The holiday season is in full swing, 2016 is coming to a close soon and racing rolls on, the seemingly never-ending game for all four seasons.
The Hong Kong International Races went off last weekend, showing the world that indeed major events can be contested without any American representation. Too bad there weren't any runners from these shores in the rich races and tough hand dealt to the connections of Pure Sensation, who scratched from the Sprint with sore feet and lameness.
We've got a hodge-podge of quotes, notes and numbers for this week's Here & There, and hope you enjoy while crossing some of those items off your holiday to-do list. See you soon.
"The horse, the jockey and the staff all tried very hard so it is a mutual effort and it feels great. This horse really does seem to love Hong Kong but we get a lot of support from the Hong Kong Jockey Club including Mark Player and everyone who has helped us here and helped us get the horse to be his best. It is a team effort, Japan and Hong Kong together."
Trainer Noriyuki Hori after Maurice won the Longines Hong Kong Cup
"The horse has got a big set of lungs and kept running."
Jockey Zac Purton, after winning the Longines Hong Kong Mile with Beauty Only
"It's a good feeling because we were of the opinion that we're starting to lose him. And we know he's a warrior and he gives everything he's got and although he didn't perform at his best today, his heart is so big that he's able to give us that effort."
Purton, after winning the Longines Hong Kong Sprint with Aerovelocity
"That's great, that's a dream."
Jockey Joao Moreira, after winning the Longines Hong Kong Vase, to complete a full house of wins in the Hong Kong International Races
"He has run a very good race but it's disappointing to get beaten. We pulled a long way clear and the winner is a good horse."
Jockey Ryan Moore after Breeders' Cup Turf winner Highland Reel finished second in the Vase
"No complaints, he ran his heart out."
Trainer Aidan O'Brien about Highland Reel
"Forewarned is forearmed."
Colonial Cup paddock judge Sheila Maloney, after being warned of a nervous horse before the first race
"I think he's finally fit, I don't think he's been quite all the way fit, he's an older man, he's taken his time getting right, he's really well right now. I love the way he's training.'
Trainer Arch Kinsley, two days before Top Striker upset the Colonial Cup
"Am I awake?"
Co-owner George Sensor, after Top Striker upset the Colonial Cup
"He lunged at the bit, I hate disappointing a horse. I said, 'you can go.' "
Jockey Ross Geraghty, after winning the Colonial Cup aboard Top Striker
"Not over yet."
Jockey Kieran Norris when called "Champ" before the final race at Camden
"To ride a horse for Nicky Henderson, even though he'll probably never knew I rode it, that was just an honor, I never got to ride for him, I never even got to work for him. It was fantastic."
Norris, after riding Days Of Heaven in the Colonial Cup
"With a circuit to go, I said, 'I'm either a really bad judge of pace or we're flying.' "
Jockey Bernie Dalton, after winning the Colonial Cup maiden aboard Strongbox
"You've got the best of both worlds."
Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard when called by TIHR's Tom Law, who lives in Saratoga and still has a Lexington phone number
"I keep looking at that percentage and I think they must be calculating something wrong. I'm not going to ask them to double check. I'll take it. It's been a great year."
Trainer Lacey Gaudet, who is winning at a 25 percent clip at Laurel this fall and winter
By the Numbers
4: Stakes wins on last Saturday's card at Gulfstream Park for Todd Pletcher - Bode's Dream in the House Party, Tapwrit in the Pulpit, Sonic Mule in the Buffalo Man and Fact Finding in the Smooth Air.
1.518: Billion dollars bet on the Hong Kong International races
30: Points so far on the Road to the Kentucky Derby standings for likely champion Classic Empire
1,997: Career wins for Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito after Forever Plus won the seventh race Friday at Gulfstream Park
$837,570: Pick 6 carryover pool after four days of racing last week at Aqueduct, which swelled last Friday's total pool to $2,787,091.
$2,934: Payoff for the Pick 6 last Friday after four post-time favorites won the first four races and the other two races were won by horses with odds of 3.95-1 and 2.65-1.
Social media post of the week
"Good lord, I can't get on any social media without reading about Lacey Gaudet!!"
Former TIHR and Saratoga Special intern Catlyn Spivey, who also happens to be a close friend of Gaudet
Hall of Fame honors
The late Jim McKay, a longtime broadcaster for ABC and founder of the Maryland Million, and multiple Eclipse Award-winning writer Maryjean Wall were elected to the National Museum of Racing's Joe Hirsch Media Roll of Honor last week. The following excerpt is from a Hall of Fame press release:
McKay (1921-2008), a native of Philadelphia, graduated from Loyola College (Md.) in 1943 and served in the Navy during World War II as a captain of a minesweeper. Following his time in the service, McKay became a reporter for the Baltimore Sun before joining that same organization's new TV station, WMAR-TV, in 1947. He joined CBS in New York in 1950 before moving on to ABC and serving as host for the influential "Wide World of Sports," which debuted in 1961.
McKay was one of the most visible and vibrant presences in horse racing media, as he covered numerous major events in the sport, including the Triple Crown series. His legacy in thoroughbred racing was assured in 1986 when he founded the Maryland Million Day, a series of races designed to promote Maryland's horse breeding and racing industry. The event was the first state-bred showcase in American racing and has led to numerous other states implementing similar programs. McKay was the 1999 Honor Guest for the Thoroughbred Club of America's Annual Testimonial Dinner.
A staple on the popular Wide World of Sports for 37 years, McKay's opening narration of the program became part of the lexicon of American sports: "Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport ... the thrill of victory ... and the agony of defeat ... the human drama of athletic competition... This is ABC's Wide World of Sports!"
Throughout his decorated career, McKay provided on-air coverage and commentary for a wide range of events, including the National Football League, the Olympics, auto racing and the FIFA World Cup, among others. McKay received two Emmy Awards - one for news and one for sports - for his 1972 coverage of the summer Olympics Games in Germany, which included his reporting on the terror attack that resulted in the deaths of 11 Israeli Olympic team members. Overall, McKay won 13 Emmy Awards and was inducted into both the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and the American Sportscasters Hall of Fame. McKay died at the age of 86 on June 7, 2008. Following McKay's death, the Maryland Million Classic was renamed the Jim McKay Maryland Million Classic in his honor. In April 2009, the Maryland legislature passed a joint resolution to officially rename the entire event the Jim McKay Maryland Million Day.
Wall, a three-time Eclipse Award winner and the first woman to be accepted to the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, grew up in Canada before moving to Kentucky in 1966. She joined the staff of the Lexington Herald-Leader the following year and worked for the paper until retiring from full-time duty in 2008.
One of the first women to cover thoroughbred racing on a regular basis, Wall won Eclipse Awards for her writing in 1980, 1997 and 1999. She is also a two-time nominee for the Pulitzer Prize. Following her retirement from the newspaper, Wall completed her PhD in American History from the University of Kentucky. In 2012, she authored the book "How Kentucky Became Southern: A Tale of Outlaws, Horse Thieves, Gamblers, and Breeders." Wall's second book, "Madam Belle: Sex, Money, and Influence in a Southern Brothel," was published in 2014. She was also a contributor to the book "Bluegrass Renaissance: The History and Culture of Central Kentucky, 1792-1852."
Wall has also won the Walter Haight award, the Hervey Award for harness racing coverage and honors from the Associated Press Sports Editors, as well as awards from the American Horse Shows Association and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association.