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Sports Then and Now



American Pharoah Proves That History Can Be Repeated 1

Posted on June 06, 2015 by Dean Hybl
American Pharoah is the first horse racing Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

American Pharoah is the first horse racing Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

After 37 years and many close calls, it might have been fair to believe that horse racing in the 21st Century was not destined for a Triple Crown winner. However, that was before American Pharoah did what 13 previous horses could not since Affirmed in 1978 and added victory at the Belmont Stakes to wins at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

With his wire-to-wire victory, American Pharoah is now the 12th member of an impressive club that began with Sir Barton in 1919 and also includes well known horses including Secretariat, Affirmed, Citation, Whirlaway and War Admiral.

While much has been made of the 37 year drought, perhaps the real number to indicate just how challenging it is to win the Triple Crown is that American Pharoah is just the fourth winner in the last 67 years. In fact, if you set aside the anomaly between 1973 and 1978 when there were three Triple Crown winners in a six year stretch, American Pharoah accomplished what 20 horses had not been able to complete since Citation in 1948.

That both jockey Victor Espinoza (twice) and trainer Bob Baffert (three times) had been in this position previously gave both of them an interesting perspective and understanding of the pressure and extra demands surrounding a run for the Triple Crown.

Of course, the different component of the equation in 2015 was the horse and American Pharoah proved that he was up to the challenge. That he headed right to the front and then stayed there throughout, actually growing his lead over the final quarter mile, illustrated that he was indeed a champion worthy of immortality. Read the rest of this entry →

Horse Racing in Kentucky: An Upgrade in Tradition 0

Posted on April 03, 2015 by Ashley Andrews
Churchill Downs is the most famous horse track in America.

Churchill Downs is the most famous horse track in America.

Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky is one of the most recognizable track names in the U.S. Opening in 1875, this über famous racetrack has been the home of the Kentucky Derby and Oats ever since the race’s founding, and many other races throughout history. The closing of two earlier tracks in Kentucky paved the way for Churchill Downs to replace them in a major way. As one of the most popular sports at the time, Kentucky needed a horse racing track, and a man named Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. delivered. The track is actually named after the men who leased the land to Clark, John and Henry Churchill.

By 1902, Churchill Downs came under the control of a man named Matt Winn, who turned the track into a prestigious display of thoroughbred racing, steering away from its late-1800s reputation of being a gambling site. Being a 1 ¼ mile track, Winn and his business partners decided to use the track for more than just horses. They built a clubhouse, and began using the facility for things like auto racing and concerts. The reputation, sophistication, and discernment of Churchill Downs came to full realization when it was officially staked as a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

Today, the track is still home of the most famous horse races in North America, and continues to expand its capabilities and pliability by introducing events like night horse races, concert tours, and state fairs. The track has reached a total size of 147 acres, far exceeding its original size of 80 acres. This allows for the 150,000 attendants of the Derbies, especially the Kentucky Derby, and the sizable crowds that come for the 360° cinema. Read the rest of this entry →

American Horse Racing Through the Years 0

Posted on August 18, 2014 by Eva Thompson
The horse racing industry in the United States brings in over $26 billion each year.

The horse racing industry in the United States brings in over $26 billion each year.

Horse racing provides a full spectrum of entertainment unlike any other sport. Whether your horse wins or loses, spending a day at the races makes for a great afternoon or evening outdoors watching beautiful animals compete.

The Tradition of Horse Racing
Horse racing has been a long standing tradition among many cultures. The sport dates back all the way to 4500 BC among nomadic tribesmen in Central Asia, who first domesticated horses. Archeological records reveal that the Ancient Greeks, Syrians, Babylonians, and Egyptians also participated in horse racing to entertain the masses and honor outstanding horsemanship required for battles. Later horse racing became popular among British royalty and aristocracy where it received the nickname “Sport of Kings”.

These days, horse racing represents one of the only legal forms of gambling around the world, including Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, the United States, South America, the Middle East, and Australia. Read the rest of this entry →

Two Big Reds That Lost Big at Saratoga 3

Posted on August 11, 2014 by Scott Huntington

Now that the calendar has turned to August, the eyes of the racing world have turned to the historic Saratoga Race Course in beautiful Saratoga Springs, N.Y. This town is wonderful to visit any time of the year, but it really springs to life during the summer racing meet, when top thoroughbreds converge to compete in top-quality races.

Saratoga has been hosting summer races since 1863, and over the years it has become known as the “graveyard of champions.” This refers to the fact that many times, horses that seemed invincible went down in stunning defeat. Although races like these can lead to huge payoffs for bettors, it comes at great expense to champion horses. Two of these horses share that history and also the nickname of Big Red. They were Man ‘o War and Secretariat.

Man o’ War Melts

 

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Man o’ War was a stunning chestnut colt who raced in the years 1919 and 1920. When he competed in the Sanford Stakes for 2-year-olds on Aug. 13, 1919, his reputation was already such that he seemed a lock to win. His previous six victories were so impressive that it seemed it was impossible for him to lose. In fact, this was the only race that he ever would lose in his entire racing career.

Starting gates were not used at this time, and starters had to make sure horses were properly lined up behind a tape barrier and ready to race. Unfortunately for Man o’ War, the tape was sprung when he was apparently backing up. Essentially, he was left at the start. Read the rest of this entry →

Three Notable Triple Crown Winners 7

Posted on July 11, 2014 by Scott Huntington

With the defeat of California Chrome in the Belmont Stakes, we were robbed of witnessing one of the greatest accomplishments in American Sports: the completion of the Triple Crown. Only eleven horses have won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes — the three races that make up that vaunted title. Some names of Triple Crown winners are more memorable than others, but let’s take a look at three of the most notable.

Sir Barton

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Sir Barton was the first horse to win the Triple Crown, when he won the Belmont Stakes in 1919. Originally, Sir Barton was just supposed to be the pacemaker for a higher regarded horse named Billy Kelly, but that all changed when Sir Barton won the Triple Crown by five lengths. He never trailed in any of the races he competed in, but somehow Sir Barton never really got the recognition he deserved.

His legacy was somewhat marred when he lost a match race against the famous Man o’ War. Sir Barton had some hoof problems that were compounded by the track’s hard surface, which led to his seven length loss to Man o’ War. Still, being the first ever Triple Crown Winner is something Sir Barton could be very proud of. Read the rest of this entry →

2013 John Smith’s Aintree Grand National Set for April 1

Posted on February 19, 2013 by Dean Hybl
The Aintree Racecourse offers challenge for both the jockey and horse.

The Aintree Racetrack offers challenge for both the jockey and horse.

While the Kentucky Derby is the best known horse racing event in the United States, a month prior to the Derby, Liverpool, England will serve as the host for a very different, yet equally exciting horse racing spectacle.  The 2013 John Smith’s Aintree Grand National Hunt race is the world’s most popular steeplechase event.

Originally held at the Aintree Racetrack in 1839, the 2013 event is slated for April 6th and serves as the culmination of the three-day Aintree Festival.

The Grand National provides a unique set of challenges that only the best jockeys and horses can conquer.

The racecourse is triangular in shape and includes 16 fences, all except The Chair and the Water Jump are jumped twice. The course has a reputation as the ultimate test of horse and jockey, and just completing the two circuits is considered a great accomplishment. Some of the fences are famous for their difficulty, most specifically Becher’s Brook, The Chair, and the Canal Turn.

Unlike the Kentucky Derby and American Triple Crown, which includes the best three-year-old horses, the Aintree Grand National is typically won by a horse with far more years and experience.

In 2012 11-year-old Neptune Collonges, ridden by jockey Daryl Jacob for trainer Paul Nicholls and owner John Hales was able to conquer the challenging track and claim victory in the Grand National. He was the oldest winner of the Grand National since 12-year-old Amberleigh House in 2004.

The oldest horse to win the Grand National was 15-year-old Peter Simple in 1853. Since 1994 the youngest horse to win the race was eight-year-old Bindaree in 2002 and the race has been won 12 times in that stretch by a horse with double-digits in the age column.

For many, one of the great allures of this annual event is the many betting opportunities and certainly the recent history of older winners is one thing for those who enjoy betting on this exciting event to consider as they ponder which horse and jockey they will support. Through William Hill Grand National 2013 you can watch all the races of the three-day festivities through livestreaming and also keep track of the latest betting odds and opportunities.

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