I’m sitting in Saratoga. My parents are upstairs sleeping; my brother and his family will arrive later today. Four cats are running around in various stages of fun and fighting.
Tomorrow, we’ll give thanks over a meal at the Wishing Well (all except the cats), owned by a family we’ve known for decades. It rather feels like we’ll be joining friends at their home, not going out to eat.
And on Saturday, some of us will convene for the annual simulcasting party to watch the racing from Aqueduct and the two-year-old races from Churchill, in the sort of holiday tradition that I can really get behind.
And it’s become a tradition here at the Backstretch to take the opportunity of giving racing thanks, which, even as the sport roils in turmoil, isn’t ever terribly hard to do.
- For, of course, Zenyatta, a horse whom I left off my 2008 list and whom a reader presciently added.
- For Saratoga, the town and the track, and for being lucky enough to grow up here. It set the standard for racing for me, imprinting me from a young age, and no place will ever be quite like it for me.
- For racing road trips.
- For social media and all the friends it’s brought. Because of blogging and Twitter and Facebook, I feel as though wherever there’s a town with a track, a friend is waiting.
- For the people that have sponsored this site: the New York Racing Association, Hello Race Fans, TVG.
- For the publications and organizations that gave me the opportunity to write for them: the Saratogian; Thoroughbred Times; the New York Racing Association, The Blood-Horse; the Daily News, Daily Racing Form, Trainer magazine.
- For the writers, bloggers, and Tweeters who daily impress, educate, and inspire me, and for Equidaily and Raceday 360, for making it so easy to find them.
- For the mentors and colleagues, in the press box and out, who offered advice and opportunities and story suggestions.
- For Kentucky, which has somehow become a place to which I travel with some regularity, and which is beginning to feel familiar in a way that I could never have imagined a few years ago.
- For the people who, in the face of my almost appalling lack of technological expertise, keep this website going when I can’t figure out what to do.
- For all of the organizations that support the people and the horses that need a little help – the Belmont Child Care Association; Backstretch Employees Service Team; the Racetrack Chaplaincy; Old Friends; the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation – and for the people who donate to them.
- For the old guys like Spooky Mulder, and the good homes that they find when their racing days are done.
- For Jimmy Toner and Tommy Kelly, and for their stories.
- As always, for Allen Jerkens, and his extraordinary generosity.
- For the Oklahoma, and for coffee in the morning on the backstretch anywhere.
- For all of you who read this site, who visit regularly, who leave comments, who support and challenge me. There’s no Brooklyn Backstretch without you, and my appreciation exceeds my ability to express it.
Floyd, Furlong, Imp, and I offer our very best wishes to you and your families for a blessed and happy Thanksgiving. We hope that you, too, have much for which to be thankful this year.