Tales from the Crib

Follow the Road to the Roses all the way back to the barn, with Kellie Reilly
Simplification as a weanling at Keeneland November (Photo by Kelcey Loges/Taylor Made)
Tales from the Crib: Simplification

The single Florida-bred in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby (G1), Simplification represents the Sunshine State in more ways than one. Owners Tami Bobo and Tristan de Meric are likewise from Ocala, and he’s raced exclusively at Gulfstream Park so far.  Simplification’s…

May 5, 2022

White Abarrio with Alisson Herrera (Photo courtesy Edilberto Herrera)
Tales from the Crib: White Abarrio

As a young gray colt stood in the ring at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s Winter Mixed Sale in January 2020, few took any interest. His sire was finding it difficult to establish himself in the ultra-competitive stallion market, and he was the first foal…

May 2, 2022

Cyberknife at birth (Photo courtesy of Ramsey Farm)
Tales from the Crib: Cyberknife

From one perspective, Cyberknife is well named. Owner Al Gold of Gold Square wanted to highlight the non-invasive cancer treatment that restored his health while preserving his quality of life. The equine Cyberknife, fittingly, has given him his biggest victory…

May 1, 2022

Zandon as a foal (Airdrie Stud)
Tales from the Crib: Zandon

As Airdrie Stud marks the 50th anniversary of its founding, Zandon can furnish an appropriately golden gift – in the form of the 2022 Kentucky Derby (G1) trophy. His success would be all the more special, for his pedigree features Airdrie stallions and a female…

Apr 28, 2022

Mo Donegal at birth (Bryan Lyster/Ashview Farm)
Tales from the Crib: Mo Donegal

The Lyster family of Ashview Farm and Richard Santulli of Colts Neck Stables have a history of breeding major winners, and the longtime partners could make history at Churchill Downs on the first weekend in May.  The breeders of leading Kentucky Derby (G1)…

Apr 27, 2022

Messier growing up at Sam-Son's Ocala division (Tom Zwiesler)
Tales from the Crib: Messier

Messier’s very name proclaims his Canadian identity, as a tribute to the retired National Hockey League great Mark Messier. But the colt’s heritage runs much deeper, through a half-century of history at Sam-Son Farm. An icon of Canadian racing and breeding,…

Apr 25, 2022

Taiba as a foal (Bruce and Mary Ryan)
Tales from the Crib: Taiba

Taiba will bid to defy nearly 140 years of Kentucky Derby (G1) history. Not since Leonatus, all the way back in 1883, has a colt won the Churchill Downs classic in just his third career start.  Yet if any sophomore can blithely shred that stat, it’s Taiba.…

Apr 18, 2022

Crown Pride as a foal in September (Shadai Farm)
Tales from the Crib: Crown Pride

The first Japanese shipper to try the Kentucky Derby (G1), Ski Captain, represented Shadai Racehorse Co. back in 1995. Now Shadai Farm proprietor Teruya Yoshida is back at Churchill Downs with another homebred, Crown Pride. But the contrasts between Ski Captain,…

Apr 11, 2022

Smile Happy as a newborn (Photo courtesy of Xavier Moreau)
Tales from the Crib: Smile Happy

Foaled just steps away from where 2006 Kentucky Derby (G1) star Barbaro was born, Smile Happy hopes to add to the legacy of his Nicholasville, Kentucky, birthplace on the first Saturday in May. Smile Happy was bred in partnership by Xavier Moreau’s Moreau Bloodstock…

Apr 7, 2022

Epicenter as a baby with his dam (Photo courtesy of Westwind's Beth Harris)
Tales from the Crib: Epicenter

Epicenter was born and raised in the Bluegrass State, but not anywhere near the epicenter of Kentucky’s Thoroughbred breeding industry. The Kentucky Derby (G1) contender hails from a family farm in Bowling Green, much nearer to Nashville than to Lexington.  Bettersworth…

Mar 21, 2022

Un Ojo as a foal (Cypress Creek Equine)
Tales from the Crib: Un Ojo

Un Ojo’s life changed forever one winter night in Kentucky, prompting his name – “one eye” in Spanish. Early in 2020, a severe storm ripped through Cypress Creek Equine’s farm near Midway, when the yearlings were out in the paddock. The future Rebel (G2)…

Mar 17, 2022

Classic Causeway the day after he was born (Courtesy of Ashford Stud)
Tales from the Crib: Classic Causeway

Classic Causeway was always going to be a sentimental rooting interest in the Kentucky Derby (G1), as one of only three registered foals bequeathed by the “Iron Horse” Giant’s Causeway in his final crop. But the blaze-faced chestnut has the added appeal of…

Mar 11, 2022

Slow Down Andy at one day old (Kasey Bennett/Ocean Breeze Ranch)
Tales from the Crib: Slow Down Andy

After winning the Kentucky Derby (G1) twice with colts purchased at auction, Reddam Racing is back on the trail with a California homebred – Slow Down Andy. By Reddam’s 2016 Derby champ Nyquist, Slow Down Andy is also out of a mare whose background is all…

Jan 31, 2022

Pappacap right after birth (Karen Russell/Rustlewood Farm)
Tales from the Crib: Pappacap

When Gun Runner went out on a high note in the 2018 Pegasus World Cup (G1), he crowned his career with a five-race winning streak and padded his bank account to nearly $16 million.  But the Horse of the Year did something else at Gulfstream Park that day.…

Dec 16, 2021

Mandaloun head shot (Coady Photography)
Tales from the Crib: Mandaloun

Unfortunate to finish second in the 2003 Kentucky Derby (G1) with favored Empire Maker, internationally acclaimed Juddmonte Farms tries again with a grandson of his, Mandaloun. Only this time, the team returns mourning the loss of Juddmonte’s founder, Prince…

Apr 30, 2021

Helium as a foal (Shawhan Place)
Tales from the Crib: Helium

If Helium can extend his perfect record in the Kentucky Derby (G1), he would represent the pinnacle of achievement for Bernardo Alvarez Calderon’s Teneri Farm. Sadly, the Peruvian horseman passed away last August, and his family now carries on the legacy of…

Apr 28, 2021

Medina Spirit as a foal in Florida (Gail Rice photo)
Tales from the Crib: Medina Spirit

A newborn who needed help, a $1,000 yearling whose small breeder had to sell, a cheap recruit for a hardscrabble talent scout, a juvenile purchase inspired by friendship – Medina Spirit’s story is ready-made for cinema. And that’s even before his improbable…

Apr 28, 2021

Highly Motivated as a weanling (Lane's End photo)
Tales from the Crib: Highly Motivated

“Must have.” Those words, jotted down and encircled for emphasis on a catalog page, summed up the verdict of bloodstock adviser extraordinaire Mike Ryan after his inspection of Highly Motivated as a weanling. Offered as part of the Lane’s End consignment…

Apr 28, 2021

Like the King as a foal (Sparks View Farm)
Tales from the Crib: Like the King

“Babysitter” isn’t normally the kind of experience listed on the resume of a Kentucky Derby (G1) contender, but that was the reason why Like the King was purchased as a weanling. Like the King was bred by Roddy and Perry Harrison’s Horseshoe Racing. The small-scale…

Apr 27, 2021

Midnight Bourbon as a foal (Stonestreet Farm)
Tales from the Crib: Midnight Bourbon

Handsome is as handsome does, as the saying goes. But Midnight Bourbon often runs up to his movie-star good looks. The striking son of Hall of Famer Tiznow was bred by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, Barbara Banke’s farm that is also responsible for three…

Apr 26, 2021