Guest Blog Throwback: 2014 Pennsylvania Derby & Cotillion Stakes

September 2014, Parx Racetrack

Thirteen races on the day’s card were highlighted by the grade I Cotillion for three-year old fillies and the grade II Pennsylvania Derby for three-year old males. The races attracted some of the best horses from the two divisions, and therefore, about 16,000 people. I was at the Haskell Invitational in the summer and saw Untapable, the top 3-year old filly and Cotillion favorite, and Bayern, who won the Haskell and would be running in the PA Derby. Most exciting for me though and really the reason I made the trip was to see my favorite racehorse, California Chrome.

The third race was a maiden for two-year old fillies. Serious Happiness got the score in her fifth race by a solid margin. In the winner’s circle, the young filly was very antsy.
Monaguska with an authoritative victory over an allowance field in the fourth race.
Post parade for the fifth, the eventual second place finisher.
#4, Bama Bound, would get the allowance victory by a nose.
Bama Bound.
Hello 🙂
Off in the sixth!
A win by Dawly.
Cast a Doubt would cast aside all doubts in winning the seventh race (next two photos).
After a rough trip—slightly impeded in the stretch, taking lots of dirt—Catch My Drift won the eighth, her third win in four starts.
#9, Dancing Lounge, takes a look at #10, Atlantic Seaboard, prior to the Alphabet Soup Handicap.
Prudhoe Bay examines the crowd.

The Cotillion Stakes

Cassatt came first into the paddock, dragging her handler and trainer Larry Jones. Nervous or just high-strung in front of the large crowd, they were doing everything they could to keep her restrained. I heard many compliments about how good a horseman Larry Jones is. One man called someone and said, “I’m here at the paddock, you gotta come down here, you gotta see this horse!”
Final adjustments on Jojo Warrior.
Untapable remained composed and business-like. Rosie Napravnik sat calmly on the filly. The crowd cheered as the pair passed by, so Rosie quickly put her finger to her lips in a shushing gesture—which thankfully worked.

I tried to get good photos of the Cotillion, but unfortunately was not very successful. The field of eight (#9, Stopchargingmaria, was scratched) got off smoothly. Jojo Warrior had the lead in the upper stretch, but Untapable kept bearing down on her. She hadn’t won that way since her victory in the Pocahontas Stakes in 2013 (when she closed in on Stonetastic in the same fashion). The two went eyeball-to-eyeball for a dozen strides or so, but Untapable, urged on by Rosie Napravnik, passed by Jojo Warrior like a champ. Jojo Warrior faded in deep stretch, allowing Sweet Reason (#2) to grasp second money. Untapable, after facing the boys in the Haskell, found the winner’s circle again!

In the paddock stood two statues, painted to the silks of last year’s Cotillion and PA Derby winner. Close Hatches won the Cotillion and Will Take Charge won the PA Derby. Close Hatches was unbeaten so far in the year, while Will Take Charge had been retired due to a minor injury after good performances in big races.

The Pennsylvania Derby

California Chrome’s arrival was met by cheers from the crowd.
His fanbase was very prominent.
Classic Giacnroll.
Noble Moon.
California Chrome detracted most of the attention from the other horses, but Candy Boy, in particular, still inspired some awe when he passed. One woman simply commented, “You’re a big boy Candy Boy.”

When the race began, Chrome was almost immediately boxed in as Bayern surged to the front. The Offlee Wild colt (pun intended) stayed there through increasingly fast quarters—and ultimately, made the eight horse race a solo act. California Chrome toiled some ten lengths behind Bayern, who set a track record for the mile and an eighth. California Chrome finished sixth.

Tapiture’s handler looking at the replay screen.

Despite the disappointing finish, Chrome was welcomed back with a pat on the head from groom Willie Delgado. And of course, the crowd cheered.

Bayern, with that characteristic eye, after a dominating Pennsylvania Derby win.

Guest Blog: The Long, Winding Road to Kentucky

When I decided years ago that I wanted to visit Kentucky, it was to see my favorite racehorse, California Chrome. But before I could, he moved to Japan. I hope he comes back someday (or that I go to Japan, of course); he was a special horse that really got me into racing. I’d later learn that Will Take Charge would also be moving to Japan, so I was lucky to see him near the end of our trip.

Anyway, after 12 hours of driving, I was ready—for fried chicken, Thoroughbreds, racing, and stallions. We had arrived in Louisville. For a city that hosts prestigious Thoroughbred races, has a huge convention center, is the hometown of major companies and Muhammad Ali (AKA The Greatest), the city was rugged outside of a 2 block radius, and not many people were walking around. Nevertheless, we made the most of it.

At Churchill Downs, we went through the Kentucky Derby Museum, which had some cool facts and items. When the race day began, I speedwalked from paddock to rail and back again for 7 races.

This horse got a quick wash in the paddock before gearing up.
Malibu S S, a compact, muscular horse that finished 2nd in his race.
Eleven Central being brought down for the 6th race…
…and after winning, being brought out of the winner’s circle.
Two Minute Drill first, Justifying second.
The statue of the magnificent Barbaro in the stretch of the 2006 Kentucky Derby.

We drove 1 1/2 hours to Lexington (named after the racehorse, whose statue is at Thoroughbred Park), which was more quaint but still had some towering buildings and parking garages. The area in and around Lexington has a plethora of horse farms and 2 universities—yet it felt like being in the movie Inception. Despite what looked like attempts at revitalization (perhaps derailed by the pandemic), there wasn’t much to see or do. The main street had a fair number of people; outside of it, there was practically no one. Once, as someone breezed through a red light, a woman at the crosswalk threw her hands up and expressed her anger: “Fine, just go through the red light, there’s no law here!” Meanwhile, a multinational center advertised Lexington as the city to be. As in Louisville, we tried to make the most of it.

Thoroughbred Park is a small triangular oasis.
This towering statue of Secretariat, horseracing’s GOAT, stands in a roundabout. Wish we had statues like this back home!

The highlight of our trip was Old Friends, which has retired some horses I know and watched on TV, so it really felt like visiting old friends. Among many star-studded residents, the one I was most looking forward to seeing was Game On Dude, which luckily we did AND I got to pet him (though he was more interested in eating carrots and cribbing). Dude was surprisingly unimpressive—small in stature, plain brown, a tapering snout—but a top-class racehorse with multiple stakes wins and $6.5 million in earnings.

Game On Dude.
Game On Dude’s pasture buddy, Little Mike.
Bellamy Road.
Green Mask.
Silver Charm paid no attention to us, then eventually casually walked over for some shredded carrots.
US Ranger.
Draxhall Woods and Exulting.
Milwaukee Brew waited patiently for carrots.
Albertus Maximus stayed in the field across from his half-brother, Nobiz Like Shobiz. He passed away shortly after we got home, at age 18.
Special Ring was eager to show us his lip tattoo. Sun King joined in on the fun.

Claiborne Farm is one of the most historic stud farms because some of the greatest stallions in US history have stood here. They raise horses on another part of the farm, and race their own in yellow silks. We didn’t realize until later that they are apparently very unique in allowing people to pet the stallions and take pictures with them right there.

Runhappy, a fast racehorse, is the most playful according to the guide, though still respectful as he extended his neck to mouth the air or chain. I was amazed by how athletic he looked.
War Front was a decent racehorse, but has really found his stride as a stallion, with the highest fee on the roster. He stood statue-still in the conformation stance.
Only when the guide reached into his pocket for peppermints did he move and let out a soft nicker.
War of Will (a son of War Front) begged by pawing the ground.
First Samurai begged over top of his gate.

The Kentucky Horse Park is a huge place with lots to see. There was even a show jumping event while we were there, so we snuck over to watch. Similar to Old Friends, the Park has been the retirement home of some champion racehorses.

The mighty Man O’ War, described simply by Joe Palmer “as near to a living flame as horses ever get.”
Staff Sergeant Reckless served in the Marine Corps during the Korean War, and is known for her actions in the Battle of Outpost Vegas. She is buried at Camp Pendleton. “She wasn’t a horse—She was a Marine!”
Drying off after a bath.
Champion Funny Cide.

At Keeneland, preparation for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships was underway. We toured the facilities and watched horses during morning workouts. Opening Day was packed, so we hugged the rail to hold our position.

Schooling in the paddock.
Horses on the way to start their workouts, while others do theirs on the inside.
The stretch drive of the first race.
She’s All Class after her first career win in the second race.
Crackalacking in the post parade for the third race. They might have noticed me standing taking pictures on the highest ground available.
Olga Isabel (12) passed the finish line first, but was disqualified and placed 2nd behind Jag Warrior (11).
My Uncle Leon, energetic in the post parade for the sixth race.
Manny Wah, eventual winner of the Phoenix Stakes.
I’m not the only one who loves photographing racehorses… here’s Sabalenka.
Delight after winning the Jessamine Stakes.
Wonder Wheel after her Alcibiades Stakes win.
“The losers” of the last race of the day.
Dance Warrior, a job well done after finishing 3rd.

Three Chimneys Farm is another stud farm and was a late addition to our itinerary, where we had extra time.

The legendary Seattle Slew.
Volatile, a sprinter.
Palace Malice taking a nap.

I saw Will Take Charge in the 2013 Preakness Stakes. He finished 7th. By year’s end, he would be champion 3 year old male. Against top competition (including stablemate Palace Malice and old friend Game On Dude) in 11 races that year, he proved himself a tough racehorse. His 2nd—by a late-surging nose—in the Breeders’ Cup Classic is still one of my favorite races, for when the big chestnut started his stretch drive, you were in for a good race. As our large tour group approached, “Willy” turned to face us, ears flicking to and fro as he stood calmly, looking with kind eyes. His flashy markings made him easy to spot both live and on TV. His large, tall frame carried a musculature that exuded strength. Truly a hunk. He is also the friendliest stallion you could ever hope to meet.

Will Take Charge in the 2013 Preakness Stakes, taken with my point-and-shoot camera.

At Stonestreet Farm, which focuses on broodmares and their babies—how life begins for a Thoroughbred racehorse—we saw Mannerly’s weanling, known as the nicest one around the barn and a camera-hog. A future superstar?

Tapit – Mannerly filly.

After that, we started on our 10 hour drive back home, with lots of horse memories and without having had one single piece of Kentucky fried chicken.


Plain yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, salt.

Minced parsley.

Brown ground beef, diced onion, cumin, salt, pepper, 14.5oz diced tomato

Oven 350Âş.

Cut baby eggplant in half, take a few strips of skin off with peeler, scoop out seeds, brush with olive oil, bake 10 minutes.

Slice cubanelle pepper into strips. Microwave 2 minutes.

Stuff with meat, top with tomato slices and cubanelle pepper slices.

Broil until a little browned and bubbling.

Make Cous Cous.

Top with yogurt and parsley.

Spring Key

Oven 375Âş with rack in middle
Butter and parchment line bottom and sides of 10” springform
1 1/2 packets graham crackers crushed
Stir in 4 tablespoons of melted butter and 1/4 cup sugar
Press mixture gently into bottom of pan
Bake 8 minutes
Let cool
Reduce oven to 350Âş
Beat 6 egg yolks and add one can of sweetened condensed milk
Save whites for pavlova
Mix in thoroughly 3/4 cup Florribean Key Lime Juice
Pour mixture over crust and tap to release bubbles
Bake 15 minutes
Place plastic wrap on surface and refrigerate
Or cool 15 minutes and cover pan with foil.

Ye Olde Cabbage Rolls

Core green cabbage and put in large stockpot of boiling water. Peel off leaves with tongs when loose and pliable. Put on plate to wait. Empty water when finished and use same stockpot for making rolls.

Make sauce. 1 large onion finely diced and half stick of butter, salt, pepper, saute until onion translucent. Add 1 16oz. can of tomato sauce/pureé/crushed. Add two heaping tablespoons of brown sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer. You can also add 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar and/or a teaspoon of smoked paprika.

Make filling. 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef, 1 cup or so of already cooked rice, 2 or 3 garlic cloves pressed, salt, pepper, egg, worcestershire sauce. Mix. Put 1/3 cup in each leaf, roll like a burrito, place seam side down in sauce and simmer for 45 minutes.

Makes about 14 rolls.

Copyright © 2019 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

Heart & Posole

Limes! Stop forgetting limes!

Olive oil
1/2 yellow onion medium-fine dice dice
8 cloves garlic through press
Chili powder
Tomato paste, the whole can
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
2 25oz cans Juanita’s Hominy
1 rotisseri chicken, meat pulled apart into bite size pieces

Cilantro sprigs
Blue corn chips
1 Lime

Heat olive oil, add salt, add onion, cook until turning translucent,
add garlic, wait a minute or two, add chili powder, stir around for a minute, add tomato paste, stir around for a couple minutes, add chicken broth, add water, add hominy, add chicken. Bring to a boil and simmer for awhile.

Top with cilantro sprigs, thinly sliced radishes, avocado slices, squeeze over some lime, then crushed blue chips.

Copyright © 2019 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

Day After Soup

For the broth:
Turkey carcass
1 large carrot roughly broken
2 celery stalks roughly broken
2 bay leaves
1 yellow onion quartered with skin on
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
2 sprigs of parsley

Put all ingredients in large stockpot add enough water to cover or just about cover the turkey. Bring to a boil then simmer for two hours or so skimming off any foamy stuff around the edge. Take out the big pieces and then strain into another pot or bowl big enough to hold the broth.

For the soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion medium dice
3 carrots sliced thinish
3 celery stalks sliced thinish
3 cups turkey meat pulled apart
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning (or half tsp each of sage, thyme, marjoram rosemary, pepper— I leave out the nutmeg due to allergies)
1 teaspoon salt—taste to adjust after a little while
3/4 cup Madeira wine
1/2 pound wild rice or mixed wild rice like Lundberg wild blend
All the broth plus water if needed

In a stockpot/soup pot add one tablespoon olive oil, teaspoon of salt and add onion, celery and carrot and cook on medium-high until softened. Add poultry season stir for a minute so it can bloom. Add 3/4 cup Madiera wine and turn heat to high and reduce about half. Add broth, turkey, rice and water if needed (I add water if needed to bring level up to about 4/5 of stockpot) bring to a boil, simmer for a few hours. Spoon off any foamy stuff around edge.

Copyright © 2018 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

Summer Roll

I make 3 per person. Here I’m making 12. Sometimes the ingredients get a little tilted by the the end. I usually run out of avocado first.

2 cups boiling water in a 9Ă—9 casserole dish or something close to that. Break up a quarter of a 14oz package of rice stick noodles and soak for about ten minutes then drain in colander. Cut up a bit with scissors.

36 shrimp. 3 for each roll. I buy frozen medium size wild-caught white shrimp and flash them for 3 minutes in lightly salted boiling water. Then drain in colander and remove tails.

On a big cutting board:
1 carrot julienned (I have a hand-held Japanese julienne tool thing)
1 cucumber cut lengthwise and seeded. Julienne half. Thinly slice other half and put in bowl with some rice vinegar.
About 2 cups of cabbage finely sliced (Napa, Savoy, green, or whatever)
1 avocado cut in halves and sliced thin
Cilantro leaves and tender stalk
24 or so basil leaves

12 25cm extra-thin spring roll wrappers.

With enough space on cutting board to roll and a 9Ă—9 casserole dish with hot water next to it, rotate wrapper through hot water, place on cutting board and begin to load about a third of the way down the wrapper: basil leaves and shrimp next to each other and then everything else on top. Tuck in sides and roll.

Sweet chili sauce for dipping.

Copyright © 2018 MRStrauss • All rights reserved

Flu Prevention Diet

Six medium or four large beets. Cut stems and greens from beets and save.

Place in pot and cover with water and bring to a boil. Continue on a slow boil until knife pierces beet easily. Half hour or so for small/medium and sometimes an hour for big ones. When done, reserve 1 cup of beet water. Set aside to cool.

In a small saucepan, combine beet water, a small yellow onion finely diced, one cup white wine vinegar, quarter cup sugar, four cloves, teaspoon of salt, half a teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for around five minutes.

Meanwhile, trim ends off beets, pull skin off, slice or dice beets however you want. Combine beets and sauce in covered container and refridgerate overnight. Pull out a few hours before eating to let them warm up a bit.

Serve with hot tea and an orange.

Copyright © 2018 MRStrauss • All rights reserved