As the final days of 2011 pass into history, it seems everyone’s in a reflective mood. For horse racing fans, 2011 was mostly a year of discontent. Still, it did have its share of remarkable racing moments, not the least of which is the continuing saga of record-setting claimer Rapid Redux. Australian superstar Black Caviar remained undefeated, a perfect 16 for 16—and her connections are preparing to conqueror the world in 2012. Fillies and mares dominated wherever they ran, including sweeping the top three positions in the prestigious Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe, as well as capturing a number of G1 classic races worldwide—the Cox Plate, Japan Cup, Doncaster Mile, Canadian International, Caulfield Cup, and the Queen’s Plate. After battling Blind Luck in the G2 Delaware Handicap (a race Kevin Martin of Colin’s Ghost considers the best U.S. contest of 2011), Havre de Grace turned her attention to defeating males in the G1 Woodwood Stakes. The legendary Goldikova was unable to four-peat in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, but gave her fans quite a competitive year. What will be your favorite memorable moment of 2011?
In case you missed it, here’s what our members have been thinking and writing about, beginning with those reflections of 2011 and what to look forward to in 2012:
- Teresa Genaro (Brooklyn Backstretch) recaps her eventful 2011 with some memorable moments.
- Jessica Chapel (Railbird) takes note of 2011’s best racing stories.
- Kate Hunter (Keiblog) salutes newly-retired champion mare Buena Vista and ponders the worldly ambitions of Smart Falcon.
- Valerie Grash (Fillies First) highlights the best performances of fillies and mares racing in open company graded stakes worldwide in 2011; at her Foolish Pleasure blog, she argues that 2011 should go down as the Year of the Blue-Collar Horse.
- Gene Kershner (EquiSpace) celebrates both the “feats of strength” and “airing of grievances” in 2011, and makes 10 bold predictions for 2012 racing.
- Anthony Falbo (The Turk) reflects on the personal events of 2011 that touched him, including the death of racing fan Tim “Tiznow” Reynolds.
- Frank Vespe (That’s Amore) witnesses Rapid Redux’s record-setting effort at Laurel.
- Alastair Middleton (Horse Racing in Korea) wraps up the Korean racing year, noting champion jockey and leading sire honors. He’s also been following closely the incredible juvenile campaign of Smarty Moonhak, a Smarty Jones son who did the unthinkable, taking on his elders in Korea’s top race, the Grand Prix—and finished third.
- Enjoying an end-of-year trip to Hong Kong, Steve Zorn (The Business of Racing) looks at the financial aspects of Hong Kong racing vs. American racing, as well as the race track experience and the horses’ health and retirement issues.
- Bill Pressey (ThoroEdge) offers a free copy of his forthcoming eBook on FIT (Feedback Induced Training) and continues his exploration into proper conditioning and training techniques.
- Frank Mitchell (Bloodstock in the Bluegrass) considers the breeding possibilities for three sons of Giant’s Causeway—Eskendereya, Hold Me Back and Neko Bay—as well as the resurgence of former claimer Twelve Twenty Two.
- At Sid Fernando’s blog, guest blogger Thomas J. Thornbury reports on the upcoming Cape Premier Sale in South Africa.
- Inspired by the new “War Horse” movie, Fran Jurga (Hoof Blog) takes a closer look at the experience of battle-worn World War I horses and their hoof care. She also treated us to videos of terrific horse-related holiday commercials. Over at The Jurga Report, her holiday post included a wonderful collection of horses celebrating the season in lights.
- Ted Grevelis (Owning Racehorses) reviews the new HBO series “Luck” and looks forward to his mare Tabby Lane's next race.
- Alan Mann (Left at the Gate) continues his unparalleled observations of New York racing in the aftermath of casinos, particularly noting the brisk activity at the claiming box as well as (unfortunately) how little has changed at Aqueduct for the racing fan. He’s also on top of the NYRA takeout fiasco.
- Chris Hernandez (Giving My Ten Cents) provides the best Southern California race analysis including the conclusion of Hollywood and the beginning of Santa Anita’s winter meet with its four stakes on opening day.
- Gina Rarick (Gallop France) closes out the year with Deep Ocean making a Friday run at Deauville (he finished third); in case you missed it, it’s well worth the effort to click through the fabulous photos her friend Jacqueline Ashton de Floris posted of this quaint racecourse, and don’t miss her humorous post on the battle of ever-growing manure pile.
And, last but not least, Keith McCalmont (Triple Dead Heat) reveals a poignant story about serendipitously finding one’s place in the world. Hopefully, your 2012 will be likewise filled with magic and wonderment, not to mention plenty of winners. Happy New Year!