Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Girl Power

What can I say? A filly won the Preakness Stakes! It was the first time since 1924 when a filly named Nellie Morse won.

I was somewhat disappointed Mine That Bird didn't come in first because I was looking for a Triple Crown winner. But the fact he was beat by a girl tickled me pink.

Rachel Alexandra is probably one of the most powerful fillys I've seen in years. The "girls" usually break down during a race because they can't keep up with the power and stamina of the stallions. But Rachel is a powerhouse.

A filly's heart and indominable spirit is what keeps her going. She gives 150% until she can't go on. That's why I have a special place in my heart for mares. They embrace you with their spirit once they learn to trust you. It takes time to earn that trust.

What is really interesting about this Preakness; a filly won the race and a gelding came in second. So much for testoserone.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Let Your Horses Be Horses

Equines need to be outside at least 8 hours a day or more. They need to socialize with pasture mates, graze, and breath fresh air, even when the weather isn't what we think is ideal. Horses need to be horses.

If they're outside all day, their chances for going lame are slim to none, they are much more conducive to working for you, and they're happy. Turning your equine pals outside for the day makes barn management much easier. The longer they stay outside, the easier it is to keep their stalls clean. As you know, shavings are expensive.

Bottom line...turn the horses out first thing in the morning and let them be horses. This saves you tons of money on many levels. Less feed is used because they're eating nutritional grasses instead of processed food. There are less calls to the vet because of better nutrition, and fewer lameness problems because horses are constantly on the move. You'll enjoy a safer ride because horses have gotten their "ya-ya"s out while playing with their pasture pals.

Happy riding!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Who Woulda Thought

Never in a million years, did I ever think a 50-1 shot would win the Kentucky Derby! Mine That Bird proved most people wrong with a stunning upset in the "Run for the Roses".

Calvin Borel's love for the horses and brilliant riding proved you need a good jockey with a can-do horse under you to make it the perfect run. Congratulations to both horse and rider in one of the best horse races I've ever seen.

Most important, I'm glad the field of 20 horses and jockeys made it around the mile and a quarter, clean with no injuries. My prayers are answered.

Now for the Preakness on May 16th! I'd love to see a Triple Crown winner. The world needs a hero.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

How to Make a Mint Julep

The mint julep has been the traditional drink at the Kentucky Derby for 100 years. I won't be going to Kentucky to see the races, but I thought I'd be a good sport and share Churchill Downs' mint julep recipe with you.

Early Times Mint Julep
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
Sprigs of fresh mint
Crushed ice
Early Times Kentucky Whisky
Silver Julep Cups

Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight. Make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of Early Times Kentucky Whisky. Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint. Ideally, a mint julep should be served in a silver cup.

Sounds a little fancy to me, and too much like work.

Personally, I'd rather have a couple of shots of Jack Daniels in a paper cup with some ice, and a lemon wedge. I'll even bypass the mint. Jack Daniels is good Tenessee sipping whiskey. None of that Early Times stuff for me.

I don't even have to fight the crowds. After an early morning gallop on my own two horses and a nice hot shower, I can enjoy all the preliminary Derby horse stories and then watch the race on TV with my feet propped up and my two shots of "Jack". I think I like the idea of being an afternoon armchair jockey...just for today.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Run for the Roses

Tomorrow is the Kentucky Derby. In 1904 the red rose became the official flower of the Kentucky Derby, dubbed the "Run for the Roses" by sports columnist Bill Corum in 1925, who later became president of Churchill Downs.

Each year 400 red roses are sewn into a satin backing to be draped over the shoulders of the horse who wins this pretigious race.

Each garland is also adorned with a "Crown" of roses, green fern and ribbon. The "Crown," a single rose pointing upward in the center of the garland, symbolizes the struggle and heart necessary to reach the winners' circle.

My two thoroughbred mares, Silver Lining, and Silver City Sadie will be hand galloped tomorrow, not on a track, but over fields of lush green grass, which they will later graze on.

On Derby Day I have my own tradition. Each of my horses gets one long stemmed red rose in a plastic vial attached to their stall door. They're both winners in my book, but for different yet similar reasons. They each have an indomitable spirit and a big heart.

My "girls" have carried me over all sorts of terrain, and protected me from barn prowlers, fire pits, and coyotes. They each get only one rose, but they also get a five pound bag of carrots apiece and two boxes of sugar cubes...and a bubble bath if the weather is warm. I'm not sure the Kentucky Derby winner gets that.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Saturday is Derby Day

It's the time of year when breeders, owners, trainers, and arm chair jockeys are anxiously waiting to see who the next triple crown hopeful will be. Tradition, glamour, and big bucks starts with the Kentucky Derby.

Kentucky Derby Day is the first Saturday in May, which happens to be this Saturday, May 2nd. The Run for the Roses is the first $2 million jewel in the triple crown of horse racing held at Churchill Downs in Lexington, Kentucky. The second race is the $1 million Preakness at Pimlico Park in Baltimore, Maryland on May 16th. And the final jewel and most grueling race is the $1 million Belmont at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York on June 6th.

Kentucky Derby distance: 1 and 1/4 miles. Blanket of roses draped over winner.

Preakness distance: 1 and 3/16 miles. Blanket of black-eyed susans.

Belmont distance: 1 and 1/2 miles. Blanket of white carnations.

I always pray that both horses and their jockeys get around the race course safely. Then I can celebrate.

My bet is on the current longshot, General Quarters, trained by retired biology teacher, 75 year old Tom McCarthy. Tom deserves to win, with his only horse ever making it to the Derby. May the sun and the stars shine on you Saturday, Tom, so you will know the thrill of winning the Kentucky Derby.

I think it'll happen for many reasons too deep to mention here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tin Cup Chalice

My heart is aching.

Tin Cup Chalice, who on Monday was named the 2008 New York-bred champion 3-year-old male, was killed Friday, April 17th in "a freak accident" during training hours at Finger Lakes, according to trainer and part-owner Michael Lecesse.

Lecesse said that Tin Cup Chalice was jogging clockwise on the Finger Lakes main track when a horse who was breezing counterclockwise blew the turn coming into the stretch, bolted to the outside fence, and crashed right into Tin Cup Chalice. A television report out of Rochester, N.Y., identified the other horse as Zany, who also was euthanized.

Lecesse said he thinks Tin Cup Chalice died because of injuries to his spinal cord, but that an autopsy would be performed on the gelding. Lecesse, who owns Tin Cup Chalice along with Scott Van Laer, said the horse was insured.

"He was sort of paralyzed behind," Lecesse said. "He didn't have any movement in his back legs. We couldn't get him up. We worked on him for an hour, hour and a half."

Lecesse said that jockey Pedro Rodriguez, who was on Tin Cup Chalice at the time, was examined at a local hospital for neck pain, but was released. Gennie Cook, who was on Zany, also escaped injury.

Lecesse said he had entered Tin Cup Chalice in a race for Friday's opening-day card at Finger Lakes, but the racing office didn't use the race because it only had five horses.

"If he would have been in today, he wouldn't have been on the track this morning," said Lecesse, who added, "it's nobody's fault."

Tin Cup Chalice, a son of Crusader Sword, won the first seven starts of his career. That included a sweep of the Big Apple Triple, which included the Mike Lee at Belmont, the New York Derby at Finger Lakes and the Albany at Saratoga. In becoming the first horse to sweep the three-race series, Tin Cup Chalice earned his connections a $250,000 bonus.

After suffering his first defeat, by a neck in the Step Nicely Stakes at Belmont last Sept. 14, Tin Cup Chalice won the Grade 2 Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park. Tin Cup Chalice earned an invitation to the Japan Cup Dirt, a race in which he finished 13th.

Lecesse said Tin Cup Chalice had been training "like a superstar."

"I was looking forward to having a great year with him," Lecesse said. "He's the best horse I ever trained."

I'm sorry, Mike. It's tough losing a horse like that, especially one who held so much promise.

Tin Cup Chalice was cremated. His ashes will be spread on Finger Lakes Race Track infield.

Another equine hero gone.

main article by David Grening
Daily Racing Form

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spring Shots

Be sure your horses all have their Spring shots. In upstate New York our horses get "stuck" twice over a six week period of time. The first series of shots were on March 3oth.

My horses got their rabies and rhino/flu shots along with a blood draw for a selenium check and Coggins. The next series of shots will be on May 6th, when they get their West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Western Encephalomyletis* + Tetanus (EWT) shots.

*EWE is a virus that is transmitted by mosquitos. The virus can also be transmitted by an infected horse as well as by birds bitten by infected mosquitos.

Our horses give so much and ask for so little. Protect them! Be sure they get innoculated against those unseen viruses that can kill them.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Equine Humor

Who says horses don't have a sense of humor!

The truth is, this horse is probably yawning, but you'll never know for sure.

In either case, s/he certainly looks content with green pastures in the background and a toothy "grin" exposed for all to see.