• 1 Big hurdles 
on the horizon for jump racing
  • 2 Won Mugg
  • 3 Ben’s Cat leaves us all wondering why
  • 4 La Reine’s Terms
  • 5 McDynamo
  • 6 Loose Horse: Ben’s Cat gone too soon
  • 7 Don’t fumble racing’s future
  • 8 The Big Hurt-Horses do their parts to ease pain after injury to champion jockey Paddy Young
  • 9 Sundown 
at Pimlico
  • 10 Fickle Fate
  • Big hurdles 
on the horizon for jump racing

    Back when Steeplechase Times was a thing, we used to write like this. If the jump game needed a reminder, a prodding, a nudge, an awakening, Steeplechase Times provided it. Sometimes, people agreed. Sometimes, they went crazy. This time. . . I don’t know, but here goes. To put it simply, jump racing needs new ideas, new people, new horses, new racing opportunities. Going it alone with little to no revenue from wagering, the National Stee­plechase Association, its race meets and host racetracks somehow offer about $6 million in prize money each year. That’s actually staggering when you think about it – what would flat racing’s purses be without wagering? – but total purses arent’ really the problem. Opportunity is.
    Read More
  • Won Mugg

    The story of Liz Currey Silva and Won Mugg started with a chance encounter in a tack store around 15 years ago. Silva, then in her early 20s, had a small operation retraining off-the-track Thoroughbreds for eventing. While on staff at Bit of Britain, a local saddlery in Oxford, Pa., she was approached by trainer Wendy Kinnamon, who wanted to know if Silva knew of anyone who’d like a job galloping racehorses.
    Read More
  • Ben’s Cat leaves us all wondering why

    You can always train the other guy’s horse. That’s what my father says whenever anyone second-guesses someone else’s handling of a horse, a child, a sports team, a business, pretty much anything. It’s easy to question decisions from the sidelines, difficult to actually make decisions in the barn or on the field or in the executive chair.
    Read More
  • La Reine’s Terms

    To Mid-Atlantic racegoers, he was a familiar sight. From early 1998 until October 2005, La Reine’s Terms went to the post 40 times in the recognizable black and gold silks of his owners/breeders, Howard and Sondra Bender. He ended up in the winner’s circle on 16 of those occasions, and by the time he headed into his well-earned retirement, he won 10 stakes, was graded stakes-placed and had bankrolled $804,591.
    Read More
  • McDynamo

    Goodie, Frisky and Mickey D. One is a now-white Welsh Cob type “somewhere between 30 and 40 years old.” That’s Goodie. Frisky, the smallest one, is a sleek black Lear jet who regularly devastates fields on the local pony racing circuit. And the third, a tall bay, is a living legend. Mickey D, you see, is McDynamo. And all three are irreplaceable family members at trainer Sanna Neilson’s 25-acre homestead in Cochranville, Pa. “He likes everything the same,” groom and caretaker Karen Andress said of the three-time Eclipse Award-winning steeplechaser. “He likes his routine. In the mornings all I have to do is whistle and he’ll come running around. I don’t have to go out here and holler and carry on.”
    Read More
  • Loose Horse: Ben’s Cat gone too soon

    Turned loose. All those times Ben’s Cat had risen like a ravenous black wave, gathering, menacing, consuming what hindered his path. His late-rushing gusto turned witnesses breathless and exhilarated, the outcomes confirming him a natural phenomenon. Turned loose. In the surreal shadows of stall 28, King Leatherbury’s Laurel Park barn, Fern Augusti made one last round on a warm June Wednesday turned stifling by its consequence. She ducked under the webbing, as she’d done a thousand times across nine years as his groom, prettied Ben’s Cat’s forelock and embraced him. It was time to let go.
    Read More
  • Don’t fumble racing’s future

    Shortly after the 2016 presidential election, I read a column about a foreigner’s view of American government. In short, the outsider compared our democracy to a football – as in we kick it back and forth from Republican to Democrat, liberal to conservative, world-view diplomat to hard-core nationalist and so on every four years. The conclusion was that maybe the country would be better off if democracy was treated like a Faberge egg – don’t kick it, cradle it like the fragile, delicate, valuable thing it is.
    Read More
  • The Big Hurt-Horses do their parts to ease pain after injury to champion jockey Paddy Young

    Sometimes, the horses just know. They must. Paddy Young, a five-time champion jockey closing in on his 200th American win (a figure reached by just nine people) and the dean of the colony, went down with a head injury at the Radnor Hunt Races May 20 – shocking his wife and children, fellow jockeys, racegoers and the sport. 
    Read More
  • Sundown 
at Pimlico

    We found ourselves in the gloaming, the twilight often summoned by Bill Nack in his racing stories to represent the awareness of time passing that doesn’t seem like a real thing until you find yourself in it. After the Woodlawn Vase had been presented for the 142nd Preakness Stakes, we hung around for the 14th race that followed because why hurry off from something you don’t want to see end?
    Read More
  • Fickle Fate

    Her name is Fickle Fate. It suits her, especially considering that the pensioned broodmare leads the life she does today because trainer Ann Merryman got her wires crossed 22 years ago when she went to the Keeneland September sale in 1995 to purchase a broodmare prospect for a client.  “I used my own discretion, but it turned out he didn’t want her,” she said. 
    Read More

2016MidAtlanticAuctionArt

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Post Time

  • See Horses

    See Horses

    A mare and foal find their reflections while getting a drink at Maryland’s Country Life Farm.
  • GHOSTS IN THE MIST

    GHOSTS IN THE MIST

    Announcer Dave Rodman must have had fun with this one. Thoroughbreds charge through the gloaming during a rainstorm at Laurel Park in July.
  • Galloping Ghost

    Galloping Ghost

    Retired MD-bred turf star Better Talk Now, who died of colic in June at age 18, puts in some work on a frosty turf course at Churchill Downs.
  • Taste Of Maryland

    Taste Of Maryland

    Lead pony rider Alena Marchant gets some refreshment on Black-Eyed Susan Day at Pimlico.
  • Joys Of Spring

    Joys Of Spring

    A Malibu Moon colt out of Safe Journey – a half-brother to stakes winners Joy and O Dionysus – got caught up in the moment at Maryland’s Dark Hollow Farm while Mom enjoyed some spring grass.
  • Open Door Policy

    Open Door Policy

    The Mares (and Foals) at Country Life Farm were in view on a nighttime visit.
  • PEEK-A-BOO

    PEEK-A-BOO

    A Bonita Farm foal peeks around its mother Bay of Bengal during a late-winter visit. Photo by Anne L. Frederick
  • Fog Warning

    Fog Warning

    South Carolina’s Aiken Training Center was shrouded in mist during a winter training session.
  • Protect this fence

    Protect this fence

    Newly turned yearlings at Sagamore Farm line up for the camera (well, one clearly is distracted) during a short-lived January snow. Jocelyn Brooks photo.
  • Worm’s eye view

    Worm’s eye view

    Under a striking autumn sky, Spartianos and Luis Garcia battle for position late in the Maryland Million Turf at Laurel Park Oct. 22. They finished second to Phlash Phelps in the $125,000 race. Scott Serio/EclipseSportswire
  • Red Sky at Night

    Red Sky at Night

    Ghost Hunter looks all right before loading in the gate for the Presque Isle Mile at Presque Isle Downs Sept. 18. He ran his winning streak to five in the $200,000 stakes. Coady Photography.
  • The shadow

    The shadow

    Convey, a mare at the Safely Home division of Dark Hollow Farm in Upperco, Md., stops the camera of Lucas Richardson during a summer visit. Richardson, who turns 9 on Oct. 11, won a blue ribbon in the Maryland State Fair photo contest for the image – judged the best in the Animals (black and white) division for photographers under age 16.
  • Big Sky Country

    Big Sky Country

    Laurel Park does its best Montana impression as a runner heads back to the barn in August. Jim McCue photo.
  • Pony Ride

    Pony Ride

    The day after her 600th win, Maryland-based jockey Forest Boyce (right, aboard July 2015 Pensioner on Parade My Lord) leads out some Green Spring Valley Hounds pony camp riders June 20. Boyce was joined at the head of the group by Maryland Hunt Cup winner Liz McKnight. Carol Fenwick photo
  • Family Portrait

    Family Portrait

    Ben’s Cat heads to the Pimlico paddock accompanied by his half-brothers Pair (left, Doug Leatherman aboard) and Hound (Kerry Hohlbein).Lydia A. Williams photo.
  • Hey, It's a Maryland-bred

    Hey, It's a Maryland-bred

    Sister Keys showed off her day-old baby Purple Rain (in honor of Prince, of course) at Seven Dots Farm in Butler, Maryland. Anne Litz photo.
  • Senior Moment

    Senior Moment

    Hansel, who won the Preakness Stakes 25 years ago, enjoys a regal retirement at Lazy Lane Farms in Virginia. At 28, the Virginia-bred is the oldest North American classic winner. Champion 3-year-old of 1991, he won the Preakness and Belmont Stakes and earned more than $2.9 million for Lazy Lane and trainer Frankie Brothers. Douglas Lees photos
  • Final Salute

    Final Salute

    The New Castle County (Del.) Police Department's mounted patrol unit stands at attention at the funeral of Harford County Sheriff's Senior Deputy Patrick Dailey in February in Maryland.
  • Snow Angel

    Snow Angel

    Retired champion Declan's Moon enjoys a roll in the snow from the blizzard of 2016 at Maryland's Country Life Farm. Ellen B. Pons photo.
  • Dawn Patrol

    Dawn Patrol

    Training starts with the sun at Fair Hill Training Center, and all around the region. Kathee Rengert photo
  • The Last Gallop

    The Last Gallop

    The Last Gallop. Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year American Pharoah enjoys his morning work at Keeneland before the Breeders’ Cup. Lydia A. Williams photo
  • Where's Waldo

    Where's Waldo

    Trainer Shug McGaughey’s exercise riders at Fair Hill Training Center are dressed for Halloween, but could pass for Santa’s elves too. The horses don’t seem to care. Kathee Rengert photo
  • Sky Riders

    Sky Riders

    Paris Vegas (right) and Gnostic head back to be unsaddled after a flat race at the Shawan Downs steeplechase meet Sept. 26. Trained by Elizabeth Voss, the Maryland-based stablemates finished first and third, respectively, for jockeys Jack Doyle and Gus Dahl. Lydia A. Williams photo.
  • Flying solo.

    Flying solo.

    Millionaire Eighttofasttocatch, a 12-time stakes winner who retired from the track in December 2014 at age 8, shows off his new skill as an event horse, with a hot-air balloon as a backdrop, at the Maryland State Fair for rider Rumsey Keefe. ©Anne Litz Photo.
  • Fit for a King

    Fit for a King

    Monmouth Park went all out – including a custom-wrapped van – to welcome American Pharoah to the Haskell.
  • Smooth Sailing

    Smooth Sailing

    Madeline Murphy and Bonnie take a dip during the Green Spring Valley Hounds summer pony camp. Carol Fenwick photo.
  • Triple Vision

    Triple Vision

    American Pharoah sees all while getting a bath at Churchill Downs. Six days later, he became racing's 12th Triple Crown winner and first since 1978. Mary M. Meek/Eclipse Sportswire.
  • Sidesaddle

    Sidesaddle

    Sean McDermott hangs on to Choral Society at the Queens Cup in North Carolina. Tod Marks.
  • The Feet

    The Feet

    Hooves flash and fly on the turn at Laurel Park. Lydia A. Williams
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Top Midlantic-bred Poll with The Racing Biz

  • 3yos

    Irish War Cry (NJ) Unique Bella (PA) Fast and Accurate (PA) Bonus Points (MD) Moonlit Song (WV)
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Trevor McCarthy. Jim McCue photo

Trevor McCarthy didn’t search for a description, didn’t hesitate for an explanation.

“Awesome,” McCarthy said.

For a young man, there is no better word. Most 18-year-olds, fresh out of high school, use the word to describe a party, a girl, a car, a game, a Tweet. For young jockey McCarthy, the word described his career moment, a four-win extravaganza at Laurel Park on New Year’s Day.

The seven-pound apprentice partnered favorite Kincaid for Dale Capuano to win the second, hustled second choice Merryland Moon for Mike Trombetta to win the fourth, upset the fifth with Bluegrass Kopp for Ferris Allen and won the seventh with Proud Daddy for Linda Albert.

Four wins for four trainers on a competitive circuit to open the year?–?yes, awesome.

But it wouldn’t be fair to write this as a story about an awesome jockey or an awesome day. It’s more about an awesome legacy and the awesome responsibility that comes with it.

Trevor McCarthy is the son of retired jockey Michael McCarthy, winner of 2,907 races in a long, respected career that finished in 2002. Dad combined good hands, diplomacy, dedication and street smarts to produce six consecutive 200-win seasons while riding predominantly at Delaware Park. McCarthy managed to fold his lawn-chair frame into an aerodynamic shell, becoming one of the most stylish, successful jockeys in the country. He could get horses to settle in the morning and run in the afternoon. McCarthy was as good an agent as he was a jockey, working the backside like a mayor running for reelection. All the while, his youngest of three children watched, noted and made plans.

He was the one who woke up Dad to go to the track. He was the one who kicked and screamed when his mother tried to take him home from the track. He was the one who borrowed Dad’s extra helmet and whip and rode races around the living room. When Dad became a trainer, Trevor was the one who rode horses around the shedrow (since he was too young to ride on the track). He was the one who jumped fences around Dad’s barn at Fair Hill Training Center. He was the one who killed time at school, waiting for when he could be turned loose at the track.

“I’ve always been into it, I couldn’t see myself doing anything other than the horses,” Trevor said. “I remember watching him ride big races, going to the jocks’ room, going to the Meadowlands at night, stuff like that. He’s taught me everything. I can’t list it all. So much advice, it’s really helped me out. Saving ground, looking good, just a lot of technique, things in the gate, he taught me to be polite.”

Michael McCarthy says he had no choice when it came to Trevor’s chosen profession. He remembers the first time his son showed interest. He was sitting at the dinner table, Trevor looked up from his vegetables (the rest of the family ate what Dad ate) and asked what it felt like to be in the gate. He was 6. And serious.

Other mornings, Trevor would get dressed and wait for his father to get up and go to the track.

“You know when you feel somebody creeping up on you and they’re looking at you, he was standing by the bed at 3:30 in the morning, ‘OK, Dad, let’s go to the racetrack,’ ” Michael said. “That’s what I’m dealing with, with that kid, he just wanted to be a part of it. I’m so happy for him because of that, it’s all he ever wanted to do. Just get out there with the horses and ride the horses. Whatever it takes to get to the track, that’s his mentality.”

Michael McCarthy trained horses for seven years after he retired from riding races. Trevor was there, shed-rowing horses when he was 9. Yes, 9. From there, he got on the lead pony, then galloped for Graham Motion at Fair Hill Training Center and began riding as an amateur through the Amateur Riders Club of America. He rode his first race?–?won his first race?–?in October.

Christa McCarthy told her son he could do anything he wanted after he graduated from high school. Trevor graduated from Alexis I. duPont High in Wilmington, Del., in May and was at Parx by October. Trevor began with a bang, but then was put on the back burner, by design. Dad made sure son gained experience without compromising his apprentice year which starts after five wins. Trevor won his fifth race Dec. 2 and moved his tack to Laurel. Joined with Scott Silver, agent for Jeremy Rose, Trevor plans to stay at Laurel for the rest of the year, aiming at an Eclipse Award for leading apprentice, if possible.

“Well, you know, we had a rough start at Philly, we rode a lot of bad horses but in the last month, when we came to Laurel, it’s picked up a lot, we’ve got a lot of business and a lot of wins down there,” Trevor said. “My dad’s really proud of it. I won my fourth on Proud Daddy, so a lot of people called and told me he must be proud. I always saw my dad doing it, I always looked up to him and when he started training, he taught me how to do it. My dad is loving it.”

And hating it.

Michael McCarthy knows the game; the good, the bad and the ugly. At 5’9½”, McCarthy honed his body to the bone, practicing moderation and discipline while escaping Finger Lakes, landing at Philadelphia Park and flourishing at Delaware Park. He knows the deprivation, the politics, the risk, the hot box, the falls, the hours . . . yeah, the good, the bad, the ugly.

Thoroughbred racing is the ultimate catch-22. Horsemen love their horses, but they put them at risk. Owners love the sport, it costs crazy money. Jockeys love to ride, they diet, fall, ride seven days a week. Fathers, well fathers, love their sons.

“People say you must be a proud dad. . .
and I am in every sense of the word, but when I watch a race, I know so many things can happen negatively, I want to be like, ‘yeah, yeah, do this, do that,’ and instead I’m like ‘OK, look out for this, look out for that,’ ” Michael said. “I was more like that in the first two months, when we were just really preparing him for everything. I’m better now, my fear is subsiding a little bit, but I still get some jitters. I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m sure all fathers would feel the same way.”

Michael worries about too much publicity too fast for Trevor. He worries about expectations put on his son, because of him.

“When you called, I thought, this is a little quick for him, here’s more expectations,” Michael said to a writer. “I think the expectations were so high for him, he won with his first three mounts, then he went 2-for-70 or whatever, but we literally gave him three horses with chances, and those three all did good. I was OK with that, because I knew it was going to take him a few months to get his legs under him, timing-wise it was perfect, we wanted to get him started close to the first of the year, so maybe he can have a chance at winning an award if it’s possible.”

Michael has helped choreograph his son’s career, putting his experiences and connections to good use, but he also apologizes if he sounds like a crazy father, overzealous and consumed by his son’s success. He’s not Earl Woods, driving his son Tiger to become champion of the world. He’s a retired jockey who might be able to help his son become a successful jockey.

“We made a little plan and said ‘let’s try to do this.’ To me, if he goes out there and is happy just being a jockey, making a living, I’m happy for him,” Michael said. “If he wants to go and be a big-time jockey and set huge goals for himself, hey, that’s fine too. That’s the kind of parents we are to him.”

Michael McCarthy would like to see his son make it big. But for his son, not for him.

“He has put that to the side,” Michael said. “He realizes, ‘I might not be my dad or as good as my dad but I’m going to be the best that I can.’ He told me that the other day and I said, ‘Great Trev, but look what you did today, you’ve already made a name for yourself. I’m so proud of that.’ That’s a big hurdle for him. So many jockeys’ sons can’t meet the expectations of their fathers, I feel bad for that situation when it happens to kids. I have a fear of that.”

Nine of the 41 Eclipse Award-winning apprentices cultivated their careers in Maryland. Trevor McCarthy, fresh off winning four races on New Year’s Day, knows their names, their achievements, their legacies?–?Chris McCarron, Ron Franklin, Alberto Delgado, Allen Stacy, Kent Desormeaux, Mike Luzzi, Mark Johnston, Jeremy Rose, Ryan Fogelsonger.

“Yup,” McCarthy said. “Hopefully we can make it 10.”

He said it with respect, not audacity or arrogance. A boy trying to make it big, a son trying to follow his father. The boy doesn’t know what’s out there, the father certainly does.

A few hours after answering his phone the first time, Michael McCarthy called back and left a message. Not as a jockey, not as an agent, not as a trainer, but simply a father.

“Hey, it’s Michael McCarthy calling back, listen, you know I just wanted to say that sometimes this business consumes me and I can sound negative at times, but I just wanted you to know, my wife and I are extremely proud of Trevor,” McCarthy said. “I just wanted to make a notation of that. He’s carrying on our name and my name quite well, he carries himself with so much class, I couldn’t be any more proud of having my son do what he’s doing. I hope you can put that in there.”

Duly noted. Now, kid, go win some races. Dad, enjoy it.

Say It Again

  • "He was either going to have to fly on a plane by himself with a load of asparagus for $18,000 or we were going to wait for a full plane. So we opted out of the asparagus and waited."
    Trainer Elizabeth Voss On trying to get Modem (GB) over from Ireland
  • "It's like going after a bear with a stick."
    Trainer About running a longshot in a Saratoga Grade 1.
  • "He didn't know how to jump when he got here, he couldn't even jump a log on the ground, I don't know why, he was totally re-schooled."
    Trainer Jack Fisher About hurdle winner Moscato (GB) who raced over jumps in four times in England before being imported.
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Popular Stories

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Connections

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