JC / Railbird


A Good One

He’ll be missed:

Strait of Dover often wore a quizzical gaze and his cocky personality won over his handlers along the backstretch. He had an unusually large head, so they called him “Potato.”

The 4-year-old 2012 Queen’s Plate winner died of colic on July 14. Robert MacLeod’s account of his final days is heartbreaking.

Deputed Testamony, RIP

The 1983 Preakness winner died today at age 32.

In a 2011 Kentucky Confidential video, Jeff Krulik and John Scheinman visited the then-oldest living Classic winner at Bonita Farm.

Deputed Testamony won his Classic without racing on Lasix, a point interesting then because patchwork raceday drug regulations were just one of the reasons the 1983 Preakness was dubbed the “Prescription Preakness,” and now, as the Lasix debate reaches another peak.

Jess Jackson, RIP

At the Eclipse Awards, January 2010.

It was announced today that owner Jess Jackson, 81, has died.

Since last summer, it had been apparent that Jackson was not well. He missed seeing Rachel Alexandra win at Monmouth in the Lady’s Secret Stakes in July, he wasn’t at Saratoga to watch her work in August. His wife, Barbara Banke, began to take a more prominent role in the stable. And deep in a Jay Hovdey column, published in DRF in January, was a discreet mention of the cancer he had previously beat into remission (via).

None of which dulled the shock on hearing of his passing.

Jackson liked to see his horses run, and he enjoyed seeing his horses tested. Bringing Curlin back as a 4-year-old in 2008 and campaigning Rachel Alexandra as he did in 2009 was sporting (even if it could be frustrating, waiting on him to say where and when one of his stars might start next). I’ll always remember the Woodward, the grandstand shaking from the force of the crowd rising and cheering for Rachel as she streaked down the stretch. Her 3-year-old HOTY campaign was bold and historic, a remarkable achievement.

They broke the mold with this guy,” eulogizes partner George Bolton.

More remembrances from friends and industry leaders …

4/24/11 Addendum: Joe Drape is out with an appraisal of Jackson’s racing career, which concludes:

Jackson, too, set some standards, one in particular that any horseplayer or horse lover can appreciate. He let his horses run instead of retiring them to the breeding shed and life as a pampered A.T.M. He ran them in the biggest races on the brightest stages. He didn’t worry if they got beat.

That quality was appreciated.

Miesque, RIP

Frances J. Karon fondly remembers the champion mare, euthanized at Lane’s End Farm on Thursday at the age of 27: “[S]ince I heard the news of her passing I’ve been wondering: are there sugar cubes in heaven?

“She was a great, great racemare and a great broodmare,” said trainer Freddie Head, Miesque’s regular rider. “I’m glad that when I was in Kentucky for the Breeders’ Cup in November, I went to Lexington and saw her.”

DRF has posted Miesque’s lifetime past performances (PDF). She won the Breeders’ Cup Mile in 1987 and 1988, the first horse to win the same race two years running, and she held the European record for G1 wins until this year, when Goldikova equaled, then surpassed her 10 victories at the highest level.

Miesque also enjoyed a successful career as a broodmare; she was the dam of multiple stakes winners and the leading sire Kingmambo.

Real Quiet, RIP

The finish of the 1998 Belmont Stakes
Victory Gallop and Real Quiet at the wire in the Belmont (Flickr/Budmeister)

Pity Real Quiet, dead at 15 following a paddock accident. Narrowly denied the Triple Crown by Victory Gallop in the 1998 Belmont Stakes, news of his death on Monday was overshadowed by news of Rachel Alexandra’s retirement. “As one who feels he has made it his life’s work to perfect the art of the rotten beat,” writes Mike Watchmaker, “I have always empathized with Real Quiet.” Amanda Duckworth remembers the Kentucky Derby winner, nicknamed “The Fish,” as an underdog, which was, for her, much of his appeal.

Real Quiet’s final race was the 1999 Hollywood Gold Cup. He retired a winner.

Vic Ziegel, RIP

The 72-year-old sportswriter died Friday:

… and the only one who could lighten such dark and heavy news would have been Ziegel himself.

Nobody had a more deft touch with written words or humor than Ziegel, The News columnist and former sports editor, who spent his life making readers smile or chuckle over the one-liners he so painstakingly crafted.

I can’t remember ever reading a bad Ziegel column. He could do humor without snark, criticism without condescension. Even covering the biggest racing days, when every little detail that could be reported seemed to have been so, his words always sounded fresh, his stories always new.

“It astounded my father — a man who rode with the Cossacks; the friendlier Cossacks — that a son of his earned a living writing 24-21, 4-3, $12.60 to win,” Ziegel once wrote of his career. “The truth? It still astounds his son.”

7/27/10 Addendum: Allen Barra remembers Ziegel. “But at a particular time, hell, there were times when I think I was the best.” No question.

News of Old Friends

– Via Foolish Pleasure, I learned last week that Fleetheart, who became a Railbird favorite when she began her career with four straight eye-catching SoCal wins, was back in training after a lengthy layoff. Entered in an allowance at Indiana Downs last night, the now 6-year-old mare went to post as the 3-5 favorite in her first start since November 2008; she found the winner’s circle for the first time since 2007 by running between horses, then finishing a game 1/2 length ahead of Brean Can. It was a flash of the old Fleetheart, and nice to see after a long run of unfortunate losses.

– Via Green but Game, sad news about Papi Chullo.