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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Triple Crown Mania--5 Questions with Assistant Trainer, Torrie Needham

Thanks, Torrie! Love your hair but that mane is pretty awesome!

Good Afternoon, Ms. Needham! Thanks for taking a few minutes to chat with me today and share your years of industry experience and knowledge with me and my readers. 

Hi Ms, Tiffany, thank you for inviting me to comment for your blog again.  Sure Miss you since you moved to Texas.

Since I'm too excited to avoid talking about it any longer, let's get right to it...The Big Kahuna race coming up this Saturday...the Belmont Stakes! Woo-Hoo!!!

1) Why is this year's race so exciting?

TN: This year going into the Belmont, California Chrome looks like the most promising winner of the Triple Crown since 1978 and Affirmed.  Though back in 2012, I'll Have Another looked like a sure bet but opted out of running in the Belmont due to injury.  California Chrome is training extremely well and I think he has the talent to win this year.

2) California Chrome's challenging field is sorted and vast. Good horses. Horses with heart, good blood lines and solid conformation. Who do you see as the biggest competition for Cali Chrome and why? 

TN: Tough call, I like two horses going in.  Commanding Curve ran a game 2nd to California Chrome and looks like the added distance would suit him. Commanding Curve also will go into the Belmont freshened up since he skipped the Preakness. Ride on Curlin is my other pic. Getting a not so good ride in the Derby finishing 7th and coming back into the Preakness with a new rider and finishing a strong 2nd.  Not really sure Ride On Curlin will like the added distance. He's a tough colt but looking at his conformation, he looks more like a sprinter to me, where as Commanding Curve is taller and leaner conformation wise, more of a distance type looking horse.  Of course size never matters in horse racing.

3) What are your favorite California Chrome moments or races, traits or personality quirks? 

TN: I watched California Chrome gallop at the Derby, he was so relaxed with his Exercise rider setting his hands quietly on his neck. He gallops with a nice long stride.  I galloped horses for years and watching him gallop brought back so many memories of what it felt like when a horse gallops the way California Chrome does.  I could feel every stride.

4) Each individual Grade 1 stakes race in the Triple Crown series is unique and important. What are the individualistic details you'd attribute to the Belmont Stakes, its track surface and distance? And what special, maybe unknown or unfamiliar realities, make this race worth watching and rooting for horses, regardless of the way the TC campaign unfolds in any given year? 

TN: 1 1/2 mile races are rare and very few horses can go that distance. not to mention going that far when campaigning for the Triple Crown.  No 3 year old horse campaigns this hard otherwise.

5) What would a successful Triple Crown contender do for the horse racing industry? 

TN: When a horse gets close to winning the Triple Crown,  people who normally haven't any interest in horse racing suddenly get on the band wagon.  The Triple Crown is such an attention getter world wide.  Everyone loves the competition of such an endeavor that rarely happens.  It wouldn't be horse racing if we had a Triple Crown winner every year.  A Triple Crown winner this year would bring a positive influence on the industry that's been plagued with controversy over the past few years.

Torrie Needham is also a talented track photographer. If you'd like to check out some of her photos or order a few prints, this is the link for you: BurninDaylightImages.

Now, if you're still sitting there reading this post, but have yet to place your bet on Cali Chrome for the big win in this Saturday's Belmont Stakes, I fully appreciate your attention, however, think you need to get moving. Priorities, priorities, priorities...enjoy watching the race. Personally, I can't wait to see Chrome tear up that race track and win the Triple Crown title he so rightly deserves.

Go get 'em, California Chrome! Love your gorgeous chestnut hair and fancy sweeping gait. Peppermints all around for the winner's barn.  

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