Happy new year and welcome to the new Brooklyn Backstretch! I hope that you find a cleaner site that’s a little easier to navigate, a little easier on the eyes; I miss the Brooklyn Bridge at the top (and may well have to find another spot for it, somewhere on here), but a shot of a Saratoga morning isn’t a bad replacement. Many thanks to the web designer at Elance whose expertise and ideas made it happen, and to Kevin Martin at Colin’s Ghost for the suggestion to use Elance.
I submitted my Eclipse votes on Monday night and offer them here. Some of the categories were easy; many were not. As I deliberated, I found myself wavering among choices, shifting the criteria I was using, questioning how different variables measured up against each other. I realized that for me, showing up for races meant a lot, even if the horse didn’t win, and that I was not inclined to reward one big performance in the Breeders’ Cup with a vote. I’m confident about a lot of votes, still uncertain about others. While frustrating at time, processing all those past performances was a fun, challenging, and intellectually rewarding process…at least until I get skewered for my choices.
2-year old male: Hansen, Union Rags, Creative Cause
2-year-old female: My Miss Aurelia, Stephanie’s Kitten, Grace Hall
3-year-old male: Caleb’s Posse, Shackleford, Animal Kingdom
3-year-old female: Royal Delta, It’s Tricky, Zazu
Turf male: Cape Blanco, Acclamation, Get Stormy
Turf female: Dubawi Heights, Stacelita, Never Retreat
Older male: Acclamation, Game On Dude, Tizway
Older female: Havre de Grace, Blind Luck, Awesome Maria
Female sprinter: Hilda’s Passion, Sassy Image, Musical Romance
Male sprinter: Amazombie, Caleb’s Posse, The Factor
Jockey: Javier Castellano, Ramon Dominguez, John Velazquez
Trainer: Bill Mott, Todd Pletcher, Bob Baffert
Steeplechase: Abstain. I rather regret abstaining in this category; there did seem a clear-cut choice for the top spot (Tax Ruling), though I went back and forth between Black Jack Blues and Decoy Daddy in the other two spots. Ultimately, I didn’t think that I should vote in a category that I follow for only six weeks a year.
Breeders: Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Adena Springs, Brereton Jones
Owners: Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Midwest Thoroughbreds, Repole Stable
Horse of the Year: Havre de Grace, Acclamation, Cape Blanco
It’s been quieter than usual in this space for a while, and that’s going to continue, unfortunately. I’m finishing up a couple of big projects, and I’ve been fortunate to pick up a couple of regular gigs: a weekly post at Forbes.com (scroll for all the posts in the series) and a monthly feature for New York Breeder magazine (skip to page 20). Later this month at Hello Race Fans!, I’ll have horse profiles on Mineshaft and Silverbulletday and a track guide to Gulfstream Park; I’m also working on an article about Three Chimneys Farm for Thoroughbred Times. At the top of the column on the right, you’ll find a list of my most recent work elsewhere; that list is updated regularly.
So: the good news is that I’ve got plenty of fun projects to work on; the bad news is that when that happens, Brooklyn Backstretch suffers. But I hope to get back to regular posting here soon, with stories about a visit to Ramsey Farm in Lexington, historical stories on some of the races here in New York this winter, and profiles of humans and horses that make racing so interesting.
I hope that you all had great holidays and very best wishes for the new year —