HRN Original Blog:
Dueling Down The Stretch

The Joy of Racing

This year would be my first ever, live Breeders' Cup and as the weekend of November 4/5, 2011 approached I could not help but let my hopes and expectations soar to the sky. The only track I had ever been to was Delaware Park, my home track, and a beautiful track, but this was Churchill Downs…this was the Breeders Cup, it was a whole different ball game. Instead of only one or two great horses there would be droves of them. Instead of one or two big races you had a day filled with action packed, star studded fields. It was my first Breeders Cup and I was going to let my expectations soar.

The races did not disappoint. Friday was definitely chilly, that was until the sun finally peeked out for a couple of hours, only to disappear after a few short hours, leaving the fans craving hot apple cider and tasty hot chocolate…not an ice cold beer. However, braving the cold was worth it all. I got to see a star in the making, My Miss Aurelia ran her rivals right off their feet, ending her campaign a perfect four for four. Royal Delta also asserted her dominance when she easily overtook It’s Tricky and drew away effortlessly. The last highlight of Friday was the sunset. You had to be there, but if you were, as you looked westward you saw one of the most visually stunning and beautiful sunsets that could be.

Saturday promised to be even better, and it was. As our national anthem sounded through the air, fans could look up and see the Golden Knights floating down, one by one, out of the sky. The feeling during that moment was almost surreal. Even with the losses of Goldikova and Uncle Mo, I still say that the day brought as much excitement as a Breeders Cup can. My two favorite races from Saturday were the Dirt Mile and the Juvenile. In the Dirt Mile there was not one person that thought Shackleford didn’t have the race won at the eighth pole, that was until Caleb’s Posse found an overdrive gear that left the entire field looking like they were all tied to the fence. The Juvenile was a formful as could be asked with the top three colts in the nation finishing one, two, three. It was the first two, however, that put on the real show as the unbeaten and untested Hansen held off the late onslaught of the also unbeaten, New York sensation, Union Rags.

After all was said and done, I believe that in some ways the Breeders Cup will crown several unanimous champions, while at the same time it will throw a huge wrench into the sport’s biggest year end award, Horse of the Year. Coming out of the Classic I see Game on Dude and Havre de Grace being the front two, but the picture is still too foggy to give an accurate guess. I would not be surprised to see some come back and try the Clark Handicap. On the flip side I think championships belong to Caleb’s Posse (Sprint), My Miss Aurelia (Juvenile Filly), Hansen (Juvenile Colt), and Royal Delta (Three-Year Old Filly).

Before I sign off, I would like to give a huge thanks to Managing Editor Brian Zipse and founders Mike Shutty and Mark Midland for making it possible for me to attend and meet so many new and wonderful people. These are the type of people who our sport needs to promote, those who care not just about themselves, but about the sport as a whole and realize that everyone has a part to play. I only wish that one day I will be able to give another the same joy they allowed me, the joy that is our sport, horse racing.


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Older Comments about The Joy of Racing...

Considering Caleb's Posse won the dirt mile, I have a hard time seeing him beating Amazombie, who closed out the year with a flourish, winning the Grade 1 Ancient Title, then following it with a Breeders Cup Sprint win.
Did anyone notice that of the 15 BC winners, none had a final prep at Del Mar 3 months prior to the BC? Five had prepped at Saratoga, and, on the Turf, 4 of the 6 winners hailed from Woodbine.
Annette & I had a great time meeting you & your Dad. I also enjoy talking with you about horses & racing, because you have a totally different perspective than I do, since you're more hands on with them & I mainly look to handicap them. I also had a great time talking a little football with Mark in between races as well. I hope I didn't frighten you with some of my loud cheering. =) Take care & I hope we get the chance to cross paths at future races.
The Breeders Cup is the greatest weekend of racing. I hope you come out to California for next years Breeders Cup and check out Santa Anita and California racing. Santa Anita is one the greatest race tracks in the world.
Great piece. Shows why everyone should be a horse racing fan. This is our biggest day. For you to be a part of it, thats Christmas come early. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Dani, I was thrilled to have you as one of the representatives of Horse Racing Nation at this year's Breeders' Cup. I can't tell you how much I think of what you are doing with this blog. Thank you, and I'm glad I was able to be a small part of your wonderful, and first, Breeders' Cup.

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Meet Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred Racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2001. After that point, she fell in love with the sport, reading every piece of news and information she could get her fingertips on.

Laura has a long history with horses in general, taking her first ride on her fifth birthday, with her first official riding lesson when she was eight years old. Both years she attended college she joined her school’s equestrian team, first at the now closed Virginia Intermont College, then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010 Laura came to Horse Racing Nation, but soon branched out to other media outlets, such as Lady and the Track,, and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter, while making a return to Horse Racing Nation, where she will once again feature her opinionated columns on the latest in horse racing. 

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