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Terry Finley talks about the importance of schooling Thoroughbreds race horses at the starting gate. “The key is when a horse walks into the starting gate on race day, you want him to be calm and ready to perform,” he says.

Terry references a very informative video of longtime NYRA starter Bob Duncan. “The most important thing is making a connection with a horse and getting them to trust you,” says Duncan. “If they trust you, they’ll start going into the gate and their natural curiosity steps in.”

 

 

Have questions about the process of teaching racehorses about the starting gate? Leave them below and we'll do our best to answer them for you. 

Disabled
EFinley
Feb 25 2013 - 3:06pm
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94043
/news-and-blog/blog/2013/02/25/the-important-of-the-starting-gate-with-racehorses
3 pm on February 25, 2013

Terry Finley talks about the importance of schooling Thoroughbreds race horses at the starting gate. “The key is when a horse walks into the starting gate on race day, you want him to be calm and ready to perform,” he says.

Terry references a very informative video of longtime NYRA starter Bob Duncan. “The most important thing is making a connection with a horse and getting them to trust you,” says Duncan. “If they trust you, they’ll start going into the gate and their natural curiosity steps in.”

EFinley
EFinley's picture
3618

 

I watched the the third at Aqueduct from the paddock at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. Our New-York bred Awesome Vision was facing open company for the first time. Three for five going into the race, I had quite a bit of confidence in this colt, but you never know what you’re gonna get when you leave the statebred ranks.

Gates open, Awesome Vision falls to his knees and is at the back of the pack. Jose Ortiz doesn’t panic -- this is a one run type of horse. I wasn’t sure what to think down the backside.


Before I go any further take a look at the race by clicking here.

I will tell you that at the top of the stretch we were yelling “get third!”

How’s that for exciting? Share this page with your friends and let me know what you thought of the race by leaving a comment below.

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Disabled
JHHaines
Feb 20 2013 - 7:33pm
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/news-and-blog/blog/2013/02/19/awesome-visions-thrilling-stretchrun
8 am on February 19, 2013

 

I watched the the third at Aqueduct from the paddock at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. Our New-York bred Awesome Vision was facing open company for the first time. Three for five going into the race, I had quite a bit of confidence in this colt, but you never know what you’re gonna get when you leave the statebred ranks.

Gates open, Awesome Vision falls to his knees and is at the back of the pack. Jose Ortiz doesn’t panic -- this is a one run type of horse. I wasn’t sure what to think down the backside.

tfinley
tfinley's picture
43

West Point Thoroughbreds' Terry Finley discusses Mac Diarmida Stakes (G2) contender Twilight Eclipse. Purchased privately following two wins at Indiana Downs over the summer, this 4-year-old son of Purim could be considered for the 2013 Dubai Sheema Classic with a big effort this Saturday at Gulfstream. His most recent victory came in November in the mile and a half W.L. McKnight Handicap (G2) at Calder Racecourse.


Several Partners will join Terry Finley, Tom Bellhouse, Erin Finley, and Clif Hickok at Gulfstream this weekend for the Mac Diarmida. Second leading rider Luis Saez has the call for trainer Tom Albertrani.

 

 

Here’s a look at Twilight Eclipse just days old on the farm in Kentucky:

 

Disabled
EFinley
Feb 12 2013 - 10:30am
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93869
/news-and-blog/blog/2013/02/12/terry-finley-on-mac-diarmida-stakes-contender-twilight-eclipse
10 am on February 12, 2013

West Point Thoroughbreds' Terry Finley discusses Mac Diarmida Stakes (G2) contender Twilight Eclipse. Purchased privately following two wins at Indiana Downs over the summer, this 4-year-old son of Purim could be considered for the 2013 Dubai Sheema Classic with a big effort this Saturday at Gulfstream. His most recent victory came in November in the mile and a half W.L. McKnight Handicap (G2) at Calder Racecourse.

EFinley
EFinley's picture
3618

I love to travel. Visiting new places, enjoying new experiences, looking for new adventures always broaden a person’s view of the world. You see, if the only track I ever visited was Keeneland, I would have a rather limited view of what it’s like to be at a racetrack. My consistent personal experience has been of a vine covered stone facade, dogwood trees blooming in the spring, acres of green, green grass and lots of young people DRESSED UP for their day at the races.

Lexington, Kentucky is a University town and going to the races at Keeneland is the thing you do on Fridays and Saturdays during the limited meet. It’s a place to see and be seen. Girls spend hours considering what to wear -- which often means a visit to the mall for a new dress, new shoes, or both. Guys come dressed in suits or at the very least a sport coat, wearing designer sunglasses and sporting a “I’m here to have a good time” attitude. It’s a place to have fun!


So, this got me thinking as I went out to California a couple of weeks ago. At the Enterprise rental facility I had a super pleasant young guy making small talk and asking why I wasin town. I have to say, he had a look of surprise when I said I had flown in for a horse race. I guess a woman in her mid-30s traveling alone to Los Angeles isn’t what you think of as your typical race track goer. I asked him if he had ever been to the races -- Santa Anita is about 40 minutes away plus they just completed the Breeders’ Cup in November. Surely he knew what Santa Anita was, right? Nope, he didn’t.
 

Friday night I had dinner on Huntington Avenue in Arcadia. The place is maybe two blocks from Santa Anita, you could definitely walk if you needed to. Owners from Louisiana and I asked our young waitress if she goes to the races. Nope, she works Fridays and Saturdays. We explained they have racing on other days -- but that really didn’t seem to make much difference.

 

Saturday morning I went to the mall which sits on basically the same grounds as the track. I made an appointment at the local Aveda Salon to have my hair done so it would make it through the day and into that evening as I had another event to go to that night. There was an absolutely adorable young lady who helped me look presentable. Of course I asked her if she goes to the races. Nope, she hasn’t either. I took some heart in hearing her say she always wanted to go bet on the horses but hasn’t.


So...this brings me to my idea for all owners of box seats at the track. As you are out and about in your day to day life, ask those around you, those you interact with, those who you wouldn’t normally see at the races, if they ever attend?

THEN offer them your box seats for the day -- give out these random acts of kindness to introduce new people to the game. Not everyone who is a fan has to become an owner -- they don’t have to have that kind of dough -- but you never know, someday they may. If we want to continue to enjoy the sport, we have to bring new fans in and although this may be simplistic, what could it hurt? I know many of you aren’t using your box every single day of the Thoroughbred racing meet. Consider what a thrilling experience you could provide to someone who will never forget their day.

Don’t have box seats? You can still promote the game you love. Buy a few $5 betting vouchers and give them to people who have never made a bet. Tell them to get back to you and let you know how much fun they had.

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Disabled
BDomenick
Feb 7 2013 - 11:04am
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/news-and-blog/blog/2013/02/05/shannon-castagnola-two-easy-ways-to-get-more-people-into-racing
11 am on February 05, 2013

I love to travel. Visiting new places, enjoying new experiences, looking for new adventures always broaden a person’s view of the world. You see, if the only track I ever visited was Keeneland, I would have a rather limited view of what it’s like to be at a racetrack. My consistent personal experience has been of a vine covered stone facade, dogwood trees blooming in the spring, acres of green, green grass and lots of young people DRESSED UP for their day at the races.

Anonymous's picture

Not long before the holidays I found a post on our Facebook page from a woman who ultimately adopted a racehorse formerly managed by us. She wanted to know as much as possible about Izzy Fitzy, a gelding  by Seattle Fitz who was claimed from WPT a few years ago. After leaving us, he changed barns several times both on the racetrack and in retirement before his adoptive angel, Brittni, found and fell in love with him. She cured what ailed him, and Fitzy has responded wonderfully to her and is enjoying his new life.


I shared with her a couple of photos, including one of him when he was a youngster and she was extremely grateful. What moved me, however, was the outpouring of sincere love for this horse.  “You have no idea how much that baby picture means to me,” she wrote. This horse is the world to me and more! He's my first horse and little miracle!!”

Like a proud mother she continued, “Now he is in training to be a hunter jumper with prospects of jumping 3 foot, although I am happy with whatever he is capable of doing. In May we are entering our first horse show together for w/t/c only. This will be my first show as well. He is completely bombproof and an honest horse. I have taken him on trails, sat on him bareback, and even rode him in just a halter. I taught him tricks. He will say hello by putting up his left front leg, give me a kiss by putting his nose up to my face on command as well as take a bow! I LOVE him, he's my first horse and my forever horse. He goes by the name Rock now and will come to you when you call his name.”

So this May, in addition to embracing the excitement of the Derby and Preakness, we’ll be wishing “Rock” and the angel who loves him good luck with their first horse show together. We hope it’s the first of many more down the road.

To learn more about our retired runners, visit the Congie Black and Gold Fund.

 

Here are some more photos of "Rock":

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Disabled
DLenert
Apr 16 2013 - 8:15am
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/news-and-blog/blog/2013/01/28/a-retired-racehorse-and-his-angel-prepare-for-a-big-event-in-may
1 pm on January 28, 2013

Not long before the holidays I found a post on our Facebook page from a woman who ultimately adopted a racehorse formerly managed by us. She wanted to know as much as possible about Izzy Fitzy, a gelding  by Seattle Fitz who was claimed from WPT a few years ago. After leaving us, he changed barns several times both on the racetrack and in retirement before his adoptive angel, Brittni, found and fell in love with him. She cured what ailed him, and Fitzy has responded wonderfully to her and is enjoying his new life.

DLenert
DLenert's picture
415

If only I could pick horses this well...

One of my favorite parts of the Saratoga meet is getting the opportunity to see most of our horses and trainers on a daily basis. I get to witness, up close, the inner workings and styles of the various horsemen and their respective barns. I love walking the shedrows (when its still dark in the morning before the sun comes up), grabbing the “set list”, and poking my head in the stalls to check on our charges. This year was no different, but I must say, I felt a little different walking through the Romans shedrow.

2012 was like no other year for Dale and his team. The stalls were filled with talent that rivaled the famed “1927 NY Yankees’ Murderers Row”....

The feisty mare Tapitsfly, handsome chestnut Dullahan, the horse who never ceased to amaze, Little Mike, and the star of the show, the mighty Shackleford. One graded stakes winner after another.

During morning workouts, Dale held court on the turn, as he had in years past. The only difference was him constantly surrounded by a group of reporters who were hanging on every word waiting for a juicy tidbit. Like clockwork, right before the track closed for the morning, “The Show” began.

“The Shackleford Show” to be more precise.  The big horse was usually one of the last horses off the track each day. Dale said, “he gets so competitive we have to bring him out there when there are just a few horses on the track or he tries to race them.”  

A popular myth going around was ”Shack” went out last, so the late-arriving Dale could watch him after he had his breakfast. “Shack” would then proceed to roll around in the sand pit, which became a highly anticipated daily event for Spa 2012. Our Partner Rob Masiello took this video of him rolling:

 

 

As the meet and the year progressed I frequently would yell to Dale ”save me a seat,” referring to the table at Thoroughbred racing’s Eclipse Awards coming up January 19th. He always responded with, “It’s a long year, we’ll just try to keep em’ moving forward. And quit jinxing me!”  


I kept asking if there was anybody talking future book wagers on the Eclipses. Well, not even the Bellhouse (human anchor) could slow down “Big D” in 2012.  Disproving the famed Leo Durocher, “Nice Guys Can Finish First.”   

Another great bet I missed.

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Disabled
TBellhouse
Jan 18 2013 - 4:08pm
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93480
/news-and-blog/blog/2013/01/15/tom-bellhouse-on-eclipse-award-leading-trainer-nominee-dale-romans
2 pm on January 15, 2013

If only I could pick horses this well...

One of my favorite parts of the Saratoga meet is getting the opportunity to see most of our horses and trainers on a daily basis. I get to witness, up close, the inner workings and styles of the various horsemen and their respective barns. I love walking the shedrows (when its still dark in the morning before the sun comes up), grabbing the “set list”, and poking my head in the stalls to check on our charges. This year was no different, but I must say, I felt a little different walking through the Romans shedrow.

TBellhouse
TBellhouse's picture
72

Racing partnership owners often ask us, “Why are we shipping out of town when the purses are better at my horse’s home track?” Every horse is an individual but the vast majority of times it’s to take an edge, to get a horse in a better position to win.

Take Brokered for example. Our 3-year-old son of Eddington was originally slated to run at Santa Anita before being rerouted to a maiden special weight at Golden Gate Fields. Maidens run for $45,000 at Santa Anita, and $27,000 at Golden Gate. A bewildered Partner asked, “If you like this horse so much, why are you taking away from the top venue?”


Thinking outside the box and heading to a venue where the competition is easier, no matter what level your horse is competing at, can be a very good management decision. We don’t do it constantly, but at certain times during a horse’s career, it can be exactly what they need to get into the winner’s circle and get a confidence boost.

Awesome Gem earned several hundred thousand running at tracks across the country. He visited Emerald Downs, Prairie Meadows, Lone Star, Charles Town, and Hawthorne- great places to run, but they don’t get nearly the attention the Del Mars and Saratogas of the racing receive.

On the East Coast, our horses compete on occasion at venues like Presque Isle and Monmouth. Two unique tracks, but they aren’t quite Saratoga on both a purse and competition level. Our management team keeps an open mind and is committed to considering all venues, even if it means doing something a bit unconventional to put the horse in the best spot to succeed.

P.S. Brokered won easily at Golden Gate, earning a 76 Beyer. He could step onto the Kentucky Derby trail in a few weeks.

Disabled
EFinley
Jan 8 2013 - 1:27pm
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93395
/news-and-blog/blog/2013/01/08/blog-shipping-racehorses-to-different-venues
1 pm on January 08, 2013

Racing partnership owners often ask us, “Why are we shipping out of town when the purses are better at my horse’s home track?” Every horse is an individual but the vast majority of times it’s to take an edge, to get a horse in a better position to win.

Take Brokered for example. Our 3-year-old son of Eddington was originally slated to run at Santa Anita before being rerouted to a maiden special weight at Golden Gate Fields. Maidens run for $45,000 at Santa Anita, and $27,000 at Golden Gate. A bewildered Partner asked, “If you like this horse so much, why are you taking away from the top venue?”

EFinley
EFinley's picture
3618

As the oldest WPT’s team member I was the only one even alive when President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. I had just become a teenager having turned thirteen just four months earlier. What a horrific weekend that was!

My grammar school had just installed black and white TV sets in all the classrooms that Summer before. In the early afternoon, that Friday, one of the Sisters of Charity entered my classroom and told my teacher to “turn on the TV.” Within minutes, however, we were all herded together to moved to the adjacent Church to pray for our president...as the weekend unfolded myself and my friends heard about and witnessed all the secondary traumas; the swearing in of the new president, Oswald’s death (the first live TV broadcasted homicide), the funeral, the salute from John-John, the brave widow...

Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, Vietnam all left their respective indelible marks on my generation. Violence became all too understood but rarely accepted and, sadly, rarely eliminated. What was the new normal? Who had the answers?

WPT’s is by no means a political organization. I couldn't tell you who was a Republican, Independent, a Democrat or apolitical within our small group. We are focused on horses, partners and racing almost all of the time. Our “blogs” are almost exclusively related to the Thoroughbred horse. We focus on becoming a better organization, including being increasingly effective at what we do - user friendly if you will. Our charitable contributions go to entities supporting people, health and hopefully improving lives. I do know factually that the majority of us here are parents, some with still small children.

Almost fifty years after I experienced my first “horrific weekend,” our children have now lived that experience, maybe the younger ones for their first time. No commentary here, as “solutions” will, and have already been, subsequently presented from multiple fronts. Most of us are doing what our neighbors, relatives and all of America is doing this week before Christmas. Praying, reflecting, understanding how precious human life is - how vulnerable and temporary.

As are you, we are thinking of Newtown and Sandy Hook, CT, especially all of those beautiful and innocent children. 

Read/Write
Anonymous
Dec 17 2012 - 2:34pm
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/news-and-blog/blog/2012/12/17/connecting-the-dots-of-history
2 pm on December 17, 2012

As the oldest WPT’s team member I was the only one even alive when President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963.

Anonymous's picture

In 1993 I discovered West Point Thoroughbreds, a new company being pieced together by some guy I didn’t know, and his wife, to market fractional shares of high potential race horses. Embracing the dream of the winner’s circle is what most of our Partners are all about, I know I was back then, and I still am.

Now a full time WPT employee, watching and participating from the inside now, I see the time, energy and effort that go into getting it a little better every month that passes, the reach for excellence and results. That “guy” I referred to earlier is Terry Finley, WPT founder and CEO.

This is a story about the WPT team identifying and securing a “diamond in the rough.”


In a team meeting late June of this year our CEO took the lead and started talking about a horse he heard about who won two races at Indiana Downs. These meetings are mostly conference calls with no visual contact, and in this case the stone cold silence was palpable. You could sense all of us thinking in concert, “Can a really good and high potential horse come from Indiana?”

I don’t remember who broke the silence but the boss finally said “Watch the horse’s videos.  I think you’ll be pretty darn impressed.”

Couple of days later we get together on the phone and there was a genesis of excitement starting up. “You know, it is Indiana Downs - but – he did some impressive things that you don’t see often with a horse just learning the game as a three-year old.” A consensus of let’s get deeper into this was just starting, so we set out to learn this horse’s story...

This horse was weak and sickly as a weanling - a baby who looked like anything but a racehorse. He landed in a Keeneland January 2010 sale as a just turned yearling and sold for a winning bid of only $1,000.

Two and a half years pass and he re-emerged in a maiden special weight going a mile on the turf in the Hoosier State. The public, who likely didn’t know much about this horse at all, dismissed him at 13 to one. If they knew the entire story he might have been 99 to one on the board. How much did he have to overcome to just get here?

He weaved through traffic to surprisingly win the race, by only a length, but drew away at the finish. Next start, only seventeen days later almost same story, but his odds were 1.90 to one and he again split horses and won going away!

It didn’t take long for the final decision to be made for WPT to make an effort to purchase this horse. Everything fell into place after that, and he became West Point stable’s newest horse racing partnership. When we shared the videos with potential investors and told his story, he sold out in 48 hours, a record breaking time frame for our racehorse partnerships.

Now, Indiana to Saratoga Springs is not all that far mileage wise but from Indiana Downs to a premier circuit is going from the 8th grade to the major leagues in one motion. Terry saw something special in this horse and believed he could make the leap.

The barely 16-hands tall bay ran in late August at the SPA and came flying late to finish less than two lengths behind some of the top sophomore turf runners in the country. He then headed to Delaware to contest the Kent (G3). Tough trip. Again, “some late gain” read the chart.  His third start for WPT, and his first one on dirt, was encouraging. He was beaten only a length in an overnight stake at Belmont Park.

No wins under WP colors, but, with increasing confidence in his potential, he was pointed to the W.L McKnight Handicap (G2), a mile and a half on the turf at Calder. Unlike
most American-bred horses, he looked and acted like he’d be one who could handle the distance. Tom Albertrani and Terry circled the race a few weeks out. Tom shipped him to Palm Meadows to complete final preparations.


On raceday there were eight in total set to run, all older or way more experienced than our entrant. Our now strong, leggy boy was the first to arrive in the paddock. He looked the part completely! The horse had attitude! At post time he is bet down to 11 to 1 (from his 20 to 1 morning line). When the gates opened Manoel Cruz rode as perfect a tactical race as you will ever see. In mid-stretch he was on the lead and actually drew off late to win by almost two lengths.

The weak and sickly young horse came 180 degrees to become a graded stakes winner! His name? Twilight Eclipse.

This is why we do this. This is why we always respect the efforts of the racehorse. This is the dream coming into full fruition. “We” includes the WPT team, partners, racing fans, trainers, jockeys and anyone who understands running for the pure joy of it- each loving the thoroughbred for their nobility, dedication, talent and desire. Dream on– make the impossible happen, believe it can and will happen! Let hope spring eternal! There are, God willing, many more chapters to come in his story!

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Read/Write
Anonymous
Dec 6 2012 - 2:05pm
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92998
/news-and-blog/blog/2012/12/05/a-diamond-in-the-rough-for-a-thoroughbred-partnership
1 pm on December 05, 2012

In 1993 I discovered West Point Thoroughbreds, a new company being pieced together by some guy I didn’t know, and his wife, to market fractional shares of high potential race horses. Embracing the dream of the winner’s circle is what most of our Partners are all about, I know I was back then, and I still am.

Now a full time WPT employee, watching and participating from the inside now, I see the time, energy and effort that go into getting it a little better every month that passes, the reach for excellence and results. That “guy” I referred to earlier is Terry Finley, WPT founder and CEO.

This is a story about the WPT team identifying and securing a “diamond in the rough.”

Anonymous's picture

If you’ve had the opportunity to see all the Breeders’ Cup races since its inception, you’ve seen it all (good, bad, crazy).

Most people remember their favorite horse, race, or moment (good and bad), but I want to take a trip down memory lane for the craziest...


1.  Hands Down- no possible argument........“The WWE returns to Churchill Downs.”

Javier Castellano & Calvin Borel audition for small pants division of professional wrestling outside of the Churchill Downs winners circle following the 2010 Breeders Cup Marathon. Unfortunately, the chaos created such a firestorm, that most people don’t remember- Eldafaar won the race giving trainer Diane Alvarado her first Breeders’ Cup win. As an aside, Awesome Gem ran in that race and Calvin Borel landed on Josh Cooper’s feet (as Dawn Lenert was pulling him out of the way of flying fists) during the melee.

 


2.  1990 Breeders Cup Sprint (Belmont Park) Filly wins as, Dayjur jumps over the moon......


Euro import, Dayjur came into the Sprint having never run on dirt and never run around a turn.  Under the experienced handling of legendary jock Willie Carson, Dayjur battled every step of the way with the ultra game filly champion, Safely Kept, and looked to have put his rival away with approximately 25 yards to go. As the pair approached the wire, Dayjur suddenly lunged, repeatedly jumping the shadows on the racetrack left by the massive Belmont Park grandstand. As Carson put it when interviewed by Bob Neumeier outside the Winner’s Circle, “We were best, but we’re not going to get the money.”

 


3. Volponi wins the 2002 Classic at Arlington Park.....and the bad guys go to jail

With a storyline straight from a Dick Francis or WPT’s own, Jack Dobbyn novel,
unheralded Volponi, trained by crusty Hall of Fame trainer P.G. Johnson and ridden by Jose Santos (later the rider of Derby champ Funny Cide) shocked the world paying a whopping $89 to win.  

While Volponi’s Classic upset made for an amazing story, the real craziness emerged about a week later, as it was uncovered that computer programmer Chris Harn conspired with two friends, Derrick Davis and Glen DaSilva, and created a scheme to take down the Breeders Cup Pick 6 by manipulating the gambling and placing a wager after four of the six races were complete.

They probably would have gotten away with it had it not been for the longest shot on the board, Volponi, winning and causing the culprits to be the only winning ticket in an odd $12 denomination.  

At first the group maintained they were expert handicappers and accidently punched a $12 ticket instead of a $2 ticket, but as the NYS Attorney General’s office dug deeper, the plot unfolded.  Years later, PG Johnson still maintained the racing world should be forever indebted to the great Volponi.

 

Enjoy the weekend!


Tom

Disabled
EFinley
Nov 2 2012 - 12:25pm
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92652
/news-and-blog/blog/2012/11/02/tom-bellhouse-my-craziest-breeders-cup-memories
12 pm on November 02, 2012

If you’ve had the opportunity to see all the Breeders’ Cup races since its inception, you’ve seen it all (good, bad, crazy).

Most people remember their favorite horse, race, or moment (good and bad), but I want to take a trip down memory lane for the craziest...

EFinley
EFinley's picture
3618

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