JC / Railbird


Belmont Day Notes

Big Brown at Three Chimneys Farm in 2012
Big Brown at Three Chimneys in May 2012.

Looking back, it’s easy to see Big Brown’s loss in the 2008 Belmont Stakes as the point where the unraveling of IEAH began, and to marvel at how closely that outfit’s rise and fall paralleled the global subprime bubble and 2008 financial collapse, from slick talk and shady deals to ruin. Michael Iavarone and company boasted that they were bringing Wall Street to the racetrack, and in the worst way, they succeeded — all that’s left now of their ambitions, as Ryan Goldberg reports in his detailed, must-read story on Deadspin, is an empty equine hospital and a decrepit sign honoring Big Brown outside what was trainer Rick Dutrow’s Aqueduct barn. The horse, at least, is living the high life of a stud at Three Chimneys Farm, which has “all the charm of a quaint, leafy village, but with the perks of an executive suite” (via).

Turning to happier Belmont memories, what a remarkable moment:

We asked Chenery and Turcotte to watch the 1973 Belmont together. As the video played, as Chick Anderson’s legendary race call began, as the pair saw the timeless race unfold again, with Secretariat shooting up a gap near the rail, Turcotte told his former owner that he could feel the big horse’s heartbeat during the race, that he could feel the horse’s rhythmic breathing through his legs.

Hello Race Fans picks for Belmont day are up. Good luck, everyone!

Quick Hits

– Following up on his Letter to the Editor in the New York Times, Alex Waldrop presses his response to Joe Drape’s drugs-in-racing commentary of last week with a Blood-Horse column and a short blog post, both of which amp up the defensiveness of the original reaction to little effect, other than to make the NTRA and the Safety Alliance appear as irrelevant as critics charge and to expose the limits of industry self-regulation. (It doesn’t help that Waldrop outlandishly claims in the Blood-Horse, “Race-day medications have been virtually eliminated nationwide,” when Lasix remains legal everywhere and phenylbutazone is widely used in California and elsewhere.) That’s unfortunate, especially as racing heads into a season of increased scrutiny.

– Yesterday’s news: David Lanzman sells 50% of I Want Revenge to IEAH. Today’s news: IEAH sells 25% of Stardom Bound to David Lanzman. Foolish Pleasure questions if the deal — which, according to one report, was for $2 million + the share in Stardom Bound + bonuses — is a sign that IEAH is struggling to muster capital. I wondered if Joe Talamo would really retain the mount on the Gotham winner, as the press release announcing the deal stated. Asked during the Tuesday NTRA teleconference about just that point, Lanzman vehemently replied, “It’s Joe’s horse … I can’t imagine taking the kid off.” Note to Talamo: Don’t screw up in the Wood.

– The first HANA sponsored buy-cott was a success, with total handle on the selected race up nearly 100%. Well done, horseplayers.