By Gene Kershner
It’s a slow time in the thoroughbred racing world, so let’s take a timeout this week and take a glance back at some of my 2012 predictions that I concocted last December at the EquiSpace blog. On an annual basis for the past three years I’ve made some bold predictions by looking into a crystal ball relating to the upcoming year in horse racing. We didn’t fare too badly, but let’s look closely at my top 10 projected moments of 2012 now that the racing year is practically in the books.
1. Horse from the outside gate will win the Derby. I wish I would have listened to myself on this one. A week before the Derby, I was touting I’ll Have Another, but like many, was spooked the moment he drew post No. 19. No horse had ever won from that post. Of course, he won chasing down a game Bodemeister from the outside gate and giving me for a short period of time a batting average of 1.000. (1 for 1)
2. One of the Classics will end in a photo. When the photo sign went up at the Preakness, I was in full on Kreskin-mode. Stop the race. What a beautiful thing. (2 for 2)
3. A female jockey will be ITM in one of the Classics. All good things have to come to an end. With only one chance, Rosie Napravnik on Five Sixteen (who unfortunately passed away this week) in the Belmont, this one died on the vine. Rosie also had a mount on Derby hopeful Mark Valeski, but he was pulled out a week before the race. Ironically, she became the first female jockey to win the Kentucky Oaks and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, so I wasn’t too far off. (2 for 3)
4. The Florida Derby will wield us the Derby winner. Take Charge Indy, my pick for third in the paper, started to make a move on the far turn, but came up injured with a bone chip and the Florida Derby champ finished next to last. The Santa Anita Derby was the prep that delivered I’ll Have Another, the first time in 23 years that the winner of that race prevailed in Louisville. (2 for 4)
5. One of the three winners of the Canadian classics will win a graded stake later in the year. While the year has a six weeks left, it appears neither Prince of Wales winner Dixie Strike or Breeders Stakes winner Irish Mission will run again this year. The Plate winner, Strait of Dover, was sidelined with an injury after the race and will not race again in 2012. We’re going sharpie on this one. (2 for 5)
6. Haskell hat is yellow. I went with yellow since the giveaway hat hasn’t been that color since 2002 and I thought it most certainly would be due. I attended this year’s race at beautiful Monmouth Park and arrived to a sea of blue hats. Boo. (2 for 6…starting to stagger home)
7. Pletcher will win the Saratoga Training Title. No way that I was getting shut out completely. This was the 2-footer, the gimme. He won going away, besting his next closest competitor, Chad Brown, by seven wins, finishing with the top total of 36. (3 for 7)
8. Santa Anita will be awarded the 2013 Breeders’ Cup. There was some speculation a smaller track, like Monmouth in New Jersey would be awarded the ’13 Cup. However, Santa Anita prevailed for the second year in a row; the BC will be headed to California. (4 for 8)
9. The BC Classic winner will go off at odds greater than 10-1. Ouch. Fort Larned went off at 9.4-1. Can we round up? Can’t get any closer than that. That’s a tough one to put in the loss column. (4 for 9)
10. A scandal will rock the racing industry. Ok, so that’s a pretty subjective and wide open topic. I’m going to say the NYRA botching of the takeout rate increase resulting in the untimely dismissal of CEO Charlie Hayward and VP/Chief Counsel Patrick Kehoe qualifies as a scandal. Emails between Daily Racing Form editor Steven Crist and Hayward eventually led to his downfall and the revamping of the NYRA board after Governor Andrew Cuomo assumed control. (5 for 10).
The channeling of my inner Kreskin results in a 50 percent showing for 2012, easily my best effort in several years, and was sniffing a couple of the other predictions. I’ve already started working on 2013’s big picks, so stay tuned in December when I release next year’s list.