(Knicks Go / Coady Photography)
Here’s just a few random thoughts about the past week in Thoroughbred racing. Welcome your input and thoughts, too. Just let me know.
I really don’t care how you pronounce the name, or, truthfully from whence it came. All I know is that this 5YO son of Paynter is now the best horse in the world. Bar none. And, before he’s done? Everybody in this game will know his name.
On Saturday, the muscular gray didn’t give his opposition any chance or hope, jumping to an early lead and simply out-running every other horse in the field for the $3 million Pegasus World Cup. In fact, he ran them into the ground.
Knicks Go won by nearly 3 lengths, which is what I predicted going into the race. Yet, he could have won by whatever margin that rider Joel Rosario wanted or asked.
He was dominating. He was spectacular.
And, it was not the first time, either.
Before that race, Knicks Go kicked butt in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, winning that G1 event by over 3 lengths. Led that one from start to finish, too. No contest.
And, the race before that one? Won an allowance at Keeneland by nearly 11 lengths.
In four starts for trainer Brad Cox, who took over conditioning this colt after Ben Colebrook, Knicks Go is a perfect 4-for-4 and seems to be getting better and better in each start, as well.
I see all the banter on social media, and the questions being raised about the training methods of Cox. I see all the the hate, and the hell-raising. I see all the crap. I see all the allegations and innuendo about illegal activity and cheating.
What I don’t see is the proof.
I know Brad Cox. I have been to his barn. I have been in his tack room. And, I have seen his horses.
What I have seen is a barn full of happy horses. What I have seen is a barn full of talented horses. What I have seen is a man who takes really good care of his talented horses and makes them happy horses. Day in. Day out.
What I have noticed?
I have noticed that his horses can run. Really fast.
And, what I have seen — Knicks Go can really run. And, really run fast.
Right now, this horse — Knicks Go — is already one of the best grays to ever throw a horse shoe to dirt.
He’s better than Arrogate, who also won the Pegasus World Cup. IMO.
He’s better than Holy Bull, too, and he was a champion 3YO in 1994. After all, he won the Florida Derby, the Blue Grass Stakes, the Metropolitan Handicap, the Haskell Invitational, the Travers Stakes and the Woodward Stakes. After suffering an injury in the Donn Handicap, Holy Bull’s career at 4 was sidelined forever. Knicks Go is just now getting started.
And, before he is done — Knicks Go — may even rival the great Spectacular Bid, who won 26 of 30 lifetime starts and purses of almost $2.8 million in a long-ago era when winning that kind of money was much tougher.
“The Bid” was a 2YO Champ, who went on to win all five of his Derby prep races in 1979. He easily won the KY Derby and the Preakness Stakes before his controversial loss in the Belmont Stakes when he was allegedly and accidentally injured beforehand by a “straight pin.” In 1980, Bid was undoubtedly “Spectacular,” winning Horse of the Year. For his efforts, he was inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame in 1982.
In my view, Spectacular Bid was the best gray. Ever. And, Spectacular Bid was one of the best horses to ever grace our game. Ever.
Might be fun to watch Knicks Go climb that ladder.
If people would simply sit back and watch true talent in motion rather than bark at shadows in the night.
Early on Saturday’s race card at Gulfstream Park, there was a lot of excitement about a first-timer starter by the name of Stage Raider running in a Maiden Special Weight event.
There was a lot of hype going in. There were a lot of binoculars coming out. There was a lot of speculation going on.
And, why not?
The guy is a half-brother to 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify. The world awaited.
True enough, there was a show and a showcase performance.
Unfortunately for the connections of Stage Raider, it was not him, though.
He was stood up by a stand out in Prevalence — a 3YO son of Medaglia d’Oro. Ironically, like Justify, Prevalence is out of a Ghostzapper mare, too. This first-time starter ripped off to an 81/2-length win over his more heralded rival.
There is less than 100 days to this year’s Kentucky Derby — which will be held on the first Saturday in May, again. Thank the good Lord. But this Spring is shaping up as a real interesting one on the “Road to the Roses.”
Life Is Good is very good.
Essential Quality seems to have all the right ingredients.
Caddo River rolled on in his 2021 debut.
The Great One looked just that in his racing debut.
And, now you may be able to add Prevalence to the mix?
Stay tuned. Could be a whirlwind coming.
Could be fun.
Historical Horse Racing:
If you have not heard by now, then you must not be a racing fan. Or, for that matter, care about the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
But the Kentucky Supreme Court has put the Kentucky General Assembly on a play clock.
In order for the vastly popular and hugely important Historical Horse Racing machines and venues to continue to operate, and pump millions of dollars into both the state coffers and support our Commonwealth’s most signature industry, it appears that the devices need to be officially authorized and authenticated by the 138 individuals that make up the Kentucky State Senate and the Kentucky House of Representatives.
Or so says the “Lords of the Law” in Kentucky, who quite frankly have overstepped their bounds and the rules of engagement that were defined by our country’s “Founding Fathers” as the “Separation of Powers” decree.
We were a country built on three separate and equal branches of government. The Executive Branch — led in this state by the Governor. The Legislative Branch — which consists of both the Senate and the House. And, the Judicial Branch — which has suddenly decided that it not only will rule on the merits of these “Exacta Brand” HHR machines, (which the lawsuit was directed at and about), but also issue an edict and verbal demand to the legislature.
The Kentucky Supreme Court needs to do the job it was assigned and opine on the one issue that was brought to its bench. Rule on the “Exacta” machines. Period. It is not your job to go farther, deeper, and cut wherever you deem right and just. The lawsuit challenged one machine and manufacturer and questioned whether it was truly pari-mutuel in nature and fact. The lawsuit did NOT question the “other” devices that are in the marketplace.
To go farther than that is wrong. Dead wrong. And, the obnoxious behavior in which the justices have collaborated and acted out since is less than professional or judicial. Quite frankly, it is embarrassing. Especially when you consider that the lead author on the Kentucky Supreme Court decision should have recused himself from ever serving on the panel and in this discussion to begin with.
Yet, for the sake of time and the survival of Kentucky’s most prestigious horse industry, it is now the job of the Kentucky General Assembly to correct the wrong.
It must bring up the issue.
It must debate the issue.
And, for the love of everything sacred, let’s hope that the 138 members of this General Assembly decide the issue with both courage and conviction and to do what is right — pass legislation authorizing and permitting HHR by and through the Kentucky licensed racetracks.
While, on the surface, one may argue that horse racing may not be important to someone in far West Kentucky, or critical to the survival of someone in East Kentucky, the industry is critical to the Commonwealth and all of its’ people.
It creates revenues and tourism; thousands and thousands of jobs; tax base and funds for all kinds of programs and assistance. The dollars and jobs that are impacted from the industry truly effects each county; each geographical area; each person.
And, if you think that the people that visit racetracks and play HHR machines with their own hard-owned money are “sinners?” And, that all pari-mutuel wagering should be abolished because it wrecks havoc on the “Family Foundation?”
Then, why in the world is the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the Lottery business already?
Let’s be honest people.
Prohibition has never worked. Failed experiment.
Telling someone what they can and cannot do with their money has never worked. None of your business.
HHR venues have created tourism destinations and have attracted thousands of visitors and their dollars to our Commonwealth.
They have enabled our racetracks to survive, and, in some cases thrive.
They have been built on a long-standing and proven system that is called pari-mutuel wagering — which is already permitted in our Commonwealth.
The vote is coming. And, it is critical that the Kentucky General Assembly does what the Kentucky Supreme Court was either unwilling or unable to do.
And, that is?
Just do the job of allowing Kentucky’s horse racing industry to grow; to prosper; to expand; to exist.
Just do the job of allowing our citizens and our neighbors the right to go, enjoy, and be entertained in a way that they decide is right for them.
Just do the job.