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Kennedy Space Center Delivers an Epic Journey


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 websites. I have written about an array of topics such as arts & culture, chefs, food & drink, business entrepreneurs, travel, history, thoroughbred racing, and the animal and natural world.

 I'm currently a regular arts & culture contributor to WFIT's website (the NPR radio station in Melbourne.), Vero Beach Magazine and Florida Today newspaper on a number of topics. Over recent years my work has been published regularly in Blood-Horse, Long Island Boating World and The Hunt and PA Equestrian magazines.

I am a regular contributor to the websites JustLuxe.com and SeeTheSouth.com. JustLuxe is an online magazine featuring the best of luxury lifestyle and travel, while SeeTheSouth features truly unique southern destinations. My travel articles also regularly appear in Florida Today, Long Island Boating world and the Delaware County Times, a major daily newspaper just outside Philly.

I've also contributed a variety of articles to the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, the Delaware County Times, and the Montgomery County Newspapers. I have been an Arts & Culture correspondent for Newsworks, the website for WHYY-TV (PBS in Philadelphia). I have been a correspondent to ESPN.com, America's Best Racing, the Paulick Report and Thoroughbred Racing Commentary.

After spending the past two decades in Wilmington, Delaware, my wife Jane, our Toller retriever Smarty and I have moved to Melbourne Beach, Fla. Located on a barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River, Melbourne Beach sits on the southern end of Florida's "Space Coast." The famed coastal highway A1A runs directly along the Atlantic. Melbourne Beach (pop. 3,000) offers unspoiled beaches with sparkling blue-green waters and thousands of beautiful seabirds and long-legged shorebirds.MB 04

Head north 35 miles on A1A and you arrive at Cape Canaveral, for decades our nation's gateway to exploring and understanding our universe. Today, Cape Canaveral is a hub for many of the most exciting new private space projects such as SpaceX, the rocket and spacecraft company founded by Elon Musk (manufacturer of Tesla vehicles). Upwards of 30 launches are planned in 2017.

Back down to earth traveling on two-lane A1A south from Melbourne Beach's compact business area brings you to a series of secluded and undeveloped natural beaches. Bonsteel Park's two-acre beach provides an excellent vantage point to catch glimpses of passing dolphins, while the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge is recognized as the most important nesting area for loggerhead turtles in the western hemisphere. It's also home to the gigantic leatherback turtles.

MB 02Nearby is Sebastian Inlet State Park which connects the Indian River Lagoon with the Atlantic Ocean. Its jetty break is recognized as one of the surf world's high-performance hot spots. Three generations of world-class surfers have surfed here, including 11-time world champion Kelly Slater. The 600-acre park is also celebrated for world-class fishing, and plenty of seabirds and wildlife.

Through my writing over the past decade I have traveled to spectacular destinations such as Lake Tahoe, Calif./Nev. and Sun Valley, Idaho; Cody, Wyoming/Yellowstone Park; Saratoga Springs, the Adirondacks, Saratoga Springs and Rhinebeck, New York; Port Clyde and Monheghan Island, Maine; Avalon and Stone Harbor, New Jersey; Middleburg, Charlottesville and Richmond, Virginia.

Other travel adventures have included Tampa and St. Petersburg, Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, Florida; and St. Simons and Jekyll Island, Georgia. My travel articles thoughtfully explore the history of the region along with museums, music and the arts, chefs and restaurateurs, wineries and craft breweries, outdoor and sporting adventures as well as profiling intriguing personalities of those regions.

In addition to my writing career I owned a marketing company where I represented a diversified list of clients in the areas of publicity, marketing and business development-- such as the famed Baldwin's Book Barn, Thoroughbred Charities of America and the Kahunaville restaurant chain. In another life I was the founder, publisher and editor of Life Sports Magazine.

Along with Jane and Smarty I look forward to writing about new adventures in Melbourne Beach, the "Space Coast" and other Florida destinations. That's Smarty below with his pals Willie and Nelson.

Smarty XmasCard

Building on PA Derby Day's Huge Success Print E-mail

 

PA Equestrian
November 2014
 

It was a game of catch him if you can. In a reprise of the $1 Million Pennsylvania Derby, Bob Baffert trainee Bayern shot out of the gate to grab the lead and hung on to win the $5 Million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 1. The day before, Untapable, the 2014 Parx Cotillion Stakes winner,  scored a convincing victory in the Breeders' Cup Distaff.
Parx racetrack brass must have been grinning like Cheshire cats.

Back in 2010 Parx Chief Operating Officer Joe Wilson and other executives officials decided to move the PA Derby from its existing Labor Day date to later in September, a month after the Travers Stakes in Saratoga and six weeks prior to the Breeders' Cup Classic.  A year later they also tacked on a major bonus-- $200,000 to the connections of any horse who won a Triple Crown race, the Haskell or the Travers to run in the PA Derby. The race has been televised by the Philly NBC affiliate since 2011.

In addition, in 2012 the $1 Million Cotillion Stakes was moved to PA Derby Day to create a "mega-event" for Parx. In year five the "Great Switch" hit a booming home run.

On a dazzling final Saturday of summer (Sept. 20), the parking lot was overflowing at the Bensalem track as a large and raucous crowd turned out to witness California Chrome and Haskell winner Bayern battle in the PA Derby. It was the biggest racing day in the 40-year history of Parx (once known Keystone and then as Philadelphia Park) as well as in the history of Pennsylvania horse racing. Thirty minutes prior to the PA Derby, Kentucky Oaks winner and odds-on favorite Untapable powered home in the Cotillion Stakes.

The total betting handle at the track and around the country was a stunning $10,393,671, crushing the previous track handle by $5 million. More than $3 million was wagered on the PA Derby, an impressive 300 percent leap over 2013.

Racing fans also got to see a track record fall in the PA Derby, a record that was set less than a month after the track opened on Nov. 4, 1974. Selari Spirit ran a mile and an eighth in 1:47 on Nov. 30, 1974. This year Haskell winner Bayern uncorked a time of 1:46.96  for the 1 1/8 miles race, running his rivals off their feet winning by 5 3/4 lengths.

"That was just a powerful performance," said Baffert. "He broke well and they let us go and [jockey] Martin [Garcia] hustled to get away from California Chrome. When California Chrome was pinned in there, I knew it was going be tough for California Chrome. He was the target, we weren't the target. When Bayern runs like that, nobody's going to beat him."

In 2012 the Travers dead-heat winners (Alpha and Golden Ticket) traveled to Bucks County to run in the PA Derby. Another top colt, Handsome Mike, took the race. Last year, the top two runners in another Travers photo-finish (Will Take Charge and Moreno) came to Parx. Will Take Charge won the PA Derby, but six weeks later lost by a short head to Mucho Macho Man in the 2013 Breeders' Cup Classic. Will Take Charge became the first Pennsylvania Derby winner to be named champion 3-year-old male.

After the season wraps up in December, racing's graded stakes committee evaluates the status of existing stakes race. A few go up, others go down. After attracting the eventual 3-year-old champion male, the Derby and Preakness winner and possible Horse of the Year (Bayern or California Chrome) in three consecutive years, the odds are that the PA Derby will join the Cotillion as a Grade-1 race in 2015.

Note: Parx COO Joe Wilson did not respond to phone calls seeking comment on this story.

Main Sequence: Brilliant in BC Turf

He came. He saw. He conquered. And then some.

Since arriving at trainer Graham Motion’s stable from England last winter, Main Sequence is a perfect four-for-four. He capped off his brilliant season in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf  by rallying wide and storming down the stretch to take the lead in the final sixteenth and to hold off the stubborn Brit Flintshire to win  the 1 1/2 mile race in 2:24.91. The victory was his fourth consecutive Grade-1 triumph.

“I was going so good,” jockey John Velazquez said. “My concern was getting the horse to the lead too early.”

“I thought at the top of the stretch he would win,” Motion added. “It all worked out so well. The only question was whether he got to the front too early.”

A 5-year-old gelding, Main Sequence is owned by the Niarchos family (Flaxman's Holdings). He has trained at the Fair Hill Training Center throughout 2014. His victory in the $3 million race gave  Motion his second Breeders’ Cup Turf win, who won the BC Turf a decade ago at Lone Star Park with then stable star Better Talk Now. Known as "Blackie,"  Better Talk Now is still at FHTC keeping an eye on things.

As customary, Main Sequence was well back early in the field of twelve. He made steady progress on the far turn and was seventh with a quarter-mile remaining, trailing the leader, Chester County's Hardest Core, by about 3 1/2 lengths. With Hardest Core tiring Main Sequence began closing on the leaders. Flintshire (3-1) led narrowly over Telescope (8-5) with a furlong remaining, but neither could hold off Main Sequence who blew by the two Euros to win by a neck in a time of 2:24.9.

The Arlington Million winner, Hardest Core-- owned by the Bentley family and trained by Eddie Graham-- got a bizarre ride from Parx jockey Eriluis Vaz. The strapping bay sailed to the front at the three-quarters pole running a swift 1:11.15, clocked the mile in 1:36.10 and took the lead turning for home. Tiring down the stretch Hardest Core finished eighth by five lengths.

Since last summer Main Sequence has won the United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park in July, the Sword Dancer at Saratoga in August, and the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park on Sept. 27.

"He did everything so well and so easily today," Motion said. "He broke really well and went on from there and did everything great. It really was a team effort (with the previous trainer in England, David Lanigan) and the horse has been spectacular. He's really suited to American racing and he just gets better and better. He's a very impressive horse."

Ten years ago Better Talk Now put Motion on the map as a skilled conditioner.

"When you start winning Breeders' Cup races, that puts you at a different level," Motion remarked. "I'm so fortunate to train for Maria (Niarchos) and the family. I grew up watching their horses run as a kid. It was  a name that was very special. When I first started training for them, quite honestly, I had to pinch myself. I can't say enough about this horse. What he's accomplished in a very short space of time here is remarkable."

Main Sequence is likely to be rested for the remainder of the year with a trip to Dubai in March for an early season target in 2015. With the BC Turf victory, Main Sequence surely locked up the Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding turf horse. With the scrambled results of Bayern, California Chrome and Shared Belief in 2014, Main Sequence should also be a strong candidate for the Horse of the Year title.

"I hadn't even thought about Horse of the Year now, but I think he should be," Motion stated. "Horses don't win four Grade-1 races in a row like that. How many horses can do that? He has to be one of the best I've trained."

Main Sequence's 2014 resume looks quite a bit like Wise Dan's in 20i2 and 2013 when he was voted by racing journalists and executives Horse of the Year.  So, why not?  

Tapit filly sells for $3 million

Three eggs washed down by a quick pint of Guinness may not be the standard breakfast of champions. But for former Fair Hill trainer Michael Dickinson, the mixture helped fuel his grey colt Tapit who won three of six races during 2003-2004.

Today, Tapit is snowy white and is the nation's leading sire and stands at Gainesway Farm near Lexington. Reviving eye-popping stud fees of yesteryear, Tapit will stand in 2015 for a $300,000 fee.

A filly by Tapit established a record price for a weanling sold at public auction in North America, selling for $3 million to Bridlewood Farm late in Wednesday's second session of the Keeneland November breeding stock sale.

The now 13-year-old son of Pulpit out of the Unbridled mare Tap Your Heels stood for an advertised fee of $150,000 in 2014. He set the single-season earnings record for a North American-based sire October 31, when Untapable won the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff, eclipsing the earnings mark set by Smart Strike   in 2007.

Overall, Tapit is the sire of 448 winners, including 57 stakes winners, 33 graded winners, and four champions, from seven crops racing. From 783 foals of racing age, his 608 starters have amassed $66,772,350 in earnings. For the second year in a row Tapit was America's leading yearling sire with an earnings average of $628,289.

 
A Peek Behind the Curtains of 'Downton Abbey' at Delaware Antiques Show Print E-mail

Newsworks
WHYY-TV (PBS)
November 2014

Not getting enough of your Downton Abbey fix? Then get ready to take advantage of a unique opportunity surrounding the Emmy Award-winning PBS series.Jessica 1

With the fifth season premiere set for January 2015, Downton devotees can get a peek behind the curtains of Britain's most beloved series at the Delaware Antiques Show at the Chase Center on the Riverfront. The 51st edition spotlights author Jessica Fellowes as the honorary chair and keynote speaker on Friday, November 7, at 10 a.m. A book signing will follow the event.

Millions of American viewers have been enthralled by the world of Downton Abbey, the mesmerizing melodrama about the aristocratic Crawley family and their meddling, but loyal servants set on a circa-World War I English country estate.

Jessica Fellowes' books will take you there.

An author, journalist and historian, Fellowes' latest book "A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey" (St. Martin's Press), hit bookstores on October 28.  Her third book to accompany the show, it provides arguably the most comprehensive look at what it was really like to live within the Downton Abbey world 365 days a year. She is the niece of Julian Fellowes, the show's creator and script writer. He writes an enchanting forward to her book.

 
Marvelous Middleburg: Celebrating the Horse Print E-mail

JustLuxe.com
Delaware County Times
November, 2014

The rural hills begin to lift and drop as the road narrows from four lanes to two and we make our way toward Middleburg, Va.  Forty miles southwest of the nation's capitol, it is set in the lush foothills of the Blue Ridge and Bull Run mountains.MBurg 1

Driving down Highway 50 you feel as if you've been transported into the middle of an English countryside where low stone walls gracefully wind through the rolling terrain that stretches to the horizon. Hay bales dot the landscape with painterly irregularity. Tree-shaded lanes, clapboard farmhouses, and grand manor houses-- all are in the heart of Virginia’s horse and fox-hunt country.

In Middleburg (pop. 750), it's normal to see people in riding britches shopping in the local grocery store. Fauquier and Loudoun Counties have long been ground zero for Virginia’s rich equestrian tradition and serves as a premier training ground and destination for aspiring riders and Olympic champions. Each May the world famous Virginia Gold Cup steeplechase race attracts a crowd in excess of 50,000 at a vast, and impossibly green rolling plain called the Great Meadow. Founded in 1840,  Piedmont Foxhounds in Virginia was the first foxhunting club in the United States.

The hamlet was established in 1787 by Leven Powell, a colonel in the Revolutionary War. Powell named it Middleburg because it was midway along the Ashby Gap trading route (now Highway 50) between the cities of Alexandria, Va., on the Potomac River and Winchester, Va. A young George Washington once surveyed this land. Nearly 200 years later Jackie Kennedy galloped on horseback across its lush hills as she rode with the Orange County Hunt in the 1960s.

 
'Rest, In Pieces,' Mortality Through Humor at DTC Print E-mail

Newsworks
WHYY-TV (PBS)
November 11, 2014

There are plenty of one-line zingers in the play "Rest, In Pieces." More importantly, there is plenty of soul searching when the unsettling prospect of mortality comes within this family structure.RIP 1

It's a subject most people don't want to face. So, you have to give playwright Steve Bluestein buckets of chutzpah for staring death in the face in the regional premiere of  his  play that opened last Saturday at the Delaware Theater Company and runs through November 23. It's a beguiling 90 minutes, one that is both thoughtfully probing and wickedly funny. A play that on occasions unexpectedly makes the audience gasp.

"Rest, In Pieces" offers a fresh dramatic comedy about a delightfully dysfunctional family, a journey through the life of a Jewish family dealing with loss. A never ending chess game, it is told from three points of view, a mother and father in their early 60's, and their son who is 38. Each of the play's three acts unveils how two of the characters respond when the third exits this earth.

 
The Amazing World of Brian Selznick Print E-mail

Newsworks
WHYY-TV (PBS)
October 2014

Brian Selznick is in the business of wonder. He creates books that challenge our notions of how fiction is supposed to work. Some say the trailblazing artist and storyteller has reinvented the genre, combining elements of the picture book, graphic novel, and film into entirely original reading experiences.Selznick 5

Selznick's books introduce an innovative strategy for blending words and images, interweaving narrative and picture sequences. His breakthrough 2007 novel "The Invention of Hugo Cabret," tells two sides of a single story about a little orphan boy, scrappy and clever, living in a Paris train station at the dawn of the 1930s, who forges an unlikely friendship with the pioneering French filmmaker Georges Méliès.

Hugo unfolds like a silent movie, with entire chapters told in mesmerizing pencil drawings. It is a book about magic-- the magic of the silver screen, the magic of family and friendship, the magical thrill of adventure, all set in the City of Light. With its cinematic feel and magical take on historical fiction, the hefty book (526 pages, nearly 300 are picture pages) set the literary world on fire, winning the 2008 Caldecott Medal, and was also a National Book Award finalist. The transformative novel was turned into the  five-time Oscar award-winning film "The Invention of Hugo Cabret," directed by Martin Scorsese.

Fans of Selznick's work can see it on a larger scale in the traveling exhibition "From Houdini to Hugo: The Art of Brian Selznick," which runs through January 11, 2015 at the Delaware Art Museum. Hugo might be Selznick's most recognizable work thanks in part to Scorcese's adaptation, but he's also the mind behind 18 other children's books including "The Houdini Box," "Walt Whitman: Words for America," A"Amelia and Eleanor go for a Ride," and "The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins," and Frindle."

 
Bronze Age Print E-mail

The Hunt
Fall 2014

Intrigued by pigs?  Not many of us are, but in the steady eyes and meticulous hands of Andre Harvey, pigs are one of God’s most enchanting creations.Laran 6

Take Stella.  A  delightful bronze sculpture, she garnered immediate affection from visitors at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark. A sculpted version of the barnyard breed, Stella especially engages the kids with her smart snout and friendly gaze as they travel a scenic walkway. Walmart heir Alice Walton is the driving force behind the  museum that opened its doors in late 2011.

Standing over three feet in height, two feet wide and just less than six feet in length, the full-bodied swine weighs in at a hefty 560 pounds. Harvey works from direct observation to create portraits of his animal subjects, capturing the "realness" of each creature. Inspired by a litter of pigs at Penn's New Bolton Center, Harvey showed up each week with a load of ears of corn. The  wallowing pigs took a shine to him and he translated that experience into sculptures. The artist has created a series of Stellas, each one unique.

"The ideas go back to playing in the woods as a kid, checking out frogs, enjoying nature," Harvey remembers. "I don't do cute. It's much harder to make them seem really real, make them come alive. I spend so much time on each one, for me it has to be just right. As a sculptor I use my hands, my mind and my heart. I think that's why people respond to my work."

 
The Maestro Print E-mail

The Hunt
Fall 2014

I’m greeted at the front door of the stately stone Colonial home by the man behind the baton. Maestro David Amado is wearing a dark v-neck sweater, a brightly striped shirt, dress jeans and his stocking feet. There is not a tuxedo in sight.Amado 4

Slight of build and vivacious of manner, Amado has reinvigorated the Delaware Symphony (DSO) with his innovative programming into a premier regional orchestra. Embarking on his twelfth season (2014-’15) as conductor and music director, Amado’s style has been described as fluid and energetic, a conductor who is fun to watch. In the words of one devotee, “on the verge of levitating.”

From the moment Amado strides onstage smartly turned out in white tie and tails to open the 2013-’14 season at the Grand Opera House, the sold-out audience erupts to welcome the 75 preeminent musicians and their gifted conductor. Initially, the tousled-hair Amado chats up the audience. Then he gets to work, creating wondrous symphonic music. The centerpiece of "Classic Romance" was a virtuoso performance by acclaimed pianist Mischa Dichter in Sergei Rachmaninoff’s great "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" (1934).

It had been a very tough year. The DSO’s daily economic challenges came to a head two years ago when the orchestra was facing a projected $850,000 operating deficit after exhausting its reserve fund. It was forced to suspend its planned 2012-2013 season. After months of testy negotiations the orchestra’s musicians' union ratified a new three-year agreement in June 2013.

 
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