This year marks the 30th running of the Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn Park. It has always been a 1 1/16 mile race for three-year-old fillies. It first earned a grade 3 rating in 1990, and has carried that status every year except for 2003-2007, during which it was once again ungraded. This year’s renewal offers a $200,000 purse, as well as Road to the Kentucky Oaks points (50-20-10-5) for fillies in the top four places.
The best horses lose nothing in defeat. From Man o’ War, turned sideways at the start, to Songbird, doing everything but win against one of the greatest racemares of our time, a whisker at the wire has no power to sully a performance for the ages.
And so it was with Alysheba, on a clear autumn day in Southern California.
…read on, in my latest at Thoroughbred Insider.
After a little hiatus last week, it’s time for the fifth week of Big Race Showdown at America’s Best Racing: where I clash heads with six awesome handicappers (Emily Gullikson, Candice Hare, Dan Tordjman, Brian Zipse, Eric Bialek, and Mark DiLorenzo) to see who can stay the hottest through Derby prep season.
The Risen Star and El Camino Real were tough (too bad Big Race Showdown didn’t do the Southwest, ’cause I was all over My Boy Jack!). Let’s see if I can get back on track with the Fountain of Youth, with a horse I’ve been keen on since last June: the one, the only, Free Drop Billy. See who all I like, and see who we all like, over at ABR!
This is the first in a series I call “One-Pagers” — short, frequent reflections on topics in horse racing. They can be about anything: breeding, people, races, events, places, anything under the broad umbrella of horse racing. The only requirement is that they fit on one page of my notebook.
I got the idea yesterday, when I was reading a blog that had a section specifically devoted to 100-word pieces. I wondered what I could do with pieces with some kind of length-related constraint. Over the last couple months I’ve fallen in love (fallen back in love?) with writing just about everything except for handicapping previews in a pen-and-paper notebook, and so one-pagers seemed like a natural fit.
This first one is public…but the rest of them will be Patrons-Only. Patrons of all levels will be able to read them, so even just $1 per month will get you access to all of them going forward.
Visit my Patreon blog to read my first One-Pager, some thoughts about a favourite sire who is still looking for his Big Horse.
And, if you’d like to read more, support me on Patreon for as little as $1 per month!
This Saturday features four different three-year-old preps at three different tracks: three Kentucky Oaks prep, and a Kentucky Derby prep as well.
Over at Picks and Ponderings, I preview all four of the points races: the Fountain of Youth (G2) and the Davona Dale (G2) at Gulfstream, the Busher Stakes at Aqueduct, and the Santa Ysabel (G3) at Santa Anita.
Read my previews, and let me know your thoughts in the comments. Good luck this weekend!
The harness racing meet at Hawthorne has drawn to a close. I’ll be back writing for the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association come the summer meet, but before we move on to thoroughbreds at 35th and Cicero, let’s visit my last pair of pieces from the winter meet.
For both, I talked to drivers, but they run the gamut of experience.
Issac Love is still a provisional driver — but he made the most of his drives at Hawthorne this winter, particularly with younger horses.
Ryan Anderson just crossed the 3,000-win threshold — he talks about his lifetime in the sport, and the most memorable horses along the way.
Thanks for reading all winter long, and I’m looking forward to returning to harness racing this summer!
It’s that time of the year again — time to look back over the year that was, and to recognise the best Illinois-bred Thoroughbreds.
Over at Picks and Ponderings, I share my Illinois Champions ballot, and discuss my rationale for why I voted how I did in each category. Give it a read, revisit the best Illinois horses of 2017, and let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Picks and Ponderings has kept a close eye trained on the three-year-old points races, but there are none this week. Far be it from us to go on hiatus, though: especially since we’re hitting the road this weekend! We’re off to Florence, Kentucky, making our maiden voyage to Turfway Park, so follow along with @picksponderings for photos, notes, and updates!
We are keeping up with the three-year-old theme, of course. The feature of the race week is the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes, the local prep for next month’s Grade 3 Jack Ruby Steaks (née Spiral Stakes).
We’ve already visited the Big Easy and the City by the Bay this weekend — but with Presidents’ Day on Monday, the Derby trail winds to Oaklawn Park for the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes, the second of four preps during this winter’s Hot Springs meet. Though the Kentucky Derby points haul isn’t huge — it’s the final 10-4-2-1 — the $500,000 purse is massive for a Grade 3.
The Southwest Stakes will be run for the fifty-third time this year. The race was run in 1959, 1962, and then every year from 1968 to the present day. Originally a sprint, the race was extended to a mile in 1984, and then to its current 1 1/16 mile distance in 2013. The first year in which it was a key Derby prep was 1992: though 17/1 D. Wayne Lukas bomb Big Sur wired the field that day, second-place Pine Bluff won the Preakness, and third-place Lil E. Tee took home the roses on the first Saturday in May.
It’s time for the fourth week of Big Race Showdown at America’s Best Racing: where I clash heads with six awesome handicappers (Emily Gullikson, Candice Hare, Dan Tordjman, Brian Zipse, Eric Bialek, and Mark DiLorenzo) to see who can stay the hottest through Derby prep season.
So far…I’m holding my own, mostly. I must be getting a bit cute for cute’s sake on top: three weeks in my top picks are 0/4, but my exacta and trifecta winnings are solid.
This week, we take on a pair of Derby preps: the Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds, as well as the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields. Head over to ABR, and see who we like!