The end of another year is upon us, thus time to anthologize some of my better (IMHO) takes and features published throughout 2017 at Brisnet.com. (you can find my “Best of” collections for 2015 and 2016 here).
Enjoy, and if you have any thoughts or comments let me know via Twitter (@VPHanson).
We started the new year looking back 30, to 1987, and the underrated rivalry between two notable California-based stalwarts.
In the wake of his scintillating win in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup (G1), I argued for Arrogate to take a pass on a trip to Dubai, a suggestion not heeded and one that might have changed the narrative of the racing season. I also gave a few thoughts on the “inaugural” running of the world’s richest Thoroughbred race.
Following the announcement of the 2016 Eclipse Award winners in late January, I noted how unique the season was in the number of likely Hall of Fame inductees that won divisional championships and looked back at vintage years of the past.
When Churchill Downs inherited a pair of graded stakes from Arlington for 2017, I looked back at prominent graded stakes transferring homes across state lines and also reviewed the suspect history behind the “missing” renewals of the Preakness (G1) from the late 19th century.
Three-time champion filly Royal Delta was one of the major Thoroughbred losses during the year. I looked back on my experience of witnessing her first stakes win in the 2011 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) at Pimlico.
In advance of Gun Runner’s authoritative victory in Churchill’s most important spring/summer test for older horses, I reviewed the rapid rise to prominence of the Stephen Foster H. (G1).
On the 50th anniversary of Buckpasser’s victory in the Suburban carrying 133 pounds, I lamented the historic race’s change from a handicap to an allowance stakes for its 2017 renewal.
Perhaps my favorite feature of 2017 was a retrospective on two Calumet Farm-owned fillies, Princess Turia and Our Mims, who captured the Delaware H. (G1) 60 and 40 years ago, respectively.
With the success this summer of her great-granddaughter Proctor’s Ledge, I looked back at the fascinating career of Drumtop, an early female turf star in American racing.
On the 30th anniversary of his final race, I paid homage to turf star Manila’s victory in the 1987 Arlington Million (G1).
Yet another look back on a historic anniversary, the 1967 edition of the Woodward was dubbed the “Race of the Century” with a clash involving Hall of Fame members Buckpasser, Damascus, and Dr. Fager. The Woodward has a very different look today.
I had the opportunity to visit three Thoroughbred tracks for the first time in 2017. I wrote about two for our “Day At the Races” feature, reviewing my experiences from Indiana Derby Day at Indiana Grand and the most successful day of racing (to date) at Kentucky Downs.