It is a Preakness Stakes tradition that when the horses come onto the track for the post parade, the folks on hand at Pimlico Race Course are invited to sing “Maryland, My Maryland,” the official state song.
It’s also a Preakness tradition that after the 1 3/16-mile race is declared official, the colors of the victorious owner’s silks are painted on a weather vane.
I’ve developed a Preakness tradition of my own. When the time comes to try and forecast the winner, I begin by tossing out any entrant who did not run in the Kentucky Derby. That’s because there is a very good chance that the Preakness winner will be someone who started in the 1 1/4-mile Derby at Churchill Downs.
Only four of the last 35 Preakness winners (Red Bullet in 2000, Bernardini in 2006, Rachel Alexandra in 2009 and Cloud Computing in 2017) did not run in the Derby.
This will be the first time since 1951 that none of the first four finishers across the finish line in the Kentucky Derby (Maximum Security, Country House, Code of Honor and Tacitis) are running in the Preakness.
The only four Kentucky Derby alums among the 13 horses entered in this Saturday’s 154th running of the Grade I Preakness are Improbable, War of Will, Win Win Win and Bodexpress.
Improbable is the 5-2 favorite on Pimlico oddsmaker Keith Feustle’s Preakness morning line. War of Will is next at 4-1. As for the other two Derby starters entered in the Preakness, Win Win Win is 15-1 and Bodexpress is 20-1.
These are my Preakness selections:
- War of Will (4-1 morning line)
- Improbable (5-2)
- Alwaysmining (8-1)
- Owendale (10-1)
Here is a look at the most recent race for the last 40 Preakness winners:
2018 Justify (WON THE KENTUCKY DERBY)
2017 Cloud Computing (3rd in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct)
2016 Exaggerator (2nd in the Kentucky Derby)
2015 American Pharoah (WON THE KENTUCKY DERBY)
2014 California Chrome (WON THE KENTUCKY DERBY)
2013 Oxbow (6th in the Kentucky Derby)
2012 I’ll Have Another (WON THE KENTUCKY DERBY)
2011 Shackleford (4th in the Kentucky Derby)
2010 Lookin At Lucky (6th in the Kentucky Derby)
2009 Rachel Alexandra (WON THE KENTUCKY OAKS)
2008 Big Brown (WON THE KENTUCKY DERBY)
2007 Curlin (3rd in the Kentucky Derby)
2006 Bernardini (won the Withers at Aqueduct)
2005 Afleet Alex (3rd in the Kentucky Derby)
2004 Smarty Jones (WON THE KENTUCKY DERBY)
2003 Funny Cide (WON THE KENTUCKY DERBY)
2002 War Emblem (WON THE KENTUCKY DERBY)
2001 Point Given (5th in the Kentucky Derby)
2000 Red Bullet (2nd in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct)
1999 Charismatic (WON THE KENTUCKY DERBY)
1998 Real Quiet (WON THE KENTUCKY DERBY)
1997 Silver Charm (WON THE KENTUCKY DERBY)
1996 Louis Quatorze (16th in the Kentucky Derby)
1995 Timber Country (3rd in the Kentucky Derby)
1994 Tabasco Cat (6th in the Kentucky Derby)
1993 Prairie Bayou (2nd in the Kentucky Derby)
1992 Pine Bluff (5th in the Kentucky Derby)
1991 Hansel (10th in the Kentucky Derby)
1990 Summer Squall (2nd in the Kentucky Derby)
1989 Sunday Silence (WON THE KENTUCKY DERBY)
1988 Risen Star (3rd in the Kentucky Derby)
1987 Alysheba (WON THE KENTUCKY DERBY)
1986 Snow Chief (11th in the Kentucky Derby)
1985 Tank’s Prospect (7th in the Kentucky Derby)
1984 Gate Dancer (DQ’d to 5th from 4th in the Kentucky Derby)
1983 Deputed Testamony (won the Keystone Stakes at Keystone)
1982 Aloma’s Ruler (won the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct)
1981 Pleasant Colony (WON THE KENTUCKY DERBY)
1980 Codex (won the Hollywood Derby at Hollywood Park)
1979 Spectacular Bid (WON THE KENTUCKY DERBY)
1978 Affirmed (WON THE KENTUCKY DERBY)
1977 Seattle Slew (WON THE KENTUCKY DERBY)
1976 Elocutionist (3rd in the Kentucky Derby)
1975 Master Derby (won the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland)
1974 Little Current (5th in the Kentucky Derby)
1973 Secretariat (WON THE KENTUCKY DERBY)
1972 Bee Bee Bee (won the Survivor Stakes at Pimlico)
1971 Canonero II (WON THE KENTUCKY DERBY)
1970 Personality (8th in the Kentucky Derby)
1969 Majestic Prince (WON THE KENTUCKY DERBY)
WAR OF WILL’S DERBY MISFORTUNE
My guess is you probably are aware that War of Will did not have the best of trips in the Kentucky Derby. To begin with, he was rank while full of run when boxed in behind pacesetting Maximum Security on the first turn and early on the backstretch.
War of Will and jockey Tyler Gaffalione remained bottled up until shortly after leaving the three-eighths pole on the far turn. Gaffalione angled out at that point, appearing to make contact with Long Range Toddy.
Shortly after War of Will moved out from the inside rail, Maximum Security still was in front. Just when it appeared War of Will was going to take on the leader, Maximum Security veered out sharply. In the unanimous opinion of the stewards, when Maximum Security veered out sharply, he caused interference to War of Will, Bodexpress and Long Range Toddy.
Maximum Security would go on to reach the finish line 1 3/4 lengths in front.
War of Will’s trainer, Mark Casse, and Gaffalione discussed a possible claim of foul immediately after the race. They decided not to lodge an objection against Maximum Security. Casse later explained that the thinking at the time was War of Will finished eighth, which meant he would only get moved up to seventh even if the claim of foul was allowed. According to Casse, if War of Will possibly could been moved up to fifth to get a piece of the $3 million purse, an objection definitely would have been lodged.
Flavian Prat and Jon Court did lodge objections for alleged interference approaching the five-sixteenth pole. Prat rode Country House, who finished second. Court rode Long Range Toddy, who finished 17th. The stewards deliberated for 22 minutes, then it was announced that they had decided to disqualify Maximum Security and place him 17th. Maximum Security was placed below Long Range Toddy, who in the judgment of the stewards was the horse to finish the lowest of those interfered with nearing the five-sixteenths pole.
It was the first time in the 145-year history of the Kentucky Derby that a winner had been disqualified for an incident during the running of the race.
Ever since Maximum Security’s disqualification, debate has raged as to whether or not it was the correct call. In my opinion, the disqualification of Maximum Security was warranted. However, many others, including Andrew Beyer, have expressed their disagreement with the DQ.
“NBC’s slow-motion coverage showed Maximum Security moving in front of War of Will, forcing Tyler Gaffalione to steady his mount,” Beyer wrote for Daily Racing Form. “This was a foul — no doubt about it. The incident could have resulted in a bad accident — but it didn’t. It probably cost War of Will a length, but he recovered quickly. He had a clear path ahead of him and a quarter of a mile in which to catch Maximum Security, and he drew within a length of the leader, but he faded badly at the end and finished eighth. He never was going to win the Derby, or even finish in the money.”
Beyer actually contradicts himself by saying the incident “probably cost War of Will a length” but War of Will “never was going to win the Derby, or even finish in the money.”
Let’s assume Beyer is correct in his assumption that the incident “probably cost War of Will a length.” If that’s true, then it is reasonable to infer that the incident probably did cost War of Will from finishing in the money — i.e., fifth or higher.
Of the $3 million Kentucky Derby purse, the winner receives $1,860,000, with $600,000 going to second, $300,000 to third, $150,000 to fourth and $90,000 to fifth.
War of Will was beaten less than a length for fifth. If the incident probably cost War of Will “a length,” as Beyer believes, then the incident also probably cost War of Will from finishing fifth and receiving a $90,000 check.
Consider what the DRF’s Mike Watchmaker wrote this week.
“War of Will wound up being beaten only two lengths by the Derby’s third-place finisher, and to say that Maximum Security gave him at least two lengths worth of trouble would be an exercise in massive understatement.”
Watchmaker therefore seemingly believes that Maximum Security cost War of Will the opportunity to possibly finish third and collect $300,000.
The way I saw it, War of Will was not going to beat Maximum Security. I agree with Beyer and many others on that. However, I also think that when Maximum Security committed a foul by impeding War of Will, it denied War of Will the opportunity to finish at least fifth and perhaps even higher.
Maximum Security ran a terrific race. He went fast early, slow in the middle portion, then fast late. Not many horses can do that. When Maximum Security slowed down the pace during the middle part of the Derby, it played a major role as to why the field became so bunched on the far turn. The clocking for each quarter was :22.31, :24.31, :25.88, :26.13, :25.30.
WAR OF WILL MIGHT RUN A BIGGIE IN PREAKNESS
One of the reasons War of Will is my choice to win the Preakness is he had a right to weaken a bit late in the Kentucky Derby inasmuch as it was his first race in six weeks and first meaningful race in 11 weeks. He most assuredly did not get much out of the Louisiana Derby on March 23, a race in which he finished ninth after abruptly taking an awkward step behind in the initial strides.
According to Casse, War of Will emerged from the Louisiana Derby with a strained patellar ligament. But the colt recovered from that setback and trained splendidly up to the May 4 Kentucky Derby. And now, with that May 4 race under his belt, War of Will just might be primed to run a biggie this Saturday.
On the other hand, there is the possibility that the rough Kentucky Derby took a mental and/or physical toll on War of Will. If that’s the case, I almost certainly am barking up the wrong tree by pick him to win the Preakness.
I also had some concern when I learned this week that War of Will had a foot issue three days after the Kentucky Derby. Casse said that on the morning of May 7, “we thought he had a fair amount of heat in his [right front] foot and a pulse and he was a little tender on it. We pulled the shoe right away, soaked his foot and put the shoe back on. He hasn’t missed a beat since…That’s not an issue [for the Preakness].”
Additionally, after War of Will had to deal with the dreaded inside post position in the Kentucky Derby, I was not thrilled to see him again get post 1 for the Preakness. But at least it’s not as if there has been a long drought from post 1. American Pharoah broke from post 1 and won the Preakness in 2015 en route to a Triple Crown sweep.
A Preakness victory by Improbable is quite possible. He found himself racing in heavy traffic and bottled up through the early stages of the Kentucky Derby as the 4-1 favorite. Improbable did not have any kick in the lane and finished fifth before being moved up to fourth through the disqualification of Maximum Security.
I have the impression that Improbable did not particularly like the sloppy track at Churchill despite having run quite well on a sloppy surface at Oaklawn Park when he was the runner-up to Omaha Beach in the Arkansas Derby. Improbable recorded a 99 Beyer Speed Figure in the Arkansas Derby, a 96 in the Kentucky Derby.
Remarkably, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has never lost the Preakness with any of his five Kentucky Derby winners (Silver Charm in 1997, Real Quiet in 1998, War Emblem in 2002, American Pharoah in 2015 and Justify in 2018). But Baffert is not running a Kentucky Derby winner in the Preakness this year.
Baffert also has managed to win the Preakness twice with horses who did not win the Kentucky Derby (Point Given in 2001 and Lookin At Lucky in 2010).
If Improbable does get the job done this Saturday, Baffert will break the record for most Preakness wins by a trainer. Baffert and Robert Wyndham Walden currently share the record with seven Preakness victories each.
All seven of Walden’s Preakness wins came in the 1880s (Tom Ochiltree in 1875, Duke of Magenta in 1878, Harold in 1879, Grenada in 1880, Saunterer in 1881, Vanguard in 1882 and Refund in 1888).
Baffert has a theory as to why he has had so much success running a horse in the Preakness just two weeks after the Kentucky Derby. He believes one of the reasons is what he usually had to do when running horses in futurities and derbies back during his Quarter Horse days.
During Baffert’s time as a Quarter Horse conditioner, qualifying time trials generally would be held one week prior to a futurity or derby. Baffert learned to deal with what he called “the quick turnaround in the Quarter Horse world” by having a horse “run well enough” to qualify for the futurity or derby, but “not too well.” The goal was for the horse to come back a week after the trial and be able to take a serious run at winning the futurity or derby.
OTHER PREAKNESS ENTRANTS TO RESPECT
Beyond War of Will and Improbable, I would not be surprised if Alwaysmining, Owendale, Anothertwistafate, Bourbon War and/or Win Win Win have a big say in Saturday’s big race in Baltimore.
Alwaysmining has reeled off six straight victories at Laurel. In his most recent start, he sat just off the early pace and then annihilated his foes to win the Federico Tesio Stakes by 11 1/2 lengths on April 20. He recorded a 92 Beyer Speed Figure in that race after posting a 96 when he won the Private Terms Stakes by 6 3/4 lengths on March 16. Those Beyers give him a license to do well Saturday. He’s trying to become the first Maryland-bred to win the Preakness since Deputed Testamony in 1983. He would be the first gelding to win the Preakness since Funny Cide in 2003.
I was impressed by Owendale’s triumph in the Grade III Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 13. As far back as ninth early, he zoomed past rivals on the far turn. After sporting a two-length lead at the eighth pole, he won by 1 3/4 lengths. Again from a Beyer Speed Figure perspective, by recording a 98 in the Lexington, Owendale should be taken very seriously in the Preakness.
Anothertwistafate was on my Kentucky Derby Top 10 for many weeks until it looked like he would not have sufficient points to get into the race. He has finished first or second in all five of his starts around two turns. Anothertwistafate has put together Beyer Speed Figures of 94, 94 and 95 going into the Preakness. That puts him right in the mix.
Scat Daddy is the sire of Anothertwistafate. Justify, also a son of Scat Daddy, won the Preakness last year while on his way to sweeping the Triple Crown.
While I am not all that keen on Bourbon War as a candidate to win the Preakness, as a lot of people seem to be, I recognize that he certainly could hit the board Saturday. When he finished fourth in the Grade I Florida Derby on March 30, his chances were compromised by a slow pace. That slow Florida Derby pace was set by the victorious Maximum Security, who subsequently finished first in the Kentucky Derby.
Drawing post 13 for the Preakness did not do Win Win Win any favors. I just have a feeling that he is going to pop up and do what his name says in an important race one of these days.
THORO-GRAPH’S KENTUCKY DERBY FIGS
While I do concur with those of the opinion that nobody was going to beat Maximum Security in the Kentucky Derby, I can’t help but find the post-race Thoro-Graph figures to be very interesting. They tell a different story.
I have stated many times that I believe Beyer Speed Figures do have value (which is why I often list them). But I consider the Thoro-Graph figures to be vastly superior.
In terms of the Beyers, the winner of a race will never get a smaller figure than the horse who finished second, the horse who finished second will never get a smaller figure than the horse who finished third, and so on and so forth down through the order of finish.
Thoro-Graph figures take many more factors (feet traveled, weight, etc.) into account than the Beyers. In the case of the Thoro-Graph Figures, a horse who finishes second, or even lower, can get a better figure than the winner. This really is a much more realistic evaluation of a horse’s performance.
According to Thoro-Graph, Maximum Security did not run the best race in the Kentucky Derby. In fact, according to Thoro-Graph, three horses ran a better race than Maximum Security.
The higher a figure is, the better it is, when it comes to Beyers. The opposite is true for Thoro-Graph figures.
Below were the 10 best Beyers in this year’s Kentucky Derby, followed by the 10 best Thoro-Graph figures:
101 Maximum Security
99 Country House
97 Code of Honor
96 Game Winner
96 Master Fencer
95 War of Will
94 Plus Que Parfait
89 Win Win Win
T-G Fig Horse
- 1/4 Game Winner
- 1/2 Country House
- 1 Tacitus
- 1 1/4 Maximum Security
- 2 1/4 Master Fencer
- 2 1/2 Improbable
- 2 3/4 Code of Honor
- 3 1/4 Cutting Humor
- 3 1/2 War of Will
- 3 3/4 Plus Que Parfait
PREAKNESS HAS NOTABLE ABSENTEES
If Omaha Beach had run in the Kentucky Derby, I believe there’s a good chance that he would have won it. I don’t think the sloppy track would have stopped him. It probably would have helped him. He was two for two on sloppy tracks. But the 4-1 morning-line favorite was scratched from the Derby due to an entrapped epiglottis.
Had Omaha Beach won the Kentucky Derby, I believe he would have been extremely tough to beat in the Preakness. He certainly would have been my pick to win it. I think he might have taken a very serious run at becoming the third Triple Crown winner in this decade.
With Omaha Beach out of the picture, if Maximum Security had been entered in the Preakness, he definitely would have been my pick to win. But instead of running in the Preakness, Maximum Security is scheduled to make a public appearance this Saturday at Monmouth Park. He will be brought over to the paddock before the fifth race.
Also conspicuous by his absence in this Saturday’s Preakness is Country House, the official winner of the 2019 Kentucky Derby. Three days after the Run for the Roses, Country House “developed a little bit of a cough,” his trainer, Bill Mott, revealed to Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman. Mott added that with Country House acting like he was going to get sick, he would not be running in the Preakness.
As for Maximum Security, his trainer, Jason Servis, said he has been “amazed” by the outpouring of support for the colt following his Kentucky Derby disqualification. Many cards and letters and lots of flowers (most notably roses) have been sent to Maximum Security at Monmouth.
“I don’t know what it is, if it’s the disqualification and people feel he was treated unfairly, but he seems to have touched a lot of people,” Servis was quoted as saying in a Monmouth press release announcing the colt’s appearance between races Saturday. “You never know when or why a horse will touch people the way he has. I’m amazed at all the cards and flowers people have sent. It’s a neat thing to see.”
The DRF’s David Grening reports that, according to Servis, Monmouth’s Pegasus Stakes on June 16 is under consideration for Maximum Security as a possible springboard to the Grade I Haskell Invitational there on July 20.
WESTS FILE FEDERAL LAWSUIT OVER DQ
As expected by many, Maximum Security’s owners, Gary and Mary West, have filed a lawsuit in federal court in an attempt to overturn the decision to disqualify Maximum Security in the Kentucky Derby.
According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Wests filed suit on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Frankfort, Ky. The Wests are suing the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) and its members, staff and the stewards who disqualified Maximum Security.
The lawsuit alleges that the disqualification process was “bizarre and unconstitutional.” It seeks to have the stewards’ decision reversed and the original order of finish reinstated “confirming that Maximum Security is the official winner of the Derby who remains undefeated.”
The lawsuit claims that “as a result of the disqualification, plaintiffs, the trainer and jockey (Luis Saez) of Maximim Security were denied any part of the $1,860,000 share of the Derby purse as well as a professional accomplishment that any horseman would cherish for life, plus very substantial value that a Kentucky Derby winner has a stallion.”
The Wests originally had appealed Maximum Security’s disqualification to the KHRC. However, according to a KHRC rule, “stewards’ finding of fact and rulings on matters occurring and incident to the running of the race shall be final and not subject to appeal.” Citing that rule, the Wests’ appeal was summarily denied by the KHRC. The KHRC’s general counsel, John L. Forgy, sent a letter to representatives of the Wests to inform the owners of Maximum Security that their appeal had been denied.
“Because stewards’ disqualification determination is not subject to appeal and for the reasons set forth below, your request for appeal is denied,” the letter from Forgy said, according to a BloodHorse story written by Frank Angst. “Consequently, your request for stay pending appeal is moot because the law does not provide for an appeal.”
Angst added that the appeal denial letter also noted that as a license condition for racing in Kentucky, every licensee agrees to abide by the KHRC’s rules and regulations.
According to the Herald-Leader, the Wests’ lawsuit alleges that the lack of an appeals process for the stewards’ ruling denies Maximum Security’s owners their due process rights. The owners also claim that the stewards’ decision to disqualify Maximum Security was not supported by “substantial evidence on the whole record.”
The way I see it, there is substantial video evidence to support the stewards’ decision to disqualify Maximum Security. However, the part of the Wests’ lawsuit that might conceivably have merit is their claim that they have been denied due process by virtue of the KHRC rule stating that a stewards’ disqualification “for matters occurring and incident to the running of the race shall be final and not subject to appeal.”
Personally, I think that KHRC rule is a good one. It is my belief that after the stewards have made their call as to whether or not disqualify a horse for an incident during a race, it is then in the best interest of racing to move on without any appeals. As I have said many times, when someone can appeal a stewards’ decision to disqualify or not disqualify a horse for an incident during the running of a race, the appeal typically goes before a hearing officer or commissioners who do not have anywhere close to as much videotape expertise as stewards do in terms of analyzing what has occurred during a race.
If the KHRC rule stating that the stewards’ disqualification determination is not subject to appeal — or any similarly worded rule in another state – has ever been challenged on constitutional grounds, I am not aware of it. Due to the fundamental unfairness stemming from the finality that is specified in the KHRC rule that a disqualification “shall be final and not subject to appeal,” I don’t think it’s out of the question that KHRC rule could be declared unconstitutional by a federal judge.
If that KHRC rule were to be deemed to be unconstitutional, I don’t believe that, in itself, would cause a federal judge to rule that the original order of finish in the Kentucky Derby be reinstated. However, if that particular KHRC rule was declared to be unconstitutional, I could envision the case possibly being sent back to the KHRC for the purpose of the racing commission being mandated to hear the appeal. Of course, under those circumstances, the odds of the KHRC upholding the Wests’ appeal would be tremendously bigger than even Country House’s 65-1 odds in the Kentucky Derby. And if the KHRC, as expected, did not rule in favor of the Wests in their appeal, it most likely would send the owners back into federal court to continue their attempt to have the stewards’ decision to disqualify Maximum Security overturned.
SAEZ RECEIVES 15-DAY SUSPENSION
While I regard the stewards’ decision to disqualify Maximum Security in the Kentucky Derby as being correct, I strongly disagree with their ruling to suspend the colt’s jockey, Luis Saez, for 15 days “for failure to control his mount and make the proper effort to maintain a straight course thereby causing interference with several rivals that resulted in the disqualification of his mount.”
The stewards’ ruling calls for Saez to be suspended from May 23-27 and from June 6-9, plus on June 13 and 14.
In my view, the 15-day penalty is egregious, punitive and ridiculous.
From what I have seen on the videotape, I do not believe Saez was reckless or careless. Maximum Security appeared to get spooked from something, be it from the crowd noise, reflection of light on the wet track or something in the infield.
After Maximum Security veered out sharply from whatever evidently spooked him, Saez quickly guided Maximum Security back down toward the inside rail. When Saez took Maximum Security back down toward the inside rail, it did appear Maximum Security nearly make contact with Code of Honor. Perhaps those two even did make light contact. Code of Honor had slipped through along the inner rail into the clear path that materialized when Maximum Security veered out sharply. I don’t think Maximum Security bothered Code of Honor nearing the top of the stretch. But it appeared to me that Maximum Security did come close to doing so.
The harshest sanction for Saez’s ride that I would consider not to be excessive would be a five-day suspension. A three-day suspension would be even more appropriate. But from the numerous times I have viewed the videotape, I honestly don’t think Saez deserved to be suspended at all for his ride. Maximum Security, in my opinion, was at fault, not Saez. This was not a case of “rider error.”
Saez’s attorney, Ann Oldfather, reportedly plans to file an appeal of the 15-day suspension to the KHRC on behalf of her client. An appeal of a jockey’s suspension is permitted by the KHRC rules.
RACING MOURNS THE DEATH OF TIM CONWAY
Tim Conway, referred to as a comic genius by many and a longtime supporter of horse racing, died Tuesday morning in Los Angeles. He was 85.
In the Los Angeles Times’ obituary, Conway’s representative, Howard Bragman, said the comedian died in a long-term-care facility after suffering complications of hydrocephalus. Conway, Bragman said, also had dementia.
My late father became a big Tim Conway fan when watching him on “McHale’s Navy” on the black and white television in our living room. During Conway’s career, he won six Emmy Awards, four of them for his work on “The Carol Burnett Show.” He also starred in a number of movies.
Conway was a devout racing fan. He even raced a few horses through the years. In the 1980s, he appeared a number of times as the hapless jockey Lyle Dorf on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson.
In what probably was Conway’s most significant contribution to horse racing, he helped launch the Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fund in 1987. It provided financial aid and assistance to injured jockeys and exercise riders. Conway had a soft spot in his heart for those who rode racehorses in the mornings and afternoons. In his youth, Conway exercised Thoroughbreds for a time in his native Ohio. The Don MacBeth Fund assisted more than 2,000 riders before ceasing operations at the end of 2011.
The Turf Publicists of America honored Conway with the Big Sport of Turfdom Award in 1989.
I crossed paths with Conway on a number of occasions through the years. He was always friendly…and, of course, always funny.
As example of Conway’s sense of humor, in the BloodHorse’s obit, Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron recalled the only two words on the back of Conway’s silks: No Passing.
TRAINER DON WARREN PASSES AWAY
There also was sad news for many members of the racing fraternity when the Santa Anita publicity department announced last Friday that retired trainer Don Warren had died early Thursday after having been in declining health in recent years. He was 67.
Born in Covina, Calif., Warren began his training career in 1974. He trained for the Johnston family’s Old English Rancho until his retirement in 2015. He was not the only person in his family involved in racing. His brother, Ron Warren Jr., is a retired jockey who has worked as a racing official for the California Horse Racing Board.
Warren trained Acclamation, who was victorious in 11 of 30 lifetime starts and earned $1,958,048. Acclamation won six Grade I races, including the 2011 Pacific Classic at Del Mar. He was voted a 2011 Eclipse Award as champion older male.
I visited Warren at his barn many times in the 1980s during my years as a reporter/columnist for the Daily Racing Form. I always enjoyed my morning chats with Warren.
THIS WEEK’S NTRA POLLS
Here is the Top 10 for this week’s NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll:
Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes)
- 403 Bricks and Mortar (29)
- 333 McKinzie (5)
- 274 Gift Box (3)
- 229 Midnight Bisou
- 212 Mitole
- 197 World of Trouble
- 140 Monomoy Girl (3)
- 99 Roy H
- 85 Thunder Snow (1)
- 69 City of Light (1)
Here is the Top 10 for this week’s NTRA Top 3-Year-Old Poll:
Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes)
- 412 Maximum Security (28)
- 366 Omaha Beach (13)
- 320 Country House (2)
- 270 Code of Honor
- 260 Tacitus
- 193 Improbable
- 166 Game Winner
- 142 War of Will
- 68 Serengeti Empress
- 40 Roadster