Category: ponderings

An eventful weekend for Illinois-bred horses

Between exactas at Canterbury, the resurgence of stakes action at Fairmount Park, and individual horses turning heads, the last few days have been eventful ones in Illinois racing.  Let Picks and Ponderings make sure you’re on top of all the action, with a romp through the latest news on the Illinois-bred Thoroughbred scene. Illinois-bred exactas at... Read more »

So Many Reasons to Love Way Too Smarte

Way Too Smarte, the winner of yesterday’s Arlington finale, delights me for so many reasons. First of all, look at her jockey’s silks.  It may not be obvious from the side, but from the front, you can see why they’re the greatest silks in Chicago: overalls, over a green shirt.  How clever is that?  They’re specifically painter’s... Read more »

Your Yearly Dose of Bad Kentucky Derby Takes

Hello, my name is Paul. I used to write regularly about horse racing. I created this space here at Picks & Ponderings. It’s harder to find time to write about it now, given the demands of graduate school. And even more during Kentucky Derby week when Derby Week and your campus’s Spring Semester Final Exam Week... Read more »
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The American St. Leger, 2012-2017

I thought the American St. Leger was here to stay. I know, this probably makes me a fool. This is Illinois, after all. Sometimes we’re not even sure if horse racing is here to stay in this state: with purse money uncertain, with stallions and broodmares wandering out of the state, with future funding as stable as... Read more »

San Luis Rey Fire Relief

Here in Chicago, we’re lucky.  As I gaze out over Hawthorne this morning, the only smoke I see comes from the stacks in Stickney, a few puffs here and there.  Contained.  Dissolving.  Gone in seconds.  Otherwise, the air is clear and cold. In California, they’re not so lucky. Rails, fences, and barn walls may make... Read more »

Scenes from 2017 Hawthorne Gold Cup Day

Racing didn't get underway until late afternoon, but I was at the track bright and early.  I volunteer with CANTER Chicago, a racehorse retirement organisation, and we were there to take photos and get listing information for this beauty, Eben Zabeel.  Regally bred, and with the strongest neck I've ever seen in a Thoroughbred, he's just a little too slow to be competitive anymore.  Fortunately, off-track thoroughbreds are versatile, and Eben Zabeel will turn heads in whatever riding career he does next!
The Hawthorne Gold Cup (G3) made a thrilling return this past weekend.  We’ve already reviewed the stakes races themselves — but if you want to look a bit closer at the horses, stories, and curiosities that made Saturday such a good day at the track, you’ve come to the right place.
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A visit to Godolphin's Greentree training center

Greentree is aptly named, with a track that sweeps through the grass, past boughs and mountains.
I already envisioned Saratoga as a sprawling horse heaven nestled in the Adirondacks.  I knew the Thoroughbred track, the home of the Travers and the Alabama and the New York Turf Writers Cup.  I knew the grandstand and back yard draped with so many red awnings, the wooden barns, the Oklahoma Training Track.  I knew the... Read more »

Equestricon, from a smaller circuit perspective

If you’re looking for picks, they’ll be back next week. If you’re looking for ponderings, read on. I spent the first half of this week at Equestricon.  Despite the exhausting timing – it fell right after the Arlington Million – I’m glad I went. I knew there would be a social aspect to it.  Though... Read more »

Harness Racing, Up Close

During the spring and fall Thoroughbred meets, I live at Hawthorne.  When the Thoroughbreds move north for the summer, to Arlington, I follow. However, in the last two summers, Hawthorne has hosted live horse racing in the summer as well.  Once the Thoroughbred meet ends, the heavy machinery comes out to remove the dirt and... Read more »
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Keep It Positive

When I was in high school, there was no audio-visual club or AV club for me to join. But based on what other people have told me or how AV clubs are portrayed in media, I figure AV clubs fall into categories. Category one is the AV club that shows foreign films or independent films,... Read more »