RSS Feed for this Blog
RSS Feed for all TBA Posts

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Halfway There....Mid Year Bests and Worsts

As we approach the midpoint of 2009 this week, I thought I'd list MY five best and worst moments in horse racing so far this year. It was fun to look back at my 2008 midpoint list and how much has changed since then. I put them in order of impact for me....let me know if you think I missed the boat on any and list any you can think of that would top these!

Best Moments in Racing - midpoint 2009

1 - Jess Jackson purchases Rachel Alexandra, spurs Filly Fever
When Jess Jackson bought Rachel Alexandra after her Kentucky Oaks romp around the Churchill oval, racing history was about to be made. Becoming the first filly to win the Preakness in 85 years places her in the record books. Any filly that can draw 13K+ at Belmont Park on a non-Belmont Stakes day must be special. She's starting to be mentioned in some circles in the same breath with horses like Secretariat and Seattle Slew. The only question that remains is how legendary will she become.

2 - Longshot Mine That Bird wins Kentucky Derby at 50-1
Talk about your David and Goliath scenario. MTB slew the monsters on Derby Day and some folks cashed some huge tickets. The little gelding and his now infamous rider captured a nation and was water cooler talk for more than a week, grabbing the first Sports Illustrated cover for horse racing in many years.

3 - Churchill Downs turns on the lights
In a brilliant marketing move, Churchill Downs erects temporary lighting for Friday night races to reenergize horse racing in the racing temple. Back to back Friday nights draws over 28K for the opening night and just less than that last week. After working out the kinks, things look bright for night racing in Louisville, introducing a younger more enthusiastic crowd. Hopefully some of them stick and becoming racing fans for the long run.

4 - Reality television meets horse racing
Back in February on Animal Planet, the new reality show Jockeys was aired for the first time. Featuring the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita leading up to the Breeders Cup championships last October, the SoCal jockey colony was front and center. Joe Talamo, Mike Smith, Chantal Sutherland and Aaron Gryder were right in your living room discussing what it's like in one of the most dangerous professions around. The series was renewed and will be back for another season.

5 - Social networking infiltrates the racing world
Boosting marketing efforts through such social networking as twitter, facebook and various web marketing ploys, horse racing is now inundated with information. Want the latest scratches - check; want to know a bridgejumping opportunity - check; need a paddock report - check; meetup spot for groups going to the track - check. Wanna know which jockeys have been out all night and maybe you shouldn't bet them the next day - check. The site that has really integrated its membership with meetups, contests, etc. is Ernie Munick's Thoroughbred Racing in New York (TRNY) facebook group.

Honorable mention: Thrilling Belmont Stakes win by Summer Bird, I Want Revenge's unbelievable comeback in the Wood, Fabulous Strike's incredible time in the True North holding off late surging Benny the Bull; Plate Trial and Queen's Plate Stakes double by Eye of the Leopard (Canadian edition only), Zenyatta dominates SoCal racing.

Worst moments in horse racing - midpoint 2009

1 - Rene Douglas' tragic spill at Arlington Park
Douglas suffered serious injury riding in the Arlington Matron aboard Born to Be, who was euthanized after the fall. Jockey Jamie Theriot was suspended 30 days for causing the accident. Theriot riding inside of Douglas, forced his way out, jostling with Douglas’ mount, and resulting in Born to Be clipping heels, throwing Douglas to the ground, and then rolling onto the fallen jockey and causing severe damage to his spine.

2 - The Paragallo travesty
Ernie Paragallo faces 22 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty following the highly publicized April 8 raid of his Center Brook Farm in upstate New York. Authorities seized 177 starving, neglected Thoroughbreds. Three horses had to be euthanized. We were fortunate enough to see one of his saved thoroughbreds arrive at Old Friends while we were there in April.

3 - Magna Entertainment files Chapter 11
In March, Magna filed voluntary petitions for reliefunder Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. This put many of the tracks owned by Magna into an aura of uncertainty. Magna owns tracks in Maryland (Pimlico and Laurel), Florida (Gulfstream) and California (Santa Anita, Golden Gate Fields) to name a few.

4 - Injuries plague three major Derby hopefuls
The Pamplemousse, Quality Road and I Want Revenge left the road to Louisville before the call to post for Derby 135. All three were major players on their respective prep circuits and would have made this an even better Derby had they made it to the gate. IWR was a Derby morning scratch by his connections, leaving the field at 19 for the Run for the Roses.

5 - Trainer Mullins caught with syringe in Aqueduct detention barn
Jeff Mullins was observed attempting to administer an over-the-counter product called Air Power to Gato Go Win in the security barn. He had also apparently taken a syringe into the security barn. He was suspended two weeks for his actions by the New York State Racing & Wagering Board.

Honorable Mention: The Kentucky Slots issue, Turf writers near extinction, Past posting issues continue to plague tracks

Well, we're halfway there and Del Mar and Saratoga are about to heat up....


Anonymous said...

i spent quite a bit of time in Buffalo-My Nephew went to UB had a good Football career building that program up---Now he plays for The Colts---I must say out of the many places I have been, Buffalo is tops. They treated him so well--When his years are done in the game he is going to move back to that area--Weather aside, I don't blame him.

Anonymous said...

Excellent, accurate halfway assessment. Check is in the mail re: shout out.

I took a communications class with Jim Kelly at U of M.

Hope the Space Gang is well and headed towards racing fandom


EquiSpace said...

Anon: Buffalo is the best kept secret on the East Coast - stop telling people or we'll have more than a 2 minute stoppage of traffic! BTW thanks for the follow on twitter and Jamey Richard is a fav here...protecting Peyton Manning is an important job.

e: Thanks for the shout out! Ironically I'm JK's CPA for his Hunter's Hope Foundation. The Gang is doing great...

Thanks as always for reading!

Teresa said...

My understanding is that Mullins's syringe was for the administration of the Air Power--it wasn't a needle. It was a much larger version of the plastic tube/plunger device that I used (rather ineffectually) to try to administer medicine to my kittens this morning--we looked much like this depiction!

And add me to the list of Buffalo fans...I lived and died with the 1990's Bills...

EquiSpace said...

T: Thanks for the clarification and nice pic!

The 90's Bills still haunt me, but I wouldn't give up those 3 AFC title games I witnessed or the Reich Comeback game, which was the single best sports game I've ever attended, for anything.

Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

Nice article. I disagree about RR Douglas injury being the worst black eye of the year. It was the worst result, but in truth, jockeys often ride rough(Angel Cordero?????????) By far the worst is Paragallo. He has been a black eye to this sport for many years, firing trainers who could no longer put money before decency. I really believe that Unbrided's Song, in the hands of a different owner, would have been one of the greats. Chicago Guy


blogger templates 3 columns | Make Money Online