The Days Citation Shone

A son of Bull Lea, by Bull Dog, by Teddy, a prolific sire of winners and champions, Citation was a stable mate to Coaltown in the year of his Triple Crown title, 1948. Going into the Triple Crown season, Citation was Calumet Farm’s better thought of horse, while Coaltown was his heralded understudy.

On the Tuesday before the first Saturday in May’s Run for the Roses, Citation scored in the Derby Trial. Five days later in the 74th Kentucky Derby, Citation swept past his stable mate Coaltown to win the Derby by three and one-half lengths. Then he won the Preakness Stakes, the Triple’s second leg, and took time off the Triple Crown trail to win the Jersey Stakes by 11 lengths. Days later, he returned to work in the last jewel of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes. Those who doubted Citation could run a mile and one-half race, the distance of the Belmont, were left in the dust with their thoughts!

Big Cy took the Belmont by eight lengths, a record margin of victory. And he did that just a few days after his Jersey Stakes win, which came just a few days after his Preakness victory! In today’s Thoroughbred racing world, no horse runs that number of races in that number of days! Trainers and owners continue to hassle over the current Triple Crown schedule that requires three-year-olds to run three races at three different locations at three different lengths in just five weeks.

Citation at five. (A Public Domain photo from Wikimedia Commons.)

Citation at five. (A Public Domain photo from Wikimedia Commons.)

Coaltown to Citation:
“Yeah, you won the Derby, but that little $2.80 payout was the lowest price in Kentucky Derby history, dude!”

Citation to Coaltown, (snorting):
“You had the lead, and you couldn’t hold it against me! My new jock, Eddie Arcaro, he’s better than Al Snider on me, and I bet I win the Triple Crown!”

“Triple-snipble! We’ll see!”

Citation (after his Preakness and Jersey stakes victories):
“Ready for the Belmont?”

“A mile and a half? You’ll drop in your shoes! You’ve had too many races in too short a time.”

Citation (after his 8-length triumph in the Belmont):
“Where were you?”

“Watching, dude. Just watching…”


Secretariat’s Last Laugh

Secretariat speaks:

“Thirty-nine years later they say I did set the Preakness Stakes speed record! About …. time!!

“”In the 1991 Pimlico Special, Farma Way sped through that 1-3/16 miles race in 1:52-2/5, and that still stands as that track’s record for a race of that distance. But in 1973, before Farma Way’s heroics, I set the speed record at that track with my 1:53 run in the 1-3/16 miles Preakness Stakes, at the time a world record, track record, and Preakness record. 

“However, an electric timer device recorded my Preakness run at 1:55, and the clocking of that speed was argued over and officially changed to 1:54-2/5, which was recorded by the Pmilico official hand clocker on Preakness day.

“Finally, on June 19 this year (2012), the Maryland Racing Commission was unanimous in their decision to change the official time of my Preakness run to 1:53, correcting both previously recorded times.

“My loving owner, Penny Chenery, was relentless in her bid to get the MRC to investigate the clockings of my Preakness time and set the record straight. At long last, my Preakness time is official, a race record, 1:53 at 1-3/16 miles!

“I’m delirious with joy! I now hold all three speed records for the Triple Crown, which I won in 1973 — The Kentucky Derby, 1:59-2/5 at 1-1/4 miles; the Preakness Stakes, 1:53 at 1-3/16 miles; and the Belmont Stakes, 2:24 at 1-1/2 miles.

“I heard PC say ‘I didn’t know if it was appropriate to cheer but I couldn’t help myself’ when the Preakness speed record decision was handed down June 19.

“PC, you truly conducted a “labor of love”, as your attorney described your effort following the announcement of the decision. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, which is bigger than most!”

Anak Nakal’s Regret Over Eight Belles’ Demise

A rainy day at Churchill Downs.

Anak Nakal has taken up constant sniffling and head-hanging in the 2008 Nick Zito barn. War Pass, an Eclipse Two-Year-Old Male Champion now injury-retired and Chief counsel to the barn occupants, wants to know why.

WAR PASS: (firmly, on the stable’s telecommunications network) “Nakie, what’s wrong with you? This is the third race you’ve blown since the Triple Crown events (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes) ended.” 

 ANAK NAKAL: (in the corner of his stall sniffling into his hay rack) “I’m just feeling a little off, that’s all.” 

 WAR PASS: “Then see the vet!” 

ANAK NAKAL: (sniffing) “I don’t need a vet.” 

COOL COAL MAN: (laughing a low whinny) “More like a love doctor, he needs.” 

WAR PASS: “What do you mean, Man?” 

COOL COAL MAN: (mimicking Anak Nakal) “I’m just a fool for those dark gray coats.” 

WAR PASS: (stunned) “What? Dark gray? Oh, no…Eight Belles (who broke down and died directly after the 2008 Kentucky Derby)?” 

COOL COAL MAN: “Bingo!” 

WAR PASS: “Man, hush! Nakie, were you hay-dating Eight Belles before the Derby?”

ANAK NAKAL: (gazing ever downward) “I still think of her every day.” 

STEVIL: (stamping his hoofs) “Ah, cripe!” 

FIERCE WIND: (triumphantly) “Ha, I knew it!” 

 WAR PASS: “Pipe down, everyhorse!” 

 ANAK NAKAL: (sobbing) “I bullied her in the Derby like you said to…I’m so remorseful…” 

WAR PASS: “Nakie, she should have been in that silly Kentucky Oaks, not the Derby. Shake it off and get back on track. You did your job. This is racing, and racing is about winning, not whining!”


High-Hoofing in the Nick Zito Barn

Alone in the lane to the finish!

Big Brown’s loose shoe photo opens the door to controversy concerning his 2008 Belmont Stakes loss and Da’ Tara’s upset win. The subject is fiercely debated among the occupants of trainer Nick Zito’s barn.

STEVIL: “Hey, Da’ Tara, Belmont Stakes champion! Get a little Guiness with your victory meal?” 

DA’ TARA: (his nose touching his oats as he grins lopsidedly) “Yeah…eh, heh, heh.” 

FIERCE WIND: “Hey, Da’ Tara! You better be sober when your daddy (2-time Breeders’ Cup Classic champion Tiznow) calls!” 

STEVIL: “Hey, Da’ Tara! Press your telecommunications button. Chief’s on!” 

DA’ TARA: (his head springing up) “War Pass!?”

WAR PASS: (laughing) “It’s okay, kid. I know you’re celebrating. You should. You were great!” 

STEVIL: (smirking whinny) “Hey, Chief, Big Brown had a loose shoe in the Belmont.” 

COOL COAL MAN: “Yeah, I read that, too.” 

ANAK NAKAL: (sniffing noisily) “So what?” 

 WAR PASS: “Exactly. Bossman (Zito) always says a good horse can overcome that stuff. No matter, kid. You won.” 

FIERCE WIND: (fiercely) “Don’t you horses watch ESPN? It’s all over the networks and the media! The loose shoe made Big Brown slip up. It spooked him.” 

WAR PASS: “Nonsense! Knock that off, Windy! Big Brown needed to step up, big time, and he didn’t.” 

FIERCE WIND: (nasty whinny) “Aren’t you listening? There’s a photo. The loose shoe is plain as day.” 

STEVIL: “No one knows if Big Brown could have won if that shoe hadn’t come loose.” 

DA’ TARA: (hanging his head) “Does this mean my Belmont win will always have an asterisk?”


Where Went Thou, Ferdinand?

Head-to-head into the stretch!

Exploring the impending death of 1986 Kentucky Derby Champion, Ferdinand, who most likely was disposed of in 2002 in a Japanese slaughterhouse, his USA owners learned after they began an attempt to retrieve him from stud service in Japan.


Fade In:

Shot of the evening sky with black clouds hovering over several large barns, an adjoining brick building, and numerous surrounding corrals with free-standing horses gathered in tight groups. As the camera begins a slow pan across the sky and down toward a group of horses in one of the corrals:

Narrator’s Voice: In 2002, American Thoroughbred and 1986 Kentucky Derby Champion Ferdinand was lost, presumably in a slaughterhouse, after standing at stud in Japan. His U.S. owners launched inquiries as to his whereabouts through a journalist because they wished to return their sweet Ferdinand to America to live out his days on their farm.

The camera pans down to focus on Ferdinand standing nervously at the narrow-fenced, metal stall that leads to a small door into the brick building. Ferdinand, whinnying, nervously step-jumps under his bridle handler who is holding him snugly just shy of the metal stall outside the building entrance.

FERDINAND’S BRIDLE HANDLER: “Whoa, boy. Don’t get nervous on me.”

Ferdinand’s fellow equines also begin stepping nervously around the corral behind him.

FERDINAND: (addressing his fellows): “I am nervous.” (whinny)

From inside the brick building in front of Ferdinand comes a high, answering whinny:) “Ferd?”

FERDINAND: (repeats the nervous whinny) “Al? Al! Are you in line?”

AL: “Yes! The first building. It’s terrible in here! (high whinny) Everyhorse shuffling around, and I can smell blood beyond the doors!”

FERDINAND: “Al — Al! What is this? There are wretched odors everywhere! I can smell blood, now, too!”

AL: “It’s slaughter, Ferd! I saw Lucky, and he…he screamed, Ferd, when he went into the next room! Don’t come in, Ferd!”

FFERDINAND: (nervous whinny) “What do you mean, Al? Slaughter? Is that the smell? What are they doing to everyhorse?”

AL: “Don’t come in, Ferd!”

FERDINAND: “I’m being held. I can’t break free!”

The camera pans again around the corrals, where dozens of horses are beginning to distance themselves from the buildings by seeking the far end of the corrals, snorting and whinnying to one another.

A CAPTIVE BEHIND the WALL: “Al? Ferd? What’s going on? I’m in the holding corral on the other side of the first building. What’s going on! What is this?”

AL: “Princess?”

PRINCESS: “Yes! Al, please, what’s happening?”

AL: (screeching whinny) “Oh, Princess — !”

FERDINAND: “Al! Hold on — !”

AL: “Ferd! Don’t come in — !”

FERDINAND: (rearing to no avail) “I can’t get free!”

AL: “Princess! Jump the corral fence!”

PRINCESS: (frightened whinny) “It’s too high, Al! I can’t make it!”

FERDINAND: “That’s suicide! It’s topped with barbed wire!”

AL: “Try, Princess! Try! Oh, dear Pegasus…Try to save yourselves! Even the barbed wire is better than this — they’re coming at me! With knives! (screeching whinny) Princess! Ferd! Get away! It’s slaughter, I tell you! They’re killing us in here! Go! Now!”

FERDINAND: “Al! I can’t get free!”

Ferdinand half rears again, calling out with whinnies of fright and confusion. Others also whinny with fear and circle nervously inside the corrals.

AL: “Run, Princess! The fence! Go, Ferd! Go! It’s your only chance! Oh — No! No!”

Screeching whinnies fill the air, exploding from inside the brick building.

FERDINAND: “Al? Al! Talk to me, buddy!”

There are no further responses from Al.

FERDINAND: (whinnying fiercely) “Princess, are you tied?”

PRINCESS: “Ferdinand? What happened?”

FERDINAND: “Are you tied!”

PRINCESS: “No, but — ”

FERDINAND: (wrenching free from his handler) “Then go, Princess! Jump! I’m coming!”

PRINCESS: “It’s too high, Ferdinand! The wire…!”

FERDINAND: (running toward the corral) “Yes, you must, Princess! The smell of blood from inside is…It’s Al! Follow me, Princess, and jump!”

PRINCESS: “Oh, Ferdinand…Al!”

FERDINAND: “It’s too late, Princess! He’s gone! Princess, jump! Everyone, jump the fences! You cannot enter this building! Al is being slaughtered! Go! Run! Run! Jump for your lives!”

The camera pans the corral fences, where horse after horse trys to leap to freedom, but is hung in the barbed wire. Eventually, fellows are jumping on the backs of fellows trapped by the wire.

Fade to black.

/The End/


Do We Cheat Them?

A trotter takes a warmup run.

Sometimes, of course, we let our animals to the talking for us, rather than for themselves. Deweycheatumnhowe is a splendid example of this.

Do We Cheat Them And How — Deweycheatumnhowe (Dewey for short) was 2008’s Three-Year-Old Male Champion Trotter in American harness racing. You can go anyhwere with a horse’s name, as long as you remain within the many rules governing the naming of race horses.

Dewey’s name is sneaky clever with a purpose. It was assigned to point out the butt of a Johnny Carson gag that concerned a crooked law firm! Deweycheatumnhowe is a champion who carried his racing name with dignity, wiping out his competition everywhere for two seasons before his retirement to stud to produce new little Cheatums to carry on his owner’s philosophy of bringing about certain public awareness.

I have a question. Could the response to the Johnny Carson gag have been just as strong if Dewey’s owners had opted for something on the less slippery side? Say, like, Rwehonstuafaltubet — Are We Honest To A Fault You Bet? Perhaps Aryhonstunoit — Are We Honest You Know It? The nicknames would still be appealing — Faulty and Ary — and the message would still be strong, but it would highlight the opposite side of the coin, not so much advertising the cheating, but instead boosting the idea of honesty.

Big Brown’s Loose Shoe

Winning at Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky.

What happened to American racing Thoroughbred Big Brown was the burning question in 2008 when the Rick Dutrow-trained colt flipped off the Belmont Stakes and America’s potential twelfth ever Triple Crown championship by taking an unexplained powder.

What happened was, he’s a horse, of course. But let’s go to a stream of conscious report from the big fella himself:

BIG BROWN: (crashing from the Belmont Stakes gate) “Hey, Kent! Get me over…I don’t want the rail! Oh, I’m slipping…my back feet are stuck…there, okay.

“Hey, Guad (Guadalcanal, running next to him), look out…Get over, Guad! Kent! You falling off up there, or what? Guad, move it! Ouch! Get off my feet!” (Shaking his head left) “Now looky what you did, Guad! My shoe’s loose! It’s only the first turn, and my shoe is loose! You stepped on it, Guad!” (Shaking his head right) “Can you help me with this, Kent? Kent! Oh, this is useless; we can’t talk while (shaking his head backward) I’m running!

“I’ll have to slow down — that shoe hurts — now it’s okay…let’s move outside, Kent. Ouch! It’s off again…Geez! Okay…daylight…yeah, we’re through…backstretch coming. Kent! Let’s just get my spot…before this silly shoe slips again…Ouch! There it went…Nuts, I’m tired…backstretch…I’m pooped…this shoe! Third…ouch! I’m third..the reins are moving…fourth…Kent! Kent.

“No gas…I’m out…the Triple’s gone. This shoe! Sorry, Kent…I’m out.” (Trailing off to the right, shaking his head) “Are they booing us? Kent? Are they?!”


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