The final weekend before the Thanksgiving holiday produced some great races and some big news in the horse racing industry. On the track, we saw a trio of impressive victories in graded stakes competition with Serve the King making a driving effort to beat frontrunner Channel Cat at the Grade II Red Smith Stakes at Aqueduct. Meanwhile, in the Bluegrass State, we saw Obligatory bounce back from a poor performance last time out to easily dispatch the field at the Grade III Chilukki Stakes at Churchill Downs. Finally, on the west coast, we saw Azul Coast get in the winner’s circle at the Grade III Native Diver Stakes. Azul Coast’s last performance was a disappointing 6th place at the Grade I Awesome Again Stakes where he finished 17 lengths behind eventual winning, and stablemate, Medina Spirit. His victory on Saturday came at the expense of another higher profile stablemate, Eight Rings, who tried to run only two weeks after racing at the Breeders’ Cup.
Meanwhile, off the track, we’ll stay out on the west coast where news broke last week that trainer Peter Miller would be taking a hiatus from training and handing his operation over to longtime assistant Ruben Alvarado. Miller, who has been linked to a rash of horse deaths and breakdowns, has long been rumored as a trainer who skirts the rules and may medically enhance his horses. His statement went to great lengths to distance himself from those rumors, which ultimately rang hollow as he didn’t mention the word “horse” until the last paragraph of his statement. Not a great look for a guy who has spent 30 years working with horses. Listen to me break down all the races and news as well as providing my thoughts on two wonderful horses who passed away over the last week, Rock Hard Ten and Albert the Great.