A year ago, I offered thanks for the racing gifts of 2007. It was the year of Street Sense, Curlin, and Hard Spun, and of Rags to Riches; a year of writing about racing and reading about racing and friends made at the racetrack.
In some ways, 2007 was a more memorable racing year than 2008, despite our Triple Crown candidate, and the things for which I give thanks this year are largely more personal than they were last year. So please indulge me as I give racing thanks…
…for the wisdom and stories of Allen Jerkens, and for the generosity with which he shares both.
…for the archives of the New York Times, which provide us with racing stories from the 1860’s and onward.
…for road trips to race tracks: Suffolk Downs, Laurel, Pimlico, Tampa Bay Downs, Keeneland, among others.
…for my parents, for taking me to the track for the first time before I could read, and my brother, for letting me tag along on that Travers morning in 2000, and teaching me so much of what he knows.
…for Irish Blast and Be Bullish, two exciting young colts I am lucky enough to have stumbled across.
…for the trainers who didn’t laugh in my face when I approached them nervously, saying, “I have this website, and I’d like to talk to you about your horse…”
…for too many racing friends to list here, but if I’ve spent any time with you at a racetrack over the last year, you know who you are.
…for Thoroughbred Racing in New York at Facebook.
…for the grits and apples in the track kitchen at Keeneland, and the lemonade at Saratoga.
…for Commentator, who thrilled the crowd in this year’s Whitney and reminded us what it’s like to root for a horse year after year.
…and for his trainer Nick Zito, who never lets us forget that we should be thinking about how we can keep horses safe on dirt.
…for organizations like the Belmont Child Care Association and Backstretch Employees Service Team, for never losing sight of the people who take care of the horses, and for working tirelessly on their behalf.
…for Ginger Punch, the Queen of Saratoga. Horses are lucky to have one race for the ages at the Spa; this year, she had two: the Go for Wand and the Personal Ensign. She ran like a champ both times, and none of us who saw those races will forget them.
…for Saratoga, for its charm and its history, and because racing there is like racing nowhere else.
…for Proud Spell and her win in the Alabama, and for what it meant to her trainer and her jockey, after an awful spring.
…for Evening Attire, because he raced until he was ten and went out a winner, earning a berth in the Breeders’ Cup.
…for Richard Migliore’s return to New York after a sojourn in California.
…for Old Friends and its indefatigable leader, Michael Blowen.
…for Big Brown. Love him or hate him, he brought a buzz to racing, and he brought people to the track. I won’t miss those fragile hooves, but I will miss the attention and popularity he brought to the sport.
…for morning workouts and glowing summer afternoons at the barns.
And you? For what are you giving racing thanks this year?
A happy, healthy Thanksgiving to everyone…