Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Long Riders

Somehow the words to the song Route 66 came to mind whenever I read about Valerie Ashker, her friend Peter Friedman and their two off-track Thoroughbred horses, Primitivo and Solar Express, on the Off-Track website.  Route 66, now a relic of our motoring past, ran from Chicago to LA, nearly 2000 miles one way, but only two-thirds the distance Ashker, Friedman and their horses planned to ride.

For those of you who have never been to the United States, it is a big country. I mean it is a big country.  More than 3300 miles end to end, it crosses desert infernos, the Rocky Mountains, where a fourteen thousand foot mountain is more the norm than an aberration, The Great Basin, home to freakish weather and the dust storms of the Great Depression, until the green rolling land of the mid-east gives way to the ancient Appalachian Mountains and then to the eastern most coast and some of America's greatest urban centers.  

Valerie Ashker, 60, is a long time Off-Track Thoroughbred trainer, she, her daughter, Lainey a four-star Eventer and Rolex competitor and Friedman left her Georgetown, California ranch in May of 2016.

A joyous gallop for the camera.  Valerie Ashker and Primitivo.
(photo by Tylir Penton)

The mountains and high altitude came quickly, as did a number of falls that left Ashker with broken ribs and and a broken clavicle.  Along the way a suspicious spot discovered on her lungs was found to be scar tissue from an earlier injury and not cancer, as was first feared.  The emotional and physical toll did not weaken her resolve as she was determined to "call attention to the usefulness of Thoroughbred horses once their racetrack careers are over."

Of the ride she said, it is "not about me, but about the horses that have so much to give once their racing days are past."

It was when Ashker and Friedman reached Cincinnati (my hometown) in mid-October that I began to follow their progress as they made their way toward Loudon County, Virginia, their destination. Solar Express and Primitivo ambled along our city's congested roads with the cool confidence that experience bestows. They stood calmly as children from a city apartment complex swarmed around them "like bees," asking countless questions and hoping to pet the horses which most of them had never before seen in the flesh.

Valerie Ashker and Peter Friedman near Cincinnati's Paul Brown Stadium, home of the Cincinnati Bengals.

By November 7th, the caravan had crossed into Grafton, West Virginia where Ashker took time to thank the local Dairy Queen for the complimentary ice cream cones (for human consumption only) and gave thanks for the great weather that we have experienced in the mid-east this fall.  By now we are usually experiencing nights in the low 30's F, killing frosts and torrents of bone chilling rain that can turn to sleet and sometimes to snow.

The journey ended in November with their arrival at the Middleburgh Training Center in Loudon County, Virginia, with smiles, hugs and a good gallop by the fit and trim Thoroughbreds that delighted the eye and the camera.

Welcoming Valerie Ashker and Primitivo to Virginia.

Primitivo, Ashker said, began as "sort of spooky, " but quickly adjusted to the noise and confusion of busy highways and congested cities.  "Along the way he became more confident in his own skin," she said.

Primitivo in Virginia.

"This horse never stops," she said of Solar Express. "He had his eye on the next mountain and the next twenty miles the whole way."  Solar Express was once her Eventing horse and Ashker once said that he was "on the muscle too much."  She added, "Now I see that he belongs in the realm of endurance horses.  He lead the entire time...his ears pricked."

Seventeen year old Solar Express.

Ashker and her horses will soon be moving to Virginia where they will have time to reflect on their journey and its meaning,  Saying of the long haul, " I have a total new appreciation for the country and its people. And the timing was right.  Looking back on the entirety of this, I'd say its been the ride of a lifetime."

A fitting end.  Look at the condition of these two horses.

Copyright, November 26, 2016 by Loren R. Schumacher

Sources:  Off-Track,  The Loudon Times-Mirror.

Your can also learn more about Valerie Ashker's journey on her Facebook page: 2nd Makes Through Starting Gates. 

Only one photo has been credited and the balance came from each of the websites/Facebook pages noted above.  They seem to be without credit.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Local Legend Calls It Done

Russell Road, a 10-year old gelding by Wheaton out of the Verification mare Roberta Grump (Roberta Grump produced 11 starters, all winners), called it a career recently at  Charles Town (W Va.) Races.  Winning  more than two million dollars during his career, Russell Road leaves behind a stellar record of 31 wins (22 were stakes wins) in 62 starts.

A farewell to Russell Road

Bethanny Roll, a photographer at the Hollywood Casino at the Charles Town Races, had this to say about the chestnut gelding;

"This horse was truly something to watch,  He won over half of his career starts and is a local legend here at the Charles Town Races.  

He was always a competitor at the race track.  In fact, when the track had him in the post parade for the West Virginia Breeder's Classic, a race he won three times, he was a struggle to jog off the track, because he wanted to join the competitors and race again.

He had a presence when he came on the track unlike any other (you get an idea of his presence in the picture above). He was the type of horse you knew was something big without even knowing his name."

Russell Road winning the 2014 West Virginia Breeder's Classic

Owner Mark Russell knows that Russell Road is a candidate for the retirement blues and needs to stay busy.  "He'll make any kind of jumper or riding horse and we're going to explore those possibilities for him.  He's not the kind of horse that's going to be happy stomping flies out in the field. Russell said.  He wants to do a job, he loves being around people, he loves having something to do. It's just who he is. It doesn't matter if you take him home and put him out in the paddock. 30 minutes later he's at the gate wanting back in.  He just likes that connection with folks."

Russell Road wins the 2015 Roger Ramey Stakes

Russell Road is the second leading money winner among all West Virginia bred horses and is held in such esteem that the Wild & Wonderful-a race Russell Road hit the board in three times in his career-will be renamed the Russell Road Stakes in 2017

I published this little story of an obscure gelding from a third tier track because so many stories from the racing world are scarred and ugly. corrupt and tawdry.  Tales of injured horses running on pain-killing drugs until they break down or are sold to slaughter when they can no longer produce on the track or the pay window are common.  This is a story of triumph.  A happy story.  Racing needs more of them.  And so do we.

Copyright: October 18, 2016 by Loren R. Schumacher
Photo copyright as noted.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Soft White Underbelly, Part 1

Since the coming of American Pharoah I have thought about little else, when it comes to horses, than thoroughbreds and racing.  I'm never going to know the lineage of every champion who put hoof to dirt or shoe to turf, but I will always love the game, the color, the mud spattered jockeys and the thoroughbred's time-compressing speed.  Feeling the tension before my horse enters the gate is part of the thrill of racing for me.  I remember literally being unable to sit down in the hours just before American Pharoah ran the Belmont and then plundered the field in the Breeder's Cup Classic in 2015.  Similarly, I suffer with California Chrome and Frosted each time they race.

One of my favorites was Big Brown (Boundary - Mien by Nureyev), trained by Rick Dutrow.   Now eleven years old, his progeny have begun to make their presence felt in racing circles.  His Derby and Preakness victories in 2008 left the racing world hungering for a Triple Crown Winner, the first since Affirmed decades before.  But in the Belmont he finished 9th, barely crossing the finish line before the last beer concession closed for the day.  A collapse so dramatic that it cast his entire race record in doubt.  In eight races, he finished first in seven of them.  His list of victories also include the Florida Derby, The Haskell Invitational and the Monmouth Stakes.  But to this day, a stench surrounds his career, the same stench of unscrupulous illegality and deception that follows trainer Rick Dutrow.

Big Brown and people who loved him.  Check out the watch on this guy.

Trainer Rick Dutrow.

Dutrow is now serving a 10-year suspension (at one point the state's Racing and Wagering Board recommended Dutrow be banned for life)  of his trainer's license in 2011 by New York regulators.
The former trainer of Big Brown has waged a continuous legal fight to have that judgement overturned.  But the beleaguered trainer's most recent appeal was rejected in federal court.

"The board's decision resolves two specific matters that arose in November 2010: Dutrow's horse Fastus Cactus tested positive for the drug butorphanol-a pain killer 10 times more potent than morphine-after winning the third race at Aqueduct Racetrack on November 20, and three hypodermic needles "loaded with the drug Xylazine" were found in Dutrow's desk in Barn 10 at Aqueduct on November 2.  Xylazine is an analgesic and tranquilizer that can enhance performance by alleviating lameness or calming a nervous horse."  While  he had probably not done anything that other top trainers had done, or been suspected of, he did get caught with his hand in the cookie jar, not once, but many times.  Bob Baffert and Steve Asmussen, both Hall of Fame trainers, have been under some scrutiny in the past for similar infractions.  "If anything, he's (Dutrow) had multiple opportunities to practice his profession in compliance with the rules.  After all these infractions, I don't think any court will say he has been discriminated against...given his record" said Louisville attorney and racing official Robert Heleringer.

While there is nothing to say Dutrow could not set up shop in another state, most racing jurisdictions will uphold the findings of other racing authorities.  An exception might be Louisiana where Heleringer said they "have a reputation for being more lax when it comes to honoring suspensions,

At the apex: Big Brown

but Dutrow's notoriety makes it less likely a state would take that chance."  If he were to apply for a license in a state other than New York and was denied, he would have to disclose the denial in future applications.

So unless Rick Dutrow pulls some nefarious behind the scenes shenanigans, he is out of racing,

At this point Big Brown's future is much brighter than Rick Dutrow's.  And that is a good thing.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

When The Racing Gods Are Smiling

This story appeared on the McKathan Brothers Training Center Facebook page today.  It is a testament to experience and courage under extreme stress. 

A five furlong turf race, just over a half mile, can seem like a ten furlong route race when you are trailing a field of seven $10,000 claimers.  Jockey Marcos Meneses stepped on the throttle heading into the far turn when his reins broke, first one, then the other.

Marcos Meneses, broken reins in hand and four-year-old Chia Ghost

Chia Ghost drifted outside leaving the turn heading into the stretch.  Meneses remained calm, grabbing Chia Ghost's mane and the neck strap of his bridle, riding him to the wire and victory.

After his second straight victory, Chia Ghost, trained by Bernardo Lopez, galloped out on the outside rail and was picked up by outrider Paul Haffner on the backstretch.  Haffner escorted Meneses and Chia Ghost to the winner's circle.

In the victory circle I'm sure there were lots of smiles, and no doubt heavy sighs of relief, and for jockey Marcos Meneses, a hurried trip to the restroom.

I love this story and hope you enjoyed it as well.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Soul Searching

Hoping to satisfy the hunger that rattles in their stomachs, they amble, unconcerned, onto US 191 stopping traffic, their ribs showing, their eyes hollow and empty.  They are homeless gypsies: paints, palominos, red bays, roans, duns and blacks.  Their groups are small in number.  The colts are vital and spirited, alert and quick, not yet broken by hunger and the experience of relentless heat, thirst and privation.  There is no one to inoculate them, float their teeth or trim their hooves.  Hell, there is no money to feed them, let alone money for health care. Still the young ones move with an elasticity and grace that is missing in the adults.  Their prancing, mincing youth dams up the pity you would otherwise feel for them all. 

The only horse I was able to photograph, this one in Cheyenne, Wyoming, truly a one horse town.

In addition to 37,903 families in Navajo land, there are 37,008 motor vehicles and 35,000 horses, nearly one per family!   Perhaps horses remain a deep reservoir of pride for the Navajo as evidence of affluence, masculinity or even currency.  Poverty is everywhere, inescapable, in your face, loud and damning, yet nearly every home or trailer, ramshackle or otherwise has a horse.  Usually they are confined to grassless paddocks so small that a canter would be nearly impossible even if there were just one horse.  It is not unusual to see two or more confined to a small area without shade.  But more importantly, I think the horses  provide a source of pleasure, escape, competition and balance a razor thin existence with laughter and smiles.  I say this because I lost track of the number of rodeo arenas that I saw.  The horse remains important to the average Navajo.

This is Chinle, Arizona, the heart of the Navajo reservation, where hope seems lost in a flickering memory that is ancient and in conflict with Burger King and the buzzing and beeping of cell phones. Chinle is about government entities, both Federal (Bureau of Land Management ), the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Navajo.  Tough tribal police, high crime rates and a serious drug problem have filled the large juvenile correction facility on Indian Road 7. 

What drives the crime rate?  A youthful population that averages 24 years of age.  40% of all Navajo live below the poverty line with a median family income of just $22,000.00.  32% have no complete plumbing, 60% are without phones and 54% of those aged 25 and older are without a high school or higher education.  The reservation is an incubator of discontent, acting out and crime.  All of these facts and figures are compounded by the fact that the youth have no interest in the values and traditions of the Navajo.  I was told that fewer and fewer speak the native language.

The plight of the Navajo and I'll wager most native Americans, has not changed a great deal in the sixteen years since these stats were collected.  It is an embarrassment and we should be ashamed. 


In the quiet of nearby Canyon de Chelly (pronounced Shay) the past and its ancient traditions hang by a slender thread in the hands of the few Navajo who tend their cattle, sheep and sparse gardens of beans, squash and corn ( the three sisters of Puebloan culture ) there.  This national park is unique in that it is populated, although sparsely, by Indians living on ancestral lands, the titles for which stretch into antiquity.
The August gardens at the bottom of the canyon.  Chinle Wash to the left beyond the trees.

Canyon de Chelly's solitude is broken by the raspy voice of circling Ravens, and the lowing of cattle in the canyon depths below.  There is only one hike in the park that can be done without a park ranger or Indian guide and that is the trail that leads to the White House ruins wedged into a cliff wall crevice 600 feet below the canyon's rim.  Why can I hike to White House and nowhere else without a guide?  Because these ruins are not Navajo.  The ruins date from 750 to 1300 and were built by ancestral Puebloans.  Although the Navajo, who call themselves Dine', say they have always lived here, they actually date from about 1700, after the Hopi left the canyon.

The hike, just 2.5 miles, descends a trail dotted with long stretches of slick-rock and laced with so many switch backs that the route seems as though it were stitched by a surgeon.  Dropping down onto the trail, I was struck by gnarled and twisted sandstone, burnished red and blasted smooth, wrinkled like an ancient skin over millions of years.  Where the slick-rock sloped away from the cliff  toward a fall no one could survive, I put a hand on the cliff wall to give me the courage that was at the moment lacking.  I am not crazy about high places.

A fellow traveler took this photo of me on the trail.

The 600 foot descent took about forty minutes and passing through a short tunnel I stepped into the onset of evening on the canyon floor. After I snapped a photo of the Navajo Hogan ( a building used in many traditional rituals and found nearly everywhere on the reservation ) just beyond a fence, I noticed a small sign that read: No Pictures. It should have read, "This place, this land and our ways are sacred to us.  Respect them."

The sandy bottom of Chinle Wash, which wanders for miles, made the hike to the ruins slow and heavy.  Rain slicked the surrounding cliffs, turning them from a powdery red to a slate grey color. 

After the descent, a long sandy trek across the flat, then a short climb up a rise marked by cholla cactus (pronounced choya), the ruins appeared in a niche some 8o feet or more above the canyon floor. A phalanx of grazing cattle, one with well developed forward pointing horns...a female by the way, stood between me and the ruins.  I didn't stop for a selfie, but taking a deep breath walked between them and made the last hundred yards to the ruins.  

Indians selling jewelry in Arizona is not unusual, but I was surprised to see Navajo selling goods from a couple of card tables under a tree just in front of the ruins and more surprised that they had gotten to the bottom of the canyon in cars! 

The White House ruins in Canyon de Chelley.  Click on the picture to enlarge it and you can see the pictograph.
I once stood  under a natural overhang like the one in this picture, but one much, much smaller.  Little taller than me and perhaps no more than 8 feet deep and no more than 15 feet in length, it was once home to a family.  The ceiling was blackened from the open fires used to heat and cook and I could place my finger tips over theirs in places where they had plastered the ceiling of their sandstone home.  It was literally a hole in the wall.  There was no evidence of the engineering I saw in the ruins high above the canyon's floor in front of me.  It was the definition of primitive, just a rocky place in the Arizona desert, but it was a home.
I couldn't reach the White House ruins, a chain link fence kept visitors like me far enough away so that the worst among us could not plunder or damage them.  If you knew how much I wanted to find the worn moqui steps in the wall above the dwelling on the canyon floor, and trusting my balance and nerve, climb to the uppermost dwellings and explore them.  Just a few minutes alone with them, to share their view of the world and to wonder what drove them to live this way and in the end, to vanish.  There is no written language and there are few if any answers. 
Still these people reach out to us sharing their dreams, their gods or their fears in pictographs.  There is no Rosetta Stone to help us interpret their drawings.  There are as many meanings as eyes to see their work.  If you look closely at the picture of the ruins and count over five windows from the right, there is a large pictograph on the wall, big enough to be seen from a hundred yards and across 700 years.
 Copyright September 8, 2016 by Loren R. Schumacher

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

"...'whenever I'm ready.'''

  Once again that tired cliche, I am so, so sorry, proves to be not nearly enough.

I suppose there is some perverse irony in the death of the four year old filly, Pramedya, after breaking her left front cannon bone racing on the turf course at Pimlico on Saturday.  Her owners, Gretchen and Roy Jackson also bred the talented Barbaro.  Barbaro broke down during the 2006 Preakness and was euthanized some ten months later in January 2007.  The only picture of Pramedya that I could find was of her in the final minutes of her tragic life, her front legs folded beneath her as she tried to remain standing.  Soon she would be dead.  I would not and could not include that photo.  Her jockey, Daniel Centeno, broke his collarbone in the fall, but he will live to race again.

In the first race on Saturday's card, nine year old gelding Homeboykris (in his sixty-fourth start) won, reaching, straining and racing to the end.  A digital photo was snapped in the winner's circle, there were smiles all around, and during the walk to his stall, Homeboykris collapsed and died of an apparent heart attack.  Stretching irony still further, Honeboykris'  body was sent for a necropsy to be performed at the same hospital that treated Barbaro.   Homeboykris was a graded stakes winner, winning the 2009 Champagne Stakes Gr.1, and he finished tenth in the 2010 Kentucky Derby.  In sixty-four starts he won more than $500,000.  His record: 14 wins, 10 seconds and 5 third place finishes.  His grandsire was Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus.  His blood was a champion's.

In a recent report The Jockey Club showed that fatal injuries dropped to 1.62 per 1000 starts in 2015 from 1.89 per 1000 starts in 2014.  Horse racing is that rare sport in which the principal participants regularly suffer catastrophic injuries resulting in their death.  Nonetheless we cannot look away. Racing's efforts to police itself and to burnish its image can never completely erase the revulsion that follows calamitous injury to or tragic death of a horse.  I can only think of automobile racing as the sport which most closely parallels horse racing.  We will watch a spectacular, firey crash replayed countless time and remain more or less unmoved, yet the thought of a suffering animal shreds our emotions.  Only the most callous among us remains unmoved.

If you don't believe me, just look at the headline of The Cincinnati Enquirer for Monday. May 30, 2016:  Community saddened by killing of gorilla at Zoo.  A four year old boy somehow managed to elude his parents and all of the safeguards surrounding the gorilla exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo.  He fell into a moat and was rescued by a 17 year old western lowland gorilla named Harambe.  The zoo's emergency response team, in order to save the child from a life-threatening situation, was forced to kill Harambe.  The story was reported worldwide. resulting in intense responses that included charging the parents with neglect to a petition to make  an incident that results in the death of an endangered species a crime with which the parent might be charged.  A vigil for Harambe was held at the zoo's main entrance on the afternoon of May 30.


Honeboykris, #3, by a nose at Pimlico, May 21,2016

One last parade.  Homeboykris, May 21, 2016.

The rains came and took up residence, but without the fury of the storm that overtook the Preakness in 2015, when American Pharoah left his mark on the second leg of the Triple Crown.  

It is difficult to look at these magnificent animals, born to run, born to thrill us with their brilliant speed, to endear themselves to us with their quirks and antics and still denigrate their quality.  Yet that is exactly what has happened in 2016.  More than one expert has opined that this year's crop of three year old colts is not up to the quality of last years three year old contenders.  Perhaps.  After all, a clock never lies, though sometimes results will and ( tongue in cheek here) experts are never wrong.

Although a pall had been cast over the day, all was not doom and gloom, because there was still the annual infield bikini contest.  I've seen the photos, they stand in line for this.  And the girls do too.

Take that Kentucky Derby.  Number 14 just may have had a wedgy.

Nyquist entering the Preakness with eight consecutive wins ( including four G1 races ), was the betting public's favorite at 3-5, with second choice Exaggerator at 3-1.  Although beaten on four occasions by Nyquist, Exaggerator's breathless closing in the Derby gave the faithful something to hang their hats upon.

Nyquist training with Emir Cedeno up.

Exaggerator's trainer and Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux's older brother, Keith said, "We respect what he (Nyquist) has done, but we're hopeful of turning the tables."

Breaking from the third post position, Nyquist and Uncle Lino sprinted the first quarter in 22.38, the fastest in Preakness history, and blistered the half in 46.56.  Whether the result of a shaky strategy or a rush of adrenaline, jockey Mario Gutierrez dogged the speed horse Uncle Lino.  Trading the lead by fractions on the back stretch, race viewers were treated to a classic duel while Exaggerator trailed the leaders by as much as 13 lengths.  The leaders flew rather than slogged across the waterlogged track surface and began the run to glory.  

Exaggerator after schooling at Pimlico.  The young woman is Keith Desormeaux's girlfriend and assistant, Julie Clark.  Clark says of Exaggerator, " It would be nice to have a little bit of a break from him sometimes, because he is always on his toes and squealing around..."

The stretch run was too much for the speedy Uncle Lino who began to fade, ultimately finishing seventh.  Desormeaux said, "To me it looked like Nyquist was trying to establish an outward position, maybe in the four path. And Exaggertor just kind of slid up the fence to the far turn where I actually got to slow him down and say 'whenever I'm ready.'"

Mud spattered and victorious.  Exaggerator passes Nyquist.

Exaggerator's experience in adverse conditions in the Santa Anita Derby were crucial, but it was Kent Desormeaux's experience at Pimlico that may have been the deciding factor.  Having won two prior Preakness contests he added, "I had a dream trip today.  I was on the fence and they stayed wide.  These turns you want to paint the fence.  We did, they did not, and not for nothing, knowledge is power."

From 13 lengths back, Exxagerator wins.  Nyquist in Purple and eventual runner-up, Cherry Wine
in the red cap.

The story of the race seemed to be Exaggerator's charge from 13 or more lengths off the pace, but watching the race replay, Cherry Wine ran down the pack from even further back in the field, painting the hedge much as the winner had.  A classy, gutty performance by the grey son of Paddy O'Prado.

An anonymous gambler plunked down $80,000 on Stradivari to win, making the fourth place finisher the favorite for nearly two hours.  As I finish this piece on July 26, Stradivari is recovering from surgery to repair a condylar fracture and an axial fracture of a sesamoid in his right front foreleg, suffered as he galloped out after breezing with Belmont runner-up, Destin, at Saratoga on July 22.  Stradivari will never race again, but he is alive and that is all that matters

Stradivari at Belmont.

After the Preakness it was announced that Nyquist had suffered another bout of the same mystery fever that sidelined him after the Florida derby.  With a fever of 102 plus and a high white cell count, he was pulled from The Belmont to be run on June 11.  All of which serves to remind us of the Triple Crown's difficulty and American Pharoah's greatness as he remained sound throughout that grueling pursuit of history and how he thrilled us all as he took it in his stride.

Racetrack morning, this one at Pimlico.

Copyright, July 26, 2016 by Loren R. Schumacher
Photo credits as noted.

Monday, July 11, 2016

"The Chance of a Lifetime in a Lifetime of Chance"

And so the poignant lyrics of Dan Fogleberg's song, Run For The Roses, go.  They speak to us in an oddly melancholy way, because during Derby week, chance meets opportunity in perhaps the most famous, if not the richest horse race in the world.

At Churchill Downs excess breathes excitement. While private jets sit wing tip to wing tip and nose to tail at the local airport, thousands pay $300.00 each to swelter in the noonday sun while they party on, dancing, drinking or sleeping off a colossal hangover, only to rise like the Phoenix to party again. The infield is so crowded that few if any will actually see the race.  Most will watch on huge screens posted variously among them.

But if you have $12,000.00, you may spend the afternoon seated in air-conditioned comfort high above the race course on the grandstand's topmost floor, enjoying much of what money and privilege offer and allow.

There are other diversions though.  Hats so grotesque that they are no less than a milliner's nightmare.

It takes some moxy to wear this little number.

 To walk among the throng of race goers is to be treated to a movable feast of fashion the likes of which you have seldom, if ever, seen.  Coiffed, barbered and dressed to the nines, men and women strut their finest, often without regard for taste.  Taste, well, just take a take a gander at the great skier Lindsey Vonn's ensemble.

Lindsey Vonn.  Tasteful, tasteless or just hot?

A believer in equal opportunity, this gentlemen joins in the fun.  And the beer.

And don't forget the ubiquitous and vile tasting Mint Julep.  Here is one of many recipes for making the classic Derby Mint Julep:

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup of rinsed mint leaves, de-stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle of respectable Kentucky Bourbon.  (Not sure there is such a thing.)
  • crushed ice
What no cherry?

The run to the first Saturday in May began 56 million years ago, when the dawn horse, the tiny Eohippus appeared in what would become The United States.  The horse's appearance marked the beginning of and proliferation of life as we know it.  Prolific, the early horse quickly spread, perhaps across the land bridge to Asia, Africa and Europe.  Millions of years passed and for reasons yet unknown, the horse disappeared from the American landscape, reappearing in the sixteenth century with the arrival of the Spanish conquerors. 

Long prior to their reintroduction to the Americas, horses, because of their speed and grace, made racing a sport on the steppes of Asia, in the sylvan settings of Europe and the sands of North Africa.  It remains so today.

I often compare the Kentucky Derby to the circus.  We tolerate the hideous clowns, the men on stilts and the souvenir hawkers, while waiting, scarcely breathing, for lumbering elephants to appear and finally, the lions and tigers, who though caged, bring us to the edges of our seats in anticipation of a disaster that might befall the lion tamer.

Just one look at this animal and you understand why we love them so much.
Cathryn Sophia made her mark early in Derby Week by biting her groom in the stomach and knocking him out of her stall.  She was a bargain priced yearling filly (Street Boss x Sheave x Mineshaft), just $30,000.   She provided a pretty substantial  return on investment in her 2-3/4 length victory over Land Over Sea in the 1-1/8 mile G1 Longines Kentucky Oaks on Friday.   The purse: $1,000,000.  

The brat: Cathryn Sophia, in the Kentucky Oaks.
Her trainer, John Servis, said, "She's not crazy, she's just mean.  She's not like that really out of the stall, but when you're in her stall, that's her stall."  See what I mean about the circus coming to town.
On the Derby undercard, Sharpe Azteca, winner of the G3 Pat Day Mile.
My vote for the best turned out horse of the entire card.
Nyquist's glittering record of seven consecutive wins, especially his trouncing of archrival Mohaymen in the Florida Derby, did little to add to his luster in the public eye.  How does American Pharoah capture the public fancy and Nyquist, on paper more accomplished than AP, does not?  Nyquist has won "over four race tracks covering the East Coast, the West Coast and Kentucky.  He has won on the lead and from off the pace.  He has overcome trouble out of the gate and forced to go wide."  There is just no explaining the presence, the grace, or magic of American Pharoah.  Nyquist, the talented workman, or AP and his ballet on four flashing hooves. The public has clearly made its choice.
Breaking well from stall thirteen, Nyquist showing early speed, was throttled back by jockey Mario Gutierrez, allowing speedster, Danzing Candy, to assume the lead at the first turn.
At the head of the stretch, Nyquist running outside and out of trouble along with Gun Runner, overhauled the tiring Danzing Candy.  Gun Runner "pricking his ears back and forth at the top of the stretch," assumed the lead briefly before Nyquist rallied in top gear, speeding to the finish line ahead of a desperate charge under the whip of Kent Desormeaux, by the luckless Exxagerator.
The Derby stretch drive.  Nyquist, center, with red shadow roll. 

The winning time: 2:01.31 before the Derby's second largest crowd of over 167,000.  And the finish was just the way the public bet them: Nyquist, Exxagerator, Gun Runner (my choice) and Mohaymen. 
For Exxagerator and the Desormeaux brothers, now 0 for 4 against Nyquist, its back to the drawing board.  Perhaps they will stay closer to the pace in the Preakness.  Seems the only thing to do.  And what of Mohaymen, a son of Tapit?  The gritty Gun Runner?  Who knows?  The racing gods do.
And the tents were folded and shipped off in the night and somewhere a tiny Eohippus, the dawn horse, raises its head, offers a soft nicker and resumes its grazing.


** My apologies, the centering and spacing are off and I am unable to correct them for some reason unknown to me.

Copyright, July 11, 2016 y Loren R. Schunacher
Photos copyrighted as noted.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Independence Day

From me, my family and our  horses, Stormy and Callie,  Happy Birthday America, July 4, 2016.

We have it all: strength, grace, choice and freedom.
God bless the USA.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Baby, Baby Can't You Hear My Heart Beat?

Well can you?  Hear my heart beat that is.  I haven't written much lately, too busy with my small business, taking care of the horses, trying to keep up with the mowing.  You know how it is, your life is much the same.

But three or four weeks ago I went to see my primary care physician.  Because I live in Sinus City (Cincinnati area), I thought the irritation in my bronchial tubes was from sinus drip, and it was.  I had a lung infection very much like pneumonia.  But it was the heartburn that made my doctor run an EKG, and the results proved enough variation from the previous one for him to request an echo stress test.

Long story made short, my body passed with flying colors.  3.5 miles per hour up a 14% grade, no problem, because I am ridiculously fit.  My heart, however, was looking for help.

What I had been feeling for more than a year, a little heaviness in my chest, a raw disquieting feeling and a heart beating harder than I thought it should, were symptoms of a probable calamity.

A week ago, while walking a friend's dog, there was a slightly more intense chest discomfort, a burning really, that caused my doctor to say, "Go to the emergency room."  I did, and for the rest of a long sleepless night the staff poked and pushed, drew quarts of blood, ran this test and that and put a needle in my left arm to drip a blood thinner through a pump that whirred and clicked every 90 or so seconds.

After nothing to eat or drink for more than thirteen hours, a heart catheterization procedure to implant a stent was unsuccessful.  Why?  Because I have three blockages: one of 100% that has already by-passed naturally, one of 95% and one of 80%.  I am a heart attack or stroke waiting to happen.

So on Tuesday of this week I will have open-heart surgery.  It is a terrible thing, four hours or more in length.  My sternum will be split and an artery from my leg will be used to patch one of the damaged arteries  and there is more, but no need to go on and on with gory details.  I will be plugged into a heart-lung machine and could wake with "pump-brain" which if you have had cancer is supposed to be very similar to "chemo-brain."  Six hours in recovery, 24 hours in ICU and then the fun begins. Stand up, sit down, cough and hug this heart-shaped pillow which is used as a splint to keep you from blowing out your sternum, now held together with wire.

There will be 5 or 6 days in the hospital, followed by cardio-rehab and a great deal of pain.  And all the while my wife Carol will be there and when she goes home there are the cats to feed; the house to keep up, horses to be picked up after, fed and groomed and grass to cut.  All of these things and then I crawl through the door, a semi-invalid, who is not allowed to do ANYTHING!

Even though I am the one with a problem, the real victim in this play is my wife, the love of my life. You know, the one who has stood by me when I was a childish asshole, comforted me through tragedies, job disruptions and only God knows what else she has quietly endured.

So if you should read this and have a spare prayer or two, say one for both of us, we'll need it and we thank you for your thoughts.

Copyright June 19,2016 by Loren R. Schumacher

I want to mention that while I am mending I will be writing.  I have parts of three stories written about this year's Triple Crown (better late than never), a post on the 2016 Road To The Horse and a story about a nationally ranked competitor in Western Pleasure and other disciplines.  It may be a while until the next post, but there will be a next post.  Thanks for reading my blog.

Title taken from an old Herman's Hermits song, Can't You Hear My Heart Beat?

Monday, May 30, 2016

Some Thoughts On Memorial Day 2016.

Surely most every Londoner and Parisian is proud of his or her country.  Seldom though is a country that has given and sacrificed so much to the world been maligned and reviled as much as the United States of America, the country that I call home.

Criticize our mistakes, but never forget the blood we've sacrificed to the freedom that we and many other nations enjoy today.  People die everyday trying to reach the United States.  Some walk across the desert, others sail in flimsy rafts over shark infested waters.  Many cross our borders in dark trailers, most without ventilation or sanitation, food or water.  People from around the world will do nearly anything that is legal or illegal to reach our borders and live in these United States.  And somehow we find a place for them and accord them the same rights that we as citizens born to this republic enjoy.  

Our loyalty is to an idea and not a person.

Why do they come?  Because they want to enjoy the freedom, the right to self-determination and the opportunities to which we were born.  Things we take for granted.

We are a nation with a big heart and broad shoulders, willing to carry the burden that others cannot bear alone. The United States is a nation of great wealth and resources, some of which we have squandered or given away.  Chief among these are the men and women, more than a million in number, who have fought and died for the idea that is the United States.  We all know that in battle, idealism is a casualty.  A soldier fights for his life and the life of his buddies on either side of him, in the hope that all of them might live to go home.  But in the end it is the ideal, the principle of freedom and not the spoils that send us into conflict.

Enormous problems plague us: the economy, race relations, endless war, an unsettled political climate, a crumbling infrastructure and the exponential growth of our national debt.  Let's not forget terrorism and the criminally insane radical Muslims from outside as well as inside our country who would kill every one of us, even women and children, and then dance happily in celebration.

I want to remind Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton that they need not "make America great again," The United States is great and will remain great because of its people.  Government simply needs to get out of the way, do the job for which it was intended and stop encroaching on our public and private lives.

This morning as I finished taking care of my horses, Callie and Stormy, a pair of F-16 fighter jets banked in a lazy arc right above my head.  Silly me, I raised my hand to wave at them as if they might see me and waggle their wings in recognition.  But as they sped off to the northeast in tandem, I couldn't help but think that those two faceless men or women would kill or be killed for me.  That is a powerful thing to contemplate, that their devotion to duty and our national ideals would drive them to pay the ultimate price for a little guy tending his horses in a pasture beneath their wings.  And they would do it without question.

Neither my mother or father served in World War II, but they held defense critical jobs.  My mother worked at Peters Cartridge in Kings Mills, Ohio ( today the home of Kings Island Amusement Park) and my dad at Fox Paper, where paper insulation used to ship explosives shells was made.  My father-in-law was a combat soldier, wounded in France.  My grandfather, who left Kentucky at the tender age of 15 in 1918 to join the Army, worked for the King Powder Company (also in Kings Mills, Ohio ) where explosives were made.  Those who stayed at home and those fought should be remembered as heroes, because they were.

There are three songs that can move most Americans to tears, our National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner (though it is impossible to sing), and

America The Beautiful

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountains majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

God Bless the U.S.A.
by Lee Greenwood
And I'm proud to be an American
Where at least I know I'm free
And I won't forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me.
And I'd gladly stand up next to you
And defend Her still today
'Cause there ain't no doubt
I love this land
God Bless the U.S.A.

Taken May 29, 2016

My wife and I watched the lightening flicker just above the treetops in the eastern sky and marveled at the beauty of this warm spring evening.  And I couldn't help but think about the dream that is the America and what it has meant to me. To all of us.

Copyright May 30, 2016 by Loren Schumacher
Cloud photo by Carol A. Lang May 29, 2016

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Where's The Wire?

His first stride was not as explosive as jockey Victor Espinoza would have hoped, but with his second stride California Chrome accelerated and his saddle began to slip.  Over the remaining 1-1/4 miles of the Dubai World cup it slipped from the heart-girth nearly to Chrome's loins. Somehow Espinoza managed to lean forward enough to keep his balance and race on.

...slipped from his heart-girth nearly to Chrome's loins.

Racing from the eleventh post position Chrome, wearing blinkers a drab grey/silver in color, powered to a stalking position by the first turn, three wide, third behind the talented Mshawish with Frankie Dettorri up and Special Fighter shadowing just off his flank.  Not wanting to be trapped in traffic, Espinoza kept Chrome three wide up the back stretch.   Mubtaahij moved to within striking distance in fourth, with my favorite, Frosted, lurking in fifth.  The first quarter was run in a leisurely 25:3, but the pace quickened in the second to 23:6.

In a pre-race interview Espinoza said that he lets the horse tell him what kind of race it wants to run. What if the horse doesn't want to do what I have in mind?  Espinoza said that if the other horses would give him the lead in the world's richest race, he would take it, but still would have been happy lying either first or second, just off the lead.

Pre-race workout.  Look at his size and his impressive muscular development.  Magnificent.

The son of Lucky Pulpit had finished a disappointing second in last year's Dubai World Cup to Prince Bishop and then was shipped to England hoping to compete at Ascot.  But Chrome suffered a bruised canon bone which sidelined him for the balance of 2015.

Returning to competition in January 2016, Chrome finished first in the San Pasqual Stakes-G2 with World Cup competitor Hoppertunity finishing third.  While he did not look particularly sharp after the long layoff, his win left trainer Art Sherman satisfied and confident in Chrome's future.  His form was much improved in his second race, this time at Meydan Race Club in Dubai, where he finished powerfully to win its February 25th handicap race.

Horses are at their physical peak in their fifth year, finally mature in bone, muscle and experience.  As the World Cup herd turned for home, Chrome's will and strength were tested as he lay third until Mshawish drifted out and Mubtaahij slipped into contention along the rail.  Chrome, now four wide, powered up as Frosted pushed himself into the mix lying fifth on the far outside.  Hoppertunity, whose career has been spent chasing California Chrome, struggled to find running room after a race spent in the rearmost rank.

Inside the last 300 meters the logjam began to break up with Frosted and Mshawish fading and Mubtaahij moving boldly into second position,  Espinosa went to the right hand whip, two or three times, perhaps more, and the gap between Chrome and the field widened to 3-3/4 lengths at the wire.
In winning, Chrome set a course record for 1-1/4 miles at 2.01:5 and in doing so collected $6 million dollars of the race's $10 million purse, making Chrome the richest horse in America's long history of Thoroughbred racing with $12,532,650.00 in earnings.  Mubtaahij finished second with the unlucky Hoppertunity third.  Frosted, valiant and game as always, slipped to fifth and the early leader, Mshawish, dropped away from the pace to finish a distant sixth,

"Where is the wire?"

As soon as he could pull the classy chestnut with his flashy white blaze and stockings (Chrome) up, Espinoza leaped to the racing surface to adjust and tighten Chrome's errant saddle.  "I kept thinking, where's the wire?" Espinoza said, referring to the slipping saddle. "It wasn't coming fast enough."

Just beyond the wire.  The cinch far beyond Chrome's barrel where it belongs.

For Chrome the future holds several more races all pointing to the Breeder's Cup Classic in October and then retirement at Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky.   Thus far California Chrome has won 12 of 21 starts with only five races out of the money, so when retirement comes it will be a well earned one. Well earned indeed.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Every Picture Tells A Story, Don't It?**

I don't usually search the web for photos, but this one, recently downloaded from, caught my eye.  It captures two of the things I care most about: horses/animals and art.

You may hear the percussive thunder of hooves on a race course surface.  To you, music.  I see legs like brooding leafless trees in a winter forest and the shoes, fleeting headlight reflections on a rain slick road.  Scattered clods of dirt, here thick and heavy and there, thin and transparent, disturb the photo's angularity.  They are a kind of dissonance, like blood spatters on a wall.  In my eyes, art.

It's funny how you remember clearly things, important things to a child, that happened long ago, especially when those memories are about a favorite toy or a little boy's dog. When I was three or four years old I had a cur dog, chestnut and white in color, that lived under our hen house.  There is an old black and white picture of me, skinny and blonde, already a year or two in glasses, wearing faded bib overalls and no shirt standing next to Brownie in his run.  I think I was smiling in the picture, but then I always smiled when Brownie was around.

When the rabbits raided our garden at night they would taunt poor Brownie and he barked until he was hoarse, at least that's what the policeman told my dad. "Get rid of him or I'll shoot him," the cop said, and in those days he could have shot Brownie and gotten away with it too.  Mrs. Clark from across the railroad tracks had gotten her wish and my dad gave Brownie away.  

I don't ever remember hearing my Brownie barking in the night.  You know how soundly innocence rests. And somehow my dad gave Brownie away without my knowing.  I've carried Brownie around in my heart for many decades now and I hope to see him again one day.

My mother was a big, well, big for King's Mills High School anyway, band singer in the late '30's and early 40's.   And while she sang, she also doubled on bass and did it all while standing on a chair or a stool, or anything that was handy.  She was very short.  

Because of her there was always music in our house, on the radio mainly, and singing, although my tone deaf father remained blessedly quiet.  Because there was music, I've always sung, but after more than 100,000 cigarettes' (haven't smoked for more than 20 years) not as well as I once did.  Perhaps my memory is a just a little fuzzy about the quality of my singing..  

I was a normal kid for my time, baseball crazy and good at it too.  But I was shy and had a difficult time fitting in with the other kids.  So it didn't help my cause when mom enrolled me in tap dancing classes!  Ugh, I hated every minute of it and although dancing helped to make me faster, stronger and more coordinated than most of the other boys, it didn't matter to me, I still resented it.  I just wanted to be like everyone else.  Just a normal little boy.  I was the only boy in the dance class and it made me different, even more than my thick glasses already had.  You bet I resented it.

She redeemed herself though whenever there were "teacher in-service days."  For me it was a day away from the rigors of school.  Mom and I would take a trolly downtown to the Cincinnati Art Museum where I happily spent time with Picasso, John Singer Sargent, Egyptian history and wondered about whoever it was that wore that suit of gleaming armor.

McAlpin's department store had a tea room where mom and I would eat lunch after the museum.  I don't remember not ordering filet of sole with tartar sauce.  I didn't need the menu.

My youth is gone, so is McAlpin's Department Store and its tea room and so, sadly, is my mother.   What is left then is my love for animals and art in all their variety.  Oh, and I almost forgot, all of the memories.

Every picture tells a story, don't it?

** Wouldn't be quite right not to credit Rod Stewart with the title of this piece and the refrain from one of his best songs.

Copyright by Loren R. Schumacher, March 11, 2016

Friday, January 15, 2016

One Fine Day ( Part 1 )

Maybe the cool and distant reception our tour received at Winstar Farm had something to do with our bus driver squeezing into a place he shouldn't have and plowing into one of the large flower pots standing outside the door of the stallion complex.  Or, as it is in most companies, attitude is a reflection of ownership or management.  Giving the benefit of the doubt, I'll excuse Winstar and blame it on the youth of our tour guide, the marketing manager and her assistant.  There is more but I'll skip the details.

Winstar itself is a very young company, founded in 2000 with the acquisition of the 400 acre Prestonwood Farm by current owner Kenny Troutt and his partner.  The farm's history dates to the 1700's, then owned by the Williams family of Virginia.  Their bank barn and several other buildings remain and are on the National Historic Register.  Along with the purchase of Prestonwood came two sires: Kris S and Distorted Humor.  Before his death in 2002, Kris S sired 5 Breeder's Cup winners and 3 Eclipse Award winners.  Distorted Humor, foaled in 1993, remains an active sire to this day, commanding a six figure fee.  More about him later.

There are three viewing areas in the new stallion barn, 18 stalls, 2 breeding sheds and 22 three acre paddocks.  The first horse to be ushered into the viewing area was the incredible Tiznow, once both American Horse of the Year and California Horse of the Year.  He is the only back- to- back winner of the Breeder's Cup Classic and winner of $6.2 million dollars.

His progeny have won the Belmont, Travers Stakes, Dubai World Cup, Santa Anita Derby, the Wood Memorial and others.  My Sweet Addiction won the 2015 Vanity Stakes, Colonel John the Santa Anita Derby, Well Armed won the Dubai World Cup by a record 14 lengths and Da'Taro beat Big Brown in the 2008 Belmont.  It should be remembered that Big Brown finished dead last in the race for an unknown and still suspicious reason.  His trainer has had his license lifted in some states.

All of the photos taken at Winstar, with one exception, were taken in predominantly natural light under a dome in one of the viewing areas.  The light illuminates the best of the horses physical characteristics and if they were not elegant enough, well just take a look.

Tiznow, foaled in 1997

Tiznow ranks in the top 2% of sires by average earnings.

Still rowdy and sure of his supremacy, Tiznow.

Super Saver won the Kentucky Derby in 2010.  Just another big, fast bay horse, no not really, just the fulfillment of a lifetime dream to see a Derby winner up close.  And I was not disappointed.

Super Saver was sired by Maria's Mon who sired another Derby winner, Monarchos, the 2001 Derby champion.

Super Saver

Begging for a peppermint.

I'm exhausted, can't you see my tongue's hangin' out?

Super Saver is all man too, covering 165 mares in 2015.  His most notable achievement is as the sire of Runhappy, the 2015 sprint champion and winner of the 2015 Breeder's Cup sprint.  Runhappy posted a 113 Beyer speed figure in 2015.  Very fast.

Runhappy winning the 2015 Malibu Stakes with Gary Stevens up.
Runhappy looks like his sire Super Saver.

Pioneer of the Nile was a 2006 foal sired by Empire Maker x Star of Goshen by Lord of War (Arg ) and is now an up and coming third crop sire.  

His was a successful racing career finishing second to Mine That Bird in the 2009 Kentucky Derby with wins in the Santa Anita Derby, San Felipe Stakes and Robert B. Lewis Stakes as a three year old and the Cash Call Futurity G1 as a two year old.

Pioneer of the Nile, his groom and Stallion Manager Larry McGinnis in the background.

In Pioneer of the Nile's lineage are:  Empire Maker, Fappiano, Mr. Prospector and Northern Dancer on the top or sire side and Lord of War, Key to the Kingdom and Bold Ruler (Secretariat's Sire) on the bottom or dam side, but Winstar would like to introduce broodmares with Seattle Slew or Storm Cat (Sire of Empire Maker) breeding to his progeny.

Pioneer of the Nile

On October 26, his fee was $110,000.00 and five days later on Saturday it was raised to $125,000.00.  Why?  Because of this guy:

American Pharoah 

We may never in our lifetime see another horse like American Pharoah, record setter and winner of American horse racing's grand slam:  The Derby, The Preakness, The Belmont and The Breeder's Cup Classic.  Unlike many thoroughbreds, American Pharoah is not a brat, but a sweet and gentle champion.  My wife and I have tickets to Coolmore America, Ashford Stud to see AP on January 27th.  That's the good news.  The bad, we're not guaranteed to see him.  You pay your money and take your chances.

 Pioneer of the Nile appears to have the same sweet disposition as his son.  In the two pictures that follow he seems anxious for company.

Pioneer of the Nile at home.

The cleanliness and beauty of Pioneer's surroundings in the new stallion barn

Oddly, though we might have been able to pet Pioneer of the Nile, or at least be photographed near him, no one tried.  I will say that as we walked through the barn we were tightly shepherded by the stallion manager and other staff.  It was probably just as well.

Lane's End has AP Indy and Winstar has its own star, Distorted Humor, now 23 and still active in the breeding shed.  His 2016 fee, a mere $100,000.00  Why?   Because this smallish sire (15.3 hands) has sired over 130 stakes winners.  He has sired more G1 winners than all but two North American Sires. His progeny have won each of the Triple Crown races and he is a grandsire of a Kentucky Derby winner.  You'll recognize these names: Funny Cide, Commentator and Drosselmeyer, winners all. 

At the 2015 Keenland September sale a Distorted Humor colt sold for $1,525,000 to Goncalo Torrealba of Three Chimeys Farm.  

Distorted Humor's own race record of 8 wins, 5 places and 3 shows in 23 starts is an enviable one.  He was still winning at the advanced age of five.

Distorted Humor was not on display the day we visited Winstar, but wandering up and down the aisles I was able to get this picture, not the best, but interesting.

Distorted Humor behind bars.

You can see that there are bars preventing Distorted Humor from reaching outside his stall and nailing a passerby.  The hand on the right had just tapped on the piece where Distorted Humor is chewing on the bars.  Obviously he is a biter and best left to his leisure.  They can't all be Pioneer of the Nile.

While I love horse racing, I know that many people do not share my enthusiasm.  Horse racing has been its own worst enemy and deserves much of the criticism it has received.  But the industry has begun to clean up its act, even to the point of its concern for retired race horses.  Of course, the minor leagues of racing, the claimers, race on and on, I recently read of a retired race horse that had raced every two weeks for nine years without a break.  Nine years!  This is the type of abuse that has caused many, myself included, to question the industry and its neglect, mistreatment and its discarding of animals like chewing gum wrappers.  Still, there are unscrupulous trainers who watch their horses run until they cannot run anymore.  Let's not even talk of the drugs masking chronic injury, milkshaking tired or sore horses to reduce the lactic acid in their system and then there are the catastrophic injuries to consider.  But as long as two people have two fast cars, or two fast horses, they will race them and when they do, we have their beauty and grace to take our breath away.  It is the nature of man to answer a challenge and the nature of the thoroughbred to run.

Please see One Fine Day (Part 2) which follows.

Copyright January 15, 2016
All Photos by the author, Copyright, January 16, 2016 except Runhappy and American Pharoah in the public domain or