Happy birthday to thoroughbreds
SHEPHERDSTOWN — New Year’s Day had a lock on people’s hearts when it showed the sporting world college football’s major bowl games.
As the years passed by, television added NBA games, featuring LeBron James and Golden State with Stephan Curry and Kevin Durant.
The importance of New Year’s Day has always been a historically meaningful date in the thoroughbred racing industry.
Every thoroughbred in the northern hemisphere celebrates its birthday on New Year’s Day.
Whether born in February, March or any other month of the year, every thoroughbred in the northern hemisphere becomes a year older on New Year’s Day.
In the southern hemisphere, the common birthday is on Aug. 1.
If a thoroughbred races in Florida or California in late December as a three-year-old, and then comes back in January to race again, it will then be as a four-year-old.
When the Breeders Cup events were held the first weekend in November at Churchill Downs in Louisville, there was much interest in the five Juvenile races that were run. The juveniles were only two-years-old in November. On New Year’s Day they will turn three years old, and be eligible for the Triple Crown races — the Kentucky Derby, Preakness States and Belmont Stakes.
Only three-year-olds can run in the Triple Crown series of races.
Coming out of the juvenile races on Breeders Cup Friday, still undefeated, was Game Winner. He controlled the 8.5 furlong Juvenile with a withering assault on the front runners through the long stretch at Churchill Downs.
In winning the Juvenile for white-maned trainer Bob Baffert, Game Winner became the instant winter book favorite for the 2019 Kentucky Derby.
Four other juvenile races were held that same day, but all of them were either raced on the turf course or had only fillies in the field.
It is possible none of the winners of the other four races will even be entered in the Kentucky Derby or any of the Triple Crown races.
The Juvenile Turf was won by Line of Duty, who came to the Breeders Cup from Ireland. Uncle Benny was second and Somelikeithotbrown was third in the Turf.
The Juvenile Fillies had Jaywalk as the winner. The muted gray filly led all the way for trainer John Servis, who long ago moved on from Charles Town. Winner of four-of-five starts, Jaywalk cantered home in front by 5.5 lengths to stamp herself as a major contender for the Kentucky Oaks, held the day before the Kentucky Derby.
Ireland’s Newspaperofrecord was the winner of the Juvenile Fillies Turf and will likely keep her unbeaten self in Europe come next spring.
The 5.5 furlong Juvenile Turf Sprint went to quick-starting Bulletin, a comely chestnut running for only the second time in her life.
On New Year’s Day, all the thoroughbreds in North America should be feted with extra rations of carrots, chucks of apple and peppermint treats. It’s their birthday! Happy Birthday, you four-legged wonders of personality and competitiveness.