I had a chance to attend last night's SB Nation Seattle meet-up, which was a great opportunity to put some faces with the names of writers and sites I read on a regular basis. From the guys at Lookout Landing, to CougCenter (Go Cougs), Sonics Rising, Sounder at Heart, Field Gulls, UW Dawg Pound, Podium Café, Bavarian Football Works, [and I feel like I'm missing someone else] - the event was a good reminder of why I got into writing about horse racing in the first place: my passion for the sport.
The SB Nation network of team sites is incredibly wide and diverse, covering a wide variety of sports, teams, cities and even countries. And while some of the authors are those that came from a sports writing background and/or are pursuing that endeavor today, most of us are really just fans that want to write and talk about our teams or desired a forum where their voices could be heard above the traditional outlets.
Over her at And Down The Stretch They Come we're never going to be the biggest site on the SB Nation network, nor the most visible, but I've been proud of this site since it began almost four years ago. I've always desired this place to be a site devoid of some of the typical internet garbage that pervades our computers on a daily basis. Anyone can put out content on the internet - thus confirming the lunacy of "it's on the internet so it must be true" - it takes a bit more to care about your work.
My writing at this site has slowed down considerably the last six months primarily to my change in jobs last spring. I'm still adjusting to how to fit my writing into my new schedule and responsibilities, but at the same time, meeting writers from other sites around the network confirmed that I still have the passion for writing about the sport I love. And with the Breeders' Cup right around the corner (this year has flown by!), the writing fire still burns inside of me.
One final non-horse racing thought: thanks to all the people that contribute or have contributed to this site over the years - TFTribe, JP, Siva, Jared, Zach - along with everyone that reads or comments, whether it's just once a year around the Derby or during the dead of winter for a stakes day at the Big A on the inner dirt. It's always flattering when people take an interest in your work.
Some thoughts head of this weekend's racing action:
The Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Keeneland Saturday afternoon presents the interesting entry of Say (IRE), the thee-year-old Group 3 winner from Ireland who returns off of just a six day layoff to challenge Grade 1 foes in the First Lady. That race was called out by the connections as a clear prep towards this race which, when you look at her form on paper, makes some sense. While Say ran well at the mile distance in Europe, her stamina will likely play much better at nine furlongs in North America. That being said, I think the QEII might not be long enough for this filly when you consider her best races in Europe came at a mile and an eighth to a mile and a half.
While I have some concerns with Say, I have very few issues with Concise (GB), another three-year-old that's run most of her career in Europe before coming to North America this summer. Concise didn't have the Group level success in Europe like Say, but she's run very well in back-to-back Graded stakes races her in the United States, including a nice third place finish in the Grade 1 Garden City at Belmont in her most recent start.
The third of the three European-based entries is Alterite (FR), the winner of the aforementioned Garden City in her North American debut in mid-September. Alterite combines a great race in her American debut with some excellent races in France in her prior races. Chad Brown + Johnny V + Great Euro form = a tough filly to beat in the form of Alterite.
Emotional Kitten will take a lot of action from the crowd - deservedly so after a couple of nice runs versus Grade 1 company in SoCal the last four months - but this is clearly the best field she's faced in her career and she likely needs to improve in this race to end up in the winner's circle. On the other hand, stablemate Kitten's Dumplings has the ability and the current form to take down this field.
Ironically, or perhaps "incredibly", this is Kitten's Dumplings first race over the Keeneland turf course; she's run in the Alcibiades and the Ashland over the Poly on prior occasions. That factoid leads me to today's Kitten Count. Below are the offspring of Kitten's Joy slated to run at Keeneland this afternoon:
Race 1: Keeneland Kitten
Race 3: Munirah
Race 9: Emotional Kitten
Race 9: Kitten's Dumplings
I had to double check that list twice this morning. Really, only four Kitten's today.
Ken, did you run out of Kitten's for this weekend? I expected at least one Kitten per race on a weekend card.
Good luck everyone. Cash some tickets today.