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.