With all of the craziness in racing, from ADW controversies to breakdowns to auction slumps, it’s good to think about the good things on a day like today. Also, a list is an easy way to blog on a holiday… now before I get angry e-mails from family & friends, this is just a list of thoroughbred-related things I am thankful for. I won’t be listing “breakdown-free Breeders’ Cup” at the family dinner tonight!
1) CURLIN! Though he did not start out as my favorite horse, he has raced and won his way into my heart. Thanks to sportsman Jess Jackson (and a little help from the jailed part-owners) Curlin got to prove himself over and over again as an older horse. He broke a legendary earnings record, raced on all surfaces and met all comers. His retirement ceremony at Churchill on Saturday will mark the end of an extraordinary career. Thanks for the ride, Curlin!
2) SAUHBR! Thanks to The Borderland Totalisator (whose blog has mysteriously vanished, humm…) for an awesome summer of handicapping. The first of many victories in the game, I hope. I also hope BT gets back online, because he was a great competitor and gracious in defeat. Thanks!
3) Larry Jones! Trainer of the ill-fated Eight Belles handled the ultimate tragedy with grace and compassion. When nutty PETA accused him of all sorts of horrific abuses, his level-headed replies revealed the activists for the slime they really were. Amid the turmoil, he sent the filly Proud Spell out for an amazing season, as well as the sprinter Kodiak Kowboy.
4) Breakdown-Free Breeders’ Cup! Despite all of the questions surrounding the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita this year, the track was successful in its ultimate mission: an injury-free Championship. Every horse, every race, on poly or turf, came home sound. This is the first time in several years that no horse was severely injured. The track also levelled the playing field for the Euro contingent, which is always nice in a so-called “world championship” series.
5) JIM GAFFNEY! Exercise rider for the Superhorse Secretariat and a close personal friend of this blogger, Mr. Gaffney has been a joy and privelege to know. I have attended 2 KY Derbies with the man and his lovely wife, Mary, and have gained so much more knowledge of the racing business from him. Thanks Jim!
6) TVG! Not a day goes by that I don’t flip channels to TVG. I love love love watching live racing with the hosts Todd Schrupp and Matt Carothers. They are an irreverent bunch and their picks are pretty good, too. I have learned a lot about handicapping watching TVG and am eternally thankful for the first all-racing channel. Plus, I won an Eclipse Awards official program from them back in January. Schwag always keeps my attention!
7) At The Races with Steve Byk on SIRIUS! Every day I listen as Steve chats with the top names in racing, does a little handicapping, and has a good-old time talking to regular Joe horseplayers. His show is a blessing for a sport that gets so little coverage by the MSM, and when it does, it’s usually dumbed-down *cough*ESPN*cough* From ATTR, I have learned how top trainers condition their horses (pre-Derby shows) and have gotten a greater appreciation for the Pick 4 ticket and Super High 5 ticket. Bob Baffert before the Breeders’ Cup was a big treat, too! Thanks Steve!
8) MY LITTLE CONNOR! This horse is the best little allowance horse in the world. I hope he comes back to Oaklawn next year.
Next up, Santa better be reading my Christmas list!