Secretariat

Da Hoss and the Miracle Mile

After a six-year hiatus, Colonial Downs in Virginia reopened its gates three years ago after being purchased by a group of owners under the name of the Colonial Downs Group. On August 30, the track will host a special Secretariat Colonial Downs Day at the Races. Details can be found here on Secretariat.com. When looking at the brief history of Colonial Downs, one can turn to its signature race, the Virginia Derby, to find some of the highlights of the track’s early days. But the one race that holds the most historical significance actually was an allowance race held on October 11, 1998. Without that race, one of the greatest moments in Breeders’ Cup history likely would have never happened.~ Steve Haskin

Da Hoss and the Miracle Mile

By Steve Haskin

 

In 1998, My wife, my daughter and I made several trips to Michael Dickinson’s Tapeta Farm in North East, Maryland. It was there that I witnessed first-hand the struggle Dickinson and his crew had trying to get Da Hoss back to the Breeders’ Cup Mile off only one allowance race in two years. Because of the cooperation of Colonial Downs, that seemingly inconsequential race would provide the launching pad needed for one of the most amazing performances seen in years; the race that would become known as “The Miracle Mile.”

I wound up covering the 1998 Breeders’ Cup Mile; my final assignment for the newly purchased Daily Racing Form, for whom I had worked for 29 years, before heading to the Blood-Horse, where I would remain for the next 22 years. That running of the BC Mile was one of the most emotional races I have ever covered. My family and I then visited Tapeta Farm the week after the race, during which time I took several of the photos published in this column. Emotions still ran high, as it completed the remarkable story you are about to read.

In re-telling and re-working this remarkable story, one thing became perfectly clear. Da Hoss and his trainer and staff all combined to write a script that, by normal and even above normal standards, should never have seen the light of day. The fact that it did, complete with happy ending, is, well, I don’t know, a miracle?

Da Hoss’ victory in the 1996 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Woodbine and his subsequent retirement would have made for a wonderful story in itself. But Dickinson, the masterful storyteller, does not settle for wonderful endings when he can go beyond wonderful. Throughout his racing career as a steeplechase rider and trainer in England and flat trainer in America, Dickinson has accomplished the seemingly impossible with his extraordinary skills, while existing in his own realm far beyond the conventional.

Known as “The Mad Genius,” Dickinson has always been a perfectionist and not even the smallest detail escapes him. His vast network of brain cells always seems to be active, and he runs around like a revved up a machine where the gears are in constant motion. Tell Dickinson, who gave his horses three eggs and a bottle of Guinness Stout each day, he can’t do something and it drives him even harder. His reputation for accomplishing extraordinary feats first became evident throughout Europe when he did the unthinkable on two occasions: saddle the first five finishers of the prestigious Cheltenham Gold Cup and win 12 races in a single day, both of which earned him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

After moving to America, he, along with his partner in life Joan Wakefield, trained at the Fair Hill Training Center before creating a scenic and pastoral horse haven he called Tapeta Farm in nearby North East, Md.

It was there that Dickinson would venture into the world of synthetic surfaces, inventing the Tapeta surface, which eventually would be installed at Meydan Race Course in Dubai and various tracks in the United States.

Before we get to the events of 1998, it’s best to start with Da Hoss himself and the numerous physical ailments that plagued him his entire life. As a foal, he developed an infection in his hoof and it rotted away a quarter of his coffin bone. As a yearling, he developed two bone spurs in his hocks, which eventually became arthritic. Those two problems were the root of most of Da Hoss’ future problems.

Later as a yearling, he sold at the Keeneland September yearling sale for a mere $6,000 by Wall Street Racing and wound up at Turf Paradise in Arizona as a 2-year-old. He had the dubious distinction of being the lowest-priced Gone West sold that year. They thought at that price, if he couldn’t cut it as a racehorse they would make him a pet. But he showed right from the start he possessed tremendous speed, blazing six furlongs in 1:07 1/5 in the ATBA Stakes, the fastest time ever recorded by a 2-year-old. It was then that Jack, Art, and J.R. Preston of Prestonwood Farm, purchased 85% of Da Hoss, even though two veterinarians had failed the horse.

At 3, he won graded stakes on dirt and turf on both coasts from six furlongs to 1 1/8 miles, while making three separate trips to California.

As a 4-year-old, he won stakes at Saratoga and Penn National before capturing the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Woodbine, defeating the top-class French colt Spinning World, who would win the BC Mile the following year at Hollywood Park. Prior to the Woodbine race, Dickinson was walking the course with Wakefield, who had warned him ahead of time he would not be happy with the soft going. Dickinson told Wakefield to go put on a pair of stilettos. When he was a steeplechase rider in England, he had been dating a model, who went along with him one day as he walked the course before the races. Dickinson had determined that the left side of the course was better, but the girl disagreed, telling him her high heels were sinking in deeper on the left side than the right. It was then that Dickinson realized the best way to test the turf was with high heels, and he would use that method for years, enhancing his reputation even further as a Mad Genius.

After going through his ritual before the ’96 Mile, Dickinson mapped out exactly where he wanted jockey Gary Stevens to be every step of the way.

Following his resounding victory at Woodbine, Da Hoss disappeared from the racetrack for two years. All the time the gelding was away battling physical problems, Dickinson had dreams of a second Breeders’ Cup Mile victory, but this seemed more of a pipe dream. Even for The Mad Genius, it would take a bit of madness and lot of genius to make it come true.

In 1997, Da Hoss developed a problem with his tendon in March, then ankle problems in June. In September, he went lame behind for two to three weeks. Before Dickinson knew it, the entire year was lost, and it wasn’t about to get better. In February, 1998, Da Hoss developed some heat in his tendon, the result of a tear, and Dickinson had to stop on him. He walked him for a month and then jogged him for a month, but when he was just about ready to begin serious training, Dickinson noticed he was moving horribly and had to give him more time let him work his way through it.

All the while, Da Hoss was frolicking about with his best friend Boomer, a 9-year-old who went by the name Business is Boomin. Dickinson had already performed a “miracle” with Boomer, which gave him hope he could duplicate it with Da Hoss.

All he did was get Boomer to win three straight races in 1997…off a five-year layoff. That was unheard of. On May 8, 1997, exactly five years to the day since his last start, Boomer won a $15,000 claiming race at Garden State Park by 6 3/4 lengths. Boomer and Da Hoss had become so inseparable, Dickinson couldn’t afford to risk losing Boomer in a claiming race, so he jumped him up to allowance company, and he won both, at Monmouth and Laurel. After a second and a fourth, Boomer went lame again and was on the shelf for another 10 months. Dickinson finally got him back the following June, and Boomer proceeded once again to win his first three races back, all at Delaware Park.

A great deal of the credit for Boomer’s remarkable comeback went to Wakefield. The horse had such soft bones that every time he’d train over the dirt he went lame. Wakefield turned him into a pony and would ride him to a friend’s barn each morning for her coffee break. She began to notice him feeling stronger by the day, and that’s when it was decided to try to bring him back to the races.

In April 1998, Dickinson moved to his 200-acre Tapeta Farm for training. Boomer and Da Hoss were stabled next to each other and shared the same paddock, becoming inseparable.

“Da Hoss worships Boomer,” Wakefield said at the time. “He follows him around like a little dog.”

During one of our visits, my daughter, Mandy, then 14, got to ride Boomer up one of Tapeta’s gallops, with guidance, of course, from one of Dickinson’s workers. We returned a year later and Mandy, in one of my favorite photos, sprawled out on the grass picking flowers as Da Hoss grazed just inches from her.

All during 1998, Dickinson kept thinking Breeders’ Cup for Da Hoss. The other devoted members of Dickinson’s crew who worked feverishly on Da Hoss’ aches and pains were groom Miguel Piedra and exercise rider Jon (Jon Boy) Ferriday. In January, Dickinson called Gary Stevens’ agent, Ron Anderson, and told him he was getting Da Hoss ready for the Breeders’ Cup and he must ride him.

On April 29, Dickinson had an ultrasound taken of Da Hoss’ tendon and did little with him for a week, eventually walking him each day for almost an hour along the tree-lined paths with Ferriday on his back. On May 30, Da Hoss began jogging, and after a week, the jogs were increased to two a day. He finally began light gallops on June 21. Four days later, Dickinson faxed a letter to owners Art, Jack, and J.R. Preston, which read:

“Da Hoss’ tendon was scanned last week and our vet was unable to find any problem…The technician at New Bolton Center says Da Hoss’ tendons heal very quickly…I’ve worked out a plan to get him to the Breeders’ Cup with just one race before. I have time in hand if nothing goes wrong.”

But those final words “if nothing goes wrong” came back to haunt him. It didn’t take long for something to go wrong. On July 10, Dickinson sent the Prestons another fax:

“Dr. Ross examined Da Hoss today, and he thought he had muscle atrophy on the left hind and was moving worse than he had ever seen him…It is disappointing to us all…My goal is still the Breeders’ Cup.”

All the while, Piedra rarely left Da Hoss’ side, working on him constantly, especially the arthritis in his joints, which required extensive massaging. Then there was the hosing of the horse’s hocks. Plastic tubes were attached to his knees, allowing for a continuous trickle of water to drip down his legs. Piedra spent six hours a day in the stall with the horse, rubbing him, giving him physiotherapy, massage treatments, ice treatments, and laser treatments.

Wakefield was the one who was able to get into Da Hoss’ head. Like with Boomer, she could read him like no one else and would know if something was going to go wrong two days before anyone else. Ferriday would walk the course every night before Da Hoss breezed, looking for the perfect ground. Once he found it, he would move the cones to the spot where he wanted Da Hoss to be. Also instrumental was farrier Gary Reynolds, who shod Da Hoss and worked on his feet.

Despite all this, the vet reports weren’t encouraging, and no one except for Dickinson and his team felt Da Hoss had any shot of making the Breeders’ Cup.

One of Da Hoss’ problems was that he often was too willing and would do more than he was supposed to. He was competitive in his gallops even to the point where he would try to pass Wakefield’s car as she drove alongside the track.

It wasn’t until August that Da Hoss was able to begin breezing. It was only three months to the Breeders’ Cup. But the breezes continued on a regular basis. He just might make it after all. On Sept. 15, Dickinson faxed the Prestons:

“Da Hoss breezed quite well on Saturday. He has now had seven breezes and probably will require three more…I feel he’s moving as well as he did when he won the Breeders’ Cup or maybe even better. He remains as competitive as ever…We all know that he does have aches and pains, and on a nuclear scan he lights up like a Christmas tree…We’re all holding our breath at the moment, and it will indeed be a miracle if he wins the Breeders’ Cup again this year. But miracles do happen.”
Those aches and pains Dickinson referred to would flare up following every breeze and the horse would become stiff.

Dickinson was afraid to work Da Hoss long because of his fragility. To get the horse back in a racetrack mode, he sent him to the Meadowlands, where Da Hoss breezed a slow seven furlongs in 1:30. Between the tendon injury and all his other maladies, Dickinson had no way of knowing how fit Da Hoss was. He only knew one thing: he needed to find a prep race before the Breeders’ Cup.

He had two races in mind, the Cliff Hanger Stakes at the Meadowlands on Oct. 8 or an allowance race at Belmont two days later. But rain that weekend washed out those plans, as Dickinson did not want to subject Da Hoss to a soft grass course. And even if he wanted to run, there was a good chance both races would be taken off the turf. The only alternative was to go straight into the Breeders’ Cup, but Da Hoss had no Breeders’ Cup points and no wins. With so many accomplished horses pointing the race, the selection committee was not about to include a horse who had not raced for two years.

On Oct. 1, Dickinson called Anderson, who originally had been told Da Hoss would have a series of preps, each one designed to move him forward and have him peaking for the Breeders’ Cup. With the Breeders’ Cup less than a month away, and Da Hoss not having had a race, Anderson put Stevens on the Michael Stoute-trained Among Men, which infuriated Dickinson.

“We haven’t seen your horse in two years,” Anderson explained. When Dickinson asked Anderson who he was riding and was told Among Men, he said, “Number one, I’ll book you, and number two, you’re on the wrong horse. I’ll bet you $1,000, wherever we finish, whether it’s first and second or last and next-to-last, we’ll finish in front of Among Men.”

A Desperate Dickinson turned to Lenny Hale, racing secretary at the new Colonial Downs in Virginia and asked him to write a race for Da Hoss, which he gladly did, a nine-furlong allowance race on Oct. 11. The race filled and remained on the turf. Da Hoss, after nearly two years, finally made it back to the races. Sent off at 3-5 against five opponents, Da Hoss stalked the early pace under Carlos Marquez Jr. and won by three-quarters of a length. It was far from a definitive victory, but a race he no doubt desperately needed, not only for the sharpness and fitness he would need to take on some of the best milers in the world, but to assure himself a starting berth in the race. With this all-important victory behind him, Dickinson could now focus his attention on the Breeders’ Cup.

On Oct. 21, Dickinson, after observing Da Hoss carefully for 10 days, sent a final fax to the Prestons:

“I’m happy to say he came out of his last race as good as we could have expected…Two weeks ago I felt we had a 50-50 chance to make the Breeders’ Cup. Now I think we have a 65% chance of being there fit and well on that day.”

After two breezes at Tapeta, Da Hoss shipped to Churchill Downs. Dickinson had contacted jockey agent Angel Cordero Jr. and booked John Velazquez for the Mile. The Breeders’ Cup was eight days away. But Dickinson realized that training at Churchill and training at Tapeta were like night and day. At home, Da Hoss was used to going out at the crack of dawn, but the grass course at Churchill did not open until about 9 o’clock. So, for three hours, an anxious Da Hoss had to remain in his stall, unable to train. Dickinson was not happy and was sorry he had brought the horse so early.

Once on the track, Da Hoss had to wait for others to train first, and Dickinson was worried about the horse having to train over a course that had already been chewed up. When he worked him on the Monday before the race, he realized to his dismay that his two-way radio wasn’t working and he was unable to convey instructions to Ferriday. Dickinson went upstairs to the press box and watched the work from the porch. It was obvious just looking at him, he was upset and distressed over the turn of events. After all the work he had put in to get Da Hoss here, he was now in danger of having it all blow up a week before the race. He had no way of communicating with Jon Boy and Da Hoss would have to work over a less-than-ideal turf course.

His worries were for nothing. Da Hoss glided over the course, breezing five furlongs in 1:03 1/5 and did it in hand, striding out beautifully. Dickinson was thrilled with the way Da Hoss went, but fearing he still wasn’t 100% fit, he had Ferriday blow him out a bit down the stretch on Thursday.

The night following the Monday work, Dickinson, for the first time in weeks, slept through the night.

As he said, “It’s been an emotional roller coaster, especially the last six weeks. There were times he was working so well I couldn’t sleep with excitement. Then there were times when things weren’t going very well and I couldn’t sleep with worry.”

By now, Dickinson had moved from stilettos to a penetrometer to test the course, and was seen out on the course, walking it and testing it on six different occasions, looking for the best ground. As he did with Gary Stevens in ‘96, Dickinson drew a map of the turf course, using different colors for the different paths, designating where he wanted Da Hoss to be at each stage of the race. He brought the map to the jock’s room the morning of the race and showed it to Velazquez.

After the horses were saddled, the Da Hoss team lost track of each other and dispersed in different directions. Dickinson wound up in a small office in the tunnel, Piedra and Ferriday found a place on the apron, and Wakefield, who had taken the wrong elevator, had to watch the race on a TV monitor in the press box.

What happened after that will forever be etched in Breeders’ Cup lore. Velazquez, unable to follow Dickinson’s directions, was forced to move early on the far turn after getting bumped and having to check on the first turn. Rallying four wide, Da Hoss, sent off at 11-1, hit the front at around the three-sixteenths pole. This was too early, and Dickinson was upset, fearing the horse had moved too soon. Da Hoss was on the lead with more than a furlong still to run.

From out of the pack came the Neil Drysdale stretch runner Hawksley Hill, who charged up alongside Da Hoss inside the eighth pole and actually got his head, then neck in front at the sixteenth pole and looked about ready to draw clear. Da Hoss, with only one allowance race under him in two years, had made a gallant effort, but he was a beaten horse. With no one in the 14-horse field threatening from behind, it appeared obvious Da Hoss would settle for second, a tremendous achievement in itself.

But then the improbable happened. Da Hoss dug in and came battling back, his neck fully stretched. No one could believe it. He could actually come back and win it. Da Hoss kept reaching for more and with one final surge he stuck his head in front right on the wire. A stunned Tom Durkin, calling the race, bellowed: “Oh, my! This is the greatest comeback since Lazarus!” NBC host Tom Hammond was just as excited and surprised. “We said Michael Dickinson was a mad genius,” he stated. “How in the world can they have this horse ready with one race in two years to come back and win his second Breeders’ Cup?”

A head-on photo of the finish shows the dogged determination of Da Hoss as he crosses the finish line with his teeth tightly clenched.

Dickinson stood on the track as if in a daze, trying, but not succeeding, to hold back the tears. Wakefield rushed down from the press box and she and Dickinson embraced, both now weeping uncontrollably. Nearby, Ferriday could barely get a word out and had to walk off by himself to regain his composure.

“I can’t believe it,” a teary-eyed Ferriday said. “I can’t believe he’s done it. He’s a machine. Michael, Joan, and Miguel deserve all the credit. I’m just a passenger on him.”

With all the pandemonium around them, all four had to be thinking back to a much quieter time and place at Tapeta Farm where the miracle of Da Hoss’ fairy-tale comeback was born. All the frustrations, sleepless nights, and feelings of hopelessness they endured had erupted into one euphoric and emotional moment that will be forever frozen in time in Breeders’ Cup history.

One of the first to congratulate Dickinson was Gary Stevens. As Dickinson would say later, “Ninety-nine times out of a hundred (Ron Anderson) would have been right. He’s the best agent for a reason. But on rare occasion, a horse like Da Hoss proves you wrong.”

Sir Michael Stoute, trainer of Among Men, walked up to Dickinson, patted him on the back, and said it all with one word: “Maestro.”

Dickinson later reflected back to when it seemed all the work would prove fruitless: “I remember saying to everyone after he was so stiff this fall that we’re going to have to stop on him; we can’t carry on. There were a lot of tears. Miguel has four children and he was crying. Joan was crying. Jon Boy was crying.”

Two months later, in the Churchill Downs winner’s circle, they all were crying once again.

Photos courtesy of Kentucky Horse Park, Steve Haskin and Breeders’ Cup. The majority of the content of this column appeared in my Blooodhorse.com column eight years ago – SH


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54 Responses to “Da Hoss and the Miracle Mile”

  1. Tom’s Kid says:

    Steve, I must have missed the part about Da Hoss being in the Hall of Fame. Please tell me is is in there. All credit and respect to those who contributed to getting Da Hoss to the races but his heart and talent have to be ranked with any Hall of Famer. Great writing as always!

  2. Debra Gillespie says:

    Just a wonderful article, Steve. I think that from a handicapping standpoint, the allowance race at Colonial Downs I consider one of the all time greatest key races. Besides getting Da Hoss prepped for the BC Mile, the horse that was second behind him that day was the wonderful ex-steeplechaser John’s Call, who had a stakes race named for him run just yesterday at Saratoga. I was about as amazed with John’s Call winning two Gr. 1 turf races at age 9 as Da Hoss’s second win at the BC Mile.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Thank you Debra. I realized that John’s Call finished second in that race after the column was posted. I would have mentioned that for sure

  3. Ms Black Type says:

    Another superb spellbinder, Steve. And what a horse! The great ones seem to overcome even the most horrendous physical problems, don’t they? A quarter of his coffin bone gone as a yearling, and he even SURVIVED? Holy smokes. Loved all the little details about how the team kept the inflammation down. Sam Hildreth used to keep a hose on the legs of Toano, a Lorillard cast-off who won something like 20 races in a row for him, for hours each day. He must have had a groom stand there and keep water on the horse — no way to attach the hose in the 1890s!

    And I just love the picture of Mandy in the paddock with Da Hoss. That would certainly have been my dream when I was 14.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Thank you, and for the history lesson. Fran Whiteley used to hose Forego’s legs several hours a day. I also love that photo of Mandy. One of my favorites

  4. Rita M. Pierce says:

    Great story Steve as always. Love hearing all the facts on our great horses especially the ones that surprise us with their comebacks that were not given a chance to even get to the track must less win!! Thanks for Da Hoss’s story I knew he lived at the Kentucky Horse Park for a while but did not know anything about this treasure a diamond in the ruff!!

  5. TommyMc says:

    Great story. Still very hard to believe if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. I have to admit that I couldn’t see Da Hoss winning that 2nd Breeders Cup race. It seemed impossible. One of the greatest training jobs ever.

  6. perimeister says:

    Steve Haskin: Maestro.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Lol. Thank you

    • Davids says:

      There is a 14 minute discussion on YouTube: “Dirt Racing – Nick Luck and Michael Dickinson clash – Racing TV, “ I think you will find fascinating. Topic on discussion include: Da Hoss, lasix, dirt racing, turf racing and the future of US racing.

      • sceptre says:

        Thanks for the tip on the YuTube discussion. Essentially, it was a not too veiled promo for Tapeta. Not surprised.

        • Davids says:

          Good point, my naivety, missed the obvious. Ha ha Mind you, I was intrigued by his 20 year prediction that turf will be the dominant track surface in the US. Granted, that the Triple Crown races and other major races would remain on dirt.

      • perimeister says:

        Thanks for the tip – I’ll probably look at it next week. Very useful thing about Tapeta is that it doesn’t freeze in the winters the way dirt tracks do.

  7. Marc Mink says:

    Steve, I remember well the exploits of both Dickenson and Da Hoss. The idea that Da Hoss and Michael would try and win the second BC under these circumstances entranced me and i bet him strongly. I knew this larger than life story that , if true, would be one to remember.. the money helped but the thrill of going along for this ride, no matter how impossible this was made this a memory that once again showed why the stories you tell of extraordinary horses, training wizardry and sheer desire on all parties, human and equine, have held me and my attention and joy for what is now approaching 60 years.
    I can only thank you again for making this live again for me.

  8. boomer's dream says:

    that snake oil salesman, harold hill, even with 76 trombones up his sleeve,
    vigorously wooed marian, the librarian, but she was no maestro steve,
    we know what he can-do, of course, of course, with no help from eggs or stout,
    as he paynts horses with multiple names, and even those with a case of the gout,
    for those of us who will never be back in the saddle, & those we can’t drag away,
    just give us our weekly dose of haskin, some whiskey and lot’s of peppermint hay…

  9. Davids says:

    Brilliant! Steve, after reading your essay you are as euphoric as those who worked together to perform a miracle, John Velazquez included. The triumph of Da Hoss in his second Breeders’ Cup Mile made you believe that ‘when you wish upon a star, dreams come true.’ I wish Tom Durkin could make a ‘come back.’ Boy, is he missed?

    Michael Dickinson, did have a bad patch as well despite the meteoric domination of the steeplechasing glory. Dickinson, became the private trainer for Robert Sangster at Manton, a dream team was expected. Unbelievably, switching to flat racing saw insurmountable hurdles in his new position with a yard full of backward juveniles. The team disbanded almost immediately with Sangster firing the ‘genius.’

    Amazingly, the Midas touch returned while closing the Atlantic from strength to strength. Truly an inspirational, genius.

    • Davids says:

      Crossing, the Atlantic that is. Ha ha

    • Steve Haskin says:

      People forget he saddled the first 5 finishers in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He does pull off miracles. Lol

      • Davids says:

        So true, Steve. Ironically, many believe Dickinson’s steeplechase expertise worked against him in flat racing. His 2 year olds were glacially slow due to the types selected. Tall, gangly Nijinsky-like slow developing colts not precocious agile types which give you early success.

        You may have forgotten but Lester Piggott began (flat) training the same time as Dickinson started flat training. Two geniuses in racing were, initially, extremely unsuccessful as flat trainers.

        • Steve Haskin says:

          Let’s not forget that he won a grade 1 in New York with a 9-yea-old Cetewayo.

          • Davids says:

            Steve, I think you may mean the Gulfstream Park Breeders’ Cup H.? Romantically, you had hoped that Cetewayo would have continued the Ribot line. Remarkable achievement by Dickinson, agree.

  10. Alana says:

    Another amazing story. This is what horse racing is all about. The expression on Da Hoss’s face in that photo is amazing; he simply was NOT going to let that horse win. Really enjoy all of your columns here, and as I’ve only followed racing casually over the years, many of these tales are new to me. Thank you.

  11. EddieF says:

    Steve, do you know of any other horse who came back after an equally long layoff to win a big race with one prep?

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Not that long and not that big a race. I remember Midnight Lute had one race in a year when he won his second BC Sprint.

  12. Deacon says:

    Wow Steve what a great read. I had to read this twice as I kept tearing up. If the sales on the Kleenex tissues continue to rise you may be part of the reason.
    A gutsy champion horse, a throwback to another time. Stories like this is why I still love horse racing.
    Bravo!!

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Youre very kind Deacon. I really appreciate all your support. After writing about racing for almost 45 years I now want to concentrate on stirring the emotions with the beautiful stories racing has to offer. I may come off sounding maudlin to some of the hardened veteran horseplayers, but this is the avenue I have chosen for the most part. There is still room for the Derby Rankings and big race analyses, but these stories give me the greatest satisfaction because they endure.

      • Deacon says:

        These stories are what brings me to this website every week. The Derby is great but this is a new era & things are different now, but not for the better.
        I could read back stories all day. I mentioned in another blog that I believe that you could put together a collage of these stories into book form and publish them.
        My mom used to say “youth is wasted on the young” boy was she right. At my age it is hard to find the energy to go work every day. Reading stories like this brings pleasure to me. I don’t love horse racing for the gambling aspect, never did. I just fell in love with these equine beauties and marvel at what they can do.
        Your stories stir many emotions in all of us, please remember that. I truly appreciate reading these stories as you write them with great pen.

        • Angela Whyland says:

          “These stories are what brings me to this website every week.”

          Agreed, and have learned to have the kleenex handy. The tears are of the good kind and I cannot express how much I enjoy these stories too. Thank you for the writing.

        • Steve Haskin says:

          That was beautifully said, Deacon and I couldnt agree more. And I will remember that, thank you. I’ll keep writing these stories as long as you and people like you keep coming back. As I said, I just wish more young people would feel the same way. But I’m afraid history and these back stories are not what they are interested in. I noticed that at Bloodhorse and here. All the comments are from the older generation. If there are any younger people who do comment I would love to hear from them.

  13. Steve Haskin says:

    Just to let everyone know, there will be a bit of an offbeat analysis of this Saturday’s Travers Stakes on Thursday morning. So this column will not have much of a shelf life, especially with the newsletter occupying the white space. If you wish to comment, this is the time to do it. But I will continue to check on the archives for late comments.

  14. Once again Steve you wrote an article that if it was submitted as a subject for a Hollywood script it would have been rejected as too implausible. No one would believe this story. Even Damon Runyon couldn’t dream this up. Is it me or does horse racing have more of these stories than any other sport? I love this stuff.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      IMO no sport has stories better than horse racing. Thats why the great Red Smith said racing was his favorite sport to cover. I enjoy telling the stories as long as people enjoy reading them. I just never know how many people do, especially younger people, who very rarely respond. Hopefully they are out there somewhere.

  15. Noel Liuzzi says:

    Great article! Just loved it!

  16. CLOWNSKILL says:

    Nobody likes a losing bet. I certainly don’t.

    I can count on two fingers the number of times I openly rooted against my own money — Da Hoss in his second Mile and Zenyatta in her second Classic.

    Great article, Steve.

  17. EddieF says:

    Nobody — NOBODY! — writes about horse racing as well as Steve Haskin. He combines first-hand knowledge with the human elements and the racing details to create an unforgettable story. We’re lucky to have him writing for this site.

    Thanks once again, Steve.

  18. Nancy Specht says:

    Tears once again, Steve, for this magnificent horse and the wonderful story about him.
    My local paper at that time carried entries for Colonial Downs. I well remember reading and seeing Da Hoss entered in an allowance race. What??? He hasn’t raced for two years since Breeders’ Cup Mile. And yes, I then remember seeing the next day he won the race. Having no idea what went in to getting him back to regain his title, I was thrilled to see him refuse to give up and prove his toughness and return to the winner’s circle. Thanks for bringing this story back to us. Lazarus indeed!!

  19. Mike Relva says:

    A heartfelt story of a horse/trainer with no quit in either of them. Visited Da Hoss many times @ Horse Park. Thanks Mr. Haskin!