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WPT May E-Newsletter

May 13, 2010 · By · Share

The Preakness Stakes: Facts and Traditions | 2010 Preakness Contest |
| Racing History: Evolution of the Two-Year-Old Market |
All in the Family: Blind Luck's Connection to WPT | What Happens in Vegas: A Derby Week Journal

The Preakness Stakes: Facts and Traditions

Events If Super Saver wins this Saturday’s Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes on June 5th, he will be the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. We have seen several horses in the past several years attempt to capture the Triple Crown, but fall short in the Belmont Stakes.  Those horses include Silver Charm, Real Quiet, Charismatic, War Emblem, Funny Cide, Smarty Jones, and Big Brown.

Since 1900, there have been 45 horses who won two of the three Triple Crown races and 21 horses who captured both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.  Let’s take a closer look at the Preakness, the 2nd jewel of the Triple Crown...

  • The Preakness is run at Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, Maryland. The first running took place in 1873.
  • The Preakness has been run at 7 different distances.  It has been run at 1 3/16 miles since 1925.
  • The Preakness was born in Saratoga Springs, New York at a dinner party in 1868. Click here to read an interesting article about the history of the Preakness.
  • Pimlico is the 2nd oldest track in the United States (Saratoga is the oldest)


  • The owners of the Preakness winner are presented with a replica of the Woodlawn Vase. In 1983, the actual Woodlawn vase was valued at over $1 million, making it the most valuable trophy in American sports. Click here to learn why owners are now presented with a replica and to learn about other Preakness traditions.
  • Kentucky Derby winners are draped with a blanket of roses, but Preakness winners are draped with a blanket of Black Eyed Susans (the Maryland state flower).
  • As soon as the Preakness is declared official, a painter paints a weather vane on the winner’s circle cupola of the winning horse and owners’ silks. 
  • A replica of the Old Clubhouse sits in the infield and is used for the Preakness winner’s circle celebration. The actual clubhouse was an ornate Victorian building used from 1870 to 1966 that stood at the head of the stretch. The building was destroyed in 1966.
  • There is an infield at Pimlico. One word to describe the infield on Preakness day, insane. Click here to watch an annual tradition in the infield

Back to Top2010 Preakness Contest:

Miss out on our Kentucky Derby contest?  Well it's time for our Preakness Contest!  Same rules, and same prizes. Don't miss out again!

1st prize: $1,000 credit toward the purchase of a horse
2nd prize: $750 credit toward the purchase of a horse
3rd prize: $500 credit toward the purchase of a horse
4th prize: $100 in West Point apparel
5th prize: $50 in West Point apparel

How to play:
Click here and choose the first, second and third place finisher in Saturday's Preakness Stakes.  The tiebreaker will be the person closest to the final running time of the race, so do not forget to enter a time.

Each person can submit one entry.  Multiple entries will disqualify all entries.  Entries are time stamped.  All entries must be submitted prior to 5:30 PM EDT on Saturday.  Winners will be contacted via e-mail.

In case you missed them on our web site.  Here are the Derby results:
1st place ($1,000 credit toward the purchase of a WPT horse): Pete Newell
2nd place ($750 credit toward the purchase of a WPT horse): Len Lubrant
3rd place ($500 credit toward the purchase of a WPT horse): Janet Young
4th place ($100 worth of WPT apparel): Rick Galiardo
5th place ($50 worth of WPT apparel): Len Cupingood

Back to TopRacing History: Evolution of the Two-Year-Old Market

EventsWest Point Thoroughbreds buys most of its racehorses at sales of two-year-olds in training, but up until the 1960s that was not an option, and the juvenile market did not develop in a major way until the late 1980s.
The practice of selling racing prospects as early two-year-olds in training originated in Florida in the late 1950s. Florida breeding pioneer Carl G. Rose, a highway contractor, discovered that the limestone deposits in Marion County around Ocala were the best source of materials for building roads on the peninsula's shifting sands.

Raised on a farm in Indiana, Rose realized that the limestone-rich land would also be ideal for raising livestock, and he moved to Ocala in 1918 and began buying land. By the 1950s Rose was breeding Thoroughbreds, but they did not have enough pedigree to make it worthwhile to sell them in Kentucky yearling sales, so he took them to Hialeah Park and trained them for the three-furlong two-year-old maiden races that were then carded regularly.

Rose found that he could sell his horses for much higher prices once they had shown some ability in those early sprints, and after a few years, he started selling them off their workouts alone, before they had run. That encouraged Joe O'Farrell, the other principal founding father of the Florida Thoroughbred breeding industry, to inaugurate a sale of two-year-olds in training, run by Fasig-Tipton Co., in the Hialeah paddock in 1958.

The following year, O'Farrell founded Florida Breeders' Sales Co. to promote the sale of two-year-olds in training, and Ocala Stud, which also O'Farrell founded, has sold all its produce at juvenile sales ever since. Ocala Stud sold the first Florida-bred Horse of the Year (in 1966), Roman Brother as a two-year-old in 1963.
Led by the late Harry Mangurian, Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. replaced Florida Breeders' Sales in 1974 and began its own series of sales, all of which are now based in Ocala. OBS's juvenile sales first concentrated on Florida-breds, but as the practice of pinhooking grew, reliance on horses bred in the area around Ocala waned.

Pinhooking basically means buying weanling or yearling racing prospects with the express purpose of adding value through conditioning and/or training and then attempting to resell them for a profit. The term apparently evolved from similar practices in tobacco auctions in Kentucky.

The two-year-old market really took off in the late 1980s and early '90s, however, because of two factors. First, the bloodstock crash of the late 1980s made it more affordable for pinhookers to buy yearlings with better conformation and better pedigrees than they could previously afford. Then in 1990, Barretts Equine Ltd. Inaugurated a two-year-old sale in Pomona, California, that was specifically designed to attract Japanese buyers, who enjoyed the benefit of a racing program with the world's highest average purses.

Florida-based pinhookers soon learned to send their best horses with the best pedigrees to Barretts, and in 1995 Unbridled's Song became the first seven-figure sale at a juvenile auction when Hiroshi Fujita bid $1.4-million. Although that sale was rescinded a few days later due to veterinary issues, that sale cast the two-year-old market in a new light for both buyers and sellers. Pinhookers felt the could afford to spend more money for better horses, and when Unbridled's Song won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) that fall, that triumph vindicated the high price.

The North American juvenile market grew from around $50-million total proceeds in 1990 to over $217-million in 2006. Though the recession has since shrunk total receipts, the two-year-old market is still a great place to find ready made racehorses. -- John Sparkman

Back to TopAll in the Family: Blind Luck's Connection to WPT


Did you know that 2010 Kentucky Oaks winner Blind Luck has a connection to the West Point Thoroughbreds family?  Blind Luck was bred by Dr. William Baker and his wife Terri. Dr. Baker is West Point’s chief veterinary consultant, and his wife Terri manages Fairlawn Farm, our main layup facility. That in itself is a great story for a valued member of our team.  However, the story goes even further.  Blind Luck has a unique tie to West Point’s first graded stakes winner, Ethan Man…

Ethan Man was an extremely talented horse. The son of Glitterman earned over $227,000 in his career as a West Point runner, and captured the 2002 Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park. He ran one more time in 2002 before being sidelined for 16 months with a suspensory injury. He recovered at the Bakers’ farm and returned the following year with a win in an allowance race, followed by a 2nd place finish in the Phoenix Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland.   That race propelled him to the 2003 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita.  That would be the last race of his career as he retired at the end of 2003 with an ankle injury. He was subsequently sent to the Baker’s farm to recover from the injury, residing there for several months.

Anybody who worked around Ethan Man back in the day knows he was quite the handful. He was at tremendously strong horse, and was very free spirited. Dr. Baker called him “one of the toughest horses he has ever dealt with.” As tough as he was, one could only admire his fire and strength.
Fast forward two years….

On a cold December day in 2005, the Baker’s ran their filly Mystery Yield in a $15,000 claiming race at Turfway Park. They scanned the past performances and ran across another filly in the race named Lucky One. Lucky One was by Best of Luck out of Twilight Spectre. The lightbulb went off. Twilight Spectre was the dam of the feisty Ethan Man. The Bakers decided that Lucky One would be an excellent addition to their broodmare band since Ethan Man was such a talented runner and a strong soul. They dropped a claim slip.
Mystery Yield won that day, and Lucky One ran fourth. Lucky One went on to run three more times for the Bakers before being retired to broodmare duty at Fairlawn Farm. She did not achieve quite the same success as her half brother Ethan Man, only earning $26,916 on the track, but has since added quite a bit to her family’s success.

Lucky One had difficulty getting in foal after being retired in 2006. In a last ditch effort,  the Baker’s decided to breed her to Pollard’s Vision, the one-eyed graded stakes winner. Lucky One got in foal.

On April 20th, 2007, a chestnut filly was born on Fairlawn Farm. The following year, the Bakers sold her at the Fasig-Tipton Select Yearling Sale for $11,000. Blind Luck has since won 5 graded stakes, including 4 grade 1 races.  She has earned nearly $1.4 million, and got up in the shadow of the wire in the Kentucky Oaks. The Bakers were there and stood proudly in the winner’s circle, as the lilies were draped over their little girl.
Congratulations Dr. and Mrs. Baker, and thank you Ethan Man. Without the impression you made on the Bakers, there would not be a Blind Luck.  Blind Luck is scheduled to run in the Mother Goose next month at Belmont. As for Ethan Man, well, his personality was a little too strong for his own good.  After being gelded and retrained, he became a police horse in the city of Louisville.  A happy ending all around.

Back to TopWhat Happens in Vegas: A Derby Week Journal

West Point Thoroughbreds had its first Kentucky week Derby festival in Las Vegas this year, and we thought it would be interesting to share some of it with you.  We sent WPT staffer Casey Irving out to the desert with a camera and a notebook.  Here are her thoughts:

Wednesday April 28th:
Let's hope the rest of the trip goes a little smoother.  Our flight could not land in Las Vegas due to high winds, so we were diverted to Ontario, California.  We then had to rent a car and drive four hours in the middle of the night arriving early Thursday morning and ensuring very little sleep. Before getting into all of the great times that were had during WPT’s Vegas Derby event, I have to take a moment to comment on The Wynn resort.  I’m not sure that I can even do justice to the quality of customer service, accommodations, and the entire experience that The Wynn staff extended to our group, but I will try.

The hotel rooms were of the highest caliber, and if we hadn’t been Las Vegas, some of us might have stayed in our rooms all weekend.  The sports book was the nicest that I saw of any on the strip.  Plush leather chairs, individual betting terminals, ample space, high def televisions, and outstanding customer service throughout the weekend all made for a fantastic few days inside the sports book.

Thursday April 29:
The first day in Vegas, West Point Thoroughbreds hosted a handicapping seminar for our partners and the public.  Our own Jeff Bloom was on the panel, as well as one of our West Coast trainers, Craig Dollase. Handicappers Rich Eng and John Lindo rounded out the group, with moderator Ralph Sciraco of the Race Day Las Vegas radio show.

EventsThe panel offered great insight into each of the horses and their performance in the key preps.  As luck would have it though, one of our WPT partners was the only one in our group to actually hit the trifecta in the Derby; maybe we’ll have him join the panel for next year!

Following the handicapping panel, the West Point Thoroughbreds staff was treated to dinner at Rao’s by partners who had made the long trek from the East Coast.  The meal was delicious, but the real highlight was the company.  One of the greatest things about West Point is the friendships that are made through our partnerships.  Whether at the race track, on the backstretch, or out in Las Vegas, you’ve always got a friend with WPT.

After dinner a few of us ventured to the nightclub PURE.  We couldn’t go all the way to Vegas and not see a little nightlife!  We danced for a short while and headed home a bit on the “early” side, even though it felt much later to those of us still on East Coast time.

Friday April 30, Oaks Day:
Friday morning had us up bright and early for Oaks Day.  With the early post times and the time difference, the sports book was bustling by 7:30am both mornings.

Oaks Day was a great day of racing.  The Wynn staff was more than accommodating to our group, even opening a separate betting window so that we could avoid the long lines.  West Point had a fairly full day, with four horses racing around the country.  The highlight was a huge effort by Celtic Charmer in California; after getting bumped significantly at the start and falling back by a few lengths, Celtic rallied back, finishing a game second.

Friday night following the Oaks, we gathered at The Country Club restaurant in the Wynn for a fantastic meal.   The restaurant overlooks The Wynn’s famous golf course (as did my room on 34th floor, check out the photo in the album).  The contrast of the jagged desert skyline with the lush greens and fountains of the Wynn golf course was truly beautiful.

In keeping with everything at The Wynn, the food at The Country Club was outstanding.  We dined on fresh salads, shrimp cocktail, and either chicken, salmon, or filet.   For dessert we enjoyed a delicious and visually stunning peanut butter and chocolate concoction.  I should have paid more attention to exactly what it was called, but we were all too busy enjoying it!

Following dinner we headed to The Wynn Theatre to see Le Reve.  The show was spectacular.  It featured a large cast doing incredible acrobatics in water and in the air.  The round theatre overlooked a pool; performers came down from the ceiling, up from under the water, and everywhere in between.  High flying aerials and graceful aquatic routines had us all entranced.

Coincidentally, the male cast members all sported shaved heads and looked alarmingly similar to Terry Finley.  If he ever decides to leave racing, Terry definitely has a shot as a performer in Le Reve.

Derby Day:
On Derby Day the sports book had a decent sized crowd, but we were able to enjoy a reserved area so seating was not an issue.  The Wynn staff handed each of our female guests a rose in honor of the Derby, and mint juleps were enjoyed throughout the day.  Even thousands of miles from Churchill Downs, the excitement of the day could be felt inside The Wynn.  With about 20 minutes to post, the sports book was packed.  The good thing about The Wynn, though, is that even if it is packed and you wind up in a less than ideal location, there are always multiple televisions you can see from any angle.

A couple hundred people inside the sports book watched Super Saver and Todd Pletcher make history.  As with any horse race, some were thrilled, and some were ripping tickets.  As I said before, one of our partners hit the tri, so he was definitely not ripping up any tickets.

Following The Derby, a few of us went to see Jerry Seinfeld at Caesar’s Palace.  He was only performing for two nights, and we were lucky to catch him on his last night.  He’s still got it.  The show was hilarious, and being a fan of stand-up comedy, I’ll definitely be reminiscing about that night for some time to come.   And yada yada yada, Saturday was over.

I was back in Saratoga, NY late Sunday night.  Definitely a little on the tired side, but all in all very pleased with the wonderful experiences I had out west, and it was great to finally meet some West Coast partners in person.  I’m sure the 2011 Vegas Derby event will be even bigger, and I am already looking forward to it.  I wasn’t able to capture all of the fun times and experiences that were had during the Vegas event, but I hope I captured a glimpse.  For anyone considering attending in 2011, I highly recommend it!

Check out the photos below: