Secretariat

Happy Anniversary Alphabet Soup

An Old Friend is celebrating two holidays this year. It was 25 years ago that Alphabet Soup, who resides at Old Friends and turned 30 this year, upset the mighty Cigar in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, ruining the champ’s farewell party. With the death last year of A.P. Indy, Alphabet Soup is now the oldest living Classic winner. ~ Steve Haskin

Happy Anniversary (and Birthday) Alphabet Soup

By Steve Haskin

The sun was just beginning to set behind Woodbine Racetrack’s clubhouse turn. As the great Cigar headed off the track for the last time, shafts of light beamed down on him from an amber sky. What a fitting final glimpse of one of the greatest horses of his era. This was the way fans were meant to see him; walking off into the sunset in victory following a second straight triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

And it looked for sure as if it would end just that way. At the eighth pole, here came Cigar charging up to the leaders. It was going to happen. At the sixteenth pole, he still wasn’t quite there, as the crowd urged him on. Just inside him, the pocket-sized 5-year-old Alphabet Soup, at 19-1, had another ending to the Cigar story in mind. Not only did he have the reigning Horse of the Year breathing down his neck and refusing to let him by, there was the brilliant Preakness winner Louis Quatorze battling back on his inside, with a 101-1 shot named Mt. Sassafras still in the picture along the rail. Nearing the wire, the cheers for Cigar began to subside when it became clear he was not going to get by the tenacious California invader. At the wire it was Alphabet Soup by a nose over Louis Quatorze, with Cigar a head back in third, only a half-length ahead of Mt. Sassafras.

A hush fell over the crowd, knowing Cigar had come so close to the perfect finale only to fall inches short. They had seen it in his previous start when he failed to get his head in front of Skip Away in The Jockey Club Gold Cup. The heart was still there, but the legs that had propelled him to 16 consecutive victories just had too much wear and tear after traveling 25,000 miles racing all over the country and an exhausting trip to Dubai where he had to dig in and fight back to defeat fellow American Soul of the Matter, despite battling ankle problems.

All the talk was of Cigar’s defeat and having come so close to the storybook ending most everyone had hoped for, but what was overlooked was the courage and grit displayed by Alphabet Soup, turning back challenges on his outside and inside from a future Hall of Famer and a classic winner who had equaled the stakes record in the Preakness and had finished right behind Cigar and Skip Away in The Jockey Club Gold Cup.

The reason why most people were unfamiliar with Alphabet Soup was that in 22 career starts leading up to the Classic the son of Cozzene had only traveled east one time, finishing third in the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs, and had never won a Grade 1 stakes. But he did have three Grade 2 victories and two Grade 3 victories to his credit and in the past two years had finished in the money in 11 of his 12 starts. So California racing fans certainly were aware of his toughness and consistency.

This was a horse no one wanted as a youngster. The Pennsylvania-bred was bought back twice at the sales, for $28,000 as a yearling and $29,000 as a 2-year-old, and eventually became just a throw-in as part of a package deal.

Trainer Dave Hofmans first laid eyes on him at a training center in Kentucky and it was not exactly love at first sight.

“He was just a dumpy, tiny little guy,” he said. “But I saw something in him I really liked, mainly his conformation. We had another horse picked out (for owner Georgia Ridder), a Wild Again filly for $70,000. They had just bought this colt back for the second time and just wanted to get rid of him, so they threw him in the deal for another $30,000.”

Four years later Alphabet Soup stepped off the van at Woodbine, along with stablemate Dramatic Gold, to prepare to do battle with the great Cigar. As soon as he arrived, his groom Juan Reynoso could tell he was ready to run a huge race, and told anyone who would listen that it was him and not his more fancied stablemate who was the stronger of the two.

Hofmans also grew more confident following the horse’s arrival, but his reasoning was not something you could find through handicapping or the way he was behaving or training or any other conventional method of foreseeing a big performance. As unusual as it may sound, he could tell by the black circles around Alphabet Soup’s eyes and the black on his knees.

“When he’s really fit and ready to run, you can see it,” he said. “As he gets fitter, his knees get really black and his eyes get that black ring around them.”

The next ones to see those black rings close up were Cigar and Louis Quatorze.

As the mostly disappointed crowd filed out of Woodbine, Alphabet Soup was back in his stall with his head buried in his hay rack. Around the corner of Barn 14, Cigar stood facing the back of his stall having his legs wrapped. Owners Allen and Madeleine Paulson stopped by to see their hero before leaving to have dinner. Trainer Bill Mott, however, remained, staring almost hypnotically into Cigar’s stall, but not focusing his attention on the horse as much as he was transfixed on the past two years and on all the adventures the horse had taken him and all the unforgettable moments he provided.

When he spoke, his voice could not hide the emotions that were welling up inside him. “There is nothing I can say about Cigar that can tell you how I feel about him and the whole experience,” he said in a quiet monotone voice, “There’s no reason that getting beat a short head would make me feel any differently about him. I would be pretty damn greedy if I did. When we decided to run him again this year at age 6, I knew that trying to have a repeat year (when he was undefeated in 10 starts) was going to be a tough task come Breeders’ Cup time. Even though he got beat he stayed exceptionally well through the whole year. He just lost that little step, that little turn of foot, and that’s been the difference. If he didn’t have to go five-wide he probably wins. Before, he could have come around them and won. Today he just couldn’t overcome it.”

Just then, Georgia Ridder, the 82-year-old owner of Alphabet Soup, walked in the barn and came over to Mott. Before she could say anything, Mott congratulated her on her victory.
Looking at the broader picture, Mrs. Ridder replied, “Congratulations on the greatest horse of many years. It was just our luck today.”

“Well, you had a great day and I’m happy for you,” Mott told her. “I hope you have many, many more.”

Mrs. Ridder then walked around the corner of the barn to see her horse. She took one look at him attacking his hay rack and said, “What a boy! I am so proud of him and his trainer and rider (Chris McCarron). I was hopeful before the race, but when he drew post 12 my spirits dropped. I still can’t believe he did it. I think I’ll wake up from a dream tomorrow morning and find out he was really an also-ran.”

Before leaving, Mrs. Ridder gave one last look at the diminutive Alphabet Soup, who showed no effects from his hard race, and said, “Goodbye, big gray boy.”

For that brief moment, the horse no longer was diminutive, just as David must have seemed much bigger after slaying Goliath. Alphabet Soup had slain his giant, and in the eyes of his owner now was a giant himself.

Alphabet Soup made one more start the following year, finishing a close second to the top-class Gentlemen in the San Antonio Handicap before being retired to Frank Stronach’s Adena Springs Farm near Lexington, Kentucky with earnings of just under $3 million. He would go on to sire 48 stakes winners.

He was retired from breeding at the age of 24 and was sent to Michael Blowen at Old Friends Equine Retirement Farm. A couple of years later he developed several melanomas that grew to the size of softballs, and the Stronachs sent Blowen $10,000 to have them treated.

“He began losing weight and interest in everything and it looked as if his days were numbered,” Blowen said.

But if there was one thing the horse had proven, it was that he was a fighter. He was sent to Park Equine Hospital in Paris, Kentucky, under the care of veterinarians John C. Park, Rhodes Bell, and Bryan Waldridge, who were developing a cancer treatment that allows the immune system to target the melanoma.

“We’re hoping the immune system will stay after that cancer,” Waldridge, who began seeing significant reduction in the tumors near his tail, told Bloodhorse.com. “We’re hoping for a progressive shrinkage. I would think it would be months in the future until we know where we’re going to get to, but it’s gone down enough that I wouldn’t be shocked to see this totally go away.”

Blowen said Alphabet Soup received one treatment a week for four straight weeks and then one treatment a month for four straight months.”

As Waldridge had hoped, the tumors did go away, “He’s better now than he was six years ago, Blowen said. “He’s my role model. I look at him every day and realize how fortunate I am to spend this time with him. He’s a happy horse and has a pal, a donkey named Gorgeous George, who goes everywhere with him and is very protective of him. The two are inseparable.”

In May of 2020 Smithsonian magazine did a feature on Old Friends and used Alphabet Soup as their cover boy. “I believe he is the only Thoroughbred to grace the cover of Smithsonian magazine,” Blowen said.

And so, at the age of 30, Alphabet Soup is enjoying the good life with his little buddy. If the two could talk to each other, you can bet Alphie, as he is known, would be telling George what it was like to be little in a world often dominated by bigger and stronger adversaries and how in his greatest battle, he conquered the biggest “giant” of them all a quarter of a century ago.

Photos courtesy of Breeders’ Cup and Old Friends

Please check back on Thursday for Steve’s Breeders’ Cup Longshot Picks…


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177 Responses to “Happy Anniversary Alphabet Soup”

  1. EDDIEF says:

    Jeeeeez! I’m away all day and come back to this blog to find there’s a bounty on my head. So Coldfacts writes “As a longshot hunter I will stand no chance in this contest. I am therefore requesting that consideration given for bravery.” I replied saying, in essence, that the contest is for picking the winners — not one based on ROI. Selecting longshots in a contest to see who picks the most winners is doomed to failure.

    I would like either type of contest.

    • SoloSolo says:

      EddieF, at any given moment in time there’s probably a bounty on your head for whatever reason….lol! And, like you, I would like any type of contest, amateur horse racing enthusiast that I am. PS The first sentence is meant in jest!

    • Steve Haskin says:

      New column going up now. Check over there about the contest.

  2. Derek Manthey says:

    Thanks Steve for bringing us back once again for if you don’t know where you’ve been , you can’t know where you are. Alphabet Soup and his likes why I love this sport. Champions and great horses can come from anywhere, from a FuPEG on one side of the spectrum to John Henry on the other. As for CIGAR he was a machine and a joy to watch, but I have to admit at the 96 Jockey Club Gold Cup I bought a framed photo of Cigar and I’m looking at right now and then I went to windows and bet Skip Away. That’s Racing!

  3. Coldfacts says:

    BEST NUMBERS.

    The above is often assigned to a particular selection in a field. But what exactly are best numbers? In most if not all instances, best numbers relate to assigned speed figures. Are speed figure the only numbers that are relevant?

    Jack Christopher has the best Beyer speed figure of any 2YO male. He therefore is deemed to have the best number. But does He? Let’s see what the cold facts reveal.

    Dat of Birth – January 30th – He is the oldest colt in the BCJ field. Maturity can be an advantage over late foals.

    Pedigree- Whilst performances in relation to pedigree remains a mystery. This colt was bred for speed and has displayed a lot. This was a distinct possibility.

    Race Fractions Debut (6F) – 21.83; 44.61; 56.7;1:09.85 on debut was impressive. But he was bred for speed.

    Race Fractions Stakes (8F) – 23.57; 46.49; 1:11.15 1:37.31. Assuming there was no malfunctioning of the timer. The 2021 renewal of the Champagne was the slowest since the distance of the stakes was returned to 8F in 2005. The track was listed as fast. Could there have been a strong head win? Probably! The colt was under strong urging and whipping deep in the last furlong. Had he been travelling sweetly his rider action wouldn’t have been necessary. Jackie’s Warrior and Tiz The Law won their Champagned in time two seconds fasters. Both were next out losers.

    I am not sure how Jack Christopher is deemed to have the best numbers. Given that Pinehurst who is 3 months younger (April 26) has recorded fractions of 22.09; 44.77; 1:10. 17 whilst winning his G1 debut. A colt 3 months younger running just as fast as one 3 month older makes for interesting analysis. .. Rattle and Roll finial time in the G1 Futurity is faster than Jack Christopher’s extrapolated time for 8 1/2F, using the Champagne fractions.

    Jack Christopher was assigned the highest speed figure. But he doesn’t have the best numbers when all relevant numbers are analyzed.

  4. Coldfacts says:

    I have never paid much attention to Express Train as I have always considered him a cut below the G1 level. But his recent work captured my attention.

    He broke his maiden at Del Mar by 14 1/2L and this might have some significance come Saturday. After that performance the Derby Trail beckoned. He next contested the American Pharaoh and as the 2nd choice behind Eight Rings. He lumbered in 4th beaten by 8 1/2L.

    With Derby now off the table. The colt return to Del Mar and won a 6 1/2F Allowance in quick 1:15.65. His next 5 start were at SA Park where he managed one and three runner placings. One of his 2nd place finishes was to mighty Charlatan in the 7F Malibu a distance considered short of his best. He was 16/1.

    After sufferings 3 consecutive defeats after his last win. Express Train again returned to Del Mar were he won the San San Diego. In his subsequent start in the Pacific Classic he flopped at the favorite with a dull 6th place finish beaten by 10 3/4L It was the worst defeat of his career. Added to the dilemma of his poor performance, was the fact that it occurred at the venue of his most impressive victory and one at which 3 of his 4 career win were recorded.

    I am not an expert in the evaluation of works. But I am of the opinion that his 5F work is the best I have seen at Del Mar It was an effortless 59.80. The trainer of Express Train is a modest and unassuming man that doesn’t reveal much. But after ET’s work he had an ear to ear smile with twinkles in his eyes.

    Express Tari was assigned a ML of 20/1 and deservedly so. He will be returning to the scene of his biggest victory. It appears he lacks the talent of many of his likely BCC opponents. However, it appear he is a horse for course and this could be an advantage. Any position he occupies on the board will make the exotics wager lucrative.

    NB: Drosselmeyer was defeated in his first 3 career starts at Saratoga, Belmont and Keeneland. He eventually broke his maiden in his 4th start at CD by 6L. This win margin would eventually become the biggest of his 5 career wins. He returned to Churchill Downs for his 2nd start at the venue, in the 2011 BCC. He emerged the winner at @14/1. In only 2 starts CD he recorded d his first and last victories. Was he a horse for course?

    • Matthew W says:

      More about Express Train…I saw him work in person, before he ever raced…he beat Honor A P to the wire in a team drill, by a head—and I asked his trainer what was his name, and he told me….he has been my favorite race horse for three years now–and he runs/changes leads straight and strong–he does not weave…..but I cannot call him a win contender here—BUT he can grab a piece of the race, because while he isn’t fast enough–he has class, which means he can finish “in the hunt”, so to speak, one more thing: Express Train will probably be the best looking horse in the post parade, because he truly is a beautiful horse.

  5. Mark S (Hoofhearted) says:

    A Classic look: Baffert is likely thinking a win by Medina Spirit vindicates him. Two things he learned last winter: Charlatan showed him how to deal with Knicks Go and Medina Spirit is at his best when on the lead. Medina Spirit will be sent. Knicks Go has no choice but to be sent too. In his case, his trainer Cox has to give him his best shot to win while knowing if the pace is hot, he has Essential Quality who would thrive with a hot pace. O’Neil’s Hot Rod Charlie will likely pop out of the gate quick and make the leaders use a little energy to get to the front before he drops in behind them pressing their heels. HRC is a street fighter with no quit in him. Art Collector may join the pace or sit just off it too. Tripoli loves Del Mar and skims the rail flanked by Essential Quality. Express Train, Stilletto Boy and Max Player will need to sprout wings to keep up. The weather looks ideal. Moon and tidal cycle info not factored into my evaluation. My top two – EQ and HRC. Would take any of the three year olds over Knicks Go in a head to head wager.

    • Coldfacts says:

      “Charlatan showed him how to deal with Knicks Go”

      How so? When Knicks Go won the BC Dirt Mile and Pegasus. Jesus’ Team was the runner up on both occasions @65/1 & 12/1.. Where does Jesus’ Team rank in the senior division. The last time he was seen in the Alydar he finished 29L behind Art Collector. Knick’s Go hadn’t faced horses the caliber of Charlatan so the result was not surprising.

      ” Medina Spirit is at his best when on the lead.”

      He was not the best on the lead in the Preakness. He had quality opponent in Midnight Bourbon along side and he was unable to respond when taht opponent wen by. He couldn’t secure the Lead in the Shan, San Felipe and SA Derby. His KD win was suspicious and his medication overage was a factor. Medina Spirit is tough on the lead mostly against competition lacking in serious tactical speed.

      Art Collator has been either on or near the lead in 7 of his 8 career wins. No one has ever regarded him as being tough on the lead. But Medina Spirit who on several occasions has not gone any where near the lead, is a tough on the lead horse. That doesn’t compute.

      • Matthew W says:

        You “need” to stop the Preakness fading logic, the horse just ran in the Derby, and was stressed the entire trip—his other races on the lead he was tough to pass.

      • Mark S (Hoofhearted) says:

        “Charlatan showed him how to deal with Knicks Go” “How so?” In the Saudi Cup last winter, Charlatan broke fast and went with Knicks Go from the start. He laid right on his shoulder and pressed him until Knicks Go quit.

        ” Medina Spirit is at his best when on the lead.” All 5 of Medina Spirits wins have been wire to wire. Only one time when MS has made the lead has he been passed. MS is 9 of 9 ITM by the way.

        A couple simple observations I noticed that I’m sure Baffert is aware of.

  6. Matthew W says:

    Another Hot Rod-oddity—-Has not run in west since January.

    • Coldfacts says:

      Regarding Oddities;

      Max Player – Last 4 starts away from NY have yielded off the board finishes.

      Pimlico Special- 6th by 8L
      Saudi Cup – 11th by a distance
      Preakness – 5th by 11 1/4L
      Kentucky Derby – 5th by 7L

      He was never been off the board in his 5 starts in NY that account for 3 of his 4 career wins.

      • EddieF says:

        Before his last two, he was losing everywhere — including the Belmont and Travers.

        • Matthew W says:

          Max Player got good at 4yo….he was always a stayer….TWO good races in a row, both 10 fur…..one big race does not a top horse make, but TWO— means he is for “real”, I have him in my top three, along with Hot Rod and Essential…..

          • Matthew W says:

            Also…Max Player has been on the west coast for quite a while, now….

          • EddieF says:

            My reply wasn’t about the merits of Max Player. I was countering Coldfact’s contention that Max was just a NY winner.

          • Betsy says:

            The fact that Steve and Ricardo have been able to get him to break well and settle close/fairly close to the pace has changed the trajectory of his career. I’ve watched Max from the start – in his debut I didn’t think he’d get around the track. Linda did a magnificent job getting him to be a racehorse, but she and Steve earned and have earned their money with this boy, lol. If Max hadn’t matured and wasn’t willing to be a stalker instead of a deep closer, none of his connections’ efforts would have mattered. He really looks fantastic and seems to be handling the quirky DM track well. He has to run faster, but to be fair, the Suburban was run on a sloppy track and the fractions were very slow in the Gold Cup. I think he can win, but honestly I will be thrilled if he runs well, as I expect him to.

    • Nelson Maan says:

      Good observation Matthew… for the first time this year he is not traveling which could be an advantage this time…hmmm!

      Will running “at home” make him improve the two lengths to get ahead Essential Quality and Medina Spirit…?

      • Betsy says:

        I mean, he travels fine, but I always thought the trip to Saudi Arabia was a mistake…..I didn’t know Max was going to freak out and essentially lose all chance. I missed the Pimlico Special, but many handicappers thought he ran sneaky well in the race as he lost a lot of ground…..

        I imagine being out West for as long as he has will be beneficial, but I don’t think it will affect his performance one way or the other.

  7. Steve Haskin says:

    To Bill Dawson and everyone, I will repeat this in Thursday’s column comments, we will have a handicapping contest where you simply pick the winner of each race and put it in the comments. After the winner and runnerup are determined I will given them a list of 10 to 12 racing books from those I have left (I gave 50 away to people on Facebook who donated to my daughter and son in law’s theater company over the summer) I still a number left including some of my books. The winner will get to choose 2 books and I will also send them some buttons/pins. The runnerup will then get to choose one book from the remaining ones. If there is a tie both will get two books. In case there are more than two ties please also send in what you believe will be the final time of the Classic and the two closest to it will determine the top two finishers. Any questions let me know.

    • Coldfacts says:

      As a longshot hunter I will stand no chance in this contest. I am therefore requesting that consideration given for bravery.

      • Steve Haskin says:

        How about a consolation prize for the highest price winner?

      • EddieF says:

        There’s a big difference between selecting the likely winner and making wagering selections. Just pick the favorite in every race and you’ll probably hit at least five. 🙂

        • Steve Haskin says:

          That’s true. I think you’re right. Without the odds factor anyone can pick all favorites and wind up winning. So it’s best to scrap the idea. I’ll try to come up with something more challenging next year. Thanks Eddie.

        • Nelson Maan says:

          Now I know that you got no Wedding & Event Planner vocation … LOL

          • Steve Haskin says:

            This was all presented to me late in the game and I had little time to ponder it. Next time I ca, have the event planned better. I dont even know how many people would be interested enough to submit selections or how many would even know about, as we have only our little group of people who comment.

            • Nelson Maan says:

              No problem Steve… my reply was jokingly directed to Eddie F…

              Ultimately, People are free to register their selections under the comment section of your eventual handicapping column about the big event this week end…

    • Bill Dawson says:

      Many thanks for setting up the BC contest. However, it appears there’s not a lot of enthusiasm from other contributors to your blog.
      EddieF stated, “just pick the favorite in every race and you’ll probably hit at least five”. That’s not necessarily true. Going back to the 2020 BC race results, of the 14 races, only three were won by the post time favorite. Those three were; Aunt Pearl (Juv. Fillies Turf), Gamine, (Filly & Mare Sprint) and Monomoy Girl, (Distaff). Hopefully, other regulars with take part in the contest just for the fun of it, and a chance to win one of your books.
      Thanks Steve.

      • Matthew W says:

        Let’s do it! I like Life Is Good, but most of my picks are pricey!

      • Steve Haskin says:

        I agree, not much interest and Eddie F.s comment got me thinking this wasnt a great idea Maybe next time we can announce it earlier and promote it in a better way than on the comments

        • Bill Dawson says:

          Hey Steve

          No one is twisting EddieF’s arm to enter this year’s contest. If he would rather wait until next year’s contest, then so be it.
          I believe there will enough regulars entering, which should make the contest interesting.
          Just as a suggestion, if less than 10 people enter the contest, then feel free to cancel it. No hard feelings.
          Thanks for everything Steve.

  8. Paula Higgins says:

    My friend Dave told me this was a poignant piece and he was right. I remember this race and it was
    sad to see Cigar beaten. The truly great Cigar. But I DID love Alphabet Soups name. The little horse that could.
    What is also wonderful to me is how classy Mrs. Ridder and Bill Mott were, winning and losing.
    That word is overused but not in that case. I am so glad Alphabet Soup is 30 years old and doing
    so well. He is a little like Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at age 95 and still doing pretty well and who
    still rides her ponies.

  9. Coldfacts says:

    PINEHURST –

    This colt with a ML of 8/1 is a gift. He has the best numbers and if rate judiciously it is unlikely that he will be beaten

    • Bill Dawson says:

      Hey Coldfacts

      With Rattle N Roll dropping out of the Juvenile, I’m torn between Pinehurst and Jack Christopher. Both colts check a lot of boxes, however, with respect to pedigrees, I believe Pinehurst is better suited for distance than Jack Christopher who appears to be a sprinter/middle distance type colt. In addition, Pinehurst has the home track advantage and he’s been working lights out at SA.
      Pinehurst’s sire line leads directly to Mr. Prospector and his broodmare sire line leads directly to Northern Dancer, which has produced several winners of Triple Crown races. If Jack Cristopher doesn’t break well from the #1 hole, he could get boxed in early, and throughout. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have veteran rider Johnny V in the irons.
      Bottom line, I’m with you, Pinehurst appears to be the colt to beat in the Juvenile.
      My longshot in this race is Jasper Great, who shipped in from Japan. Just for the hell of it, I lay down a WPS wager on him at 15-1.
      Sooner or later, one of the horses shipping in from Japan will win one of these BC races, at big odds. Jasper Great just might be the one to do it.
      Good luck.

      • Steve Haskin says:

        Their biggest BC shot ever is Loves Only You in the F&M Turf. Great international star who runs big everywhere. She finished a bang up third to Mishriff in the Dubai Sheema Classic. There are some big-time fillies in there.

        • Ms Blacktype says:

          And worked lights out today according to Mike Welsh at drf.

        • Bill Dawson says:

          Evening Steve

          Yes indeed, Loves Only You certainly fits in the F&M Turf. With respect to the morning line in this race, I believe the odds maker has it right with War Like Goddess at 7/2. She appears to be in excellent form, and with Leparoux in the saddle, I like her chances. There are three other entrants I like, Rougir, Audarya (2020 winner of the F&M Turf) and Love.
          In my super wager, I’ll key War Like Goddess on top in the first slot, with Rougir, Audarya, Love and Loves Only You in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th slots.
          Thanks for pointing out Loves Only You.
          BTW, anything new on the contest that we discussed? Thanks.

        • Matthew W says:

          My pick!

      • Coldfacts says:

        I am of the opinion that Jack Christopher will not emerge the winner of the BCJ. His stride were shortening in the closing stages of the Champagne. The final quarter of the Champagne was 26.86. Assuming he could have maintained his final quarter speed, for anothet 16th of a mile. His final l time for 8 1/2F would be approximately 1:43 and a bit. Such a final time would be more consistent with times recorded for 81/2F contested around 2Truns. Rattle and Roll wining time for the 2Turn 8 1/2F Futurity was 1:43.95.

        JUST HOW FAST IS JACK CHRISTOPHER

        Champagne 8F : 22.92; 45.94; 1:09.86; 1:23.29; 1;36.72
        Del Mar Futurity 7F: 22.09; 44.77; 1:10.17; 1:23.55; 1:36.93** Extrapolated

        Pinehurst first and second quarters were almost a second faster than those recorded in the Champagne. Pinehurst’s extrapolated time for 8F involving 2Turn is a few points off Jack Christopher’s time for a 1Turn mile. Jack Christopher. I consider it reasonable to assert that Pinehurst is the faster of the two .

        Further, Jack Christopher is a January 30th foal whereas Pinehurst is a April 26 foal. Jack Christopher is approximately 3 months older. An opponents 3 months younger recording faster time, suggests a potential advantage.

        On October 24th, 9 horses recorded 5F work below a minute. Pinehurst’s was part of that number with his 59.20. The remaining 8 horses were 3YO & 4YOs. His time was faster than 3 of the older workers.

    • Matthew W says:

      OK they just revived me you like Bob B’s horse???!!!

  10. arlingtonfan says:

    Wow, Steve! I had never seen the 1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic; I missed the entire Cigar era because I didn’t have TV then. After reading your column, I just watched the race on YouTube. What a thriller! Thanks for telling the story of a gallant horse and a dramatic race I hadn’t known about.

  11. Nelson Maan says:

    Hi Davids…!

    15 minutes to the Melbourne Cup and the Australian super star Incentivise looks ready to win for the 10th time in a row this year…Twilight Payment for Joseph O’Brien (last year winner) and Spanish Mission appear to be his main challengers…

    Surprising to see Great House getting to the cup after winning a Grade 3 only last Saturday… Wow !
    And my long shot, Floating Artist, was an unlucky runner-up just a week ago… talking about toughness and endurance…!

  12. Nelson Maan says:

    Wonderful tribute to the stout Alphabet Soup, the oldest living winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

    Alphabet Soup represents a happy story of an underdog who not only conquered the unconquerable Cigar but also is defeating death itself.

    It was really informative to me the anecdote of Hoffman measuring Alphabet Soup’s level of fitness by noticing the color of his eyes and knees… there must be a scientific explanation for those indicators …

    Historic curiosity is that Cozenne, the sire of Alphabet Soup, defeated Palace Music the sire of Cigar in the 1985 Breeder’s Cup Mile at Aqueduct. Palace Music finished a fast closing second but was disqualified (to 9th) for blocking Tsunami Slew and the race favorite Rousillon.

    Alphabet Soup got a lot from Cozenne but his broodmare sire Arts and Letters provided him with much of his grit and talent.

    The 1996 BC Classic was one of the greatest moments in Horse Racing. It was a thrilling finish with three Hall of Fame Jockeys (Chris McCarron on Alphabet Soup, Pat Day on Louis Quatorze and Jerry Bailey with Cigar) displaying all their flair and strength in the homestretch.

    Few other editions were so breathtaking. Perhaps, the first one (1984) could be comparable, when also three Hall of Fame Jockeys staged an electrifying battle with Wild Again over Slew O’Gold and Gate Dancer.

    The wins by Tiznow, Zenyatta and Bayern are visual working memories of the most exciting BC Classics as well…!

    Thanks again, Steve, for keeping the great memories of Horse Racing alive.

  13. Matthew W says:

    50 years since Ack Ack…..very much reminds me of Knicks Go, but we shall see if Knicks can win at 10 furlongs, like Ack Ack did, after starting out his career as a sprinter/miler….

    • Coldfacts says:

      There is a reason Knick’s Go has been kept at 9F. He is not a 10F horse. He will not prove elusive in the last furlong. Revisit the Pegasus and focus on the 2nd and 3rd place finishers.

    • EddieF says:

      Fifty years also since the cinematic masterpiece “Francis Goes to the Races” was released.

      • EddieF says:

        No….sorry. That was 70 years ago.

      • EddieF says:

        “Billy Jack” was 50 years ago.

        • Ms Blacktype says:

          Eddie: I saw that movie on a date, I think with the sweaty math major with the heavy arms (constantly roped over my shoulders) I thankfully never saw again. After it was over, I thought, why would a guy take a girl to see that? Oops, off topic.

      • Deacon says:

        1971 also gave us Dirty Harry, Fiddler on the Roof, & Willard if you like rats. 🙂

        • EddieF says:

          I was trying to think of movies with horses, but those were good ones. Also: The Last Picture Show, The French Connection, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, and Play Misty for Me.

          • Davids says:

            “A Clockwork Orange” by far the best film of 1971.

          • Lynda King says:

            “Summer of 42” would be my pick for best movie in 1971.

          • Davids says:

            “Nicholas and Alexandra” was a sumptuously beautiful film with lots of horses.

            • Betsy says:

              1971 was the year I was born…I’ll vote for childhood favorites Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Bedknobs and Broomsticks!

              Not in 1971, but…did anyone ever see the movie Champions? It’s at least as good as Phar Lap (which I adore), and is also a true story. To sum up – jockey gets cancer (this is decades ago, chances of survival were not good), horse survives several potential career-ending injuries, and they come back to win the 1981 Grand National. Not only is the score extraordinarily beautiful, but Aldaniti the horse plays himself. John Hurt plays Bob Champion.

              • Steve Haskin says:

                One of the greatest racing movies ever

                • Betsy says:

                  No doubt. I found out very recently that the BBC replays the broadcast of that Grand National before every running…Its the 40th anniversary, so Bob Champion has been doing many interviews….what a tremendous person he is. I used to have the movie on tape, but just recently got rid of all my tapes, so I’m going to buy the DVD; it’s been way too long since I’ve seen the movie.

                • Matthew W says:

                  Two great movies that centered around a big horse race—“Three Strangers”–a fantastic story about three strangers who share a sweepstakes ticket to the Grand National….and “The Sundowners”, my all-time favorite horse race movie!

                  • Betsy says:

                    They both sound really interesting, Matthew!

                    Another racing movie that I adore is Casey’s Shadow, which is actually the story of Randy Romero’s family (with liberties taken). It involves an orphaned foal and the All-American Futurity …..it’s really wonderful

              • Paula Higgins says:

                I liked Bedknobs and Broomsticks and I was 18.

                • Betsy says:

                  Paula, honestly I think it’s really underrated…….though actually many of my generation love it as much as I do. It’s a wonderful movie……I didn’t realize until much later that children actually were sent to the countryside during the war to keep them out of harm’s way.

            • Matthew W says:

              Since we’re talking movies from 1971….my favorite was a made for TV movie called “Duel”, made by a nobody named Spielberg……

            • Paula Higgins says:

              It was magnificent, brilliantly acted, accurate, and beautifully produced. Also, terribly sad.

              • Betsy says:

                Just to check, because with the replies the way they are, it’s hard to tell…….Paula, which movie are you referring to? Based on your last description, I assume “Nicholas and Alexandra”?

    • EddieF says:

      Favorite book of 1971: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter Thompson

  14. Bill Dawson says:

    BC News!

    Ain’t Easy will not enter the BC Juvenile Fillies, and her rider, Joel Rosario will now ride Echo Zulu (replacing Ricardo Santana).
    Echo Zulu would probably have been the morning line favorite, even without the defection of Ain’t Easy, but this recent announcement seals the deal. More than likely, her main competition will be Hidden Connection and/or Juju’s Map, IMO.

    • Steve Haskin says:

      Rosario is great, but he’s never ridden her and what has Santana done wrong on her except win 3 races by a total of 17 lengths. And he is Asmussen’s go to rider. Some loyalty.

      • EddieF says:

        Asmussen was 1 for 56 at the Keeneland meet. Santana was 0 for 78. I believe both were shut out on opening day at CD. Maybe both of them need some time off. Has a top trainer EVER had a horrendous meet like that one?

        • Betsy says:

          Santana hasn’t finished in the top 3 in over a week, and one of the races was a 4 horse field.

          So far it doesn’t appear as if there are any other changes. Even the greatest athletes – in any sport – slump, but this is awful, and at the worst time. With Steve, a trainer’s slump to me is more about his horses or bad luck – Steve didn’t forget to train. Jocks ? Definitely there must be some bad luck involved, but much more poor performances or lack of confidence. Santana has handled Max brilliantly, but man, I need him to break out of this

          • EddieF says:

            Yeah, it’s been awful. He had some winners the past month at Belmont and other tracks, but Keeneland was where he had his best horses. What you said in the first sentence is kinda hilarious … but not for Santana. 🙁

            • EddieF says:

              I was referring to Asmussen about having winners at other tracks, though I assume that Santana had winners elsewhere.

            • Betsy says:

              No, and I feel really sorry for him because he’s a terrific rider. I think he just has to ride his way out of it, but hopefully he won’t be losing mounts – then it turns into a vicious circle. One great ride, in any race, and I think that’s all he needs.

      • Bill Dawson says:

        I’m wondering if this was the owner’s decision, or if Asmussen acted on his own. Either way, this could come back and bite the connections. In addition, it makes you wonder how this will effect the future relationship between Santana and Asmussen.