To say 2001 was an eventful year in the United States and the rest of the world is a huge understatement. The events of September 11th and the subsequent war have left a mark on our society that will never go away and drastically changed the way people live and think about the world. This had an effect on racing as it did on most things but it wasn't the only major news event of the year for the industry.
Disease struck heavy blows on both sides of the Atlantic with foot and mouth disease wreaking havoc with European racing and Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome costing the breeding industry in Kentucky millions of dollars in lost foals and broodmares.
On a happier note, racing was brought to the attention of the general public in a nice way by the surprise success of Laura Hillenbrand's book "Seabiscuit: An American Legend" which reached number 1 and spent 26 weeks in the top ten of the New York Times best-seller list. This book has already won awards in the U.S. and Europe including the Eclipse Award for writing.
Several jockeys reached major milestones with Chris McCarron winning his 7000th race in April, Pat Day winning his 8000th in May, Russell Baze winning his 7500th in September, Brazillian Jorge Ricardo winning his 8000th in October (4th ever to do so), Tim Moccasin setting the North American record of 14 consecutive wins at Marquis Downs in Saskatchewan in September, and Jerry Bailey becoming first to reach $20 million in purse earnings in a year.
Of course there are always losses each year and here are a few of the gone but not forgotten names in racing:
Exogenous in the winner's circle after the Beldame. She died a few days after flipping in the post parade for the Breeders' Cup Distaff and hitting her head.
Point Given in the winner's circle after the Preakness. Sadly he had to retire due to injury at the end of August and never got to face older horses on the track, but he dominated the 3-year-olds.
The foot and mouth epidemic in England caused many meets to be cancelled and precautions, such as walking through disenfectant mats, were taken everywhere. Photo courtesy of Tom Sporney.
Photos ©2001, Cindy Pierson Dulay except where noted.
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