It is currently February 21st, 2018, 10:02 am

All times are UTC - 8 hours [ DST ]




 Page 2 of 3 [ 39 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: $1M Arlington Million~Gr1, 3&Up, 1 1/4M/t (Aug. 13th)
PostPosted: August 13th, 2011, 11:18 am 

Joined: October 15th, 2007, 4:02 pm
Posts: 2107
Karma: 0
AfleetTreet wrote:
(Courtesy of Daily Racing Form)


Memories of John Henry's first Arlington Million


By
Jay Hovdey


In case the mind wanders, which can happen around the racetrack, there is a gorgeous piece of statuary at Arlington Park commemorating the running of the first Arlington Million, in which John Henry got the nod on a tenacious opponent named The Bart after 1 1/4 miles over deep and soggy ground.





In the 30 years that have followed, the Million has rarely failed to be an exciting race. There was the dizzying middle move of the mare Estrapade in 1986, to the blanket finish of 1991, the tumultuous back-to-back runnings of 2003 and 2004, and now the era of Gio Ponti, the winner in 2009 and runner-up last year.
Gio Ponti returns Saturday in an attempt to become the only horse other than John Henry to hold two Million titles. Still, it always will be John Henry’s first Million, on Aug. 30, 1981, that is held as the signature running of the race. The bar was set impossibly high from Day One.
It must be remembered that at the time John Henry was still in the process of building his legend. Sainthood was yet to be bestowed. He was the reigning male turf champion, proven as well on dirt, and possessed of a backstory that led writers to deploy terms like “Cinderella” and “blue collar” at an alarming rate.
He was also quite a piece of work. Spoiled, opinionated, territorial, and sometimes downright grouchy, he was anything but cuddly. It took the combined and highly skilled horsemanship of Ron McAnally, his assistant Eduardo Inda, exercise rider Lewis Cenicola, and groom Jose Mercado to accommodate John Henry’s moods.
In more than five solid years training at California tracks, I dared to give John Henry a hug exactly once. I am not proud of it, either. In was the middle of July, that summer of ’81, and he was freshly off the plane from New York, where he had just won the Sword Dancer Stakes by 3 1/2 lengths. There he was at Ron McAnally’s Hollywood Park barn, hanging his head out of his stall like a very large, slightly distracted German shepherd. The usual fire only flickered. I asked the trainer what was up.
“The ‘ace’ hasn’t worn off yet,” McAnally said, referring to the dose of the common tranquilizer ace-promazine many horses get when they travel. That was all I needed to hear. With a predatory swoop, I wrapped an arm under John’s neck and gave him a squeeze. He was warm. He smelled like tanbark and honey. As I let go he gave me a look that said, “Don’t ever try that again.”
Soon after that John Henry headed for Del Mar to begin serious training for the Million. Del Mar was John Henry’s Deer Lake – the famous Muhammad Ali training camp in Pennsylvania – and he thrived in the summer on the firm dirt and turf. But John Henry was not himself, and McAnally knew it. With the diagnostic help of his vet, Dr. Jack Robbins, they found a small area of irritating calcification at the outside of John Henry’s left fore cannon bone where it joined the fetlock.
“He wasn’t lame, but it could have gotten much worse,” said Robbins, who was already on record as describing John Henry as “probably the soundest horse I’ve ever been around.” For context, Robbins had been attending to most of the top California stables since he worked for the Calumet Farm horses of Ben and Jimmy Jones, in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Robbins eased the irritation in John Henry’s ankle with an anti-inflammatory injection, and the champ was back galloping comfortably in a matter of days.
Still, McAnally needed to evaluate John Henry at racing speed before he would green light the Arlington trip. And so, on the cloudy morning of Aug. 23, one week before the race, John turned in what is still known as the most famous mile in Del Mar history, in 1:34.40 (out nine furlongs in 1:46.60) under Bill Shoemaker. The track records at the time were 1:33.60 and 1:46 flat.
You would have thought the Beatles had come to town. McAnally was besieged as he made his way back to the barn from the guinea stand. Fellow trainer Julio Canani kept thrusting his stopwatch into people’s faces as he danced alongside. “Did you see?” he cried. “Did you see?” Back at Barn 1 where a crowd had gathered, Doc Robbins stood off by himself under the shed row, holding his breath as he waited for John Henry to return.
“I was scared to death, him going that fast,” Robbins said. “But the leg was ice cold. He was an amazing horse.”
The next day John Henry flew to Chicago and on the following Saturday he ran over a deep, rain-soaked course he should have loathed. I pulled off a mud boot trying to cross the main track to walk the course, and when I got there, I was hard-pressed to slog my way up the stretch to the starting gate and back again to the wire.
“I never walked it,” McAnally said. “I didn’t want to know how bad it was. What I’ll never forget about that race was watching John struggle with the ground early, and then, at about the half, how he found that beautiful rhythmic stride. I knew then he’d be okay.”
McAnally is at Arlington this weekend to run defending champ Eclair de Lune in the Beverly D. She is stabled in the same barn John Henry occupied for his 1981 Million, as well as his subsequent visits to Arlington to finish second in the 1983 Million and win again in 1984.
“Every time I come back here I have great memories of that first Million,” McAnally said. “It’s not something anyone here forgets, either. I just got a call from a TV crew who want to get a shot of me standing next to the statue. Imagine that, 30 years later.”

Aargghh. I just posted a response and now it's disappeared. Anyway, I'll try to rewrite it. Treet, you have no idea how you touched me by posting this article, which I had missed. John Henry was one of my all time favorite horses and his 2 wins in the AM are seared into my memory, especially when he beat The Bart. You know, of course, who my favorite trainer of all time is, Ron McAnally. It is somewhat ironic that Mike Mitchell eclipsed his title as DM last night when his filly, Backwoods Belle, won the 5th race. Her win cost me the Pick 5 as I had hoped RM would retain his title for one more day. It was stupid leaving her out, but that's racing.
I met Dr. Jack Robbins about 25 years ago. I hadn't seen him since then until this past December when he attended one of my aunt's birthday party. We talked about a lot of things, from Zenyatta, his son's best horse, Tiznow, the state of racing, Ron McAnally and John Henry. Dr. Robbins is in his 90's and as sharp as a tack. If they truly want to help racing's many problems, he should be consulted. A brilliant man who has witnessed the best this sport has seen and knows what ails it today.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: $1M Arlington Million~Gr1, 3&Up, 1 1/4M/t (Aug. 13th)
PostPosted: August 13th, 2011, 3:02 pm 

Joined: January 3rd, 2010, 11:34 am
Posts: 342
Karma: 10
Hmmm. maybe I'm nuts, but General Perfect looks pretty good to me.

Gonna play an exacta in addition to my previous picks:

7, 10 w/ 10, 5, 1


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: $1M Arlington Million~Gr1, 3&Up, 1 1/4M/t (Aug. 13th)
PostPosted: August 13th, 2011, 3:50 pm 

Joined: October 15th, 2009, 3:59 am
Posts: 903
Karma: 0

Location: London ENGLAND
Luther wrote:
Huge fan of Christophe Soumillon but struggling to look beyond Cape Blanco in this one. He's a lot higher quality than the horses we normally send over for the Million (the winner last year, Debussy was not in the same class).

Cannot see any reason why Gio Ponti should beat him this time and 9/4 is a very fair price. It won't be that tomorrow.


That was pretty comfortable for Cape Blanco - us Euros just need to train some for the dirt....


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: $1M Arlington Million~Gr1, 3&Up, 1 1/4M/t (Aug. 13th)
PostPosted: August 13th, 2011, 4:46 pm 

Joined: January 3rd, 2010, 11:34 am
Posts: 342
Karma: 10
Congrats Luther.

I really like hearing the euro perspective.

Do you follow the aussies at all?


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: $1M Arlington Million~Gr1, 3&Up, 1 1/4M/t (Aug. 13th)
PostPosted: August 13th, 2011, 6:33 pm 
User avatar

Joined: September 3rd, 2008, 7:19 pm
Posts: 1710
Karma: 10
Cape Blanco is a phenaomenal piece of horseflesh. He was absolutely breathtaking in the paddock, tossing his head, on his toes. At one point, I tried to take his picture and he seemed to get agitated, so I backed away and his handler thanked me for it. A couple of spins and he was cool with the camera.

Hope to have photos soon, but the SD card is stuck in my laptop.....literally.... so, once TJ and I get it out, we will upload them ASAP.



_________________
Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: $1M Arlington Million~Gr1, 3&Up, 1 1/4M/t (Aug. 13th)
PostPosted: August 13th, 2011, 8:21 pm 
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: May 25th, 2007, 7:57 pm
Posts: 8599
Karma: 0

Location: Auburn, WA
Cape Blanco really ran a helluva a race...felt kinda bad for Gio Ponti who got pinned down on the rail for too long and by the time he got free and rallied there just was enough ground or time to catch the winner who was much the best today. I have seen many pics of Cape Blanco since his arrival here and YES HE IS indeed GORGEOUS! Can't wait to see your pics Swale...hope you had a FABULOUS day!






OFFICIAL RESULTS:



1st Place: Cape Blanco :D



2nd Place: Gio Ponti



3rd Place: Dean's Kitten



4th Place: Wigmore Hall



_________________
/img]
Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: $1M Arlington Million~Gr1, 3&Up, 1 1/4M/t (Aug. 13th)
PostPosted: August 13th, 2011, 8:30 pm 
User avatar

Joined: September 3rd, 2008, 7:19 pm
Posts: 1710
Karma: 10
I could've done without the rain....and the heat exhaustion that followed....and the frustration of the SD card....but the horses more than made up for it.

I couldn't get over the beauty of Cape Blanco.....really just a gorgeous animal. His coat is just the most beautiful copper color.....



_________________
Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: $1M Arlington Million~Gr1, 3&Up, 1 1/4M/t (Aug. 13th)
PostPosted: August 13th, 2011, 8:39 pm 
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: May 25th, 2007, 7:57 pm
Posts: 8599
Karma: 0

Location: Auburn, WA
Swale,
I HEAR you about the weather...my poor sister in law is coming from Toronto and got delayed in Chicago because of the thunderstorms...she was supposed to land in Seattle at 7:45 this morning and just got into the air about an hour and a half ago...she doesn't land intil almost 11:30pm...over 24 hours traveling or stuck in the airport...poor thing!





Glad you had a good day!



_________________
/img]
Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: $1M Arlington Million~Gr1, 3&Up, 1 1/4M/t (Aug. 13th)
PostPosted: August 14th, 2011, 12:42 am 

Joined: October 15th, 2009, 3:59 am
Posts: 903
Karma: 0

Location: London ENGLAND
Very jealous of your day out Swale. Irrespective of the weather, I would loved to have been there and probably could have covered the trip costs with O'Brien's 2 winners.

Winter Triangle, I only really follow UK, French and Irish racing (and some in Dubai) and have no real knowledge at all of Australian racing or for that matter, the majority of US racing. That's why I'll be relying on Treet, Ruff and Clocker for information on 4th and 5th November this year.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: $1M Arlington Million~Gr1, 3&Up, 1 1/4M/t (Aug. 13th)
PostPosted: August 14th, 2011, 6:05 am 

Joined: October 15th, 2007, 4:02 pm
Posts: 2107
Karma: 0
Cape Blanco looked gorgeous yesterday. Swale, I hope you can retrieve your pictures and post them. I'm still trying to do the same with the ones I took of Zazu and others last week at Del Mar. Be careful of heatstroke, that can be a sneaky killer for people.
I'm glad I played the Euros yesterday.
8/13/2011 1:59 PM 48218AB572DA Arlington Park 10 $15.00 WN 7 ONLINE $15.00 $46.50
8/13/2011 1:29 PM 781BFB4372DA Saratoga Race Course 10 $15.00 WN 8 ONLINE $15.00 $54.00


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: $1M Arlington Million~Gr1, 3&Up, 1 1/4M/t (Aug. 13th)
PostPosted: August 14th, 2011, 10:11 am 
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: May 25th, 2007, 7:57 pm
Posts: 8599
Karma: 0

Location: Auburn, WA
Haha! Luther from a handicapper angle you would probably fare better relying on Clocker than me...I WILL do my best howveer to keep you informed of the "hot" horses...as for Australian racing...if any Aussies make the journey to the BC this year...the ONLY two words you will need to know BLACK CAVIAR!!!!! LOL! SHeesh! I would LOVE it it if SHE shows up!



_________________
/img]
Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: $1M Arlington Million~Gr1, 3&Up, 1 1/4M/t (Aug. 13th)
PostPosted: August 14th, 2011, 3:48 pm 

Joined: April 17th, 2011, 9:25 am
Posts: 653
Karma: 0
I'm so bummed :cry: Gio Ponti got beat...no disgrace finishing 2nd to Cape Blanco, but what are they doing wrong with Gio? Move too soon, move to late...or is he just getting tired of racing? I wonder if they will run him in the BC.



_________________
"All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us"


Gandalf the Grey
Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: $1M Arlington Million~Gr1, 3&Up, 1 1/4M/t (Aug. 13th)
PostPosted: August 14th, 2011, 7:32 pm 
User avatar

Joined: September 3rd, 2008, 7:19 pm
Posts: 1710
Karma: 10
I didn't see much of Gio in the paddock. They kind of brought him over and took him straight to be saddled. He wasn't like Cape Blanco, who was on his toes. I'd never seen Gio in person, so I don't know if that's his normal routine or not.....but he didn't look amped for the race....kind of like, "ok, I'm here". It may be time to think about retirement for him......but I wonder if they shouldn't try a new jockey first......



_________________
Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: $1M Arlington Million~Gr1, 3&Up, 1 1/4M/t (Aug. 13th)
PostPosted: August 14th, 2011, 11:18 pm 
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: May 25th, 2007, 7:57 pm
Posts: 8599
Karma: 0

Location: Auburn, WA
Swale,
I have seen Gio a couple times and each time he is like that...cool as a cucumber...never seen him get worked up at all before a race (not in person or on TV)...a new jock might do it because personally I though Gio looked ready to go but by that time the jockey couldn't get him our and had no where to go! I would have said to let him go a little sooner in that race because they were so tightly bunched that he had nowhere to run when he wanted to...going earlyier would have at least put him a little bit ahead of the throng...then again after watching the replay he may not have caught Cape Blanco and hae just might have if he would have been in the clear...IMHO the other jocks probably knew to keep Gio covered up and while it was heartbreaking to see him get stuck inside, it was perhaso smart riding on the part of the other jocks. Poor Gio...I really thought he looked ready to pounce but his jockey couldn't get him out. Oh well...next time he'll get them hopefully. LOVE HIM and there was NO disgrace in his second to a VERY fine horse in Cape Blanco...Gio is still a class A champion in his own right. Just wish the jockey would have foreseen the outcome into the stretch a little better and perhaps angled Gio off the fence halfway down the backstretch so he could make a sustained run instead of spinning his wheels with nowhere to go .



_________________
/img]
Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: $1M Arlington Million~Gr1, 3&Up, 1 1/4M/t (Aug. 13th)
PostPosted: August 15th, 2011, 9:49 am 

Joined: December 19th, 2007, 2:19 pm
Posts: 2452
Karma: 10
ACTUALLY I THOUGHT DEANS KITTEN WAS THE ONE TO GIVE A HATS OFF TO HE GOT STOPPED 2 TIMES AND STILL GOT UP FOR 3RD ILL PUT SOME MOBNEY ON HIM NEXT TIME BECAUSE I THINK HADNT IT HAPPENED HE WOULD HAVE WON


Offline
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
 Page 2 of 3 [ 39 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next

All times are UTC - 8 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  

cron