Sunday, January 20, 2013



I've only recently learned how to pronounce this filly's name. For some reason I want to put the L somewhere later. She is out of Vertigineux (I'm pretty sure I still can't spell that right), which makes her half sis to Zenyatta. And she's by Bernandini, the stud responsible for Zenyatta's first foal. But anyone wondering genealogically about behavior and traits has to see some nifty comparisons between this scopy filly and her half sister, right down to the white cotton coming out of her ears meant to calm her. 

She's the perfect horse for Illinois, because you can't bet her. There's no way to make money off her success. And in Illinois, you can't bet anymore. Well not online or at a track. So perfect match. 

Anyway, I've hitched on to the hype of this filly because she is a lot of fun to watch. It's hard to say just how talented she is right now, but you get to see a filly learning how to run if you follow her now. She was slow to start and green in the stretch, playing the whole time. Still no problem dispatching a pretty mediocre at best field. Next stop is a Grade I for her, which should be a lot fun to watch. But that's why I like the Derby Trail so much. Watching horses learn is fascinating and extremely exciting. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Taxi and JJ

From a photo of Taxi (on right) and JJ

Magna Fortuna (a k a Taxi, thanks to his foaling date of April 15) was set to run in a Maiden Special Weight on the Thursday before Christmas at Hawthorne. A storm carrying thunder and snow was expected to hit and slog the pre-holiday frenzy of Chicagoland; it was good enough reason to escape to Hawthorne and see this colt with the incredible story. His well-bred mother spent part of her pregnancy struggling to stand in a kill pen meant to ship north to Canada for slaughter, but was somehow rescued by a brave woman who persuaded a man to sell her to her for $300. Her foal, Magna Fortuna, would run under the 11 saddlecloth in the seventh race. You can read the story here.

I sat near the connections who seemed jovial surrounded by a tarantula of camera equipment, boom mics and lighting. They had good reason to be proud and tell their story. In front of me sat one of Hawthorne's crew who had a nice table set up with what appeared to be his nephews and nieces who were excited to not be at school enjoying a rare trip to the racetrack with hamburger plates that came with silver warming covers and individual bottles of ketchup and mustard. He was explaining what was going on after the horses left the gate, how no one seemed to want the lead and the frigid headwind that came with it, but watching the break was more exciting than any analysis for the kids whose awed reflections I could see in the window as the first vanguard began to separate. Hearing him explain the race made me think just how hard it is to put into words the feeling I get when I see a band of thoroughbreds rushing past me at nearly 40 mph. How you play this scene in your head using these sheets filled with numbers then are clobbered with the reality, the life of it.

Magna Fortuna would come in a non-threatening ninth. He didn't look bad; he just didn't really know what he was supposed to be doing. It was his first race. He ran with the pack and came back to be unsaddled in front of his adoring fans who didn't seem to care where he finished; just that he was able to start.