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Returns and Farewells

I spent most of the holiday weekend traveling up and down the Eastern seaboard, and as a result only got the news about Saturday’s somber day at Aqueduct after the fact. I’d seen the Cigar Mile results in brief and saw a few ‘what a shame’ comments, but initially thought the shame was the difficult DQ situation between Harlem Rocker and Tale of Ekati (the eventual official winner) – and the fact that Wanderin Boy (right) had finished at the back. Unable to really investigate at the time, I assumed initially it was going to be something of a throwout like his Woodward effort in 2007, or his earlier New Orleans Handicap last-place finish – no doubt he had another injury, but he’d be back again in good form, as ever.

Obviously, I was wrong.

If you have not already read Steve Haskin’s response to Wanderin Boy’s death, be sure you do; despite seemingly endless physical problems, the horse returned to the highest level of the sport again and again, and I can only agree with Haskin – it should not have ended the way it did. Having said that, horses can contrive to mortally injure themselves in the most benign settings, whether it be a stall or a field; given his soundness issues, it’s probably for the best he never went to stud, but it would have been lovely to see him have a long, healthy retirement. I recommend these parting glances from Green but Game, Brooklyn Backstretch and Gathering the Wind; it’s evident that Wanderin Boy will be missed.

Springside’s injury in the Demoiselle does lead one to wonder what was in the water at Aqueduct that day; while the early word is that she came out of surgery well and is expected to recover, it’s certainly jarring to see horses break down in two races on the same card. One hopes that lessons might be learned – whatever they might be.

As is so often the case in racing, Saturday’s dark events were followed by a thrilling performance on Sunday, when Cocoa Beach overpowered the retiring Precious Kitten in the stretch in the Matriarch at Hollywood Park. And let us not forget that Friday was a good day as well – fan favorite Einstein won the Clark Handicap. He seems to be getting better and even more multi-dimensional with age; if the ongoing legal silliness surrounding him and former stablemate Curlin at least serves to keep him in training, it can’t be all bad.

Finally, and not a moment too soon, the Holiday Classic returns at Post Parade! Don’t miss out on this annual tradition…

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