Chicago Race of the Day: Saturday, May 18

Ready to talk Illinois-bred maidens? In the latest episode of Chicago Race of the Day, I delve into the Arlington 7th on Saturday, May 17: an Illinois-bred maiden special weight. I point out a few pedigree facts…and may grumble, just a tiny bit, about a beat that happened five years ago, because we all have those old beats we just can’t get over.

Listen to Chicago Race of the Day right here, or subscribe on StitcherGoogle Play, or through the RSS feed!

Chicago Race of the Day: Saturday, May 18

a new series on Patreon

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!

Picks and Ponderings: Voting for 2016’s Illinois Champions

This week, I had the honour to cast my ballot in the ITBOF’s poll, to determine 2016’s champion Illinois-bred racehorses.

You can see my ballot on Twitter.  And, over at Picks and Ponderings, I explain in detail why I voted the way I did.

Some divisions were easy.  Others, less so.  But, no matter what, I gave the horses the deliberation they deserved and enjoyed reliving the best performances by Illinois-bred racehorses through last year.

foals to watch out for: revisited

Enough with the foal report-related doom and gloom, at least for the moment.  The foal report abounds with hope, as well, in the form of specific foals who I can’t wait to see on the track in two or three years.

I’m still narrowing down the list of 2016’s neatest Illinois-bred foals to just five.  But — what about the foals I tabbed from 2014’s list?  They’re now of racing age, and beginning to hit the track.

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foal crops, stallion rosters, and stability in Illinois

One of my favourite moments of the year happens when the Illinois Department of Agriculture posts the latest year’s foal registration reports.  Last night, I noticed that 2016’s had gone up — a bit earlier than last year’s, even!  I had to finish handicapping and writing up the Jim Edgar, but once I did, the foal report took up the rest of my evening.

Reading the report felt like a roller coaster.  In a future piece, I will touch on the good news, the reason why Foal Report Day feels most like a visit from Santa Claus to me: the actual foals, and the matings that excited me the most.  But, to get the sad part out of the way first, the report provided a startling dose of Illinois horse racing reality.

It shows why we need some stability in Illinois horse racing, and soon.

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2016 Illinois Mares Bred

This week, the Jockey Club released its Report of Mares Bred.

Illinois is still a fairly small segment of the breeding market.  After all, according to the report, there were more mares bred to Uncle Mo (253) than there were to all Illinois stallions combined (220).  But, this report does give a look at who is gaining attention among Illinois stallions, whose foals we will see come 2019 or 2020.

Ghaaleb (Unbridled’s Song – Queen’s Lady, by Storm Cat) led the list with 30. He has no progeny on the track yet.  Ghaaleb himself only raced four times, winning both a maiden special weight sprint and a one-other-than mile at Aqueduct.

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Illinois-breds at Keeneland September: books 2-3

It’s that time again: the biggest yearling sale of the year, Keeneland September.

This year’s catalogue features fifteen Illinois-breds.  Blinkers Off will look at all of them, in a three-part series.  Here, we look at the yearlings in Book 2 and Book 3, five in total.  (There are no Illinois-breds in Book 1).  A future piece will look at the four yearlings form the land of Lincoln across Book 4 and Book 5, and the final installment will shine a light on the six Illinois-breds in Book 6.

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Chicago Railbird: Hero’s and Crooks

I had a blast writing my latest Chicago Railbird column.

There’s little I like more than learning about Illinois breeding, and I noticed that Hero’s and Crooks has his first starter ever in Friday’s Arlington opener.  I wondered how he ended up a sire, even in Illinois, given his modest race record.  So, in addition to handicapping that race, I took a dive into his pedigree to uncover why he ended up standing stud in the first place.  And, I found some interesting things.

Head over to ShapperDaCapper, read the latest Chicago Railbird, and learn about new Illinois sire Hero’s and Crooks before his first runner hits the track!

the golden bloodline of N. C. Goldust

N. C. Goldust (Gold Stage – Arraign, by Judger) was aptly named.  Her name did not fit her in the same sense that current Chicago-circuit mainstay Dustem Carolina’s does:  after all, she was bred in Ontario and not North Carolina.  However, the latter part of her name fits, as her bloodline has been golden.

Somali Byrd may be cute and plaintive when begging for mints -- but, her 64-11-14-10 record proves that this granddaughter of N. C. Goldust is all business on the track.
Somali Byrd may be a softie if she thinks you have mints, but her 64-11-14-10 record proves this granddaughter of N. C. Goldust is all business on the track.

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Three Hour Nap, revisited

Thoroughbred racing in Illinois gets back underway in less than two weeks.  With that on the horizon, and two-year-old races at Arlington only a few months away, it seemed a good time to revisit one of my pieces from last year, about Three Hour Nap.

Since my maiden-focused look at Three Hour Nap was published in September of last year, three more Three Hour Nap babies have joined the ranks of winners.  For three more of his babies to have won between September and January is nothing to sneeze at: he has only 25 registered foals of racing age1, including four who are two-year-olds of 2016.

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Chicago Railbird: Illinois-Breds to Watch!

With 2016 getting underway, it is time to take a look at a few Illinois-breds to watch this year.

I look at four: two sophomores, and two older horses.  The older horses have each taken some forays into stakes company, but have enough upside to suggest we haven’t seen the best of them yet.  The three-year-olds remain lightly raced and under the radar…but could be poised for a big year.

Head on over to ShapperDaCapper, read the latest Chicago Railbird, and get to know four Illinois-breds to add to your virtual stable right now!

Illinois sires: Greytap

Every so often, someone googles Blinkers Off with interesting enough search terms that a post ensues.  Within the last week, someone found this corner of the Internet with the search terms Greytap horse pedigree.

I have mentioned Greytap a few times here at Blinkers Off, but only in the context of handicapping a race in which he was actually running.  I have never discussed his record or his  pedigree here in any detail.  Still, it is a good time to do so — after all, breeding season is around the corner.

Nine-year-old Greytap (Tapit – Trickily, by Trempolino) is the only son of Tapit standing stud in Illinois.  He stands stud at Jake Bryant’s J B Stables in Burnt Prairie.  Close followers of Illinois Thoroughbred breeding may notice a pattern here.  After all, he is not the only relatively obscure son of a big-money sire to stand at Bryant’s farm.

Road Ruler (Unbridled’s Song – Stephanie’s Road, by Strawberry Road) stands there, too.  Injuries kept Road Ruler from being a star on the racetrack, but he has become a fixture on the Illinois sire list.  Road Ruler commands a $2,000 stud fee — big money, among stallions in the state.  In 2013 and 2014, Road Ruler sat second in earnings among all sires standing (or who last stood) in Illinois, behind the late Cherokee Rap.  In 2015, led by solid sprinter Armando’s Star, Road Ruler took over the top spot.

Greytap stands aside Road Ruler for the same $2,000 stud fee — a high-end price for Illinois.  Can lightning strike again with Greytap?

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