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Stride April 3, 2010 Issue No. 3

magazine

Dance cards filling Eskendereya, Sidney’s Candy and American Lion secure their slots for the Derby

Bambera: The Real Queen? Sam Huff’s new teammate

Experiencing Charles Town


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Issue No. 3

April 3, 2010

Contents Main attractions 6

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COVER STORY Leading the Way to the Derby Eskendereya blows away the field at Wood Memorial, but a traffic jam foils Lookin at Lucky in the Santa Anita.

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Charles Town Grows Up From the area attractions to the hotels to the track itself, Charles Town has gone first class. By Scott Serio

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Championship Team Partner Carol Holden has helped Hall of Fame linebacker Sam Huff discover a second career in horse racing. By Bill Heller

28

Moving to the Inside With the passing of the legendary Bobby Frankel, trainer Humberto Ascanio is left to maintain his barn’s legacy. By David J. Beltran

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28

Other Features

36

26

Kentucky Derby Power Rankings

36

The Best Seat in the House Despite the occasional prank, few jobs beat being a track announcer. By Dave Rodman

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44

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Is She for Real? The stumble at Gulfstream has some asking whether Bambera is on par with her North American competition. By John Hernandez Betting on Joe For “Jersey” Joe Bravo, being a jockey is a way of life. By Eric Kalet

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My Best Day Cutting school in favor of a splendid spring day at the track, a teenage boy gets the surprise of his life. By Casey Turner

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Upcoming Graded Stakes Races Chart

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20 Things I’ve Learned Jockey Paul Atkinson shares some observations.

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on the cover: Eskendereya and jockey John Velasquez are alone at the wire after a 9 3/4 length win in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct Race Track in Ozone Park, New York. Photo: Eclipse sportswire Stride Magazine

A subsidiary of ESW Media P.O. Box 4 Colora, MD 21917 A bi-weekly publication

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STRIDE MAGAZINE

CONTACT INFORMATION E-mail: stridemagonline@gmail.com Phone: 443.693.3454

April 3, 2010

EDITORIAL STAFF Publisher: Henry Hill Design Director: Dave Zeiler Photo Editor: Scott Serio Copy editors: Paul Bendel-Simso, Michael Marlow


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All Phots Eclipse sportswire

Right: American Lion scores a wire-to-wire win in the Illinois Derby. Center: American Lion jockey David Flores sports the winner’s trophy and the winner’s wreath after the Illinois Derby.

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Joe Talamo celebrates his victory aboard Sidney’s Candy in the Santa Anita Derby.

One step closer to the Derby

E

skendereya flirted with the field in the Wood Memorial before dropping a final three furlongs in 36.43 seconds and dancing away to a Derby date on the first Saturday in May. The horse named after an Egyptian dance and owned by Ahmed Zayat was never really tested in what amounted to a paid nine-furlong workout, for which he was rewarded $450,000 and a Grade 1 victory. Minutes later, at Hawthorne Park outside of Chicago, American Lion turned in a wire-to-wire win and roared into spring. It was another win in another Derby prep for WinStar Farm, which can’t seem to go a weekend without squarely pointing another hopeful towards Churchill Downs. Meanwhile, on the West Coast, the Santa Anita Derby was filled with controversy and disappointment for everyone but the winner, Sidney’s Candy. The chestnut Candy Ride colt avoided the scrum mid-turn, and jockey Joe Talamo missed the reported fisticuffs in the jockeys room, Eskendereya and jockey Johnny Velasquez cruise to the wire scoring a 9 3/4 length win in the Wood Memorial.

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Derby Contenders With only four Kentucky Derby preps left, the chances for hopefuls to run well and make enough money to hit the Top 20 are running out. Here is where the top contenders stand as of today:

Eightyfiveinafifty avoided speed traps and jockey Ramon Dominguez kept him from making an illegal left turn en route to bold win in the Bay Shore Stakes on Wood Memorial Day at Aqueduct Race Track in Ozone Park, NY.

stealing away untouched in a wire-towire 4½-length win. Lookin at Lucky, the 4-5 favorite, seemed poised to make a move on the rail and move up to challenge Sidney’s Candy, but a fading Who’s Up came over – causing a chain reaction that shuffled back Lucky, who ended up banging into the rail, and flat stopped Caracortado. It was reported that Lookin at Lucky rider Garrett Gomez and Who’s Up jockey Victor Espinoza exchanged words, and possibly pushes. Even with those two trading paint, Lookin at Lucky remained the top horse in graded earnings and appears to be the most potent challenger for Eskendereya. For feel-good California-bred Caracortado, the story is not as good. The traffic problems in front of him cost him all hope of seriously contending for a major share of the purse. He now sits at 29th, his final Derby prep in the books and four more graded preps to come. Things do not look promising. Other wise-guy and fan-favorite horses that didn’t fare so well this weekend, include Yawanna Twist, Schoolyard Dreams and Alphie’s Bet. Even Backtalk sits at 19th, but with the Toyota Bluegrass, Arkansas Derby, Coolmore Lexington and the Derby Trial remaining, that spot is precarious. No matter what questions remain about which horses will fill the field for Kentucky Derby No. 136 in Louisville, one question has been answered: Who will be the favorite? The answer to that question is: Eskendereya. h

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Rank Horse

Trainer

Earnings

1

Lookin At Lucky

Bob Baffert

$1,480,000

Rule

Todd Pletcher

$645,000

2

Noble's Promise

4

Sidney's Candy

3 5 6 7 8 9

10 11

12 13 14

15 16

17 18

19

20 21

22 23 24

25 26

27

28 29

30 31

32

33

34 35

Eskendereya

Mission Impazible Ice Box

Endorsement Conveyance

American Lion

Discreetly Mine Dean's Kitten

Awesome Act Dublin

Interactif

Homeboykris Jackson Bend Backtalk

Aikenite

Make Music for Me Mendip

Radiohead (GB) Uh Oh Bango Odysseus

A Little Warm Super Saver

Pleasant Prince

Tempted to Tapit Caracortado

Yawanna Twist Connemara

Schoolyard Dreams Northern Giant

Frozen Power (IRE) Paddy O'Prado

Kenneth McPeek John Sadler

Todd Pletcher Todd Pletcher Nicholas Zito

Shannon Ritter Bob Baffert Eoin Harty

Todd Pletcher

Michael Maker

Jeremy Noseda D. Lukas

Todd Pletcher

Richard Dutrow, Jr. Nicholas Zito

Thomas Amoss Todd Pletcher Alexis Barba

Saeed bin Suroor

Richard Dutrow, Jr. R. Owens

Thomas Albertrani Anthony Dutrow Todd Pletcher Wesley Ward

Steve Klesaris

Michael Machowsky Richard Dutrow, Jr. Todd Pletcher Derek Ryan D. Lukas

Mahmoud Al Zarooni Dale Romans

$708,000

$630,000

$600,000 $473,434 $457,500

$400,000 $386,000 $378,000

$340,000 $326,475

$285,000 $273,208 $270,450

$250,500 $230,000 $225,916

$218,000 $215,000

$200,000 $196,332 $187,952

$180,000 $180,000 $163,832

$162,500

$156,000 $153,000 $147,000

$138,500 $137,500

$127,000

$110,000 $100,950


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charles town –

Photo: scott serio/eclipse sportswire

Old memories and new impressions of the West Virginia track show that some things just get better with age

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April 3, 2010

By Scott Serio

t

au th


– all grown up

t

he destination was certain, but was this trip necessary? Clearly, there are other options for betting a horse in the computer age. If it was about betting on local hero Researcher to beat Grade 1 stakes winner Commentator and all other foes in the inugural Charles Town Classic, it would be easy to make he wager online. But this was not about just placing a

bet. This was a pilgrimage of sorts. As we rode along U.S. 340 on that unique winding stretch of road at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers that lets you drive through three states in about 30 seconds, I thought of my first trip to the little town founded by George Washington’s youngest brother, Charles.

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Photos: Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire

That was in 1982 – well with exciting attractions. before ADW and simulShenandoah Downs has casting. If you were deadbeen razed. The $1,600 sure that Woody Stephens claimers that littered race could swing Conquistacards in the 1980s are long dor Cielo back on a week’s gone. They have been rest to win the Belmont replaced by humongous Stakes, your options were slots jackpots, great food limited: drive from Baltiand killer racing action. more to Belmont or drive Last year the track was to Charles Town, WV, visited by more than a and the track that opened dozen graded stakes winthere in 1933. ners for its best events. We drove in a 1980 As racing and the facilChevy Chevette with a ity have evolved, the qualhole in the floorboards. I ity of the horses that show could see the wet paveup to race has increased ment gliding past below greatly. Many race cards me as we made the right are filled with horses sent turn into the main enfrom surrounding racing trance of the track. In circuits because of in1982, you could best decreased purses supported scribe Charles Town as by slots revenues. Most Russell Road (5), with Eric Camacho up, scored a win in the inaugural “charming.” (That would nights will have entries running of the Blue and Gold Stakes at Charles Town last April. be the same “charming” by noted trainers Gary you use when your mother-in-law asks Making a comeback Capuano, Steve Klesaris and even westyou what you think of her hat.) Well, it didn’t take 30 years – it took coaster Doug O’Neill. Of that first trip to the six-furlong 27 years and a series of rebirths. There Even with the outside influences, it oval, four indelible memories remain: have been relatively few changes to was no accident that local horse and The fried chicken was pretty good; the the racing surface, but the surround- track record holder Researcher won the Manhattan clam chowder was awe- ing community was transformed when inaugural Charles Town Classic. It was some; the rest of the track, not so inspir- Penn National Gaming purchased the also no accident that local trainer Jeff ing. And the most important memory: track in 1996. The same can be said of Runco is perennially leading the trainConquistador Cielo aired. He romped. the track, which had a less-than-prom- ing standings. After clocking a track record 1:33 for ising future until the purchase. The Charles Town can provide you a litthe mile against older horses the week opening of a video lottery center in 1997 tle bit of thunder as the pack rolls by, before in the Met Mile, jockey Laffit marked another step forward, and the but thunder isn’t the only draw. For Pincay Jr. guided the colt to a 14-length track and the community have never many fans, the combination of an extour de force at 4-1 odds over the Ken- looked back. cellent buffet dinner with seafood and tucky Derby winner, the Preakness Building on the slots casino success- prime rib in the Terrace Dining Room winner and eight others. es, and now with the impending arrival while watching live racing makes for a On that day in 1982, jockey Jorge of table games, the track is the marquee great evening. There are other places to Velasquez rode Illuminate to a third- attraction of an area that is packed satisfy your appetite – eight of them, in place finish in the Belmont. If you told someone then that in the next 30 years another Velasquez would show up to Charles Town to ride a Grade 1 winner in a race for $1 million, you would have been laughed off the track. If you had added that four of the top 10 riders in the country would fly in on a private jet to ride in that same race, you might have been committed to the nearest medical facility for evaluation. The Inn at Charles Town is an excellent choice for a visit centered around the track.

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Photos: Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire

The Hillbrook Inn offers a five-course candlelight dinner that is not to be missed.

fact. You can find anything from steaks to ice cream, and you can sit down and relax or wander outside and watch the live racing. Make no mistake: The place is packed now, but when table games arrive and you can play blackjack and poker and shoot craps, visiting will be a whole new ballgame. Charles Town will have the only table games within 200 miles, along with the added draw of hiking, camping, fishing, golf, rafting, sight-

seeing and – yes – horses.

Around the town

If you are looking for a base of operations for your trip to Charles Town, an excellent choice is The Inn at Charles Town. The 153-room facility offers spacious rooms, 42-inch plasma televisions, a fitness center, wireless Internet and shuttle service to the casino and races. There are also 18 deluxe suites with views of the racetrack.

There are also many off-site options for those who prefer the comforts of a bed and breakfast. The top of the list might be the Hillbrook Inn, with four knock-your-socks-off cottages. Every room includes a private bath, air conditioning, Gilchrist & Soames soap, cookies, Pellegrino, hypoallergenic down comforters created by Hillbrook, free wireless Internet, telephones, irons and ironing boards, and hairdryers. Additionally, award-winning chef Chris-

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tine Hale has mastered what some call 21st-century Appalachian cuisine, and the five-course candlelight dinner is a must. Not to be outdone is the venerable Carriage Inn, with its Shenandoah Suite for under $200 on weekends, boasting a porch, fireplace and a queensize bed. The inn also has Jacuzzi suites available. If Appalachian cuisine is not what you crave, Charles Town offers a wide range of dining choices. The hip place to dine is Dish (www.wvdish.com), and the spicy lobster with a grapefruit beurre blanc is amazing. But if you really want to expand the bounds of expectation well beyond the Shenandoah Valley to halfway around the world, try the Mediterranean Café (www.allworldmenu.com). The expansive menu of ethnic cuisine contains eight Persian kabobs and 10 Italian dishes as well as entrées from Spain, French Morocco and Lebanon. Tasty!

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has no shortage of places to stay, places to eat and places to play, but the surrounding area provides the town an ever-greater richness.

Around the region

This tuna melt is a sample of the cuisine you’ll find at Dish.

Twice yearly, Charles Town plays host to the Mountain Heritage Arts and Crafts Festival. Generally held in June and September, the event is a gathering of more than 200 crafters and artists. For such a little town, Charles Town

April 3, 2010

Just a short drive back along U.S. 340, back where the Shenandoah and Potomac meet, is the town of Harpers Ferry. In 1783, Thomas Jefferson remarked that the historic town (later to be the site of abolitionist John Brown’s famous raid in 1859) contained “one of the most stupendous scenes in nature.” Most of the town’s land became part of the Harpers Ferry National Historic Park in 1944, and it still serves as a launching point for many Appalachian expeditions. Whether it is whitewater rafting, tubing, kayaking, canoeing, fishing or teambuilding in the wild, River Riders (www.riverriders.com) is the premiere source in the area. Give them enough time to tailor a package for you and they will find a way to let you enjoy the same


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Photo Courtesy of John L . Smith

scenery at which Jefferson marveled. When you are done being adventurous, wander back to Harpers Ferry and the Secret Six Tavern on High Street. They have an excellent selection of beers and a terrific view of the Potomac. Don’t stare too long if there are some fellow diners who seem as if they have wandered in from the mountains – they just might have. The Appalachian Trail passes through the town that serves at the headquarters for the Trail Conservancy. Another great stop for sandwiches, soups and ice cream is the Canal House Creamery and Café. The quality of their offerings has been lauded all over the Internet, receiving 4½ of 5 stars on Trip Advisor and 5 of 5 stars on Yahoo.

The café is respected by travelers and locals alike. The natural complement to Harpers Ferry is just up the Potomac River on the Maryland side. Follow a tributary to the Potomac, Antietam Creek, and you will arrive outside of Sharpsburg, at the site of the Civil War Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest single day in American military history. The 8½-mile self-guided tour will take you through the Cornfield, down the Sunken Road and to Burnside Bridge. In fall, the vibrant colors along the creek present a stunning beauty that contrasts starkly to the horror that occurred on Sept. 17, 1862. A memorial event is held every December to honor those who fought and

The Antietam Battlefield is just a short drive from Charles Town.

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died at Antietam. About 1,200 volunteers spend most of the day placing 23,110 luminarias, one for each casualty, across roughly 800 acres of the 3,200acre park. More than 20,000 visitors attend the free display each year. To learn more, go to www.nps.gov/anti/index. htm. On the other side of Potomac, about 20 minutes south in Purcellville, is a collection of outstanding wineries. There are eight in all, but the anchor is probably Hillsborough Vineyards on Charles Town Pike. You might want to check out their Gold Medal-winning 2006 Garnet, or you can check them out on the Web at www.hillsboroughwine. com. The last little gem for a trip to Charles Town is for the golf enthusiast. Just west of town is Locust Hill Golf Course. Ranked fifth in West Virginia by Golf Week and given a four-star Golf Digest rating, the course offers sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, challenging layout and affordable greens fees. The region truly has all of the resources around which you can build any type of vacation. Whether it be a romantic couples getaway, a Vegas-style gambling weekend, a family excursion or other expedition, Charles Town and its surrounds will suit your needs. Just remember to pair up great horse racing with all of these other adventures. The most notable dates on the calendar are April 17 and June 19, with lucrative stakes races scheduled, but the quality of racing at Charles Town is enjoyable anytime. In 1982, when I first visited Charles Town, about 5 percent of what is in this article would have been applicable. No one can argue the effects the rebirth of Charles Town has had on the surrounding community. The changes just sort of snuck up on everyone. Then, all of the sudden, you have John Velasquez and Julien Leparoux taking a jet to ride for a cool million dollars. From someone who endured the Charles Town of old, just know for sure: You will not be disappointed by building a vacation around Charles Town Races and Slots. h


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C

arol Holden wasn’t exactly blown away when she received a phone call from Sam Huff nearly 25 years ago. “To tell you the truth, I had a lot of people coming in to see me,” said Carol, who is a pioneer in racing partnerships in Virginia. When the retired football player and then-vice president for the Marriott Corp. said that he might be interested in investing in one of her partnerships, Carol said her first thought was that “he was another executive trying to find a reason to come to Middleburg.” She told him to come to her office. Carol was also the coadministrator of the West Virginia Thoroughbred Develop-

ment Fund, and split her time between Middleburg and an office at Charles Town Races on the other side of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Sam came to Middleburg, spoke amicably with Carol and departed both impressed and enthusiastic. Carol enjoyed their conversation, too. “After he left, I had to go back over to Charles Town,” Carol said. When she got there, she asked Millard Harrell, a former trainer who was the fund’s other co-administrator, “Have you ever heard of a football player named Sam Huff?” “Oh Lord, yes!” Harrell replied. “He’s on TV all the time. He’s the male version of the Coal Miner’s Daughter.”

Photo: Scott serio/Eclipse sportwire

By Bill Heller

Right: Former New York Giant great Sam Huff and his partner Carol Holden do a weekly radio show on horse racing. Above: A mud-stained Huff during his glory days as a linebacker with the Giants.

Champions 18

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When NFL legend Sam Huff decided to tackle the horse racing industry, he found Carol Holden was already there, calling winning plays

ship team STRIDE MAGAZINE

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I couldn’t have done this without Carol, and she couldn’t have done it without me.

– Sam Huff

Sam Huff has kept many mementos from his years of playing football with the New York Giants.

The male version of the Coal Miner’s Daughter and Carol Holden have been partners ever since, not only in horses but in life and on their weekly radio show, Trackside. Their horses race under the name of Sporting Life Stable and have included graded stakes winner Bursting Forth. Together, Sam and Carol developed the West Virginia Breeders’ Classics, which began in 1987 with five races offering $200,000 in purses. Last year’s 22nd edition offered nine stakes totaling $1,875,000. “I couldn’t have done this without Carol, and she couldn’t have done it without me,” Sam said in early March. Along the way, Carol was brought up to speed on Sam’s incredible foot-

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ball career. And although four decades have passed since Sam hung up his cleats, his status in football legend – cemented in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame – continues to grow. He was recently named one of 320 players eligible to be voted one of the 10 best players in NFL history. They will be featured in television coverage of the NFL draft on April 22 to 24. He was one of the greatest middle linebackers in football history and the first rookie middle linebacker to start in an NFL championship game. He was No. 70 in the middle of a great New York Giants defense that netted one title and saw four additional appearances in NFL championship games. He was featured on the cover of Time magazine on Nov. 30, 1959, and was the subject of an Oct. 31, 1960, CBS special, The Violent World of Sam Huff, which aired as part of the Walter Cronkite anthology series “The Twentieth Century.” His maintains a presence in the football world today as a radio announcer for another former team, the Washing-

April 3, 2010

ton Redskins. But his first eight seasons in the National Football League were played with the Giants before he was traded to Washington – a move both Sam and Giants fans still remember with bitterness.

Mining town beginnings

In the beginning, Sam had seemed destined for life in a coalmine. The fourth of Oral and Catherine Huff’s six children, he grew up during the Depression in a small house with no running water in the Jamison No. 9 coalmining camp in Edna Gas, WV. His dad and two of his brothers worked in the mines. Football was his way out. He starred at Farmington High School, where he helped lead his team to an undefeated season in 1951, playing as an offensive and defensive lineman. He was named All Mason-Dixon Conference and All State before moving on to West Virginia University, where he was a backup guard his freshman season before starring as a guard and tackle. West Virginia finished 31-7 in Sam’s four seasons and played in the 1954 Sugar Bowl,


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losing to Georgia Tech, 42-19. The Giants drafted Sam in the third round of the 1956 draft. Initially, head coach Jim Lee Howell wasn’t sure which position Sam should play, and a frustrated Sam left training camp. Assistant coach Vince Lombardi stopped Sam at the airport and coaxed him back. The rookie found his niche when defensive coordinator Tom Landry unveiled a new 4-3 defensive scheme: Sam filled the middle of the three linebacker spots admirably well. He says he made $7,000 in his first year. One reason for his success was his physicality. The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH, offers the following story as evidence: Once a tight end, whose number was 88, caught Sam in the chin with one of his elbows while making a block. “What did you do that for, 88?” Sam asked. “You do that one more time, I’m going to sock you one. Don’t do that again. You’ll get a broken nose.” Sam helped the Giants to the 1956 NFL championship. He also played in a memorable overtime loss to the Baltimore Colts in the 1958 championship game, widely regarded as “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” and in championship losses in 1961 and 1962 to Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers, and in 1963 to the Chicago Bears. Sam’s tenure with the Giants in the late ’50s and early ’60s mirrored that of the Yankees, who won the World Series in 1956, 1958, 1961 and 1962. They won the American League pennant in 1957, 1960, 1963 and 1964. “When you played with the Yankees and the Giants, everybody knew everybody,” Sam said. “... That was one of the reasons I didn’t want to leave New York. It hurt so much. There was no reason. We got beat in the last game I played [for the

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Sam Huff’s office is a shrine to his years as one of the all-time best linebackers in the NFL. Inset: H

Giants] in the NFL championship, 1410. We had seven turnovers. They got rid of Rosey Grier [traded to the Rams in 1963], Dick Modzelewski [traded to the Browns in 1964] and Sam Huff. The heart and soul of the defense.” The Giants suffered from those decisions, dropping from 11-3 in 1963 to 2-10-2 the next year. The Giants posted two winning seasons in the 17 years following 1963. What hurt most for Giant fans was that Huff was traded to Washington, perhaps New York’s mosthated rival in the Eastern Division of the NFL before Landry’s upstart Dallas Cowboys turned into another bitter divisional rival.

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In his first season with the Redskins in 1964, Sam was a Pro Bowl selection for the fifth time. He would be named to the NFL’s 1950 All-Decade Team and named one of the 70 Greatest Redskins. After retiring, Sam spent one season as a color commentator for the Giants radio network before moving on to Redskins radio coverage. He continues to call games with his former Redskin teammate and quarterback Sonny Jurgensen. Sam ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in West Virginia in 1970, but lost in the Democratic primary to Bob Mollohan. The following year, Sam joined the


was there. And we went to the Kentucky Derby.” Atlanta sportswriter Furman Bisher accompanied Sam and Jones to the Derby, and afterwards the three went partners on a thoroughbred named Marco Island. The horse didn’t prosper in his racing career, but Sam enjoyed the ownership experience and kept at it – and he had the bills to prove it. One time, he recalls, “I had to get my taxes done, and my accountant said, ‘You’re spending so much on horses. It’s costing you a lot of money.’ He said, ‘This lady in Middleburg is selling shares in horses.’ “That’s how I met Carol.”

Huff wears his Pro Football Hall of Fame ring with pride.

Marriott Corp. and became the company’s vice president of sports marketing before retiring in 1998.

The lure of the horses

His love of horses extends as far back as does his love of football. “I’ve always been interested in horses,” he said. “I used to ride horses on our farm. ... And to me, the greatest sporting event in the world, to this very day, is the Kentucky Derby. If you’re not interested in the greatest sporting event in America, you’re not American.” Sam first became enamored with horse racing and the prominent people from that world when he was in New

Photos: Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire

The partnership

York. “I got to know some of the jockeys in New York,” he said. He also met trainers, including Allen Jerkens. “I met the Chief,” Sam said. “He’s the Lombardi of horse racing. He really is. There’s only one.” Sam credits former Kentucky governor and thoroughbred owner and breeder Brereton Jones for getting him involved in racing. At the time, Sam was headquartered in Baltimore and visiting Laurel. “I was working at Marriott, and I met Brereton Jones,” Sam said. “He’s from West Virginia. One of the nicest people you will ever meet. He’s the genuine article. Now, we opened up a hotel in Lexington, KY, and Brereton

Born and raised on her family’s horse farm in Chester County, PA, Carol learned to ride as a child. She majored in international studies at Washington College in Chestertown, MD, but had trouble finding a job in that field after graduating. “I graduated with too much education and too little experience,” she told Joy Smith for an article in Middleburg Life. So she got a job walking hots at Dover Downs in Delaware for $70 a week. She moved on to work at racetracks as a groom, a photographer and horseman’s bookkeeper. She landed a job at Rocketts Mill Farm in Doswell, VA, and did just about everything, including searching thoroughbreds’ pedigrees. In 1980, Carol founded Thoroughbred Management Services, focusing on purchasing two-year-olds and forming syndicates or partnerships to buy in on them. In 1982, she and a couple friends bought an unnamed two-year-old filly for $6,200 and then syndicated her, selling 30 shares at $300 each to cover the sale and her initial training costs. They named her Owned By All, and she won her first start by 4½ lengths at Laurel. She finished her career with 15 victories, 13 seconds and five thirds in 55 starts, and earnings of $328,983. Two years later, Carol was hired by the West Virginia Thoroughbred Development Fund. And then Sam entered her life. He had purchased a farm just

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Photo: Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire

west of Middleburg, and in 1986 he de- her dam, Burst of Sound. I bought her cided to relocate there from his home in out of an ad in Blood Horse for $12,000 – more than I made playing football for Washington, DC. In 1986, Sam and Carol were attend- a year. That was the first horse I bought ing the Maryland Million at Laurel Park. on my own.” Trained by Graham Motion, BurstThe Maryland Million was a brilliant idea conceived by TV sportscaster Jim ing Forth won three graded stakes in McKay to promote Maryland breeding. 1998 and 1999, giving Sam some of the Sam asked Carol, “Why can’t we do something like this in West Virginia?” They could, and they did. The first West Virginia Breeders’ Classics event was held less than nine months later, a tribute to the way Sam and Carol work together. “I do the promoting and Carol takes care of the details,” Sam told Joy Smith. “If we have a dispute, we take it to the kitchen table, where we resolve the problem.” In 1988, Sam had another idea: a weekly radio show about horse racing. “He said if I talk about horses all the time, I should be paid for doing it,” Carol recalled. Sam said that Carol was a bit nervous initially: “She was scared a little bit, but she caught on right away. She was talking about something she loved.” Radio is something Sam loves, too. “I’ve alEvidence of Huff’s NFL legacy adorns a table. ways done it,” he said. “I learned how to do radio with Howard Cosell and Marty Glick- greatest thrills of his life. “Oh my God,” he said. “Having Bursting Forth, I can man.” Trackside can be found online at imagine what it was like for my mother and father to have me performing in www.tracksideonradio.com. Of all their many accomplishments, New York and being on television. It’s Sam and Carol’s most exciting moments like having your own child performing. came with the best horse they’ve owned, I never thought of that until I had BurstBursting Forth. “I’ll never forget her,” ing Forth. “She won a lot of money for me,” he Sam said. “She was a member of my family. Carol was the one who selected adds.

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Indeed she did: more than $520,000. After Bursting Forth won her first Grade 3 stakes, Sam got a call the next morning from New York Giants owner Wellington Mara. “Wellington Mara loved horse racing,” Sam said. “He used to love to go to Belmont Park. He called me the day after she won that stakes. He said, ‘Did you make a lot of money?’ I said, ‘Yes, I did. I made more money in one race than you paid me for a year.’ He just laughed.” Sadly, Bursting Forth died foaling. Motion, the trainer, has enjoyed working with Sam: “Sam is very passionate in just about everything he does. Bursting Forth was a very important horse in my career, and Sam’s been very loyal to me.” Sam and Carol now own and keep 15 to 20 horses, broodmares and babies. They race mostly in Florida and Kentucky. Motion, Carl Nafzger and Ian Wilkes are among the trainers they have used. “I only deal with high-class people,” Sam said. And he appreciates high-class horses. Like many of us, Sam was struck by the magnificence of Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra. “These two horses have brought more people into racing than Secretariat,” he said. “I’m an old football player, but I love watching those two horses.” And he loves watching his own. When a day’s work is done on the farm in the summer, Sam and Carol sit on their front porch and watch their horses run and play in their paddocks – moments of serenity far removed from the once-violent world of Sam Huff. h


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2010 Kentucky Derby Power R ankings Presented by HorseRacingNation.com

The Kentucky Derby Power Rankings are based on fan rankings at the HorseRacingNation.com Web site. To learn more about these rankings and every Derby prospect, click on this page to go directly to HorseRacingNation.com.

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Photo: charles pravata/eclipse sportswire

Moving to the inside

Legendary trainer Bobby Frankel is gone, but longtime assist Humberto Ascanio is working hard to keep the winners com 28

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By David J. Beltran

F

or years Barn 70 at Hollywood Park in Ingleside, Calif., was home for Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel. After Frankel’s death late last year from lymphoma at the age of 68, it was only fitting that his longtime assistant, Humberto Ascanio, “inherit” the place. Barn 70 now has a different look to it from the Frankel days. The walls of Ascanio’s office are bare, except for a Santa Anita calendar. Gone are the photos of the barn’s greatest horses and pictures from the races they won. It was a reminder that the glory days of Bobby Frankel are but a memory. Still, Ascanio looks comfortable there, but the road to his success has been a long one.

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tant ming

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Photo: charles pravata/eclipse sportswire

Trainer Humberto Ascanio walks alongside three-year-old colt Causeithertz by Giant’s Causeway; he’s the first foal out of the former Bobby Frankel trainee Megahertz at Hollywood Park, Inglewood, CA.

Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Ascanio, now 62, made the 1,200-plus-mile journey with his mother and several relatives to the border city of Tijuana (across the border from San Diego) at the age of 12 in search of a better life. “My parents had separated, and I had to help out my mother,” Ascanio said. “My sister was the oldest, but everyone else was younger, so I had to help out anyway I could.” For Ascanio, it meant leaving elementary school. “I worked at a car wash and cleaned cars at the border as they waited in line,” he said. “I even helped out a mechanic. Anything, really. We were just trying to work toward a better future.” At the urging of his brother-in-law, Ascanio decided to go to the United States and work with horses. “I had been around horses as a kid, and I had ridden horses,” he said, “but nothing a thoroughbred.” Leaving Tijuana behind wasn’t hard, and once in California Ascanio quickly

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said Ascanio, who took the job and three years later was promoted to assistant trainer. “At times, we had as many as 50 horses in our barn, so that made it necAscanio essary for us to have on board eight exercise riders, 10 grooms, 10 hot walkers and a night watchman.” During the 1970s the Frankel barn was a claiming powerhouse, and it was Frankel’s knack of placing his horses well that brought success to the stable. “Bobby was a good handicapper, and he knew how to place his horses in races where they stood [the best] chance of winning,” Ascanio said. Once a horse entered the Frankel barn, it would undergo a transformation. “Bobby would feed the best to his horses,” Ascanio said. “He would buy the best hay, alfalfa, vitamins, and many times his way of training made a huge difference. Many [new] horses

I had been around horses as a kid, and I had ridden horses, but nothing like a thoroughbred. – Humberto found work with trainers Farrell Jones (father of Gary and grandfather of Martin Jones) and Buster Millerick. “Both were excellent horsemen, and I learned a lot from them,” Ascanio said. “I started as a hot walker. then moved up to groom. I stayed with Jones for two years, then moved to the Millerick barn in 1968 and stayed there until 1973.” It was in 1973 that Ascanio was introduced to Frankel. “A friend told me about an opening, three horses, and good salary and asked if I was interested,” he said. A long friendship was born. After two years as a groom, Ascanio got his big break. “Bobby lost his foreman,”

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Humberto Ascanio has helped train some great horses during his more than three decades with Bobby Frankel’s barn.

[had been] trained hard, and Bobby would go easier on them.” Frankel’s success caught the attention of late horse owner Edmund Gann, who brought Frankel a string of 10 horses, and from there the Gann runners were a mainstay in his stable. What followed was a steady influx of European runners, and this led to a recommendation to train for Juddmonte Farms. Once Frankel signed on, the barn’s complexion changed overnight. “The Juddmonte horses were a much better stock -- better bloodlines, higher

quality runners,” Ascanio said. “Juddmonte is a top stable; its breeding program is impeccable. “When the Juddmonte horses would arrive, Bobby knew they had campaigned pretty hard in Europe, so he gave them the necessary time to acclimate. This, along with Bobby’s insistence on the best feed and his way of softer training, made all the difference. Bobby really – and I mean really – felt for his horses. He cared for them. I saw him cry many times when one of his horses would get hurt. He could not

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Photos: Charles pravata/eclipse sportswire

Trainer Humberto Ascanio with Juddmonte runner Midships at Hollywood Park, Inglewood, CA.

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stand to see any harm come to them.” Horses in the Frankel barn were all treated the same. “It didn’t matter if the horse was a $10,000 yearling purchase or a million-dollar horse. They were all cared for the same,” Ascanio said. It was during this time that the Frankel barn shot to great heights. Ascanio had a ringside seat to all the big wins as well as to some huge disappointments, from 25 Grade-1 victories – which included six Pacific Classics – to Empire Maker’s defeat in the 2003 Kentucky Derby. “We thought we would win [that one],” Ascanio said. “You have to give Funny Cide all the credit, but had Empire Maker not missed work due to a bruise, the story would have been different.” With Frankel’s death, many in the racing community hoped the big barn would stay intact. When Juddmonte choose William Mott over Ascanio as the conditioner of its horses, Ascanio refused to be bitter. “Why be bitter?” he said. “All those years I was treated well, spoiled by being around such top horses. I still have some of the Juddmonte horses, and some other owners are supporting me, so there is still work to be done.” h


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Photo: eclipse sportswire

Fighting it out Warrior’s Reward (white cap) battles past Musket Man to win the Carter Handicap at Aqueduct Race Track in Ozone Park, NY on Wood Memorial Day.

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The

best seat in the

house By Dave Rodman

J

Photo: scott serio/eclipse sportswire

efferson Downs track announcer Rick Mocklin pointed the way. It was a narrow area outside the press box overlooking the track, home to numerous pigeons, and open to the wind, rain and thick humidity of a New Orleans night. It was to be my practice spot as a race caller. As far as I was concerned, it was the best seat in the house. Weeks later, Mocklin was satisfied that I might make my way through a race without freezing up and let me call the last race of the evening.

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Photos: scott serio/eclipse sportswire

The next year, Rick assumed full-time duties as a trainer, and I moved up in class as the new voice of the track. The wavy glass of the announcer’s booth distorted the horses with funhouse effect, but my real worry was that certain TV department pranksters would pump a cloud of dry-ice smoke into the booth from an innocuous hole in the ceiling. They had done it to Rick, and had proof of the deed with a Polaroid picture of him blasting out the door, binocs in hand, looking for the culprit. Or perhaps, as the horses entered the backstretch, my view would go blank: The same jokers had once dropped a white sheet over the announcer’s window from above. How can you call them when you can’t see them? Some 30 years later, having called at nine tracks, I can really say the booth provides the best seat in the house. My current circuit, which includes Pimlico, Laurel, Colonial and Timonium, offers very different perspectives for the announcer. The digital age may be upon us, but the Pimlico announcer’s booth features remnants of a bygone era. I keep waiting for the long-disconnected Western Electric rotary phone to ring. The black phone is still there, along with the wired connections to defunct Baltimore radio stations that would carry the call of the day’s feature race. The caller’s booth at Pimlico is situated in a near-perfect spot just to the right of the finish line. It’s a great vantage point for calling a close photo. Just ask Trevor Denman, who called the classic finish of the 1989 Preakness with Sunday Silence and Easy Goer. When I quizzed him about his call of the close photo and his assured “Sunday Silence wins it by a nose!” he told me, “If you’re asking whether I guessed, the answer is no.” Now I know what he means. I have had the privilege of calling 19 Preakness Stakes, including a thrilling three-way finish with Silver Charm, Free House and Captain Bodgit; the amazing athleticism of Afleet Alex and jockey Jeremy Rose, and the first filly to win the Preakness in 85 years, Rachel Alexandra.

Track announcer Dave Rodman makes his way to his rooftop perch (small extension on the right) t

The way to Laurel Park’s announcer’s booth leads up a steep set of stairs to the crest of the roof. Once there, the best seat in the house offers a sweeping view of the main track and turf course. When calling them home at Laurel, one must be mindful of the correct finish line. Mile main-track races and turf sprints end at the second wire. For the second-wire finishes, the horses pass by the booth, then away from my point of view to the alternate finish a sixteenth of a mile beyond the regular wire. The only real way to judge a close photo is to look at the television monitor. The whipsaw winter weather also poses a challenge at Laurel. The recent blizzards in Maryland left 6-foot snowdrifts, obscuring all but the jockey

April 3, 2010

helmets for many of the February racing days. First time I’ve had to whip through the entire field by memorizing the riders’ cap colors. Colonial Downs is a turf lover’s dream. The sweeping Secretariat turf course (180 feet wide) ensures big fields and wide-open stretch runs. The Virginia track leaves the announcer hanging – hanging out of the open window, that is. The best way to properly call them home is to perch out of the open sliding window. Bugs the size of biplanes have buzzed by, and lightning has struck during the race call in a driving downpour – giving new meaning to horses “thundering” for home. It’s all part of being in the best seat in the house for the Colonial meet. I’ve had the chance


to call the day’s races at Laurel Park in Maryland, his current home track.

to call Eclipse Award-winning horses like Gio Ponti and English Channel as they blossomed into turf champions. In contrast to the massive course at Colonial, the bullring of Timonium at the Maryland State Fair offers a week where I can almost call a race with the naked eye. The five-eighths-mile oval, with its tight turns, brings out a large end-of-summer crowd, with an aboveaverage number of novices who can be heard cheering from the open-air grandstand. The horses have a quartermile to run when they pass the Ferris wheel on the far turn, the funnel cake stand, and the smoke of Maryland barbecue drifting in the distance. Better that than dry-ice smoke in the booth and a waiting Polaroid camera. h

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Bambera The Real Queen?

Her trainer calls her the best horse ever out of Venezuela, but Gulfstream stumble raises fresh doubts about potential for success in North America By John Hernandez

Photo: Max LAshin/Eclipse Sportswire

Y

ou know the famous line, “the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Well, for Bambera, the 2009 Venezuelan filly Triple Crown winner, it was more like “the best-laid plans of horses and men often go awry.” Bambera’s trainer Pablo Andrade had hoped it would all play out like this: Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra would win their seasonal debuts on March 13; Bambera would win or run well in the Rampart Stakes at Gulfstream Park a week later; and all three would be in the starting gate for “the race of the ages,” the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park on April 9. Zenyatta did her part, winning the Santa Margarita at Santa Anita. But when Rachel Alexandra, the reigning Horse of the Year, came up short in the New Orleans Ladies Stakes, her conBambera and Edgar Perez fall at the start of the Rampart Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 20 in Hallandale Beach, FL.

nections almost immediately declared her out of the Apple Blossom. It went from bad to worse when Bambera stumbled badly out of the gate in the Rampart. Jockey Edgar Perez asked her to chase the pack for a half-mile, but he eased her out of the race when he realized she was hopelessly beaten. Bambera crossed the finish line last of eight, only the second time in her career that she had not finished first or second. So much for the best-laid plans. When Bambera returned to be unsaddled, Andrade told reporters: “She cut her [right front] tendon. Edgar told me it happened when she was coming out of the gate.” That same weekend, Oaklawn Park made it official, the Apple Blossom purse, raised to $5,000,000 in anticipation of a Zenyatta-Rachel Alexandra meeting, would revert to its original $500,000. Andrade consulted Bambera’s own-

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Left: Bambera co-owner Jose Gregorio Castro Below: Trainer Pablo Andrade

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quite well to Bambera’s. She won 18 of 24 starts in South America but earned less than $3,000 in U.S. purse money while in the capable hands of trainer D. Wayne Lukas for the late owner Gene Klein. Of course, everyone in Venezuela and many fans in America remember what happened in 1971, when the legendary Canonero II traveled from South America to shock the racing world by winning both the Kentucky Derby and The Preakness. Canonero II was bothered by an in-

Photos: Bob mayberger/eclipse sportswire

er, and they made the decision to forego the Apple Blossom and chart a new course for the rest of the year. As it turned out, the tendon cut was only superficial, and Bambera did not have to miss a significant amount of training. Still, the question for every racing fan remains unanswered: “Can Bambera compete with the top fillies and mares in the United States?” It’s a fair question, since the annals of racing history are replete with South American super-horse stories that never panned out in North America. There is no question Bambera was a dominant filly in her native country. She reeled off 13 wins in 14 starts in 2009. The lone blemish was a close secondplace finish last July. In nine of her 2009 races, she was sent off as an odds-on favorite. In her impressive Clasico Del Caribe victory last December over the best in Venezuela, Bambera was sent to the post at $1.35-1. Then again, it was just in 2008 that Bambera’s very same connections, breeder Haras San Isidro C.A., sire Water Poet, owner Paula C. Stud and trainer Andrade, shipped another Venezuelan Triple Crown winner, Taconeo, to the United States. In three U.S. starts under trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, Taconeo’s best effort was a second-place finish in a turf marathon at Saratoga. Shipped back home before the end of the summer, Taconeo once again was a big fish in a small pond. He returned to winning form, taking the prestigious Clasico Simon Bolivar for the second consecutive year. As for Venezuelan distaffers, Trinycarol came to the United States in 1983 with credentials that measured up

fected foot in the days leading up to his Triple Crown try in the Belmont Stakes but actually led the race for a time before struggling to a fourth-place finish. Canonero II won the Eclipse Award in 1971 as the Outstanding 3-Year-Old Male. A year later, he delivered what many considered his finest effort, setting a Belmont track record while winning the Stymie Handicap and defeating the great 3-year-old champion Riva Ridge. Time will tell whether Bambera earns a place next to Canonero II or whether she goes into the books as the latest Trinycarol. Andrade remains ever optimistic. He’s plotting a campaign that includes the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6. He steadfastly clings to the belief that Bambera is the best horse ever to come from Venezuela, even better than Canonero II. With her American campaign off to a disappointing start, Bambera will have to step up her game to prove him right. h

Bambera makes her U.S. debut in the Rampart Stakes for fillies and mares four years old and up at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, FL.

April 3, 2010


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➧ Fascinating and inspiring characters of the racing world, including owners, jockeys and trainers ➧ Historic racetracks and their hometown communities ➧ Travel tips on where to stay and where to eat when visiting the top tracks around the country

No One Said It Would Be Easy Uptowncharlybrown on the Kentucky Derby Trail

Horses, Hurricanes & Gumbo

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Photo: Bob Mayberger/Eclipse Sportswire

Betting on Joe

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By Eric Kalet

F

or “Jersey” Joe Bravo, being a jockey is much more than a career. It’s a way of life and a job he lives 24 hours a day. “Racing is not a game but a serious business,” he’s quick to point out. “Being a successful jockey is all about how much you push yourself. There are times for fun, but a jockey must always remember it’s a business and a lifestyle. Baseball and football have off-seasons, but horse racing never stops.” It’s no surprise then that in the past 20 years as a top East Coast jockey and the dominant rider in New Jersey, Bravo, 38, has been the leading rider eight times at the Meadowlands and 13 times at Monmouth Park. He is the only jockey in New Jersey racing history to sweep top rider honors at the now-defunct Garden State Park, the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park in the same year. Bravo also has the most Pennsylvania Derby wins in its 30-year history. Formal Gold provided Bravo with his first Grade 1 win in the 1997 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park, upsetting a nice little champion horse by the name of Skip Away. Interestingly enough, Bravo wasn’t always Formal Gold’s jockey. “During a morning workout, trainer Bill Perry had this 3-year-old that blew my horse away,” Bravo said. “After returning to the stables, I ran to Perry’s barn and told him I had to ride [Formal Gold’s] maiden race. When I beat Skip Away in the Donn Handicap, we came full circle.” Bravo attributes his success to a rigid work ethic and a serious approach to being a jockey. He feels his greatest accomplishment is “returning from every one of my injuries to get back to the races.” Bravo wakes up in the morning every day with no set days off. He could potentially work 365 days a year with no vacation or time off. Growing up with riding crops and saddles for toys, Bravo is a third-generation horseman who knew at an early age he wanted to be like his father, George, and grandfather, Bartolo, who galloped horses until he was 80 years old. Bravo still remembers what his grandfather told him about horse racing: “It’s easy to make money but hard to save money. The race track is just like life. It’s a big circle, and you have to treat everybody equally.” By age 11, Bravo was riding quarter horses in Texas. Modeling himself after great jockeys like Angel Cordero, Jorge Velasquez, Laffit Pincay and Pat Day, Bravo loves to win but

is happiest when he is on the track just competing. That is most apparent in Bravo’s affection for the Keeneland race course in Lexington, KY. “Although Jersey is home, I spend time there at the spring meet,” he said. “The people in Kentucky love the horses, and the crowd applauds you for a good effort even if the horse is odds-on or 1-5 and loses. The gambling aspect is less at Kentucky tracks.” Bravo’s competitive nature really shows when he is racing on turf. “Turf is a thinking race,” he said. “The horse that is sprinting at the quarter pole and has the best turn of foot down the stretch wins. It’s much harder for the horses to accelerate like that on dirt.” Much of Bravo’s race-track education came from observing and listening to Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, who retired in 2006 with 5,893 wins. Bravo would like to be retired in five years “and be healthy,” just like Bailey, “with a second career behind the scenes.” Ten years from now, Bravo sees himself working in publicity and bringing new fans to horse racing by sharing his experiences with them. Broadcast commentary also is something he would like to try.

Photo: Sue Kawczynski/Eclipse sportswire

Veteran jockey Bravo is a sure thing when it comes to determination and getting the job done

Coal Play and Joe Bravo went wire-to-wire to win the Grade III Salvator Mile in Oceanport last July.

For now, though, Bravo, with more than 4,000 wins, is looking for the next big horse, the next Formal Gold, Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra, or even another one of his all-time favorites, Piper Over, who Bravo described as “a good allowance horse, nothing special, but she had a personality that I fell in love with.” For “Jersey” Joe Bravo, a horse like Piper Over is what racing is all about: falling in love all over again with that special horse. h

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My b es t day

Escape to Paradise A gorgeous spring morning leads to a day off from school – and a surprise encounter with Dad

I

’m Casey, out of Joe and Nancy by Earl, and I’ve been going to the races for as long as I can remember. My father would take me with him when I was just a kid. He would let me think I had picked a horse and that we had bet on it. And maybe we did – who knows? By the time I was in high school, I was a semi-regular at the track: Miles Park; Keeneland, if I could borrow the car for a Saturday afternoon. Of course, the Mecca was Churchill Downs. Back then I was betting on horses like Spot T.V., Grandpa Rank and Diamond Lil, ridden by jockeys named Brumfield and Delahoussaye. I was a two-buck player and rarely came out ahead. This was back when the mutuels would accept your bet if you could see over the counter. And they had those beautiful tote tickets, little pieces of art with the arcane hieroglyphics that denoted what, where, who, and so forth. I was an anomaly in my school. The other kids would cut class and go to the quarry to swim and drink beer. I would jump on the city bus, and I was off to the races. Nobody understood the lure, or why I would sacrifice my lawn mowing money for a chance to

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Photo: eclipse sportswire

By Casey Turner

hit it big. On one particularly beautiful spring day, I made the decision as I was walking to school that it was just too nice to be inside. And it just so happened that I had about 30 bucks in my pocket. And here came the city bus – heading in the opposite direction from school, but in the right direction for The Downs. It was a no-brainer. I got to the track pretty early, so I went to Wagner’s for breakfast and started poring over the Form. It was one of those days that all the words and numbers made total sense – not to be confused with the days that it seems as though you’re reading a foreign language, which still happens to me on occasion. I went into the grandstand (where no one goes now except on special days), because why would I spend the extra buck for a better view from the Clubhouse? Besides, all those guys dressed in suits and smoked cigars. I

April 3, 2010

didn’t. One lesson that had been learned the hard way was to go to the paddock prior to a race to check out the flesh I was planning on putting my money on. (This lesson was learned one day when I had actually bet 20 to win on a “sure thing.” When the “sure thing” came out on the track, I was shocked: He was heavily taped, limping, and about the size of a German shepherd. Back then you couldn’t turn your ticket back in once the bet had been made. I was disappointed, to say the least – not to mention poorer.) So, about 15 minutes prior to the third race, I was standing at the rail of the paddock, checking my notations in the Form and looking at the horses circling. I was following one from left to right and, as I turned my head, I came face to face with Big Joe Turner, otherwise known as Dad, whom I both adored and was completely frightened of.


We sort of stood there, agog, stunned, surprised – both of us caught where we weren’t supposed to be. I was supposed to be in algebra; he was supposed to be at work. He then casually asked me how I had fared so far. I was two for two at the time, and he seemed pleased. No mention was made by either of us of home or school or work. Most importantly, no mention was made of my mother or what she would think of the situation. She would have gotten, to use horse racing terms, a little rank and fractious. We decided to finish out the day and make the most of it. I went seven for nine and probably won 80 bucks. I don’t know how my father did, but it didn’t matter. We had a great, sunny day at the races. We decided there was no reason for my mother to know anything about anything, and we decided to call it a wash. A dead heat, so to speak. Dad and I would go to the track together when we could work it out. Especially big race days, Father’s Day and Thanksgiving. And, through the years, we would continue to run into one another out there, but never again under the circumstances of us both playing hooky. Since then, I have had many very good days at the track. I had a day when I won over $13,000. I re-enlisted in the Navy in the winner’s circle at Churchill in 1987. I had a day when I called in sick to work, and ran into my boss. All were good days, but the best remains the day a 17-year-old Casey Turner ran into Big Joe. But, silent pact or not, he still made me take the bus home. h Casey Turner is a Louisville native. After retiring from the Navy, he went to work at Churchill Downs. He is currently a graphics operator there (responsible for all the stuff you see on TV that’s not from the camera, such as names, titles and numbers). Casey and Big Joe Turner attended the races everywhere from Hialeah to Santa Anita until the elder Turner died in 1999.

Upcoming Graded Stakes Races DATE

TRACK RACE

GRD. DIST.

2010-04-07 2010-04-08 2010-04-09 2010-04-09 2010-04-09 2010-04-10 2010-04-10 2010-04-10 2010-04-10 2010-04-10 2010-04-10 2010-04-11 2010-04-15 2010-04-16 2010-04-17 2010-04-17 2010-04-17 2010-04-17 2010-04-17 2010-04-18 2010-04-18 2010-04-22 2010-04-23 2010-04-24 2010-04-24 2010-04-24 2010-04-24 2010-04-25 2010-04-25 2010-04-30 2010-04-30 2010-04-30 2010-04-30 2010-04-30 2010-04-30 2010-04-30 2010-05-00 2010-05-00 2010-05-00 2010-05-00 2010-05-01 2010-05-01 2010-05-01 2010-05-01 2010-05-01 2010-05-01 2010-05-01 2010-05-01 2010-05-01 2010-05-02

KEE KEE KEE OP OP AQU KEE KEE KEE KEE OP SA KEE KEE AQU HAW KEE SA SA KEE SA KEE KEE AQU CD GG LS CRC HOL BEL CD CD CD CD CD CD BEL BEL PIM PIM BEL BEL CD CD CD CD CD CD HOL HOL

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7.0 S 7.0 S 8.0 T 6.0 9.0 8.0 9.0 S 7.0 S 8.5 T 5.5 T 9.0 6.5 T 8.0 T 8.5 T 7.0 9.0 8.5 S 10.0 T 6.5 T 9.0 S 14.0 T 12.0 T 12.0 T 8.0 8.0 8.0 T 8.0 8.0 T 8.5 T 8.0 9.0 8.5 T 8.5 8.5 5.0 T 5.0 9.0 7.0 8.5 9.5 8.5 T 8.5 T 9.0 T 10.0 7.0 7.0 8.0 T 7.5 8.0 T 8.0 T

April 3, 2010

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ref l e ct io ns

20 Things I’ve Learned… By Paul Atkinson

I

t was only a year ago Paul Atkinson was contemplating retirement. With two ailing knees as a result of decades of riding race horses, he seriously considered hanging up his tack permanently. A year off from racing proved beneficial to both his mind and

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Growing up is hard to do when deep down all you want to do is ride race horses, drink and chase women, but reality sets in and you find it’s to hard to ride race horses when your out drinking and chasing women.... 



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My parents taught me the value of hard work. As a kid growing up I worked harder than most adults do now. Knowing the value of a good day’s work is fast becoming a lost art!



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The best advice I ever received was: It’s better to be by yourself than in bad company! 



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– Charles Pravata

One day you’re a hero the next day you’re horse shit!

 R ain is gold and cherished by farmers and ranchers! 



I’m most proud of the men and women in the armed forces protecting the freedom we have in this great country!



12

The darkest day is why I keep batteries in my flashlight and a gun under my pillow.



If you get up after a fall it’s still a good day. 



Photo: charles pravata/eclipse sportswire

body, and he returned to racing with renewed vigor and a fresh outlook. Today, he is the regular rider of the graded stakes winner and Kentucky Derby contender Caracortado. Paul took the time to allow us inside his world, and provided us with these observations

If you don’t discipline you end up with kids who have no respect for anyone or themselves, kids that no one wants to be around. We have always taken our kids everywhere with us and I have no doubt they will behave!



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I’m the guy you don’t ask if you don’t want to know. My wife would never ask, “Does this dress make me look FAT?”

13

The racing industry should cover all jockeys and backstretch workers for workers compensation in ALL states. Stiff fines should exist for anyone who abuses the system (policy holders and claimants).



14 15

My wife is my friend, my lover and a pain in my ass!



K ids are to be treated with respect and are expected to respect the rules. All kids should address adults by looking them in the eyes and vice versa. Anyone who doesn’t look at you when they talk to you loses credibility in my opinion.

16

I don’t believe anyone should ask their horse to go anywhere they wouldn’t go themselves. Think about it next time you’re out riding and looking up or down a steep hill, canyon or cliff. Then ask yourself, would I do it on foot? 



17 18

O ne year ago I was still out hurt, now I’m back to riding and really enjoying myself.



L oyalty is very rare in life, let alone on the race track. That’s why I feel loyalty should be rewarded and respected.



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You’ve got to be lucky for everyone to think you are good, which is why I would rather be lucky than good! Courage is doing what you say and saying what you do without self interest.

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STRIDE MAGAZINE

April 3, 2010

I f I had to pick two pastimes I really enjoy they would be working cattle horseback on my folks’ ranch and snowmobiling just about anywhere. 

 A fter your dead you’ll get all the sleep you need.


Stride3