Another Year In The Books

by Ed Meyer

posted on December 31, 2008 in General Discussion | No Comments >>

The year of 2008 was interesting, competitive, and compelling.  This could be the same line written about every year practically, but we may be a little biased. This is after all The Sport of Kings.

We saw a wonderful crop of runners emerge early on, and with the blowing winds of winter, we begin our countdown to great things to come.

We watched Big Brown deliver in the Derby and Preakness, only to let our spirits down, when he failed to bring home the Triple Crown after a puzzling effort.

Curlin became our “iron-horse” as he ran on everything except blacktop. He even made the trip to Dubai and came back in good order. To watch his effort on Breeders’ Cup Day at the top of the lane, only showed what a champion looks like.

When Eight Belles fractured both of her front ankles after running second in the Derby, we as fans knew the winds of change were coming to the sport we love. We’ll miss her. But not more than Larry Jones who addressed the media immediately in the press box that day. He wanted to the truth to be known before speculation began. He is class personified. We will miss his white stetson in the winners circle as he is giving up training very shortly. The good guys do ride off in the sunset.

2008 became the first year that the Breeders’ Cup was run on synthetic surfaces. (As a side note:  the Euros love going to California, and they will be back again next year.)  Two days of racing could not have been more exciting.  For me, it was memorable as it was my first trip to Santa Anita. You can bet it won’t be my last…..

Some of the voices of our game are forever silenced. Some of them are: Jim McKay, whose love of racing brought Maryland on the map with many great days of stakes racing; and Luke Kruytbosch, the announcer at Churchill Downs. The best sometimes are taken away too soon. This is the case. He loved the game, and moreover he loved being a part of the sport. The sounds are deafening. Many media figures who left our game a little better will be missed. This we will know, when we reach to read their columns and the fruits of their labor will be gone forever. To name some: Dennis Dodge, Gill Stratton, Dean Williams, Edgar Allen and Bob Benoit. One that reaches into my heart is Cliff Guilliams. He was a guy who made as many friends as enemies. Never one to hold his tongue, he will be missed as the color in the press box just won’t be the same.

There are many I have missed, races left out, and events that needed more than just a word. The best we can do is come back and try again. I left out the economy. Some things are just better left unsaid. The game will rebound. It will sustain many injuries and losses, but it will rebound. We need to focus on the future rather than torture ourselves with the past. 2009 brings more post times, races to run, champions to be crowned and memories to be made. The game will change as everything does, but racing will survive.

From all of us at WinningPonies, have a safe and Happy New Year and we’ll see you at the races!