Saturday, December 31, 2011

Kauto Star, Superstar

--Gary King

It's very difficult, and ultimately unfair to compare horses across different generations. Who really knows if a modern great such as Sea The Stars would have beaten a past legend like Nijinsky II. At the end of the day, it’s almost impossible to remain objective and very often the heart rules the head--for me more than most. However, this is often where the beauty lies.

In my opinion, Kauto Star is the finest National Hunt racehorse of my generation. For those of you who don’t know, Kauto Star won his fifth G1 King George VI Chase at Kempton in Britain, Dec. 26.

Kauto Star is what jump racing is all about. The sport remains extremely popular in Britain and Ireland, and has the ability to make the front pages--highlighted in Friday's TDN. It appears to be part of the social fabric, with the perception being that the smaller owner/breeder has a greater chance of competing against the game’s biggest players. Eight out of ten people on the street in Britain and Ireland would be able to name a jumper, with Kauto Star being the public’s favorite.

He is a unique animal, and his talent shows no signs of abating as he nears the ripe old age of 12. His record breaking achievement at Kempton tops an illustrious career, which also includes two G1 Cheltenham Gold Cups, two G1 Tingle Creeks and four G1 Betfair Chases. I can’t even begin to fathom what this would translate to on the flat. Let’s just say it’s unprecedented.

It has been a privilege to witness Kauto’s remarkable exploits since his unveiling in 2003. His lifetime record of 40-23-7-4 is testament to his ability and remarkable consistency. Denman, Imperial Commander and Long Run have all challenged and briefly surpassed, but none of these horses have been able to match Kauto’s sustained class.

Kauto possesses an extraordinary combination of attributes, something that is rarely seen in the jumping sphere. He has all the quality of a flat horse, combined with the gritty determination and will-to-win of an old fashioned chaser. He did miss a few fences in his younger days, but his jumping has generally been top-notch over the years.

Kauto Star                   

Long Run got the upper hand in last season’s G1 Cheltenham Gold Cup, and may well get his head in front again in March. The steep climb to finish and left-handed track should play to the strengths of the young pretender. However, it would take a brave man to back against the rejuvenated Kauto Star. Many people had written him off, including myself, after he failed to sparkle in a disappointing campaign last season. However, like all great champions Kauto showed that he had a couple of big fights left in him. Could he possibly have a few more up his sleeve?

Time nor tide waits for no man/horse, and the day will come when Kauto Star no longer reigns supreme. He will be replaced and other great horses will go on to challenge his records, and maybe even eclipse them. However, it's extremely unlikely that I will ever see the likes of him again.

Thanks for the memories, Kauto. It has been a privilege.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It Takes a Village: One Mare's Journey Back to the Bluegrass

-Sarah Andrew

Since January 2010, I've photographed well over 2,500 horses in need. I volunteer my time, skill, and camera equipment, and I try to put a face to the "unwanted" horse population. In addition to local rescues and farms, I visit Camelot Auction in Cranbury, NJ every Thursday and photograph the horses who were sold to the feedlot the night before. A group of dedicated horse lovers networks these horses every week, sharing the horses' photos and descriptions everywhere from feed stores to Facebook. The grassroots volunteer effort has made an impact; since November 2009, no horses have shipped to slaughter from this auction. Over 2,800 horses sold privately and have been given one more chance to get out of the slaughter pipeline.

Although there is no way to track every horse and it is unrealistic to believe that they all found their perfect owners, there are countless success stories of horses who found appropriate homes. This is the story of one of those horses.
In mid-April 2011, when Derby Fever was in full swing, I photographed Hip #241, a bay Thoroughbred mare with a big left knee. She was a big-bodied girl with an elegant head adorned by a crooked heart-shaped star. She wore a hand-me-down halter that belonged to another broodmare. Being a sucker for a bay with a pretty face, I spent a little time with her after I did my photos. She was gentle and her doe eyes gave her a look of polite bewilderment.

Each week, the feedlot horses are usually available until the Saturday after the auction. As of Thursday morning, nobody had bought the bay mare. This was her auction description: "#241 15.3 hds 6 yr old mare led thru sweet in the pen no other info given $375.00 (note: this mare has a big left knee)"

Tattoo research revealed that her name was Indian Delight, and she earned $134,560 on the track, running against the likes of Life At Ten, Sugar Swirl, Indyanne, Secret Gypsy, and Persistently. Her last race was in May 2010.

Thursday night, she was still available. Nervous about the mare's welfare, I called TDN Vice President Sue Finley, who assured me that together, we would find her a home. Friday morning rolled around, and the mare was still available. The TDN staff pooled their funds and together, we paid the purchase price for Indian Delight.

Many phone calls were made that week. Through the network of wonderful TDN readers, a few farms offered a home for Indian Delight. With the help of many horse advocate friends, the mare's transportation and a month of quarantine were scheduled. Horses who have entered the auction circuit are recommended to be placed in temporary isolation care to make sure they have not caught any diseases in their travels.

On Kentucky Derby Day, I visited Indian Delight in Pennsylvania at the isolation care facility. She had already picked up a little weight, and her shaggy winter coat was almost gone. The bay mare still had her doe-eyed expression, but this time she looked a little less bewildered by her surroundings.
At the end of her stay at the farm, transportation was again arranged and "our" mare headed to Kentucky to live at Fallbrook Farm. Although they were not the owners or breeders of Indian Delight, Mr. and Mrs. Randal generously offered to take her into their care.

The week before the 2011 Saratoga meet opened, I drove out to Kentucky to visit Indian Delight at Fallbrook. As I headed down up driveway, I could not help but smile at Fallbrook's gently rolling hills of bluegrass and beautiful barns. My smile turned into an ear-to-ear grin when I saw my friend Indian Delight peek her head out of her stall. Gone was her winter fuzz, and it was replaced by her gleaming summer coat, resplendent with dapples. She was the picture of health, a wonderful model for my photos.
Summer turned to fall and the air got cold. In December, I made my way back out to Kentucky to visit Indian Delight, who was sporting a healthy, shiny winter coat and a custom nameplate on her halter. She is still comfortable on her knee. I was delighted to see her in her large paddock, happily rolling, grazing, and playing with her equine friends. Her look of bewilderment from the auction barn is gone, and it has been replaced by a look of contentedness.

This is a story of a lucky mare, but it's also a story of the generosity of the horse community. So many people reached out and played a part, big or small, in finding the best home possible for this mare. I extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped in the true spirit of horsemanship, and got Indian Delight to Fallbrook, where she is the queen of the farm. It took a village to help one mare get back to the Bluegrass.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

It's All About Confidence

--Gary King

The power of confidence in determining market conditions cannot be underestimated. Confidence, or the lack thereof, often encourages irrational behavior and unpredictable decision making. The Thoroughbred industry is no exception. The industry is based on many tangible factors and sound fundamentals, but confidence and opinion appear to dictate.

The results achieved at auctions over recent months highlight this point. Gross, average and median figures soared to record levels in many instances, which was a welcome relief, but somewhat unexpected. Of course, there were several unique factors at play, including quality dispersals at Keeneland November, but much of it was simply down to market confidence. The ball got rolling at Fasig-Tipton in August and just kept on rolling.

What has changed so much in the past 12 months? The short answer is not a whole lot. The industry is still plagued by a number of inherent weaknesses, and the wider macroeconomic environment remains unstable. People just wanted to invest in horseflesh in the latter part of 2011, whether that be weanlings, yearlings or breeding stock. The majority of this was fueled by domestic demand, aided by the usual strong international presence.

Despite the recent upturn, it’s important to prevent complacency setting in. Industry participants have had a tendency to bury their heads in the sand, although this mentality has changed slightly in recent times. Several critical issues need to be addressed, sooner rather than later. Personally, I find the growing reliance on slot money a most worrying development. Gaming companies, that supplement purses in the first few years to gain acceptance will not continue to prop up racing--and why should they? This whole dependency reminds me of the Irish racing industry’s reliance on government funding a few years back. It’s an unsustainable model, and the industry would be better served using it as a crutch while searching for self-financing solutions.

Without question, the recent sales have been a tremendous boost after a few tough years. Breeders, owners, et al. are looking to 2012 with renewed optimism. However, market confidence is very fickle and tends to ebb and flow. The industry has and always will be sensitive to fluctuations due to its very nature. Saying that, a largely self-financed model that promotes quality over quantity would reduce the negative ramifications associated with these swings.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

On 'Redux' and 'Records'

--Brian DiDonato

Media coverage of Rapid Redux’s win streak highlights a widespread manipulation of fact for the sake of a “good” story, and also demonstrates the necessity for the sport to better define historical periods and class levels and keep better records.

In the week or so leading up to Rapid Redux’s quest for 19 wins in a calendar year at Laurel Tuesday, it was generally accepted by the media that a victory by the 5-year-old would tie him for some sort of record with Hall of Famers Roseben and Citation. That “record” required one to ignore any horse who competed before 1900, and to rule out Camarero’s incredible feats in Puerto Rico in the 1950s because they did not occur in continental North America.

A further wrinkle was added when Doug Salvatore, a sharp horseplayer and contributor to the Erie Times-News, discovered Donald Macdonald, who won 22 races at American tracks in 1913.

We confirmed Donald Macdonald’s record with The Jockey Club, and ran a story in last Saturday’s TDN, but other media outlets ignored this new find--even after Rapid Redux won on Tuesday. A vocal minority continued to point out Donald Macdonald’s exploits, however, and eventually most stories covering Rapid Redux’s record were changed to credit him with tying a “modern era” record held by Citation alone.

From May 5, 1921 edition of Daily Racing Form - "Veteran Stars of the Turf: Groups of the 5-year-old and Over Leaders for the Last 16 Years of American Racing"
Of course, this distinction brings up an obvious question--what do we define as the "modern era" in North American horse racing?

The general definition of the term “modern era” is too vague to bring clarity to this situation, and racing itself does not have any set cut-off for what should be considered modern. There have been many benchmarks in the history of American racing--some which occurred before Donald Macdonald (i.e. the introduction of pari-mutuel wagering in 1908) and some that occurred after (i.e. the common use of starting gates around 1940)--but there is no obvious reason to choose one or another... unless you’re looking to make a story seem more interesting or important than it actually is.

It seems that if one wishes to separate Rapid Redux from Donald Macdonald, he must also separate Rapid Redux from Citation. Racing has changed drastically from 1948 to now--to lump Rapid Redux and Citation into the same era would be inaccurate or arbitrary, especially if we are unwilling to also include “The Donald.”

I’d go as far as to say that Rapid Redux holds the “modern era” record--which would probably best be marked by the introduction of the Breeders’ Cup in 1984--(for non-stakes horses) all on his own.

Horse racing is different from other sports because, despite holding races at varying class levels and implementing a grading system, we do not have a designated “major league”--at least not explicitly.

In the eyes of many racing fans and members of the media, when it comes to records involving totals or streaks, a win is a win. But to say that Rapid Redux’s victories, which came against small fields of horses who at one point were dangled by their connections for bargain basement prices, are equal to those of Citation, Cigar, Zenyatta or even Awesome Feather is absurd.

What makes a seasonal or career sports record worthy of celebration is that it is the product of extreme talent or success at the highest level over a significant period of time.

Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major championships was achieved by defeating the best golfers of his generation at some of the most challenging venues; Barry Bonds’s home run records (controversies surrounding them not withstanding) came against the best pitchers in the world; and, perhaps most relevant, Cal Ripken, Jr.’s record for consecutive games played was only noteworthy because of the level at which he competed 2,632 times in a row.

Someone who has played in 2,633 men’s league softball games cannot stake claim to Ripken’s record, and nobody mentions Crash Davis in the same breath as Babe Ruth when he breaks the minor league record for career home runs in the 1988 film “Bull Durham.”

Truly important records are only approachable by the absolute best competitors of a given sport. How many thousands of horses over the course of history could win each race that Rapid Redux did if given the same opportunity?

All this isn’t to say that Rapid Redux isn’t a nice enough horse or that what he has accomplished should be completely ignored. He won more times in 2011 than Tizway, Havre de Grace and Drosselmeyer started combined, and he has shipped far more than most stakes horses. Plus, the mainstream publicity he has garnered can’t be bad for racing (nor will it prove to be particularly positive--we have seen that stories of this type have no meaningful impact on the racing economy. The 2011 Breeders’ Cup, the first post-Zenyatta, showed declines in handle despite an additional race.).

But seemingly serious calls for Rapid Redux to be named Horse of the Year or to receive a special Eclipse Award are extremely misguided and overzealous. He’s a gutsy horse who has managed to buck the trend of runners making fewer and fewer starts per year, but what he has done must be viewed within its context and with a healthy dose of perspective.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Review: HBO's Luck

--Justina Severni

The pilot episode of HBO’s new series “Luck” is exactly what you’d expect of a horse racing drama airing on HBO. The show, created by David Milch, is dramatic, mysterious and shows the seedier side of the sport as well as the people associated with it. From a purely cinematic standpoint, the show looks promising. Its dark tone is conveyed in both the gritty subject matter and the green tinted lens used throughout the pilot to create a grimy distortion of beautiful Santa Anita Park. The acting is solid, and it appears that both Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte will be able to carry the show with their talent and ability to portray powerful, tormented characters. “Luck” doesn’t come off as a television show about horse racing, rather a show that will use horse racing as a vehicle in which to tell the stories of its characters. The racetrack brings together people from diverse backgrounds, providing Milch an easy common tie between plot lines and characters.

As with most dramas, “Luck” is an extremely exaggerated picture of life. The distortion between the price of the Pick 6 ticket and the number of picks was one of the most obvious to those familiar with the sport. Some of the characters such as the wise old trainer, naive youngster and the band of degenerate gamblers, come off as stereotypical, but hopefully they will become more fully formed throughout the season. The shadiness of the characters and actions in “Luck” must be taken by any reasonable viewer with a grain of salt. Its characters and plot lines create good drama, not a realistic portrayal of reality.

Although “Luck” focuses on the uglier side of the sport, I don’t think it will necessarily negatively affect horse racing. I’m sure the cringe inducing breakdown scene won’t send viewers immediately flocking to the track, but the show overall might at least get a wider audience interested in the sport. If the positive cinematic portrayals of racing in “Seabiscuit” and “Secretariat” didn’t encourage viewers to take to the track, that demographic won’t change its opinion based on an HBO show. However, the demographic HBO is most often viewed by, males ages 18-34, might become more interested in racing, or more specifically gambling. Becoming well-versed in handicapping is not as easy as picking up casino games, but portrayals of handicapping/betting in “Luck” might make it seem less intimidating to younger generations. The pilot alone introduced the Pick 6 to many of its viewers.

At this point, with the numerous problems within the industry, simply reminding people that horse racing is still around is helpful. In the state the sport is in, any news is good news. Racing fans can only hope that the goriness of the drama stays off the track (it appears in the preview that the setting will branch out from the track with a shot of a blood drenched boat), that viewers don’t believe the show to be an accurate representation of the industry, and that it at least piques the viewer’s interest in the sport.

Justina Severni is a recent graduate of Trinity College in Hartford. Her interest in horses started when she began riding on at her family farm in Connecticut, and has continued through her years of riding and training. She first experienced the track during a vacation to Saratoga Springs, and her love of horses and the thrill of racing has kept her watching ever since.

Zodiac: The King of Maryland

-Sarah Andrew

No drive to Kentucky is complete without a visit to Zodiac, one of the gamest Thoroughbreds I've ever met.

You can read about Zodiac in my June 2011 post on the TDN blog (click here). The 8-year-old stakes-winning Thoroughbred gelding was placed in the care of Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Woodbine, MD after he and over 50 other horses were seized as a result of a West Virginia cruelty case.

For many months, Zodiac's condition was touch-and-go, from his severely emaciated condition, to the ulcers in his digestive system and eyes, to the fevers, to the lymphangitis. I followed the Days End Notes from the Barn blog every day, smiling with every improvement and wincing with every setback. I visited the farm twice during his most critical times; despite his weakened condition, he always turned his head to greet visitors in his stall.

In November 2010, he took his first walk without the sling (video).

In May 2011, he put on a show for me in his paddock, leaping and playing with wild abandon.
In December 2011, I planned a quick trip to Kentucky, and of course, stopped to visit my friend Zodiac on my way. Gone was the brittle coat and gaunt frame. Before me stood a handsome chestnut, full of life and basking in the attention of the volunteers at the rescue.
He no longer stood meekly for photos, but instead tossed his head impatiently if I took too long setting up my shots.
His coat glowed, eyes full of life, and he carried himself with pride. During our session, he posed this way and that; it is such a joy to photograph a horse like Zodiac.
I wasn't sure if "Zody" would appreciate wearing a wreath and Santa hat for his Christmas photo, but he handled his new attire with aplomb, carrying the pine wreath like a blanket of roses. I should have known that the "Miracle Horse" would not disappoint me.
Although his racing days are over, Zodiac continues to earn money and gain loyal fans. A recent calendar contest raised over $15,000 for the rescue, and my photo of Zodiac was selected for the cover. You can learn more about the efforts of Days End Farm Horse Rescue at this link or by visiting their page on Facebook.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Second Chances...

--Steve Sherack

TDN’s Racing Editor Steve Sherack reveals three more maidens to keep an eye on this winter in his latest installment of Second Chances. Click here to view previous entries.

James Hirschmann III and B J Wright’s BOAT TRIP (c, 2, Harlan’s Holiday--Turning Wheel {GSW-Fr, $142,092}, by Seeking The Gold), a $100,000 OBSMAR purchase, has gained valuable racing experience during his first two trips to post for conditioner Michael Pender in Southern California.

Co-owned and trained by the red-hot connections of GI Hollywood Derby and GII Oak Tree Derby upsetter Ultimate Eagle (Mizzen Mast) and the classy GII Citation H. winner Jeranimo (Congaree), the bay debuted with a close fifth at 95-1 after enduring a wide trip in a key race at Santa Anita Nov. 5 (TDN Video).

The form for that heat has held up quite well with the first three finishers already returning with big efforts, led by the top two Hodge (City Place) and Brother Francis (Lion Heart) resurfacing with placings in the GIII Hollywood Prevue S. Nov. 24; third-place finisher Bling Cha Bling (Too Much Bling) switched to grass to earn his diploma in style at Hollywood Dec. 10. 

Backed at 15-1 in his second career start in Inglewood Nov. 27 (TDN Video), Boat Trip was closer to the pace after being dealt a more favorable inside draw. Under a nice hold in third through a sharp opening quarter in :21.98, the half-brother to G3 UAE 2000 Guineas third Rallying Cry (War Chant) was guided out three wide on the turn for home, and kept on coming in the stretch to complete the trifecta, only 3/4 of a length behind $825,000 OBSAPR topper Macho Rocket (Macho Uno).

The final time for the six-furlong affair was 1:10.06. Boat Trip, bred in Kentucky by Galleria Bloodstock and Samac, received a 75 Beyer Speed Figure.

“It’s the perfect prototypical progression of a racehorse,” explained Pender, who maintains a select 20-horse string. “He seems to be taking everything in stride and he’s really starting to come around now. He’s our big horse for next year.”

Pender added that Boat Trip could re-appear in a mile dirt race at Santa Anita Dec. 29. He has returned to the worktab with a five-furlong move in 1:01.40 at Hollywood Park Dec. 7.

The well-bred SIR BOND (c, 2, Street Sense--Emmaus, by Silver Deputy), out of an unraced daughter of the bluehen mare La Affirmed (Affirmed), appears poised for bigger and better things following an encouraging debut second behind the talented Hierro (Hard Spun) (Sept. 8 Second Chances graduate) at Churchill Downs Nov. 9 (TDN Video).

Given a 9-1 chance, the Jerry Durant colorbearer was away from the stalls awkwardly and trailed the field of 10 through an opening quarter in :23.19. He began to pick up the pace with an eye-catching wide rally on the turn for home and finished with interest to report home a clear-cut second, 5 1/4 lengths behind the aforementioned “TDN Rising Star.”

The final time for seven furlongs was 1:23 3/5. Sir Bond, a $260,000 KEEAPR graduate, earned a solid 74 Beyer. The half-brother to MGSW Wiseman’s Ferry (Hennessy) was bred in Kentucky by Nursery Place and Robert T. Manfuso.

Under the watchful eye of veteran trainer Neil Howard, Sir Bond has remained busy on the worktab since his unveiling. He has posted four subsequent workouts, most recently covering four furlongs in :50 at Fair Grounds Dec. 11.

TREASURED UP (f, 2, Medaglia d’Oro--Melisma, by Well Decorated), a $450,000 FTSAUG yearling acquisition by Spendthrift Farm, rounds out the lot.

Backed at 5-2 to get it right at first asking in an 11-horse field beneath the lights at Turfway Park Dec. 3 (TDN Video), the dark bay reported home a respectable second, beaten three lengths.

Ridden along early to chase in third through an opening quarter in :22.45 over the tricky Polytrack, the half-sister to millionaire Choctaw Nation (Louis Quatorze) stayed one-paced after switching to her right lead in the stretch while chasing the wire-to-wire winner to the finish. She earned a 64 Beyer.

Trained by Al Stall Jr., a change in surface to dirt (likely to come at Fair Grounds) and some added distance should help do the trick from this pricey filly. She was bred in Kentucky by Summer Wind Farm.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bienvenue, Peb!

   Sometimes, when the economic news in our industry is bad, and the PR is bad, and I'm having a bad day at the TDN offices, I find it helpful to take a deep breath, close my eyes, and remember what it was that I initially loved about this industry so much, anyway.
   For me, the same few things usually come to mind. The joy of going to Belmont Park as a teenager with eight hard-earned dollars, and coming home with twelve. I picture the Affirmed-Alydar Belmont. Steve Cauthen. An afternoon spent by the Saratoga paddock. And stopping on the way to high school to buy the Daily Racing Form and seeing what Peb had drawn for that day's Equine Comedy.
   When I was about 16, I took a tour of the Saratoga backstretch in one of those trams you always see trolling around at the Spa. The highlight of it, for me, was the book of Peb's sketches they gave you at the end of it. I can still see it to this day; printed in landscape, with a brown glossy cover, full of sketches that brought the horses to life.
   I've always humanized animals in my mind's eye; have always imagined what they were thinking and feeling, pictured them as ironic, funny, sarcastic. Steve Crist used to tease me, and say, `You know what they're thinking, Sue? `Da dum dum dum. Da dum dum dum.'
   But Peb? Peb got it. Peb knew what horses were secretly thinking, and it was way more clever than I had even imagined. We were kindred spirits, I felt (only he was really talented, and I was, well, not.)
   Adding to my love of Peb was the fact that I was (and am) a total Francophile. My dad was a French teacher, and I studied the language all through grammar school and high school, and, having no chance to actually be sent to France on my dad's high school teacher's salary, settled for making it my major in college.

Peb: a self-portrait.

   But two years in a row, I had an exchange student from France, Sophie, and if she had very little interest in learning English, I was more than happy to speak French with her all day long, copying her accent and learning idiomatic expressions. It was the peak of my French abilities in life, and it was good timing, too.
   She loved the racetrack, and we spent a couple of weeks at Saratoga, where one day, we happened to walk past Peb and his son, Remi, who were, naturally, speaking French with one another. Sophie turned and replied to something Remi had said, and we all struck up a conversation in French. Near the end of our chat, Peb turned to me and asked, "When are you going back home to France?" I said, "I'm not from France. I'm from Connecticut." He was somewhat confused and said, "But you live now in France?" I told him I had never even been to France, but had learned the language in school. He genuinely appeared shocked that it wasn't my native language. To this day, I think it's the nicest compliment anyone has ever paid me. (Hearing me speak now, he probably wonders how he ever made such a mistake.)
   So imagine my delight to be told by my co-publisher, Barry Weisbord, a few months ago that Peb was interested in working with the TDN, and I was to bring that to fruition. In case you missed it, his take on the Arizona symposium, his first sketch in the TDN, is on page 6 in the Wednesday, Dec. 7 edition.

Eric Beitia rode Salduci to Pierre Bellocq Jr.'s first win as a
trainer, but his real victory was being sketched by Peb.
Peb's other son, Remi, is holding the horse,
with Peb to his left.

   Talking to him and working out the details over the past few months has been nothing short of one of the greatest privileges I've ever had in racing. In one of our earliest conversations, I told him that when I was 17 or so, I had a friend, Eric Beitia, who had come from a poor childhood in Panama to try to make it in New York. He was having some success as an apprentice at Aqueduct, and one day, after he was done riding, I handed him the Daily Racing Form with a sketch that Peb had drawn of him. He sat in the stands for the longest time, staring at the picture, and he finally said that this--being sketched by Peb--much more than any individual victory, was how he knew he had finally made it.
   Peb was moved by the story; Eric was tragically killed a few years later by a hitchhiker looking to steal his car, and Peb told me that he had done the sketch when Eric had ridden Salduci for his son, Pierre, giving him his first win as a trainer. He sent me the win photo.
   Racing's troubles are well-documented. But it has its marvelous aspects, as well. And if you're making a list of things that are great about racing, in my mind, Peb sits comfortably near the top of that list. At 84 years old, he's a treasure.
   The TDN is immeasurably proud to bring our audience his work, and I am personally honored to have a small role in letting the imaginations of his horses be heard once again.