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2012 Year in Review

horse racing

I'll Have Another won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness but was scratched from the Belmont.

Major Races in 2012

  Cash Call Futurity (G1) and Hollywood Turf Cup (G2)
  Valedictory Stakes
  Longines Hong Kong Cup
  Longines Hong Kong Vase
  Longines Hong Kong Mile
  Longines Hong Kong Sprint
  Longines International Jockeys' Championship
  Cigar Mile Day
  Delta Jackpot Stakes
  Melbourne Cup
  Breeders' Cup Saturday
  Breeders' Cup Friday
  Bunty Lawless Stakes at Woodbine
  Jean Lafitte and My Trusty Cat Stakes
  Pattison Canadian International (G1)
  E.P. Taylor and Nearctic Stakes
  Athenia and Knickerbocker Stakes
  FallStars Saturday at Keeneland
  Juddmonte Spinster (G1) and Bourbon Stakes (G3)
  Champagne, Frizette, and Jamaica Stakes
  Alcibiades and Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland
  Awesome Again (G1), Chandelier (G1), and the FrontRunner Stakes (G1)
  Zenyatta (G1) and Rodeo Drive Stakes
  Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1)
  Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1)
  Beldame (G1)
  Flower Bowl Invitational (G1)
  Vosburgh (G1)
  Kelso Handicap (G2)
  Cotillion Stakes (G1)
  Pennsylvania Derby (G2)
  Woodbine Mile (G1)
  Northern Dancer Turf (G1), Canadian Stakes (G2), and Ontario Derby (G3)
  Summer and Natalma Stakes
  Ricoh Woodbine Mile (G1) Entries
  Bowling Green Handicap (G2)
  Yellow Ribbon Handicap (G2)
  Del Mar Debutante (G1)
  Hopeful (G2) and Glens Falls Stakes (G3)
  Spinaway (G1) and Saranac Stakes (G3)
  Woodward Day at Saratoga
  Pacific Classic (G1)
  Travers (G1) and King's Bishop (G1) Stakes
  Test (G1), Ballston Spa (G2), and Ballerina (G1) Stakes
  Del Mar Oaks (G1)
  Arlington Million (G1)
  Beverly D (G1)
  Secretariat Stakes (G1)
  Alabama Stakes (G1) and Sword Dancer Invitational (G1)
  Evangeline Mile Handicap
  La Jolla Handicap (G2)
  Fourstardave Handicap (G2)
  Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1)
  Whitney Handicap (G1) and Prioress Stakes (G1)
  Honorable Miss Handicap (G2) and John's Call Stakes
  Haskell Invitational (G1)
  Haskell Undercard Stakes
  San Diego Handicap (G2) and Fleet Treat Stakes
  Diana (G1) and Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) at Saratoga
  Eddie Read Stakes (G1)
  Sanford Stakes (G2)
  TVG Coaching Club American Oaks (G1)
  Saratoga Opening Day Stakes
  Prince of Wales Stakes
  Man O'War Stakes (G1)
  Hollywood Gold Cup and Royal Heroine Mile
  Suburban Handicap (G2) and Victory Ride Stakes (G3)
  Ohio Derby (G3)
  Dominion Day Stakes (G3)
  Louisiana Legends Night at Evangeline Downs
  Queen's Plate
  Queen's Plate Undercard Stakes
  Mother Goose Stakes (G1)
  Royal Ascot 2012
  Stephen Foster Handicap (G1)
  Belmont Stakes
  Belmont Undercard Stakes
  Brooklyn Handicap (G2) and Jaipur Stakes (G3)
  Woodbine Oaks
  Metropolitan Handicap (G1)
  Ogden Phipps Handicap (G1)
  Preakness Stakes (G1)
  Preakness undercard stakes
  Black-Eyed Susan Day at Pimlico
  Kentucky Derby
  Kentucky Derby undercard stakes
  Kentucky Oaks
  Kentucky Oaks undercard stakes
  Whimsical Stakes (G3)
  Lexington Stakes (G2)
  Arkansas Derby (G1)
  Oaklawn and Count Fleet Handicaps
  Apple Blossom Handicap (G1)
  Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1)
  Wood Memorial and Bay Shore Stakes
  Carter Handicap and Comely Stakes
  Santa Anita Derby Day
  Dubai World Cup (G1)
  Florida Derby Day at Gulfstream Park
  Vinery Spiral Stakes Day at Turfway Park
  Rebel and Azeri Stakes
  Cheltenham Festival
  Razorback Handicap and Honeybee Stakes
  Santa Anita Handicap Day
  Gotham Stakes Day at Aqueduct
  Louisiana Derby Preview Day at the Fair Grounds
  Southwest Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn
  Louisiana Premier Night at Delta Downs
  Withers, Toboggan, and Corrections Stakes
  Sunshine Millions Day at Santa Anita

  Willowdale and Snowshoe Pacing Series Finals
  Cam Fella and Damsel Series Finals
  Pepsi North America Cup
  Breeders Crown Results

Date: 12/30/2012

With everyone celebrating the holidays, it is time to bid farewell to 2012 and the exciting racing 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's a look back at the best and worst of the 2012 racing season.

horse racing
Black Caviar carried her undefeated streak from Australia to England
The "girls beating the boys" theme was not as prevalent in 2012 as it had been for the last few years, but fans of the distaff side had their share of thrills. Australian supermare Black Caviar shipped to Royal Ascot to win the Diamond Jubilee Stakes over Moonlight Cloud, completing an all-female exacta. Mizdirection won the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, unleashing a Zenyatta-style rally under Mike Smith, and jockey Rosie Napravnik became the first female to win the Kentucky Oaks. Dixie Strike won the Prince of Wales Stakes and Irish Mission won the Breeders' Stakes, the second and third jewels of the Canadian Triple Crown respectively, while Solemia won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe as a 40-1 longshot. There had been talk of Royal Delta attempting the Breeders' Cup Classic, but instead her connections went the safe route as she easily repeated as the Ladies Classic champion. In addition, 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta gave birth to her first foal, a Bernardini colt on March 8, and will give birth to a Tapit foal in 2013.

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Monterosso wins the Dubai World Cup
The first "big day" of racing of the year was the 8th annual Sunshine Millions, but unlike the first 7 editions where the races were contested as a Florida vs. California breeder challenge, this year Gulfstream Park hosted it alone, restricting the entire event to Florida-breds, while Santa Anita carded three races for California-breds along with the three graded stakes run that afternoon. In the feature races, Holladay Road won the Crystal Water Stakes at Santa Anita, while Mucho Macho Man captured the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream. Mucho Macho Man would go on to win the Gulfstream Park and Suburban Handicaps for trainer Kathy Ritvo and was second in the Breeders' Cup Classic. In Dubai, once again the world's richest purses were up for grabs at Meydan, but American connections were completely shut out. Monterosso won the World Cup for the home Godolphin team, Cirrus des Aigles won the Sheema Classic, Cityscape won the Duty Free, Daddy Long Legs won the UAE Derby, African Story won the Godolphin Mile, and Opinion Poll won the Dubai Gold Cup.

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I'll Have Another wins the Preakness
The Triple Crown started off very promising but ended with a huge disappointment. Santa Anita Derby winner I'll Have Another, dismissed at 15-1, outfinished favorite Bodemeister to win the Kentucky Derby, giving jockey Mario Gutierrez his first Derby win in his first attempt. In addition it was the first Derby victory for owner J. Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O'Neill. Two weeks later, the script looked the same, with I'll Have Another catching Bodemeister late in the Preakness. For the first time since Big Brown in 2008, the racing world looked to Belmont Park hoping for the 12 Triple Crown winner and an end to the drought that had gone 34 years. Unfortunately, the day before the Belmont Stakes, I'll Have Another came back lame from a morning jog, revealing a tendon injury and thus forcing his retirement from racing. Reddam sold him to Japanese interests and he was shipped overseas for stallion duty. With the heavy favorite out, that left the Test of a Champion wide open, and allowed Union Rags a chance at redemption, as the Derby 7th place finisher passed Paynter along the rail to win for jockey John Velazquez, trainer Michael Matz, and owner-breeder Phyllis Wyeth.

horse racing
Strait of Dover wins the Queen's Plate
With the American Triple Crown completed, our focus moved north of the border for the Canadian Triple Crown, with the Queen's Plate celebrating its 153rd running as the oldest continuously-run stakes race in North America. Strait of Dover became the the first British Columbia-bred winner of the Gallop for the Guineas, winning in track record time under Justin Stein for trainer Dan Vella and owners Wally and Terry Leong. However, as a synthetic and turf specialist he did not gallop well over dirt so Vella opted to keep him out of the Prince of Wales Stakes, as Dixie Strike won at Fort Erie for trainer Mark Casse and jockey Patrick Husbands. Strait of Dover, like I'll Have Another, came up lame and had to skip the Breeders' Stakes, as Woodbine Oaks winning filly Irish Mission came back to win the 1 1/2 mile turf classic for trainer Mark Frostad and owner Robert Evans.

horse racing
Wise Dan wins the Breeders' Cup Mile
The Breeders' Cup World Championships, back at Santa Anita after 2 years at Churchill, determine most of the Eclipse Awards, but the results did not give us a clear winner for Horse of the Year. On Friday, Royal Delta repeated as Ladies Classic champion, and then on Saturday, Wise Dan romped in the Mile in course record time, and in the Classic, Fort Larned held off late-running Mucho Macho Man. Any of these three have a case for the golden trophy. Calidoscopio became the first South American-trained horse to win a Breeders' Cup race when he won the Marathon. A rare American exacta occurred in the Turf, normally dominated by Europeans, as Little Mike defeated Point of Entry, with defending champ St Nicholas Abbey third. Shanghai Bobby capped off an undefeated career so far in the Juvenile, making him an early favorite for the Kentucky Derby. Among the other winners, Trinniberg won the Sprint, Tapizar took the Dirt Mile, Groupie Doll won the Filly and Mare Sprint, Beholder won the Juvenile Fillies, and Zagora won the Filly and Mare Turf. The issue of race-day medications came to a head at the Breeders' Cup, which had decided to prohibit their use in their juvenile races in 2012 and all races in 2013. In protest, high-profile owner Mike Repole refused to enter any of his horses at Santa Anita, also complaining that New York had been snubbed, having not hosted the Breeders' Cup World Championships since Belmont Park in 2005.

Along with the equine and human losses listed below, racing also lost a longtime media outlet as Thoroughbred Times, which began as the Thoroughbred Record in 1895, declared bankruptcy and closed its doors for good on September 14. 27 full time employees as well as dozens of part timers, contractors, and freelancers were suddenly out of work, many of which were still owed payments for work that was published. Subscribers are also listed as creditors, and would not receive any refunds for the unused portions of their subscriptions. Unfortunately this is reflective of racing media in general, as mainstream media outlets continue to reduce if not eliminate horse racing coverage, with racetrack press boxes increasingly empty.
horse racing
Chantal Sutherland after riding the final race of her career on October 21st.

Racing did get into the public eye as the setting of the popular HBO series "Luck", starring Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte, and retired jockey Gary Stevens. Jockey Chantal Sutherland, who later announced her retirement from riding, made several cameo appearances in the show, filmed on location at Santa Anita Park. The show received positive reviews and respectable ratings, however, public outcry over the euthanization of three horses due to injuries sustained during filming (one during the pilot, the second in the 7th episode, and the third during filming of the second season) caused HBO to suspend all filming and cancel the series.

horse racing
Woodbine President and CEO Nick Eaves announces that Woodbine may close at the Queen's Plate post position draw.
Politics seems to rear its ugly head every year, and nowhere was this felt worse in 2012 than in the province of Ontario in Canada. The government, feeling a cash crunch, decided to scapegoat the racing industry, calling racing's very small cut of slot machine revenues as a "subsidy" and announced the cancellation of the highly successful slots at racetracks program. The slots had proven beneficial to all parties involved -- purses have skyrocketed, many capital improvements have been made to Ontario's aging tracks, while the government raked in billions, since tracks and horsemen only got to keep 20% of revenues. The government immediately closed the slots facilities at Fort Erie as well as 2 harness tracks on the Michigan border, and is planning to close all the others at the end of March 2013. Fort Erie announced it would close for good at the end of the 2012 racing season, which ended a day early due to the remnants of Hurricane Sandy. Woodbine management threatened to close the historic Toronto oval, announcing to the stunned crowd and media at the post position draw that "this may be the last Queen's Plate". At time of writing, Fort Erie has requested race dates for 2013 but may not use them, while Woodbine has not yet requested dates for a 2013 meet. The ruling Liberal party's leader stepped down, with a leadership convention expected in the spring and an election soon after, and it appears that both opposition parties as well as every Liberal leadership candidate agrees that the previous administration's move was wrong.

horse racing
California Memory winning the Hong Kong Cup for the second year in a row
Foreign racing, besides the Dubai World Cup, continues to attract more and more attention in North America with increased availability of betting outlets and TV coverage. In the Melbourne Cup, the "race that stops a nation", Green Moon defeated two defending champions, under jockey Brett Prebble for owner Nick Williams and trainer Robert Hickmott. In Europe, Frankel completed his career a perfect 14 for 14, retiring to stud duty with a 1 3/4 length win in the QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot under regular rider Tom Queally for trainer Henry Cecil. Unfortunately he never ventured away from England, as American race fans had hoped he would ship to Santa Anita to take on Wise Dan in the Mile or switch to dirt in the Classic at the track where his namesake, trainer Bobby Frankel, had ruled for years. The year closed out with the Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin. California Memory won the Cup for the second year in a row, Ambitious Dragon won the Mile, Red Cadeaux won the Vase, and Lord Kanaloa won the Sprint. Boxing Day in England saw Long Run win his second King George VI Stakes at Kempton Park, (which he won the first time in 2010), which closes out the calendar year but marks the beginning of National Hunt season in Europe.

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Tina Hines (with Chris Antley in 1999)
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Chief Bearhart
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Giant Ryan
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Grand Slam
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Madcap Escapade
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Of course, with all the excitement and joy the sport brings, there are always losses each year. Once again many horses lost their lives due to injury while others succumbed to illness or old age. Here are some of the notable losses in 2012, both human and equine, with links to articles about each. If I missed someone, please let me know.

      Trainers and Jockeys

      Owners and Breeders


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

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