Happy New Year to you all! I hope that your celebrations were wonderful and that 2012 brings you all you desire. Also, Happy Birthday to all our Thoroughbred friends. Officially they all turn another year older today, no matter their actual foaling date.
As a new year starts it pays to look back and see what 2011 brought us. As you also have noticed, it signals the launch of the new look of this blog. I felt that it was time to shake things up and give the space a fresh, new look. I look forward to your thoughts and comments as well as seeing what 2012 will bring to Tabby Lane, her possible stablemates and the racing world both here in Minnesota and the sport at large.
By all accounts Tabby Lane had a good 2011. She raced 12 times, winning four, placing once and earning just a shade under $33,000, but there were ups and downs and lessons to learn along the way. She won a quarter of her starts and it’s hard to ask for much more than that. She did it while racing safe and sound and for that I count my blessings.
Tabby’s Best Moment – Winning 3 of 4 at Canterbury. One of the joys of owning a racehorse is the ability to watch it run and, hopefully, win. Tabby made it to the winner’s circle three times in front of our eyes and the home crowd this year and it simply does not get any better than that.
Tabby’s Worst Moment – Discovering that for whatever the reason, Tabby hates Remington. For the second year in a row she completely laid an egg after moving to Oklahoma. In both cases, though this year much more than the previous, she headed into the Fall with a lot of promise and exited it with a lot of nothing.
Tabby’s Financial situation – Tabs was facing a deep hole after she ran her first race at Tampa Bay Downs in 2011. She was down over $4,000 since the claim. She finished 2011 at virtually dead even, making up that deficit and then some. However, it does draw into contrast how even in a successful year for a racehorse – and by any definition Tabby had a successful year – it’s difficult to make money campaigning a racehorse. You don’t get into this game to get rich so you better love it and have your eyes open going in.
Biggest Surprise – The Great Canterbury Park Shutdown of 2011. I would have never thought that the politicians in St. Paul would have ever allowed the state to shutdown over the budget and certainly didn’t think that it would last three weeks and jeopardize the entire season. It did give me great fodder for my maiden season writing for the Daily Racing Form but dealt Minnesota racing a blow that will be difficult to rebound from.
Best Comeback – Mac Robertson, who was trailing the trainer standings deep into the meet ended up winning the title going away by 8 by the time the final race was run. All season long was a battle between Canterbury Hall of Famer Bernell Rhone and Michael Biehler with Robertson stalking but not dominating the standings as he has in past years. The newly minted Canterbury Hall of Famer went on a tear the last four weeks of the meet and had the title all but secure by Festival Day.
Non-Race Race – Dean Butler annihilated the field for the top jockey award in 2011. He started hot, stayed hot and came back strong after the state imposed break to top the standings with 83 wins, distancing Derek Bell, a 2011 inductee into the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame, by 14 wins.
My Story of the Year – Based upon page views, the story on my trip to the auction and feedlot garnered a tremendous amount of traffic. To give you an idea, a run of the mill story usually grabs 60 pageviews in a day; if it’s picked up by The Paulick Report or Equidaily that may swell to a couple of hundred. This story wasn’t picked up by either but still pulled in over 600 pageviews.
Most Interesting Story – The ongoing saga of expanded gaming at the racetracks. A corollary is the sudden resignation of expanding gaming opponent Sen. Amy Koch (R) as majority leader and the elevation of Sen. David Senjem (R), a vocal proponent of racino, to replace her. This sets the stage for what will, in all likelihood, be the make or break year for racino – and possibly racing’s future – in Minnesota.
Minnesota Festival Day – Festival Day is always a fun day and, as usual, was a coronation of the best horses at low odds. The 2011 edition featured some real standout performances. Bella Notte’s swan song (whoops, not really) win was almost the cherry on the cake of her brilliant career. Heliskier and Keewatin Ice stamped themselves as the juveniles to watch as they turn three and head for the Canterbury 3 year old stakes next season. Tubby Time’s dominating performance in the Turf capped off a wonderful campaign that led to Horse of the Meet honors.
2011 was a year of ups and downs for Minnesota racing and Tabby Lane. We learned that Tabby dsilikes the surface at Remington so this season will be spent at Tampa and Canterbury before she heads for R&R, skipping the Oklahoma fall season. In Minnesota, we knew that racing and politics have always been intertwined, but this year the two intersected in a way to close down racing in the state altogether. Holes were exposed in the regulation and oversight of the sport here that needs to be addressed in the coming biennium to prevent the closure of a private business as a result of government gridlock.
A new year always starts off with hope and promise and 2012 is no exception. I wish you all a year filled with peace, love, happiness and a boatload of success!