Secretariat

Most Memorable Finishes 1967 – 1985

There have been many memorable finishes over the past half century, so trying to pick out just a handful is a daunting task, but I am going to continue to tackle this challenge that began with my Seattle Slew/Exceller column in October. The selections here are based on historical significance and the emotional impact they had on me, so call it part historical and part personal. ~ Steve Haskin

Most Memorable Finishes 1967 – 1985

By Steve Haskin

John Henry and The Bart – 1981 Arlington Million

 

When it comes to memorable finishes there is no way I can rank them in any order, so here is my list in chronological order. Part 1 will cover 1967 to 1985 and Part 2 next week will cover 1986 to the present.

1967 Gotham Stakes (Dr. Fager) – When people think of the Damascus – Dr. Fager rivalry the last race that comes to mind is their first meeting in the Gotham Stakes, but that was the race that launched one of the most intense rivalries in racing history and the only race in which these two champions actually were close at the finish. Damascus was coming off an allowance victory at Pimlico and impressive score in the Bay Shore Stakes, while Dr. Fager was making his first start of the year. Bill Shoemaker had been the rider of both horses, but following a narrow defeat in the Champagne Stakes Dr. Fager’s trainer John Nerud felt Shoemaker was too intimidated by the big rugged and strong-willed colt and replaced him with the stronger and more aggressive Manny Ycaza. Going a flat mile, Damascus had the advantage breaking from the far outside 9 post with Dr. Fager in post 5. Damascus, who was extremely quick out of the gate before taking himself back, broke on top and was head and head briefly with the 50-1 shot Royal Malabar before the latter spurted to a three-length lead. Ycaza was able to steer Dr. Fager to the outside of Damascus and put him in a perfect stalking position all the way around the far turn. The pair made their run at Royal Malabar and easily put him away at the quarter pole and the battle was on. With Dr. Fager in the more advantageous outside position, the two matched strides the entire length of the stretch and when Ycaza saw he was unable to shake free of Damascus he went to the whip twice, but Dr. Fager hated to be whipped and threw his tail up in defiance both times. When Ycaza put the whip away and went to a hand-ride, Dr. Fager gave a final surge nearing the wire to win by a half-length. Shoemaker took the blame for the defeat and told Damascus’ trainer Frank Whiteley that Dr. Fager would never again beat Damascus as long as he was on him. Dr. Fager and Damascus would go on to become two of the all-time greats, with both taking home Horse of the Year honors and being elected to the Hall of Fame. Between them they won eight championships, carried weights of 134 pounds and higher to victory and set track records that have not been broken in 55 years. And it all began in the Gotham.

1968 United Nations Handicap (Dr. Fager) – The year 1968 looked like a battle to the wire for Horse of the Year honors between the defending champion Damascus and his archrival Dr. Fager, with the pair splitting victories in memorable runnings of the Suburban and Brooklyn Handicaps. The logical showdown looked to be the Woodward Stakes, but Dr. Fager’s trainer John Nerud had a more important goal in mind other than championships, which was to show the racing world that his horse could do anything. So, following the Doc’s world-record romp in the Washington Park Handicap under 134 pounds, Nerud opted to change course and run the colt on the grass for the first time against the best turf horses in the country in the United Nations Handicap, in which he would again have to carry 134 pounds and give substantial weight to the likes of future Horse of the Year and Hall of Famer Fort Marcy and Australian superstar Tobin Bronze. An earlier rain had begun to dry out, but left the course wet and slippery. As a result, Dr. Fager was slipping and sliding the entire race, losing the lead three times to Advocator, who was in receipt of 22 pounds. Every time Dr. Fager gave up the lead he battled back to regain it. When Advocator re-took the lead inside the eighth pole he looked like a sure winner, but Dr. Fager dug deep and again stuck his head back in front. Advocator gave one last thrust nearing the wire, but this time Dr. Fager would not be denied. He refused to give up the lead when it counted, winning by a neck. By defeating the nation’s top grass horses, Dr. Fager became the first and still the only horse to ever win four championships in one year – Sprinter, Handicap Horse, Grass Horse, and Horse of the Year.

1969 Vosburgh Handicap (Ta Wee) – If you thought Dr. Fager’s U.N. Handicap finish was exciting you should have seen his little sister Ta Wee’s victory in the Vosburgh Handicap the following year. It must be noted that this was the only time in history a major race designed mainly for males had three future Hall of Fame fillies in the field. In addition to the swift 3-year-old Ta Wee you had that year’s Filly Triple Crown and Alabama winner Shuvee, future back-to-back winner of The Jockey Club Gold Cup, and the defending female handicap champion Gamely, back-to-back winner of the Diana and Beldame and runner-up to Dr. Fager in the Californian Stakes and to Nodouble in the Santa Anita Handicap. This turned out to be the wildest cavalry charge anyone could remember. With most of the entire 11-horse field storming down the stretch with a chance to win, it was a dogged Ta Wee turning back all challenges to win by a head, with Rising Market and Plucky Lucky dead-heating for second, a half-length ahead of Jaikyl, who was a head in front of the speedy King Emperor. Shuvee and Gamely came flying too late, with Shuvee finishing sixth, beaten only 1 3/4 lengths, and Gamely finishing eighth, beaten 2 1/2 lengths. Ta Wee’s victory was all the more impressive as she battled head and head on the lead the whole way though blazing fractions of :44 2/5 and 1:08 3/5 and stopping the teletimer in 1:21 3/5.

1972 Hollywood Derby (Riva Ridge) – The only historical significance of this race is that it was the first of several mistakes made by Riva’s connections that could very well have cost the Kentucky Derby and Belmont winner a championship. And it showed how much grit and determination the colt had — so much so that it likely gutted him for the rest of the year and prevented him from winning another race. It was decided following the Belmont Stakes, which Riva had won by seven lengths, to not only run him back in three weeks, but ship him cross country for the 1 1/4-mile Hollywood Derby, where he would have to carry topweight of 129 pounds against the best 3-year-olds in California. Five years later we would see what that same decision did to Seattle Slew, who was beaten 16 lengths at Hollywood Park for his first career defeat. Riva Ridge not only won, he hung on tenaciously to defeat the top-class Bicker, who was getting 15 pounds, Finalista, and eventual world-record holder Quack. Riva refused to be beaten, winning by a neck with the third and fourth-place finishers each separated by a half-length in 1:59 3/5. The race took so much out of Riva Ridge he didn’t even come close to winning another race the rest of the year, losing his remaining five starts by an average margin of 14 3/4 lengths. Given a well-deserved six-month vacation he returned the following year and broke or equaled two track records, broke a world record, and was voted Champion Older Male Horse.

1976 Marlboro Cup (Forego) – The mighty Forego has left many indelible images over the course of his remarkable career, but none stands out more than his iconic victory in the ’76 Marlboro Cup. Turned over to trainer Frank Whiteley at age 6 following the retirement of Sherrill Ward, Forego was a major project for his new conditioner, who had his hands full trying to keep the 17 hands gelding sound after three years of wear and tear on his fragile legs that had been plagued by sesamoid problems and calcium deposits. Whiteley said it was the worst legs he had ever seen on a horse and noted veterinarian Alex Harthill told him, “Frank, you haven’t got a chance with this horse.” It took several hours a day hosing down his legs to keep him racing. But Forego actually peaked at age 6 while carrying staggering weights ranging from 130 pounds to 135, which he carried to victory in the Woodward Handicap, run in a near-track record 1:45 4/5. Then came the 1 1/4-mile Marlboro Cup, in which Forego was burdened with 137 pounds. His main foe was the 3-year-old Honest Pleasure, who he had beaten in the Woodward. But in that race Honest Pleasure set a blazing pace of :45 3/5, 1:09 1/5, and 1:33 2/5. Going 10 furlongs Honest Pleasure would be able to slow the pace down and take control as he had done two races back in the Travers, which he had won by four lengths, shattering the track record by four-fifths of a second. As expected, Honest Pleasure opened a clear lead while slowing down the pace with a :47 2/5 half over a track labeled as sloppy, which Forego never cared for because of his bad legs. In Forego’s only start over a sloppy track he finished third, beaten four lengths. In the Marlboro Cup he dropped back to eighth in the 11-horse field as Honest Pleasure was out there winging on an easy lead. On the far turn, Bill Shoemaker swung Forego to the outside where he liked to run and he began picking off horses. But turning for home, Forego had to go very wide and still had about seven lengths to make up. As usual, he never changed leads in the stretch but still began closing into Honest Pleasure’s lead with every stride. Everyone knew it was going to be a nail-biter at the wire. Forego was relentless and kept coming, despite running over a track he disliked and giving 19 pounds to Honest Pleasure over a track he disliked. The Belmont crowd went wild as Forego hit the wire a nose ahead of Honest Pleasure, missing his own track record by a fifth of a second. That victory nailed down Forego’s third consecutive Horse of the Year title. His owner Martha Gerry said she had no idea if he had won and called it the most exciting race she ever saw.

1978 Belmont Stakes (Affirmed) – I have to admit I was one of the few people who did not see this race live, as I was in England at the time to see the Epsom Derby and attend Royal Ascot. Staying at the home of my good friend and top racing journalist George Ennor, I looked at the Daily Telegraph on Sunday morning and at the bottom of their racing story there was a short graph that read: “In America, Affirmed beat Alydar to win the Triple Crown.” I knew little of the race until I returned home and watched it for the first time and learned I had missed arguably the greatest race of all time. So while it surely was not my favorite or most memorable finish I must include it here after the fact, as it still takes my breath away 44 years later. I had seen all of the previous Affirmed and Alydar showdowns, so I wasn’t surprised how the Belmont turned out. There is no use describing a race the world has seen so many times. What I did take from it was that I was a bit surprised that John Veitch decided to take the blinkers off Alydar after he was again unable to get past Affirmed in the Preakness, but understood his thinking as he no doubt wanted to try something to help Alydar get by his tenacious foe and figured being able to see him might turn the tables just enough. With Affirmed able to set a sluggish pace of :50 and 1:14 everyone knew he would be tough to pass once again. Alydar was forced to hook up with him early and it turned into a match race for the final mile. In the stretch, Alydar, who like Forego never changed leads in the stretch, looked to be slightly the stronger of the two nearing the eighth pole, and although track announcer Chic Anderson bellowed, “And Alydar’s got a lead!” that is still open to debate. Once again, Alydar was not able to get by Affirmed, falling a head short in what is still regarded as the most epic battle of all time and the greatest race I never saw.

1980 Maskette Stakes (Bold ‘n Determined) – This was the ultimate dream field with three future Hall of Famers, as well as the Alabama and Test Stakes winner going a flat mile at Belmont Park, which actually wasn’t the best distance for any of them with the possible exception of Love Sign, who had won that year’s seven-furlong Test Stakes before romping by five lengths in the 1 1/4-mile Alabama. But as strong as Love Sign looked, the three headliners were 3-year-olds Genuine Risk, who had won the Kentucky Derby before running a powerful second in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, in which she had eventful trips in both, and Bold ‘n Determined, who had rattled off victories in the Santa Susana Stakes (now the Santa Anita Oaks), Fantasy Stakes, Kentucky Oaks, Acorn Stakes, and the mile and a half Coaching Club American Oaks, in which she came again to win by a head after dropping back to third at the eighth pole. Only a head defeat in the Mother Goose Stakes prevented her from sweeping NYRA’s Filly Triple Crown. The third star was the 4-year-old Davona Dale, who the year before became the first filly to sweep both Triple Crowns for fillies – the aforementioned and more recognized NYRA Triple Crown comprised of the Acorn, Mother Goose, and CCA Oaks, and the more traditional and less recognized Triple Crown made up of the Kentucky Oaks, Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, and CCA Oaks to coincide with the male Triple Crown. She was late getting started at 4, but was coming off a victory in the seven-furlong Ballerina Stakes. It turned into a two-horse race, as Love Sign tired and Davona Dale wasn’t herself and never threatened in what was to be the final ace of her career. That left the 6-5 favorite Genuine Risk and Bold ‘n Determined, a huge overlay at 10-1, to battle it out down the stretch. Genuine Risk, sitting in fourth, five lengths off the pace, made her usual big run and stuck her head in front of Bold ‘n Determined at the eighth. But the latter lived up to her name by battling back, with the two great fillies fighting it out to the wire while pulling away from the rest of the field. It was a bob either way, but the decision went to Bold ‘n Determined by a nose. It was a heart-throbbing finish between two superstars that sadly has gotten lost over the years.

1981 Arlington Million (John Henry) – If you want to know how close the finish of the inaugural Arlington Million was, all you had to do was be watching on NBC after John Henry and longshot The Bart hit the wire together and saw several minutes later The Bart’s name posted on the screen as the unofficial winner. But then the numbers went up on the tote board showing that John Henry was the winner. The Arlington Million, America’s first million dollar race, was off and running, and to commemorate the race that got it all started, a statue was erected above the paddock of the finish, with John Henry and The Bart both lunging at the wire. What people weren’t aware of was that 10 days before the race John Henry, the headliner of this great international event, had returned from a gallop noticeably off in his left front foreleg, which was extremely sensitive to the touch. X-rays revealed no fracture and cortisone was injected into his ligament along with Depo-Medrol to treat the pain and swelling. The following morning John Henry was walking perfectly and all the sensitivity was gone. All trainer Ron McAnally needed was a good firm turf course. But as he and his wife Debbie were set to leave California they were informed that a heavy rain had turned the course soft. McAnally took it slow with John, just galloping him for a couple of days to see how the leg progressed. Soon it was as if the injury never happened. John was ready to go. But the soft turf course worried McAnally. This was to be a tough test with the previous year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe runner-up Argument entered along with the previous two French Oaks winners Mrs. Penny and Madam Gay, who had also finished second in that year’s English Oaks. No one paid much attention to The Bart at 40-1. Going by the stands the first time, McAnally could see John was in trouble on the soft going, as there was no rhythm to his stride. His jockey Bill Shoemaker could also feel John wasn’t handling the course, so he just left him alone hoping he would settle and find his best stride. And that’s just what John did passing the half-mile pole. He was back in stride and moving with authority, but still had six lengths to make up. The Bart took the lead and kicked for home. John Henry closed in, but The Bart was not coming back to him, so John had to dig deep. The two hit the wire together with John’s number finally going up. He was now a bona fide superstar and the Arlington Million was to become one of America’s most sought after prizes.

1985 Jersey Derby (Spend a Buck) – This was the race that would change the structure of the Triple Crown thanks to an unheard of bonus instituted by Garden State Park’s new owner Robert Brennan and a new owner like Dennis Diaz who had retired from business at age 38. Brennan had announced that any horse who won the Cherry Hill Mile, Garden State Stakes, Kentucky Derby, and then the 1 1/4-mile Jersey Derby would earn a staggering $2 million bonus. The odds of that happening seemed astronomical, especially considering that the leading 3-year-olds would not be running at Garden State except for a speedball named Spend a Buck, who would romp in the Cherry Hill Mile by 9 1/2 lengths and the Garden State by 10 1/2 lengths in a blazing 1:45 4/5. When he ran his field off their feet in the Kentucky Derby in the third fastest time in the race’s history it set the wheels in motion. Rather than run back in the Preakness, Diaz decided to go for the big bonus in the $1 million Jersey Derby on Memorial Day weekend. With the winner’s share from the race it meant a potential $2.6 million payday for Spend a Buck. That left the Preakness wide open and it was won by the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Tank’s Prospect. With a legitimate contender now for the Belmont, Lukas decided to run a speed horse named Huddle Up in the Jersey Derby to soften up Spend a Buck in case he won and came back in the Belmont. Huddle Up did force Spend a Buck to run a half in :45 2/5 and three-quarters in 1:09 flat. That softened him up for the late charge of Crème Fraiche and El Basco. Spend a Buck looked spent turning into the stretch, but he would run his final quarter on guts alone. Despite staggering home he was able to hold off Crème Fraiche by a neck with El Basco another head back in third. The race knocked him out and he passed the Belmont, which was won by Crème Fraiche. As for the Triple Crown, to prevent this from happening again the three tracks were forced to unite and form Triple Crown Productions. That eventually resulted in sponsorship, major purse hikes for all three races, a $5 million dollar bonus for sweeping the Triple Crown and a $1 million bonus for the horse who competed in all three races and accumulated the most points. Diaz said years later, “It’s really a shame that no one gave Spend a Buck credit for what he did and how he affected the racing industry. They had it all their own way for so many years and he forced their hands. He shook up the business. It took a horse like him and a maverick owner like me to do it. We were just bulls in a china shop and weren’t bound by tradition and indoctrination. Likewise, Spend a Buck’s trainer Cam Gambolati, who himself was only 35 when the colt won the Kentucky Derby, later reflected, “People don’t remember him as the horse who unified the Triple Crown and was responsible for the creation of Triple Crown Productions. We created a great thing.”

Next week we will cover 1986 to the present and more memorable and historical finishes.

Racing historian, author, and award-winning retired journalist for the Daily Racing Form and The Blood-Horse, Steve Haskin was inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame’s Media Roll of Honor in 2016. Known for his racing knowledge and insightful prose, he has been an exclusive contributor to Secretariat.com since 2020.


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72 Responses to “Most Memorable Finishes 1967 – 1985”

  1. Davids says:

    Victory Formation wins the Smarty Jones Stakes in style, remaining undefeated and looks the type that will genuinely relish longer distance. The Belmont Stakes might be more suitable than the Kentucky Derby but they’re both light years away. Dream, dream, dream…

    The New Year starts off with a bang!!

  2. Joanne Spencer says:

    Great article, Steve! Thank you!

  3. Matthew W says:

    Am pretty sure your next list will include a certain race at Monmouth, around 1987.

  4. Tommy G says:

    1976 Marlboro Cup #1 BY FAR. Forego with 137 Lbs ran down Honest Pleasure who himself ran a sub 12 second final furlong. Forego down 5+ lengths ran a sub 11 Second last furlong WITH 137 Lbs!! Think about that!! And I can still feel the grandstand shaking as Forego was closing, and getting up in the last jump. The place was going absolutely crazy!! That picture is framed and in my office.

    • Matthew W says:

      Shoe kept him out wide cuz he didn’t want to get stopped….40 lbs of lead, in his saddlebags, I, too had the picture I called it ” ‘Ol #10″….

      • Matthew W says:

        Seems like all of the great horses ended up with Shoemaker….he couldn’t handle Dr Fager but Shoe fit many great ones.

        • Mike Sekulic says:

          Shoemaker was the best. Charlie Whittingham and John Nerud both thought he was the greatest, and when Bud Delp was asked why he chose Shoemaker to replace Franklin on SPECTACULAR BID, he said, “When you think of jockeys, you think of Shoemaker.”

          To me, Shoemaker and Pincay are, by far, the two best jockeys in history, and it’s about 31 lengths back, to whoever is third.

          • Discopartner says:

            Eddie Arcaro won two triple crowns.

          • Matthew W says:

            Pincay, for me was the best….he had the strength and the soft hands, he could finish and he could milk speed…and he is a gentleman….they Saud he would balloon to 160 lbs, but after retirement he could still make weight, he was and is racing royalty …

  5. Davids says:

    Steve, your nonad group of finishes are extremely memorable although I was surprised you hadn’t included the 1978 Jockey Club Gold Cup. The 1985 Jersey Derby inclusion was a surprise though, I remember thinking at the time as Spend a Buck’s lead was vanishing quickly what a foolish decision it was to bypass the Preakness Stakes especially as it appeared Spend a Buck had a good chance of losing – it did seem they were going to be punished for accepting audacious greed over the Classic norm of attempting the Preakness challenge.

    Best wishes for the New Year to everyone. Hopefully, peace will replace conflict the world over.

  6. Lynda King says:

    Just dropping by to wish Steve, his beautiful family and everyone who follows this site a joyous, prosperous, healthy and happy 2023.
    Looking forward to the columns from Steve on the run up to the Derby and reading everyone’s thoughts and comments.
    In my opinion, you are all a fantastic and knowledgeable group of horse racing fans and I find myself invariably learning something new each time I come up to this site!

  7. Davids says:

    Although I’ve lost interest in steeplechases these days, one of the ‘most memorable finishes’ ever was the 1973 Grand National when Crisp, carrying a staggering 12 stone, gets pipped at the finish line by Red Rum who was carrying 23 pounds less, at Aintree Racecourse near Liverpool, England. This, after over 30 fences and a distance of approximately 4 miles 3½ furlongs was one of the most unfair results I’ve experienced.

    Then, to confirm the unfair result, Crisp and Red Rum had a match race at level weights in Doncaster. With the 23 pound weight impost removed, Crisp sailed home by eight lengths.

    Watch the 1973 Grand National on YouTube, it’s an unbelievable race.

    • Sarah Rowe says:

      It’s called handicapping. If Crisp was, in fact, the more accomplished horse at the time than Red Rum, he “earned” that weight disadvantage. Back in the seventies, racing secretaries still rewarded winning horses with lead in their saddlebags. A horse’s ability to overcome a weight disadvantage against good competition, or lose very well as did Crisp, became part of how his/her legacy as a great horse. Look at what Haskin wrote about Forego! Nowadays, fewer and fewer good horses run in handicaps, because they’re either retired young or found a softer race at a different track.

      • Davids says:

        There’s a huge difference in carrying an extra 23 pond weight in a 30 fence, 4 mile and 3 furlong steeplechase than an 8 – 12 furlong flat race handicap. Watch the race, Crisp is wandering all over the track in the final 2 furlongs while the lighter weighted Red Rum catches him at the finish.

        They stopped weighing horses 12 stone in the Grand National shortly after this race.

        • DAVIDS, watched the race on YOUTUBE and the ending is almost too hard to watch… the extra weight definitely took its toll. I am not a real fan of handicap but if it is going to be done IMO the difference in weight should never be more than ten pounds. Thanks for mentioning this race…it was a gallant effort by Crisp under the circumstances.

          • Davids says:

            Yes, Downthestretch, that’s exactly how I felt as well, your heart just wants to help Crisp over the line. The effort by Crisp was even more extraordinary because he was not not a 4 mile chaser either, his best distance was between 2 to 3 miles.

            Same, handicap races never inspired me. I understand that serious punters enjoyed the challenge in beating the bookmakers but I just felt for the better horse having to carry extra weight because their talent was superior. They don’t handicap the world’s best human athletes to even a race/game to win gold medals etc.

            • Yes so true, but I guess it is a double edge sword as alot of trainers avoid facing the best at equal weight they are always looking for some kind of advantage.

              • Davids says:

                Spot on, Downthestretch. In the US, there is always ‘another race of similar value’ available for trainers to avoid the toughest competition. In Europe, Australia, New Zealand et al the better horses are forced to face each more often.

  8. Mike Sekulic says:

    Steve, I always love your fond recollections of the great DR. FAGER and DAMASCUS! Those are absolutely two of the greatest horses in history, way near the top of the list!

  9. Mike Sekulic says:

    BOLD ‘N DETERMINED was a fabulous filly, as was GENUINE RISK, and that field was stellar (DAVONA DALE and LOVE SIGN). The top two put on quite a battle, and it was a bit of a shame that someone had to lose!

  10. Roberta Greevey says:

    Steve, thanks so much for the look back at those memorable finishes. You inspired me to watch as many of them as I could find on YouTube. It was nostalgic and exciting. One race I would add is the first BC Classic in 1984, with Wild Again leading gate to wire and holding off Slew O’ Gold and the masked Gate Dancer. What a way to begin what is now the 39-year-old Breeders’ Cup.

    • Davids says:

      Roberta, are you going to Gulfstream Park on New Year’s Day for the Mucho Macho Man Stakes? There’s a handful of colts that might progress onwards to the Derby should they perform well enough. Fun times at Gulfstream and Tampa Bay for the next 3 months.

      • Roberta Greevey says:

        Davids,

        If I can get out of bed, I will be there. Legacy Isle is a fine young racehorse that’s getting a great early education breaking from post 1. Ha! Gulfstream has a nice card tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing Simplification. I hope he can return to previous form in the Florida sunshine.

        • Davids says:

          Good luck, Roberta. I’m looking forward to both Saturday and Sunday’s cards at Gulfstream Park, the coverage from the website is always good. I’m watching out to see how Laver performs with an eye on longer distances, the draw is not too favorable but Tyler Gaffalione is a wizard at Gulfstream. It’s been a pleasure watching him improve over the years, a wonderful ambassador for the sport.

          • Roberta Greevey says:

            It was a beautiful day at GP. Do you own a farm? Bet it on Legacy Isle in the MMM Stakes. Ha ha! I think Laver’s future (as indicated by his pedigree) may be turf racing, or tennis!

            • Davids says:

              Ha ha!! Be careful with putting up your house on Legacy Isle, Roberta, Laver might just ‘grand slam’ Legacy Isle as he aces his way to a smash(ing) win in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes. Yes, the ‘backhand’ complement that Laver could be better on turf is another option to ‘approach’ should he ‘double fault’ on the dirt. Good luck.

              • Roberta Greevey says:

                Smash!

                • Davids says:

                  Well done, Roberta. Game, set, match this time but at longer distances Laver looks superior.

                  • Roberta Greevey says:

                    I’m so disappointed with the DQ of Legacy Isle, though it was the right call. My friends bet on him based on my recommendation. One friend bet across the board, so it wasn’t a total loss. Legacy Isle was laboring mightily in late stretch. But he gutted it out. I’ll bet that Laver will be seen next in a turf race. 😉

                    • Davids says:

                      Bad luck, Roberta. It was a shame really, as Legacy Isle tried his heart out. Yes, Laver will probably be bettered suited to the turf but you have to see how they’ll go on the dirt should they show talent.

                      I wonder if Victory Formation will be visiting Gulfstream Park in the near future?

    • Steve haskin says:

      I had that race written down and skipped over it. I might include it and one other earlier race I left out.

      • Davids says:

        Steve, you never know with the Mucho Macho Stakes on it’s value later on but it’s record is as good as the Jerome Stakes. There’s a handful in there that could impact later on so the race is worth looking at just as a prep for the other Gulfstream Park pointed prep races later on if nothing else.

      • Bill Dawson says:

        Hi Steve

        In addition to the MMM Stakes, I’ll be taking a close look at the 6 furlong Limehouse Stakes on GP’s New Year’s Day card.
        It’s a short field of six colts, three of which are on my KD watch list. Those three colts are; Super Chow, Two of a Kind and
        X Y Point.
        On today’s Santa Anita card, the one mile Eddie Logan Stakes (turf), the speedy Speed Boat Beach at 5/2, goes up against
        Nagirroc at 9/5. I’ll be shocked if Speed Boat Beach is not the favorite when the gates open.

        • Davids says:

          Super Chow and X Y Point are interesting colts. I’m not confident that 10 furlongs is within their reach but you never know. Super Chow could become a very good miler down the track, classy type. Good luck.

          • Bill Dawson says:

            Hey Davids

            Just reflecting on X Y Point’s pedigree, I’m fairly confident that 10 furlongs is definitely within his reach.
            His sire line has three graded winners at 10 furlongs, Mineshaft, A.P. Indy and Seattle Slew.
            On his dam side, there’s Pleasant Colony (sire of his 2nd dam) and Secretariat, His Majesty and Ribot.
            Bottom line, there’s plenty of class and stamina on both sides of his pedigree, IMO.
            If you give any credence to the x-factor large heart gene concept, Super Chow could very well be a carrier of that gene.
            Time will tell if he can be competitive over the 10 furlong distance.

            • Davids says:

              Bill, I was thinking of the distance aptitude of Impossible Time, same family as X Y Point. Impossible Time, arguably, has stronger stamina credentials than X Y Point but whose pet distance was a mile. Nonetheless, we’re just guessing but that’s the fun in racing. Sometimes you’re a genius and sometimes…

        • Bill Dawson says:

          Speed Boat Beach scratched out of the Eddie Logan, I’d like to know why?

  11. Lynda King says:

    Great stories Steve. Thanks for the one about Riva Ridge. In ways he is a forgotten horse I think. So much heart and those endearing floppy ears.

    • SJ says:

      Lynda. Riva was much more endearing than just his floppy ears. He will always be remembered by those, like you, who truly appreciated him. The Hollywood Derby did take its toll, and his downward spiral was culminated by a near disaster in the Washington D.C. International. It is well documented of his disdain for an off track, so you can imagine him on a boggy turf that day at Laurel. He bobbled dramatically, and the two immediately behind him did, in fact, fall. Ms. Chenery immediately realized the decision to run, and not scratch, could have been career ending, it not worse.
      Riva’s 4 year old campaign was shaped by those late season choices. In spite of the demands and pressure of Secretariat’s Triple Crown season, Ms. Chenery always considered Riva Ridge a high priority that year. For obvious reasons.
      I always enjoy your contributions on here, and wish you and all posters a happy, healthy 2023!

  12. Hey Asking Haskin today is CHUCKS Birthday

  13. Steve. 18 weeks to the Kentucky Derby. Almost time for Derby Dozen And Knocking on the Door Great work. Nobody puts as much time into Derby than you

  14. Steve. 18 weeks to the Kentucky Derby. Almost time for Derby Dozen And Knocking on the Door Great work. Nobody puts as much time into Derby than you

  15. I also missed high 5 in Authentic Kentucky Derby $75,000. I liked 2/10/16/17/18. I. Bet and left the track the 10 Thousand Words was a late scratch. It. Came in 18-17-9-16-2. I been reading all your derby dozens for a out 5 years in April. Of 2020 you said the 9 horse Mr Big News could run all fricking DAY. The 17 horse Tiz The Law just ran one mile and a quarter one month earlier than that delayed China Virus. Kentucky Derby
    In the Travers

  16. Steve I had 3-10 with all with 3-10 with all in 2022 Kentucky Derby $612 I cancelled it on Derby day bought on Friday Rich Strike was playable shit he won by 17 lengths at CD and good breeding I did not back it up 3/10 EBox and all 3 tris 3/10 w all w. All. 3/10 w all w 3/10 and ALL w 3/10 w 3/10. Those 5 bets cost $184. The biggest . Miss of my life. super paid 321,500. To 46 people on the planet. I know this from going to equibase full chart payouts money in super pool divided. By payout

  17. Steve, what a Great List you have compiled here. 2 with Dr Fager (now one of my all time favorite horse’s and BTW Steve what a Great book you wrote on him. What a character he was and loved his paddock routine from his stall what a smarty pants !!!) The first Arlington Million with John Henry ( a horse that knew he was in a race ). And the epic Alydar / Affirmed Belmont.

    I would like to add 3 other races to this list one a Triple Crown race, the 1989 Preakness of Sunday Silence / Easy Goer and 2 Breeder’s Cup distaff races. I was in Las Vegas few weeks after that Preakness and was in the MGM sports book. I struck up a conversation with the sports book manager and we got to talking about that race and he said in the over 30 years he had been in Vegas he said he had never heard a more thunderous screaming coming from a Sports Book than had happen that day with that stretch duel it truly an amazing finish. Of the distaff races the first would be the 1988 Distaff with Winning Colors and Personal Ensign a tremendous effort by both ( still amazed that PE was able to catch WC). And the 2016 Distaff between Beholder and Songbird. This one I wish would have ended up in a dead heat (Beholder took the honors ) I loved both fillies but must admit my money was on Beholder. It was a thrilling stretch duel.

    On another note, did Baffert have quite a day at Santa Anita yesterday !!!… 5 wins with super performances by Country Grammar and Taiba. He has to hope and pray his horses stay healthy for 2023. He could have SUPER year for a trainer.

    Have a Great New Year’s everyone !!!

    • OOOOPPPSSS!!! Should have read your title of your article a little closer too anxious to read it !!!! Got ahead of myself !!! Sorry !!!!

      • Steve, again as i might have stole some of your “thunder” from your next installment but I am sure you will give us as the late Paul Harvey would say “The Rest of the Story”. But one race I would like to add to the era (though I missed it by one year) you have written about here would have to be the 1966 San Juan Capistrano the last race the late great Johnny Longden ever rode and it was a “Thrilla”. It was very emotional day and it was televised in the Los Angeles area and I remember watching it. He was on a horse named “George Royal” a horse he had ridden and won with several times. The stretch drive couldn’t have been better had it been written for a Hollywood script. With Longden and Royal battling all down the stretch and George Royal finding just a little bit more to get him across first at the finish line. I was rooting and screaming so hard for the both of them !!!.

        If you go to YOUTUBE and type in the San Juan Capistrano race history they have it as part of a documentary of that for that race.

  18. John Goggin says:

    1984 BC Classic at Holly Park (Wild Again, Slew O’ Gold, Gate Dancer) Pat Day, Angel Corero and Pincay all trying to balance their horses and not lean into each other… a true classic.

  19. Mike M Sekulic says:

    You picked some really exciting races for this column! I remember watching FOREGO’s Marlboro Cup, and JOHN HENRY’s Arlington Million, on television, rooting for both of them, and thinking neither one would get there! They both managed to pull it off though!

    Two of my favorite exciting photo-finishes took place in 1973, when COUGAR II won the Santa Anita Handicap by a nose over KENNEDY ROAD, and then later in the year KENNEDY ROAD held on over QUACK to win the Hollywood Gold Cup!

  20. Matthew W says:

    Terrific list, Steve! Ths Inaugural Arlington Million is available, the entire broadcast, and they all thought The Bart won! Also, the (British?) announcer got into a heated discussion with Madam Gay’s trainer, about Lester Piggott’s (6 lbs) overweight, the announcer repeatedly mentioning it! 1980 Maskette a throwdown for the ages! Belmont’s Affirmed, I do wonder, though ….was Pincay better for Affirmed? .. was Affirmed like Taiba, needing a strong rider?…..1972 Hollywood Derby Quack’s race to lose, and Riva does it, in the heat! Earl Scheib, the discount auto painter owned Bicker, who was coming late…Quack hung and skinny Finalista, the Caliente horse hung, as well, to the gallant Riva Ridge ….

    Out west I can cite a few……

    1972 San Fernando, Autobiography, Triple Bend, Unconscious, Good Counsel, His Majesty …..separated by one neck…..

    1972 Santa Margarita— Turkish Trousers, Typecast, Convenience, Manta, Street Dancer all gr1 winners multiple times—within 2 lenghhs…lengths….

    And (two) marathon throw downs, around 1975 …Astray vs LA Zanzara, both times Charlie’s grey filly winning, from far back in photo finishes!

    • Matt W the answer to your Pincay on Affirmed is a resounding … YES !!! Cauthen was in such a slump that he could have been on Pegasus and would have found a way to lose. Laz definitely made the right move to put the Pincay on him. Smith definitely made the right decisions with Taiba yesterday but Baffert gave him a horse that was ready to run.

    • John Goggin says:

      Matthew W., do you remember the match race between Typecast and Convenience at Holly Park?

      • Matthew W says:

        I certainly do! Shoe took Typecast— a confirmed closer….out with Convenience, and Jerry Lambert…at the half mile pole Shoe gives Typecast “a breather”, they get three lengths behind, then they rallied inside, getting beat a neck—-7 days later Typecast beats Cougar, in the Hollywood Turf Invitational…

  21. Kenny says:

    Thank you Steve. I had no idea that Shoemaker was taken off Dr, Fager or if I did I have forgotten. Fascinating information.
    My favorite of the above races was the 1978 Belmont because my dad watched it with me on Tv. He loved,the triple crown races and was upset with Spend a Buck’s owner although he didn’t blame him for going for the money. Thank you Steve for jogging my memories with your great articles. Happy New Year to you, your family and all of your followers.

  22. Lynda King says:

    Code of Honor euthanized, colic.

  23. Ms Blacktype says:

    What a Christmas/Hanukkah treat! I intend to savor your words and then rewatch as many of these races as I can. The only version of the ’67 Gotham I could find was super grainy and lo res, but even early in their 3YO years, Dr. F and Damascus were already great horses. The tape included all four of the races where they met, and at the end of it I was in tears. What an emotional catharsis. Thank you, Steve.