January 30, 2023

Horse racing has experienced an remarkable 12 months, from the contentious Derby path that led to the extended-shot bomb winner, from Flightlines stirring Fulfilled Mile victory to his dominating Common operate.

When hunting at the issues I am grateful for in this sport, I also thought of the heartwarming story of Cody’s Want and the epic battles amongst Malathaat and Clairière.

But what I realized I am most thankful for this calendar year is the racing cycle itself.

In a yr of horrible particular reduction, I could rely on the racing calendar to retain my head and coronary heart out of the depths of despair.

Early in the 12 months, as the freshly turned 3-yr-olds started to extend out and the Pegasus Planet Cup drew leading more mature horses for one particular final hurrah, a troubling unease started to smolder at the edges of my consciousness. My mom was sick, and she seemed to be receiving worse.

As late winter season gave way to spring, the Derby path heated up, and I started creating weekly journeys to enable out at the relatives homestead. I had to catch Epicenter’s rise to the top of the crop  between journeys to the pharmacy and visits with home well being aides. Father was optimistic that mom would make a recovery, if only the proper health practitioner saw her.

I watched the Kentucky Derby from mom’s healthcare facility place. She was awake at that time, though hooked up to horrifying equipment. My sister flew in from Denver to be with her. As the horses thundered down the stretch, I clapped “Go, go, Epicenter!” and then I observed a pink horse streaking up the rail. “Oh, mom! That is the leading prolonged shot!” I cried, amid claps. And then as Prosperous Strike advanced and continued to power past the leaders, I hollered, “No, really do not earn!”

Mother, nonverbal by this issue, rolled her eyes and snorted.

I would like I could say that the magic of the Kentucky Derby treated my mother. But that only happens in motion pictures. She transferred to a hospice-care center Preakness week. Dad rarely left her aspect. I place miles on my car or truck likely from Kentucky to Tennessee, keeping a person eye on the street and another on the operates video clips coming by way of on Twitter.

Mother slipped away from this planet Belmont Stakes 7 days.

These sacred Triple Crown races, usually a high position in the calendar year for me, now carry the contours of deep sorrow. Mom was my largest cheerleader, strongest supporter and most passionate advocate. She didn’t know the initial matter about horse racing, but she realized I beloved it, so she set out to understand what she could about it. Along the way she met horsepeople, petted so several pony noses and grew so very pleased of her daughter.

Soon after her funeral, father, sister and I had to determine out how to are living with no just one of the most robust personalities in our life. I dealt with the reduction by going to the races. There’s very little better than focusing on PPs and attractive horses to consider the brain off of upsetting things you are not able to change.

The highs of excellent performances, put together with a handful of winning tickets, can do the job miracles. And you know, as every 7 days goes by, that these horses are prepping for the Breeders’ Cup in the drop. And, oh, that spectacular juvenile has Derby buzz.

As this calendar year draws to a near and the chill of wintertime creeps back again in, I come across myself a lot more than ever thankful for the framework of this sport to cling the fixtures of my existence. Mainly because no make any difference how crushing these days could possibly be, you can find another race with yet another winner – and an additional story to explain to about a horse.

Candice Curtis, a lifelong horse-racing supporter and participant, is the email internet marketing manager for Horse Racing Nation and is based in Louisville, Ky.