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Stories of the Year, 2008 Edition

Performance of the Year: Zarkava
Simply the best. Imagine what she could have accomplished at 4 – oh well.

The Reigning Champ: Curlin
An easy Dubai World Cup win, a turf experiment, a broken earnings record – it was great to see him running at four.

Most Underrated Horse Out There: Einstein
Einstein has been forced to carry a lot more than most horses for the past few years – his complicated legal situation kept him running in some races for which he was ready to go, he was forced to switch from turf to dirt a few times and he even took on former stablemate Curlin. Each time, he gave it his all and proved a consistent threat – and often a winner. Here’s hoping we see him back as a 7-year-old – but with better owners (although still with trainer Helen Pitts, please).

Breeders’ Cup: Zenyatta and the Euros
Zenyatta’s easy victory only added to her illustrious year; Goldikova showed everyone what she’s capable of when Zarkava isn’t in front of her and the European contenders spanked their American counterparts at almost every opportunity. While the surface was the source of much griping by the defeated American contingent, I think the no-drug policy played nearly as a large a role – and that’s a good thing. I would also suggest that ‘Zenyatta and the Euros’ could be a great name for a Katrina and the Waves cover band.

Most Column Inches Generated: Big Brown
Way back in early 2008, when newspapers still covered racing, they knew they had a story. You may recall the heartwarming tale of a horse with sore feet from the wrong side of the tracks who was discovered by some Wall Street errand boys; after turning him over to am unknown trainer desperately trying to overcome his inglorious, drug-filled past, they won the Triple Crown. Or something like that. I can’t quite remember at this far remove.

So, there you have it – I recommend breaking out an Avery Ale to the Chief or Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale (if you can snag one) for your New Year’s celebration – here’s to a great racing year in 2009!

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