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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Evolution of a Blogger

Four years ago to the day I began this blog after returning as a fan (and new bettor) to the sport that captivated my youth. As I mentioned in my initial posting back in 2007, it was one horse—Foolish Pleasure—who first captured my heart, and drew me as a youngster to horse racing, even though we lived nowhere near a racetrack. The 1970s were, arguably, the last “Golden Age” of the sport, with the likes of Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed and Alydar, Forego and Spectacular Bid, to name but a few. For a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the inaccessibility of horse racing to me then living in the backwoods of Pennsylvania, first in Slippery Rock and then State College, my interest waned only to be briefly revived each year with the stirrings of spring and the arrival of the first Saturday in May.

Four years ago, I discovered off-track betting, thanks to my now-retired division chairperson who, as a displaced New Yorker, mightily missed the confines of Belmont Park. For the very first time, I learned about wagering and handicapping, initiating an entirely new outlook for me on the sport. It was also the year when advance deposit wagering (ADW) fortuitously emerged, opening up virtually the entire world of horse racing to me from the comfort of home. I fell in love with Australian racing and thus found myself often exploring its joys through my writings. In hindsight, I understand my blog writing experience has mirrored the technology-driven changes in the sport, recording both positive and negative aspects of this on-going revolution—including the advent of Twitter and Facebook.

As a blogger, I evolved from merely a dilettante handicapper and ill-informed blowhard, to one more confident and educated in her opinion, thanks in no small part to fellow bloggers whose passion for and knowledge of the sport raised the bar for me, both in terms of my approach to writing about a topic, as well as the quality of my writing. This pioneering group—many still members of the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance while others have since retired from blogging or set out on their own—welcomed me to the blogosphere, and for that encouragement, I am eternally grateful. They include: Patrick Patten (Handride); Alan Mann (Left at the Gate); Lisa Grimm (Superfecta); Jessica Chapel (Railbird); Jennifer Morrison (Jen’s ThoroughBlog); Sue Broux (Post Parade); Tracy the Quinella Queen (Turf Luck); and the incomparable (albeit somewhat twisted) John (The Race is Not Always to the Swift).

So many others who followed continue to inspire me as well, including Teresa Genaro (Brooklyn Backstretch), Kevin Martin (Colin’s Ghost), Dana Byerly (Green But Game), Sid Fernando (Sid Fernando + Observations), Gene Kershner (Equispace), and Ted Grevelis (Owning Racehorses), just to mention a few. There's also a whole host of talented "youngsters" on the current TBA blogroll I encourage you to check out. Of special note are those international bloggers who have taught me so much about racing in the Philippines (Jenny Ortuoste at Go Girl Racing), Korea (Gyongmaman at Horse Racing in Korea), and Japan (Kate Hunter, Keiblog). Also, Keith McCalmont (Triple Dead Heat) covers Canadian racing with tremendous style and knowledge, as does trainer (and ex-pat) Gina Rarick in France (Gallop France). Surprising, a blogger has yet to emerge from Australia or New Zealand, or even England, but perhaps it’s only a matter of time as the horse racing world continues to shrink, and globalization continues.

In honor of my four-year anniversary and nearly 100,000 visitors (a truly humbling mark I should pass in the next few weeks), here is a chronological compilation of some of my favorite posts, even a few from those early years (and some with hysterical titles). Moving forward, I hope I’ll still have the same fire to write about horse racing four years from now—presuming the sport is still around to enjoy. Thanks for reading!

“Why I’m Not Feeling the Love in Love Dubai” April 12, 2007.
“A Day at the Races” August 12, 2007.
“Bill Hartack: Salt of the Earth” December 1, 2007.
“Horse Racing 101” March 16, 2008.
“Eight Belles, I Plead for Thee” April 27, 2008.
“A Lesson in History” May 8, 2008.
“Drug Poster Boys” June 28, 2008.
“A Big Brown Stain on the Underpants of Racing” June 9, 2008.
“Vote ‘No’ for Schrupp as Czar” July 10, 2008.
“2009 Hall of Fame Nomination” (Xtra Heat) August 5, 2008.
“Revelations in Death: Genuine Risk” August 24, 2008.
"Rethinking the Breeders' Cup" October 11, 2008.
"The Death Knell of Dirt Racing?" October 26, 2008.
"Do Harness Racing Folks Have Libido Overdrive?" December 7, 2008.
"The Year That Was" December 31, 2008.
“The Legendary Football Team That Horse Racing Built” January 19, 2009.
“Sallie Gardner: The Horse Behind the Photograph” March 2, 2009.
"Fearless" March 26, 2009.
"Fanning the Flames" April 9, 2009.
"Giving the Bird (a Chance)" April 23, 2009.
"The Best Possible Result for Racing" May 18, 2009.
"Why Pretend it Didn't Happen?" June 20, 2009.
"Tiny Stars Shine Just as Brightly" August 24, 2009.
“On Perspective and Bias” November 22, 2009.
"Let's Pretend It Really Happens" February 5, 2010.
"A Lament for Horse Racing in Pennsylvania" May 6, 2010.
"The Tragic Mystery of Sunny Man" May 11, 2010.
"What’s In a Name?—or Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder" July 14, 2010.
"Just How Dumb Do They Think We Are?" September 2, 2010.
"Glass Half-Full, Not Half-Empty" September 13, 2010.
“If ‘Secretariat’ Can’t Save Us” October 12, 2010.
“Yet Another Lament” November 28, 2010.
"Curiosities of Winter and Night Racing" January 15, 2010.


Teresa said...

Awesome list of posts, Val...I bow down before your prodigious pedigree knowledge every time I read you.

Happy anniversary, and many more to come...

John said...

Congrats on the anniversary, you are now a "long in the tooth" blogger by my standards. :-)

Calvin Carter said...

Congratulations Valerie

dana said...

A Day at the Races is still one of my fav posts. Congrats, thanks and am always looking forward to your next post!

sid fernando said...

Happy B-day Val. Honored to be listed as one of your reads, too :)

suebroux said...

Happy Anniversary, Val! Keep up the exceptional posting of well-formed and educated opinions.

Gene Kershner said...

Congrats on your 4 yr blog-o-versary! You're top notch.

Anne S said...

Happy blogversary Val

Foolish Pleasure is one of my daily reads. I'm astounded that you've only been into the noble sport of horse racing for such a short time, you sound so knowledgeable.

Anonymous said...

I've enjoyed your blog tremendously and I look forward to future posts. Congratulations and thank you.