Fans of outstanding fillies Dreaming of Julia, Midnight Lucky and Unlimited Budget are complaining that the absence of Kentucky Derby qualifying points for stakes restricted to fillies unfairly keeps them out of the Run for the Roses. Not true. They could take on the boys in any number of Derby preps, just as Genuine Risk and Winning Colors did before wearing the blanket of roses. In other issues, the Breeders' Cup has gotten knocked down a few pegs and Frank Stronach has come up with another wacky idea.

MIAMI, April 5, 2013--Another week another Kentucky Derby qualifying points controversy. This time it’s the lack of points recognition for stakes restricted to fillies, which de facto keeps them out of the Kentucky Derby.

The catalyst is Dreaming of Julia’s demolition of the Gulfstream Oaks field on the heels of Midnight Lucky’s ridiculously easy romp in New Mexico and Unlimited Budget remaining undefeated in New Orleans. Also, let’s not forget Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Beholder, who will be a short price Saturday to cash the biggest check from the Santa Anita Oaks.

It might be interesting to see any or all of the these stellar distaffers line up against the boys on May 4. However, if this was a goal, they could have taken on colts in any of the prep races, as Genuine Risk and Winning Colors did before bringing home the roses.

Sorry, I’m with Churchill Downs on this one.

Triple Crown conversation tends to suck all the air out of racing talk this time of year. However, there are other things going on that need addressing.

The Breeders’ Cup decision to cut the Lasix baby in half is cowardly and pointless.

Realizing that it was fighting a losing battle in trying to keep the anti-bleeding medication out of the Breeders’ Cup, the BC tried to save face by continuing its ban on Lasix in the 2-year-old races. So last year’s juveniles couldn’t race on Lasix. Nor can this year’s. However, they will be able to as 3-year-olds and older.

Try intellectually justifying that.

It’s a short price that all Breeders’ Cup races will be opened to Lasix use in 2014 and beyond, because horsemen at potential sites have indicated they will not grant simulcast permission if the Lasix ban is in effect. This could have a lot to do with the procrastination in selecting a 2014 site.

The horsemen’s revolt seems to have given the BC a case of the jitters. In addition to the Lasix compromise, the BC announced it will help defray expenses for owners by cutting the entry fee from 3% to 2% of the purse. Also, foreign entrants will be granted a $40,000 expense allotment and a $10,000 stipend will go to domestic horses.

These concessions represent quite a comedown for an organization, which only a year ago felt so omnipotent that it could change the rules of racing by unilateral decree. Suddenly it has been forced to accept that a lot of the racing world can live without the Breeders’ Cup.


God helps those who help themselves. A constant complaint in the racing business is that the sport no longer gets much attention in the mainstream media.

Gulfstream staged its customary Florida Derby post position draw and luncheon on the Wednesday before the big race. The media, local and national, was represented. Racing wasn’t. Not one trainer nor jockey bothered to show up.

For shame.



Adversity brings out the best in some people. Success brings out the worst in Barry Irwin.

Irwin embarrassed himself and racing at the biggest moment in his racing life, the aftermath of Animal Kingdom winning the 2011 Kentucky Derby. Irwin took advantage of an NBC microphone during the post-race festivities to call all trainers liars.

Unchastened by the firestorm of criticism heaped upon him, Irwin did it again after Animal Kingdom won the Dubai World Cup. Commenting on Joel Rosario’s ride, Irwin said, “As boneheaded as his ride was last time, he was brilliant this time.”

The reference was to Rosario moving prematurely, in Irwin's opinion, aboard Animal Kingdom in the Gulfstream Turf Handicap. The 2011 Derby winner ran second to Point of Entry, whose superior position on the race track forced Rosario to surge through an opening on the rail going to the far turn. It was a gutsy move that often results in a victory. But not every race has a Point of Entry in it.

If Rosario put up such a bad ride, why did Irwin, who has a self image as racing’s shrewdest person, keep Rosario aboard for the world’s richest race?

Until Irwin learns to put a governor on his mouth, he should abstain from post-race TV interviews.


Frank Stronach must lie awake at night thinking about ways to top himself in coming up with outlandish ideas.

That he could be on the verge of destroying Florida racing with his scorched earth war against Calder has been well documented, so it doesn't need more rehashing.

To refresh your memory, one of Stronach's most outrageous brainstorms came after he bought Santa Anita. He announced his intention to demolish the hillside turf chute, one of the most unique and picturesque courses in racing. Thankfully California’s militant environmentalists put the kibosh to that.

Tearing down old Gulfstream, a beautiful and comfortable facility that hosted three Breeders’ Cups, and replacing it with a structure that is magnificent for almost anything other than watching races is another candidate for the “What could he have been thinking?” Hall of Fame. That it was done to build a mall that is already gasping for air makes it more ludicrous.

However, everything else Stronach has done pales in absurdity compared to his latest idea. According to a report on Miami TV, Stronach has commissioned Chinese sculptors to build a horse statue bigger than the Statue of Liberty to be placed at Gulfstream.

The monument will be the centerpiece of a theme park. This would be in addition to the new free-standing casino, a grandstand to be enlarged to hold 50,000 fans and a pair of luxury hotels, which Stronach is also promising for the Gulfstream site.

The words of Hialeah owner John Brunetti, whose family money comes from the construction business, continue to echo. “I’ve seen Frank’s plans. If he were to do everything he says he is going to do, he will be building into Dania.” (Dania is a community about five miles north of Gulfstream.)

Brunetti said this before Stronach unveiled his massive statue and theme park plan.