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 Looking Back

This month in mid-atlantic thoroughbred history! For Looking Back archives click here.

Cigar’s win streak came to a halt at 16 in the $1 million Pacific Classic-G1, when longshot Dare and Go benefitted from a speed duel between his stablemate Siphon (Brz) and Cigar as they flew 6 furlongs in 1:09.29 and a mile in 1:33.66, which left little in the tank for the champion in the last quarter-mile. The final time for the 11⁄4 miles was 1:59.85. Cigar added to his North American earnings title, finishing second pushed him over $9 million.

  • Skip Away, the hometown hero trained by Sonny Hine for his wife Carolyn, delivered a command performance in the $750,000 Haskell Invitational-G1 in his first start at Monmouth since breaking his maiden the previous August. He carried top weight of 124 pounds in the handicap, giving up to 10 pounds to his rivals.

  • In the 15 years since Texas businessman Joe Allbritton purchased historic Brookmeade Farm in Upperville, Va., saving it from development, and renamed it Lazy Lane, he added more than 1,700 acres and created a broodmare band that included the likes of Grade 1 winner Life At the Top and fillies from famed Virginia female lines. Said the farm’s vice-president and general manager Frank Shipp: “I’m a Kentuckian, and I always thought that the land there was the best for raising horses. But I was wrong. The land in this area, the vein around Upperville, is better. It puts better bone in them.”

  • Dale Baird, the first trainer to saddle 6,000 winners, then the first to saddle 7,000, and the all-time winningest trainer in North America, was a busy man and a hard interview. “He doesn’t like to blow his own horn,” said his wife Diane. Winning about 250 races a year with a stable owned solely by himself and his wife, Baird was a big fish in a small pond at Mountaineer Park. The 61-year-old had no assistant trainers, did all the work himself and had a win ratio of nearly 16 percent. He did note that being leading trainer in the nation (he led by number of wins the previous five years) was nice. But when asked about passing Jack Van Berg for the winningest trainer title, he said, “Well, he’s my friend, so, you know, it was OK, but he works, too.”

    In December 2007, at the age of 72, Baird died in a traffic accident on an icy highway when he lost control of his pickup truck while hauling an empty trailer. He had 9,445 wins. Steve Asmussen surpassed Baird’s mark on Aug. 7 at Saratoga.

  • Oscar-winning songwriter Burt Bacharach saw his homebred Grade 1 winners Soul of the Matter and Afternoon Deelites retired to stud at Airdrie Stud in Kentucky after suffering training injuries during the summer. The West Virginia-bred sons of former Maryland stallion Private Terms earned $3,364,011 combined.

  • Award-winning Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred and Maryland Horse photographer Neena Ewing died unexpectedly at age 45. During her 25-year career as a photographer, she specialized in horses and children – “I’m like a junkie,” she once said. “As long as I have a camera and film, kids and their ponies in front of me, I just can’t stop until the film is gone.”

  • Genuine Reward, the first foal for Kentucky Derby-G1 winner Genuine Risk, was retired to stud at Blue Ridge Farm in Upperville, Va. Bred and owned by Bert and Diana Firestone, the unraced son of Rahy made national headlines after his birth in 1993, with film of his first outdoor romps appearing on the networks’ evening news.

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