We are less than a week away from the beginning of the spring meet at Hawthorne. Racing starts this coming Friday, with entries drawn on Tuesday.
Of course, this means thoroughbreds have been training for weeks. Many have been on the grounds all winter.
Even though the meeting has yet to start, CANTER Chicago has been active through the winter, and took three listings for retiring horses today. We met all three of the horses we listed…as well as a few more friendly faces.
One of the horses we visited for CANTER this morning, Jimmy by a Nose, has been on my radar since before he raced. He has been in my Horse Name Hall of Fame since he turned up on the worktab at Hawthorne, because his name is so well designed to goof with announcers.
Turns out, he got the name because he has such a long head. Alas, after eleven starts, he never got his nose on the wire first. But, he would win a cuteness competition by a nose…or by the expression on his face…or by the angle of his ears.
Another horse we listed today was Herewego Ava. We listed two horses from her barn, actually: both Ava and her unraced stablemate, Splashs Showbiz. Ava may have tried to steal my coffee this morning, but she was cute enough to get away with that — even before 9am.
Of course, we met a few other four-footed friends as well. That’s the beauty of being out at the racetrack bright and early: you never know who you’re going to meet! I had seen a grey horse out stretching his legs, one with a striking white stripe across his face. It turned out he was Just Zip It, a son of one of my favourite stallions, Three Hour Nap.
In another small world moment, Just Zip It’s damsire is Silver Zipper — the same horse who sired Jimmy by a Nose. Right across trainer Chris Ryan’s shedrow from Jimmy was another Silver Zipper baby, Orphanellie. Though she was never the fastest horse on the track, she was almost always the cutest.
Like Jimmy by a Nose, Orphanellie was still a maiden…though she had started a few more times, 48 compared to Jimmy’s 11. They have another thing in common, too: retirement is imminent for both of them. Orphanellie’s owners are keeping her, and she will doubtless enjoy playing in the mud at the farm and getting her pale grey coat as dirty as possible.
She wasn’t the only adorable grey on the shed row, though. Grey Mensch was across the way, a few stalls down from Jimmy. He is a big guy, and a total sweetheart.
Next door to Gray Mensch was Ballistic Tim. He took a while to figure it out on the track…but now has two wins under his belt, including a longshot triumph at Arlington last May.
No matter what — despite the grey skies, despite the mud — there is no better place to be on a Saturday morning than Hawthorne. And, it’s exciting to see things get livelier and livelier as opening day draws near.