After writing the Hangin' With
Haskin column for 12 years and the Derby Dozen, numerous features and columns,
and providing lead coverage of all the major stakes for 22 years, I no longer
will be writing for the Blood Horse and Bloodhorse.com due to
my contract coming to an end. So this is my final column.
As most of you know, I resigned from
my regular job at BloodHorse in 2015 and have been working freelance for the
past five years, maintaining the title on the masthead of Senior Correspondent.
It has been a fun and, in my mind, fruitful five years, and I hope it provided
readers with a good deal of information, history, entertainment, and behind the
scenes back stories, as well as a place to express your thoughts and opinions,
as the column has done since 2008.
I want to thank the
Blood-Horse and The Jockey Club for offering me the lucrative deal they did
five years ago following my resignation and for hiring me as lead writer in
It has been a long
and rewarding road, writing about racing for 45 years, going back to the Thoroughbred Record, Thoroughbred Times, and Daily Racing Form as National
Correspondent and lead writer.
I have not ruled out
writing freelance in the future, but there are few websites available for what
I do. There are possible plans in the works for a website/blog, which I
will announce on Facebook if that comes to fruition. For now I will
continue posting occasional racing related thoughts and racing photos on
This final column is
just to thank all of you for your support, kind words, and contributions over
the years. Many have been members of this community for a long time, and I wish
to express my gratitude to all of you in particular.
I leave you with some of
my most special moments of the thousands of horses, races, and back stories I
Of course, I have
written numerous columns of those beloved horses of my past that helped me fall
in love with this great sport; horses such as Damascus, Dr. Fager, Arts and
Letters, Gallant Bloom, Buckpasser, His Majesty, Graustark, and the Golden Age
of the '70s from Canonero II, Riva Ridge, Secretariat, and Forego to Seattle
Slew, Affirmed, Alydar and Spectacular Bid. And two of my all-time favorites,
the indestructible Jim French and the shocking emergence of Prove Out as the
conqueror of champions thanks to the genius of Allen Jerkens.
I have also written a
number of personal columns about my wife, my daughter, and my father, and how I
got started in racing, exposing a great deal about myself. I did this for
cathartic reasons and to impress upon aspiring writers that you don't need a
college degree as much as a love and passion for the sport and the ability to
tell a story in a cohesive manner and how to construct it the proper way. And
most important, make the reader feel as if he or she is there and experiencing
everything with you. Once you grasp that, the grammar and sentence structure
will come with experience.
Of all the races I
covered, none affected me more emotionally than the remarkable parallel tales
of Mucho Macho Man and Kathy Ritvo, who both virtually rose from the dead and
teamed up to win America's richest race. That is the one story I wish had been
made into a book or better still a movie. With the additional stories
behind the private sale of the horse to Dean and Patti Reeves and of assistant
Finn Green, it was a story that just flowed from my mind to my laptop with such
ease I barely remember actually writing it. This is the kind of story of which a
There actually was
another story about which I felt the same way. I was never closer to a horse
and his fairy tale story than I was to Smarty Jones, who provided me with some
of the greatest back stories I have ever been privileged to write. His was
truly the quintessential Cinderella story that had every element you could have
asked for in a full-length film - a Cinderella feel-good story that began
tragically and had everything, including the love affair of an entire city.
No incident jolted me
more than Afleet Alex's heart stopping recovery from near disaster in the
Preakness as he demonstrated one of the most amazing feats of athleticism I
have ever witnessed. And the story behind the horse was equally captivating
with plenty of human interest angles.
Ironically, the only
time I wept openly was not at the racetrack, but at Madison Square Garden when
Cigar bid farewell in front of the crowd at the National Horse Show. And when
the lights went out and a single spotlight shone down on Cigar to the strains
of Auld Lang Syne, I have to admit that I lost it. I was embarrassed to find
myself bawling when the lights went on until I noticed everyone else in the
Garden was crying as well. I was able to report on the event for DRF.
Of course there was the
sheer exultation and pandemonium that broke out at Belmont Park when American
Pharoah ended a 37-year Triple Crown drought. It was even more special having
spent the entire morning in Ahmed Zayat's RV with his family. What a way to go
out for the last race I would ever cover.
No horse I can recall
provided more material than Maximum Security, whose wild and wacky career has
been like a Shakespearean play, with all the melodrama, controversy, and
scandal. I can't remember having more fun writing about a horse's career, as he
continues to defy all his detractors and wipe away the nefarious incidents that
have plagued him. He had me on the edge of the couch cheering him on with his
recent gutsy, heart-stopping finish, as he yet again proved to the world he is
nothing more than an exceptionally gifted and talented horse...on his own.
I can't ignore the great
fillies I have covered over the years, but there was nothing like the rivalry
that never was between Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, and I was fortunate
enough to cover Zenyatta's emotion-packed victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic
and write about the many people whose lives she affected in such a profound
way. I also had the privilege of covering Rachel Alexandra's victories over the
boys in the Preakness and Haskell Invitational, and her gut-wrenching win over
older horses the Woodward Stakes the day she rocked the Saratoga grandstand.
Then there was Invasor,
who enabled me to make new friends abroad and paved the way for me to travel to
Uruguay with my family as guests of the Uruguayan Jockey Club, where I was
treated like royalty. And there were two trips to the Dubai World Cup, one
covering the inaugural running won by Cigar for DRF and the other at the invitation
of Godolphin that included my wife and daughter the year Meydan Racecourse
opened. I covered the race for BloodHorse, and my daughter wrote about the
experience for DubaiRaceNight.com.
Also for DRF, I had the
privilege of traveling on the plane with Thunder Gulch, Timber Country, and
Serena's Song from Louisville to New York, and also with Silver Charm two years
later as he attempted to sweep the Triple Crown.
I truly enjoyed covering
California Chrome's Triple Crown and getting to know Art and Alan Sherman. What
a classy father and son team. And how could you not love the story behind
Chrome and his rise from Cal-bred races to the threshold of a Triple Crown
And finally there were the
dramatic back-to-back Breeders; Cup victories of Tiznow and how he came to
exemplify the fighting spirit of a country and a city in the aftermath of 9/11.
That is one horse who will always remain close to my heart.
I have only scratched
the surface of the great moments I have experienced and the great horses and
races I have covered. The BloodHorse articles are all archived at Bloodhorse.com.
That is pretty much it.
If anyone wishes to contact me for whatever reason, feel free on my Facebook
page or Facebook private message if you're not a "friend" or email me at Sehaskin@aol.com.
Enjoy the final month of
this year's oddly paved Derby trail, stay safe, and I hope to see you down the
road sooner than later when we can begin it all again.