The Outside Rail

Contributions from TIHR co-founder, editor and writer Joe Clancy.

Stopping by the farm

Mostly, I had time to kill. What I got was a great morning and a reminder of a few things. One, horses are cool creatures. Two, horse people work hard. And three, I need to get out of the office more often.

It's Your Nickel scores for breeder Wigmore

Hockey and horse racing. Start a conversation about one or the other and you’re liable to get somewhere. I called Steve Wigmore about both two weeks ago. He owns a horse named after a hockey player I follow (the horse, Gostisbehere, is with Charlie LoPresti; the player, defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, is in his second season with the Philadelphia Flyers) and we published a story last week about them that shed some light on both.

Remembering Jim Stevenson

If Jim Stevenson read this, he’d probably say I overwrote it. Something like that, anyway. But, here goes.

Many Clouds made me think

I was in a Starbucks, sipping a too-hot, venti Earl Grey and recovering from a Saturday morning spin class. That’s what we do on Saturdays. Nolan swims, Sam and I spin, go to Starbucks, get him a hot chocolate on the way out and head back to the YMCA in time for the end of swim practice.

Pegasus takes flight

You ready for Pegasus World Cup I? The Roman numeral is mine, but if ever a horse race deserved the Super Bowl designation it’s one named after a statue of a mythical winged horse stomping on a fire-breathing dragon. But there’s more to the Pegasus, which is harder to type than I thought, than a gimmick.

So you want a new website...

Our first website was supposed to be a steeplechase portal, before anybody knew what a portal was. We called it horsesjump.com or some such thing. It was awful.

Welcome To Santa Anita

"You've never been here?"

It happened - oh, I don't know - a half-dozen times this morning. And, no, I've never been to Santa Anita Park, host of the 2016 Breeders' Cup World Championships, until today. What a place. It's a classic American racetrack, one I'd somehow never been to in my 51 years on Earth.

Remembering Johnny Griggs

The early 1990s were heady times for American steeplechasing, and Dr. John K. Griggs was right in the middle of it with a chestnut flash named Warm Spell. The Kentucky-bred son of Northern Baby challenged the bigger names from the barns of Jonathan Sheppard, Janet Elliot, Bruce Miller and company - and frequently beat them.

Making the right call with Songbird

A racing fan watched the post-race interviews conclude after the Cotillion at Parx Racing Saturday and called to me from the far side of the winner's circle. "Joe, hey Joe, Joey, hey Joey, come here. What did Jerry say? What does Rick want to do? Which Breeders' Cup race are they going to run in? They have to run in the Classic, don't they? They have to test her. If she's a great one, she's got to be tested. It's the Classic, right?"

Wrong. It was never the Classic. It was always the Distaff.

Merck gives back to horses, one more time

Fast, slow, friendly, mean, large, small, English, Irish, American, filly, mare, gelding or stallion, the horses always mattered to Betty Merck. She grew up riding ponies, graduated to fox hunters and point-to-pointers, became a racehorse owner at 75 and led the National Steeplechase Association owners' list at 89.

"I love to spend time with horses," she said simply in 2009, when asked to explain why she was involved as an owner. Merck backed up that statement by retiring her horses, frequently to her farm in Bedminster, N.J., and giving them as much care and respect in retirement as they received while racing.