Monthly Archives: December 2009

Photo of the Year: 2009

Last year's winning photo: Oscar Delgado talks things over with the stewards following a race at Mount Pleasant Meadows.

As my readers may or may not have noticed, I did not fare so well in the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance photo contest.

My goal was to get one of my three photos out of the first round, but it wasn’t to be. That said, thank you very much to the seven or eight of you who cast your votes for my shots.

That brings us to the annual stroking of my ego that is my own “Photo of the Year” contest. It’s pretty hard for me to lose this one.

Just about every photo you see on this site was taken with yours truly at the helm (except for the photo of myself on the “about” page, where I set the ten-second timer and ran really fast). Over the last year, I have taken thousands of photos at tracks across the Midwest and filled a towering stack of photo albums with scenes from my travels.

This year brought an upgrade to my equipment, when I finally retired my tiny point-and-shoot and graduated to a Kodak EasyShare Z980. All of a sudden, I had 24x zoom and could fire off a ludicrous number of shots in only a few seconds. The quality and quantity of my photos skyrocketed, and I’d like to think it improved the quality of this blog dramatically. If anything else, it made me feel more professional.

Behind the jump are some of my favorite shots I’ve taken from the last year. Hopefully you will enjoy viewing them as much as I enjoyed shooting them.

To vote for your favorite, simply consult the poll on the sidebar to the right. I haven’t set any kind of deadline at the moment, but there will be fair warning when I get ready to close the poll.

And now without further ado…

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Filed under Mount Pleasant Meadows, Pictures, Pinnacle Race Course, Polls

Seasons Greetings

Happy holidays to you and yours from the staff of The Michigan-Bred Claimer (you know, me).

May the new year bring you success on the track, in the sales ring and at the windows.

While I have your attention, check out what my aunt had made for me as a Christmas gift…

Check me out. I have my own merch.

It came with a couple shirts and a winter cap with the same logo. Awesome. Next time you see me at the races, I just might look like I know what I’m doing.

Have a safe and happy holidays, gang!

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A.R.A.B. of Michigan names 2009 award finalists

Catch Me Ridin Dirty will be the front-runner for Michigan's top three-year-old Arabian honors and is a finalist for Overall Champion of the Year.

The Association of Racing Arabian Breeders of Michigan released the list of finalists for its 2009 awards.

A trio of Nicole Holst-trained Arabians (Need For Speed, Catch Me Ridin Dirty and Bush Hog) and Mario Fritz-trained Zanthus Fury led all nominees with three a piece.

The winners will be announced at A.R.A.B.’s awards dinner on Jan. 9. For more information about the dinner and surrounding events, click here.

A list of the nominees from each category can be found behind the jump.

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Rep. Mike Simpson dies Friday

Michigan racing lost one of its biggest supporters in Lansing on Friday when Rep. Mike Simpson (D-Jackson) passed away of a heart attack. He was 47.

Simpson attended, or had representation at, many events involving Michigan’s racing industry during his time in office. Prior to this year’s Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association yearling sale, he gave a very good speech pledging his support to the industry and appeared genuinely interested in what was going on.

In 2006, Simpson was elected to the state’s 56th House district. He was in the middle of his second term in office. Simpson had been serving as the chair of the House Agriculture Committee at the time of his passing.

Simpson had been suffering from a rare blood disorder called light-chain deposition, which tends to go after the heart and liver. He announced his illness publicly in October after missing significant time in session.

He suffered his heart attack while returning from treatment at the Cleveland Clinic.

Funeral services were held for Simpson today at East Jackson High School in Jackson. Mich. He is survived by his wife and four adult children.

For more information from on how the State Congress is remembering Simpson, including quotes from political leaders on both sides of the floor, a good piece by the Michigan Messenger can be found here.

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Ouch…That Hurts…

Congratulations, Michiganders. We’ve officially been made an example.

In a letter to The Baltimore Sun, a Holland, Penn. resident warns of the potential negative effects of placing a casino near Maryland’s Laurel Park by citing Michigan racing’s fall to “bush league status” (his words, not mine). He said this happened after “bad judgment and the corruption of lawmakers who heeded the promises of wealthy developers and casino lobbyists” allowed the tribal and Detroit casino interests to run roughshod over the state. The letter does not mention it directly, but altering the state constitution to cripple a competitor like said groups did in 2004 is a prime example of this idea.

If you cross your eyes for too long, they’ll stay that way. If you eat too much candy, your teeth will rot out. If you allow casinos to expand in your state without including the racetracks, you’ll become “Bush League” like Michigan.

We are being used as a threat – an example of what not to do.

So what are we going to do about it?

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Answers to the five burning questions of 2009

The success of Romeo Again helped his sire, Secret Romeo, establish himself as Michigan's breakout sire of 2009.

At the beginning of the year, I posed five questions about racing in Michigan to consider for the following year. Now that the year is almost over, it is time to look back at those questions and see how they were answered.

#1 – Who will be the breakout sire of 2009?

The Answer: In the original post, I singled out The Deputy (Ire) as a sire who could make some noise when his first crop as a Michigan-based stallion hit the track. As it turns out, I was right and wrong. The Deputy was the leading national earner among all Michigan sires who fit my criteria as a breakout candidate – sires considered “new”, “unproven” or in The Deputy’s case “new to Michigan”. However, he made most of his money in West Virginia.

The Petardia (GB) stallion ranked eighth in West Virginia by juvenile earnings with $62,178, highlighted by Mountaineer Juvenile Stakes runner-up Kid Kearny Gabe. The Deputy only sent three juvenile starters to the gates in Michigan to finish 29th in juvenile earnings, with no Michigan-bred stakes starters. However, the West Virginia contingent did show up to represent The Deputy in the Sire Stakes. Kid Kearny Gabe stepped up once again to finish second in the two-year-old males division of the fall classic.

When considering Michigan sires with success in Michigan, the label “breakout sire of ’09” would probably best fit Secret Romeo. The Service Stripe horse sired his first stakes winner when Romeo Again won the three-year-old males division of the Sire Stakes on his way to earning a share of the division’s top honors.

Secret Romeo ranked seventh in general earnings for Michigan-breds in 2009 with $159,612. His second crop hit the track in 2009.

#2 – How will Mr. Conclusive follow up on his dominant 2008 campaign?

The Answer: Not so hot. After a tumultuous winter and a long layoff, Mr. Conclusive missed the board in three starts during his 2009 campaign. Hopefully he can get it turned around for 2010.

#3 – Whose Sire Stakes streak will stay alive – Valley Loot or Meadow Vespers?

The Answer: At the beginning of the year, I predicted that Valley Loot would have a smoother road to a third consecutive Sire Stakes win based on the strength of her division and the quality of graduating three-year-olds she would face in 2009.

After an amazing four year streak that spanned two racetracks and two divisions, Meadow Vespers’ signature closing kick came up empty in the older males division to snap his run. Meadow Vespers, a seven-year-old Meadow Prayer gelding, finished fifth in that race to Bipolar Express, one of the previously mentioned newcomers to the division.

Valley Loot, on the other hand, kept her streak alive with a 1 1/2 length score in the older mares division. The five-year-old Demaloot Demashoot mare also tallied her third straight Michigan Horse of the Year honors in 2009. Can she keep that streak going? That will be a question for 2010.

#4 – What will be new at Pinnacle Race Course?

The Answer: In terms of planned Phase Two developments, nothing much. The economic situation of the state, the track and the racing industry understandably made it difficult to expand at this time.

However, the track did make a small, but significant addition that made a day at the races much more enjoyable. The festival tent in in the grandstand area was a big step up from the temporary bleachers that occupied the space in 2008. Aside from providing some much-needed shade and protection from the elements, the additional tables, TV screens and mutuel windows it provided made it much more worthwhile to watch the races from that end of the track. Kudos to whoever came up with that idea.

#5 – How much of a difference will a few extra weeks of pre-meet training make?

The Answer: One of the issues many attributed to the field sizes in 2008 was that Pinnacle did not open up for training until a few days before opening day. A constant stream of heavy rains kept Pinnacle from opening the track, which lowered the number of race-ready horses when the meet began. This year, there were no delays.

The effect this extra time had on the field sizes at Pinnacle is hard to determine. In 2008, it seemed as though the fields were either really big or really small. In 2009, the number was more consistent, but it meant more six or seven horse fields – enough to play most exotics, but not enough to give them the kind of payoffs that make them lucrative. We’ll call this one a push.

Look for the Burning Questions for 2010 in the coming weeks.

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Filed under Commentary, Pinnacle Race Course

2009 TBA Photo Contest

As some of you may already know, I entered some photos in this year’s Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance Photo Contest.

First round voting began this morning and continues on through Sunday, Dec. 20. I’m up against some incredibly stiff, Eclipse-quality competition. Like March Madness for the Mid-American Conference school from which I just graduated, just getting out of the first round would be a fantastic coup. To accomplish this goal, I’m going to need your help.

Here are the three photos I submitted for the contest…

Juan Delgado tucks down to urge Christmas From Mom to the wire at Mount Pleasant Meadows.

Im A Corona and Mike Holmes (#2) battle Luckys Rambler and Rafael Fernandez (#1) in the stretch at Mount Pleasant Meadows.

Lee Gates leads Toagule around the paddock before a race at Mount Pleasant Meadows.

Once I get a little time to sort through all the photos I have taken this year, I will hold my own Photo of the Year poll like I did last year (you know, one I’m guaranteed to win). Until then, you can vote in the TBA contest by clicking here.

I’d appreciate your vote. Let’s strike a blow for Michigan and the small tracks of the world!

I’m Joe Nevills and I approve this message.

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