Spring is in full swing. The Grand National and Middleburg Spring Races are in the books, the Maryland Hunt Cup right around the corner. The Kentucky Derby a little more than a week away. The pace is picking up all over the country and in New York they welcome a new chairman to the NYRA board and rolled out plans for the Belmont Stakes Festival.
Hard to imagine it was just a few weeks ago nearly everyone was anxiously awaiting the melting of the snow. Now we're enjoying all the signs of spring and wondering when to get started on the garden for the summer.
Get those bags packed and safe travels to all headed out of town for big racing events in the coming weeks.
"Absolutely mental. Pie-in-the-sky stuff." - Trainer Oliver Sherwood, when asked about what it was like to win the Grand National
"I lost it already." - Four-time champion Paddy Young after winning the opener and losing the second race at Middleburg
"Where's the love for the PA peeps? Remember you're a PA-bred." - Trainer Todd McKenna to TIHR's Sean Clancy after McKenna turned a double at the Grand National and didn't get a story on TIHR
"I left my telephone at home yesterday. By mistake. But what a joy!! I will do that again. On purpose. Although 'payback' when I was eventually reunited with it last night. Filled with messages. Very few of which were either interesting or necessary...' - Trainer George Baker, in his daily blog.
"What are you doing here?" - Jockey Joel Rosario to TIHR's Sean Clancy at Charles Town
"Good feeling isn't it?" - Jockey Martin Rohan to jockey Bethany Baumgardner after she won her first race at My Lady's Manor
"Yeah, Bet. Yeah, Bet. Yeah, Bet." - Baumgardner's brother, Addison, after Snow Blizard's win
"It's definitely something I think about, if I were to do one or the other, I would ride a horse patiently than going too early. I watch a lot of races in England, Paul Carberry won a race at Aintree where he just dropped him on the line, that was pretty cool." - Jockey Connor Hankin, after doubling with two patients rides at the Manor
"Now, that was the wrong guy to say that in front of." - Dr. John Fisher, after his school-days nickname "Cactus" was revealed to Sean Clancy
"Everybody else is dueling and he's sitting." - Trainer Alicia Murphy, describing Mark Beecher's ride on Grinding Speed in the Manor
"We need to attract what I call the B&Bs, the bettors and the buyers." - Anthony Bonomo, who officially took over as chairman of the New York Racing Association board Wednesday
"Back again for the second time." - Mike Del Guidice on his second appointment as vice chairman to the NYRA board
"We sure are emerging as the second leading state in America when it comes to breeding. This is not to say we're going to be No. 1 but we're certainly closing the gap. This is all good news." - Leonard Riggio about the success of New York-breds, including three under consideration for the Kentucky Derby, in 2015
"I don't think this sport can be reformed ... Maybe I'm just a crazy old guy who is interrupting your meetings ... but I can tell you, these horses want to live as much as you and I do." - Animal welfare advocate Wayne Johnson, who in fact interrupted the NYRA board meeting Wednesday to address the group about equine fatalities
"He doesn't seem to have any flaws that horse ... so whatever beats him will probably be the winner." - South African trainer Michael de Kock on Kentucky Derby favorite American Pharoah
"No, we would just like to adjust the tough field but we can't do that." - Kiaran McLaughlin when asked if he would make any adjustments with Frosted for the Kentucky Derby
"It's kind of hard to get into the Derby with these second, third and fourth-round draft choices." - Ken Ramsey on $85,000 yearling purchase International Star
"To be honest I probably picked the worst year when it comes to the competition." - South African trainer Michael de Kock on his first appearance at the Kentucky Derby
"I don't have the specific dimensions but he's big enough to get the job done." - Ramsey on International Star
"As horsemen we have to be flexible when it comes to things like this because horses talk to us." - De Kock
"The thing about Saratoga, there's two seasons: winter and the fourth of July." - Oklahoma Training Track clocker Bob Hamlin
By the Numbers
5: Number of breezes on the Oklahoma training track April 18, the first and through Thursday, the only day any were recorded so far in 2015.
17: Stakes races scheduled for the three-day Belmont Stakes Festival June 4-6, including 10 on Belmont Day.
19: Number of points and the ranking of Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes winner Callback on the list of contenders for the May 1 Kentucky Oaks. The top 14 make the starting gate.
26: Number of horses listed by Churchill Downs April 19 as still under consideration for the Kentucky Derby. The top 20 make the starting gate.
30: Percentage increase of points of sale for food and beverage by NYRA concessionaire Centerplate for this year's Belmont Stakes.
1,732,253: On-track attendance at NYRA tracks in 2014, down 4.5 percent from 1,675,661 in 2013.
590,000,000: Estimated economic impact (in U.S. dollars) of two race meetings and four sales at Keeneland on Lexington and Fayette County, Ky., in 2014.
2,477,916,279: Total handle at NYRA tracks in 2014, down 0.7 percent from 2013.