One of the advantages in having turned to blogging full time at TwinSpires.com in 2015 has been the opportunity to delve into historical topics on occasion.
Since I began following racing in the late 1980s, I’ve been fascinated with the sport’s history. The period that most interests me is the 1950s and 1960s, when the sport was at its peak in terms of popularity with the general public and extensively covered by the nation’s major media outlets.
What follows is an anthology of blogs with an historical bent that I enjoyed putting together over the past 12 months, as well as a few others of personal interest.
Early in 2015 came the news of the impending closure of Atlantic City Race Course, so I looked back at the glory days at the New Jersey track best known for its top-class grass racing.
At the death of Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens in March, I argued that his early 1960s star Beau Purple was the very best of his upset specialists and the only one that came close to earning a Horse of the Year title.
During Preakness week, I looked back at Hall of Fame trainer LeRoy Jolley’s run of bad luck in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown. In modern times, no trainer ever started more losing favorites in the Preakness without ever winning it.
In June I spoke with G.D. Hieronymus about Keeneland Association’s attempts to preserve historic racing films, in particular the New York Racing Association’s (NYRA) archive.
In July I looked back on the 10th anniversary of my one and only trip to Epsom Downs in England, a day marred by tragedy in the British capital.
In advance of American Pharoh’s appearance at Monmouth Park, I looked back at the seemingly forgotten race that was the forerunner to the Haskell Invitational (G1).
At the announcement of Wise Dan’s retirement in September, I offered thoughts on which geldings in modern times are historically underrated.
On Veterans Day in November, I looked back at the history and significance of the late, great grass event at Laurel, and included vintage film footage and some rare photographs.
(Beau Purple photo: NYRA/Bob Coglianese)