What's in a Name - by Evan Hammonds

What’s Going on Here? What’s not going on here? The staff of BloodHorse has been feverishly working for the last couple of months on this 100th anniversary edition.

We’ve sifted through our photo library, searching for treasured images of horses, places, and valued employees of the past century. We’ve combed through the bound volumes of the magazine for cherished covers, top stories, and interesting advertisements. The scope of our celebration is not confined to this print edition. Additional visuals are available as slide shows at BloodHorse.com.

While the magazine has changed dramatically in color, content, and context over the decades, one page that hasn’t changed all that much is this one.

Editor Kent Hollingsworth’s first What’s Going On Here column (see page 30) appeared in the issue dated Oct. 23, 1965. Interestingly enough, it offered very little in the way of the commentary, humor, and market analysis that would follow.

As the calendar headed toward the November sales in Central Kentucky, it was reported “Tommy Gentry served cocktails and barbecue in a tent near his new barn as broodmares were led in for inspection. Tex Sutton had a fish fry. Leslie Combs II had a black-tie party, all on the same night. The Keeneland sale of breeding stock is at hand.”

Other mentions in that first “What’s” column went to the season’s leading apprentice rider, Earlie Fires (who would be inducted into the Hall of Fame 47 years later), Ogden Mills Phipps entering The Jockey Club, and a remembrance of famed Kentucky hardboot Ralph Kercheval punting a football 91 yards in 1935 as a member of the NFL’s Brooklyn Dodgers.

Later Hollingsworth would regale readers with tales of racing’s most colorful characters, best horses, and racing centers. None was more cherished than Saratoga, where each day was filled with fog-shrouded morning workouts, a trip to the barn area, lunches at the Reading Room, the races, the sales, and a nightcap at the old Spuyten Duyvil.

“Saratoga remains, as it was in the beginning—with Travers and Jerome and Hunter and Withers, and again at the turn of the century with Whitney and Hitchcock and Wilson and Belmont—and we hope ever shall be, the place where racing is a sporting event,” Hollingsworth wrote.

In another column, he mused: “It’s an easy thing to have an affair with Saratoga. One knows at the onset that it will only last a week, a month of August at the most, before return to the cares and responsibilities of everydayness.”

Hollingsworth would tackle much tougher issues on an everyday basis, and remain steadfast on one: medication. His beating the drum for “Hay, Oats, and Water” can still be heard in the industry today.

Editors Edward Bowen, Ray Paulick, Dan Liebman, and Eric Mitchell have all had their day, and say, with the “What’s” column. However, for those of a certain age, Hollingsworth’s essays remain the high-water mark.

During Hollingsworth’s tenure, the subscriber base for the print edition was at its peak, in the 22,000-plus range. How BloodHorse delivers its content today is very different than in his day. The print edition’s numbers have waned but remain strong, considering the myriad of delivery platforms available. BloodHorse Daily has more than 19,000 total subscribers, and our website now registers unique visitors in the millions. Yes, millions.

In just the span of 100 years, the print edition has gone from hot lead type to paste up and film to computer publishing, and latest content for breeders and owners is ever changing. The Blood-Horse Interactive, launched in 1995, is now better known as BloodHorse.com. Certainly readers viewed our online content much differently than they did before the flip-top cell phone. Today, half of our online readers are on desktop/laptop computers. Thirty-six percent are looking at the website on mobile devices, and 14% are using tablets.

With the old saying that “it’s a lot easier to earn your second million than your first,” here’s to BloodHorse’s second century.

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