Category Archives: Uncategorized

Welcome to The Michigan-Bred Claimer!


As you might have noticed, this blog hasn’t been updated for quite some time. However, that doesn’t mean I’ve given up the Michigan beat. I’ve simply graduated to the professional ranks.

I am currently the sales editor and Michigan correspondent for the Daily Racing Form, as well as a columnist and Michigan correspondent for Arabian Finish Line, ever in pursuit of my goal to become the most electrifying man in Turf writing.

To see what I’ve been up to since the heyday of the Michigan-Bred Claimer blog, and to keep tabs on me going forward, please visit my new homepage, For any questions, comments, or inquiries, my contact page is here.

I also tweet frequently about happenings in Michigan and handicap cards at Hazel Park on my corporate Twitter account, @DRFNevills.

I hope you enjoy this snapshot of Michigan racing during a tumultuous period (as if there are any times when it’s not tumultuous), as well as my journey from a college writer to full-time employment. This site has meant a lot to me over the years, and it will stay online as long as WordPress will have it. Thanks for visiting and for your interest in Michigan horse racing.

– Joe Nevills

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

My new gig

For those who have not yet heard the news, I am starting on as a staff writer for Thoroughbred Times on August 8.

Dating back to my internship with Thoroughbred Times in the summer of 2008, my goal has been to get back with the publication in some capacity. Over that time, I have appeared in the magazine, website and daily publications in a freelance role at some of the sport’s biggest events.

If one got right down to the nuts and bolts of it all, my time with Thoroughbred Times was largely responsible for the birth of The Michigan-Bred Claimer. I did not want to start a racing blog until I had the right kind of momentum behind my name to make it stand out from the pack. An internship with Thoroughbred Times provided just that.

So, what does this announcement mean for this site? Honestly, I don’t know.

The job will require a move to Lexington, Ky., which means that coverage of racing in Michigan will become nearly impossible to pull off, especially on top of all the responsibilities of working for a leading Thoroughbred publication. Considering all the recent goings on at Mount Pleasant Meadows, this is a pretty considerable bummer, but opportunities like this are too rare to pass.

I have been asked if I would ever pass the title of “Michigan-Bred Claimer” on to someone else to carry on the coverage of the state’s racing industry. Quite frankly, I have spent so much time building the brand and its reputation that I’d prefer to hang on to the name for possible future use. This is not to deter anyone else from picking up the torch and providing the coverage Michigan desperately needs, in fact I encourage it, but if you use the “Michigan-Bred Claimer” name, I will find you…

Regardless of what happens to this blog, readers will still get to read my often off-kilter thoughts on racing in the pages of Arabian Finish Line. Because the publication covers a different breed of horse from Thoroughbred Times, the “Making Claims” column will live on.

Anyway, that’s what’s new and exciting around here. This development more than likely would have never happened without everyone who has read, commented, promoted and otherwise helped make The Michigan-Bred Claimer a rousing success in drawing attention to what I have to offer, and more importantly, what Michigan racing has to offer.

So many people in Michigan’s racing industry have been vital in helping me get to this point – from the horsemen’s organizations, racetrack personnel, owners, breeders, trainers and anyone else that was ever nice enough to accept an interview request, to the people on the track for not punching me when I shove a camera in their faces.

In particular, an enormous debt of gratitude is owed to Rick McCune, who has been one of my biggest teachers and supporters in this business. Simply put, if not for Rick, I would probably still be one of those kids who spends more time running races on the apron than watching the actual races on the track. There is no way I am here writing this post about this subject without his guidance, and for that, I can’t thank him enough.

A plethora of thanks also goes out to all of the publications who took me on as a freelancer and allowed me to expand my career to new levels. It was a thrill opening the mailbox every day and seeing my work appear in a different magazine, including Arabian Finish Line, Midwest Thoroughbred, Louisiana Horse and online at

Even if the end is near, this isn’t it for the blog just yet. I still have some time in Michigan, and as the last year has proven, there is never a dull moment in this state. Without a doubt, that experience will make me even better on my next stop.

I look forward to getting started on my new gig.


UPDATE: From the Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association website…

Joe Nevills, creator of the MI Bred Claimer Blog and member of MTOBA, will be leaving Michigan to take a position as staff writer for the Thoroughbred Times.  He begins this next phase of his career on August 8th in Lexington, KY.  A farewell party will be happening at Mt. Pleasant Meadows this Sunday, July 31st.  All are invited.  The MTOBA Board sends their congratulations and will all look forward to following  Joe’s stories in the Thoroughbred Times.  We will miss you Joe but we are oh so proud to have our own Michigan Bred son make it to the big leagues in Kentucky!


Filed under Uncategorized

Michigan loses breeder James Arnold

James “Jim” Arnold, owner of Arnold Farm in Hillsdale, Mich., died Tuesday at the age of 75.

Arnold Farm is perennially one of Michigan’s leading Thoroughbred breeding and sales operations. The farm was honored as the state’s 2010 Breeder of the Year at last Sunday’s Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association year-end dinner. It also accounted for the award winners in two racing divisions and co-stallion of the year, Meadow Prayer.

Arnold’s passing added to an already difficult year for the farm and family, after losing Jim’s wife, Marcia, on Oct. 20 and leading sire Meadow Prayer over the summer.

Visitation will be held Friday from 6-8 p.m. at the Van Horn-Eagle Funeral Home in Hillsdale. Funeral services are Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Hillsdale Free Methodist Church, followed by interment at Cambria Cemetery at 2 p.m.

To view Arnold’s obituary on, click here.


Filed under Uncategorized

The Haiku Handicapper: 2010 Dubai recap

Dubai World Cup

By a slim margin
Gloria gets redemption
For last year’s defeat

U.A.E. Derby

Musir bullies sophs
Big Blue horses run third, fifth
Derby hopes in doubt

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

2010 MTOBA Stallion Season Auction

The Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association will conduct its annual Stallion Season Auction on Monday and Tuesday.

Over 110 stallions from 14 states have seasons donated for the sale.

Bidding began Monday morning and will continue through Tuesday at 6 p.m. Phone bidding will be available Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information on the MTOBA Stallion Season Auction and to see a full list of the seasons being offered, click here.

Let’s have a look at some highlighted stallions from Michigan and elsewhere offering seasons in this sale…

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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!


Filed under Uncategorized

One year and counting

One year ago today, I hit “Publish” on my first post and introduced my newest venture, The Michigan-Bred Claimer, to the world.

Since then, the last year has been a whirlwind tour of big races, interesting people and mountains of losing tickets. I have met more people who share a love for the sport of horse racing in the last year than I could have ever imagined, both in Michigan and around the world. Seeing that passion both from young people and those who have been part of the business for decades has been energizing and gives me confidence that this industry will survive whatever challenges are thrown at it.

Over the last year, I have tried to document every significant racing-related event I have experienced and bring you all along for the ride. Let’s take a look back at a few of the things that have made the last 365 days, 166 posts and 470 comments so memorable…

Since Oct. 17, 2008, I have…

– Logged a ton of miles in my beat up Trailblazer
Talked about hard times with Ellis Park owner Ron Geary
Shot the breeze about Mount Pleasant’s top Arabians with River Downs announcer Peter Aiello
– Tailgated at Keeneland Race Course (post coming soon!)
Watched the destruction of my favorite racetrack
Attended the races at Mount Pleasant Meadows religiously
Attended the races at Pinnacle Race Course when I had gas money or could bum a ride
Found out what all this Racino fuss is about at Indiana Downs
Become a nationally published amateur poet
– Watched a family namesake grow up (this one’s coming too!)
Been cited in a Flint Journal news story
– Watched a lot of crazy stuff go down in Lansing (too many posts to link)
Lost a lot of money on the Kentucky Derby
Eaten a mighty fine grilled cheese sandwich at Turfway Park
Cashed my biggest live ticket of the year on my second bet at Beulah Park
Joined the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance
Torn NASCAR a new one
– Been featured on news sites including Equidaily, The Paulick Report and Raceday 360
– and shot thousands of photos along the way.

I’d say that’s a pretty full year.

Anyway, I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for reading, commenting on, and promoting the blog, speaking to me in person, putting up with me or just putting horses on the track and giving me something to write about. Thank you all for spending a few moments of your day with me. I look forward to providing you with the best coverage of Michigan horse racing I can muster, providing my perspective on recent happenings and telling a few stories into year two and beyond.

Have a nice day.


Filed under Uncategorized

Notes from Lexington

Hey gang. I’m in Lexington, Kentucky right now and will be at River Downs on Thursday before making the long drive back to Michigan, so I don’t have the free time to recap my weekend at Ellis Park just yet.

Until things calm down, be sure to check out the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance’s rededicated new site.

Aside from featuring bloggers from all different aspects of the industry who are way better at this than I am, the TBA’s new site offers…

132 Blogs (TBA and otherwise).
123 Twitter feeds from TBA-ers and other members of the racing industry. 
– 38 Horse racing news feeds (Blood Horse, Thoroughbred Times, NTRA, Internet pubs, etc.).
Loads of Youtube videos.
A Free Past Performance search engine (My personal favorite part of the TBA site. Cheapskates unite!)
The “Karma Corner” – A page for donating to various horse-related charities.

The site is full of good material, so be sure to give it a look and see what’s new (just be sure to come back here when you’re done. I get lonely). With such a wide variety of views, it shouldn’t be hard to find something you’ll love.

If you haven’t already headed over to the TBA website, here is some Michigan-centric reading material to tide you over until I get home…

– My future Alma Mater’s student paper, Central Michigan Life, put out a story about Mount Pleasant Meadows in today’s paper. I was pleasantly surprised to see the story got most of its facts right and was written competently. Good on them, even if they never let me write anything about the track during my time at CM Life (Not that I’m bitter or anything…). I wish I could have been there myself to help them out. 

– The Daily Racing Form posted a story about Pinnacle Race Course’s restructured stakes schedule following negotiations to restore race dates slashed earlier this year. The meet will now run until Oct. 19 and four of the track’s 16 state-bred stakes races will have smaller purses.

The article did not specify which races would get chopped down, but they will go from $50,000 to $20,000. Purses for the six Sire Stakes races are estimated at $50,000 each. Though the Sire Stakes purses were already estimated at that level at the beginning of the meet, the story notes it will be a significant drop from previous years.

If I catch word of which stakes are getting slimmed down, you’ll see it here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Mount Pleasant Meadows, Pinnacle Race Course, Uncategorized

Longtime Michigan-based announcer Jack Riggs dies

Jack Riggs, a familiar voice to Detroit-area racegoers for most of his 50+ year announcing career, died Friday, Feb. 6 in Englewood, Florida. He was 79.

Riggs called Thoroughbred, harness and Greyhound races in seven states and Windsor, Ontario, Canada. In Michigan, he took the announcer’s post at Hazel Park Harness Raceway, Northville Downs and the defunct Detroit Race Course.

His racetrack announcing career began at Gulfstream Park at the age of 19. After taking time off to serve in the Navy during the Korean War, Riggs returned to the Hallandale Beach, Florida racetrack.

In the 1950s, Riggs played a key role in the first TV show broadcast from a Michigan racetrack. He was later part of the nightly replay shows from Hazel Park and Northville Downs.

Aside from his announcing duties, Riggs made appearances on TV and radio for many of the major networks, including ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

In 2003, Riggs retired from announcing and moved with his wife, Nancy, to Englewood.

Riggs was an honorary lifetime member of the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association, the highest individual honor the organization awards. He was also given the Appreciation Award from the Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association for his lifetime of service.  

A memorial service will be held at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 508 Rivers Street, Venice, FL at 11:00 a.m. on March 27, 2009.

United States Trotting Association
Detroit Free Press

Thanks to Jeff Klenner for sending the information.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Getting my name out there

Check me out. I just became a member of the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance.

Be sure to have a look at the TBA’s many fine blogs on the sidebar on the right (your right, my left) side of the page.

For those of you who enjoyed my mini-feature on The Deputy (Ire) a few posts back, be sure to check out the extended piece I did for Great Lakes Horse Sports.

Also, a special thanks goes to the Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association for linking me to their page as well.

It is amazing how much attention this blog has generated since I started up last October. I just wanted to take this opportunity to say “thank you” to everyone who has read, linked to and helped promote the Michigan-Bred Claimer.

While I still have your attention, be sure to cast your vote in my Photo of the Year poll. Let your voice be heard!


Filed under Uncategorized