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About Terry Conway

For the past fifteen years I’ve been a contributing writer to a variety of national & regional magazines, prominent daily news- papers and web sites.  Currently my work appears in Blood Horse magazine, Long Island Boating World magazine, The Hunt magazine, and PA Equestrian as well as the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Delaware County Times, the Montgomery County Newspapers and Newsworks, the website of WHYY-TV (PBS in Philly).  I am a regular contributor to JustLuxe, JustSayGo,  Gallaghers Travels  and SeeTheSouth -- topflight travel websites - and have contributed travel articles to the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association website.

While many of my articles have spotlighted the world of art and special travel destinations, many folks ask, why horse racing? Well, it was America’s first sport. Andrew Jackson kept a stable when he was in the White House (1829-1837). Only four sportswriters have won the Pulitzer Prize and all of them wrote at one time or another about horseracing. It is all about chasing dreams, the fiercest rivalries, the wildest flukes and larger-than-life personalities, equine and human. The stories are personal, often laced with humor. And, unlike most professional athletes when you show up, the horse’s connections are pleased to talk with you.

 

Bio RanchCreekRide

I have been a regular contributor to The Blood-Horse magazine since 2003, and I have been a racing correspondent to ESPN.com, where I focus on historical racing stories. My work also appears on America’s Best Racing - the website of the Jockey Club, Equidaily.com, and TheRacingBiz.com. I have covered racing for Pennsylvania Equestrian since 2006; wrote a Sunday column on racing for several years for the Chester County (Pa.) daily newspaper; and write about racing and the horse world for The Hunt magazine in the mid-Atlantic region.

I represented clients for nearly a decade in the areas of marketing and publicity such as the Kahunaville restaurant chain, Baldwin’s Book Barn and Thoroughbred Charities of America. In a former life I was the editor, publisher and owner of Life Sports Magazine.

Smarty XmasCard

My wife Jane, our toller retriever Smarty and I live in the historic neighborhood of Wawaset Park in Wilmington, Del. A century ago it was the state fairgrounds, home to a top-tier standardbred racetrack. Today, the grand old track can be visualized on a stroll along a pair of crescent-shaped roads that together circle the inside of the park. A couple of hitching posts still remain and occasionally, a time-worn horse shoe is dug up. Life sure does turn circles.

 

Photos of Terry, Riding in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, and Smarty on the homepage - by Jane Conway.

 

 

Horace Pippin: An American Original Print E-mail

Newsworks
WHYY-TV (PBS)
April 28, 2015

Once obscured by a unruly bush, visitors had to hold back the branches to see the gravestone. Today, at the Chestnut Grove Annex Cemetery on the edge of West Chester, a simple stone marker proudly proclaims: "HORACE PIPPIN  1888-1946   PFC CO. K-369TH INF.  WORLD WAR."Pippin 01

Pippin was also one of the leading figures of 20th-century art, known for his insightful, expressive and bold paintings. A self-taught artist, his engaging compositions depict a range of subject material--from intimate family moments and floral still lifes to powerful scenes of his service in World War I to American history as it related to African Americans. He wasn't discovered until he was nearly 50 years old.

A tall, quiet man, Pippin once famously said: “Pictures just come to my mind. I think my pictures out with my brain and then I tell my heart to go ahead.”

The Brandywine River Museum of Art has assembled the first major exhibition of the artist’s works in this country in more than two decades, "Horace Pippin: The Way I see It."  The landmark exhibition features 65  works from museums across the country and distinguished private collections. It's on display through July 19.

 
High Hopes For "Winn-Dixie" Stage Show Print E-mail

Newsworks
WHYY-TV (PBS)
April 2015

Bud Martin pushed hard to acquire the musical stage production of the landmark film "Diner" and bring it to the riverfront's Delaware Theatre Company. In the end, he was outbid by Signature, a prominent Arlington, Va. theater company.WinnDixie 01

There was a silver lining. Instead, Martin brought in the musical adaptation of Kate DiCamillo’s 2000 best-selling novel "Because of Winn Dixie" that tells the heartwarming story of a 13-year old girl and her preacher father who move to a trailer park in the Florida panhandle. Opal goes into the local supermarket and quickly befriends a lively stray dog. She dubs him Winn Dixie after the store. The scruffy but charming mutt shows how the smallest act of kindness can ripple into a celebration of a once broken community.

"This was definitely serendipity going on here," related Martin, Delaware Theatre Company's artistic  and executive director.

"A friend, Scott Landis, whom I'm involved with in other shows, called me, 'Bud, this needs a home. I think you'll like it.' He sent me some clips of it from a previous show in Arkansas which piqued my interest. I talked to my two granddaughters who told me it was their favorite book. I bought the book and I loved it."

It's a story of joy and magic. It will melt your heart.

 
Giovanni's World Print E-mail

The Hunt
Spring 2015

Like his wines, Giovanni Bonmartini-Fini boasts a rich history.BF Gio 01

Directly descended from Italian royalty, Giovanni spends much of his time guiding the family winery that lies at the foot of the majestic Dolomite mountains of northern Italy. Perfect rows of vines scallop the surrounding hillsides where Barone Fini grapes are grown in as natural a manner as possible in the Trentino-Alto Adige region that shoulders up against Austria.

Cultivating vineyards has been a family business since 1497 when the two noble Venetian families of Bonmartini and Fini united in marriage. Reports say they made wine for the famed Medici family.

Want more? The family history is haunted by the ghastly killing of Count Francesco Bonmartini of Bologna, a wealthy and titled landowner in 1902. The scandal was the talk of Europe and America for three years. It centered around the role played by Bonmartini's widow, Linda, known as "The Enchantress."  The story was turned into a political thriller in the memorable 1974 film La Grand Bourgeoise, starring Catherine Deneuve as the murderess wife Linda Murri. Linda is Giovanni's great-granny.

 
Upstart a Prime Derby Contender for Violette Print E-mail

PA Equestrian
April 2015                                                                                                                   

When you've just won a $400,000 Derby prep race and you're headed to the winner's circle, it's never good to see a flashing inquiry sign. Trainer Rick Violette, Jr. was getting ready to celebrate after watching his talented three-old Upstart roll to a 2 3/4 length victory in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 21.PAE 0415 Upstart

After a lengthy review, the 4-5 favorite Upstart was disqualified and placed second behind the stakes debuting Todd Pletcher trainee Itsaknockout. Violette and Upstart's owner Ralph Evans quickly departed the winner’s circle.

"Bad call," said a clearly upset Violette after the race. "They (stewards) have to understand that when the horse gets hit behind the girth (by a tiring and drifting-out Frosted), the only place the horse can go is to the right. It's disappointing. The horse ran great, we just don't get credit for it."

With Jose Ortiz in the irons, the New York-bred Upstart closed steadily in the 1 1/16-mile Derby prep to take control from 7-2 second choice Frosted in the final sixteenth. But Upstart bore out under steady left-handed urging from Ortiz against Starlight Racing's Itsaknockout in the deep stretch. Upstart raced wide throughout and the Trakus measurement system showed that he covered 20 feet more than Itsaknockout and 54 feet more than third place finisher Framment.

 
The Brandywine: An Intimate Portrait Print E-mail

Book Review
Newsworks
WHYY-TV (PBS)
March 2015

Power once meant falling water.  In our new country in the late 18th century, nowhere in the fledgling American colonies was there more water power-- and, at just the right locations-- than on the Brandywine River.Bdywine 3

The water-powered mills on the swiftly falling Brandywine River made the lower stretches of the waterway the most important milling center in the country. More than 100 mills dotted the river's banks, producing flour, cloth and paper. And it was on those banks that a French émigré named Eleuthére Irenée duPont de Nemours established black powder mills at what is today Hagley Museum which gave rise to the DuPont Company chemical empire of today.

In W. Barksdale Maynard's fascinating new book: "Brandywine: An Intimate Portrait," the acclaimed writer crafts a sweeping narrative which brings to life the legendary men and women who shaped the Brandywine's history and industry, and its arts and culture. It stretches from the time of the Lenape Indians and  original European settlement to the "titanic" Battle of the Brandywine-- the largest land battle of the Revolutionary War-- to the establishment of First State National Monument on its banks in 2013.

A major theme that runs through the book is that the region has often hosted competing interests. The du Ponts, who arrived on the Brandywine in 1802, "present the whole Brandywine paradox in microcosm," Maynard writes. "The family has been at the cutting edge of modernization and high technology, yet arch-traditionalists in their attitude toward cultural heritage and the landscape."

 
The Gotham's Glorious Past Print E-mail

Thoroughbred Racing History
March 1, 2015

It was New York's run to glory. Starting each February four stellar stakes races paved the way to the Kentucky Derby. The series kicked off with the six-furlong Swift, then the seven-furlong Bay Shore, followed by the one-turn mile of the Gotham Stakes and finally, the mile and an eighth Wood Memorial.

Derby horses were often minted in the graded Gotham Stakes. One train after another arrived at Locust Manor Station from all parts of New York. Racing fans scooted off the train platform to the pari-mutuel windows laying down their bets on the daily double. The Gotham was initially staged at Jamaica Racetrack (1903-1959) in south Jamaica in the borough of Queens, but when the venue was shuttered the Gotham moved to nearby Aqueduct Racetrack in 1960.  

For some, the term Gotham City is forever linked to the Batman comic series of the 1940s. The setting of Batman's adventures, the creators changed the locale from Manhattan to the fictional Gotham City.  However, the nickname harkens a lot further back. The term Gotham was originated in 1807 by Washington Irving, best known for his short stories "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle." Irving penned the moniker in a satirical piece in the literary magazine Salmagundi. Somehow the name stuck to New York City.

Over the years six champions have triumphed in the Gotham: 1953 Native Dancer, 1962 Jaipur, 1967 Dr. Fager, 1973 Secretariat, 1989 Easy Goer, and in 1992 Lure won in a dead heat finish. The race switched to its current distance of a mile and a sixteenth in 2006, before that the race was run at a flat mile.

The great Native Dancer turned up for the inaugural running of the Gotham Stakes on April 18, 1953. The attraction was so strong for horsemen that the race was split into two divisions. With Eric Guerin in the irons, Native Dancer easily won the first division, while less famous Laffango took the other.  

On a damp, foggy day in 1967, a crowd of 50,522 crammed into the "Big A" to witness the first showdown  between rising star Damascus and his leggy bay challenger, Dr. Fager. The Gotham would prove to be a harbinger of their fierce two-year rivalry, each earning two victories in their four races.

Having his pick of the two, legendary jockey Bill Shoemaker opted to ride the muscular Damascus since he had ridden the colt in a couple of races heading into the Gotham. Known for his toughness, versatility and durability, Damascus’ accomplishments  were superb in a decade full of remarkable racehorses.  During a sensational three-year-old season Damascus scored 12 wins from 16 starts and went on to be named champion three-year old.

Dr. Fager was bred at Tartan Farm in Ocala, Fla. in 1964 by William L. McKnight, the chairman of the board of 3-M corporation.  Sired by 1951 Santa Anita Derby winner Rough ‘n Tumble, his trainer John Nerud was a former rodeo cowboy from Nebraska who served in World War II. In the 1950s Nerud began making noise in the thoroughbred game as Tartan Farm's conditioner and breeding manager.

In 1965 Nerud was chasing a runaway horse when he was tossed from his stable pony, landing squarely on his head. After downplaying his fainting spells and slurred speech for a month, Nerud's wife Charlotte insisted that he travel to the famed Lahey Clinic in Boston. Nerud was diagnosed with a life threatening blood clot on his brain and was operated on by world renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Fager. A couple of months later the future Hall of Fame trainer named a promising colt after the neurosurgeon who had saved his life.

"I didn’t know a horse trainer from a lion tamer at that point, " Dr. Fager recalled in an interview for the New York Times blog, The Rail. "Later Nerud called me and asked if he could name a horse after me. I said sure, what horse is it? Nerud said he didn’t know... then one day a package of papers from the Jockey Club arrived. I had to sign a release giving my consent to having a horse named 'Dr. Fager.' So I signed the papers and sent them back."

Dr. Fager was a freak before the label was coined. He put away swift horses with relative ease. Headstrong and maniacally competitive, any horse that dared to pass him risked being lunged at and savaged. When the leggy bay wanted the lead there was no one to stop him.

"He could punch a hole in the wind," marveled his regular rider Braulio Baeza.

Brazen and  self-confident, Nerud was a mirror image of his fiery trainee. A blood infection kept the colt out of action in Florida in early 1967 so the trainer headed to New York in the early spring. But, when Nerud couldn't find the proper race for his colt before the Gotham Stakes, the trainer set up a public six-furlong workout. Dr. Fager was clocked at a blistering 1:10 1/5.

The betting crowd for the 1967 edition called it even, making Dr. Fager and Damascus co-favorites at 13-10 for the one-mile Gotham Stakes. When the gates slammed open, Damascus broke like a shot from the outside. Dr. Fager gained good position down on the inside. By the quarter pole speed horse Royal Malabar was cooked. Rocketing down the stretch,  Dr. Fager and Damascus matched strides and drew clear of the field. Edging away Dr. Fager flashed under the wire the victor by a half-length in a time of 1:35 1/5. Game on. The fabled Dr. Fager vs. Damascus showdowns had begun.

Nobody swept through the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes with the same power and flair as Secretariat in 1973. The Meadow Stable chestnut's road to the spring classics began in New York where he made his three-year-old debut in the Bay Shore Stakes, triumphing despite being bumped and suffering  traffic problems. Heading into the Gotham Stakes, trainer Lucien Laurin changed tactics. "Big Red" was sent to the lead, abandoning his typical robust  closing rush. The 1-10 favorite defeated a field of six horses, pulling away by three lengths over familiar rival Champagne Charlie to set a stake and track record for the mile in 1:33-2/5.

Secretariat's Gotham Stakes record would stand until 1989, when the reigning two-year old champion Easy Goer-- the chestnut son of Alydar and Relaxing- turned up at Aqueduct's main track on April 8.

Easy Goer did not disappoint. A  homebred owned by Ogden Phipps and trained by Shug McGaughey, Easy Goer uncorked the fastest mile ever in New York state, whipping a badly outclassed field of four. Jockey Pat Day barely stirred in the saddle as Easy Goer stormed home  the victor by 13 lengths in the one-mile Gotham. The early Kentucky Derby favorite set track-record 1:32 2/5, one-fifth of a second off the world record for the mile set by Dr. Fager in 1968 at Arlington Park

Easy Goer went off at 1-20. The Gotham victory was worth $168,300 and pushed Easy Goer over the $1 million mark after eight starts. In the winner's circle jockey Day cracked: "Now what do you think he would do if I asked him to run?"

 
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