Apr 30 2018

Kentucky Derby Trends 2018

This article includes some trends about recent Kentucky Derby winners and other horses that have finished in the money for the Derby.  Part of this discussion has to include the special challenge of distance for Derby contestants and related to that, the added challenge of horses facing a stretch run that is quite long at Churchill Downs.

As most people are aware, the Kentucky Derby is 1 1/4 mile (10 furlongs) long.  A distance that no horse in the field has ever run prior to the Derby.  That alone is challenge enough.  In addition to that, many of the horses are coming from racetracks that have a stretch run considerably shorter than at Churchill Downs.  The diagrams below shows the stretch runs for Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita Park.  The length of the stretch runs are shown in feet beneath the blue arrows.
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Feb 25 2018

Left At The Starting Gate

Ok, so that didn’t go exactly as planned.  If I were a racehorse, I think I’d have been declared a non-starter!  My intention a few months ago was to make a return off a long layoff.  What I didn’t know at the time was my biggest obstacle to recovery was lurking around the next corner.  In later September I went into a tailspin that nearly resulted in a crash landing.  It wasn’t until December that I was able to pull out of my dive and right the plane.

So once again I push myself up from the ground, spit out the dirt, and try again.  However, this time I’ve decided to hold off on horse racing and focus on my mental and physical recovery.  On the physical side, I’ve made tremendous strides in the past two months and for the first time in a very long time I’m able to walk, exercise, and rebuild my strength.  It’s a slow process since so many muscles and joints were inactive for a very long time, but progress is being made.

On the mental side, let’s just say that I’ve had to draw on every bit of courage I could muster to survive this ordeal.  But with the undying support of family, friends, and some special caregivers, I’m finally hopeful that I will survive this ordeal.

And, on the subject of courage, I have created a new website (www.daringways.com) called Daring Ways (Living with Courage).  The content of this website will be based on a lifetime of experience with an emphasis on personal anecdotes and messages that I hope will inspire readers to adopt a daring lifestyle of their own.  It is here that I will devote my attention in the upcoming months while continuing my recovery.  If all goes well, then I hope to resume authoring material on this website later this year.

In the meantime, I invite you to visit the new website and subscribe to my blog via e-mail.  There are a couple of essays already posted for your reading pleasure.

Sincerely,


Neal Headshot2
Neal Benoit

Aug 29 2017

NYRA NOW App Review

In a recent article, I said there is no comparison between experiencing horseracing live at the track and watching it on television. With that said, there are times that we simply can’t make it to the racetrack. For these times, you should be aware of an App called NYRA NOW which is available on multiple platforms in HD format. The two platforms I will discuss in this article are the iPad and Roku.  The screenshots shown below will be from the iPad at the current Saratoga meet.

The NYRA NOW App shows only NY racing (Belmont, Saratoga, Aqueduct) and you must have a NY BETS account to access the app.  Click here for more information from NYRA about the App, including platforms supported.

The following are the main features offered by the NYRA NOW App:

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Aug 18 2017

Heading to Saratoga: Where to Eat and Drink 2017

Welcome to Saratoga

By Guest Author: Nancy Meyers

Part 1 of this series gave some tips on things to think about when selecting a location to stay in Saratoga. Click here to read that article.

Part 2 of this series offered some “Must See and Do’s” while you are visiting the Saratoga Springs area. Click here to read that article.

So now that you have found a place to stay, and have outlined a plan of things to see while traveling around Saratoga, where will you enjoy a meal with family or friends? In full disclosure, my husband and I do not have children, so if it’s family friendly places you are interested in, we can’t be of much help, except to acknowledge restaurants that appeared to have a lot of families in them. In addition, I am only offering commentary about restaurants or bars or lounges in which we have enjoyed a cocktail or eaten a meal. Reports from other friends about their experiences are not included. Finally, we usually rent a place within walking distance of downtown, so there are few restaurants that require a drive out of town.

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Jul 31 2017

Inspirational Lady Eli

Lady Eli Diana Stakes 2017

Lady Eli’s recent win in the grade one Diana Stakes was exhilarating. Her career record of nine wins in 12 starts and three second-place finishes is incredible. Her return to racing in August of last year after a 14 month layoff is amazing. But, what happened during that 420 day layoff is truly inspirational.

Before we go there, let’s turn back the clock a little bit. In August 2014 I was at Saratoga when Lady Eli made her winning debut in a maiden race. She followed that with a win in a stakes race at Belmont in September. I was so impressed by these two races that I later featured her in an article about visual handicapping just before the Breeders’ Cup. A video replay of the stakes race is in that article, and I described her maiden win at Saratoga as follows: “she was buried behind a wall of horses at the top of the stretch, bounced around quite a bit as she tried to get through, altered course, and finished with a burst to win by a nose. It was the kind of effort that really gets your attention.” I went on to say, “her first race showed an ability to overcome obstacles and her second race suggests there is a ton of upside for this promising filly.” She went on to win the Breeders’ Cup and her next three races after that.

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Jul 20 2017

Returning From My Long Layoff

After nearly 2 years away from my website, I am attempting a return from this extended layoff. At this time I prefer not to go into details about why I have been away so long. It’s not a very easy story to tell, and even more unpleasant to listen to. Suffice it to say it was a combination of successive medical problems that made it impossible for me to continue posting articles. The good news is that I have been improving recently. However, with that said, I still have some obstacles to overcome before I return to full health.

It was suggested by one of my doctors that I make an attempt to resume doing something that I am passionate about as I continue on this recovery process. If you followed my website in the past you know there are few things I am more passionate about than thoroughbred horse racing. It is hard for me to make any promises about the frequency of my new articles nor the content. I do make this promise, I will try to stay focused on horse racing, with the understanding that I am not the same person I was when I stopped writing two years ago. I ask you, the readers, to have patience with me … as I try to regain my racing form.

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Sep 11 2015

Intangibles Make Saratoga Special

Welcome to Saratoga

By Guest Author: Nancy Meyers

When Neal asked me to submit a series of articles about Saratoga, the initial idea was that I would focus on specific topics about where to stay, where to eat and what to see at the track and around town. I’ve enjoyed writing the articles and thank Neal for the opportunity to assist him during his time of recovery. My husband and I once again traveled to Saratoga earlier this month with our Corgi for another week to enjoy racing, the Philadelphia Orchestra at SPAC and a city that we felt we knew and love. It would have been easy to simply write about specific topics and leave it at that, but our recent trip to the Spa compelled me to ask Neal to allow me to write a final installment about the intangibles that make Saratoga so special.

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Sep 5 2015

Kentucky Downs – A Pastoral and Primal Experience

Kentucky Downs

LIVE Racing in 2017 on September 6,7, 9, 10, 14.

I recently returned to Kentucky Downs for the 2nd consecutive year, and I’m happy to report my experience was exhilarating. At one point I said to my wife, “This is becoming my favorite racetrack to visit.” Without missing a beat, she replied, “You say that about EVERY racetrack that we visit.” Touché.

We do visit a lot of racetracks. Just in the past year, I counted ten altogether. From Saratoga, down to Gulfstream, and all the way up to Emerald Downs in the Pacific Northwest. But Kentucky Downs is different, and in this case I mean “different” in a good way.

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Aug 30 2015

Head Trainer Tom Morley – Honesty Is His Trademark

Tom Morley2 Spa 2015

Head Trainer Tom Morley

When we last visited with Tom, nearly two years ago, his stable consisted of himself, Maggie Wolfendale, one groom, one hot-walker, and about a dozen horses. Since that time, his stable has grown to around fifty horses, with 33 stabled on the grounds at Saratoga and Belmont, a dozen two-year olds in nearby training centers where Tom visits them on a regular basis, and about five older horses turned out at farms (having a mid-season break). His staff now consists of two full-time assistants, eight grooms, eight hot-walkers, and, of course, now lady of the castle – Maggie Wolfendale-Morley.

Tom Morley Stable remains a New York based operation, but will soon be expanding into other racing circuits. Tom told us “Fifty horses is a good competitive number to divide the stable”. After Saratoga, Tom plans on leaving some horses at Saratoga and moving the rest back to Belmont. In the fall, he intends to send some horses to Keeneland for the first time. Then over the winter he plans to ship a division to Florida and stable them at either Payson Park or Palm Meadows. In Florida, his two assistants, Pearl Hagadorn and Sarah O’Brien, will manage the operations while Tom runs the New York division. Tom added “In the future, when my staff has been with me longer, I wouldn’t be afraid to let the number of horses grow larger. At the end of the day, it’s not just a numbers game, but you need to have the numbers because there is always a level of attrition, when horses get hurt, sick, or taken away by an owner.”

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Aug 23 2015

Know Your Trainers – Pletcher vs. Mott

Includes data through July 23, 2015 (with a recent update on a Bill Mott turnaround category).

A frequent question asked by new fans trying to learn more about horse racing is, “Where do I begin?” My immediate response is generally, “Get to know your trainers.” While learning about topics like distance, class, and pace are important … in my opinion, none are as important as learning about the tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses of trainers. With that thought in mind, last year we started a new series of articles called “Know Your Trainers.”

In this series we will dig into the statistics of some head trainers and try to make sense of the numbers we find. We thought it might be fun to present the numbers in a “competitive” manner by pairing trainers. With that said, we are not trying to judge the trainers or claim that one is better than another. Our intention is to pair trainers who have statistics in comparable categories and present some plausible reasons why they might differ.

Here is an update on two of the big names in the business, Todd Pletcher and Bill Mott. Our focus will be on two main areas; Graded Stakes and First Time Starters (FTS). The statistics presented were gathered with Daily Racing Form’s online software Formulator. We limited the data to the past two years, but you can go back five years if you want a larger sample of data.

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