By Ray Paulick - The respected and beloved Penny Chenery, who brought the crowd to its feet when she was honored with an Eclipse Award of Merit, set the standard for class and elegance while reminiscing about her longtime love affair with horse racing and the life-changing experience of owning Secretariat, the 1973 Triple Crown winner and two-time Horse of the Year.
By Terese Karmel - Whenever I visit my family, who are scattered up and down the East Coast and as far west as St. Louis, I invariably touch down at Baltimore/Washington International Airport. There, like a strong wind, the tug of my Washington, D.C., roots pulls me back to the more than two decades I spent in that city. I relish the chance to read the Washington Post, the paper I was raised on; the paper that, as a journalist, has always been my standard.
By Ray Paulick - The selection process for the Eclipse Awards has remained relatively unchanged since 1971, when the awards program and annual dinner were inaugurated by the Thoroughbred Racing Associations to singularly honor horse racing's champions.
By Bill Casner - The recent Breeders' Cup board meeting that resulted in the adoption of a new set of governance by-laws is the beginning of a new era that will allow for more inclusivity, transparency, and accountability.
By Ray Paulick - The Breeders' Cup is one of the greatest innovations in the history of horse racing in North America--perhaps throughout the world. It also is one of the industry's biggest shared assets, one that has enjoyed sustained growth.
By Ray Paulick - This year's 60-day session of Kentucky's general assembly will be the first time KEEP--established in May 2004--has pushed for the "Keep It in Kentucky" constitutional amendment, so named because it is estimated that Kentuckians who crossed into Indiana and Illinois last year spent $671 million on casino gaming.
By D.G. Van Clief Jr. - For those inclined to look on the bright side, present company included, 2005 was a challenging year for Thoroughbred racing. As one Turf writer pointed out, even the best on-track performance was fraught with peril, as Afleet Alex and jockey Jeremy Rose overcame near disaster in the Preakness (gr. I).
By Dan Liebman - Like many businesses, the Thoroughbred industry enters the new year facing countless serious issues. In New York, the racing association is threatening bankruptcy; in Maryland, Texas, and Kentucky, slots are needed to compete with neighboring states that are reaping their benefits; in Louisiana, a natural disaster has changed the landscape; in California, there is a shortage of horses; in Florida, purse levels are below those of other major racing states.
By Chris McCarron - I was a jockey for 28 years and I will always think like a jockey and do what I can to support my brethren. I consider my allegiance to the jockeys very important and I trust the jockeys who know me feel I have lived up to that.
Ray Paulick - One year from now, when The Blood-Horse conducts its annual year in review, it's likely that Jan. 8 will stand out as one of the most important dates on the calendar. In fact, it could be one of the most critical days in the modern history of the Thoroughbred industry.
By Evan Hammonds - Against my mother's "if you can't say something nice" advice, I'd like to rip into my own personal list of the seven most annoying things about 2005--some serious, some with tongue planted firmly in cheek.
By Ray Paulick - On Dec. 9, Jeb Bush said he reluctantly would sign legislation authorizing slot machines at four Broward County pari-mutuel operations, including Gulfstream Park in Hallandale. The gambling machines were approved by a 57-43 margin of Broward County voters in a referendum in March.
By Larry Levin - The recent retirement of Afleet Alex has produced the usual frustration when a rising star leaves for the breeding shed. As was the case with Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex's last race was the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). The Triple Crown series, which used to showcase future talent, has become more of a swan song.
By Ray Paulick - Horses today--for whatever reason--are racing fewer times during their careers. Trainers are handling them more carefully than ever before. Running a young horse through the obligatory Triple Crown prep races and then through the demanding series itself can take a toll--not just on the brave animals who try it but on a sport that suffers through the injuries of its best performers.
By Victor Zast - People in racing are the most generous on earth, but now is the season to be sharing, and the less lucky in life are hoping that we, the more fortunate, won't forget them. So overwhelming is the power of fund-raising initiatives dedicated to saving our horses that often the efforts devoted to helping humans in need are unseen.
By Ray Paulick - Japanese horse racing has had something of a coming-out party in 2005. Earlier this year, Cesario invaded American shores from her Japanese homeland and overpowered a top-class field of fillies and mares in Hollywood Park's American Oaks (gr. IT). Reigning Japanese Horse of the Year Zenno Rob Roy was sent to England, where he was nailed on the finish line to narrowly lose the Juddmonte International Stakes (Eng-I) to Electrocutionist.
By Tom Gallo - I just finished reading The Blood-Horse's article on ReRun's brilliant initiative to save retired horses from slaughter and reunite them with their original breeders. According to the article, ReRun has created stickers for use on The Jockey Club foal certificate to provide contact information for a subsequent owner who is unable or unwilling to provide a retirement home for a Thoroughbred.
By Ray Paulick - On Nov. 16, one day before a congressional subcommittee looked into the possible need for legislation to improve health insurance and safety issues for jockeys, the full U.S. House of Representatives said "no" to the creation of a federal commission to oversee professional boxing.
By Tom LaMarra - Safe Place was a big, lumbering gelding who, after seven starts, was still learning the ropes. He had broken his maiden in his second start, but then registered several frustrating near-misses.
By Joe Hickory - Silhouetted against the expanse of sun-dappled Leadenham Creek, the tiny figure sweetening the hummingbird feeder casts a long shadow. Beckoned inside, and straightening as best arthritis would allow, she extended a hand. "Welcome. Welcome to Tench Tilghman's house."
By Ray Paulick - D.G. Van Clief Jr., commissioner of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and president of the Breeders' Cup, set a bullish target for the 2010 World Thoroughbred Championships: $200 million in pari-mutuel handle.
By Rob Whiteley - OK, I know we face many more than five absurdities in our industry. Like racetrack owners not working together sufficiently to stop the bleeding from offshore wagering. Or TVG not being able to show video from every track. Or medication rules and license requirements being different from state to state.
By Ray Paulick - The 2005 Horse of the Year vote figures to be a one-sided affair. Saint Liam raced strictly in grade I competition from early February until late November and won four of six races, including the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge in an impressive farewell performance.
By Dan Liebman - Standing outside the quarantine barn at Belmont Park a week prior to the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, Nick Clarke, retired head of the International Racing Bureau, was reflecting on the foreign participation over the history of the event.
By Ray Paulick - Emotions have run high the three previous times Belmont Park has hosted the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. They have run the gamut, too, from the pain and sorrow experienced when three runners died in 1990, to the exhilaration of Cigar's captivating run down the stretch in 1995, to the enduring human spirit shown in 2001, when Americans were still reeling from the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
By Steve Haskin - When Afleet Alex returned to Belmont Park July 28 following surgery to repair a small hairline fracture of his ankle, it was concluded by most everyone that two possibilities existed regarding his future: he either would recover sufficiently to race as a 4-year-old, or his career as a racehorse was over.
By Ray Paulick - So far, so good. That's the early report card on Polytrack, the all-weather surface that was tested under American racing conditions for the first time at the recently concluded Turfway Park meeting in Northern Kentucky.
By Victor Zast - If one is willing to view demise as a positive force, then it becomes easy to reckon with change. Racing should consider conducting three World Thoroughbred Championships in the course of the year, not one.
By Ray Paulick - Seldom do horses win a major stakes in a common gallop like Borrego won the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) Oct. 1. But you only have to go back three weeks, to Sept. 10, to see a similar romp, when Saint Liam won the Woodward (gr. I) in a laugher.
By Morton Cathro - Would you like a steak? Or a hamburger or bowl of chili, perhaps? For dessert we suggest a banana split, strawberry waffles, a slice of cherry pie, or donuts...and would you like a cold beer with that?
By Gary McMillen - Enough Doppler radar. It was Saturday afternoon when I drove out to Lake Pontchartrain to gather my thoughts and make a decision. Sitting on the seawall, listening to the splash of waves on the concrete steps, I noticed there were no seagulls. That's when I decided to evacuate. If the birds didn't want to be in New Orleans, I sure as hell didn't want to stay, either.
By Ray Paulick - The bidding duel between Dubai's Sheikh Mohammed and Ireland's John Magnier for the $9.7-million sale-topping Storm Cat--Tranquility Lake colt wasn't the only drama at Keeneland in the opening days of the annual September yearling auction.
By Ray Paulick - Horse racing people have heart. If that was ever in doubt, look no further than the extraordinary steps countless owners, breeders, trainers, jockeys, veterinarians, racing officials, fans, and others have taken in response to the terrible devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.
By Alfred H. Nuckols, Jr - On Sept. 2, an era in the history of Central Kentucky Thoroughbred breeding ended with the death of Charles Nuckols Jr. "Uncle Chas" to me and "Charlie" to his many friends, he was the last of a generation of Thoroughbred breeders known throughout the industry as "the Nuckols Brothers."
By Ray Paulick - Owner apathy. It's what Ed Friendly called the biggest obstacle to his successful effort a decade ago to overthrow the status quo and form the Thoroughbred Owners of California, the first and surprisingly only state organization to strictly represent horse owners in negotiations with racetracks on important matters such as purse contracts and simulcasting.
By Dr. Jeffrey T. Berk - Aside from the winner's circle, there is no place more exciting in the Thoroughbred world than the public auction, where buyers congregate at the sale ring in an attempt to purchase the next "big horse," whether it be designated for resale or racing.
By Ray Paulick - Unbeaten Lost in the Fog, America's most popular racehorse, is now its best, according to the Aug. 29 poll of racing journalists conducted by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.
By Larry Levin - Racing has developed a murky way of doing business. Concealing troubling information does not protect the sport--it allows the problem to grow. Nor is keeping the process hidden going to silence the growing number of people who have had enough. As New Orleans musician Dr. John put it, "If ignorance is bliss, why ain't more people happy?"
By Ray Paulick - There is a very good reason people are suspicious about Tim Smith's motives in his role as president of Friends of New York Racing, the industry funded think tank and research group behind the proposal to change the business model under which racing in the Empire State is run.
By Joe Hickey - Fanciful locker room tales aside, grown men are prone to sports fantasies worthy of young boys: catching a Tom Brady spiral to win the title game; walking into the clubhouse at Pinehurst or Torrey Pines with a two-stroke lead; crushing Randy Johnson's high heat for a walk-off home run; or hoisting the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trophy aloft for all the world to covet.
By Ray Paulick - The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium--RMTC for short--is one of the newer acronyms in horse racing's bountiful alphabet soup. Nevertheless, it is doing what many of its verb-challenged siblings are not: making progress on specific issues of concern within the industry.
By Victor Zast - It was good that I got to Lisa Sammons on the Tuesday that I did. A couple days later, she was flat on her back in bed. It turns out the dentist extracted her wisdom teeth. Luckily, I was the one to extract a bit of her wisdom.
By Ray Paulick - The stars were aligned at Saratoga last summer when Marylou Whitney's Birdstone was victorious in the Spa meeting's most prestigious race, the Travers (gr. I). No one personifies Saratoga Springs better than Whitney, whose tireless dedication to fund-raising for numerous charities reaches its zenith during the summer race meeting.
By Dan Liebman - Countless times that patented Pat Day ride has been witnessed and marveled at--that uncanny ability to give a horse a breather on the turn for home so there would be enough in the tank for the stretch drive.