Saturday, March 23, 2019

John Henry "The One & Only"

One of the greatest Thoroughbreds to entertain the racing world to the Max. Was the great "John Henry"! Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally also became a household name in the racing world. With the success and status achieved by this fantastic champion! One of the greatest champions in the history of Thoroughbred Horse Racing!

I enjoyed many times in the 1980's watching this fantastic and determined racehorse race! I even had the enjoyment of meeting John Henry in his retirement at the Kentucky Horse Park, located in Lexington!

March 9, 1975 – October 8, 2007

Ole Bob Bowers (USA) x Once Double (USA), by Double Jay (USA)


  Race record

83 starts, 39 wins, 15 seconds, 9 thirds, US$6,591,860

Owner- Dotsam Stable Trainer- Ron McAnally 1982 Santa Anita Hdcp.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Gato Del Sol "Gray Cat Of The Sun"

Up next is another of my personal favorite Kentucky Derby winners! Unlike the great front running speed victory of "Spend A Buck" in the 1985 Derby. The gray "Gato Del Sol" came from dead last in the field of 19 runners. To take the lead one eighth of a mile from the finish line, to win the 1982 Kentucky Derby. Confidently ridden by "Hall of Fame" jockey Eddie Delahoussaye. Gato Del Sol which is Spanish for "Cat of the Sun" was allowed to settle and relax behind the large field at Churchill Downs. Gato Del Sol also had the almost impossible task of winning the 1 1/4 race from the 19th post position.  Eddie Delahoussaye would articulate a massive rally down the backstretch run at Churchill Downs. Bringing Gato Del Sol into contention reaching the 1/4 mile pole. In the run to the finish line. Gato Del Sol would turn away any challengers to pull away and win the Derby by 2 1/2 lengths and pay $44.40 for a $2 win bet. Gato Del Sol's come from behind victory. Will remain one of the best in the history of the Kentucky Derby!

Eddie Delahoussaye will also be featured on this blog. In the best jockey section!  

Gato Del Sol
SireCougar II
GrandsireTale of Two Cities
FoaledFebruary 23, 1979
CountryUnited States
BreederArthur B. Hancock III & Leone J. Peters
OwnerArthur B. Hancock III & Leone J. Peters
Trainer1) Edwin J. Gregson
2) Charles E. Whittingham
3) Howard M. Tesher
Record39: 7-9-7
Major wins
American Classic Race wins:
Kentucky Derby (1982)

video; Gato Del Sol 1982 Kentucky Derby Victory;

Sunday, April 3, 2016

"A Day At The Races" To Remember!

The above photo is the photo finish between #3 Norcliffe & #4 Lucky Conn.  The 9th race August 26, 1976. At Fort Erie Racetrack.

It is always fun to remember and relive happy days from our past. This very happy day took place during the summer of 1976. The date was August 26, 1976. The Wolfe family was racing at the Fort Erie Summer Meet.
My older brother John and I really had no plans to attend the races at the historic Fort Erie Racetrack. On this beautiful summer day. But then suddenly our plan for the day did take a sudden change in direction. As we both wound up at the racetrack to try and try our luck on betting on a few of the races.

By the time we arrived at the racetrack.They were getting ready to run the 5th race at Fort Erie. Lucky for John and I. Astute veteran horse trainer and friend of my mom and dad. Owner-trainer Norm Fletcher was running one of his more reliable steeds. A horse named "Crafty Nantallah". John and I were not very prepared to bet on the races on this day. As between the two of us. We were only able to scrounge together a mere $5. But if your luck is working for you. That that is really all the money you will need at the racetrack. As I recall Crafty Nantallah was a hard knocking and very reliable claiming horse. In which trainer Norman Fletcher was know for. We quickly looked at the racing form and sized up the horses in the field of the 5th race. Crafty Nantallah looked like a winner in the paddock. So we placed a $4 bet on Crafty Nantallah. Two dollars to win, and two dollars to show.. Crafty Nantallah was sent off of odds at 8 to 1. It was 6 1/2 furlong race and a very exciting start of our day at the track. As Crafty Nantallah stalked in great position for the first half mile of the race. Turing into the home stretch Crafty Nantallah would blow by the front running and win the race. Pulling away by 2 1/2 lengths! Our $5 had now grown to almost $25. We were on our way!

The 6th race on the Fort Erie card was also a field of hard knocking claiming horses. Our next wager would be on the old and classy Thoroughbred named "Dream Thoughts". What a perfect name for our next selection. Dream Thoughts was trained by another well respected conditioner working on the Ontario circuit named John Ainsley. Dream Thoughts would be ridden by veteran jockey John Bell.  We would place a $20 on Dream Thoughts. $10 to win and $10 to show. Dream Thoughts ran an outstanding race and just got beat in a photo finish by a nose. We still cashed the show bet on Dream Thoughts and made a slight profit on the race.

Now we were going to bet on race 7. It was a a non winner of two 3 year old filly race. Champion trainer Lou Cavalaris was running the Gardiner Farm filly "Princess Matilda". Who was the favorite in the race. Being ridden by leading rider Jeffery Fell. My brother John recalls we bet $10 to win on Princess Matilda. Who won the race. Winning the race with authority. Bringing our bankroll up to $35.

Race 8 would prove to be another very exciting race. Which involved a two year old named "The Third Sign". This two year old colt was also being ridden by leading and champion jockey "Jeffery Fell". Trying very hard to make this an exciting and winning day. John and I wagered $20 to win on "The Third Sign". Jeffery rode "The Third Sign" to an exciting head victory. Which gave us a very profitable day at the track. This was really very unexpected. When the day had begun. The Third Sign paid $7.80. Bringing our bankroll to $90!

Now the finally on this dream day at the racetrack! The 9th and final race on the race card was the prep race for the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown.Which is the "Prince Of Wales" Stakes. 1976 Queens Plate winner Norcliffe was the heavy pre-race favorite to win this small but talented field of 6 three year old horses. The race was 1 1/16 on the turf. One of the contenders in the field was from the "Conn Smythe barn and trained by Donnie Walker. Which was their best 3 year named "Lucky Conn". Lucky Conn was being ridden by apprentice jockey Michael Quong. This important race was a very big opportunity for the young career of Michael Quong. Because Michael had not won 5 races in his career yet. Lucky Conn would receive a 10 pound weight allowance. Giving Lucky Conn a chance to beat Norcliffe in this race. That is the way John and I concluded. After reviewing the facts. Reading the racing form. John and I predicted that Lucky Conn would be able to set the pace in the race. Which would be a moderate pace. Again increasing the chances for Lucky Conn to complete the upset of Norcliffe. John and I were confident with our decision and bet $80 to win on Lucky Conn. Which was a lot to wager for two young guys still going to school. But we took our chance made our decision to "Let It Ride"!

The race started with John and I pumped for a major winning day at the track very possible now. Lucky Conn and his rider Michael Quong sprang out of the starting gate. Just the way we had predicted the race would be run. Lucky Conn and Michael controlled the pace in the run down the backstretch. With Norcliffe and Jeffery Fell running in a stalking position. Turning for home Lucky Conn still managed to hold Norcliffe at bay. As the Queen's Plate winner was starting to mount his challenge. To try and win the race. Now the pair had reached 1/8 of a mile pole from the finish line. Lucky Conn still held a slight advantage. But Norcliffe and Jeffery Fell were starting to wear the lead of Lucky Conn away. It now looked like the race was lost and our dream day at the track would end with a narrow defeat. To the Champion Norcliffe. However our dream day was not over yet! Young Michael Quong was not interested in losing this race. Michael just like a well seasoned pro. Changed the whip to his left hand and gave Lucky Conn a couple of good slaps! Lucky Conn responded and fought back! Turning a neck disadvantage. To regaining the lead away from Norcliffe. And in a desperate and thrilling confrontation. Holding on to beat Norcliffe by a nose!!! John and I were beyond happy after this exhilarating win by Lucky Conn and Michael Quong. John and I walked out of the Fort Erie Racetrack with over $550 in our pockets. And lots of joy in our hearts!

This race would be the 3rd win in the race riding career of jockey "Michael Quong". Norcliffe would come back in two weeks to win the Prince of Wales Stakes. From this day on. I would refer to Michael Quong as the Killer! The Giant Killer that is. Michael would go on to a successful jockey career on the tough Ontario Thoroughbred Circuit. Also wining lots of races for the Sheldon Wolfe racing stable!


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Spend A Buck- Pure Speed!

On this unique list of my favorite Thoroughbred Race horses. I have to include a least one of my favorite Kentucky Derby Winners. That horse would be the winner of the Kentucky Derby in 1985. The winner that year was a terrific pure speed horse named "Spend A Buck". The yearly running of the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May. Remains one of the highest honers that can be achieved in the horse racing business! Winning the run for the roses can be compared. To a baseball player winning the World Series. A Football Player winning the Super Bowel. Or a soccer player winning the World Cup of Football! I was thrilled when our wonderful horse 'Truth of It All" completed in the 1993 edition of the Kentucky Derby. I realized through my experience. What an important and prestigious horse-race the Derby is. Also how incredible hard it is to obtain a racehorse good enough to compete in this difficult equine test. Let alone how hard it is to win it!
The distance of the Kentucky Derby is 1 1/4 miles. Run on the first Saturday in May each year. Usually it draws a full field of 20 racehorses. This makes it even more difficult for the best horse in the race to win. Because so much can go terrible wrong in a big field of 20. Also trying to set the pace and lead all the way in the Kentucky Derby I would say is very difficult or impossible feat to accomplish. However on May 4th 1985 the great Thoroughbred "Spend A Buck". Would make the impossible task of setting blistering fractions during the entire 1 1/4 miles in the Derby. Also leading for every stride of the 1985 Kentucky Derby, look easy! The handsome big bay colt with Champion jockey Angel Cordero Jr. riding him. Went to the lead running the first 1/4 mile in 23 seconds. leading by 3 lengths around the Clubhouse turn. In the run down the backstretch. Spend a Buck would blister the opening 1/2 mile in 45.4 and open a 6 length lead. The 1985 "Run For The Roses" was really over at this point in the race. For Spend A Buck was never going to slow down and give a come from behind closer a chance to beat him. Spend A Buck would sizzle the 3/4 mile in 1:09 3/5 and command a 6 length advantage. With jockey Angel Cordero Jr. just steering him. When this fluent pair had reached the head of the stretch and scorched the mile at Churchill Downs in 1:34 4/5. It was now time for Angel Cordero Jr. to take off the cruise control on Spend a Buck and ask him to keep up his frantic pace! Which the pair did coasting home to the finish wire at Churchill Downs. Winning the Kentucky Derby by 5 3/4 lengths in a fishing time of 2:01.1/5. It was truly one of the greatest races that we had all witnessed on this May 4th in 1985, in horse racing history!

Spend A Buck
DamBelle de Jour
DamsireSpeak John
CountryUnited States
BreederC. Rowe Harper, Irish Hill Farm
OwnerHunter Farm
TrainerCam Gambolati
Record15: 10–3–2
Major wins
Arlington-Washington Futurity Stakes (1984)
Kentucky Derby (1985)
Jersey Derby (1985)
Monmouth Handicap (1985)
U.S. Champion 3-Yr-Old Colt (1985)
United States Horse of the Year (1985)
Calder Race Course Hall of Fame (1995)
Spend A Buck Stakes at Monmouth Park
Spend A Buck Handicap at Calder Race Course
video; 1985 Kentucky Derby 1985 Haskell Invitational

Bayakoa "The Iron Mare"

Bayaakoa winning the Spinster in 1989- photo by Ann M. Eberhardt

Next on the list of my all time favorite racehorses is "Bayakoa". Who hailed from Argentina and started her amazing racing career in her native country. After establishing herself as a grade one caliber racehorse. Bayakoa interests in Argentina sold her to Americans Janis and Frank Whitham. Bayakoa's trainer in the U.S.would be Hall of Fame Trainer Ron McAnally. 
Bayakoa would prove to be one of the most prolific and consistent females racehorses to ever race in North America. Being ranked with the great race mares; Shuvee, Gamely, Affectionately, Azeri and Zenyatta! I did get to watch Bayaka race and win many times. I also enjoyed a major thrill. As when we shipped "Dance for Lucy" to Keeneland Racecourse in the Fall of 1989. We got to be neighbors with the great Bayakoa! Lucy responded by winning the prep race for Queen Elizabeth II Invitational, beating the D.Wayne Lucas trained "Darby Shuffle". That was a major thrill! Also watching Bayakoa win the prestigious "Spinster Stakes" race by 11 1/2 lengths was also very special. Bayakoa was famous for being very fast and aggressive while she raced. 
Bayakoa would intimate and overwhelm her combatants into submission for a lot of her convincing victories. During Bayakoa's win in the 1990 Breeders Cup Female Championship Race. Bayakoa engaged "Go For Wand" turning into the strength! They battled head and head to the 1/16th pole from the finish line. Very sadly at that critical point in the race. Go For Wand suddenly broke a leg in the ensuing battle and had to be euthanized! Bayakoa went on to a 5 length victory. Horse racing is a great sport. But it is also an aggressive war between combatants. It was a very sad moment in horse racing history. That the great racehorse "Go For Wand" in her own right. Life had  to come to an abrupt end in such a great physical contest!
SireConsultants Bid
GrandsireBold Bidder
DamsireGood Manners
BreederHaras Principal
OwnerJanis & Frank Whitham
TrainerRon McAnally
Record39: 29-1-0
Major wins
The Spinster Handicap (1989)
Apple Blossom Handicap (1989)
Santa Maria Handicap (1990)
Milady Handicap (1989, 1990)
Vanity Invitational Handicap (1989)
Breeders' Cup wins:
Breeders' Cup Distaff (1989, 1990)
U.S. Champion Older Female Horse (1989 & 1990)
United States' Racing Hall of Fame (1998)
#95 - Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century
Bayakoa Handicap at Hollywood Park Racetrack
Bayakoa Stakes at Oaklawn Park
Last updated on April, 2010

The life and death battle between "Bayakoa and "Go For Wand" in the 1990 Breeders Cup Distaff.
A picture I took of "Bayakoa" and her groom "Ricardo" who worked for Ron McAnally in 1989 at Keeneland. (photo property of DRW Media)

videos; 1990 Milady Handicap 1989 Breeders Cup Distaff 1990 Santa Maria Stakes

Monday, March 21, 2016

Personal Ensign "Just Perfect"

Their are so many great horses that I have enjoyed to see race. During my time working at the racetrack. It is very hard to select all these special racehorses. That I would enjoy to remember and honor on my blog.  I do have to write about the great race mare named "Personal Ensign". Who was the consummate champion in every detail! For Personal Ensign never lost a race in her brief 13 race career. Her career was cut short by a serious injury she endured as a two year old. Personal Ensign suffered a cracked pastern in her left hind leg. Dr. Bramlage inserted five screws in her left hind leg. Which put the rest of her racing career in jeopardy.

However Personal Ensign came back the following year in 1987 an also raced in 1988 and won all seven of her races. Which were all grade one Stake Races. Including beating males in the Whitney Handicap in Saratoga. Also Personal Ensign ended her spectacular career in dramatic style. Getting up in the final strides of the Breeders Cup Distaff. Beating Kentucky Derby winner "Winning Colors", by a slight nose. What an an emotional win that was created by Personal Ensign. I remember at the 1/8 pole. It looked like Winning Colors had Personal Ensign and her regular jockey Randy Romero beat. But like true champions they both refused to give up. Personal Ensign and Randy Romeo mounted a great comeback from there great courage. And gave all horse racing fans a special thrill, on that special day. That we will never never forget!

SirePrivate Account
DamGrecian Banner
DamsireHoist The Flag
FoaledApril 27, 1984
CountryUnited States
BreederOgden Phipps
OwnerOgden Phipps
TrainerClaude R. McGaughey III
Major wins
Frizette Stakes (1986)
Beldame Stakes (1987, 1988)
Rare Perfume Stakes (1987)
Breeders' Cup Distaff (1988)
Whitney Handicap (1988)
Hempstead Handicap (1988)
Shuvee Handicap (1988)
Molly Pitcher Handicap (1988)
Maskette Handicap (1988)
U.S. Champion Older Female (1988)
Kentucky Broodmare of the Year (1996)
U.S. Racing Hall of Fame (1993)
#48 - Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century
Personal Ensign Handicap at Saratoga Race Course

- Maiden Special Weight - The 1988 Beldame (G1)

The Whitney Handicap (G1)

1988 Breeders' Cup Distaff

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Fourstardave "The Sultan of Saratoga"

A great story that has to be told on this blog. Is the story of "Fourstardave". One of the greatest New York Bred thoroughbreds to ever race. Fourstardave achieved the almost impossible task of wining races at the historic and prestigious Saratoga Race Course for 8 consecutive years. From 1987 until 1994. Speed strength, determination, consistency and courage are all of the attributes that Dave possessed to achieve this almost impossible accomplishment! There is a saying in the horse racing business that is true. Which is "horses for courses". Fourstardave fell in love with Saratoga Race Course located in Saratoga Springs New York. The beauty and history of this wonderful place to race. Is not to be missed by horse racing people or fans of the sport. Dave certainly enjoyed home field advantage when he raced at the Spa!  Their is really no difference for all great athletes both equine and human. They all love to complete, perform and to win!!! Fourstardave also reminds and sets an everlasting example to his human counterparts. It is not the fame and the money that are the biggest rewards for being blessed to be a star athlete. The reward is the fun of completing and winning in their sport. Also the joy of entertaining the fans and leaving them with the special memories, of the thrill of victory!!!!

Buried at Clare Court, Saratoga Race Course
Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga Race Course
Upon his retirement, he was feted at neighboring Siro's Restaurant, where he was presented with an edible key to the city and had the small lane named "Fourstardave Way" in his honor.
GrandsireNorthern Dancer
DamBroadway Joan
DamsireBold Arian
CountryUnited States
BreederRichard M. Bomze
OwnerBernard Connaughton and Richard Bomze
TrainerLeo O'Brien
Record99: 21-18-16
Major wins
Empire Classic Handicap (1987)
St. Paul Derby (1988)
Albany Stakes (1988)
Poker Handicap (1989, 1993)
Daryl's Joy Stakes (1990, 1991)
Jaipur Stakes (1990)
videos;   documentary on Fourstardave   1994 victory at Saratoga!