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Equistar, Eckenrode find niche in Pennsylvania

Rodney Eckenrode considers Equistar Training and Breeding a work in progress.

The full-service operation in the southeastern Pennsylvania township of Annville not far from Penn National Race Course opened its doors in 2004 and heads into the 2021 breeding season as one of the Keystone State’s top stud farms. Equistar stands five stallions, including Pennsylvania legend Smarty Jones, and offers a multitude of services from foaling and boarding to breaking, training and layups.

Force of the Filly: Swiss Skydiver proves resolute in history-making score for McPeek

Kenny McPeek held the hose in one hand, the shank in the other. Water splished and splashed this way and that. As her trainer talked and unwrapped mint after mint, Swiss Skydiver just stood there, like a lead pony, somebody’s foxhunter, maybe a veteran turf horse trying to make one more start before the autumn weather went the wrong way.

Working Man’s Horse: Laki comes through for Dilodovico in De Francis

Two minutes to post in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash Stakes-G3 on Preakness Day at Pimlico and Damon Dilodovico is busy, really busy. A military honor guard is coming through the paddock with the Woodlawn Vase – one of the most valuable trophies in sports with an estimated replacement value of $4 million – and Dilodovico is at least partly responsible for the timing of the live television show going out to millions. He gets instructions through an earpiece, relays updates through a microphone. The honor guard, and the 30-pound trophy are early. Dilodovico tells them to wait, organizes a table (a grateful soldier shakes out his arms) and lets his bosses know it’s all under control.

Pieces of the Preakness: Fans hang on to Preakness after missing 2020 race

Everything is different. If 2020 had a theme – in racing, the country, the world, life in general – that would be it. Going to the grocery store requires a face mask and hand sanitizer. School parking lots became drive-through virus-testing facilities. The NBA played its playoff games at Disney World. The World Series followed a 60-game baseball season.

Still one in a Million: Maryland’s day at the races continues in spite of Covid

The Preakness will forever be the most famous Thoroughbred race in Maryland, but if you’re looking to find Maryland’s Day at the Races you’d be wise to wait until autumn. The Maryland Million – with its crowded outdoor spaces, crisp air, free hats, overflowing hospitality tents and competitive (if humbler) horses – stands up as the signature day for an industry that dates to the state’s earliest days.

The Ultimate Comeback: Thanks to team, Wet Your Whistle overcomes plenty to win stakes at Presque Isle

From an outside perspective, Wet Your Whistle’s victory in the Karl Boyes Stakes at Presque Isle Downs Aug. 17 was just another triumph. Another stakes win, another $45,000 added to his earnings and another return to the winner’s circle for owner David Palmer and trainer Mike Trombetta. If anyone noticed the nearly 11-month gap between his final start last season and his return as a 5-year-old, they probably shrugged it off as another effect of the coronavirus pandemic.


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