Back from the Breeders’ Cup

Well, hi. Seems like it’s been a long time since I’ve been here; I don’t know whether I’ve gone a whole week without posting in the history of the site, and the post-Breeders’ Cup week is a particularly bad time to be silent, but giving over four full days to racing last week meant that this week was all about school: I got back Sunday night from Louisville and dove right into end of the quarter grades/comments, so after writing all weekend about horse racing, I wrote all week on my students.  I am incredibly fortunate.

So a big thank-you to the folks at Thoroughbred Times and the Daily News, who gave me the opportunity to cover racing’s biggest weekend, to write about Uncle Mo and Goldikova and Hansen and My Miss Aurelia.  And in another recent opportunity that I haven’t yet mentioned here, I’m doing some blogging for Forbes on racing, generally writing once a week. A new post will be up there next week.

An unfortunate side effect of being in Louisville is that I haven’t yet made it to the casino at Aqueduct; that will be remedied this weekend, as I’ll make my first trip to the Big A since the grand opening, covering the races on Saturday and Sunday for the Daily News.  Alan Mann’s already been there and wrote about it earlier this week.

Last year’s Breeders’ Cup, with Zenyatta in the Classic, with a 20-for-20 record on the line, with the chance for her to retire undefeated and win the Classic for a second consecutive year, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience; even with Goldikova going for history, this year’s event didn’t have the same sort of buzz and urgency that prevailed in 2011.

And when Goldikova’s career ended not just with a loss, but with the threat of a takedown after she cut off Courageous Cat in the stretch, and when Uncle Mo came back to Churchill just to leave ignominiously again…well, let’s just say that the 2011 Breeders’ Cup is probably not going to go down as one of the most memorable in the event’s history.

I was happy to see an old favorite, Afleet Again, get back to the winner’s circle (and because the picks were posted publically, I’m OK with noting that for sentimental reasons I picked him…and bet him. Ditto Perfect Shirl.)

A Kitten (Stephanie’s) won a Breeders’ Cup race, and Sweet Cat almost got second for what would have been the first catzacta in Breeders’ Cup history.  And a kitten’s horse, My Miss Aurelia, ended the year undefeated when she won the Juvenile Fillies.

Not a lot of year-end honors were decisively determined at this year’s “championship,” so like last year, we’ll get to hear endless discussions and justifications for which horse will get which award…except that last year, those discussions were borne of passion and fervor, and this year they’ll be from…indifference? Apathy? Obligation? OK, maybe it’s not quite that bad, but if you can find someone with a strong conviction about who should be champion 3-year-old and Horse of the Year, let me know.

For now, we’re on to Aqueduct and six months of the A train to the track (though from what I hear, the subway station at the track is still closed, which is mildly annoying), to which I look forward every fall. I think we’ll see some unfamiliar faces, both equine and human, in Ozone Park this winter, and while the racing side of the plant is reportedly unchanged, I think we’ll have our share of “We’re not in Kansas anymore” moments out there.

I’ve got upcoming posts planned on ways to help the folks on the backstretch during the holidays; a conversation with Phil Dandrea about his book on Sham; a look at the women who take care of the cats on the Oklahoma backstretch during the offseason; and some trainer profiles. The racing world will slow down for a bit, except for the crazy people who have already started talking about the 2012 Kentucky Derby, but even at Aqueduct in the winter, good stories abound, and I’m looking forward to telling them.  It’s good to be back.   🙂

Perfect Shirl, winner of the 2011 Filly and Mare Turf

8 thoughts on “Back from the Breeders’ Cup

  1. Teresa:

    The Subway entrance will open in December. There is a photo of it under construction on SubChat at:

    In the meantime, you can go to the North Conduit Station that has an entrance next to the southernmost pedestrian entrance of the track (meaning you need to be at the very front of the A train going out there).

    As for the Breeders’ Cup, I posted my complete thoughts from the BC at:

    In brief here:

    To me, Cape Blanco is Horse of the Year mainly for the fact all three of his Grade 1 wins were at distances of 1 1/4 Miles or longer and on turf courses between firm and a total bog. He beat every horse he faced here. Havre De Grace to me now has to go to Hollywood Park and on the grass win either the Hollywood Turf Cup (at 1 1/2 Miles and yes, two weeks after the Breeders’ Cup on November 19) or the Citation (at 1 1/16 Miles on November 25) to be Horse of the Year, as those are the last Grade 1 stakes on turf this year. She needs a turf win to compensate for her not winning going at least 1 1/4 Miles in my opinion.

  2. Great coverage of the BC in Louisville, Teresa. Don’t be quite so sure about that “catzacta” angle, though–I’d have to research it to be sure, but there have been some unusual name combinations over the years so I can’t say that there hasn’t been two horses with cat names in the exacta or trifecta. “Catfecta” doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue, though, huh?

  3. Disappointed. I was hoping that this post was going to highlight your early 2012 Kentucky “Derby Dozen” picks. May is just around the corner you know.

  4. Welcome back! I not surprised that others are waking up to your talent. It’s both unique and refreshing. It was just a matter of time.

    I for one was in the Blame camp in last year’s Breeders Cup Classic. Teresa, did you happen to read a follow-up article on Garrett Gomez in connection with that race, that was written almost a year later? Considering all that we knew before and after the race, the race will forever remain one of the best of the century. This article, I thought, just adds to the mystique of some of the pieces, that I for one, was very surprised to find out.

  5. great story on Garrett Gomez from August Song.

    This was my first trip to the Breeders’ Cup. While I have to agree that this year’s BC lacked the story lines of the past few, it was still an amazing weekend. I thought it would be one of those “bucket list” things you do once in life. Nope. I’m hooked. I’m already saving up for next year. Loved the ear-piece radios that let you hear the race call even when surrounded by screaming fans. Churchill for the Derby is the madness of people there just to party. Churchill filled up with horse racing fans – that’s special.

    Teresa, let me echo the comments of others – it is no surprise that others are recognizing your writing talents. The surprise is that you’re holding on to your day job. See you at the Big A this winter, perhaps.

  6. Walt: yep, I know when the subway station is due to be re-opened; getting out there, we still disembark at the same place we always have. On the way home, you have to go from the North Conduit station, instead of the Aqueduct station.

    Juan: Perhaps a “felinefecta” would be more felicitious?

    Matt: I have my fingers in my ears for that one.

    Lynne & August: thanks for the kind words, and August, for the link. Lynne, I loved those radios, too – tremendously helpful in the press box for reporting.

  7. Late to comment but I LOVED my first BC experience! It was great fun and I can’t wait to go again! Probably not SA next year but hopefully sometime in the future.

    As as side note to all the Backstretch readers, I saw our Miss Teresa running past me behind the paddock Saturday, in heels no less, she was hard at work as always 🙂

    And those radios were awesome…

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