So it seems that a lot of people
, and bloggers
putting together favorite and “best of
” lists for this last year. I have
decided to join the parade and will share with you my own list
of my favorite
moments from the world of Chicago racing in 2012.
Here we go!
On a very nice day in April, by Chicago standards, Done Talking earned his berth into the Kentucky Derby by winning the 55th
running of the Illinois Derby. Jockey Sheldon Russell comes to town to guide
Done Talking to a ¾ length victory over Rosie Napravnik and Morgan’s Guerrilla
in a race that was truly up for grabs. HRN’s own handicapper extraordinaire
Jasen Mangrum nailed this winner at 12-1! I really enjoyed my very first ever
Illinois Derby experience and I hope to be there again in the future!
After taking down Jim Miller in the fall version of the
weekly Jim Vs. contest, I decided to try to beat him again this last spring. Let’s
just say I shot a round of blanks and had little to say about my huge loss in
the epic battle. Still, the day was not a total loss as I had the great opportunity
to hang with announcer Peter Galassi in the booth while he called some races. What
a great guy! It was a fun day all together and I was humbled by the experience.
Not many times in my recent memory had a horse set fairly
quick turf route fractions, for example 22.4, 46.3, and 1:11.0 yet have enough
left in the tank to dominate the field and win. Silver Max
did just that in the
this year, winning by a full two lengths, but don’t let that
fool you. This race was never that close. Silver Max would win two more after
this race for a total of six wins in a row and seven of eight.
(Photo courtesy of Four Footed Fotos)
Saint Leon wins the Arlington Sprint
Another of one of the more amazing stories of the year,
overcomes injury and defeats graded stakes champion Chamberlain
Bridge to win the Arlington Sprint Handicap
. In catching up with winning jockey
E.T. Baird after the race, I laughed when he said he didn’t see
Bridge coming, but he heard
him! Saint Leon had a short run in 2012, but had
two wins in four races on the year.
The rise of La Tia and Leading Astray
Once the great Giant Oak was retired, I was concerned about who would
be the next best Illinois-bred horse that could make a splash on the national
scene. Well I was not disappointed as now we have two fillies that should have
an impact in their four year old campaigns.
(City Place – La Adelita by Sky Classic) broke her
maiden in her first race as a three year old and never looked back. She then
scored victories in the Purple Violet Stakes
for Illinois-breds, the Grade 3
, and the La Lorgnette Stakes up at Woodbine. Typically alone on
the lead, she had four wins from six starts in 2012 and I expect that she will
have a good year in 2013!
(La Tia by Four Footed Fotos)
Another filly by the name of Leading Astray
(Belong To Me –
Taxable Deduction by Prized) has only run at three years old for Team Block and
has yet to finish off the board. She has won a couple of allowance races, the Hatoof
at Arlington over the summer, and the Grade 3 Pucker Up Stakes
. She only
finished behind by a length in the Valley View Stakes at Keeneland and finished
second in the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere Stakes at Keeneland! As a four year old in
2013, I expect Leading Astray to mow ‘em down on the grass!
One of my favorite days of the year, Arlington Million
is the perfect combination of racing, friends, and good times. This year’s
rendition was fun for me because I almost picked the entire card correct! You’d
think I would have made a lot of money off of that, but of course I blew it. Anyway,
the highlight of the day is Little Mike’s gate to wire victory
jockey Ramon Dominguez aboard. Once I saw the opening fraction of 25.0, I knew
Little Mike had it in the bag. He had plenty of energy left to fend off a hard
charging Afsare in the final strides.
Earlier in that day we also saw a new Million Day race in
the American St. Leger run at the standard distance of a mile and 11/16. Jakkalberry
had to run down leader Ioya Bigtime to take the victory. I’m a Dreamer
both shipped in from Europe as well to take the Beverly D. and the
Secretariat Stakes respectively.
More importantly, getting to hang out with all of my friends,
and meet new friends, at the nicest track in the country, is all I need.
Switching back to the south side, Pool Play
at the time had
only run one other time on dirt and that was a 36-1 victory in the Stephen
Foster at Churchill Downs. A lot of people must have thought that was a fluke
as he went on to win another graded stake on dirt this time at Hawthorne in the
Gold Cup. At 16-1 he stormed home from dead last and beat a pretty good field
in Alternation, Cease, and Mister Marti Gras.
Days at the track with friends and new fans
Still, my favorite part of horse racing BY FAR is the
connections with other fans, the new friends, and introducing new people to the
sport. I have made a lot of good friends over the years through racing, and for
that I am forever grateful.
What was your favorite Chicago racing moment in 2012?