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zenyatta breeders' cup classic 2009 santa anita racecourse 7 november 2009 video
zenyatta breeders' cup classic 2009 santa anita racecourse 7 november 2009 video

Click above to watch Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic 2009

(Footage : ESPN)



The news came as no surprise Monday that the undefeated Zenyatta (Street Cry - Vertigineux, by Kris S.) had run her last race. Trainer John Shirreffs told Daily Racing Form Sunday that the five-year-old mare would remain at Hollywood Park for several weeks to be let down, and then head to Kentucky to be bred. “Where else do you go?” lamented Shirreffs.

“Fourteen-for-14 and top it off with a win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic? On the biggest stage in the world, she performs. Isn’t it amazing that a horse with her running style is 14-for-14? She’s always stepped up.”

Owners Jerry and Ann Moss, along with Shirreffs and his wife, Dottie, as well as jockey Mike Smith celebrated their Classic victory at the Arroyo Chop House in Pasadena Saturday night.

Following her impressive maiden score at Hollywood on Thanksgiving Day 2007, Zenyatta took an allowance test before earning her first graded score in the 2008 G2 El Encino Stakes. The formidable filly picked up her first Grade 2 score in her only conventional dirt effort, the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn that April, and added four more elite victories that season. Crowned champion older mare after taking the GI Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic, Zenyatta, took a deserved break, and returned for a perfect five-for-five campaign in 2009, capped by her historic performance in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic Saturday.

She retires with earnings of $5,474,580.

As Shirreffs observed, the mare will be sorely missed. “It’s a big hole for racing, not just my barn,” said Shirreffs. “You saw the crowd.” Mating plans have not yet been decided.




7 July 2009

G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic

10 October 2009

G1 Lady’s Secret Stakes

9 August 2009

G1 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes

27 June 2009

G1 Vanity Handicap

23 May 2009

G2 Milady Handicap

24 October 2008

G1 Breeders Cup Ladies’ Classic

27 September 2008

G1 Lady’s Secret Stakes

2 August 2008

G1 Clement L. Hirsh Handicap

5 July 2008

G1 Vanity Handicap

31 May 2008

G2 Milady Handicap

4 April 2008

G1 Apple Blossom Handicap

13 January 2008

G2 El Encino Stakes

15 December 2007


22 November 2007


Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News



lady's secret stakes pre-race zenyatta video
lady's secret stakes pre-race zenyatta video
zenyatta 2009 lady's secret stakes video
zenyatta 2009 lady's secret stakes video

Please click above to watch :

(Left) Lady’s Secret Stakes pre-race Parade

(Right) Zenyatta wins Lady’s Secret Stakes

(Footage : YouTube) 



Because we happen to have a Street Cry filly in the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale, this was perfection embodied. Unlike her last appearance in the G1 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar, Jerry and Ann MossZenyatta (by Street Cry) left her adoring fans with very few anxious moments, taking an inside path on the turn before shifting out and mowing them down late to take the G1 Lady’s Secret Stakes for the second consecutive season. Now, let the barrage begin. Will it be the G1 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic, in which she has little to prove? Or the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic, in which she has nearly nothing to lose?

“That will have to be a decision between the Mosses and my wife, Dottie,” said trainer John Shirreffs.

“We’ll have to look at the relative strength of the fields, see who’s going to run, and make the call.” Alongside barnmate Life Is Sweet(Storm Cat) down the backstretch, Zenyatta was asked to get a bit closer at the half-mile marker. She took an inside path on the turn, rallied outside Cocoa Beach in upper stretch and pulled clear.

Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News

emperors palace ready to run sale 2009
emperors palace ready to run sale 2009



rachel alexandra woodward stakes video
rachel alexandra woodward stakes video
sea the stars irish champion stakes video
sea the stars irish champion stakes video

Click above to watch the

Rachel Alexandra and Sea The Stars in action

in the Woodward Stakes and Irish Champion Stakes respectively

(Footage : YouTube) 


South Africans know the value of a champion.  We have our own POCKET POWER, who’s just taken his third consecutive Horse of the Year title, and has a magnetism irresistible to his fans.  While the rest of the world is desperately short of money right now, the one thing racing doesn’t lack, is a shortage of serious quality horses, and the emergence of an exceptional Champion on both sides of the Atlantic is probably the best antidote our sport could wish for. 

On Saturday, 8000kms apart, two three-year-olds of opposite sex, finally put up their hands and said, “I’m the one”.  In America, they’re witnessing the reign of a new queen, RACHEL ALEXANDRA, whose conquest of the older colts in Saratoga’s historic Woodward Stakes, was the best tonic that the beleaguered nation has known in a good while, Obama mania notwithstanding.

At the Curragh in Ireland, in that country’s Champion Stakes, a pair of three-year-old colts followed one another home in the same sequence as they’d done in England’s most famous three-year-old race, the Derby. In the process, the hero, SEA THE STARS, probably justified many peoples’ idea that he is the best horse in decades, even better, by some margin, than his illustrious half-brother and now famous stallion, GALILEO

Nobody really knows where they will go to by the end of the season, but there’s nobody in the game who wouldn’t want to see a resolution to the question as to whom is the better, and it seems the only way to settle that would be a meeting of the two of them on Breeder’s Cup Day in early November.  Whether that has any chance of materialising, is difficult to say, since the connections of RACHEL ALEXANDRAhave long been antagonists of the new synthetic surfaces which most West Coast tracks have embraced.  While both sides pretend to be in it for the love of the game, one wonders whether such a prejudice could be set aside in anticipation of a spectacle which has the potential to bring about an early end to the recession in the horse business.

rachel alexandra
rachel alexandra

Rachel Alexandra

(Photo : Sarah K. Andrew) 



zenyatta del mar 9 august 2009 video
zenyatta del mar 9 august 2009 video
zenyatta del mar stand view video
zenyatta del mar stand view video

Click above to watch the

Zenyatta Clement L Hirsch Stakes Kick

(Footage : YouTube)

The world is abuzz with the Zenyatta / Rachel Alexandra debate, so we thought it apt to re-live that “9 August Del Mar Day” when Zenyatta,the undefeated daughter of Street Cry, Sire Sensation Son of Machiavellian, tested hearts and pacemakers alike with a formidable display of an insurmountable kick timed to nano-perfection… even if bordering on indulgent.

The Thoroughbred Daily News reported :

Zenyatta (Street Cry {Ire}) had the closest scare of her perfect racing career, but came out on top to earn her 12th straight victory in the GI Clement L Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar on 9 August.

The magnificent dark bay mare took up her usual position at the back of the seven horse field, well off the dawdling pace set by longshot Lethal Heat (Unusual Heat). Zenyatta was still last after six furlongs in 1:13.64 and fans who came to see the champ roll to a 12th straight win began to think jockey Mike Smith had left Zenyatta too much to do in the 1 1/16-mile race. But the mare closed with monster strides on the far outside and just got her nose in front of 22-1 outsider Anabaa’s Creation (Ire) (Anabaa) on the wire in a final time of 1:43.24.

The last time another rival finished that close to Zenyatta was the half-length between her and Tough Tiz’s Sis (Tiznow) in last year’s GI Vanity Handicap “I thought I had it,” Smith said after the photo was developed. “But I’ve got to admit I underestimated the company we were keeping today. They made her run.”

Trainer John Shirreffs admitted to a few anxious moments as he watched his star fight to the wire. “It was very, very close down there,” Shirreffs said. “All the way down the stretch I’m hollering, Get em, Get em. What I really liked about her race is that she had a lot of ground to make up and she put her head down and kept making it up. She never picked her head up. She kept reaching out and running for the wire. That’s Zenyatta.”

Zenyatta captured last year’s Clement Hirsch by one length in track-record time of 1:41.48. Named champion older mare last season after a seven-for-seven campaign that included wins in the GI Apple Blossom Handicap, GI Vanity Handicap, GI Lady’s Secret Stakes and GI Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic, Zenyatta is now three-for-three this term. She began the year with a 1 3/4-length victory in the May 23 GII Milady Handicap and added a 2 1/2-length score in the June 27 GI Vanity Handicap last time out.

According to Trakus calculations, Zenyatta ran her last quarter mile in 22.49 sec and reached her maximum speed of 40 mph at the wire.



seattle slew documentary
seattle slew documentary

Click above to watch Seattle Slew

(Footage : YouTube)


The arrival at Summerhill of the best racing representative of Seattle Slew’s sire line ever to set foot on this continent, in the form of A P ARROW, revives memories of his famous grandfather.The very sale at which Seattle Slew was acquired is underway in America right now.We recall the fact Seattle Slew remains the only one of eleven American Triple Crown winners to have been sold at public auction.The Thoroughbred Daily News tells this story.

In history, only a select few horses have made it to the G1 Belmont Stakes following wins in the G1 Kentucky Derby and G1 Preakness Stakes, with a chance to sweep racing’s Triple Crown. Of those, even fewer - 11 to be exact - have swept the cherished Triple. Only one of them has ever been offered and sold at public auction. That honour resides with 1977 Triple Crown hero Seattle Slew.

In the market for an early developing two-year-old to win Sunland Park’s Riley Allison Futurity, one of the richest juvenile races at the time, Karen and Mickey Taylor came upon a colt in the July catalogue that looked like he had the potential to fit the bill.

“My husband, Mickey, looked at the whole catalogue before he went to that year’s sale”, recalled Karen Taylor. “He dog-eared hip 128, a colt by Bold Reasoning out of My Charmer”.

“We liked Bold Reasoning because he was a relatively new sire, and the colt was a first foal out of the mare, and we really like first foals,” Karen continued. “We thought the colt would have plenty of speed from his sire.”

While the dark bay appeared to have plenty of potential on paper, the Taylors didn’t shy away from the fact that both the colt’s sire and dam were, at that time, still unproven. When it came to selecting young horses, the Taylors opted to focus on the physical element over the pedigree. And what was the Taylors’s impression the first time they saw hip 128 led out for inspection?

“The first time we met him, he didn’t just walk out of his stall, he burst out with energy and fire,” recalled Karen. “He had pizzazz, he was on his toes and he gave you this eye, that he had until the day he died, that would stop you in your tracks. Everybody noticed his eye. They always talk about the ‘eye of eagles” in a horse, and Slew had it. He had an eye that just could look into your soul.”

While the youngster had plenty of personality and charisma, certain aspects of his physical appearance caused many to look elsewhere. But not the Taylors. “He was well muscled, but he also had a very straight hind leg and, since Mickey was into Quarter Horses, that didn’t deter us,” explained Karen. Mickey added, “His straight leg probably turned off 90 percent of the people, because at that time, people thought a straight leg was just for sprinters. He was a big reason that many changed their philosophy aboutthose types of horses. In fact, A.P. Indy[by Seattle Slew] also has a very straight hind leg, and he went on to win the Belmont Stakes, too.”

But despite Slew’s conformational shortcomings, Karen was instantly sold on the big, awkward colt. “I liked him because he had short cannon bones and short pasterns,” Karen explained. “He turned out slightly in his right front, but he walked straight through it and had a terrific stride, so that didn’t bother us. I just fell in love with him the first time I saw him”.

“When we went to see Slew, Paul told us we were the only people who came back to look at him again,” said Karen. “In fact, we must have gone back five times. We had to go back several times, because he would always dance around and was on his toes”.

Mickey recalled, with vivid clarity, the moment Seattle Slew walked into the Fasig-Tipton pavilion the afternoon of July 19, 1975. On that occasion, Fasig-Tipton’s John Finney was the announcer, while Ralph Retler served as the auctioneer. “We were sitting on the left side of the pavilion, in about the eighth or ninth row, on fold-out chairs,” Mickey remarked. “There was only one other bidder—we could have been bidding against the reserve or the owner. I bid $15,500, then there was another bid from the other side, and I went to $16,500. To tell you the truth, I was probably going to stop at $15,500, but Karen gave me the elbow.” Karen quickly interjected, “I gave him two elbows. I was pretty determined to get him.”

They got Seattle Slew (Triple Crown Winning Champion) for $17,500.Shades of Jet Master a R15,000, on earnings now worth of the order of R80 million.

ROBERT CLARK : Rembrandt's Acknowledgement

robert clark thoroughbred artistRobert Clark
Thoroughbred Artist

The press release on A.P.Arrow’s purchase for South Africa, has provoked a flood of congratulations on a scale we’ve not seen before. One of his most avid supporters is a man known in American art circles as the “Rembrandt of Racing”, Robert Clark. He took the trouble to write to us.

“I have been a big fan of AP Arrow for quite some time. I painted Azeri for Michael and Lenora Paulson a few years back and became friends with them. I was painting live at Gulfstream Park when AP Arrow won the Skip Away Stakes a couple years ago and joined the Paulson’s in the winner’s circle for the win photo, which I have hanging on my studio wall. So, as you can see I’m not just a casual fan of the sport or of this particular horse; I followed all of his races and know very well that while he never picked up his Grade 1 victory, he ran against the toughest competition year after year. He’s run with several horses that will be in the Hall of Fame some day. Add to that his pedigree that is impeccable and you have just acquired what will probably be a tremendous stallion. As sad as I was to see him leave the United States, after having a chance to study your farm’s web site for the last few weeks I am extremely impressed and realize that the best possible thing that could happen to AP Arrow is for him to have found his way to Summerhill.

I’ve been told by Shadwell manager, Rick Nichols, that Sheikh Hamdam was amazed by his painting of Invasor. I’d love to create an exciting painting of AP Arrow in action and/or a regal conformation painting set there at his new home”.

 robert clark website linkrobert clark invasor link


visit                    view Robert Clark’s painting of Invasor


ap arrow dubaiA.P. Arrow
(Photo : AP Photo)

A glance at the number of publications that carried the news of A.P. Arrow’s importation to Summerhill and South Africa tells us that this is a big “item” horse in the real sense of “big”. Just about every worthwhile daily racing publication in the world covered his story, a veritable who’s who of the game. It takes a “heavy” to make newsworthy reading, and A.P.Arrow’s standing in the pantheon of racing was obvious from the popularity of his story. Here’s a list of the publications.

Thoroughbred Times
A.P. Arrow to stand in South Africa

Summerhill and co acquire a top son of A.P. Indy

Tab Online
Summerhill and co acquire a top son of A.P. Indy

A.P.Arrow to stand in South Africa

Daily Racing Form

Gold Circle
Summerhill and co acquire a top son of A.P. Indy

SA Horseracing
Grade 2 Hero A P Arrow To Stud in South Africa

Breeding & Racing Magazine

Global News Blog
AP Arrow to stand in South Africa

Thoroughbred Internet
A.P.Arrow to stand stud in South Africa

Hatena Antenna

European Bloodstock News

Thoroughbred Daily News

Racing Post
Grade 2 hero A P Arrow to stud in South Africa

A.P. Arrow to Stand in South Africa

Horse Racing Nation
AP Arrow to Stand in South Africa

Mike de Kock Racing
A.P. Indy stallion comes to Summerhill

Thoroughbred Champions
Pioneering to Brazil, A.P. Arrow to South Africa

Breeding Racing
US Sire A.P Arrow To Stud in South Africa

CBS Sports
A.P. Arrow to stand in S.Africa

Classic double for the Becks at GAINESWAY FARM

(Photo : Stallion Register)

Just on twenty years ago, I was privy to a glimpse at an intimate connection at the Breeders’ Cup meeting of 1990 between local “el padrino”, Graham Beck, and the then founder not only of Gainesway Farm, but also of the Breeders’ Cup, John Gaines. Earlier that day, Buddy Bishop, renowned solicitor operating in Lexington, Kentucky, and legal counsel to what was then the principal opposition to Gainesway, the Hancock family’s famous Claiborne Farm, confided in me that a South African was rumoured to have purchased Gainesway. I was astonished, and dismissed it as conjecture. After all, this was the farm that housed the likes of Lyphard, Blushing Groom, Riverman, Vaguely Noble, Irish River, Cozzene, Afleet etc, and it was almost inconceivable that it should be a South African that had put up his hand for this iconic property, when all the world was there to compete for it.

It turned out that Buddy Bishop’s “intelligence” was spot-on, and that the enterprise of Graham Beck, the stuff of legend in South Africa, had indeed laid claim to one of the greatest titles in thoroughbred racing. I wrote about this property two weeks ago as a place of solace to me on the passing of my late mother, and today we can celebrate the fact that one of its resident stallions, Birdstone (who spoilt the party for Funny Cide in his quest for the American Triple Crown, by snatching the laurels in the final leg of the Belmont Stakes (Gr.1), has produced from his very first crop, two winners of separate legs of the Triple Crown.

The first and arguably the most famous leg, the Kentucky Derby (Gr.1) was taken in spectacular fashion by a 50-1 chance in the form of Mine That Bird (by Birdstone), who came from a shotgun position at the back of the field to land a storied victory by six, and who was the sole pursuer of the filly Rachel Alexandra, in the Preakness Stakes (Gr.1) a fortnight later.

In the absence of the filly, Mine That Bird was made a certainty by the bettors for Saturday, and he looked home and hosed shortly after they turned into Belmont’s fabled straight, only to be swamped by two foes, one of whom was his paternal half-brother, Summer Bird, who came home to proclaim his sire, if not yet quite in the same league as Medaglia D’Oro as a commercial stallion, certainly every bit as serious a property in reality.

Birdstone is the son of a Kentucky Derby winner himself, the rather unattractive and poor legged Grindstone, he in turn by Unbridled and tracing back, (no alarms), to Mr. Prospector, whose stamp on the American classics is as indelible as any stallion in history. As for Birdstone, he’s not a big fellow (I would say he stands 15’3 at the most) and he’s what one might describe as a “plain brown job”. However, and particularly considering his ancestral belongings, he’s a clean legged horse, well balanced and displays the touch of class that separates the serious from the ordinary.


Watch the 2009 Belmont Stakes and Kentucky Derby

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A few National Sales comments...

pen and handwriting


barry irwinBarry IrwinTeam Valor’s Barry Irwin is famous for having proclaimed South Africa “the best kept secret in the racing game. “You’ve raised world-class horses in a world-class environment, and you have some of the world’s best horsemen”. About this year’s sale, Barry fingered the draft in general as the best by some stretch he had encountered. Some statement from one of the world’s greatest “pickers”. We often wonder whether the partners in Team Valor appreciate the talents of this man, who has separated himself from virtually every yearling selector we know, in achieving the hit rates for which Team Valor has become renowned. He’s not only a good picker though, he’s a supreme strategist, places his horses in the right places at the right time, and he seldom misses an opportunity.




Summerhill’s draft was outstanding, in what was the most outstanding collection of horses I’ve seen in nine visits to South Africa’s National Yearling showpiece”.




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Denise's Gift to raise Organ Donation Awareness

donate life

Esther Marr writes for The Bloodhorse that even though Iain Holmes didn’t pioneer the concept of using a Thoroughbred racehorse’s name to raise awareness for a cause, the fact he’s used that platform to promote the act of saving lives via organ donations still deserves some accolades.

Denise’s Gift, a 2-year-old filly by Cat Dreams, was named after Denise Darvall, the world’s first successful human heart donor. Iain Holmes, who got permission from owner Bob Feld of Bongo Racing Stable to name homebred Denise’s Gift, hopes the filly’s title will encourage others to commit to organ donation after hearing Denise Darvall’s story.

Iain Holmes explained how Denise Darvall, who died of complications from a car accident in 1967 in South Africa, had saved two lives by donating her heart, as well as her kidneys, to those needing transplants.

In the past, horses such as Afleet Alex, Chernobyl Princess, and Autism Awareness have garnered both responsiveness and funds toward cancer research, the Children of Chernobyl Foundation, and brain development disorders, respectively. While all are worthy causes, Iain Holmes explained how Denise’s Gift’s mission has a slight twist.

“The organ donation shortage is the only one that can be solved solely by awareness,” he explained. “If we can get the entire United States population to think about organ donation and share their wishes with their loved ones, there would be no more shortage.”

Iain Holmes, who grew up around horses in his native England, hotwalked Thoroughbreds for trainer Michael Matz and also played polo with Matz’ son, Mikey. Upon moving to the USA longtime racing fan, Iain Holmes realised the opportunity to reach large audiences each time a horse’s name is mentioned.

The need for donors first became apparent to Iain Holmes when one of his friends needed a heart transplant and had to rely on a donor lottery. It was then Iain Holmes realised he had neglected to register as a donor himself.

“There are 100,000 people waiting for organs - some in hospitals, fighting for their lives, others going through dialysis, all waiting for that phone call as we all go about our everyday life, totally indifferent to their plight,” said Iain Holmes. “Raising organ donation awareness isn’t about convincing people to be organ donors… most people want to be donors and just have neglected to register or told their family their wishes.”

Iain Holmes said Denise’s Gift, who is currently stabled at Oakmont Ranch near Murrieta, California, is expected to make her debut at Del Mar this summer.

Iain Holmes got connected with Bongo Racing via word of mouth that Bob Feld might be interested in the cause. Just two hours after Iain Holmes contacted Bob Feld via e-mail, he received an enthusiastic response that Bob Feld would love to be a part of the project, and he had a filly he thought would be perfect to name Denise’s Gift.

“Two days later he sent in the paperwork to The Jockey Club, and we had a horse,” said Iain Holmes. “Bongo Racing Stable has really gone out of their way to help us - not only just in naming the horse, but Bob is a huge supporter of the whole project.”

When asked how he had chosen which horse would be Denise Darvall’s namesake, Bob Feld said, “We obviously wanted a filly, and we also wanted a filly with talent. She is a Bongo homebred, and we know the mare (Super Glued, by Herat) throws nothing but horses that win. We felt the exposure of a runner and a winner on the track was important, and she fits the bill perfectly.”

Iain Holmes noted that when Denise’s Gift starts her racing career, he has even thought of having her jockey wear a “Donate Life” sticker on his silks and setting up an awareness booth at the track.

Maryland-based trainer Chris Crocker also supports the cause. Chris Crocker, who saddled horses at Woodbine and Presque Isle Downs last year, received a double lung transplant after having complications from cystic fibrosis in 2004.

“It was an interesting coincidence (that Iain e-mailed me),” said Chris Crocker. “(Denise’s Gift) is a pretty neat story - obviously, I’m in support of organ donorship, and I actively train horses… I told (Holmes) if he needed any help with (promoting the cause) to let me know.”

While Iain Holmes is hoping Denise’s Gift will have a successful career, he is ultimately just grateful she is running for such a worthy mission.

“We plan to have a fun time with our filly - (watching) great racing with great people, all the while giving a little back,” he said. “Although we hope (Denise’s Gift) breaks the track record in her first outing, if she doesn’t, we will undertake the record breaking - with champagne sales.”

Denise’s Gift

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Kiaran McLaughlin scoops Asiatic Boy and Honour Devil

kiaran mclaughlan (michael nefdt)

Kiaran McLaughlan
(Photos : DRC/Nafips)


Asiatic Boy and Honour Devil are likely heading for the tracks of the US where they will join the stable of Kiaran McLaughlin.


Reigning champion trainer of South Africa, Mike de Kock, saddled both of Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum’s runners to victories in the UAE Derby, with the former taking the event in 2007 and the latter winning a year ago.

Asiatic Boy is coming off a disappointing result in the Dubai World Cup (Gr1), where he finished back in 12th, from the field of 14.

“We will assess options for Asiatic Boy when we see how he has come out of Saturday, as he had a hard race,” Mike de Kock told The Racing Post from Dubai, adding that Asiatic Boy returned from the race coughing. “However, it is quite likely he (Asiatic Boy) and Honour Devil will go to Kiaran McLaughlin for the New York summer season. Asiatic Boy will probably then retire to Argentina and Honour Devil come back, hopefully for a World Cup bid. Saturday was disappointing. Asiatic Boy had won well on Super Thursday, but a slow start and traffic problems in the World Cup soon had him in trouble. He is obviously far better than that and came back coughing and just was not able to show how good he is, which is a shame. But that’s racing, and he will have another big day, I am sure, in America.”

MULLINS BAY : A Golden Prospect


Sheikh Hamdan’s racing and bloodstock manager of more than twenty years, Angus Gold, is a legend of our sport. He’s one of the most recognisable personalities in the game, and he knows what he’s up to. The Aussies are an exacting lot, and they’re harsh in their judgment of people who dare to venture into their sales environment, yet the one man they hold in universal esteem as a picker of racehorses and a good man in the truest sense, is Angus Gold.

In South Africa, he is the man, together with the initiator of the other Maktoum investments at Summerhill, Michael Goodbody, credited with the presence in this country of Ruling Family’s horses here, and today can take a bow at the achievements of Muhtafal and Kahal, here by dint of Angus exertions.

It’s no small praise then, when he acknowledges your horse as a prospect of note. On a recent visit, he took one look at Mullins Bay, and proclaimed him “as good looking a stallion prospect as I can remember, and he’s got one of the great pedigrees of the world”. This horse has a good deal going for him; because he could run like the wind, and like Kahal, Street Cry and Medicean, he’s a son of one of the world’s top emerging sires of sires, Machiavellian.

Facebook, Twitter, Social Media and Horseracing

bold application facebook

Bold Application by Kahal
(Gold Circle/Summerhill Stud)


Social media is defined as any platform where users can interact, create content, communicate and converse in a free and informal manner using highly accessible and scalable publishing technologies, most commonly via the internet and mobile communication networks.


Leading the online social media frontier is Facebook.


Facebook is a free-access social networking platform that allows users to join networks organised by location or interest groups, thus facilitating the easy transfer of information between personal contacts or organisations.


Ray Paulick, leading voice in the US Thoroughbred industry and previous editor in chief of BloodHorse, last year launched the online publication, The Paulick Report (, which aims to provide the Thoroughbred Industry with an independent voice for news, analysis and commentary.


The Thoroughbred Daily News recently published an interview with Ray Paulick in which he discusses his experience with Facebook and other social networking websites from a horseracing standpoint.


TDN : What has your experience been on Facebook? How does it help you keep in better touch with racing, or promote your racing product to customers? How might the industry better use social networking to promote itself? What other sites do you use?


Ray Paulick : Like many middle-aged adults, I first learned about Facebook from my kids, who now rely on this tool more than e-mail for communications with their friends. I’ve found Facebook to be a useful tool for reaching a new audience, and if I’m going to generalize, I’d say it’s a younger demographic, though more and more people from my generation are discovering it as a fun and useful way to keep in touch with individuals or groups of people, from old friends to relatives to folks I’ve met online.


From a business standpoint, Facebook has been a means to heighten awareness among racing enthusiasts about the Paulick Report, though our audience consists mostly of people with an investment or serious interest in the Thoroughbred industry. In addition to my own Facebook page, the Paulick Report has a group page on Facebook, but we try not to inundate people with breaking news or updates because I’m afraid that if you flood inboxes you’ll lose a good part of your audience.


We’re still tweaking how to best utilize this tool, and are looking at other platforms, including Twitter, which has really caught on in some areas of news and communications. There’s no question that the future of publications, news gathering and networking is online.


Having said that, I think many people who have been in the Thoroughbred industry a while are a little slow to the dance on some of these tools. I’m glad to see so many racetracks and organizations getting on board this online bandwagon. As marketing budgets are cut, it’s a very cost-effective means to keep in touch with customers and other interested parties. In particular, I like what the New York Racing Association is doing on YouTube - adding original content to the site that is both entertaining for fans and useful for horseplayers. I hope other tracks learn from them, because if we don’t start reaching out to where most younger people are spending their time these days – online – we’re only going to see our fan base continue to shrink and our demographics take on an even older profile than we currently have.”


The percentage of businesses taking advantage of the “free” social media environment is currently minute in comparison to the potential on offer. This is something that anyone can and should be involved in, especially in times of scaled back marketing budgets.

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TEAM VALOR : The true meaning of "International"

barry irwin (michael nefdt)Barry Irwin - Team Valor International
(Photo : Summerhill Stud)

The American magazine, Blood Horse, is as time-honoured a bloodstock publication as any in the world. To have yourself featured in it has parallels elsewhere only in a dedicated article in Time Magazine. Just recently, the Blood Horse paid tribute to a man who heads up one of the world’s best-known thoroughbred investors, Team Valor International.

Of special significance to South Africa, is Barry Irwin’s well-known dedication to our cause, and we quote from the article: “Irwin added the word “International” to Team Valor’s name, saying the change was made to reflect the venture’s increasing involvement in racing abroad, especially in South Africa. They breed a tremendous animal in South Africa, and they also have the land to raise a horse right,” Irwin said. “By and large, the people who market the yearlings don’t fiddle with their legs, and they don’t give them steroids. If you can go back to about 1950 in Kentucky, that’s what it’s like. We’ve got about 30 horses there, and I consider them to be like a farm team. If they’re good enough, we bring them here or send them to Europe.”

That was a recent statement. Barry Irwin is previously on record as saying “the world hasn’t cottoned onto South African bloodstock yet, despite your great performances in Dubai”. You don’t get much credit from Irwin unless you deserve it, and this is serious praise, coming from a man whom the Blood Horse describes as “one of racing’s biggest winners, and one of its biggest critics”.

At a time when customers are a little like rocking horse droppings, Barry Irwin is a stand-out Premier League commodity.

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Have racehorses reached their speed limit?

speedy horsesSpeedy Horses
(Painting : Thoroughbred Paintings)

According to Mark Denny, PhD, of California’s Stanford University, it doesn’t look as though Thoroughbred racehorses will be breaking records anytime soon… or perhaps ever again.

Mark Denny believes that a plateau in racing speed was reached back in 1949, 1971, and 1973 for the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes, respectively.

Denny analyzed the records for the U.S. Triple Crown races from 1896-2008 for the Kentucky Derby, 1925-2008 for the Preakness Stakes, and from 1926-2008 for the Belmont Stakes (when the current race distances were set).

In addition to noting that horses are not running any faster than they were decades ago, his assessment also revealed that the predicted maximum running speed is only 0.52-1.05% faster than the current race records.

“These results suggest that definite speed limits do indeed exist for horses and that their current speeds are very close to these predicted limits,” said Denny.

Despite the fact that horses have been bred for speed and the population from which to select fast racehorses has increased over the past 50 years, race speeds have not increased in the past 40-60 years.

“Horses appear to have reached their limit,” noted Denny.

While Denny’s analysis may be construed as disappointing by some, Denny attests that his findings should not, “diminish the awe with which we view the performance of horses.”

The study, “Limits to running speed in dogs, horses and humans,” was published in the Journal of Experimental Biology in December 2008.

What do you think?



(Photo : Champions Gallery)

DANZIG, the son of Northern Dancer out of the Admiral’s Voyage mare Pas de Nom, who reigned as one of the world’s leading sires whilst standing his entire career at the Hancock family’s Claiborne Farm near Paris, Kentucky, has accomplished something in racing that few thought possible. Or, maybe even no one…

David Schmiz writes in The Bloodhorse that according to research done by The Bell Group, a Versailles, Kentucky, advertising firm, Danzig has been found to have 50 of his sons sire Grade 1 and/or Group 1 winners. There is no documentation that 50 is a record, but until research confirms another stallion has reached that figure, it seems safe to call it one.

“I don’t know how many other stallions have done it, but I’m sure it’s only a few,” said Hancock. “The fact he accomplished it says more than what I could add (about his greatness). If you asked me what the number was before, I’d probably say 30.”

DANZIG, who died in January 2006 at 29, achieved plenty in the breeding shed. He is one of only seven stallions since the 1860s to have led the North American sires list by progeny earnings as many as three consecutive years (1991 - 1993) and is one of three stallions to sire as many as 200 Stakes winners.

Significantly, six of them (Allied Flag, Freedom Land, Lustra, National Assembly, Qui Danzig and Shoe Danzig), all stood in South Africa. Lustra stood at Summerhill and produced our first J&B Met ace, La Fabulous.

Two of Danzig’s sons were at the forefront in 2008 Eclipse Award balloting. Boundary, who is pensioned at Claiborne Farm, was represented by champion 3-year-old male Big Brown, who finished third in Horse of the Year voting. Big Brown’s key wins came in the first two legs of the Triple Crown: the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Gr1) and Preakness Stakes (Gr 1).

Belong to Me, who holds court at William S Farish’s Lane’s End Farm near Versailles, Kentucky, was represented by champion turf female Forever Together. Her three Grade 1 wins include a triumph in the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (GrIT).

Hancock stands Danzig’s son, War Front, at Claiborne. “We like War Front, and we’re happy with him,” Hancock said about the Grade 2 winner whose first foals are now yearlings.

Danzig (Northern Dancer-Pas de Nom, by Admiral’s Voyage) reached the 200 mark in Stakes winners in 2008.

Sons of Danzig that have sired Grade 1 and/or Group 1 winners



Chief’s Crown



Polish Navy

Agnes World


Freedom Land


Polish Numbers

Allied Flag

Danzig Connection

Game Plan

Mister C

Polish Precedent



Golden Snake

Monashee Mountain

Qui Danzig

Ascot Knight


Green Desert*


Roi Danzig

Belong to Me*


Honor Grades

Mull of Kintyre

Shoe Danzig


Eagle Eyed


National Assembly



Emperor Jones

Lost Soldier




Exchange Rate







Pine Bluff

Ziggy’s Boy

* - Stars
Bold -
South Africa based

MR PROSPECTOR : The Influence of a Giant

Chocolate Candy winning the 2009 El Camino Real Derby (Gr3)

In as vivid a proclamation of the virtues of a sire of sires as you might imagine, the 2009 Summerhill Sires Brochure read:

“The fact that the blood of Mr. Prospector courses through the veins of eight of the eleven men in our barn, betrays a belief that borders on worship”.

This past week, a horse by the name of Chocolate Candy put up his hand as a live candidate for this year’s American Classics, with a rousing display in the El Camino Real Derby Gr.3, and this attracted the attention of the world renowned pedigree expert, Andrew Caulfield. We quote a few extracts from his article in the Thoroughbred Daily News on the Mr. Prospector influence over this year’s prospects for the Kentucky Derby.

“There are no prizes for guessing which male line supplied the majority of the 23 horses included in last week’s Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool. With a total of 14 representatives, the ubiquitous Mr. Prospector line was much too strong for the A.P. Indy and Storm Cat clans, which combined to provide seven contenders.

Mr. Prospector, of course, was one of those rare stallions who supplied winners of each of the Triple Crown events, and his male-line descendants have so far won more than 30 editions of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness or the Belmont, with the Fappiano branch leading the way with seven winners of eight races. This is reflected in the Future Wager Pool 1, which has no fewer than eight Classic hopefuls from the Fappiano branch. Needless to say, the majority of these descend from Fappiano’s son Unbridled, who matched Mr. Prospector’s feat of siring winners of all three legs of the Triple Crown, thanks to Grindstone, Red Bullet and Empire Maker.

No one can be surprised to see the likes of Empire Maker and Unbridled’s Song justifying their substantial fees by siring Derby contenders of the quality of Pioneer of The Nile, Old Fashioned and Midshipman. But how many breeders would have predicted back in 2005 that the first-season sire Candy Ride would also develop into a major flag-bearer for the Fappiano line, with two sons in the 23-horse pool?

After all, Candy Ride started out at only $10,000 at Hill ‘n’ Dale in 2005 and, in assessing his prospects, it was a case of some good news and some not so good.

The good news was that Candy Ride had been a highly talented racehorse - talented enough to have been one of three horses whose rating of 127 made them the highest-rated American-trained older horses on the 2003 International Classifications (the other two being Johar and Mineshaft). Being considered the equal of Mineshaft among the dirt performers was some compliment, as Mineshaft not only took the Eclipse Award for handicap male, but also the Horse of the Year title.”


JOHANNESBURG progeny for National Yearling Sale 2009

johannesburg stallionJohannesburg
(Thoroughbred Net)

Johannesburg, America’s leading young sire sensation, took his stakes winners total to 21 on Saturday when Diamond Tycoon powered home to win the Fair Grounds Handicap (Gr3) in New Orleans.

Included in his 21 stakes winners tally, Johannesburg has 16 Group winners, of which 6 were in 2008 alone. That’s more than El Prado, Elusive Quality, Smart Strike, Awesome Again, Pulpit, Indian Charlie, Lemon Drop Kid, Gone West, Distorted Humor, Empire Maker and Mr Greeley.

Now you don’t have to travel to Kentucky to get in on the “Jozi” action because on 3rd April 2009, Summerhill Stud will offer a quality filly and colt by Johannesburg on the Emperors Palace National Yearling Sales, in Johannesburg.