Jimmy Toner: From the DMZ to the Diana

Jimmy Toner might keep a low profile, but his horses are easy to spot, especially in the morning. Just look for those bright orange bandages. Long before trainers began equipping their exercise riders with distinctive vests for easy identification during morning training, Toner was wrapping his horses’ legs in those bandages, mirroring the orange “JJT”…

Novice No Longer, Sheila Rosenblum Hits Her Stride

On the Thursday after the Belmont Stakes, Belmont Park was nearly deserted. A sparse weekday crowd dotted the apron; upscale specialty cocktails were nowhere to be found; attire tended to denim rather than linen, and the hats adorning people’s heads bore not flowers and ribbons, but the insignias of sports teams. None of that mattered…

The Rise, Fall, and Disappearance of Black Horsemen

The first Kentucky Derby, in 1875, was won by Aristides. On his back was a black jockey, Oliver Lewis; the man who trained him, Ansel Williamson, was also black. Five years earlier, Kingfisher had won the Belmont Stakes, ridden by Edward Brown, trained by Raleigh Colston, both men who had been born into slavery. That…

Tartuffe. Falstaff. Chaplin. And Durkin.

A picture might be worth a thousand words, but if those words are coming from Tom Durkin, they command a far higher price. Soporific. Obstreperous. Oracular. The kind of words that used to be called $10 words, SAT words, the kind of words that might get you a bemused look if you use them in…

“The town is the track, and the track is the town.”

Heady words, from a man who should know. Roberts writes about the history and architecture of racetracks, recently collaborating with the New York Racing Association and the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, creating an inventory of Saratoga’s buildings and landscape. With Isabelle Taylor, he publishedThe Spa: Saratoga’s Legendary Racecourse, an architectural history of the track that…

Can A Big Screen “Change Racing Forever”?

Racing fans that pulled the Kentucky Derby/Preakness infield double were treated on both days to stupendously beautiful weather, a range of high- and low-end hospitality offerings (and behavior), and terrific racing. Preakness infield denizens were treated to concerts by Lorde and a handful of other musical acts, but if the Churchill Downs infield crowd didn’t…