Vet Alan Dorton and Lindsy Reed Add to Rich Strike Fairy Tale

There are so many human interest stories and little known incidents that make up the incredible tale of Rich Strike. I have told several of them, but this one adds new depth to the story. Whether the colt wins Saturday’s Travers or not, what has been can never be erased from even the most unlikely yet cherished chapters of the Kentucky Derby.~ Steve Haskin

Vet Alan Dorton and Lindsy Reed Add to Rich Strike Fairy Tale

By Steve Haskin


If you don’t believe in the Derby gods then you surely must believe it was a higher source of divine intervention that guided Rich Strike to his improbable 80-1 victory in the Kentucky Derby. As the son of Keen Ice approaches Saturday’s Travers Stakes the main question is whether this amazing story will continue, or like Mine That Bird conclude with the Kentucky Derby. It didn’t matter much with Mine The Bird because it still made for a terrific movie, as it was the journey to Churchill Downs and victory on racing’s greatest stage that drove the story.

The same can certainly be said for Rich Strike, but in many ways his story is even more compelling because it combined more elements of the human spirit, especially the incredible bond that has held the Reed family together through countless tragedies. This was the real story that made the Derby so amazing and it took Rich Strike and his jaw-dropping run through the entire Derby field to bring it to public consciousness as if it was destined to be told.

Although it came as a shock to everyone outside the colt’s circle, it certainly wasn’t to those who knew the behind-the-scenes story. One of those in that circle is the Reeds’ veterinarian, Alan Dorton, who has become so close to the family that trainer Eric Reed’s daughter Lindsy, who has worked with Rich Strike and knows him as well as anyone, thinks of him as her “second dad.”

“When I first met him I thought, ‘This guy is pretty cool,’” Lindsy said. “He was funny and always made everyone feel relaxed and gave them confidence. It was all about the horses and he always did what was in their best interest. As time went on we became very close and a great friendship developed. I gained so much respect and love for him. He became my go-to person and eventually a father figure to me. Whenever I was in a bad mood he would say, ‘Here comes grumpy pants.’”

Dorton’s interest in horses at age 19 did not begin in typical fashion. It happened when he chased a girl he liked into a horse barn. She rode Western pleasure horses and he eventually began taking an interest in horses. After attending Morehead State University he transferred to the University of Kentucky and began working with horses part-time from the ground up. After graduating he decided he wanted to go into horse management so he returned to school to take equine science and management courses while again working part-time with horses to help pay for another semester. He eventually got a job at the duPont family’s Pillar Stud on weekends working first with the broodmares and then the stallions. He then got a job at Gainesway Farm where he learned about stallions the hard way.

One day Cannonade, the 1974 Kentucky Derby winner, grabbed his middle finger and ran off with Dorton hanging on for dear life. He knew if he didn’t keep running with the horse he would have lost his finger. Cannonade finally let go, with Dorton separating the last two joints of his finger. Stallion manager Marion Gross took a look at it and calmly snapped it back in place.

Dorton’s interest eventually turned to veterinary medicine and after becoming a veterinarian his first big job was working for Ken Ramsey at his farm in Nicholasville, Kentucky just outside of Lexington. At the time there were 83 mares on the farm and that eventually grew to around 300. After the tragic barn fire, likely caused by lightning, at the Reed family’s Mercury Equine Center outside Lexington in December, 2017 that killed 23 horses and nearly wiped out their entire operation it was Ramsey who sent Eric and his wife and assistant Kay 22 horses to help them get back on their feet. For Eric the fire was a nightmare from which he was unable to wake up. He told Kay, “We’ve lost everything. “ In addition to the horses they lost all their tack and supplies along with valuable records, trophies, and racing memorabilia. It pretty much destroyed their past existence that had taken so many years to build up.

When Dorton went there to take care of the horses Ramsey gave them he got to know the family well and he has been a close friend, as well their veterinarian, ever since.

The Reeds built back their operation, but the tragedies were far from over. In the summer of 2020 Eric Reed’s two main assistants, behind Kay, James Wellman and Hollywood Sweeney, who had been with him for over 25 years, both died of cancer several months apart. Lindsy would like to believe it was James and Hollywood who helped clear a path for Rich Strike, one on the inside and one on the outside, as he made his epic charge through the Derby field.

They had suffered though the ordeal of the fire, but were unable to rejoice in the victory of a lifetime. “The last thing they would remember was the fire, watching the barn burn down and the bodies being taken out,” Lindsy said.

Shortly after losing James and Hollywood, the Reeds’ daughter Jessica (the second oldest of four children) and her 2-year-old son Raylin were visiting Jessica’s husband at the garage where he worked when there was a tragic accident that killed Raylin. Her husband still hasn’t recovered.

“The father has been dealing with serious psychological issues since.” Dorton said.

After having to suffer through that terrible tragedy Kay lost both her parents a short time later. But through all the heartbreak the family held together and kept forging ahead looking for that one big horse.

According to Dorton it was Kay (whose mother and father were horse trainers and whose great uncle Charlie Kurtsinger rode War Admiral to victory in the 1936 Triple Crown) who was the rock.

“I’m lucky I’m one of the few vets that she hasn’t physically chased out of the barn,” he said jokingly.

If I may venture into the ethereal, it was now time for the Derby gods to get to work.

On September 21, 2021, Eric put a claim in on a horse at Churchill Downs, but there were seven or eight claims in the box and he lost the shake. So he decided to claim another horse later on who had run once on the grass at Ellis Park, finishing 10th, beaten 14 lengths, but this race was on the dirt. This time, with the horse having run so poorly in his debut, his was the only claim and he was able to take over the training of a chestnut colt named Rich Strike at a cost of $30,000. He won that day by a staggering 17 ¼ lengths, but it wasn’t until he worked at Ellis Park a short time later that Reed felt he might have stumbled onto something big.

“Eric told me at that time, ‘Keep an eye on this colt, he may be my Derby horse,” Dorton recalled. “When I first saw him he was just a big old gangly 2-year-old who would fall over his own feet.”

Although it would take a while for Dorton to become a believer, Lindsy soon saw something that gave her hope. “In December, when he turned in a bullet workout at Churchill Downs I thought, ‘Maybe dad’s right. He might be good after all,’” she said. “The stride he had and the ground he covered was mind-blowing.”

Lindsy, who is a top hunter jumper, began taking care of Rich Strike, grooming him, bandaging him, and giving him his medicines, and would until he left for Churchill Downs to prepare for a possible start in the Derby.

“He was quite full of himself and could be a handful,” she said. “He would rear up and was just playful and kind of goofy like a young prankster growing up. If you left him alone he was fine, but if you bothered him he’d eat you alive.”

Rich Strike was sent to Fair Grounds at the end of 2021, and although he was 46-1, it still was very disappointing when he finished a well-beaten fifth in the Gun Runner Stakes.

“I was surprised to see him run out of gas,” Dorton said. “When he got back to Mercury I pulled blood on him and he was anemic as all get out. It turned out he had stomach ulcers.”

Dorton began treating them and Rich Strike finished a solid third in the Leonatus Stakes coming from eighth and a fast-closing fourth, beaten only three lengths after rallying from 11th, in the John Battaglia Memorial, both over Turfway Park’s synthetic surface. The ulcers cleared up by the time of the rich Jeff Ruby Steaks and when Dorton saw the move Rich Strike made, closing from 11th to finish third at 26-1, he thought, “This horse actually could win the Derby if he gets in or at least surprise a lot of people. If he had another eighth of a mile I believe he would have won that race.”

But Rich Strike still had that mischievous streak in him. The colt liked to play with his water bucket and a month before the Derby, as he had done before, he cut his nose open on the bucket and Dorton had to sew it up. “Here it is a month before the Derby and I’m sewing his nose up,” Dorton said. “I used pink stitches and told people on Facebook to keep an eye out for those pink stitches because they might be at Churchill Downs. We did blood work on him before the Derby and it came back great. I told Eric ‘We’re in good shape.’ That’s when everyone started feeling he could win if he got in.

With several horses still ahead of him on the points list there was nothing left to do but wait and hope for a last-minute miracle. Kay kept calling Lindsy to find out what was happening and the question everyone kept asking her was, “Any word? Any word?”  Finally, there was word. After the late scratch of the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Ethereal Road the day before the race, the first miracle came true. Rich Strike was in the Derby, breaking from the far outside post.

Lindsy finally got to tell everyone, “Well boys he’s in the Derby.” She called Dorton and said, “We got in; cross your fingers.”

The details of how Rich Strike managed to overcome all odds to get in the Derby at the 11th hour can be read in my May 8 recap of the race.

Dorton was unable to attend the Derby because of work and didn’t get home until 5 o’clock. “My wife Jean was sick in bed and I didn’t want to disturb her, so I watched the race in the basement on my office desk. She came down when she heard me yelling. I must have gotten a hundred phone calls and texts immediately after the race. I don’t remember much with all the screaming, yelling, and crying. Everything was so crazy.”

But then came the most special call of them all. It was Lindsy, who was driving back home to Mercury the following morning. “Are you at home?” she asked. “”Of course not, but Jean is,” Dorton replied. “Good,” Lindsy said, “because I have something for her.” Dorton said he would let her know Lindsy would be stopping by even though she would have to make a 35 mile detour.

Lindsy brought Jean six roses from the victory garland. “Can you imagine her going that far out of her way to bring her roses,” Dorton said. “Jean and I were both in tears.”

In an unconventional move, it was decided to pass the Preakness and wait for the Belmont Stakes, feeling the two week interval was too short.  But Rich Strike did no running in the Belmont and plodded home in sixth, beaten over 13 lengths. Was the fairy tale over?

“Everything that could go wrong did go wrong,” Lindsy said. “We feel this was a learning experience. He’s a pretty studdish colt and he got all excited being near that filly (Nest). He got so worked up he basically lost the race in the paddock and the post parade. He’s gotten a lot more professional and is no longer a clown. And he’s gained at least a hundred pounds since the Belmont. The last month he’s been all business. When I walk in his stall he knows I’m going to do something and he’s like, ‘OK, let’s get it over with.’

“I know the Travers is going to be tough, but the way he’s doing and how well he’s been working, they’re going to have to run really hard when the big red Phoenix comes charging at them.”

One of them who should come charging is Arkansas Derby and Haskell Invitational winner Cyberknife, who Dorton delivered at Ramsey Farm, attended to when he was a baby, and watched go off to the sale. In his own way he helped “create” the colt, doing all of Ramsey’s reproductive work, checking the mare, telling them when to breed her, and monitoring the pregnancy right up until delivery. “What an exacta that would be,” he said.

No matter what happens in the Travers or the rest of Rich Strike’s career the movie script has already been written. He can perform no greater miracle than the one that shocked the world on May 7, 2022.

“We had a lot of people watching over us,” Lindsy said. “It was as if it was meant to be. It was like, ‘You’ve been through so much and lost so much maybe a miracle can come your way’. God has mysterious ways of working. He gave us “Richie” and it was up to us to put the pieces of the puzzle together. A little bit of faith can move mountains…and it did.”


Photos courtesy of the Lexington Herald Leader and Alan Dorton


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147 Responses to “Vet Alan Dorton and Lindsy Reed Add to Rich Strike Fairy Tale”

  1. Matthew W says:

    Well the 2022 C J Hindley Humboldt County Marathon is in the books, last race of the Ferndale meet, they start at the chute and then go around three times…..big crowd, little track, and then they head out, in their horse trailers …until next year….tiny pools with enormous payouts, because if you hit the pick five you’re likely the only one ( paid $13,000)…..not bad with the small fields! I’ve been to the track, but not when they are racing, when I saw it there were 5 ft weeds growing, in the track…..but they get it together, year after year—and the people love their Ferndale!

  2. CAROL FOX says:

    Hi Steve. I loved this piece on Rich Strike. I devour anything you write on this horse as I consider his Derby win to be the most exciting since California Chrome won on the first Saturday in May in 2014. And I truly believe that Devine Intervention was involved. On another note, I am making progress on my book and I was wondering if I could PM you about it.

  3. Lynda King says:

    Stone Street announced that Clairiere came out of the race in good order and will move forward off of it.
    Good to hear!

  4. Lynda King says:

    Someone who watched Clarierie’s race start to finish reported that she acted up in the gateand banged her head pretty hard and that this most likely was the reason for her lackluster performance.
    These horses have off days just like we humans do.
    No need to bash trainers and jockeys when they have off days. Have not heard how she came out of the race.
    Davids I read this morning that Baeed’s next race will probably be the Arc and that he most likely be retired to stallion duties after rhe Arc.
    Saw some photos of Jack Christopher yesterday after his race. Talk about ripped muscles, he has a ton of them. Been awhile since I have seen a racehorse with the muscle refinement he has.

    • Davids says:

      Yes Lynda, they had mentioned the Arc a few weeks back. It’ll be interesting to see if Baaeed actually lines up for the Arc. The desire to remain undefeated might end up being a greater desire than attempting to win the Arc.

      • Lynda King says:

        If I recall correctly it was his trainer who indicated the Arc was his next race. Hard decision to make I guess; retire undefeated or go for the glory of adding the Arc to his resume.
        Glad it is not my problem, LOL.

        • Davids says:

          If they don’t go, they’ll never know if he could. If Baaeed loses there is always a myriad of excuses that can be conjured up. With Frankel they didn’t attempt the Arc because they couldn’t, and they wouldn’t, hurt an ailing Henry Cecil that way should Frankel have been beaten. Henry Cecil was adored by everyone.

          • Matthew W says:

            Davids if they try and fail….no biggie—- he is a terrific horse! Stamina cannot be trained, you either have it or you don’t, if he is stamina challenged he will be beaten by horses that couldn’t come close to him, at one mile….

  5. TommyMc says:

    One very strange thing about Saratoga yesterday. The 3-some of Luis Saez, Irad Ortiz, and Flavien Prat failed to win even one race. The 13 race day was dominated by Joel Rosario, Johnny V, and Jose Ortiz.

  6. TommyMc says:

    Junior Alvarado made the right decision to stay at Saratoga and ride Cody’s Wish instead of going out to California to ride Speaker’s Corner. Speaker’s Corner “layed an egg” at odds-on to finish 4th. Speaker’s Corner may be “over the top” for the year and in need of a break.

    I was planning to play Pacific Classic Day at Del Mar next Saturday. But, some disturbing results out there yesterday have shaken my confidence. I just don’t follow the California racing as close as I used to. Juan Hernandez is top-jock and Rispoli on turf, but, other than that I have no idea. Whatever, the Pacific Classic is “must see” with Flightline expected to run. How many show up to face him?

    There are other options next Saturday. Saratoga will still be racing and isn’t it about time for the always fun Kentucky Downs to start their very short, but very lucrative meeting? I know Kentuckians are hungry for some quality turf racing after dealing with the “troubled” Churchill Downs turf course. I hope that next May’s Old Forrester Turf Classic doesn’t turn into the Old Forrester Dirt Classic.

  7. TommyMc says:

    Steve Haskin’s analysis based on the ThoroGraph numbers was correct in identifying Artorious as an unlikely winner. I went with Cyberknife who ran a good race despite being “all keyed up before the race”. But, that didn’t cost him the race. Epicenter is just better than those guys. At least for now. I look forward to seeing him in The Breeders Cup Classic which is still 10 weeks away. Will he run again before then? Steve Asmussen has said that Jackie’s Warrior will only run one more time which will be in the BC Sprint. Does that mean that all the Asmussen horses will be training up to the BC? We’ll see.

    BTW, Rich Strike lost a photo for 3rd to Zandon. The Derby winner ran well. No threat to Epicenter though. No one really was.

    I’ll be interested to know if Epicenter bettered his usual 100-102 BSFs. It doesn’t matter. He was almost geared down nearing the wire.

    • TommyMc says:

      BTW, speaking of the Asmussen horses, there was something wrong with Clairiere yesterday. She was “agitated” before the race and acting up in the gate. Rosario took her back to last and made a mild run without getting anywhere near the winner. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen her act that way before. I would draw a line right through her race and expect her to rebound big-time in The Distaff. It was a big noisy crowd at Saratoga. Many of these horses were running during Covid with smaller crowds. Maybe the big crowds are upsetting some of them. Or, maybe she just had a bad day. Whatever. Bounce back at a price at Keenland in November?

      • Matthew W says:

        Her tongue was hanging unusually far out if her mouth, 90 degrees left, and she kept shaking her head, quick shaking, like she was uncomfortable…..

    • Ms Blacktype says:

      TommyMc: Epicenter got a big fat 112, just like Cody’s Wish. I think he improved a little! Hope Steve reveals the Thorograph number when it’s out.

  8. Ms Blacktype says:

    Those looking for next year’s Derby candidates should watch the replay of Lost Ark’s win in the Sapling Stakes at Monmouth yesterday. He just floated past a field of pretty nice horses. Very impressive! Lost Ark is a half to NEST and a son of Violence. And a gray; that’s always a plus for me.

    Haven’t seen the video yet, but curious about the first start and win of Verifying, from the first crop of Justify. Did anyone see it? Race went off about 11:30, long before I set up my DVR.

    • Ms Blacktype says:

      Just watched the vid of Verifying’s win. He’s pretty green — lugged in on the place horse at the top of the stretch — but a decent performance for a first start. We’ll see if he’s got the stuff his Daddy had later on.

    • Ms Blacktype says:

      Oops, Lost Ark is dark bay or brown. That’s what I get for squinting at tiny videos.

  9. Lynda King says:

    A good race. Congrats to Steve, the owners znd all the connections on Epi’s win. That was impressive.
    Richie did very well I think.

  10. Matthew W says:

    Epicenter is tops! Rich Strike belongs!

    • Davids says:

      Yes, this field minus Charge It and possibly Taiba. Charge It would have trounced this field. Now, onto the big race, Flightline in the Pacific Classic!!

      • So Baffert has Taiba nominated for both the “Pacific Classic” (PC) and the “Shared Belief” (SB) next week at Del Mar. Now unless Flightline scratches from the PC, I expect him to run him in the Shared Belief which is a 1-mile race on the same day and a “perfect” prep race for the Pennsylvania Derby 3 weeks later where supposedly Pletcher will be sending ” Charge It”. We will see what Charge It is made of then. Charge It will need to bring his “A” game as Taiba should be sharp as a tack for that. As for the Travers, Epicenter may have won the battle today but Cyberknife ran the guttiest race today as he, unfortunately, had to run on the lead today which I am sure Geroux did not want any part of !!!! It will be interesting to see where these 3 years in the Travers go from here?

        • Davids says:

          I’m coming to the conclusion that neither Cyberknife nor Zandon are true 10f horses that seem to lack a powerful finish at this distance. Epicenter won easily today to confirm that speculation. Although unproven, Charge It gives every indication that 10f wouldn’t overtax him.

          Charge It’s lack of racing does concern me slightly as he prepares for the Pennsylvania Derby but the colt simply exploded in the Dwyer Stakes after a lengthy break so I believe Pletcher can repeat the performance. If so, Taiba will have his hands full and I like the colt.

          Meanwhile, the return of Flightline is the excitement for this week.

          • Wait a minute Davids….. I think your conclusion of Cyberknife is wrong (Zandon looks to be a bridesmaid ). What he was asked to do yesterday was out of his realm… He is not a front runner !!! His jockey had no choice but to go to the lead as nobody else wanted it. What he was asked to do yesterday would like if Zenyatta was in a race and the gates open and all the other jocks on their horses made her go to the front and set the pace … That is not the way she ran and won races.) He carved out decent fraction and had to do all the dirty work on the frontend and then at the top of the stretch I am telling myself Geroux needs to let him drift to the center of the track (but he didn’t) Geroux takes him to rail, the slowest part of the track and then held on gamely to hold off Zandon and Rich Strike. You say he lacks a powerful finish than you need to go back back and watch the Arkansas Derby. His sustain drive in that race (he also did well in the Haskel) at the end is the best I have seen of any horse all year !!! Epicenter got the perfect trip yesterday and kudos to him he ran a great race but to declare him 3 year old champion is a little premature. As far as Charge It …. who knows !?!? Steve points out in an earlier post his great Thorograph # but I have been around and seen others do similar (Bellamy Road & Frosted ) and not able to repeat it again. Also he is also trained by Pletcher, who has an abysmal record of getting a “colt” to run 1 1/4 on the frontend and win, but on the other hand he is one of the best with fillies and mares …you figure ( I guess he has a way with the ladies) . Of course he is given some of the best horse flesh of any trainer in the country.
            So Davids ,if you and others want to dismiss Cyberknife in the future at a 1 1/4 mile by all means do so as it will give me better odds on him (like 7 to 1 in the Haskell ) you can .

            • Davids says:

              Downthestretch, I think Cyberknife, replicating his sire Gun Runner, as a 4 year old will mature into a very competitive 10f horse but at this stage Epicenter has the marks on the board at 10f. Zandon, appears to me to lose his lethal finish when stretching him to 10f. Moreover, unlike Cyberknife, Zandon would be better suited to 8 – 9f. We’ll see how they advance on both accounts.

              As you say, Charge It is a guess but I’m willing to gamble on that guess. That’s racing.

              • Lynda King says:

                Davids, I agree about Gun Runner progeny, specifically Cyberknife. Thing is that he has a stallion deal, I think with Spendthrift so he might not race at four.
                Agree also about Zandon.
                So at the moment Epicenter is the best 3 year old colt in my opinion.
                Versatility (different distances, different tracks) and racing more than once every three months goes a long way in my opinion.
                Winning or not winning the Breeders Cup does not automatically result in a horse winning HOY or their division in the Eclipse Awards. For example Chrome lost the BC Classic by a neck to Arrogate and still took home HOY honors.
                On another note, took a look at the betting site you suggested.
                I saw that Art Collector is getting s9me attention. Better odds for him than Taiba, Country Grammer. If he can come back and win the Woodward like he just won the West Virginia Derby 2nd year in a row, he might get more attention.
                Do not think we can ever discount these older war horses.

                • Davids says:

                  Lynda, I think Art Collector will be aimed at races he has the best chance to win and another Grade 1 would improve his chances to impact a stud career. The Breeders’ Cup Classic looks tough, very tough, this year.

                  • Lynda King says:

                    Mr Lunsford, AC’s breeder/owner comes across to me as someone who enjoys the sport. He is a very wealthy individual. So far AC is on the same path this year as last and with each win it certainly puts him in a favorable position to run in the Classic. Per an interview after the WVA Derby it sounds like several races are on the table at this point including the BCC As to a stallion career I think he has a lot to offer based on his accomplishments so far. Anyway time will tell I guess.
                    Yes, the BCC does appear as if it will be loaded with talent this year. But as we all know, anything can happen between now and November. Never know when a horse is going to have a bad day and throw a clunker.

                    • As I posted earlier in another blog .. Art Collector is a nice horse but just a notch below the best, Flightline, Life is Good, Country Grammar etc… They should cherry-pick their races with him. Example….. If Life is Good goes in the Woodward (LIG wheelhouse is 1 mile to 1 1/8 ) go to the Lukas Classic at Churchill Down and vice versus.. In other words, avoid LIG or any of those others I mentioned above. If he goes in the BCC, as I said earlier, he is looking at 4 or 5 place at best. Go there only if there is mass defection from that race from the “Elite” due to injury.

        • Baffert said that if Taiba runs in the Shared Belief it will be a springboard race for him for the Awesome Again race on Oct 1st at Santa Anita. Otherwise, I guess he skips it and goes with him to the Penn Derby. Personally I think he should run him in the Shared Belief regardless and choose between the Penn Derby or Awesome Again depending how he comes out of the race. He said it is all about logistics. He runs in the Pacific Classic only if it blows up. I guess that means only if Flightline scratches.

          • Davids says:

            Yes, I read same, I like the Shared Belief – Awesome Again route than shipping for the Pennsylvania Derby which has a very quirky track at the best of times. Build the confidence at home rather than shipping into a fog.

      • Steve Haskin says:

        Epicenter has been running 2 1/2 Thoro-Graph numbers all year. Charge It got a negative-4 last out. That’s a difference of over 10 lengths.

        • Lynda King says:

          Steve please explain what this means. I am trying to get a better understanding of these speed figures.

          • Davids says:

            Lynda, until Steve gives you a fuller overview you can go to the website it has a few paragraphs of ‘introduction for newcomers’ which will give you a reasonable impression.

        • Matthew W says:

          2:00 3/5 is pretty fair to middlin….Charge it one turn 1:34 3/5 was it? A huge jump, didn’t Frosted do that, in the Met Mile? A huge jump?…..13 lengths behind Arrogate and Chrome, in the Classic….Epi has run all good races this year….I think it’s a so so crop but Epicenter is a nice horse…maybe see a nice horse next week, knock on wood I’ll be there..

  11. Matthew W says:

    Well they had the post parade, Rich Strike looks good out there….Epicenter also….In an earlier race I noticed Clairiere was uncomfortable with her tongue tie, and kept shaking her head….she finished last, never threatened….

  12. Lynda King says:

    If my beloved Jackie’s Warrior had to lose to lose today, I am happy that it was to Cody’s Wish.
    What a sweet story.

    • He was not on his toes today… His ears were sort of floppy in the post parade and just a little lethargic versus Jack Christopher who ears were pricked he was on his toes in the post parade. Noticed Jose Ortiz really warming him up on the backstretch. On Jose Ortiz why did he keep Letruska on the rail in the Personal Ensign ??? Clearly, the mid part to outside of mid-track is where you want to be today. I just hope Geroux is taking note of this with Cyberknife. If Rich Strike enjoys a soft rail he should eat it up today !!!

  13. TommyMc says:

    Only race#2 at Saratoga has been moved to the main track. It was also shortened to a mile out of their new chute. Only 5 horses left in that race after scratches.

    Main track “fast” and both turf courses rated “good” to start the day.

    The biggest scratch on the card IMO is Howling Time. I thought he had a bit of a chance in the race. I hope Joe Talamo didn’t make the trip up to Saratoga for nothing. If he did, I hope he gets himself a nice seat and enjoys the action.

  14. Jiffy says:

    A lovely story about Rich Strike and his people. I liked the reference to an act of kindness by Ken Ramsey, who is having a very difficult year. I wish him well.

    Someone on Fox Sports noted that some jockey, whoever he may be, will win his first Travers tomorrow because no one in the race has ever won one. Considering that these are some of the best riders in the country, I found that amazing.

    As for the race itself, I consider it wide open. There are six horses who could win without surprising me too much, and if Epicenter–or anyone else–is a huge favorite, he shouldn’t be. I do consider him the logical choice, but I’m a little tired of expecting him to win a Grade 1 stakes and then he doesn’t. Cyberknife is the probable second choice, but I’ve never been a big fan of his, maybe more for emotional than logical reasons. I love Artorius. I’m not sure if he’s ready for prime time yet, but I had some of those thoughts about his father before he won and broke the track record. Speaking of fathers, Rich Strike, who knows a little bit about upsets himself, also had a sire who won the Travers–over no less than American Pharoah–, and maybe he can win it, too. Early Voting surprised me in the Preakness–I liked his win and I was happy for his people, but I’m not sure he can do it again. I’ve always believed that Zandon is a better horse than his performances indicate, and I’m waiting for the race that will prove that. Maybe tomorrow. But this is the Travers and Saratoga is the graveyard of favorites and logic doesn’t seem to get me far with this field. So I’ll go with feelings and cheer for Artorius, Zandon, and Rich Strike in that order. Whoever wins, it will be a fascinating race.

  15. Lynda King says:

    Deeply saddened to hear that the very successful sire, More Than Ready, now runs with the Heavenly Herd. Condolences to all who loved him and to his grooms. He was always one of my favorites.

  16. TommyMc says:

    They were racing on a Muddy/Sealed surface at Saratoga today and “off” the turf. I’m pretty sure that with no more rain they will have a “Fast” main track tomorrow. The Turf? Who knows? I joined the broadcast late and didn’t see how much rain they got. I would think that a less than Firm turf course would favor Broome and Adhamo in the Sword Dancer. Broome would seem a “Class” standout. My quibbles being Aidan O’Brien’s poor record when shipping over to the U.S. lately. No disrespect. I love the guy as much as anybody. He’s one of the best in the world. But, if you take away his Trifecta sweep in the Breeders Cup Mile a couple of year’s ago, well………. And Broome is 6 years old now. He ran one of the best Timeform Ratings of his career just 2 races back in the Hardwicke. But, his numbers in the races before and after that race are not so scary. Adhamo is improving and Tribhuvan enjoys quite a pace advantage. Can Manny Franco lead them on a “Merry Chase”? Franco is one of the underrated riders that Chad Brown uses. Brown and Franco win at 31% together over the last 2 years. Not bad!
    Christophe Clement adds blinkers on Gufo trying to get him interested earlier in the race. Gufo won this race last year and Clement is one of my favorite trainers, but, I remain unimpressed with Gufo’s last 3 races. His numbers are solid though. It’s just that the big guy gets going too late. Maybe the blinkers help.

  17. TommyMc says:

    Tom Amoss just made an interesting comment on Fox. He said that he considers The Travers just as hard of a race to win as The Derby. I get his point, but, until they start cramming 20 horses into the Travers starting gate, I’ll have to disagree. No disrespect to The Travers. It should be a good race tomorrow. An important race for year-end honors.

  18. Steve, Thanks for your assessment of the race using the Thoro-Graph numbers… Surprised at Epicenter figure”

    For what it is worth here is my take on the Travers


    My #1 pick here. But a little concerned his jockey ( Geroux ) does not have a mount tomorrow in any of the previous races before the Travers and is riding at Del Mar on Friday. Cox said he will relying on Geroux to figure out where to put Cyberknife in the race and what part on the track. I think a better strategy would be for them both to study 3 jockeys (Rosario, J Ortiz and Irad Ortiz ) and where they have their horse (especially Jackie’s Warrior and Jack Christoper) at the top of the stretch in previous dirt races on the card.

    Rich Strike

    Same jockey issue with this horse but we pretty much know this horse likes the rail

    Ain’t Life Grand

    Will this be the horse setting the pace with Early Voting ???? Stay tune !!! May be a little over his head here.

    Gilded Time

    Could not beat Early Voting or Artorius previously… Somewhere down the line, he may be a better Turf horse


    Mystery horse here… He has the right connections, running style (stalker ) but is he ready to run a 1 1/4 mile. My feeling he needs more seasoning. If Baffert was his trainer I would give him a better shot. The positive for him is he has won over this surface.


    All I will say about him is that he should be in the money…. whether that is 1st, 2nd or 3rd we will know late tomorrow afternoon

    Early Voting

    Should improve off his last race and should be going to the lead in the Travers. He pretty much had his way on the lead in the Jim Dandy but tired badly in the stretch now being asked to go another 1/8 of a mile. Don’t think he makes it.


    Ran out of his comfort zone in the Jim Dandy. Expect him farther back this time and come with a big run. Track conditions to me will play a big part on where he ends up. He does try hard in his races.

    Good luck to all and Happy Handicapping !!!

  19. Matthew W says:

    Calumet bred Rich Strike and lost him for $30,000, man they must’ve been STEAMING!

  20. Matthew W says:

    Steve I looked at the Derby timeline—:35 4/5 last quarter, with Rich Strike going :35 FLAT? That just doesn’t look right! Affirmed came home in his epic Big Cap in :35 3/5, which was superb….no way is Rich Strike doing :35 flat, and Epicenter and Zandon doing :36 flat! I think they got the mile split wrong…..

  21. Matthew W says:

    Normally I wouldn’t like the rail draw, but after his rail trip in the Haskell…I love Cyberknife! Also with Rich Strike drawn next door, it all looks good, for the Cox trainee….should get a stalking trip.

  22. Steve Haskin says:

    Steve Haskin says:
    August 26, 2022 at 11:38 am (Edit)

    This is nothing more than an objective look at the Travers field based solely on Thoro-Graph numbers. Make of them what you wish

    1– CYBERNIFE — He has shown the most steady improvement, excluding the throw-out Derby. He has improved from a 3 1/4 to a 2 1/4 to a 1 1/2 and finally a negative-1/2 in the Haskell, which believe it or not makes him the fastet horse in the field, indicating thse horses as a whole are not very fast for this time of the year.

    2–RICH STRIKE — Hard to believe but his dreadful performance in the Belmont still earned him a 2 1/2, which is only one point slower than his Derby and is on par with Epcenter’s best numbers. Tough going 1 1/4 miles off a layoff, but he has been working super and has really filled out. Pace scenario is against him, so not sure he can win, but wouldnt surprie if he ran a big race.

    3–AINT LIFE GRAND — This Iowa-bred is actually getting close to these horses and has shown big improvemnt, going from a 5 1/4 to back to back 1 1/2s. Might not be ready for this big a stage, but wont be embarrassed,

    4–GILDED AGE — Coming off a second in the Curlin and got the same number as the winner, Arturius. But that number, a 4, is not compeitive in here. His numbers are improving, but not there yet.

    5–ARTURIUS — People are loving him and his Curlin was visually impressive as were his first two races, but numbers-wise, his 6 1/4 — 4 3/4 — and 4 make him the second slowest horse in the field who has shown little improvement numbers-wise. I am confused by what I’ve seen and what the numbers say, so I have no idea if he is for real or a sucker play. Not easy winning a grade 1 at 10 furlongs off three lifetime starts. I have no ideea what to expect.

    6–EPICENTER — Hard to believe his numbers say that he has shown no improvement in his last five starts. Again, I love what I see and he is on the verge of taking over the top spot in the division, but having run 2 1/2, 2 1/2, 2 1.4, 2 1/4, and 2 1/4 he’s not even as fast as Aint That Grand and if youe looking for a reason to bet against him his Thoro-Graph numbers are a good enough reason. Zandon, who he beat fairly decisively in the Jim Dandy, ran a a full point faster. go figure.

    7–EARLY VOTING — Clear advantage as the only speed in the race unless Epicenter goes back to his old way of running , but can he be trusted off his Jim Dandy even having his own way on the lead? He did run a negative-1/4 in the Preakness, but regressed to a 3 in the Jim Dandy. His best says he can wire them, but he would really need to improve off his last performance,

    8–ZANDON — He might get caught wide from the outside post and would ideally love to see more speed in there, but he ran a career-high 1 1/4 in the Jim Dandy off an 84-day layoff and should improve off that. His numbers are steady; he just needs a good setup, like he got in the Blue Grass, but he doesnt usually get it. If they go after Early Voting early and keep the pace honest he could definitely be right there at the finish.


    • Bill Dawson says:

      Hi Steve

      Thanks for providing your analysis on the horses entered in the Travers.
      Just for the record, Artorius didn’t run in the Jim Dandy. His last start was the 9 furlong Curlin Stakes, which he won by 4 1/2 lengths in a good time of 1:50.20. By Arrogate, out of Paulassilverling, by Ghostzapper, this colt has been improving in every race, IMO.
      Despite what his Thoro-Graph numbers indicate, his Brisnet Speed figures are on the rise, (91, 95, 99) with a respectable 102 Equibase Speed Figure to boot. His pedigree reflects an excellent mix of speed (Paulassilverling), and the personification of class and stamina in his sire (Arrogate) and his broodmare sire (Ghostzapper). With top rider Irad Ortiz Jr. in the irons, I expect Artorius to pull off a mild upset in the Travers.

      • Bill Dawson says:

        BTW, Artorius has a Dosage Index of 10.00, in case that interests you.

      • Steve Haskin says:

        I meant Curlin. I changed it. This is based strictly on Thoro-Graph, which is why I was confused.

        • Bill Dawson says:

          No problem Steve.
          At 20-1, I consider Ain’t Life Grand a live longshot. I’ll play a $10.00 WPS on him.
          My $4.00 dollar super p/w ticket will be as follows: 5,6/ 5,6/ 1,3,7,8/ 1,3,7,8

    • TommyMc says:

      Thanks for your analysis. Those Thorograph numbers are eye-opening.

      • TommyMc says:

        My concern with Cyberknife is the big jump from a 94 BSF to 102 BSF or from 1 1/2 Thoro-Graph to a -1/2. A bounce is possible. But, his last 2 workouts the last 2 Saturdays say “No!”. If he moves forward, he can win.
        Artorious’ slow Thoro-Graph numbers are a concern, but, his BSFs are trending the right way: 83, 91, 95. His first appearance in a Graded Stakes race.
        I’m pretty sure that Zandon moves forward on Saturday.

        Final answer: Win & Place -Cyberknife and an Exacta Key Box: Cyberknife w-Artorious & Zandon. Brad Cox to win The Travers 2 years in a row. No idea who the owners are. Gold Square???? Cyberknife was bred by Ken and Sarah Ramsey. Maybe they should have hung onto this one.

        • Lynda King says:

          Gild Square is owned by Al Gold. He named the colt after the procedure “cyberknife” that saved his life from prostate cancer.

        • Matthew W says:

          Normally I’d be concerned with the numbers jump…but with Cyberknife the talents always been there, he has been tardy in mental development….I think he has caught up! I’m boxing with Epi and Zandon. …

    • Davids says:

      Thanks the analysis, Steve. As long as Zandon isn’t caught too wide, initially, Prat should be able to set Zandon up for a well timed finish. Early Victory, crossing over, might make a smooth passage for Zandon to get into a good rhythm. Should be a fun race, even with Charge It missing. I felt Charge It was a lock prior to the slight injury. Exciting day of racing.

    • Lynda King says:

      Thank you for the analysis Steve

      Guess I am going with my heart in this one, Rich Strike and Arturius.
      Think Arturius is a beautifully bred colt and one cannot discount his dam, Paulasilverlining, a champion mare in her own right.
      Arrogats died so young. What an honor to his brief career as a stallion if one of his progeny won the Travers.
      Just as a side note, Chad trained Paulasilverlining.

      Safe races andv best of luck on all bets.

    • Ms Blacktype says:

      Steve: Your post on the Thoro-graph patterns makes the Travers even more confusing! I’m going to disregard the horse with the best pattern Cyberknife, for the horse with the second best — Zandon. Will still be thrilled if Epicenter wins. Best of luck and safe trips to all.

  23. TommyMc says:

    Artorious seems like the kind of horse that you should want in The Travers. They took their time with him and skipped the madness of the Triple Crown season. He’s won his last 2 races after being beaten in his first race by a very fast horse,
    Under Oath, at only 6-furlongs. In his last race, the mile and an eighth Curlin, he beat a couple of decent horses pretty easily.
    Artorious is taking a big step up for sure into Grade I company. He’s improving with a rising numbers pattern, has a nice win over the track, and his Sire romped in his Travers.
    I’m drawn to Artorious over Cyberknife because he’s fresh and improving with only 3 races while Cyberknife has run 9 races pretty much without a break. I’ll be using both of them on my multi-race wagers.
    If Epicenter runs his usual 100-102 BSF, one or both of those horses can get him.

  24. Bill Dawson says:

    You heard it here first folks, Artorius, by Arrogate, out of a Ghostzapper mare (Paulassilverling) will pull off a mild upset in the Travers. This Juddmonte homebred appears to have an excellent mix of speed, class and stamina in his genes. Granted, he’ll be stepping up in class against Grade 1 winners, but from my perspective Artorius is a rising star with unlimited potential moving forward. A win in the Travers could propell him into the BC Classic. But, first things first. 🙂

    • In the Travers anything is possible

      • Bill Dawson says:

        Any thoughts on Artorius?

        • Artorius
          Won a race on the track
          Has Great pedigree
          Has a stalking running style
          Has a great jockey on him
          improving Beyer’s

          Race won was restrictive company
          Does he have enough base on him to run 1 1/4 miles?
          He has to carry eight more pounds from his previous race and has never carried 126 lbs

          • Bill Dawson says:

            Thanks for the reply Downthestretch

            You make good points with your Pros/Cons analysis.
            In addressing your question, “Does he have enough base on him to run 1 1/4 miles”? I would point to the way Artorius was drawing off, by 4 3/4 lengths, in the 9 furlong Curlin. As you know, today’s top thorobreds do not run as many races in their young careers before stepping up against open company, like they did in years past. Based on the success of his sire and grandsire winning at the classic distance, I see no reason that Artorius cannot do the same.
            As the Coach (D. Wayne Lukas) once said, “All horses can get 1 1/4, it’s just a question as to how fast they get there”.