Tag Archives: Jim Gaffney

Plenty to be Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving!

With all of the craziness in racing, from ADW controversies to breakdowns to auction slumps, it’s good to think about the good things on a day like today.  Also, a list is an easy way to blog on a holiday… now before I get angry e-mails from family & friends, this is just a list of thoroughbred-related things I am thankful for.  I won’t be listing “breakdown-free Breeders’ Cup” at the family dinner tonight!

1) CURLIN!  Though he did not start out as my favorite horse, he has raced and won his way into my heart.  Thanks to sportsman Jess Jackson (and a little help from the jailed part-owners) Curlin got to prove himself over and over again as an older horse.  He broke a legendary earnings record, raced on all surfaces and met all comers.  His retirement ceremony at Churchill on Saturday will mark the end of an extraordinary career.  Thanks for the ride, Curlin!

2) SAUHBR!  Thanks to The Borderland Totalisator (whose blog has mysteriously vanished, humm…) for an awesome summer of handicapping.  The first of many victories in the game, I hope.  I also hope BT gets back online, because he was a great competitor and gracious in defeat.  Thanks!

3) Larry Jones!  Trainer of the ill-fated Eight Belles handled the ultimate tragedy with grace and compassion.  When nutty PETA accused him of all sorts of horrific abuses, his level-headed replies revealed the activists for the slime they really were.  Amid the turmoil, he sent the filly Proud Spell out for an amazing season, as well as the sprinter Kodiak Kowboy. 

4) Breakdown-Free Breeders’ Cup!  Despite all of the questions surrounding the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita this year, the track was successful in its ultimate mission: an injury-free Championship.  Every horse, every race, on poly or turf, came home sound.  This is the first time in several years that no horse was severely injured.  The track also levelled the playing field for the Euro contingent, which is always nice in a so-called “world championship” series.

5) JIM GAFFNEY!  Exercise rider for the Superhorse Secretariat and a close personal friend of this blogger, Mr. Gaffney has been a joy and privelege to know.  I have attended 2 KY Derbies with the man and his lovely wife, Mary, and have gained so much more knowledge of the racing business from him.  Thanks Jim!

6) TVG!  Not a day goes by that I don’t flip channels to TVG.  I love love love watching live racing with the hosts Todd Schrupp and Matt Carothers.  They are an irreverent bunch and their picks are pretty good, too.  I have learned a lot about handicapping watching TVG and am eternally thankful for the first all-racing channel.  Plus, I won an Eclipse Awards official program from them back in January.  Schwag always keeps my attention!

7) At The Races with Steve Byk on SIRIUS!  Every day I listen as Steve chats with the top names in racing, does a little handicapping, and has a good-old time talking to regular Joe horseplayers.  His show is a blessing for a sport that gets so little coverage by the MSM, and when it does, it’s usually dumbed-down *cough*ESPN*cough*  From ATTR, I have learned how top trainers condition their horses (pre-Derby shows) and have gotten a greater appreciation for the Pick 4 ticket and Super High 5 ticket.  Bob Baffert before the Breeders’ Cup was a big treat, too!  Thanks Steve!

8) MY LITTLE CONNOR!  This horse is the best little allowance horse in the world.  I hope he comes back to Oaklawn next year. 

Next up, Santa better be reading my Christmas list!

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Filed under Jim Gaffney, lists, rants, SAUHBR

GAWKED: BOURBON COUNTY SECRETARIAT FESTIVAL 2008

After 35 years, the spirit of Secretariat still gallops strong through the hearts of racing fans, as evidenced by the turnout at the first Bourbon Co. Secretariat Festival last Saturday.  The line for the autograph session with Penny Chenery wrapped around the exhibition building, and tours of Claiborne Farm, where Secretariat lived after his retirement from racing, were full for every scheduled half-hour.  For the Secretariat Look-Alike contest, 19 big, red (and sometimes cosmetically-enhanced) equine tribute artists vied for the $3000 prize.  All this and I didn’t even get a single shot of the famous bourbon!
Penny Tweedy, owner of Secretariat, poses with Mom and me.

Penny Chenery, owner of Secretariat, poses with Mom and me.

 

Wannabe Secretariats line up for the Look-Alike Contest

Wannabe Secretariats line up for the Look-Alike Contest

 

Each contestant was evaluated on many points, including the trademark Big Red Butt

Junk in the trunk: Each contestant was evaluated on many points, including the trademark "Big Red Butt"

Champion Secretariat Tribute Artist, TROLLEY BOY.  The 4 year old thoroughbred stallion was the first contestant to enter the arena and was the only one who needed no painted-on enhancement to his markings.

Champion Secretariat Tribute Artist, TROLLEY BOY. The 4 year old thoroughbred stallion was the first contestant to enter the arena and was the only one who needed no painted-on enhancement to his markings.

 

This pic reminds me of that shot of Sec striding onto the track for the Belmont.

This pic reminds me of that shot of Sec striding onto the track for the Belmont.

Judge Jim Gaffney and Sandra White, founder of the Center for Women in Racing & chairperson for the Secretariat Festival congratulate Trolley Boy.

Judge Jim Gaffney and Sandra White, founder of the Center for Women in Racing & chairperson for the Secretariat Festival congratulate Trolley Boy.

 

Mary McKinley & SHREKRETARIAT

Mary McKinley & SHREKRETARIAT

A super fan of Super Red

A super fan of Super Red

 

Secretariat looks watches over Jim Gaffney and Penny Chenery at the autograph booth.

Secretariat watches over Jim Gaffney and Penny Chenery at the autograph booth.

You could buy this barrel, handpainted by a local Paris artist, in the silent auction.  I wonder if the bourbon is included?

You could buy this barrel, handpainted by a local Paris artist, in the silent auction. I wonder if the bourbon is included?

This booth was brimming with authentic racing memorabilia.  Those are actual saddlecloths worn by such greats as Ginger Punch, Intercontinental and FOrest Danger.  Sadly, I left my Grade-1 saddlecloth money back at home.

This booth was brimming with authentic racing memorabilia. Those are actual saddlecloths worn by such greats as Ginger Punch, Intercontinental and FOrest Danger. Sadly, I left my "Grade-1 saddlecloth" money back at home.

Among the activites during the day were hours of mounted pony club games in the arena.

Among the activites during the day were hours of mounted pony club games in the arena.

No Nerf balls here.  In this game, riders had to spear balloons with sticks.

No Nerf balls here. In this game, riders had to spear balloons with sticks.

This is what 31 Lengths looks like in orange cones.

This is what 31 Lengths looks like in orange cones.

 

Big Reds Babes

Big Red's Babes

I could go on for even more pages, but instead, I’ll just send you to my photobucket album here!

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Filed under Bourbon County Secretariat Festival, Claiborne Farm, Infield Trips, Jim Gaffney, photos, Secretariat

Infield at Claiborne Farm

Thanks to the McKinley Connection, I got an incredible tour of Claiborne Farm after the backside excursion last Friday.  A short but scenic drive up the road to Paris brought us all to Claiborne’s office, where stallion groom Tony Battaglia waited to show us around.  Battaglia works with Eddington and During.  In 1976, he trained Boldson for the Kentucky Derby (won by another bold horse, Bold Forbes).  He had a lot of great stories about the stallions and Claiborne’s history, and he was quite impressed with my knowledge of racing trivia!

This is where it all happens at Claiborne -- the breeding shed.  The black walls and lack of windows remind me of certain gentlemens clubs here in Memphis.

This is where it all happens at Claiborne -- the breeding shed. The black walls and lack of windows remind me of certain gentlemen's clubs here in Memphis.

Jim and Tony Battaglia outside of Secretariats former stall.  Bold Ruler, Unbridled and Easy Goer also occupied the stall now used by multiple graded stakes winner Eddington.

Jim and Tony Battaglia outside of Secretariat's former stall. Bold Ruler, Unbridled and Easy Goer also occupied the stall now used by multiple graded stakes winner Eddington.

Tony makes a point about Eddingtons career and bloodlines.

Tony makes a point about Eddington's career and bloodlines.

Eddington is over 17 hands tall, as Tony demonstrates for Jim.

Eddington is over 17 hands tall, as Tony demonstrates for Jim.

Jim says he could saddle up right now!

Jim says he could saddle up right now!

Eddingtons handsome blazed face.

Eddington's handsome blazed face.

Claibornes leading sire, PULPIT, mugs for the camera and begs for peppermints!

Claiborne's leading sire, PULPIT, mugs for the camera and begs for peppermints!

HORSE CHESTNUT, 1998 South African Triple Crown winner, and my favorite Secretariat look-alike!

HORSE CHESTNUT, 1998 South African Triple Crown winner, and my favorite Secretariat look-alike!

Jim Gaffney and Candice aka Filly aka The Infield Blogger

Jim Gaffney and Candice aka "Filly" aka "The Infield Blogger"

Here Lies the Greatest Racehorse WHo Ever Lived, Who Had the Heart of Three Horses in One.

Here Lies the Greatest Racehorse WHo Ever Lived, Who Had the Heart of Three Horses in One.

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Filed under Claiborne Farm, Infield Trips, Jim Gaffney, live blogging, Secretariat

Infield on the Backside

Morning at the clockers stand.

Morning at the clockers' stand.

Despite the miraculous nature of modern technology and hour of uploading and formatting, the previous entry was still FUBAR.  Here are some photos from my visit to the Thoroughbred Center in Lexington last Friday morning.

Mary Gaffney, Mary McKinley, Jim Gaffney and Karen Curtis.

Gaffney and Girls: Mary Gaffney, Mary McKinley, Jim Gaffney and Karen Curtis.

 

Horses on track for their workouts at the Thoroughbred Center.

Horses on track for their workouts at the Thoroughbred Center.

The facilitys barns gleam in morning sunlight as a trio work in company.

The facility's barns gleam in morning sunlight as a trio work in company.

McKinleys horse, MO TERMS, sporting red blinkers.

McKinley's horse, MO TERMS, sporting red blinkers.

 

Another shot of Mo Terms, 3yo gelding by Private Terms out of the Chief Honcho mare Moroncho

Another shot of Mo Terms, 3yo gelding by Private Terms out of the Chief Honcho mare Moroncho

You can see the competitive fire in his eye

You can see the competitive fire in his eye

Mo was race-fit and pulling on his rider the whole way around the track, and stuck his head in front at the end of the work.

Mo was race-fit and pulling on his rider the whole way around the track, and stuck his head in front at the end of the work.

JIGGLIN, 5yo mare owned and trained by Scott Moran

JIGGLIN, 5yo mare owned and trained by Scott Moran

JIGGLIN,  Pryamid Peak x Busty, by Fuzzbuster

JIGGLIN, Pryamid Peak x Busty, by Fuzzbuster

At The Wire

At The Wire

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Filed under Infield Trips, Jim Gaffney, live blogging, photos, Secretariat, Uncategorized

InField Trip Day 1: Walk Like an Insider

Brisk morning at the training track.  Long, low barns glowing white in the sunlight.  Horses galloping past railbirds with stopwatches.  It helps to know someone pretty famous in the horse world to get behind the scenes access like I experienced today.  I haven’t mentioned this before, but I am friends with Jim Gaffney, former exercise rider of Secretariat.  He’s an awesome guy and very, very generous with his time and knowledge.  This morning, I joined him at the Thoroughbred Center and met Mary McKinley, an owner/breeder/trainer from PA with some nice horses by Private Terms.

Mary Gaffney, Mary McKinley, Jim Gaffney and Karen Curtis(my mom!).

Gaffney & Girls and the Thoroughbred Center, from Left: Mary Gaffney, Mary McKinley, Jim Gaffney and Karen Curtis(my mom!).McKinley has 2 horses racing this weekend at Turfway. The one I watched this morning was a near-black 3yo gelding named MO TERMS. The colt was race-fit and pulling on his rider as they took an easy jog in company around the track. MO pulled ahead of the other 2 colts and looked determined to win -- he has had 2 hard luck seconds lately and the consensus on track was that his next one would be his maiden-breaker. 1st race, 1st post on SUnday at TURFWAY, MO TERMS...wise-guy pick!McKinley told us about her yearling colt by Arthur's Ring named SHREKRETARIAT who will be in the look-alike contest tomorrow!MO TERMS (far right) warms up for a jog with two others.

After about an hour and a half at the TB Center, we all packed up and headed for CLaiborne Farm, where a friend of McKinley’s, Tony BAttaglia (no relation to Mike), waited to take us on a quick tour of the stallion complex.
Jim rode Secretariat more than anyone else during the horse’s career, but he never got to see Big Red at stud.  This was only the 2nd time he had been to Claiborne.  Battaglia made us all very welcome and thrilled us with stories of CLaiborne’s greatest stallions. 
BAttaglia grooms Eddington and During, and he brought out the tall red son of Unbridled for us to inspect.
Eddington, Tony Battaglia and Jim
Jim says he could leg up right now...all 17 hands up.

Jim says he could leg up right now...all 17 hands up.

They mean business here...good thing I had an escort.

They mean business here...good thing I had an escort.

Tony also brought out 1998 South African Triple Crown winner HORSE CHESTNUT for us!  I *love* this horse.  He only ran once in the US before getting hurt, winning the Broward Stakes.  But he looks like Secretariat! 
Handsome Horse Chestnut

Handsome Horse ChestnutClaiborne Stands a solid roster of established sires as well as new lines. Flatter, Strong Hope, Horse Greely and First Samurai are all first or second crop sires. The farm's strongest sire is its favorite homebred - PULPIT. Pulpit, winner of the 1997 Bluegrass Stakes, sire of multiple stakes winners and a sweetie.

Pulpit, winner of the '97 Bluegrass Stakes, sire of multiple stakes winners as well as a very pretty pony!

Me & Jim at Secretariat's former stall

Me & Jim at Secretariat's former stallWhile at Claiborne, I engaged in some genius thoroughbred trivia mad skillz. Just because I am a young chick doesn't mean I don't know who Swale was! In the Claiborne cemetery, a weathered tombstone marks where Johnstown is buried. Johnstown was the 1939 KY Derby winner, duh;-)The breeding shed at Claiborne looks like a tobacco barn. The bricks out front are, fittingly, made of rubber.Charlie Davis was another of the exercise riders Lucien Laren employed in the 70's and he accompanied Secretariat to Lousiville for the '73 Derby. He is also in town for the SecFest and was touring Claiborne while we were there, too!Charlie Davis Claiborne is always a great place to visit, but I was most looking forward to meeting Congaree at Adena Springs!The imposing main gate at Adena resembles the entrance of a posh gated community.

Adena relocated to this site last year.  All of the barns and offices still have that new car smell, and there are even houses for the employees on the property, too.  The main office was the coolest thing: when you go in the front door, a richly-appointed lobby with gleaming trophy cases greet you at the front desk.  You go out a back door into the attached stallion barn and breeding shed!  It is awesome-I want a house like that!

I will have more photos and updates tomorrow, but for now I am tired and must get my beauty sleep.  Here’s one last photo for your viewing pleasure:

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Filed under Adena Springs, Claiborne Farm, Infield Trips, Secretariat