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    MARK GEIGER: Longshots, Comments, Chalk Festival
    WARREN EVES: Horses to Watch, Comments

  • October 2017
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    Conquest Twister tops Oaklawn Park’s highlight reel; The leggy Uncontested appears to have a bright future

    Posted By Warren Eves on January 18, 2017

    By Warren Eves The Canadian-bred Conquest Twister topped our highlight reel of Oaklawn Park’s first four days. Uncontested lived up to top billing in the featured Smarty Jones, but two races prior Conquest Twister was impressive in his own right. Our tedious process of video tape review left us in awe of Conquest Twister’s late surge to win as the 9-to-5 favorite in race six. It was the newly turned four-year-old’s second test over the Oaklawn oval. Conquest Twister finished fourth beaten nearly 7 lengths exactly one year ago to Whitmore. He showed marked improvement in (more…)

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    ‘Derby Innovator’ is as good a book as it gets

    Posted By Warren Eves on December 23, 2016

    By Warren Eves Barry Irwin’s book Derby Innovator is as good as it gets. It’s a plethora of intriguing stories. Here’s one story involving Don “The Flamingo” Fleming, the editorial chief of the Daily Racing Form. Irwin tells story after story. Here’s an example: “Early one afternoon in the summer of 1976 at Del Mar racetrack, I received a phone call in the press box with a tip to beat it downstairs to the valet parking area near the main entrance gate to the seaside track. When I got down there, the Del Mar security officers were just wrapping up an incident involving Y. Charles “Chet” Soda, one of the original partners of the Oakland Raiders who always spent his summers at the beach. The chairman of the California Horse Racing Board was a tall, heavy-set gentleman who wore the kind of thin mustache favored by actors of an earlier era. The 68-year-old had pulled his car up to the front gate at Del Mar. In order to proceed to the restricted parking area, he needed a credential for his car, which he did not have. Soda tried to explain to the two officers in charge that he had taken his wife’s care and he was anxious to get inside to play the daily double.  One officer spoke to Soda while the other officer stood directly in front of the car. Soda must have really wanted to get down on the double, because at one point , out of frustration, he took his foot off the brake, and proceeded to prop one of the security officers onto the hood of his car. The officer, enraged, opened the driver’s door, pulled Soda from the car, pushed him down to the ground and cuffed him.  Soda then was escorted to a holding cell in the security office.  He was “released on his own recognizance” later that evening. I interviewed the officers and witnesses, sprinted back to the press box elevator, phoned the Flamingo and told him what had happened.  I then asked him what to do.  I had the scoop. I was excited to have a real-life breaking news story to write. If I worked for a real newspaper, I would not have had to make the call. But I worked for the national house organ for racing, aka Daily Racing Form. The Flamingo thought about it and finally said “Hmm. You go ahead, go ahead and write it, but just sit on it. I will phone you back.” I had not finished writing my report by the time The Flamingo called back to tell me “the Ambassador doesn’t want to run the story.” Interestingly, the following morning, the major San Diego daily newspaper put the incident where nobody could miss it as its front-page headline story. Yet, Daily Racing Form–self proclaimed as “America’s Turf Authority since 1894″–contained not a single word about this incident. Things had become so sensitive at Bimini Place, that I found myself unable to even get a normal sports story in print.  Jockey Don Pierce, a specialist in come-from-behind rides, was a top jockey on the circuit and regularly rode for Charlie Whittingham in big races. Pierce had one flaw–he had trouble getting out of the gate. (more…)

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    Blueridge Traveler Won’t Be Maiden For Long at FGD

    Posted By Warren Eves on December 4, 2016

    By Warren Eves Trainer Ken McPeek has to be shaking his head. He’s got a coming three-year-old name Blueridge Traveler who has experienced nightmare trips in his only two trips to the gate. On Saturday, Dec., 3, in the 9th race at the Fairgrounds he was badly compromised leaving from the extreme outside position 8. Teletap broke outward from post 7 and pushed him outward at least five lanes. His early position in the 1-mile 70 yard event had been adversely affected severely. James Graham saved ground with him and they were still seventh (more…)

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    Fairgrounds stewards better send a message & soon!

    Posted By Warren Eves on December 3, 2016

    By Warren Eves The Fairgrounds stewards better send a message. After watching the Dec., 2nd race three at the New Orleans oval many times, it must be stated many in the small field of eight were compromised. I spend tireless hours looking at the head on. The opening 50 yards of a race is critical. Here’s what I saw. #1 Transeunte came out after breaking to jostle #2 Easter Girl. She then lugged out going for the lead before the turn. #2 (more…)

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    Fast FF(final fraction) can be key to ‘live’ playbacks

    Posted By Warren Eves on November 30, 2016

    By Warren Eves The fifth race November 27 at the Fairgrounds my wind up a ‘key’ race. Several factors bring us to this conclusion. First. The final fraction in the $25,000 claiming race on the lawn was a rapid 5.91. Over a long period of years we have found it pays to look at races where they come home fast no matter what the surface may be. This is why Knights Nation and Turncoat made my “watch list.”  If one doesn’t place an additional emphasis on the final fraction–most likely neither one of these horses would have drawn (more…)

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    Keep Talking impresses day two as Fairgrounds opens

    Posted By Warren Eves on November 23, 2016

    By Warren Eves Day two of the winter Fairgrounds meet produced some notable runs. Bereton JonesKeep Talking, favored when sixth as the favorite in his Keeneland debut, made amends in the maiden special weight sixth. Despite veering out at the start the Ghostzapper colt still led in the opening 60. He then sat second outside Hold Me Black, then when spanked in the lane he kicked away. The main track, for whatever reason, did not produce a lot of quick last fractions. Usually that kind of a surface meets with the approval of the horsemen. I spent hours reviewing the first two days of racing and you will find my observations in the “Notes scribbled” section below. Notes scribbled across my official program–In watching replays of day one at the Fairgrounds noted the racing surface was far from glib. For example, in the seasonal opener when #3–Supreme Bean managed to finish a no-threat fourth I disregarded the fairly good effort. The reason is the final 25.83 final fraction is not going to produce much down the road…………Benwill won race four on opening day at the Fairgrounds and actually posted the best final fraction of the program as he came home in 23.17 on the turf. It appeared that Jim Graham gave String King an easy race. (more…)

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    Was CHRB jimson weed news release a warning shot? Are the rumbles of a Breeders Cup drug positive true?

    Posted By Warren Eves on November 18, 2016

    By Warren Eves It was a warning shot. That’s my take on that news release from the dysfunctional California Horse Racing Board(CHRB) on November 14 regarding jimson weed. Why would the CHRB, with its long running apathetic history, go public with such miss information? Do you suppose rumors of an impending Breeders Cup drug positive could have any connection with this action? It must be said. Finding some jimson weed in one bale of straw is simply not worthy of a teeny bit of concern! Cheating with a prescription form of scopolamine, apparently continues to be an issue. We’re hearing investigators from one California horse racing facility were sent to another horse gaming venue last week. It could be the tell tale sign of something bigger than a bale of hay. One of (more…)

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    Bill Hartack book filled with plethura of great stories

    Posted By Warren Eves on November 15, 2016

    By Warren Eves Horse racing historians are sure to enjoy Bill Hartack the book. For those of us who have been on this earth longer than most, Bill Christine’s recount of thoroughbred racing’s past is a must. We lost the great Phil Georgeff recently, the voice of Chicago racetracks during their best years. “Here they come, spinning out of the turn,” was one of his pet phrases writes Bill Christine, my friend who wrote for the Los Angeles Times for many years. Here’s a tidbit from chapter 12, The Bittersweet Life of a Hall of Fame Jockey.  ”With 549 wins, Hartack ranks far down on the list of all-time leading jockeys at Arlington Park, but when Phil Georgeff wrote his memoir, there were only three chapters devoted exclusively to jockeys–Hartack, Eddie Arcaro and Bill Shoemaker.  During his early years, Hartack and Shoemaker were the kingpins at Arlington, with the New York-based Arcaro dropping in intermittently to ride in an important stakes race. “They had three different riding styles. But nobody knew the shortest route to the winner’s circle any better than those three. They each deserved a chapter, because for my money they’re the three greatest of all time.” Coming from Georgeff, that’s a prolific statement! What we can tell you from our personal experience is former Daily Racing Form columnist Joe Hirsch was the only guy who got up (more…)

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    Controversy clouds LBJug on a Thursday(?)in Ohio; Text message has rival trainers lodging protest

    Posted By Warren Eves on September 23, 2016

    By Warren Eves This makes zero sense. Only a hardened harness racing buff would know the Little Brown Jug was presented Thursday. David Miller drove Betting Line to win the 71st edition and set a new 1:49 half-mile world record. And, oh yeah, the race was conducted in Delaware, Ohio but got next to zip attention with news media. Add to that odd scenario, the race is clouded with controversy. The horse that trainer Casie Coleman says “never gets tired” was giving driving legend David Miller his fourth Little Brown Jug. Wow! But how in the world could a harness racing fixture be held on a Thursday? (more…)

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    Where’s raves for Team-Sherman at Los Alamitos? California Chrome grabs place among equine greats

    Posted By Warren Eves on August 22, 2016

    By Warren Eves Where are the plaudits for trainer Art Sherman? I’m making reference to the raves that for years have been written about the likes of “Baffy” and “Smiley” Mandella? Seems to me the old timer who calls Los Alamitos Race Course his home base has done a masterful job with a very good horse. The remarkable development of California Chrome reminds me of the prowess of one Sir Charles Whittingham.  Do you remember him? He was called the “Bald Eagle.”  Writers showered him with praise for his masterful training ways with a select band of thoroughbreds. Nobody could possibly envision the string of events that would take place over the 435 acre dairy-land spread Frank Vessels, Sr. bought in Orange County, California so very long ago. It wasn’t until Go Man Go became quarter horse racing’s first superstar in 1955 the tiny racetrack Frank built began getting attention nationally. The transformation of the world’s finest quarter horse track has been beyond remarkable. I remember the days when I drove from Pasadena, Ca., through all the dairy farms in Orange County to get to this quaint horse racing oval where they ran quarter horse races. It’s a piece of my California horse racing memory bank they can never take away. Those photo finishes. Those “hello there” announcements Bobby Doyle made over the loudspeaker when there was one of many dead heats. It was country racing. It was awesome! Boy has that picture changed! Unfortunately, Sherman has gotten only moderate raves for his masterful job of managing a horse named California Chrome. To his credit, he’s managed to deflect some of the pompous and dribble that has spouted from the mouths of those who have been fortunate to own a piece of this talented super horse.  If Sir Charlie were still with us he’d tell you teamwork is what it makes it happen under any successful shedrow. (more…)

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