I often wonder what it is that makes someone good at what they do. Hard work, dedication, intelligence and strong communication skills are obvious necessary traits, but when it relates to a horse trainer it's even harder to put a finger on it.
Recently I spent a morning filming with Aidan O’Brien, Ireland’s No. 1 racehorse trainer. It was in the lead-up to the Irish Derby, which he had won a record 10 times, and afterwards he added to that tally with yet another success.
The 44-year-old has been the champion trainer in Ireland for an incredible 16 years and quite possibly many more to come.
With 170 horses in his care, at his Ballydoyle stables in County Tipperary, he is a busy man. FULL POST
All too often we see a favorite endlessly hyped up before a race only to disappoint on the big day.
Well, that certainly was not the case in this year’s Kentucky Derby.
California Chrome, the flashy chestnut colt, was the focus of intense pre-race attention in the week leading up to the Derby not only because of his impressive credentials but also because of his story.
Everybody loves an underdog and this bargain basement horse, in the purple and green “DAP” silks with a green bucking donkey motif on the back, belonged to two regular guys enjoying their first foray into the complex world of horse breeding.
Steve Coburn and Perry Martin each bought a share in a relatively inexpensive filly racehorse, Love The Chase, who won one race in six starts.
When the partnership decided to cut their losses and sell the sweet but slow filly, Coburn and Martin opted to buy out their partners for a value of $8,000 and send her to the breeding barn.
Selecting a stallion to “cover” your mare is often a labor intensive, almost mathematic process depending on what type of horse you are trying to produce.
For reasons best known to them, the pair settled on Lucky Pulpit for a fee of $2,000, himself an adequate racehorse who never fulfilled his maximum potential due to illness.
Eleven months later, out came the foal that would come to be named California Chrome - the name was pulled out of a hat of suggestions made by the owners and their families. Seabisquik was also in the mix.
When they sent the horse, now a three-year-old, to veteran trainer Art Sherman, the rookie owner-breeders told the ex-jockey that this would be his Kentucky Derby winner.
To cut a long story short, under the watchful care of his veteran trainer, this bonny horse who loves to race progressed so well that he wound up an unlikely favorite for the most famous race in the world.
And then he won it.
Going back to the colors worn by his Mexican jockey Victor Espinoza, the DAP stands for Dumb Ass Partnerships - so named by Coburn and Martin when those around them said only a "dumb ass" would buy California Chrome's mother Love The Chase.
While it's probably not the classiest name around, it does prove that for all the money and time spent on trying to breed the perfect racehorse, sometimes it's just down to luck.
They say that delightful spa town of Baden-Baden in south west Germany is just so good that you have to say its name twice.
With its tree-lined avenues, beautiful canal and breathtaking gardens, it’s hard to disagree. In the mid-19th century the town became a favorite among the rich and famous as a holiday destination. They came for the spas, for the uber-elegant casino, the opulent hotels and, of course, the horse racing.
It feels like a place that has resisted the passage of time and still proudly clings to its tradition. FULL POST