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HRN Original Blog:
Race Talk with the Girl Next Door

Goodbye to Gracie

While writing my congratulations blog to Johnny V on his recent induction into the National Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame I learned the disappointing news of Havre De Grace. While trying to be upbeat and excited for Johnny V finally getting the nod to join our Hall of Fame, I am fighting back feeling of heartbreak over our lost of Gracie. 


I was supposed to be giving you statistics about Johnny winning over 4800 races and earning over $264 million in purses. I was going to tell you about how he has won 8 Breeders Cups, a Dubai world cup, Oaks, a Belmont, a Kentucky Derby and has a great chance again this year with Went the Day Well. I was going to tell you that he has been in the top 10 in career earning every year since 2000. He broke into the top 5 in earnings 9 times during those years leading him to receive 2 Eclipse Awards for Outstanding Jockey. 


But since the news has broken about Havre De Grace, all I can do is reflect back on her. Since 2009, fillies and mares have dominated our Horse of the Year honors and our greatest moments. In 2009, I fell in love with this game thanks to a filly for the ages. She left racing in 2010, but Zenyatta was still there for us to enjoy and enjoy we did. But she too left after 2010 allowing two other fillies to fill these incredibly big shoes. And thus the rivalry started… 


Blind Luck and Havre De Grace mesmerized us with their stretch duals and the fact that neither horse was able to really shut down the other. Blind Luck would win one, Gracie would win one, and then Blind Luck would get the next one. This went back and forth and I was captivated with both. They were exactly what I was looking for and they never, EVER disappointed. 


It was only fitting that they would meet for the first time in Delaware as that would also be the site of their last meeting. Their final meeting in the Delaware Handicap would be not only my favorite performance of theirs, but my 2011 moment of the year.


Shortly after, Blind Luck was retired and Gracie took her fight to the boys. She was left alone carrying the torch in the ‘great filly and mare years’. She would stand up to the challenge despite a disappointing 4th place finish in the Breeders Cup Classic. But after a little rest, she came right back to win the New Orleans Ladies. We thought that we would see her in the Apple Blossom, but that was not to be. We then couldn’t wait to see her in the Fleur de Lis, but that too was not in the cards. Our reigning Horse of the Year has been retired due to injury. 


It was a workout that forced her into retirement and now we are looking for someone else to carry the torch passed on to Gracie from the likes of Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Thankfully, we may not have too long to wait; Kentucky Oaks is 11 days away. Until then, as I have had to say before, thanks for the moments that you left for us Grace. You will be missed on the track and may you continue to be blessed in your next career.


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Older Comments about Goodbye to Gracie...

who is she breedin too?
A lovely tribute. Given that she only ever added to racing, gave her best and did so well, and we were expecting at least another year,(too short!) very sorry to read this is it. She is truly admirable. Wish her a long happy life.
Angela, that was very well written, with a lot of love showing through. You captured the emotions Grace brought up with your very fine blog. Great job. I will miss her, too. Very respectful to all the fine ladies of racing in the past few years, Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra, Blind Luck and Havre De Grace. (by age)
Hope with all the 2yo males from last year's BC making it to the Derby, some will progress even more and fill HDG's shoes by the end of the year.
This was written by Angie.
Nice tribute Brian, the toughest thing in this sport is watching horses exit early. We always expect them to finish their time after more racing.
Grace was nothing but consistent excellence over the past three years. She will be missed ... Congratulations to Johnny V!


Meet Angela D'Amico
My horseracing journey and my quest to learn more about it has brought me to the University of Louisville Equine Program, but it began before I was born. My parents met when their parents shared ownership in a few racehorses. Although they did not own any horses when I was growing up, my grandfather still took me to the racetrack all throughout my childhood. In 2007, my stepfather introduced me to different racetracks and handicapping techniques, but it was not until the 2009 Preakness that I was really hooked.
A filly, Rachel Alexandra, venturing into a man’s world caught my eye and I fell in love with her completely. This was when my life changed. When it comes to racing and choosing my favorite horses, I have always seen perfection in what others would characterize as flaws. With this blog, I hope to show everyone that horseracing is not just a gamble, it is a passion.