Thoroughbred fans returned to tracks with great enthusiasm after a year’s absence due to the pandemic.
Business was brisk on all fronts as racing celebrated some sense of normalcy and looked ahead to a bright (hopefully) future.
Here are just a few highlights from the year that was 2021.
WHAT A HORSE: There will be no suspense when Horse of the Year is announced. It will be KNICKS GO. And, like many of his races, it will not be close. The 5-year-old son of PAYNTER displayed brilliant early speed and the breath-taking ability to carry it during a campaign highlighted by triumphs in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the Whitney Stakes and Pegasus World Cup Invitational. KNICKS GO Won five of seven starts and banked more than $7.3 million dollars in a dazzling season. He is set to conclude his fantastic career with a highly anticipated showdown against LIFE IS GOOD in the January 29th Pegasus before retiring to a life as an in-demand stallion.
WHAT A TRAINER: Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen broke a record he had ambitiously targeted years ago. On the Whitney Stakes undercard at Saratoga, 2-year-old STELLAR TAP Won the seven furlong 5th race. This gave Asmussen his 9,446th career Victory, surpassing the late Dale Baird for the all-time lead in North America. In the Winner’s Circle, an emotional Asmussen said; “To be surrounded by people you love and who love you, and you have a common goal, it’s impossible to put into words what horse racing means to me and my whole family and to all the employees. They’re family and they know they are and they are treated as such.”
WHAT A CLASS: AMERICAN PHAROAH, Todd Pletcher and Jack Fisher comprised a superstar lineup when the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame enshrined its latest class. AMERICAN PHAROAH, of course, emphatically ended a record 37-year drought between Triple Crown Champions capturing all three jewels in 2015. Pletcher has Won an unprecedented seven Eclipse Awards as North America’s leading trainer to go with a pair of Kentucky Derby Victories and three Belmont Stakes triumphs. Fisher ranks prominently among Champion steeplechase trainers. “Training horses is all I ever wanted to do,” said Pletcher. “I remember being 11 or 12 and telling my mom and she said it was wonderful. From that point on, with her endorsement, I never thought about doing anything else.”
There were many more highlights throughout the past year, these are just a couple that resonated with us.
The Daily Racing Blog wishes all our readers a Happy and prosperous (seek value) New Year, and Happy Birthday to all the 2-year-old colts.
Let the Prep races begin in earnest.