Archive for the Stories Category

Jul 7 2015

The Difference Between a Spectator and a Fan

Old Proverb:

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Translation into Horse Racing:

“Give a man your picks and you have a spectator for a day. Teach a man to handicap, and you have a fan for a lifetime.”

This has always been my philosophy when introducing horse racing to my family and friends. And it all started with my wife more than thirty years ago. But, let me first confess … it began for selfish reasons.

Jun 26 2015

Thank You Bandit – A Story Of Animal Love

Bandit Curled Up


Warning: This is not a story about horses. It is a personal story about an animal, a pet of mine – that I decided to share with the animal lovers that follow our website.

I have been an animal lover my entire life, especially cats and dogs. I’ve had everything from Siamese cats to Saint Bernards (two at one time, in a mobile home). This story is about my latest, a beautiful white and black cat named Bandit. The photos make it fairly obvious how he got his name. Like many of my pets we rescued him from an animal shelter as a kitten. At the time we had a beagle, named Oscar, who was the family dog for nearly all of our kid’s childhood.


Jun 12 2015

American Pharoah – Inspiring yes, but can he captivate new racing fans?

In June of 1978, at Belmont Park, Affirmed didn’t just win the Triple Crown. He fought for it. He dug in when confronted in the stretch by his adversary, Alydar, looked him in the eye and whinnied, “Hoy no compadre.” Laz Barerra taught him that.

In that moment, countless new racing fans were born. Ask a group of fans between the age of 50 and 60 today what got them hooked on horse racing, and the vast majority of replies will begin with the words, “Affirmed and Alydar.”


Jun 1 2014

5 Fond Memories From The Past 25 Belmont Stakes


Hansel with Jerry Baily

Of all the Triple Crown races, I’ve witnessed the Belmont Stakes in person more than any other. And I think I’ve seen it all. My very first was in 1991 when I watched Hansel desperately hold off Strike The Gold in deep stretch to win by a head, and complete his Preakness-Belmont Stakes double. And this completed my personal double of witnessing the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes in the same year. The next year I saw heavily favored A.P. Indy, with his notable head down running style, grind out a win over a hard-charging European horse named My Memoirs, who was 18-1.  Later that year A.P. Indy went on to win the Breeders Cup Classic, and was subsequently retired to stud, where he went on to be a tremendous success, siring more than 140 Stakes winners.

In 1998 I returned to watch Real Quiet’s attempt to win the Triple Crown. He went off the 4-5 favorite, and at the 1/8 pole he looked like a sure winner. One furlong remained … one furlong to winning the Triple Crown and having his owners collect a $5 million dollar bonus offered that year to any horse capable of winning the elusive Triple Crown.


May 19 2014

A New Spin on Mucho Macho Man’s Breeders’ Cup Win

MMM Signed2

Mucho Macho Man (signed by Gary Stevens)

What do Gary Stevens, John Lies, Craig O’Bryan, Kathy Ritvo, Temeraine, Kentucky Downs Racetrack, and Mucho Macho Man all have in common? They all played a part in winning the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Now admittedly, Mucho Macho Man was the main ingredient in this recipe for success. However, as with any good recipe, there were a number of subtleties that contributed to the savory result. This is a story about one such subtlety and explains the connection between the horses, racetrack, and people listed above.

Before I begin the story, let me explain that I was personally present at Kentucky Downs for Acts Two and Three. For that reason, I offer some of my own commentary on events as they unfolded on those days.

In total there are five acts to this story, and although the outcome of the final act is probably known by most readers, I doubt very much that any of the preceding acts are common knowledge.


May 9 2014

Triple Crown Memories – Affirmed vs. Alydar (An Epic Rivalry)

Affirmed vs Alydar

Affirmed vs. Alydar (Photo courtesy of NYRA)

Every sport has it’s great rivalries. Basketball had Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Boxing had Ali and Frazier. And, of course The Yankees and Red Sox baseball rivalry continues to this day. As far as horse racing, clearly in my generation it is Affirmed vs. Alydar.

It’s absolutely amazing to say this, but the last Triple Crown winner was Affirmed back in 1978.  And the story of Affirmed is intertwined with his chief rival Alydar.  Rarely do you hear recollections of Affirmed without Alydar being mentioned to complete the story.

Yet, their rivalry was much more than just their Triple Crown races. Consider this – through the conclusion of the 1978 Belmont Stakes, these two great race horses had met nine times. Affirmed had prevailed in six of those meetings … by a combined total of THREE lengths.

For an entire generation of horse racing fans, their epic battles defined horse racing. For me personally, their story is singularly responsible for my lifelong devotion to the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing. When Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978 I was 17 years old and had been following the sport for less than one calendar year. Seeing these two battle neck n’ neck down the lane of the Belmont Park stretch, witnessing the grit, heart, and soul of two champion horses … well, it just took my breath away. And, to this day, it still does.


Apr 27 2014

Kentucky Derby Memories – 1991 Go Best Pal. Go!

It was 1991, but I remember everything like it was yesterday. My first visit to a mecca of horse racing, Churchill Downs … and the Kentucky Derby.  My wife Deb was 5 months pregnant with our son, Michael. But, that didn’t slow her down one bit. Up every morning at the crack of dawn, and we were off … Off to the breeding farms, off to the race track, off to creating some of the fondest horse racing memories of my life. Read More >>

Feb 5 2014

This Horse Has No Chance – Stories from Gulfstream Park

Grey Horse Has No Chance

I just returned from an extended visit to Gulfstream Park in sunny south Florida.  With any trip, there are usually a few stories to tell.  So, here a couple of mine.

I got a late start on my handicapping the morning of January 19, so I arrived at the track just before the 3rd race.  Since I had not ‘capped the 3rd race, I decided to just sit in the paddock area and watch the horses march in.  Directly behind me was standing a young couple.  As the horses began entering from the saddling shed, I overheard the following conversation:


Sep 18 2013

Royal Delta

Royal Delta - Bow to the Queen

Royal Delta – Bow to the Queen

On February 17, 2013 I was standing at the rail at Gulfstream Park when Royal Delta blew away the competition in the Sabin Stakes.  As she strode by me in the stretch I was most impressed by two things.  First, how incredibly beautiful she is to see in person.  And second, how Mike Smith never moved a muscle on her, just sitting, hands completely still.

I’ve seen a lot of horses in person, some of the very best in fact.  But, every now and then one just grabs at you, tugs your heart and reminds you why horse racing has been and always will be your main passion.


Aug 8 2013

Horseplayer Stories – Either I’m A Genius or An Idiot!

Saratoga - Top Of The Stretch

Saratoga – Top Of The Stretch

Horseplayers walk the thin line between Genius and Idiot all the time.  And believe me, I speak from many days of experience.  But, one day in particular stands out in my memory.  It was August 8,  2009 … my son Michael’s 18th birthday and you can probably guess where we spent the day.

Deb and I went up early in the morning to claim some picnic tables at the top of the stretch.  Mike was meeting a group of friends at the track for his “traditional” birthday party and we needed a place for all of them to sit.  It’s the least I could do for him on his birthday you know.