This isn’t meant as anything other than a wry observation on information flow. About a month ago, the Japanese blogger Futeki and I independently happened upon a note in La Nacion that Asiatic Boy had been retired and would enter stud at Haras Abolengo in Argentina in 2010. Click here to read it. Then two days ago, I tweeted this:
This was followed yesterday by this article on Asiatic Boy’s retirement in Thoroughbred Times and TDN by Michael Burns, the South American correspondent for the US trades.
Finally, the very capable Pat Cummings at Dubai Race Nightfollowed yesterday with a post about the retirement of Asiatic Boy, who was so accomplished in Dubai, with a link to the article in Thoroughbred Times.
Later today, this news will be in Racing Post, then Australia, Daily Racing Form, and around the world. It also will be retweeted anew. And so the news is spread.
Yes, it did happen to me sometime in 2009; I spent more time reading on the internet than from print media. I predict that in 2010 my own proportions of new media reading will increase vs. print media, and with that in mind I’m listing here the best of the medium in racing and breeding in 2009, IMHO.
Best Racing News: Top 5, straight up!
1. Racingpost.com British-based site covers Europe + world; has free pps for European horses; bloodstock news section; results; news updated as it happens; by far, the best racing site around.
2. Thoroughbreddailynews.com Daily newsletter; old fashioned pdf-formatted delivery by email; good news coverage; good results; nice stats; chock full of ads.
3. Thoroughbredtimes.com Daily newsletter called Thoroughbred Times Today; best feature is the weekly pedigree profile by either John Sparkman or Rommy Faversham
4. Elturf.com Excellent coverage of Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil. Photos, charts, news.
5. Turfdiario.com News from Argentina in a daily newsletter, pdf style. Must download the newsletter daily; front-page links to stories.
Best Racing + Breeding Blogs: Top 10, shaken, on the rocks!
1. Montjeu.com Irish-based blogger Victor Sheahan, an accountant by trade, is not prolific with posts, but his stuff is of the highest quality. Updates the site daily with news links from around the world, too, in between bouts of number crunching.
2. bloodstock in the bluegrass Frank Mitchell’s blog has shot up the charts with critical acclaim since he started it in early 2009 (on my advice, I keep reminding his fans!). Outstanding writer who knows his subject and has the journalistic skills to make it readable, topical, and oh-so interesting. And the DRF let this guy go? Whose head is gonna roll, Irwin?
3. The Pedigree Curmudgeon Like Frank Mitchell, John Sparkman is a writer of the highest class. With his personal experiences as manager at Pillar Stud + bloodstock editor of Thoroughbred Times, his knowledge of pedigrees, and his curmudgeonly demeanor, Sparkman weaves a really mean post.
4. Futeki This Japanese blogger has a South American fetish, and that’s all he posts about — in Japanese! Frequently, he scoops even the South Americans, and I predict he’ll one day live in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
5. Jessica Chapel / Railbird v2 Jessica Chapel, longtime blogger, curates Raceday360, an aggregator. She has a distinct conceptual aesthetic that’s at the vanguard of racing’s new media. Now everyone just needs to catch up to her.
6. Ray Paulick Ray gets double-dipped here because the Paulick Report also got props in the section above. But, let’s face it, Paulick’s double-fisted posting on PR — Does this guy have a life? — gives the PR the nod over Seth Merrow’s Equidaily — Does he have a life, too? — a more prolific aggregator than PR. Paulick, by the way, was right in the middle of many happening stories in 2009, which makes him one hep cat.
7. R2 Collective You can see Jessica Chapel’s thumb print on this site, which is a collaboration between her + the very game Dana Byerly (Green but Game) + the very sharp Dean Towers (Pull the Pocket). It’s all about marketing + new media + racing + technology + new dimensions at R2 = innovative thinking. Anyone who’s interested in the future of racing needs to take a ride into the new world with these three. And that includes you and your buds, Mr. Knight Sky.
8. The Race is Not to the Swift The blogger’s name is John — that’s all I know! And he’s plenty swift, too. He’s the guy who wrote the priceless line that’s now legend in the Twitterverse: “In 2009 more and more bloggers became Twitterers and disappeared faster than cupcakes at Dinny Phipps house.” In the same post, he also wrote this about Paul Moran’s quitting the blogging game: “Paul Moran announced, in that self important way of his, that he was abandoning the blogosphere to pursue more monetarily rewarding pursuits. They pay him to write? I didn’t notice, did you? ” There’s nothing more to say, except read him — and hope he’s not writing ’bout you next!
9. Gathering the Wind This blog is not active now, but do yourself a favor and go read it and then tell me it isn’t the most virtuoso, angst-ridden tapestry of literate posts ever put together on a racing blog. This guy — and I chatted via comments with him while he was active — was the Kurt Cobain of racing bloggers. RIP.
10. Who’s Hot, Who’s Not Jack Werk, the author and pedigree authority, consistently put out some of the best and most timely profiles of stallions in 2009. And he did it without pandering to farms and stallion owners. That’s why he gets quoted in ads more than anyone else. Who’s hot, he asks? You are, J-dub!
Pat Cummings at the Dubai Race Night blog has written a contrarian view to recent published reports that the Golden Shaheen will be switched to turf this year. He wrote: “Within the last week, the UK-based Racing Post and the USA’s Daily Racing Form have published stories pondering the possible shift of the Dubai Golden Shaheen from the dirt/all-weather surface of its past/present to grass.” Click here to read the entire post.
Re the post below on Ramzan Kadyrov, I got a Facebook message from Pat Cummings of Dubai Race Nightthat said: “Now that is an interesting status update for those who don’t know of whom you speak/write.”
Maybe, if you don’t follow world events. But Kadyrov’s name has been dropped in the racing sphere, too. On May 28, blogger Jessica Chapellinked to a story in guardian.co.ukabout a Kadyrov runner entered at Royal Ascot. If you click Kadyrov’s name above, you’ll get a primer on the strong-handed history of the Chechen president, who’s 33 and the son of a former president of Chechnya who was assasinated in 2004. In 2007, then Russian president Vladimir Putin putRamzan Kadyrov in power in Chechnya, a predominantly Muslim region, and the current Russian prez, Dmitri A. Medvedev, backs him as well because Kadyrov has been an effective sherriff for them in a wild-west type of frontier that has been pockmarked with violence and civil unrest.
By all accounts, Ramzan Kadyrov likes to live large and has the trappings of new wealth that come with a job like his, including the McMansions, shiny suits, sports cars, exotic animals (including tigers and lions), bodyguards, and racehorses. He’s been credited with a rapid construction boom in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, where he’s reportedly built the largest mosque in Europe, named after his late father, Akhmad Kadyrov.
Last year, he was the buyer of the Ken McPeek-trained Racecar Rhapsody, who was fourth in the Preakness. Kadyrov bought him to win the Russian Derby, but he ran fourth behind the US-bred Mineshaft colt Monomakh (bred by G.W. Humphrey Jr.and W.S. Farish). Kadyrov also had the fifth (Dalmar) and seventh (The Riddler) in the 12-horse field. (The Race Is Not Always to the Swiftblog referenced Racecar Rhapsody’s sale to Kadyrov in a post on Aug. 22, 2008).
Last October, Kadyrov’s ex-Aga Khan runner Mourilyan, trained by South African Herman Brown, contested the Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International, a $2 million turf race at Woodbine.
In May, Kadyrov’s Bankable, trained by South African Mike de Kock, ran third to Gloria de Campaeo and Presvis in the Group 1 Singapore International Airlines Cup at Kranji, in Singapore, a $3 million turf race. Bankable was the horse considered for a race at Royal Ascot last week. He had been switched from de Kock to trainer Gary Moore, but he didn’t run. The Chapel-linked article said: “In a surprise development Moore said last night he now expected Bankable to be transferred away from his yard and may be aimed at a race in Turkey.”
There may have beeen political reasons for this that are linked to events in Dubai on World Cup day.
Between the rich Canadian and Singapore races for Mourilyan and Bankable, Kadyrov raced a string at Nad Al Sheba in Dubai this winter. On World Cup day on March 28, Kadyrov’s Bankable was fifth in the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free behind Gladiatorus.
On the same day, when Pat Cummings and other journalists were reporting on the races and the city was pulsing with international visitors pumped by one of global racing’s biggest days and the exploits of local ex-camel jockey Ahmed Ajtebi, Kadyrov’s name by association became linked to an internationally significant assassination in Dubai at the Jumeirah Beach Residence.
The hit was obviously planned with precision to take place on one of the biggest days in Dubai. The victim, Sulim Yamadayev, was a notable Chechen rival to Kadyrov and until last year a commander of a well-known Russian military unit stocked with veteran Chechen soldiers. According to press reports, he had fled Chechnya after a brother had been gunned down in Moscow last year and had been living under an assumed identity in Dubai since late November.
There’s a large Russian ex-pat community in Dubai, and it didn’t take long for Yamadayev’s assasins to find him. On March 28, according to published reports, Yamadayev was gunned down at point-blank range in the parking lot of his appartment building, and a gold-plated revolver was left next to his body as a calling card.
Dubai’s police chief, Dahi Khalfan Tamim, quickly made arrests, and several Chechens, a Russian, and an Iranian were taken into custody and questioned and/or held, according to various reports from newspapers from the region. Tamim throughout the investigation has been particularly outspoken and unequivocal and has accused a member of the Russian government, Adam Delimkhanov, as the man who ordered the hit, based on his findings. Delimkhanov has denied any complicity.
No one makes major statements of international significance in Dubai without Sheikh Mohammed’s approval. He is the ruler of Dubai and the vice president and prime minister of the UAE; therefore, when Tamim was attributed with the following quote in press reports, it may have been the official state line: “The Chechens have taken their grievances outside Chechnya. They are killing each other abroad. As a federative state, Russia holds full moral and state responsibility for allowing these criminals and killers to solve their disputes on our land.”
The assasination — on World Cup day, particularly — must have been a biting afront to Sheikh Mohammed. On the Monday after the World Cup, Sheikh Mohammed was on a plane to Russia at the invitation of prime minister Vladimir Putin. It was a two-day trip, and Sheikh Mohammed also met with president Medvedev. Officially, the trip was advertised to discuss “bilateral relations between the UAE and Russia and discuss new avenues of cooperation between the two friendly countries in the areas of economy, culture, tourism and technology,” but no doubt the assassination and Chechnya were topics behind closed doors, because Adam Delimkhanov is Kadyrov’s cousin and right-hand man.
Since Sheikh Mohammed’s Russian trip, Tamim’s investigation has widened, and the public squabbling between him (Dubai) and Delimkhanov (Chechnya) has intensified to the point of insult trading. And Tamim has brought Kadyrov closer to the investigation through another source: The Iranian. He was one of the first group taken into custody by Tamim, and it turns out he was a “groom” for the Kadyrov stable in Dubai.
With this as the backdrop in April and May, Royal Ascot — one of Sheikh Mohammed’s favorite hangouts — loomed on the horizon for June, and Kadyrov’s Bankable was entered for the meet’s Royal Hunt Cup — the 4:20 on June 17.
One can only imagine the high-ranking conversations that took place about Ascot between Dubai, Moscow, and Grozny for the decision to be reached that Ramzan Kadyrov and Sheikh Mohammed would not share the same public space.