Archives for April 2011


A half century ago, racing fans were eagerly anticipating another electrifying stretch run, this time at Churchill Downs, by Carry Back, who was named for a provision in federal tax law. He was a small colt, 15.1 hands, a Florida-bred born at Ocala Stud, and not a blueblood by any means, being by Saggy, whose claim to fame was once having defeated Citation, and out of the pedestrian mare Joppy by Star Blen.

Carry Back’s connections were not racing patricians, in contrast to many of the prominent owners of the day. The colt was bred and trained by former Cleveland, Ohio, manufacturer Jack Price and was officially owned by Price’s wife Katherine or Kay. Jack Price took the mare Joppy for the $300 overdue bill he was owed for boarding her at his Ohio farm and then paid a $400 stud fee to breed her to Saggy.

In Carry Back’s 2-year-old season in 1960, in which he started a remarkable 21 times, he won the Cowdin, Remsen, and Garden State. During his sophomore campaign, he won the Everglades, Flamingo, Florida Derby, Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Jerome, and Trenton Handicap.

Price was not a sentimental type of person and his apparent lack of reverence for the Kentucky Derby offended traditionalists.

Carry Back went to the post in the 87th edition of the Kentucky Derby under jockey John Sellers as the 2 ½-to-1 favorite. He was 18 lengths off the lead early in the race and 13 lengths behind at the top of the stretch, when announcer Bryan Field observed: “Carry Back is far out of it at this stage and is moving.” Even Jack Price thought it was too much of a gap to close. In mid-stretch the race looked to be among three colts: Four-and-Twenty, Globemaster, and Crozier. Field cautioned: “Carry Back (is) too far (back) to make it count…unless he hurries.” The little colt then unleashed a devastating run and caught Crozier to win by three-fourths of a length. The official chart of the race described Carry Back’s victory, as follows:

“Start good. Won driving. CARRY BACK, slow to begin as usual, was kept wider than necessary when his rider elected to find the better going, lost additional ground to avoid any possible interference on rounding the second turn, rallied when roused at the top of the stretch to come on strongly and wore down CROZIER even though being carried out slightly by that one in midstretch.”

Carry Back won in a time of 2 minutes and four seconds. He was the second Florida-bred to win the Kentucky Derby (Needles was the first in 1956).

Two weeks later in the Preakness, Carry Back came from 15 lengths back to beat Globe Master and Crozier, again by three-quarters of a length. Carry Back’s attempt to complete the Triple Crown went awry when he injured an ankle during the Belmont and finished 15 lengths back in seventh place. He ran six more times in 1961—winning three of these–and was voted best 3-year-old of the year.

As a 4-year-old in 1962, Carry Back beat Kelso in winning the Metropolitan and Monmouth Handicaps—albeit with less weight–and captured the Whitney under a 130-pound impost. Price, being a sportsman, sent Carry Back to Longchamp in France for the mile-and-a-half Arc de Triomphe on the turf, Europe’s richest race. Price and his colt were the toast of the town and Carry Back was cheered by the French fans in the paddock and on-track in the lead up to the race. He finished tenth of 23 runners and was beaten only about 5 lengths, despite the long travel to France and the switch from dirt to grass.

Over a four-year racing career, Carry back had a record of 21 wins, 11 seconds, and 11 thirds from 61 starts, winning $1,241,165, which was the fourth highest amount at the time he was retired in 1963.

In Carry Back’s career as a stallion, he sired 12 stakes winners and the dams of 31 stakes winners. He died in 1983 at age 25 and was cremated. Today, his remains are interred in the garden terrace at the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs. He was inducted into the National Museum of Racing & Hall of Fame in 1975.

John Sellers had his trophy from the 1961 Kentucky Derby stolen when his house was burglarized in the 1970s. In 1999, a friend saw the trophy for sale on eBay and alerted Sellers. The trophy was ultimately returned to him.

(Bryan Field’s call of Carry Back’s stretch run in the 1961 Kentucky Derby is exciting to hear, although the recording has deteriorated badly over time and it is difficult in spots to discern Field’s exact words. The last half of the recording is much clearer than the first half. Click here to listen.)

Copyright © 2011 Horse Racing Business


Horse Racing Business digresses to the light side today to focus on the “bets” available on Friday’s Royal Wedding in London. This event should appeal to the sporting nature of horse racing bettors, even if they could care less about the social aspects.

Serious handicappers like to decipher what is about to happen in a horse race, given a multitude of variables. They welcome a good challenge–and betting on one or more of the events surrounding the wedding of Prince William Windsor and Kate Middleton must be done with very little in the way of past performances to go on. It is similar to betting on a Maiden Special Weight full of first-time starters.

Following are some of the quirky bets offered by British bookmakers Ladbrokes and William Hill:

What will be the main course of the wedding dinner? Beef is the 8/11 favorite.

Rain at Westminster Abbey on Kate’s arrival. Not raining is the 2/7 favorite.

Kate and William’s first wedding dance? You’re Beautiful is the 5/1 favorite.

Kate to wear the Spencer family Tiara. Yes, the 6/1 favorite.

Royal wedding to be the hottest day of 2011. Yes, 66/1.

Kate Middleton to pronounce Prince William’s full name in the wrong order during the wedding vows. 20/1

Prince Philip to be seen asleep during the wedding service. 10/1

Prince William to drop the wedding ring during the service. 20/1

An objection to be raised during the vows. 50/1

Kate Middleton to jilt Prince William at the altar. 100/1

The Archbishop of Canterbury to refer to Kate Middleton as Prince William’s ‘AWLFUL wedded wife’ during the service. 100/1

The Archbishop of Canterbury to say “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy GOAT’ during the service. 100/1

The Archbishop of Canterbury to drop the Bible during the wedding service. 33/1

The Archbishop of Canterbury to request a toilet break during the wedding service. 100/1

Kate Middleton’s father to be seen crying walking up the aisle of Westminster Abbey. 3/1

Prince Harry to forget the wedding ring. 100/1

Here is an iron-clad lock: the Royal Wedding will be the most hyped, most watched, most reported, and most replayed social extravaganza in history.

Queen Elizabeth II–a lifelong Thoroughbred owner and racing aficionado–must be proud of her grandson and his bride.

Copyright © 2011 Horse Racing Business


Two significant developments in the past several weeks should benefit Thoroughbred horse racing and are worthy of commendation.

The first initiative is explained in a press release by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association dated April 20, 2011:

“The Breeders’ Cup has conducted a major overhaul of its ‘Challenge’ series that guarantees winners of designated stakes races berths in one of the 14 races of its annual year-end event, dropping 24 races from last year’s schedule and adding 27. As part of the revamping, Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees for any horse who wins a Challenge race, provided the horse has been nominated. Breeders’ Cup will also provide $10,000 in a travel allowance to U.S. based horses who win one of the Challenge races, and $20,000 to foreign-based horses.”

The travel allowance and entry-fee payment, particularly for foreign-based horses, should raise the level of competition by attracting more of the better horses from abroad.

The second initiative has to do with eliminating the legality of race-day medication in the United States. The groups and organizations reportedly endorsing this move include major industry players–among others, the Association of Racing Commissioners International, The Jockey Club, Breeders’ Cup, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, Thoroughbred Racing Associations, Keeneland, and the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association has opted not to take a position.

One important question raised by opponents of an outright race-day ban on the use of furosemide to inhibit exercise-induced bleeding is this: To what extent will the sight of horses that bleed during a race create a public relations problem that Lasix presently mitigates? In other words, will the recommended cure for racing’s drug-perception problem have unintended negative consequences? This issue needs to be addressed. In particular, the European experience with no race-day medication can provide guidance.

On an unrelated note, but worthy of praise, congratulations to editor/writer Tom LaMarra of the Blood-Horse and photographer Barbara Livingston of the Daily Racing Form for being selected to receive Old Hilltop Awards for excellence in covering Thoroughbred horse racing. They will be presented with this much-deserved honor in Baltimore during the week of the Preakness.

Copyright © 2011 Horse Racing Business