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.
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.
I’m used to the Illinois foal report being my Christmas present. This year, the Department of Agriculture has released the 2017 report of foals born in Illinois earlier than usual. It’s come in time to be my (early!) birthday present! Here, I discuss a few things I noticed while reading it — and then, as always, my five foals to watch.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?