Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from the new book "American Pharoah: The Untold Story of the Triple Crown Winner's Legendary Rise. Published by Hachette Books, American Pharoah is written by the New York Times' Joe Drape.
It was an hour drive on I-64, and Baffert knew he was going to make it as soon as he learned that Silver Charm was coming home from Japan after a decade to taking up residence at Old Friends, a retirement farm for accomplished racehorses in Georgetown, Kentucky. He had two other horses there as well—Danthebluegrassman and Game On Dude. He wanted Jill and Bode to meet him as well. They were not yet a family when Silver Charm gave Baffert his first Kentucky Derby and launched his Hall of Fame career.
Kentucky Derby Week is underway. Technically it started Sunday, like every other week every month, every year. Still, you get the point. It’s Tuesday and it’s Derby Week.
The Kentucky Derby is serious business to Kenny Troutt and the team at WinStar Farm.
Just how serious?
So serious that the farm, which bred 2003 winner Funny Cide and owned and bred 2010 winner Super Saver, has been represented in the race either as sole or co-owner with 16 starters in the last 10 editions.
Gary Stevens took a good hold of Mor Spirit into the backstretch, started to leave Jim Barnes and the pony behind as his workmate opened up a few lengths during his mount’s final serious breeze before Saturday’s Kentucky Derby Monday morning at Churchill Downs.
Stevens, sensing a slight aggressiveness from Mor Spirit, immediately let the rider on the workmate know things were going to get a bit more serious a little earlier than planned.
Barry Irwin wrote a book, and you’re in it. OK, maybe you’re not but it probably made you take a brief pause. Irwin, head of the Team Valor racing syndicate, once said trainers lied to him – on national television – and has unabashedly spoken his mind for decades in the business. And now he’s written a book? Look out. TIHR’s Joe Clancy caught up with Irwin to discuss the book (Derby Innovator, The Making of Animal Kingdom), Kentucky Derby winner turned dual-continent stallion Animal Kingdom, Team Valor, racing and more.
The last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of April do funny things to hours, minutes and seconds on certain Thoroughbred farms in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia. It’s time for the Maryland Cup, North America’s oldest and most traditional steeplechase race.
Three states, three race meets, fascinating storylines in all directions. The jumpers go to North Carolina for the Queen’s Cup, headlined by a $75,000 novice hurdle stakes and the seasonal debut of Grade 1 hurdler Demonstrative; Virginia for the Foxfield Races, where the featured optional claimer drew a crack field; and Maryland for the Maryland Hunt Cup, the granddaddy of all North American jump races. Kick on.
The Kentucky Derby is just a week away as racing goes through another transition this week with shifts in venues in Kentucky and New York. Opening Night at Churchill Downs and the first Saturday of the Belmont Park spring-summer meeting highlight this weeks Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud, home of Alternation, Broken Vow and Cowboy Cal.
Boyd Martin laughed at the thought. It was moments after winning the Asheville Regional Airport $75,000 Wellington Eventing Showcase on Blackfoot Mystery in February.
“I feel sorry for the jockeys who have ever ridden him,” Martin said.
There were three.
The National Museum of Racing rolled out the 2016 Hall of Fame induction class earlier this week – unfortunately the same day official word came out that the 2018 Breeders’ Cup would be at Churchill Downs – and talk about a stellar group.
Joel Rosario shook hands with well wishers four times during the short walk from the winner’s circle to the jockey’s room Wednesday at Keeneland, the grip of his black-gloved right hand firm and strong and showing no ill effects from a fracture more than three months earlier.
Rosario earned a trip to the winner’s circle aboard No Hiding Place in the featured seventh race, an allowance-optional on the main track, for his first win in his second mount of the day on his first day riding since suffering his injury Feb. 20 at Gulfstream Park.
Ignacio Correas IV showed up at Keeneland a little more than a year ago, fresh from leaving a job as a private trainer in Maryland with just two horses and a fair share of uncertainty.
Tuesday morning after training hours wrapped up, Correas reflected back on not-so-distant past and the present as he stood in the shedrow of Barn 41 up on a hill within wafting distance from the biscuits and gravy cooking inside the track kitchen.