.: "After June 9, 2009, the Court will recess until September 2, 2009." What a joke. A whole industry waits for a decision and they're in recess!
# But wait! Don’t forget the Cordish Companies’s $28.5 million. The State of Maryland still holds the money and, I assume, receives fat interest payments.
# Meanwhile, Anne Arundel County, where Cordish plans to put slots, had some zoning issues. After indicating a zoning change was required, the County leaders decided not to rule on the issue until September. Do you think Cordish is being screwed? Do you think Laurel Racing was right?
# If you’re a supporter of Kentucky racing no doubt you were dismayed last week to learn the politicians there had dashed your hopes of legalizing slots. My God, you Kentuckians ask, are we following in Maryland’s bloody wake?
# You might ask yourself, "Who benefits from
not having slots?" I'd bet my farm that money has been paid in both states, to some person or entity to stop the legalization of slots. Webster's Dictionary should remove the word altruism altogether.
# Maybe I should just have a vodka gimlet and not worry about this stuff. My concerns and efforts to follow the money and figure out who or what is behind each political roadblock are about as useful as beating the carrion eaters off a dead horse.

Sasscer Hill


*******************************************************
Has any state ever worked so hard to trash an industry?

On July 21, -- despite the press's contention the Maryland of court of appeals was in recess until September -- the court ruled that a dispute over Laurel Park’s disqualified bid to open a slot-machine casino should be decided by a state contracting board before being litigated in court. In other words, they refused to rule, sending the issue back for further delay.

I have to wonder if a slots license will ever be awarded to anyone before the Maryland racing industry is buried six feet under. Amazing how Pennsylvania got their slots up and running in record time with barely a quibble. The purses there are up 100%, and bonuses for PA breds are fabulous.

Who is lining the pockets of our state legislators to keep killing this industry? Developers? Some as yet unknown group that has their own plans for slots and gambling in our state?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

THE LAST WORD FROM THE WISEMAN




In top picture, B.G. Wiseman (behind horse) walking Justy at Tokyo's quarantine center. In the second photo, that's Barry on Breeder's Cup Filly and Mare Sprint Winner, Informed Decision. Photo by Rick Samuels.

So how much did Justy make for running in 7th place?
$100,000.

Hey, they got a nice piece of it, after all. Simply an awesome purse payout. Barry called just before 8:00 p.m. and said if they'd finished sixth, the horse would have earned $300,000. Whoa!

I think the whole purse payout issue should be looked at here in the U.S. We complain that we can't fill our races. Maybe if owners and trainers had a chance to win a little money, even when they didn't hit the board, they'd enter more often. And maybe if the good horses took home 46% of the win purse instead of 65%, they would run more often than once every two months!

And what does the future hold for our Justy? If he wanted to, Jonathan could stand the horse at stud this spring. Justy has won over a million, and he's won a grade 1. And lest anyone say Just As Well won that grade 1 by default at Marsh Side's expense, look at the charts from the Japan Cup. Just As Well beat the pants off Marsh Side! Again.

Barry said Justy could have finished better if he hadn't been squeezed back by the field. He feels the horse is "determined. He and Jonathan are pleased the horse ran as well as he did -- in such a huge field, for such a long distance.

Barry said, "The horse is so sound, we will probably continue to run him in 2010."

I, for one, and thrilled to hear it
.

JAPAN CUP WRAP UP

VODKA WINS THE 2009 EDITION OF THE JAPAN CUP. FILLIES RULE!

[See a great Japanese video of race with fun interview with French Jockey trying to answer Japanese questions in English, for the translator who apparently did not speak French. The jockey was as game as his filly. Justy is the seven horse, jockey in Jonathan's bumblebee stripes and a blue cap, lying pretty much mid-pack and surrounded throughout, ]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qQbYS0lyvA

It was like watching Zenyatta all over again, to see the amazing bay filly, Vodka, win the Japan Cup. 2009 is definitely the Year of the Fillies!

So how did Justy do competing against the other 17 world-class horses?

The British "Racing Post" had this to say: Of the US hopes, the Jonathan Sheppard-trained Just As Well fared best, running on doggedly to take seventh."

The JRA reports: Twelfth pick JUST AS WELL partnered with Julien Leparoux traveled in mid-division right outside the race favorite, and although crowded by horses through the last two corners, hung on well in the last straight to finish seventh.
“The horses on both sides closed in on [me] between the 3rd and 4th corner and I didn’t have room, but I’m pleased with the outcome (7th) in such a big race. I’m proud of finishing the best among the American horses too.”(Julien Leparoux)

Sunday morning, and I am paying for staying up so late. But a wonderful experience to see 100,000 Japanese fans at the track -- so excited and full of enthusiasm! I need to connect with a Japanese publisher interested in translating my "Nicky Latrelle" horse-racing mystery-series! It would sell like hot cakes over there! But I digress. To watch that spectacle live, to see how differently they approach the starting gate -- they must have had 50 assistant starters -- and to see Barry Wiseman leading Justy in the paddock area was a treat!

I thought Vodka looked too thin and needed to be in better flesh to go the distance. I thought wrong. Just As Well, by comparison, looked like a tanky Northern Dancer who would handle distance. He did, just without the full late kick he needed. If Justy was seveenteen hands
, he would be a true warrior.

Barry looked stressed in the walking paddock, and without the customary US lead-pony, controling the about-to-bubble-over stud colt may have been a wee bit taxing for the Wiseman. But then Jonathan tossed Julien Laparoux into the saddle, and the next time they passed by the camera, I could see Barry joking with Julien and I knew the most stressful part of his job was over.

I'm unable to find how far down the JRA pays it's finishers, but Vodka's take is only 46% of the total purse -- compared to the 65% ratio used in the US -- which leads me to hope the purse is distributed down to Just As Well!

The best part is that all 18 finished safely, Justy beat 11 horses, and finished best of the US contingent! Over all, a very satisfying result!
GO JUSTY!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

CURRENT ODDS ON 11-28-09

Odds For The Japan Cup

Selection

Current Odds

Conduit 9/4
Vodka 4/1
Screen Hero 9/2
Logi Universe 8/1
Oken Bruce Lee 8/1
Red Desire 12/1
Interpation 20/1
Just As Well 20/1
Marsh Side 25/1
Reach The Crown 25/1
Meiner Kitz 33/1
Air Shady 33/1
Asakusa Kings 33/1
Scintillo 33/1
Eishin Deputy 50/1
Cosmo Bulk 100/1

Japan Cup: FIFTEEN HOURS OUT!

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING

It's 10:00 a.m. in Maryland, which means it's 1:00 a.m. in Japan and probably, our US Japan Cup contenders and their associates are sleeping. However, while you were sleeping earlier, this is what they had to say about the horses on the eve of the big race:


EnglishChineseKoreanFrench
2009 News
November 28 2009

TRAINING REPORT
29th running of the Japan Cup

Training Report of Foreign Entrees

November 28, 2009 (Saturday)

FOREIGN ENTRIES - JAPAN CUP

*The following comments are excerpts from quotes given by the connections and transcribed as faithfully to the original text as possible.

At Tokyo Racecourse

INTERPATATION (USA, g7, dark bay or brown)

- walked, jogged 1lap (dirt course)
(ridden by David Cohen from 6:52 to 7:00,)

“He felt good this morning. We’re all set for tomorrow.”

(comments taken from David Cohen)

JUST AS WELL (USA, h6, dark bay or brown)

- jogged 600m, cantered 1/2 lap (dirt course)
(ridden by Barry Wiseman from 7:03 to 7:10)

“I think he’s in great form. It was a good idea to let him have a rest yesterday. He looks terrific.”

(comments taken from Jonathan Sheppard)

“His condition is very good. Tomorrow, I’m going to ride him and do very light work around the stables for about 20 minutes. We want him to be relaxed in a quiet atmosphere, and let him charge up his energy for tomorrow’s race.”

(comments taken from Barry Wiseman)

MARSH SIDE (USA, h6, dark bay or brown)

- jogged 1 lap (dirt course)
(ridden by Marcelino Olguin from7:22 to 7:30)

“He looks like he’s very happy and his condition is good.”

(comments taken from Neil Drysdale)

CONDUIT (IRE, c4. chestnut)

- jogged, cantered 1/2 lap, jogged, walked 1/2 lap (dirt course)
(ridden by Ryan Moore from 6:01 to 6:13)

“Since we breezed him yesterday, and that the race is tomorrow, we didn’t do anything special this morning. I’m pleased with how he is.”

(comments taken from Michael Stoute)

“He felt good this morning—just like yesterday, and I’m happy with him. He’s fully prepared.”

(comments taken from Ryan Moore)

SCINTILLO (GBR, c4. chestnut)

- hand-walked in stable area only

“The horse’s condition is very good. He has a good appetite, he’s healthy and I’m very pleased with him.”

(comments taken from Gerald Mosse)
(comments taken from Stephen Knight)

Japan Cup (G1) : Nov. 29 (Sun) Tokyo 10th race 2,400m turf

Friday, November 27, 2009

November 27 Japan Cupm, Just As Well News

Barry called about 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard time, and in Japan, it was 10:00 a.m. tomorrow! He was finishing up stables and says Justy is doing well.

He reports a Tokyo newspaper ran a picture of him working Justy on the track yesterday and referred to Just as Well as the "Dark Horse." They also mentioned the "mysterious illness" that kept Justy out of training for two years and precipitated his sale from George Strawbridge to Jonathan Sheppard.

The JRA lent Barry a bicycle, and for those of you who know him, you won’t be surprised that he’s putting it to good use. He bicycles everywhere he goes, be it Saratoga, Gulfstream Park, or Presque Isle Downs. Apparently, he’s having fun zooming about, shopping, and picking up groceries while sightseeing around Tokyo. He’s fascinated by all the tiny cars and mopeds and hundreds of other people on bicycles. Probably, he feels right at home.

My only concern is that Jonathan will rent one of those tiny little cars. To understand the concern please read “THE MYSTERY OF THE CROWDED CAR” here: http://breederscuprocketride.blogspot.com/


Following is copy from the JRA given today, the day after Just As Well’s work:
JUST AS WELL (USA, h6, dark bay or brown)
1. - walked around stable area only
"He's eating well and he feels good. He's in good form."
(comments taken from Barry Wiseman)
"I'm pleased with the horse's condition. Our draw (no. 7) is ideal since we were hoping for a middle stall. How he'll race will mostly be up to the jockey, but probably he'll sit somewhere from the middle and back and close in on the stretch. I hope there's a fast pace early in the race. They say that it's going to rain on Sunday, but as long as the going isn't too soft, I don't think it'll bother him. We'll just take him out on the dirt tomorrow and do some light work. He doesn't need any more strong work."
(comments taken from Jonathan Sheppard)


Thursday, November 26, 2009

JUST AS WELL DRAWS 7 HOLE

Below is copy for the JRA's news conference of yesterday morning (Japan time). The last comment, made by Jonathan Sheppard, is interesting considering "Justy" drew the 7 hole, which is two to the inside of the center of the pack! Go Justy!



JUST AS WELL (USA, h6, dark bay or brown)
Owner/Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard
Q: What is the major reason for your participation in the Japan Cup? Since when have you included JC in your rotation?
T: I’d been here before a few years ago with Anticipation and very much liked the experience. I met the representatives from JRA in Saratoga and they mentioned a couple of good fillies that had and I said there were going to run in the Breeder’s Cup and it wouldn’t be very good timing but I mentioned that I had this other horse, Just As Well, that could be an option if he was approved. At that time, he was not one of the primary selections but he was put on an alternate list. Of course, I didn’t find out (that he was selected) until actually after the Breeder’s Cup because two of the horses picked ahead of him were running in the Breeder’s Cup—Einstein and Gio Ponti. I guess they declined and left a spot open for us and I accepted it.
Q: How would you rate his current condition out of 100%?
T: I feel that Just As Well is coming into this race in very good condition. Because he didn’t run in the Breeders’ Cup, he’s fresh. He’s put on a little bit of weight since he’s been here. I watched him work this morning on the turf course and I was very happy with the way he went. He’s had a fairly busy season but as I say, he had a little bit of a break prior coming here and hopefully he’s in 95 percent—as good as he can be. Whether that’s good enough, I don’t know. I know you have some good horses in this country.
Q: What is your impression of the race track at Tokyo? Are there any contenders that you regard as rivals?
T: I like the track very much. I was on the turf course this morning and it seemed to be in a very good condition. It’s a very beautiful track and you people have done a wonderful job renovating the
facilities and the grandstand. Regarding the rivals, I must admit that I’ve just arrived here last night and haven’t had a chance to go through the form of your local horses. But I have a lot of respect for the Japanese horses, having being here before. I’m sure they are going to be very tough. And of course, you have some good horses also coming from abroad—Conduit is a very good horse, I saw him in the Breeders’ Cup Turf— and the two American horses are pretty nice, too. So I think it’s a very competitive race.
Q: What is the strongest point of this horse? What are your expectations for the race?
T: I think the fact that he finishes races strongly. He has good stamina. He doesn’t have very quick acceleration, takes him a little bit of time to build up his top speed. And I like the fact that it’s a longer stretch run here at Tokyo Racecourse than he’s used to in America, because it gives him more time reach his full stride—I think that should suit him.
Q: Do you think he’s on the upgrade as a six-year-old?
T: Yes I do. He’s had a very interrupted career as a younger horse. So I think he ran three or four times as a three-year-old and not again until he was five—so he was much less experienced than most of the horses he was running against. And it took him a few race, not only to himself to figure out how to handle the better company he was running against and also perhaps for me as his trainer trying to figure out what his best distance was and how he should be best ridden. Originally, he was rather anxious in the beginning of his races and we had to teach him to settle and to relax. We gradually built up—as he learned to do that—the distance of his races and now he’s had a couple of back-to-back mile and a half races and that seems to be a good distance for him now.
Q: Where will he be coming from the back of the field off the pace on Sunday?
T: I would expect him to be certainly not more forward, say, than the middle of the field—it’s a big field—opefully, he won’t be way in the very back but he’ll definitely off the pace early on.


Today’s training (on the turf course):
- cantered, gradually cantered strongly appr .2,000m, galloped on stretch (turf course)
(exercised from 8:20 to 8:31, ridden by Barry Wiseman)
“The horse’s condition is good, the latter part of the breeze was especially good.”
(Comments taken from Barry Wiseman)

“It would be nice if his starting gate is in a inner gate from the middle.”
(Comments taken from Jonathan Shepard)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Just As Well Breezes at Fuchu Race Course

Japan, Thanksgiving morning.

It is 8:00 p.m. in Maryland on Thanksgiving eve, but in Japan, it is Thanksgiving morning, and Barry has worked Justy.

"I worked him away from the rail where the turf was smooth," Barry said. "It was like floating on the wings of a big bird. I took it easy. He cooled out really well."

According to Barry, Jonathan arrived the night before and was very pleased with this morning's work.

Now if I can just figure out whether to get up really early or to stay up really late to watch this race . . . . I know TVG will be airing it, so anyone who wants to watch can check their schedule online. This is really something, to have Justy going up against the likes of Conduit. Some of the Japanese entrants are awesome, too.

May they all run safely!

Latest News From Japan Cup Entrant Just As Well

Barry G. Wiseman pictured above out on the track in Tokyo on Just As Well. A JRA photo.

Training Report of Foreign Entrees

November 25, 2009 (Wednesday)

FOREIGN ENTRIES - JAPAN CUP

At Tokyo Racecourse

*The following comments are excerpts from quotes given by the connections and transcribed as faithfully to the original text as possible.



JUST AS WELL (USA, h6. dark bay or brown)

- jogged 1/2 lap, lightly cantered ~ gradually stronger 1/2 lap (dirt course), schooled saddling and paddock area
(exercised from 7:27 to 7:35, ridden by Barry Wiseman)

“He's in good condition. It was raining when we went out on the track this morning, but being in the rain is like being in the ocean-he can relax mentally. We will breeze him at around eight o'clock tomorrow morning on the grass. I'm not worried about the long stretch of the Tokyo course. We intend to get the feel of the turf course tomorrow. ”

(comments taken from Barry Wiseman)

Additionally, an email received by Sasscer Hill in the wee hours of Wednesday morning confirms that Barry will breeze Just As Well tonight (US time) which is tomorrow morning in Japan. This time thing is confusing!


Below is the Japanese Racing Association (JRA) profile of some of the "Foreign" participants.

Japan Cup (G1) - Profiles of Conduit, Interpatation, Just as Well, Marsh Side and Scintillo

Conduit (c) JRA
CONDUIT: Hoping to add to a legacy
Has there ever been a horse of Conduit's class in the Japan Cup? The 4-year-old trained by Sir Michael Stoute and sired by 2003 European horse of the year Dalakhani has won the last two Breeders' Cup Turf races, this year's King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and last year's St. Leger Stakes. So there's a good reason why Big Red Farm shelled out a hefty fee for Conduit to stand in Japan starting next year. The Japan Cup will be the final start of the colt's career and should Conduit win, he will be eligible for the Japan Autumn International bonus of 130 million yen. Bred by Ballymacoll Stud, the turning point of Conduit's career came on Sept. 13, 2008, when he won the St. Leger – Stoute's first victory in the race in 24 tries. The Classic triumph was followed a month later by Conduit's first win in the Breeders' Cup Turf, a win that landed him the Eclipse Award as American Champion Male Turf Horse of the year. In 2009, he won the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes on July 25 as the first choice before finishing fourth in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and defending his title in the Nov. 7 Breeders' Cup Turf as the overwhelming favorite.

The 64-year-old Stoute is still the only trainer to win multiple Japan Cups, prevailing in 1996 and 1997 with Singspiel and Pilsudski, respectively. This season, Stoute, a nine-time participant in the Japan Cup and a four-time winner of the Epsom Derby, cleaned up in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, producing the top three finishers including Conduit. The nine-time champion trainer also won the Coronation Cup as well as the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in June, and is expected to finish the year as leading trainer once again. Ballymacoll Stud has produced 27 different Grade 1 winners since 1960 under the ownership of Lord Weinstock and his family. A bulk of the farm's horses are trained by Stoute.

Ryan Moore has ridden Conduit in all but two starts – the European Breeders Fund Maiden Stakes at Wolverhampton, which the horse won for his first victory, and the St. Leger which saw Lanfranco Dettori step into the irons. In 2006, Moore became the second youngest champion jockey of all time at the age of 23 with a 182 victories. Moore, who comes from a big racing family (he is the son of trainer Gary L. Moore and brother of jump jockey Jamie and top amateur rider Hayley), also broke through at the Grade 1 level that year, winning the International Stakes under Notnowcato. He has been the chief jockey at Stoute's stable since 2008, when he again became champion jockey. Moore defended his title this season, with wins in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup aboard Presvis in Hong Kong and Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud with Spanish Moon to show for.



Interpatation (c) JRA

INTERPATATION: Still going strong
The 7-year-old gelding showed persistence does pay off as Interpatation won the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic International Stakes for the first Grade 1 victory of his career – in his 50th start. His only other graded win dates back to the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes he captured as a 3-year-old, although he has placed once shown twice at the highest level. Interpatation, owned by Elliot Mavorah, went off as the last choice among six in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic International Stakes, but took the field by surprise as he burst on to the lead off the blocks. And Robby Albarado's mount never looked back in the 2,400-meter race held on yielding turf, holding off four-time Grade 1 champion Gio Ponti, runnerup at this year's Breeders' Cup Classic, to win impressively by a length and three-quarters.

Long Island-based trainer Robert Barbara quickly turned his attention toward the Japan Cup, saying after a workout earlier this month that coming to Japan was a “once in a lifetime opportunity.” Taking Interpatation's reins this weekend will be 25-year-old David Cohen, who has the 2005 Malibu Stakes and the 2006 Dubai Golden Shaheen titles with Proud Tower Too to his credit. Cohen relocated to the East coast this season, and led all jockeys in victories at Delaware Park with earnings of more than $3.17 million.



Just as Well (c) JRA
JUST AS WELL:
The 6-year-old son by A.P. Indy out of 2000 Del Mar Oaks runnerup No Matter What has had a decent season in 2009, marked by his first Grade 1 victory in the Sept. 20 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes after a charge of interference cost Marsh Side the win at Woodbine. Trained and owned by Jonathan Sheppard, Just as Well, bred by Augustin Stable, took second in the Arlington Million to Gio Ponti after winning the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap, his only outright win in nine starts this year. Up until the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes, the horse had never run at 2,400 meters. But Julien Leparoux, who has won the Santa Anita Handicap and the Woodford Reserve Handicap aboard Einstein, settled his partner well before making a late rush, and the jockey did the same in the Canadian International Stakes, also at 12 furlongs at Woodbine (Just as Well finished fifth). And Leparoux, the French-born current money leader in North America, should find the strategy effective at Tokyo where the final straight runs more than 500 meters.

Sheppard, the Hall of Fame trainer who has found success in both steeplechase and flat racing, returns to Japan after eight years, previously having entered Ninepins in the 2000 Nakayama Grand Jump and With Anticipation in the 2001 Japan Cup. The president of the U.S. National Steeplechase Association is only one of two men who have trained a champion on both flat ground and in the jumps.



Marsh Side (c) JRA
MARSH SIDE:
The Neil Drysdale-trained Marsh Side, owned by Robert Evans, is back for the Japan Cup after pulling out a day before the race last year with a fever. The 6-year-old, however, remains winless in starts in 2009, his best result being a second-place finish in the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap in June. Marsh Side crossed the line first in the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes, but was dropped to fourth after the stewards found him guilty of interfering on the home stretch. He had his moment in the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap against red-hot favorite Gio Ponti, but finished a definitive length and a half behind. Drysdale, the Hall of fame trainer well known in Japan for taking Fusaichi Pegasus to the Kentucky Derby winner's circle, returns for a fifth serving of the Japan Cup, his Sarafan taking a narrow second to Falbrav in the 2002 race. Drysdale also entered Becrux in the 2007 Mile Championship, who came in eighth. Javier Castellano, one of the most accomplished jockeys in North American racing, will continue to ride Marsh Side who is keen for his first win since last year's Canadian International Stakes.


Scintillo (c) JRA
SCINTILLO:
The 4-year-old by Fantastic Light has just one victory on turf this year, the Grade 2 Grand Prix de Chantilly in May; his winning time of 2 minutes, 34.6 seconds was more than 12 seconds off the pace of the Japan Cup record. Scintillo hasn't even been close in his last three starts, losing by a combined 90 lengths; he was said to have finished 50 lengths behind Conduit in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Britain's two-time champion trainer Richard Hannon will be throwing Scintillo, whose target is next year's Melbourne Cup, to the wolves on Sunday, but one has to hope the colt owned by Australian Leonard Lucas will find it within himself to bite back against a field as strong as the one on Sunday. Gerald Mosse, a three-time participant of the Japan Cup, is expected to ride in place of Richard Hughes.






Monday, November 23, 2009

LATEST NEWS FROM JAPAN AND BARRY




Pictured above, Sasscer Hill, Rosco and Gizmo

NOVEMBER 23, 8:00 P.M
.
Didn’t hear from Barry W. for the first two days after he and Justy were released from quarantine and transferred to Fuchu racecourse in Tokyo. Unlike the quarantine facility, there was no internet connection available for his laptop. He found an internet cafĂ© (shouldn’t that be an internet tea room?) got online, and then purchased a phone card. He called at 7:00 this evening and said Just As Well was doing great, that the Japanese people are extremely observant and polite. Somehow, he helped a Japanese woman with her bicycle and he said, “You would have thought I saved her life. And the life of her children and grandchildren! She kept bowing and thanking me.” I told him, “You will do well over there, because you are soft spoken and extremely polite.” After that nice little compliment, I had to tell him that Rosco removed the “Major Dog” blanket from Gizmo, his little dog that is staying here until after the Japan Cup. Rosco ripped the hell out of that little coat. Either he didn’t think Gizmo should wear a coat, or he was jealous. But Rosco seems to adore Gizmo, and when the two dogs play rough, Gizmo always makes Rosco, who is ten times larger, back down. The only down side is that Rosco has death-breath and since he licks Gizmo all the time, Gizmo smells dreadful. Barry said he’s had Justy out on the Tokyo race track and the horse seems to like it. This race will be very tough! If Just As Well can get a peice of that $5.3 million purse, it would be wonderful! The most important thing is that everyone gets through it without any injuries or trauma. God bless them both, and keep them safe! Sasscer Hill
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


JAPAN RACING ASSOCIATION REPORTS:
Training Report of Foreign Entrees
November 23, 2009 (Monday)
FOREIGN ENTRIES - JAPAN CUP
*The following comments are excerpts from quotes given by the connections and transcribed as faithfully to the original text as possible.
At Tokyo Racecourse
INTERPATATION (USA, g7, dark bay or brown)
- lightly cantered 1 lap (appr.1,900m) on dirt course
(ridden by Robert Sigouin from 7:30 to 7:42)
“His condition is fine and he’s in good form. We had no problems traveling here from the quarantine center yesterday, and he has a good appetite. The racecourse here is wonderful and looks beautiful. Tomorrow we intend to work him faster than this morning. The trainer, who is coming on Wednesday, will decide when his gallop will be, but it’ll probably be on Thursday or Friday.”
(Comments taken from Robert Sigouin)

JUST AS WELL (USA, h6, dark bay or brown)
- jogged appr.1,700m, cantered lightly ~ gradually stronger appr.2,100m, jogged 200m on dirt course
(ridden by Barry Wiseman from 7:32 to 7:45)
“He is in good condition - he’s eating well and drinking well. He’s an intelligent horse, so he can adjust to new surroundings very quickly. I’m glad his bedding is wood shavings, because he always eats the straw. He loves to sand bathe, so when he’s taken out of his stall for some fresh air, we let him go once in the morning, once after training, and once in the late afternoon.
The Tokyo Racecourse is beautiful - everything is very clean and organized. The dirt on the track had just the right cushion, and the uphill felt very good. We do a lot of training using hills, so the horse seemed happy too. We intend to train our horse like we did this morning - light at first and then gradually faster, let him do what’s comfortable. Tomorrow and the day after that will be more or less the same, maybe a little faster, on the dirt course.”
(Comments taken from Barry Wiseman)
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


News From “THE AUSTRALIAN” Report
Five foreign horses will compete with 13 locals -- Marsh Side, Interpatation and Just As Well from the US and Conduit and Scintillo from England stables. Conduit is prepared by Sir Michael Stoute who has brought Japan Cup winners Singspiel (1996) and Pilsudski (1997). As the winner in June of the Group I King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and of the recent Breeders Cup Turf (for a second year) in the US, Conduit is in line for a special bonus.
If Conduit adds the Japan Cup next Sunday, he will collect a winner's cheque of $3,026,000 and a bonus cheque of $1,588,435 for an all-up collect of $4.6m.
Fellow England candidate Scintillo, by Fantastic Light, has a French Group II in June as his best effort for the year but he will need to find plenty to make any mark on his distant ninth in Conduit's King George in July.
The American trio have good credentials but it seems unlikely the stars and stripes will fly for a fifth time over Fuchu. Golden Pheasant was the last US-trained runner to deliver, in 1991.
March Side (by Gone West) tried for last year's Japan Cup but fell ill and was a late scratching.
He has had solid form in smart company in six starts this year, with a fourth in the Group I Canadian International (2400m) at his latest outing.
Interpatation, a seven-year-old gelding by former shuttler Langfuhr, also had handy form before breaking through in the Group I Aqueduct Turf Classic (2400m) in early October. Just As Well, by noted US dirt sire A.P. Indy, has made good progress on turf this year with a last-start fifth in the Canadian International at Woodbine, having won the Group I Northern Dancer Turf Stakes over the same course and distance at his previous start.
Japan regularly saw foreign horses conquer their own in the early years of the Japan Cup but huge advances of the breeding industry have brought a swing towards the local product to a point where honours are now equal with 14 for foreign horses and 14 for locals.
The best form pointer out of Japan in recent weeks was the Group I autumn Emperor's Cup, over 2000m late last month, in which nine possible Japan Cup runners took part.
Rejuvenated galloper Company won decisively but he is not an entry to the Japan Cup.
However the next three to finish, Screen Hero (2nd), Vodka (3rd) and Okan Bruce Lee (4th), are expected to be right there at the finish of the 29th Japan Cup.
Screen Hero will bid to become the first to win the Japan Cup twice while Vodka will make her third attempt to become the first female runner from Japan to win.
Screen Hero, by the former Australian shuttle horse Grass Wonder, was a mild upset winner last year, resisting a rally by 2008 Japan Derby winner Deep Sky to win by a half length, with Vodka third.
Vodka, now five years, created history when beating the males in the 2007 Japan Derby. She made her first attempt at the Japan Cup that year, finishing a creditable fourth.
Vodka, by the Sunday Silence horse Tanino Gimlet, had no luck in the Emperor's Cup last time out -- a race she had won in record time 12 months earlier -- but she powered to the line when her rider finally found her a clear passage in the closing 150m.
Eishin Deputy, also by another former shuttle horse to Australia, French Deputy, found the 2000m of the Emperor's Cup a bit sharp, but he finished well to be ninth.
Eishin Deputy showed his class taking the Group I Takarazuka Kinen (2200m) in mid-2008 and has run only twice since.
Classy three-year-olds have left their mark on past Japan Cups and the principal contender from the classic generation among this year's Japan Cup entries is Logi Universe, by Sunday Silence's classic-winning son Neo Universe from a mare by Cape Cross, sire of this year's European champion Sea The Stars. Logi Universe will attempt the Japan Cup on a first-up preparation, having not run since winning the Japan Derby, over the Japan Cup course and distance, in late May.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Sunday, November 22, 2009

BARRY and JUSTY: News from Japan. 11-22-09

November 22, 2009 (Sunday)

FOREIGN ENTRIES - JAPAN CUP
*The following horse, completed his stay at the Shiroi International Quarantine Center, departed the facilities at 10:02 this morning and safely arrived at Tokyo Racecourse at 11:49.

*The following comments are excerpts from quotes given by the connections and transcribed as faithfully to the original text as possible.

At Tokyo Racecourse



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

JUST AS WELL (USA, h6, dark bay or brown)

“He seemed fine traveling over here. (Tomorrow,) He’s going to gallop and then on Thursday we’re going to breeze him on the grass—probably a mile and 3/8, a mile and a half, something like that, it’s just feeling off…to some degree he dictates the schedule. I think all the horses at the quarantine were becoming a little bit picky about their feed (don’t get me wrong, he’s getting a good ration), but I’m hoping that the travel doesn’t stress him out—though I don’t think so with this horse. He’s a pretty steady guy.”

(Comments taken from Barry Wiseman

Friday, November 20, 2009

THE JAPAN CUP and Just As Well

PICTURED ABOVE IS FUCHU RACE COURSE WHERE JUST AS WELL WILL MAKE HIS BID FOR THE $5.28 MILLION JAPAN CUP PURSE!


This year's Japan Cup on Nov. 29 at the state-of-the-art Tokyo Racecourse will see five entries from abroad, three from the United States, two from Britain: Conduit, Scintillo, Interpatation, Just as Well and Marsh Side. Four-time Grade 1 champion Conduit is eligible for the Japan Autumn International bonus, having the opportunity to collect an additional 130 million yen to the 250 million yen the 4-year-old will be awarded should he win the 2,400-meter race.

The first ever Japan Cup was open to North American and Asian horses before Europe and Oceania were added to the list the following year. In 1992, the Japan Cup became the JRA’s first Grade 1 race approved by the International Cataloguing. From 1999 to 2005, it was part of the World Racing Championship, then the game’s preeminent international series.

The Japan Cup has been held at Fuchu every year apart from 2002, when it was held at Nakayama at a distance of 2,200 meters while Tokyo was under renovation. The race record is held by Alkaased (2 minutes, 22.1 seconds), with Dettori having won a record three Japan Cups. Sir Michael Stoute is the only trainer to have lifted two Japan Cups in 1996 and 1997; Stoute trains Conduit.

The 2,400 meters at Tokyo starts on the home stretch, with a run of 400 meters to the first turn bending left for 550 meters, into the back straight. After another 400-meter run, the course curves again for two furlongs before leading back home, a straight of 525 meters which slopes upward for the first 225 meters.

Emails from Barry G. Wiseman indicate that the 10 hour time change is tough, the horse is doing well, and this is one of the most "interesting" experiences Barry has ever had.




Thursday, November 19, 2009

JUST AS WELL TO RUN IN JAPAN CUP TURF

Barry Wiseman, leads the six-year-old contender, Just As Well, on November 17 before the stallion's November 28th run in the Japan Cup Turf race.

The Japanese Racing Association reports: Two American horses scheduled to run in the Grade 1 Japan Cup - Interpatation and Just as Well - arrived safely to Japan on Monday, Nov. 16, and both horses were transported to the JRA Horseracing School Quarantine Center to prepare for the 29th running of Japan's largest prize money race.

Both horses arrived at the Horseracing School at 1:53 p.m., completing a 17-hour trip from the United States. They handled the trip well, despite this being their first time crossing the Pacific.

"The horse is relaxed after the trip, in great shape," said Just as Well's assistant trainer Barry Wiseman. "Like Interpatation, we won't go to the tracks tomorrow and will walk him around the stable area. We will gradually speed up his training."

Just as Well, the 6-year-old horse by A.P. Indy, has won twice and finished runnerup three times in his 2009 campaign. Before finishing fifth in the Canadian International Stakes (Grade 1) in October at Woodbine, the Jonathan Sheppard-trained-and-owned horse took the crown in the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (G1) and came in second in the Grade 1 Arlington Million and Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap. Just as Well is 5-for-20 with five runnerups and three third-place finishes, earning $1,034,912 in the process.

With a total purse of 533.5 million yen, the Japan Cup will be held over 2,400 meters at Tokyo Racecourse on Nov. 29. The race will be the third leg of the "Japan Autumn International," a four-race series with a total value of 1,217,100,000 yen in prize money - not including the bonuses allocated to the qualified horse

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Can't Believe I'm off to the Breeders Cup!


I'm hopping an early flight tomorrow to LAX for the 2009 Breeder's Cup in Arcadia, CA. Since I joined Facebook in March, I have made so many horse racing friends. It appears about 50 of them will be in Arcadia. My FB friend, Paula Weglarz, who I met in Kentucky last spring (see http://nobettorride.blogspot.com/) arrives at LAX about one-half-hour before me. Another local Facebook friend is picking us up at the airport and driving us to Arcadia. Who knew social networking was this good!

Some of these gals have made dinner reservations and have party plans. Me, I just want to see the horse races and the two grey wonders who are running in Breeders Cup races, Forever Together and Informed Decision. They are both in the story noted above. I also am very much looking forward to seeing Jonathan Sheppard, his wife, Cathy, and the most excellent assistant trainer, Barry G. Wiseman. For more on them, (see http://sasscerstories.blogspot.com/)

It will be fun to see George Strawbridge and his lovely companion Julia again, as well. And I will get to meet Breeder’s Cup contender Cloudy’s Knight, too. Right now, I have to go to bed.

Got to catch that early plane. More to come!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

WHEN DOGS RUN WILD

If this were a video, you’d be hearing “Running with the Pack,” by Bad Company.


In August of 2009, I got a call from my friend and neighbor, Jerry, to warn me there was a pack of pit bulls running wild in the area. They had killed his neighbor’s longtime cat, a beautiful longhair, named Miss Kitty. Miss Kitty’s owner, Ruth, saw these dogs destroy her cat.

She was too terrified of the dogs to attempt a rescue. “There was a big nursing-bitch, just full of milk. She had small puppies with her, and several black-and-white adult dogs, too. They shook my little cat like she was a rag doll!”

Yet another neighbor, an older woman, just made it into her house when these dogs went after her in her yard. Though not bitten, she spent three days in the hospital with a heart condition caused by the trauma.

My neighbor Jerry had a Labrador retriever named Sammy. I watched this dog grow from a puppy, to a teenage terror that got into the trash -- and everything else – carrying his trophies about proudly. He dug up unknown objects, leaving them at the kitchen door, and after swimming in Jerry’s pond, happily rubbed green pond slime and mud on everyone. In the past year, Sammy graduated from all things puppy, and became a large, dignified dog that Jerry and his wife, Pinky, adored.

When I was over there for a drink one time, Pinky said, “Sammy makes me feel safe when I’m outside working the garden. He’s always at my side.”

But this week, the pack came through and left Sammy looking like “a piece of ground meat.” It happened while Jerry and Pinky weren’t home. Jerry found Sammy still alive.

Four thousand bucks worth of vet bills later, Sammy died.

Across the country road from Jerry and Ruth’s homes is our ten-acre farm, which is surrounded by 250 lonely acres of parkland. My dog Rosco, a certified mutt, is about the size of a border collie. My two Thoroughbred colts are only foals, one of them not even weaned yet. Knowing this pack of dogs can show up any time, day or night, left me shaken and fearful. I took to carrying my revolver with me whenever I’d go out to feed the horses or do farm chores. Always listening, I’d sometimes hear dogs barking and yipping in the distance.

Jerry called Prince Georges County Animal Control after Miss Kitty died. He and the animal control officer thought the dogs came from a place on Chew Road, the next road over. Animal control had earlier found a bunch of dogs in a wire pen at a home on that road. The dogs fit Ruth’s description of the pack that killed Miss Kitty. Animal Control said they’d already cited this family, and after Sammy was attacked, they cited these irresponsible people again. But the law states that a dog must be found loose without tags to be taken into the animal control facility. These dogs run home, get locked up, and are not easily touched by the law.

Yesterday morning, Jerry shot and killed two dogs when a pack of nine stormed his yard and went after his chickens. Being a retired Prince Georges County homicide detective, Jerry’s a good shot and always armed. He called me about ten o’clock, and he sounded upset. I put Rosco’s leash on, put him in the car with me, and drove right over.

Pinky was there with the neighbor who’d been chased into her house by the pit bulls, and a Prince Georges County Animal Control van was parked in the driveway. A small black-and-white puppy lay dead on the ground with a bullet hole in its side. The other dog had apparently made it into the woods and down a steep bank to the creek before dying from his gunshot wound. The rest of the pack had fled through the woods toward Chew Road.

Pinky said the animal control officer was down in the creek with Jerry and Ruth, who was looking to see if the dead dog was one of those that killed Miss Kitty.

Rosco and I worked our way down there through the woods, following the sound of voices and avoiding briars and vines as best we could. The mosquitoes were terrible. We found the people on the bank staring at an adult black-and-white dog that lay dead in the creek.

Ruth said it was one of the dogs that killed her cat.

The uniformed animal control officer introduced herself as Kim Montgomery. She had blond hair with pink streaks, pierced ears, and tattoos of dogs on her arms. She told me later they were various dogs she’d owned that had passed from old age.
She took off her boots and socks, and rolled up her jeans, revealing more tattoos on her legs.

She clambered down into the creek, tied a rope around the dog’s head and dragged it up the bank, through the woods and back to her van.

I felt bad that I’d brought Rosco, for when Kim dragged the dog past us, Rosco sat down and started whining. But I’d been afraid to let him out of my sight.

We followed Kim and watched while she put the dogs inside compartments in the van. She said she knew where the dogs came from on Chew Road. She was going to the house to ask the people if the dead dogs belonged to them.

Chew road is a tough, shanty town area and I knew the people down there wouldn’t look kindly on a county officer butting into their lives.

I studied Kim. She appeared about thirty. And though she looked sturdy and tough, she wasn’t a big or tall woman by any means.

“Do you have any backup?” I asked her.

She rolled her eyes. “There’s only three of us working the whole county.”

“Do you want some help?” I asked.

“No. I can take care of it.”

I wanted to go with her, but knew better than to ask.

She left in her van, and I climbed up the steps to Jerry’s deck where we sat and drank coffee. Rosco was very alert about the coffee, thinking maybe he should have some.

After a while, Jerry started talking about Sammy. Though he’s seen more homicide victims than I ever want to think about, he almost broke down.

“I’m upset,” he said, “because they killed my damn dog, and I just shot a puppy.”

I felt terrible for him. “Jerry,” I said. “I’m glad you killed those dogs. Only one bullet each. It was good work. That puppy never knew what hit him. Besides, he’s been running with that pack, killing things. Those little puppies are like a school of piranhas!”

By this time, Rosco was pressing against my leg, wondering what was wrong with the humans. I gave him a hug and said it was time to go home.

Jerry called me this morning and told me that officer Kim Montgomery did go to the home on Chew Road. By herself. The woman who lived there admitted they owned the dogs. She said her two daughters, both in their twenties, were out of control and she couldn’t make them do anything about the dogs. But the daughters weren’t at home, and Kim loaded all the dogs she found into her van. Five new dogs and the two dead ones were taken into animal control.

I’m unsure of how many dogs are still at large, but I am very grateful to Jerry and Kim. Jerry has calmed down, and Pinky, Ruth and I are less afraid.

But that Kim, I don’t think she’s afraid of anything.

Monday, September 21, 2009

JUST AS WELL WINS GRADE I STAKE!

Barry G. Wiseman, assistant trainer to Jonathan Sheppard, leads just as well in the paddock before the Northern Dancer. Julien Leparoux up.


Though Just As Well Won the $750,000 Northern Dancer Turf (Can-IT) Stake Due to Marsh Side’s Disqualification, a Review of the Race Shows Jonathan Sheppard’s Colt to be Much the Best!

Following a lengthy inquiry, Ontario Racing Commission stewards decided that the Neil Drysdale trainee Marsh Side, clinging to a narrow lead under right-handed urging from jockey Javier Castellano approaching the sixteenth pole, impeded both Quijano to his immediate inside, and the favored Champs Elysees, rallying at the rail.

Marsh Side, who went on to win by a half-length, was placed fourth, behind Champs Elysees. But Just as Well, blocked by the wall of skirmishing horses, lost ground when forced to circle the field. His amazing turn of foot once he saw daylight convinced this reviewer that Just as Well, was who almost nipped Marsh Side and finished second, was much the best!

Just as Well, bred by George Strawbridge, is out of the 2000 Del Mar Oaks (gr. I) winner No Matter What. Just as Well, now sporting a mark of 19-5-5-3, $978,155, is in career-best form at the age of six. After placing in the Gulfstream Park Turf S. (G1), Maker's Mark Mile S. (G1) and Dixie S. (G2) earlier this season for his owner/trainer, the dark bay broke through with his first stakes coup in the Arlington H. (G3) in July. Just as Well followed up with a solid second to divisional leader Gio Ponti (Tale of the Cat) in the Arlington Million (G1) last time out.

Sheppard had mixed feelings about the result, which was Just as Well's first grade I win.

“I feel badly," he said. "Neil (Drysdale) is a good friend. He’s got an awfully good horse. He possibly was the best horse but he certainly beared across the course in the late stages.

“Even though we weren’t really the recipient of it, I give Julien a lot of credit because he easily could have been in the melee. I think he saw it coming up and managed to sneak out from behind them and have a clear run down the middle. The horse ran a superb race.”

“We thought coming out of two consecutive 1 1/4 races where he was closing well that this is a good time to try him at the 1 1/2-mile (distance),” said Sheppard. “Julien got him settled very nicely. He relaxed for him and he came with his run. He probably just took a while extricating himself. If he had a clear run right when they first turned from home he maybe would have got there anyway.”

This reviewer believes he definitely would have gotten there. The final time for the 1 1/2-mile event was a swift 2:26.68 on a firm course.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

“Once Bullish Racing Industry Faces Slow Death from Maryland “Matador” Michael Busch and The Amazing Political Picadors”

THIS LETTER APPEARED IN THE AUGUST 2 ISSUE OF THE "BLOOD HORSE."


# After Maryland legislators blocked the passing of slots for years, many of our best trainers, farms, and Maryland-bred horses left the area for neighboring states with slots gambling. West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Delaware provided lucrative bonus opportunities in their state bred programs and huge purses to owners of state bred horses. As Maryland-breds and Maryland racetracks had little to offer in comparison, our industry’s lifeblood began its slow trickle toward death.
# Our politicians pulled a cape of misinformation over the eyes of the public, insisting slots gambling would increase crime and "take the food out of the mouth’s of children."
# By 2008, Maryland was facing a financial deficit so huge that state legislators finally backed off the slots issue, and the public was allowed to vote on a referendum in the November 2008 ballot. Even Speaker of the Maryland House, Michael Busch, stopped waving his cape. On November 4, 2009, the people voted and the referendum for slots passed by an overwhelming majority.
# But the games started again late in 2008 when Governor Martin O’Malley and Maryland legislative leaders appointed a Maryland Slots Commission. Most of us had expected to see the slot machines installed at Laurel Racetrack, but we didn’t grasp the significance of the fine print within the Comission’s bidding rules. In February of 2009, Magna subsidiary, Laurel Racing Association, refused to hand over $28.5 million for the chance to bid on a slots license.
# It seems the Association had concerns about getting its money back if local zoning rules created hurdles for their project. Laurel contended the requirement of the licensing fee was without clarity, or legal authority to ensure refundability – that it was unlawful and should not be enforced. Laurel was, however, willing to put the money into escrow.
# At a scheduled hearing, the Slots Commission voted to deny Laurel a bid after ignoring representatives from the Laurel Racing Association and their request for a chance to speak.
# Meanwhile the Baltimore-based developer, Cordish Companies put up $28.5 million and waited to be granted a slot’s license. But in an effort to get the bidding reopened, Laurel sued the Maryland Slots Commission. The case finally wound up with the Maryland Court of Appeals, Maryland’s highest court. Laurel’s insistence there was no legal safeguard for the return of their money, was one of the issues the court was supposed to rule on.
# Being a longtime Maryland horse breeder and hoping to see slots installed at Laurel – a site which would have by far the most positive effect on Maryland racing and breeding – I checked the internet daily for word of the court’s ruling. I even called the court near the end of June and the woman who answered the phone said the decision would come "anytime now."
# Imagine my surprise when I checked the website early in July and read this.: "After June 9, 2009, the Court will recess until September 2, 2009." What a joke. A whole industry waits for a decision and they're in recess!
# But wait! Don’t forget the Cordish Companies’s $28.5 million. The State of Maryland still holds the money and, I assume, receives fat interest payments.
# Meanwhile, Anne Arundel County, where Cordish plans to put slots, had some zoning issues. After indicating a zoning change was required, the County leaders decided not to rule on the issue until September. Do you think Cordish is being screwed? Do you think Laurel Racing was right?
# If you’re a supporter of Kentucky racing no doubt you were dismayed last week to learn the politicians there had dashed your hopes of legalizing slots. My God, you Kentuckians ask, are we following in Maryland’s bloody wake?
# You might ask yourself, "Who benefits from not having slots?" I'd bet my farm that money has been paid in both states, to some person or entity to stop the legalization of slots. Webster's Dictionary should remove the word altruism altogether.
# Maybe I should just have a vodka gimlet and not worry about this stuff. My concerns and efforts to follow the money and figure out who or what is behind each political roadblock are about as useful as beating the carrion eaters off a dead horse.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bet the Dream Photos


See more photos and sales information for this yearling filly at link posted at top of link list on the right.

Monday, July 27, 2009

IN RAVENS HONOR




Above: In Her Honor, Sasscer Hill, Bet the Dream, and In Ravens Honor as a yearling in August of 2008.

In Her Honor’s two-year-old filly, In Raven’s Honor, finished second first time out at Philadelphia Park on July 27, 2009. Quick as a wink she was on the lead from the outside post in a sprint going only 4 and ½ furlongs! She led until mid-stretch and was passed in the last strides. The eventual third-place finisher tried to get past her, but In Ravens Honor dug in and prevailed by 3/4! Leading most of the way, she went in 22 and 2, 46 and 3. Final time was 53 flat.

Her trainer, Ramon Preciado was so excited, he called me up after the race! Even though I "gave her away" at the sale last year for $2,500, I am very happy for Ramon as he is also the owner, and took a big chance on her as she has one crooked front leg and may very well have soundness issues. But the way she flew out of that gate was just like watching For Love and Honor. And he won $418,000!

Who knows, maybe my correct Outflanker colt out of In Her Honor will bring a little money for the farm!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Maryland Court of Appeals Dismisses Laurel Racing's Suit

Has any state ever worked so hard to trash an industry?

On July 21, -- despite the press's contention the Maryland of court of appeals was in recess until September -- the court ruled that a dispute over Laurel Park’s disqualified bid to open a slot-machine casino should be decided by a state contracting board before being litigated in court. In other words, they refused to rule, sending the issue back for further delay.

I have to wonder if a slots license will ever be awarded to anyone before the Maryland racing industry is buried six feet under. Amazing how Pennsylvania got their slots up and running in record time with barely a quibble. The purses there are up 100%, and bonuses for PA breds are fabulous.

Who is lining the pockets of our state legislators to keep killing this industry? Developers? Some as yet unknown group that has their own plans for slots and gambling in our state?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Just As Well Wins the Arlington Handicap



Above photos: Barry Wiseman working Just as Well, and the Arlington Handicap Win Photo.



After hitting the board in grade 1 turf races at both Gulfstream Park and Keeneland this year, "Justy" won his first graded stake on Saturday, July 11 at Arlington Park.
Usual rider Julien Leparoux was in the race, riding the second favorite, Thabazimbi. They finished seventh.
New rider E.T. Baird gave Justy a brilliant ride, allowing him to lollygag in the back of the field early in this mile-and-one-quarter race. In the backstretch, Baird asked Justy to run, and the horse responded with a rocket turn-of-foot, passing horses like they were nailed in place and gaining the lead in time to power under the wire ahead of them all.
This past week Barry Wiseman rode Justy onto the track at Presque Isle Downs in Erie, PA and gave him his last speed work before the Handicap. Barry has had Justy in his care for most of the past year at Gulfstream Park, the most recent two Keeneland meets, and now at Presque Isle Downs.
I’ve watched Barry work a lot of horses and he rarely uses the whip, preferring to let the horse work "in hand," instead of "whipping and driving." He’s pretty sure the latter leads to injuries and a sour horse. He is also keenly aware of how many horses run their race in that last work, leaving little for the main event.
Though Barry never asked him, Justy worked so fast it would have been alarming if the horse wasn’t so talented. In the end, Barry’s ride appears to have been just what the horse needed.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

THE MAIN EVENT

THE STORY - FROM START TO FINISH.

No Bettor Love was due to have her fourth foal on March 26th. I had taken her to the Christmas Farm to foal out, and the Mexican groom there, Nacho, was sure she would not foal until the moon was at least half full on April 2, and more likely when the moon was full on April 9.
"The moon," he said, "she pulla the foal out."
Meanwhile, No Bettor is getting bigger and bigger, and I’m quite alarmed by the obviously huge size of the foal in her uterus. Donny Christmas, who owns the farm tells me, "I had one like that named Soap. She used to have huge foals. The last one was so big it got stuck in the birth canal too long, had brain damage, and we had to put it down."
Thank you, Donny. I’m trying to forget that after 25 years of good luck, in the past three years I’ve lost two foals shortly after birth. They give you time to bond, fall in love, and then they’re gone. This business is not for the faint of heart.
I drive over and check on the mare every day, and for some reason I went twice on Tuesday, March 24. On the second trip, early that afternoon, I give her some carrots and peppermints and as a matter of habit, I lean over to examine her udder. The wax plugs on the teats have popped out, her legs are speckled with wax, and there is milk dripping down her legs. My God, this mare is close to foaling!
I grab my cell and call Donny. He doesn’t answer. I call my husband who always answers his cell. He doesn’t answer. I trot over to Nacho’s little house and politely knock on his door. He comes out, and I tell him about the plugs, the wax, and the milk.
"Nah, she not gonna foal," he says, gesturing at the sky. "No moon . . . maybe two three days. But I make stall." The mare has always lived outdoors with a run-in-shed, and is treated the same way at Donny’s. But when it’s close to foaling time, into a stall she must go. Still, Nacho’s expression suggests I might be a hysterical female. I march back to No Bettor Love’s paddock.
But a little while later Nacho comes over and looks, sees what I see and says, "She not gonna foal until the moon more full." I refrain from saying what he can do with the moon.
That evening, I’m to attend my mystery-writing critique group and I think I can probably check on No Bettor on the way there, and on the way back. I do. On the way there, she is still in the paddock, but she is calm, has eaten her tub of grain and is working on a nice pile of hay and alfalfa. Her stall has been made up by Nacho, and over the clean, knee-deep yellow-straw, a feed tub is fastened in one corner and two freshly filled water buckets hang in the other.
I attend critique, where my buddies have brought cupcakes, cookies and more cupcakes as my birthday is on March 31 and we won’t see each other before then. We have a great time eating cupcakes and pointing out things that could be better in the story one of the gals is presenting. I feel kind of silly, as this gal has been nominated for an Agatha award, and here I am telling her how her work could be improved. But that is how we mystery authors work together and become better writers. My cell phone has, of course, been in my pocket the whole time. Just in case.
My critique group breaks up a little after nine, and I put the pedal to the metal and roll south on the Washington Beltway toward Upper Marlboro. I arrive at Donny’s and find No Bettor Love knee deep in straw, and Donny up on a ladder, fussing with the camera he uses to watch the foaling mares at night. I look at the mare and see milk squirt out of her udder, and to me she seems quite restless.
Donny, an old time horseman, whose father bred Maryland stake’s winners, including Subaru, who won the Black- Eyed Susans on Preakness day, refuses to get ruffled.
"I suppose she could foal tonight," he says, "but tomorrow night would be more likely."
Who am I to question the wisdom of a man who has foaled out at least 500 mares and whose uncle trained the legendary chestnut mare, Gallorette. Gallorette ran back in 1940s, is a member of the Racing Hall of Fame, and among other stellar accomplishments, managed to beat the leading male horse, Stymie. Three times.
Donny gets off his ladder and goes to look for something.
I promptly move the ladder which is blocking the solid-wood sliding-door to the stall. Pushing the door open, I step inside. No Bettor comes to greet me, then starts walking her stall in a circle. Crawling into the safe corner beneath No Bettor’s feed tub, I curl up to wait.
When Donny gets back, he looks through the Iron bars above and says, "You going to sleep in there tonight?"
"I’m not sure," I say. "Thought I’d lie here a while and see what happens."
No Bettor throws her tail up twice and stretches her neck out. She tries to pee two or three times with little success. Then she cocks her head, just like she is listening, and I know she is listening to her foal. I know it, but say nothing. No Bettor paws a few times and lies down.
She groans a little, and Donny says, "I believe this mare might foal tonight."
Duh, yeah. He bustles off to get a tail bandage, and feeling a rush of adrenalin, I curl up tighter in my corner. Even if all goes well with the foaling, the first thirty days of a foal’s life are critical. I have lost two foals in the past three years during these crucial days.
Donny reappears with a purple bandage, and kneels in the straw by No Bettor’s tail and starts wrapping. He’s about halfway through, and No Bettor’s water breaks and gushes all over Donny. With great effort, I refrain from a smart comment.

# # #

Donny gets the tail bandaged, pulls out his cell, and calls Nacho.
"This mare’s getting ready to foal. You better get over here right quick."
Using Donny’s phone, I call my husband, Daniel. "Her water just broke. Donny might need some help pulling this foal out."
Daniel says he’ll be right over, but I’m pretty sure he won’t get here in time. No Bettor Love gets up with a groan. Tremendous changes have taken place in such a short period. Her hindquarters near her tail bone have softened, the muscles almost flaccid. Her vulva is gaping wide, and . . . .
"Donny, there’s the bubble!"
A white membrane that covers the foal has separated from No Bettor’s placenta. It has pushed out about six inches out from the vulva. The mare groans, circles twice, and folds herself gently onto the floor.
We rush over to No Bettor, and Donny grasps the membrane. I can see two sets of hooves and ankles through the thick film.
"Those are awfully big hooves," Donny says and slides one hand inside the mare a wee bit.
"Is there a nose?" I ask. Please, God, let there be a nose.
"I think I’ve got a nose," he says.
I almost do a little fist pump of relief. The baby should come out like a diver, front legs stretched out, nose tucked down just above the ankles. It should surge up and over – then dive down from – the mare’s pelvic girdle. Your worst nightmare is a breach birth, where the foal vainly tries to come out backwards with all the legs pointing the wrong way. In this situation, with a large foal, you’re lucky if you can save the mare. The foal’s chances are slim to none. Unless your're in a hospital setting, you cannot perform a C-section on a mare and expect her to live.
We both grab the ridiculously slippery front ankles and pull a little as the mare contracts.
"Look at the size of that muzzle!" Donny’s face is tight with apprehension.
We both work to peel the membrane away from the foal’s nostrils. The mare contracts and I have a little horse head almost in my lap.
"He’s breathing," I whisper. He has a beautiful white blaze, and I’m sure he’s colt. Nacho hurries into the stall, and I slide over to make room.
The hard work is ahead. The mare must push the foal’s large shoulders/withers/girth section through the birth canal. If the foal’s in there too long, he will die.
Donny and Nacho each grasp the foal’s ankles using both hands. The mare contracts and they pull in unison.
The foal is not sliding out. Both men’s faces are grim and tight with effort and the fear they might not get him out.
Donny says, "The mare’s stopped pushing."
I look at No Bettor and she’s clearly exhausted. She groans and I call to her quietly, "Come on mommy, you can do it."
After a short breather, she starts pushing again, and Donny and Nacho’s faces reflect the tremendous physical strain they are under. I see the colt’s chest, the front of his withers.
"No Bettor Love," I call like I did when she’d come down the turf stretch on the lead in Virginia. Only, this time, I’m not screaming with excitement. My voice sounds more like a prayer.
The mare gives one last massive contraction, and the foal gushes out. With his narrow hindquarters stretched out behind, the last part of his dive over his mother’s pelvis is a quick slide home.
Everyone is panting. Donny and Nacho slump to the floor for a moment. The mare is breathing hard and lies still a few seconds before she raises her head and cranes her neck to look back at her foal.
Daniel arrives and appears mesmerized as he stares at the foal, the membrane that is still covering his hind legs, and the traces of blood that have splashed everywhere. The colt kicks, shoving himself away from mother’s hindquarters, tearing off more of the white membrane as he struggles toward the inevitable break with the umbilical cord.
No Bettor groans and sits up to look at her baby, but she’s too exhausted to rise. There is no rush. She has a while before the baby will find his sea legs and clamber up from the floor.
But he tries, thrusting his front legs out before him, raising his front end a foot off the floor before he loses balance and sinks down. He looks around at everyone and whinnies.
I grin. It’s a manly little whinny; he has to be a colt. Using clean towels, Daniel and I rub the colt dry, stimulating his circulation and introducing him to the touch of human hands.
The next time he tries to rise, he scoots forward far enough to break the umbilical cord. Donny brings a plastic cup filled with the antiseptic, Novalson. Easing down next to the foal, Donny attempts to roll him over to expose the umbilicus – a veritable highway for bacteria to enter the blood stream of the foal. But the colt’s having none of it, his incredibly long hind legs kicking wildly like flying hockey sticks.
"He’s a colt," Donny says, nodding. "And a strong son of a gun."
Nacho moves in and gets a grip on the colt, and Donny immerses the umbilical stump into the cup of Novalson, letting the blue antiseptic splash over the entire area. I breathe a sigh of relief. On more milestone passed.
Thrusting her front legs out, No Bettor Love rocks forward, groans and getting her back legs beneath her, rises up. The colt struggles to get up, too, the nursing instinct strong. A few more attempts, and suddenly, he’s up! Once he gets his sea legs and starts walking, he begins investigating various parts of the mare, not sure what he’s looking for, but certain it’s there. Somewhere.
Donny, never one to stay up all night watching a foal play hit-or-miss, moves in and with Nacho’s help, directs the searching little horse-lips to the right spot. The magic of a foal getting his first milk -- sucking, gurgling, his whole body trembling in eagerness, his tail almost wagging. No Better has her nose on the colt’s rump now, pushing him in closer, licking him, encouraging him to get his fill.
It's all basic, but to me, it’s a miracle. As I watch, the muscles in the colt’s throat roll the life giving colostrum filled with antibodies into his system. As always, here is where I let go and cry.
We have done all we can do.
I thank God, The Force, Mother Nature, and anyone else who's up there. I go home, light a candle, and pray the little guy makes it through the crucial thirty days ahead.

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