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2007 Year in Review

Street Sense won the Kentucky Derby and the Travers.

Major Races in 2007

  Sunshine Millions
  Donn Handicap
  Fountain of Youth
  Risen Star
  Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup
  Santa Anita Handicap
  Louisiana Derby & Fair Grounds Oaks
  New Orleans Handicap
  Lane's End
  Dubai World Cup
  Florida Derby
  Wood Memorial
  Kentucky Derby
  Sheepshead Bay
  Met Mile
  Ogden Phipps
  Aristides BC
  Stephen Foster Handicap
  Royal Ascot
  New York Breeders' Cup
  Plate Trial
  Queen's Plate
  Dominion Day Hcp
  Hollywood Gold Cup
  Tom Fool & Dwyer
  United Nations Stakes
  Prince of Wales Stakes
  Coaching Club American Oaks
  Dance Smartly
  Northern Dancer BC Turf
  Lake George
  Diana Hcp
  Jim Dandy
  Arlington Million
  Beverly D.
  Saratoga Special
  Lake Placid
  Personal Ensign
  Pennsylvania Derby
  Garden City
  Man O'War
  Woodbine Mile
  Brooklyn & Gallant Bloom
  Matron & Futurity
  Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe
  Kentucky Cup
  Flower Bowl & Kelso
  Joe Hirsch Turf Classic
  Jockey Club Gold Cup
  Breeders' Cup Grand National Steeplechase
  Far Hills Race Meeting
  E.P. Taylor Stakes
  Canadian International
  Raven Run Stakes
  Breeders' Cup
  Melbourne Cup
  Maple Leaf Stakes
  Falls City & Clark
  Kentucky Jockey Club & Golden Rod
  Fall Highweight
  Red Smith Hcp
  Japan Cup
  DeFrancis Dash
  Cigar Mile & Discovery Handicap
  Remsen & Demoiselle Stakes
  Hong Kong International Races   Calder Grand Slam

  North America Cup & Classic Series
  Meadowlands Pace
  Breeders Crown 4 & up
  Metro Pace
  Breeders Crown 2 & 3yo
  Yonkers Trot

Date: 12/24/07

With everyone celebrating the holidays, it is time to bid farewell to 2007 and the exciting racing that we were treated to. This year had some outstanding horses and great feats by both equine and human athletes, but we also had some sad losses to mourn. Here is a look back at the best and worst of 2007.

The year always starts off in the southern states of California, Louisiana, and Florida, where top racing stables spend the winter. The Sunshine Millions, the brainchild of Frank Stronach set up as a California vs Florida breeder war, celebrated its fourth renewal in January. In the main event, the Classic, 34-1 longshot McCann's Mojave pulled off a huge upset, defeating 42-1 Summer Book. Lava Man

Invasor wins the Dubai World Cup.
continued his streak of California wins by capturing the Turf at home at Santa Anita. January ended on a very sad note, as 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro was euthanized. He broke down during the Preakness and was immediately sent to the care of Dr. Dean Richardson at the New Bolton Center, with the racing world following his progress for the next 7 months. Despite the original fracture being repaired, he suffered from laminitis as a complication which could not be controlled.

In March, the eyes of the racing world were on Nad al Sheba Racecourse in Dubai for the $6 million Dubai World Cup, the world's richest horse race. Among the U.S. based runners, 2006 Horse of the Year Invasor defeated Premium Tap in the main event, Kelly's Landing captured the Golden Shaheen, defeating Friendly Island, and Spring at Last won the Godolphin Mile. Lava Man again showed he could not win away from home, fading late to finish last after looking like he had a chance at the win at the top of the stretch. The biggest disappointment that night was Discreet Cat, the highly-touted Godolphin hope in the World Cup, who was never in it and finished last.

Rags to Riches wins the Belmont over Curlin
Like 2006, the Triple Crown series saw three different horses take home their respective trophies. In the Kentucky Derby, one of the biggest jinxes in racing was broken as 2006 Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Street Sense, with regular rider Calvin Borel in the irons, powered by Hard Spun in the stretch to win the roses for owner James Tafel and trainer Carl Nafzger. In the Preakness, Street Sense had the lead in late stretch but Curlin, who did not race as a 2-year-old, ran him down late to get up for the win. Three weeks later in the Belmont, Street Sense's connections opted out and Curlin looked like he had the race to himself. However, Kentucky Oaks winner Rags to Riches came from well off the pace to catch Curlin at the line, becoming the first filly since Tanya in 1905 to win the Belmont Stakes.

With the American Triple Crown completed, our focus moved north of the border for the Canadian Triple Crown. With Polytrack installed at Woodbine, this is the only Triple Crown series where the three races are not only at different distances but at different surfaces. History was made in the Queen's Plate, the first ever run on a synthetic track, as Mike Fox split horses in deep stretch to get the victory, making jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson the only female rider to win the Gallop for the Guineas. The action moved south to Fort Erie for the Prince of Wales Stakes over a conventional dirt surface, where Alezzandro led every step of the way to win, with Mike Fox fourth. Back to Woodbine and its E.P. Taylor Turf Course, Marchfield captured the Breeders' Stakes for owner Eugene Melnyk, trainer Mark Casse, and jockey Patrick Husbands, who would go on to win Sovereign Awards in their respective categories. Those same connections were also behind Horse of the Year Sealy Hill, who captured the Woodbine Oaks, Bison City, and Wonder Where to become Canada's first Triple Tiara winner.

Curlin wins a soggy Breeders' Cup Classic at Monmouth Park
The Breeders' Cup World champions determine most of the Eclipse Awards, and Curlin's romp in the Classic over the slop at Monmouth Park may have sealed Horse of the Year honors for the 3-year-old son of Smart Strike. After an injury-free two days of racing despite a very sloppy main track and a waterlogged turf course, tragedy struck in the final furlong of the very last race. George Washington broke down in the stretch of the Classic and had to be euthanized on the track while the celebrations for Curlin continued in the winner's circle. Despite a wet turf course, the Europeans were shut out, as American-trained horses swept all four turf races. English Channel took the Turf over top Euro hope Dylan Thomas, Kip Deville won the Mile, Lahudood captured the Filly and Mare Turf, and Nownownow won the inaugural Juvenile Turf. This was the first year of the World Championships' new 2-day format, with 3 new races added on Friday, and the first time the Championships were held in New Jersey.

Synthetic surfaces appeared in more locations in 2007, as California racing mandated they be installed at all Thoroughbred tracks in that state. Santa Anita and Hollywood Park opted for Cushion Track, while Del Mar went with Polytrack. Presque Isle Downs, a new track that opened in Erie, Pennsylvania in September, features a Tapeta racing surface, and thanks to a short meet and slot machines that had been open for several months, also offered very high purses for its inaugural meet. Problems with synthetics that didn't appear in 2006 definitely showed up in 2007, as the European innovation often did not hold up to the harsher North American climate, with our hotter summers and colder winters.

Ramonti wins the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup over Viva Pataca

The New York Racing Association continued to be a hot topic, as the expiration date of their current franchise drew closer. Governor Eliot Spitzer favored an extension of the franchise for 30 years but with the state taking over ownership of the land, a legal sticking point through the whole proceeding. But as the deadline approached, Senate majority leader Joseph Bruno expressed disagreement with the governor, and at time of writing the issue had still not been settled and it is not known whether Aqueduct would be open for racing on New Year's Day.

Foreign racing, besides the Dubai World cup, continues to attract more and more attention in North America with increased availability of betting outlets. Favorite Dylan Thomas won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe over 80-1 longshot Youmzain. Then in December, Ramonti shipped in from England to win the Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin Racecourse over Viva Pataca. French-based horse Doctor Dino, who also won the Man O'War Stakes at Belmont Park, captured the Hong Kong Vase while Dylan Thomas finished seventh in the last race of his career. A week later, it was announced that the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club

It was another banner year for trainer Todd Pletcher
signed a new sponsorship agreement with France Galop, with the 2008 Arc being worth 4 million euros (about $5.8 million U.S.) This will make it the second richest race in the world, $6 million Dubai World Cup continuing to top the racing world in prize money.

As the adage goes, "records were made to be broken", and 2007 is no exception. Trainer Todd Pletcher broke his own record for wins in a single year and money earned and may break other records by December 31. Jerry Hollendorfer earned win number 5000, Scott Lake reached 4000 wins, while Mark Hennig and Richard Dutrow Jr. each notched win number 1000. Several jockeys hit some key milestones, with Mario Pino notching win number 6000, Ricky Frazier winning his 3000th, Travis Dunkelberger won his 3000th, Terry Thompson earned win number 2000, and Abel Castellano won his 1000th. As well, jockey Garrett Gomez broke Jerry Bailey's record for stakes wins in a year.

Of course, with all the excitement and joy the sport brings, there are always losses each year. Along with Barbaro and George Washington, once again many horses lost their lives due to injury while others succumbed to illness or old age. It is hoped that the switch to synthetic surfaces will lead to a reduction in such incidents as its proponents have predicted. Here are some of the notable losses in 2007, both human and equine, with links to articles about each. If I missed someone, please let me know.
Trainers Jockeys and Agents Owners and Breeders Others   Horses  

Bill Hartack


John Henry

George Washington

Runaway Groom

Quiet Resolve

As other places put their year end recaps online, I will add links to them here.

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