A Midnight Run, But Quality Wins Out Again

Once again, Essential Quality proved he is a winning machine, as he overcame a dawdling pace and a blistering final quarter to outrun the top-class Midnight Bourbon in the Travers Stakes. ~ Steve Haskin

A Midnight Run, But Quality Wins Out Again

By Steve Haskin


In 54 years of watching horseracing, surely I must have seen a horse that reminds me of Essential Quality. I have been trying to think of one and was getting nowhere until I watched the Travers Stakes. Then it hit me. Although he has run only nine times, and is nowhere near as accomplished as any of the all-time greats who ran for four or five years, I can now say that Essential Quality is Buckpasser with tactical speed.

Now I know many of you cannot relate to that because you never saw Buckpasser and know little about him, so I will enlighten you. Buckpasser was the winning machine of his day, and like Essential Quality he would win by only as much as he had to. But he knew where that wire was and could sniff it out like a bloodhound. He didn’t win in fast times except when one of his many rabbits set a scorching pace for him, and he never won by big margins. He just won…race after race.

In his 25 career victories, 17 were by 1 ½ lengths or less and 14 of those were by less than a length. Five of Essential Quality’s last six victories were by 1 ¼ lengths or less and four of those were by less than a length. While Essential Quality has the ability to adapt to any pace, Buckpasser had a rabbit in 12 of his races.

But let’s focus on Essential Quality from here on. Simply put, when the pace has been fast he dropped back in sixth, seventh, or eighth and when the pace has been slow he was right up there within striking distance of the leader. Although Midnight Bourbon was allowed to get away with very slow fractions in the Travers, for Essential to beat him by a neck he had to do something I cannot recall a horse ever doing, which is to come home his final quarter in a mile and a quarter race in :23 flat. After those snail-like fractions he somehow was able to run the 10 furlongs in a more than respectable 2:01 4/5, earning a 107 Beyer speed figure. Only eight Travers winners have broken 2:02 in the last 27 years.

If anyone had told me before the race that Midnight Bourbon, who is just coming into his own as his sire Tiznow did around this time, would be allowed to crawl on the front end by himself in :48 4/5 and 1:14 2/5 I would have thought there was no way he was going to lose. As it is, closing as fast as he did, he shouldn’t have lost, but tell that to Essential Quality.

And briefly getting back to Buckpasser, he needed a rabbit to run his mile and a quarter in the Travers in 2:01 3/5, which at the time equaled the track record. And he came home his final quarter in :24 3/5 to beat Amberoid by three-quarters of a length.

The final point about time is that in the past 20 years, only Triple Crown winner American Pharoah has run a faster Belmont Stakes than Essential Quality, who has won at Churchill Downs, Keeneland, Oaklawn Park, Belmont Park, and Saratoga, on fast and sloppy tracks from six furlongs to 1 ½ miles.

What I also love about him is that when he won the Blue Grass Stakes by a neck it was 5 1/2 lengths back to the third horse. When he won the Belmont by 1 ¼ lengths it was 11 ¼ lengths back to Preakness winner Rombauer in third. And when he won the Travers by a neck it was five lengths back to the third horse.

Yes, although he has run only nine times, he is a throwback to the types of horses I was weaned on; horses who would scrape and claw their way to victory in any manner possible, as long as they got to the wire first. He could blow right by you and win by open lengths, as he did in the Breeders’ Futurity and Southwest Stakes ; he could run you down in the final strides, as he did in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile; or he could look you in the eye and battle you every inch of the way, as he did in the Blue Grass Stakes, Belmont, Jim Dandy, and Travers

Perhaps his main attribute is taking care of himself and knowing when to relax and when to get fired up for competition. His assistant trainer Jorgito Abrego posted a video on Travers day and a photo on Jim Dandy day of him sprawled out in his stall fast asleep. When I visited him several weeks ago I got photos of him snatching his feed before it even got in his stall; looking bright and alert watching all the activity; getting sleepy-eyed standing by his webbing; and finally laying down for a snooze. In short, he knows how to conserve energy on a daily basis, which is so important on race days.

The big question now is, how does anyone overcome trainer Brad Cox’s “Two Shades of Grey” in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, meaning Essential Quality and Knicks Go, the division leading 3-year- old and older horse? Who can possibly knock off this powerhouse one-two punch?

Although the temptation will be strong to retire Essential Quality at the end of the year, as so many top 3-year-olds are, perhaps it is time for a big owner like Godolphin to think of getting a horse in the Hall of Fame or at least give him a chance to be included among the all-time greats. If Essential Quality shows in the Classic that he is not ready to match Knicks Go’s remarkable speed and staying power, there is always next year, when he should be an even more formidable foe than he’s been this year. Sheikh Mohammed was in the same position in 2006 with Bernardini and elected to retire him. Now he has an opportunity to elevate one of his horses into the realm of the all-time greats, as Seattle Slew, Affirmed, and Spectacular Bid did in
the seventies by racing at 4.

Yes, I am getting way ahead of myself, but horses like Essential Quality don’t come around every year and no one wants to say goodbye to him when there is so much more for him to achieve.

We have gotten too used to early farewells. Heck, I have already compared him in a way to the immortal Buckpasser. Now it is up to the sheikh and the Godolphin braintrust to share Buckpasser’s place in history with one of their own.

Photos courtesy of Adam Coglianese and Steve Haskin


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255 Responses to “A Midnight Run, But Quality Wins Out Again”

  1. Matthew W says:

    Missed work in July….pushes :44 half and shades :24 last quarter…long frame….Prat strangling him on backstretch half mile AFTER the finish….1:08 flat this is not a fast track.

  2. Nelson Maan says:

    Hi Davids …you were not dreaming after all. Flightline reappeared just like you have predicted.

    This is the most brilliant million horse ever…

    As I said before, for a Tapit to fire public-6F-breezes clocking 1:08 flat the sky is the limit.

    Wow is an understatement!

    • Mike Relva says:

      Only potential problem I see is keeping him sound. If can, he could be any kind of horse.

    • Davids says:

      Yes Nelson, simply breathtaking to watch. Flightline is a sensation. As Mike states below, the challenge is keeping him sound. With talent like this the ‘sky truly is the limit.’ You would think the Malibu Stakes is more than likely the target – then what?

      Decisions, decisions?

      • Nelson Maan says:

        I agree Davids. Without knowing all the hindrances keeping him from running as a 2-year old or more this year, I would say that they will have to survey his health very closely.

        I would run him against older horses…
        It could be the 6 furlongs of the Santa Anita Sprint Championship or venture to the mile of the Ack Ack at Churchill both on October 2… just to test the waters for a possible shot at the Breeders’ Cup Sprint or the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

        The Malibu is a good option but he needs to run before December while he is healthy and happy … His Equibase Speed Rating is 130 which is more than enough to beat any one at the distance…. and theoretically he should not have any problems going two turns … at any rate, next year could be a fantastic year for him!

        • Davids says:

          In earlier reports the connections stated ‘they weren’t in a hurry’ and they know how talented Flightline is. Presumably, the conservative approach will continue but there is obviously great temptation to jump into the deep end. Must be fun owning/training such a gifted colt.

          • Mike Relva says:

            Happy Holiday Nelson! If speculating,what’s problem with Flightline?

          • perimeister says:

            Again, imagine there is a “like” button next to your comment and imagine that I clicked on it.

            • Mike Relva says:

              Likewise and thanks peri! Individual earlier behaves like an “emotional wreck”. Unhealthy fixation on one horse and defensive to the max if one asks a simple question.

              • perimeister says:

                Am very familiar with individual, having no issue with narrow focus per se, so have had many many cordial conversations, even about the source and the limits of individual’s interest, which does extend to cover the AP Indy tribe. The incident I mentioned occurred last year, and was the first of what has only lately become a daily experience. Hypocrisy I will overlook, as we all live in that glass house, but I too am offended when those who aren’t in a position to defend themselves – people or horses – are brought into discussion without due respect.

                • Mike Relva says:

                  Agreed! I was also a big fan of Honor AP,yet last yr, at times an all out attack regarding handling of the horse. Like a private pulling rank on a general. Unreal!

                  • perimeister says:

                    I remember. Nothing has changed in the case of Max Player, though at the moment the decision to ship him early to Del Mar meets with individual’s personal appoval. The dynamic isn’t a simple lack of respect for authority, however. A few weeks ago, when I commented elsewhere that this plan for Max was a likely course of action, individual was then fixed on the idea Max would run in the Woodward, and I was derided as speaking nonsense — which was an appropriation of the horse’s connections’ authority.

      • sceptre says:

        Hi David,

        Looks-wise, he seems to more take after Indian Charlie than Tapit. Actually, in action/manner of running, he much reminds me of Indian Charlie-he’d do well to be that good.

        • Davids says:

          Hi sceptre, yes, I would agree with you that Indian Charlie dominates the phenotype/action/manner. I was trying to see Unbridled as well but Indian Charlie definitely dominates.

  3. EddieF says:

    Steve, in case you didn’t hear…Nicky the Vest is back in training and had his first workout yesterday (3f). Nice to see that he’s back.

  4. Coldfacts says:

    With comments on the subject matter of this blog probably exhausted. I think I can be pardoned for highlighting a 2YO colt that has captured by attention. The colt will contest the Hopeful on Sept 6th.

    The Hopeful entrant in question is Defend an impressive debut winner of a MSW at Delaware Park. The colt stopped the clock at 1:04.27 for 5 1/2F on the back of 22.61, 46.68, 58.08 fractions. It might appear that the aforementioned fractions are nothing to be impressed about. If not for the fact that the colt was never let off the bridle and was eased 50 meter from the line and won by 8L.

    Defend was sired by American Freedom. Yes! The same American Freedom that at one point in the 2017 Travers, was only 1 1/2L behind Arrogate. That was before the Big Grey hit the turbo and separated by 13L. The son of Pulpit was a good looking $500K yearling purchase. He must have checked many boxes. But like many of BB expensive horses, he was good over his first 6 starts but lost form in his next two and was promptly retired.

    American Freedom’s stallion register reflects nine 2YO winners with 6 being in the MSW category. Most of his winner have displayed excellent speed. This surprising given he was more of a router with excellent tactical seep. A Pulpit progeny out of a Pleasant Tap mare isn’t expected to be siring horses with 57 & 58 speed for 5F. Could American Freedom emerge as the next great son of Pulpit in the breeding shed? He certainly is off to an excellent start.

    Defend dam sire City Zip needs no introduction as his mares have produce several top class runners. However Defend’s dam didn’t win from 9 starts, with 7 of those starts being at the maiden claiming level. When such an unaccomplished mare produces a foal that runs 58 in hand. Note should be taken. Her dam was accomplished runner that earned $378K.

    He is big colt with a fluent and energy efficient stride. He was assigned an Equibase figure of 98 for his only start. This figure is the 2nd highest in the Hopeful field but is the highest assigned for MSW wins amongst all entrants.

    The likely post time favorite for The Hopeful should be the Todd Pletcher trained and Sanford G3, winner Wit. He was assigned a 100 for Sanford. That’s just 2 points about Defend’s 98 for his MSW win.

    The American Freedom colt should find the 7F of the Hopeful well within his scope. He has attracted the services of leading rider Luis Saez and that should signal respect for his talent. If this colt isn’t a one trick pony. He should prove competitive in the Hope if not emerging the winner. Well! I could be wrong.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      you should never dismiss a Delaware Park 2 year old — Barbaro, Afleet Alex, Victory Gallop, Union Rags and many more

    • EddieF says:

      CF, you’ll be pleased to know that Defend’s Brisnet speed figure was 96, which equals Wit’s number in the Sanford. Defend’s pace numbers are competitive with Wit’s. Then there’s High Oak. Great race.

      • Matthew W says:

        Corniche, winner of Saturday’s tenth race at Del Mar— talk about impressive—1:03 flat and he likely would have finished up 1:09 3/5, was striding out like a nice thing, by Qualuty Road stopped the hammer at a million five as a March two year old.

  5. Betsy says:

    Hey Steve

    I’m popping in because I think previous discussions and your references in this article – which I could only skim for now (Ida did a number on our electronics) – are especially relevant after today’s JCGC. We see good 3 year olds retiring all the time – even those who weren’t among the best of their crop or incredibly well-bred or with a sire who just died where the stud farm is looking for a replacement. But, Max Player is a really good example of how rewarding it can be to have patience. He’s always been talented, but to say he’s been a tricky horse is an understatement; I literally thought he might not get around the track in his debut. To say he was green doesn’t adequately describe how out of it he was..Linda turned him into a professional racehorse. He had a very fine 3 year old season, but it always seemed as if his run was too little, too late. Saudia Arabia was a nightmare – he never should have gone. Steve and Ricardo Santana tried to get this colt to run closer to the pace, but it never took ..until the Suburban. To say that made a difference to Max is an understatement – it’s changed his entire career and prospects. Today he backed up his Suburban and just exploded…don’t want to hear about time from naysayers, it’s not on Max that FdO set soft fractions; Max finished very well

    I enjoyed many wonderful wins that made me giddy, but this might be the most satisfying. My point is that I wish we could see more 3 year olds run beyond their TC year – they could accomplish real successes.

    By the way, on the way back from the Finger Lakes, my parents and I are staying the night in Saratoga. I can’t wait !

    • Steve Haskin says:

      I figured we might be hearing from you with him being by Honor Code. But the truth is, he had the best mile and a quarter breeding of any horse in the race and Asmussen has done a tremendous job with him, especially changing his running style. I didnt like the pedigree of the favorite. I didnt think he wanted 10 furlongs. But Mac Player is definitely for real. Now you can read this column. Lol

      • Betsy says:

        He did, and he really exploded – no waiting on horses. BSF is 102, which is solid given the fractions.

        I can’t wait to read it, and the comments, because aside from liking EQ, I’ve always favored Buckpasser, since I was a kid. I don’t know why, but something about him always appealed to me. Maybe it’s because I loved the name of his sire, Tom Fool…LOL when you’re a kid, you root for teams or horses or athletes sometimes for crazy reasons!

        • Mike Relva says:

          Although I’m a fan of Honor Code big time and obviously Max Player is very talented,do you actually like any horse other than Honor Code progency?

          • Betsy says:

            Sorry, Mike, you’re going to have to live without knowing the answer. I am done with having to answer ridiculous questions like this…

            • Mike Relva says:

              FYI, comes with territory-considering when someone seems obsessed with one only horse.

                • BlueCat says:

                  way to call that phony out

                • perimeister says:

                  On information and belief, the fixation is rooted in Seattle Slew. I was flamed for suggesting there were some similarities between the developmental timelines and bad luck limiting the accomplishments of Slew’s first crop and Honor Code’s.

                  • Mike Relva says:

                    Point taken. However when reading your comments,unlike some, you seem rational.

                    • perimeister says:

                      I hope I actually am rational, but I won’t presume to pass judgment on myself. I believe I meet and even exceed Betsy’s enthusiasm and detail of interest in the subject matter, and it doesn’t directly bother me, however she does or does not limit her interest.

                      Denigrating me or others for expressing an interest by politely asking questions on family friendly subject matter, for example, does bother me. Some, like Coldfacts, are adept at ignoring what they don’t want to answer here, which is not remotely near so demeaning as refusing to acknowledge a question made in person. As a duly licensed armchair psychologist, I could opine as to why a person would choose to lash out in answer to a question they label “ridiculous” and say they won’t answer, but I would just be stating the obvious.

                  • Betsy says:

                    Oh please, I never “flamed” you, and you have no right to call my love for Slew a fixation. How dare you play armchair psychologist? I don’t deserve this.

                    • Mike Relva says:

                      Obviously you become offended easily,which is demonstrated in many of your posts. “I don’t deserve this”, door swings both ways when trashing an upright trainer with a moral compass as John Shirreffs,which you’ve done more than once.

  6. Mike Relva says:

    Wish Buckpasser could enjoyed a longer life.

  7. Matthew W says:

    Steve and company…..I nearly forgot about something I put together as a 16 year old in 1975, while sitting thru Novel class as a high school junior! Whenever the novel was something I could not get through I would open my pee-chee and work on my “Greatest Race Ever” project, my opus to the sport of kings—12 horses, with odds that included 15 % take out…as well as pace options, all figured by amounts of tiny pieces of paper tossed into a large hat—

    My wager was Exterminator, across the board (36-1), and exacta boxed with Secretariat (2.60 favorite) and Swaps (6.30 4th choice)…..
    2nd fave was Man O War (3.10) 3rd choice Citation (4.40)…..

    Winner was Buckpasser, paying $27.40, the surprise was in a race that included Dr Fager and Swaps, it was Man O War that set the pace, leading inside the 1/16 pole, headed by Secretariat on the outside ( by a head), Buckpasser came up the rail and won by 3/4 going away, Secretariat never saw him…Buckpasser having rallied inside to win the 1967 Malibu, passing nine horses in the stretch….

    I wish I kept that 1975 work-up, it was real thourough…I was hooked on this sport way back…..

  8. EddieF says:

    I’d like to offer another comparison to Essential Quality that differs a bit from the comparison that Steve made with Buckpasser. I’ve indicated some items of comparison with an asterisk.

    NATIVE DANCER was undefeated as a two-year-old* in 1952, and he was named the best of his division*. The following year he raced 10 times (from April to August), and his only loss was in the Kentucky Derby* when he came up short by a head as the clear favorite*. Both of his wins in the Preakness and the Belmont* were by a neck.

    After Native Dancer’s win in the Belmont Stakes, his trainer was quoted as saying, “He doesn’t win in a flashy sort of way, but he keeps on winning.”*

    He won the Travers against a small field*, and he was named the best 3-year-old (*?) of 1953.

    • Nelson Maan says:

      Steve replied somewhere that Native Dancer was also being considered as analogue to Essential Quality’s winning margins for this article … I really take the comparison as just an alluring technique to lobby seeing the son of Tapit next year running in weighty races.

      Native Dancer won the prestigious American Derby after the Travers. This Derby was the richest race for 3-year-old horses only behind the TC prizes. It is run continuously on the lawn since 1992 …

      The last great horses winning the 1 1/8 mile of American Derby were precisely Buckpasser (by a neck in 1:47) and Damascus (by 7 lengths over In Reality in 1:46.80).

      For Damascus the American Derby came before his legendary 22 length-win in the Travers.

      You knew that the sole mention of the “Grey Ghost of Sagamore” would make me run down memory lane …

      • EddieF says:

        My apologies to Sheila. I missed her comment about Native Dancer and Steve’s reply. Just found it.

      • Steve Haskin says:

        Yes, Native Dancer was being considered, having beaten Jamie K. is photos several times. Talking abut the 67 American Derby watch for Monday’s column

      • EddieF says:

        Of course I was thinking about you as I wrote about the Grey Ghost. When researching his record, I was surprised to see that the purse of the ’53 Travers was a paltry $27k. Heck! The Withers was $32k.

        • Nelson Maan says:

          The Travers is way better at 1.25 million now … but the Withers’ purse after adjustment for inflation should be around $310K and not 250K… quite close though !

          • Matthew W says:

            Even the early 70’s hundred granders were fairly rare…really makes one appreciate horses that made a million, the Kelso, the Round Tables, lots of graded stakes….

            • Nelson Maan says:

              That’s right Matthew… makes us admire even more those old timers making a huge amount of followers by running frequently and longer.

              In these modern days of racing the petro-dollars allow your horse to win Millions in one race …. good or bad I don’t know…

            • perimeister says:

              Somewhere someone has made a database that shows all thoroughbreds’ earnings at current dollar value. Equibase should provide that information, too.

  9. Nelson Maan says:

    Steve I must confess that your thought-provoking note made me look into the meanings of greatness specially in this era of abbreviated racing careers.

    In the last 70 years there have been only five (5) horses named champions at ages of 2, 3 and 4: Native Dancer, Buckpasser (Champion older horse by Turf and Sport Digest and the Thoroughbred Racing Association), Seattle Slew, Affirmed and Spectacular Bid. They aced the test of time to earn the mantle of true Greatness… so, your call for Essential Quality to go through the ranks of the all-time greats by just running next year is more than justifiable.

    You can accuse me of being a little nostalgic but the decisions to extend the campaigns of California Chrome and Gun Runner somehow made me feel like returning to the Golden Age of racing.

    Thanks to their talent, consistency and durability both California Chrome and Gun Runner have a good chance to be inducted into the Hall of Fame after year 2022.

    Putting nostalgia aside and looking back to just learn practical lessons, we can reckon that Gun Runner became way more expensive stallion after his 4-year-old campaign…

    The Triple Crown Champion and Horse of the Year American Pharoah promptly earned his Hall of Fame throne after his record setting win in the Breeder’s Cup Classic. He did more than enough to confirm his greatness albeit not running as a four-year old.

    I am not sure if Justify with his Triple Crown can be listed as an all-time-great though… but this will be for the Historic Review Committee to decide.

    Fans were indulged with Frosted winning the mile of the Metropolitan Handicap logging an eyepopping 92 3/5 seconds in his four-year old campaign. That dazzling display also helped improve his value as Stallion.

    Essential Quality will have to win the BCC to bolster his journey to Greatness. Many expert handicappers have Knicks Go winning the momentous race; but I believe that the distance and an eventual pace pressure by horses like Medina Spirit, Midnight Bourbon, Hot Rod Charlie or even perhaps from Life is Good, will play in favor of Essential Quality and against Knicks Go.

    Assuming that Essential Quality has already done enough to earn the 3-year-old Championship then attempting a third championship will definitely make him member of the most exclusive club.

    “Essential Quality to run next year” is the headline we wish to read after the Breeder’s Cup … if it happens, we will have to thank you for another glimpse at the Golden Age…!

    • Mike Relva says:

      Nelson, CC and GR are locks for HOF for sure.

    • Davids says:

      Nelson, I would agree with your assessment of the forthcoming Breeders’ Cup Classic. Knicks Go won’t be waltzing out in front unchallenged and, moreover, many of the 3 year olds you mentioned above are not distance challenged at 10f. which Knicks Go certainly could be.

      • Nelson Maan says:

        Yes Davids… the BCC won’t be anything similar to the Whitney Stakes where Knicks Go was the sole speed.

        But many are impressed by that performance and project he will be equally successful in the 1 1/4 of the BCC… Charlatan may have something to say about it…LOL

        • Davids says:

          Max Player’s triumph in the Jockey Club Gold Cup would not be cheered by the connections of Knicks Go either. Pressure, pressure!!

          • perimeister says:

            It’s getting crowded at the top of the heap.

            • Davids says:

              Don’t miss the Irish Champion Stakes at Leoprdstown, September 11. Depending on who runs, it could be the best race this year. Allez, St Mark’s Basilica!!

              Del Mar’s configuration and situation can grossly favor some runners over others. Note the results in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup races.

              • perimeister says:

                Thanks for the reminder about next Saturday’s race. I’ve got a deadline in two days, after which I can do some catching up.

                Horses for courses. I expect Knicks Go will be happy with the configuration, if nothing else. There’s still a lot to happen before the field is final and sets limits on speculating. I would like to see a rematch between Essential Quality and Midnight Bourbon sometime down the road, but I don’t think the BCC is a likely time or place for it. Del Mar is so different enough to put many off their feed.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Hi Nelson, all great points. Yes Chrome and Gun Runner are headed to the HOF. I believe Chrome was kept in training because they knew the breeders would not support him with his pedigree. Gun Runner might have stayed in training to accomplish the things he might have accomplished with Arrogate. Justify likely will get in the HOF because of the Triple Crown, but will never be considered an all-time great with so few starts and no real wow performances. EQ has a lot to do to be considered an all-time great, but he can if he stays in training and keeps winning big races. Remember, we no longer have weight as a gauge for greatness, so they better do something extraordinary. The only all-time greats we’ve had this century have been fillies IMO.

      • EddieF says:

        Steve, regarding Justify’s chances of eventually being in the HOF: Perhaps as the best horses continue to race with less frequency, voters will someday look more kindly at a TC winner that was undefeated in just six races. It may take time, but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility.

      • Nelson Maan says:

        Agree on all your points Steve. Who does not love Azeri, Ashado, ZENYATTA, RACHEL ALEXANDRA and Goldikova. I thought that Havre de Grace was in the HOF but it turns out she has not been inducted…

        I totally understand the distinction you are making between being a HOF and all-time great. Horse racing historians can spot greatness miles away…

        Greatness is achieving extraordinary things consistently and long enough to fill at least one glorious page of the history book… and it is never forgotten.

    • EddieF says:

      Hey, Nelson. Who is on the Historic Review Committee? Are you the chairman? I’d like to serve on it if I can attend by Zoom. Agree with all you said. As for the Classic, it’s 2 months away. I’ll bet you $5 that something will happen between now and then to dramatically alter our current perceptions. File this away! 🙂

      • Nelson Maan says:

        Hi Eddie F… as of 2018 here is what I found:

        “The museum’s Historic Review Committee is chaired by Michael Veitch and includes Edward L. Bowen, Allan Carter, Jane Goldstein, Ken Grayson, Steve Haskin, Jay Hovdey, Carl Nafzger, Mary Simon, John von Stade, and Gary West. ”

        Steve may answer your question with more certainty though! and he may give you references for the job.

        Regarding changes before the BCC… Nothing big will happen in two months… as things were consistent since the BC Juvenile… you may thank running the Stakes without Lasix for this kind of sustainability…

        Hope I am not opening a can of worms here…!

        • EddieF says:

          Thanks for the info, Nelson. At the HOF site, I found this: “Thoroughbreds become eligible when five calendar years have elapsed between their final racing year and their year of nomination. Thoroughbreds remain eligible between five and 25 calendar years following their final racing year. Thoroughbreds retired for more than 25 calendar years become eligible through the Historic Review Committee.” So it’s very much like the several baseball committees that consider players who have lost their original eligibility for the baseball HOF.

          I am writing down your “Nothing big will happen in two months” declaration. I’ll be adding my $5 winnings to my commission payments.

  10. Matthew W says:

    14 for the Del Mar Derby…..Del Mar stakes have had bigger fields than Saratoga stakes in 2021, hats off to their ship and win promotion, they really tried to put out a better product, in the face of a difficult political atmosphere.

  11. Ms Blacktype says:

    I just read through all the comments on this post Steve. You are not only a superb, provocative columnist, you attract smart, thoughtful comments. Love the personalities (even you Coldfacts) and the deep racing and breeding knowledge reflected here. I am so thankful for this community.

    Here’s a thought for a future column: how do you rank Buckpasser, Dr Fager, and Damascus in the pantheon of greats? I saw all three of them race (on TV, being well under 21 at the time). You will probably say there is no way to compare them, even though they did race against each other. Personally, I didn’t think there was any way Damascus could ever beat Buckpasser as he did in the 1967 Woodward — but then I was only 13, and Buckpasser, an extraordinary horse, was at the end of his career and I realized much later, was smart enough to have wised up about the demands of racing. The Doc was absolutely brilliant at 3, and achieved greatness at 4.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Thank you very much. We do have a great group here. With only one other website left that still has comments I wish more people would come here and participate

      Youre right I cant rank them other than to say Buckpasser was No. 1 at 2, Damascus No. 1 at 3 and Dr. Fager No. 1 at 4. Buckpasser, as great as he was, never had anything close to a Damascus and Dr. Fager to run against…or even an In reality. But what a great 3 years they provided taking over from Kelso

  12. Davids says:

    Flightline, returns to the racetrack at Del Mar race 8, 6f. this Sunday. Excitement, plus+