When Sea Of Clouds showed – and earned – very little in his two lifetime starts on the racetrack, Sheikh Fahad Al Thani of Qatar Racing wasted no time finding him a happy and suitable alternative career. He had the right connections.
It won't be long now. The Preakness is less than two weeks away and Baltimore's racetrack will become America's racetrack for a little while. Maggie Kimmitt stopped by for a stakes-filled card April 18 and captured a slew of images of the racing, and the scene, at the historic track.
The Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks dominated the racing world last weekend, rightfully so considering on-track crowds were in excess of 300,000 and television audiences into the millions – but there was plenty of top-tier racing across the country and around the world.
When researching the connections of some of the greatest Thoroughbreds, it often goes undocumented how many times they change hands or how many great people, farms and consignors are involved with them beyond the breeder, owner, trainer and jockey.
Tom VanMeter, D.V.M., has enjoyed tremendous success as a breeder, as a former partner in industry giant Eaton Sales and more recently with his personal consignment company, VanMeter Sales.
Gary Stevens reached for the buckle of his over girth underneath Firing Line’s heaving belly and turned to Simon Callaghan.
“He’s one brave son of a bitch,” Stevens said to the trainer, as 17 horses slowed to a standstill on the Churchill Downs dirt Saturday evening.
Callaghan nodded his head, a solemn up and down. Stevens nodded his, a solemn side to side.
The masses flooded into Churchill Downs on a beautiful day Saturday, smashing the attendance record for American racing’s biggest day. The reported attendance of 170,513 that turned out to see American Pharoah defeat Firing Line, Dortmund and 15 others easily broke the previous mark of 165,307 set in 2012 when I’ll Have Another was victorious.
A trainer who was in a coma last April gave an opportunity to a 56-year-old, roughneck jockey to ride a horse who was named after a disabled hotel worker in Florida and owned by a former Kentucky Governor. All that unfolded Friday at Churchill Downs as Gov. Brereton Jones’ Lovely Maria, trained by Larry Jones and ridden by Kerwin “Boo Boo” Clark, won the Longines Kentucky Oaks in front of the largest crowd in the race’s history, 123,763.
Three separate groups totaling ten people lined the bar for sandwiches and beverages at lunchtime at a watering hole on the west side of Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Friday afternoon and to a man and woman, they were talking about one thing – Saturday’s 141st running of the Kentucky Derby.
Molly Morgan seems to be getting better with age. The Dale Romans trainee captured her first career Grade 1 victory in Friday’s $300,000 La Troienne in front of a loud, lively and record Kentucky Oaks crowd on a near-perfect afternoon at Churchill Downs.
They’re racing in Kentucky this weekend, right? Plenty of eyes will be on the Derby, its 19 runners, $2 million purse and worldwide acclaim, but Thoroughbreds will be running and jumping in Virginia, North Carolina and Delaware as part of the steeplechase circuit this weekend.
A loaded field for Friday’s 141st Longines Kentucky Oaks highlights a huge afternoon of stakes action at Churchill Downs and the handicapping team from This Is Horse Racing is ready to solve the riddles of the day.