After a year off, the Illinois Derby (G3) will be run once again on Saturday, April 22. Over at Picks and Ponderings, I take a look at the three-year-olds you’re likely to see in the biggest race of the Hawthorne spring meet.
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.
When writing (or tweeting) about Illinois-breds in the auction ring, it jumps out enough when an Illinois-bred horse commands five figures. Six figures, for a horse bred here, is eye-popping. It happens — recent examples include My Option and Magnetic Miss — but not often.
Until yesterday, that had not happened since Sassy Pants commanded $4,500,000 at Keeneland November in 2006.
As many of you know from things I have posted here or on Twitter, I have been volunteering for CANTER since October. It has been amazing.
I have met so many horsepeople, volunteers, and horses in the last five months. And, I have been able to find a way to get personally involved in racehorse retirement despite being an apartment-dwelling, car-less city person with neither space nor money for my own horse. I have been out at Hawthorne just about every Saturday morning over the last few months with other local CANTER volunteers to talk to trainers and help take listings. I have also put my online chatter tendencies to good use; over the last few months, I have had the reins for our chapter’s Twitter account.
When I started, we were still CANTER Illinois; the Chicago-area group and the group at Fairmount operated under the same leadership as an affiliate of CANTER USA. Recently, CANTER Chicago has become its own affiliate. Everything is official now: we have our own page on the national CANTER site, our own registration as an Illinois nonprofit, our own bank account.
And, this is where CANTER Chicago needs your support. We are a 100% volunteer-run nonprofit, 501(c)(3). Even though we’re not paid, there are still start-up and operating costs such as liability insurance (a requirement for having backstretch access at Arlington this summer).
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.
Over at Picks and Ponderings, I took a look at the horses with local connections who have been nominated to the Triple Crown. The focus rests on horses who raced here or were bred here, as well as a pair of locally connected owners who figure quite prominently on the list.
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?
If there are two things that hit Blinkers Off square in the wheelhouse, they are Curlin babies and Illinois-breds. Rarely do those two niches overlap, but recently there have been a few points where they have. This makes it a good time for updates on all of his Illinois-bred progeny.
This past Saturday, Chicken Noodle (Perfectly Campbell, by Pleasantly Perfect) debuted at Hawthorne in a one mile and seventy yard maiden special weight over the dirt. She is beautifully bred, particularly for an Illinois-bred: by Curlin, out of a winning half-sister to Nates Mineshaft. She is also a good-looking filly: