The Most-Read TDN Stories Of 2023

Practical Move | Benoit

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As the year winds down, now is a relatively quiet time for horse racing. But there was nothing quiet about 2023, a year, it seems, where the bad news stories overshadowed the good news stories. What resonated most with TDN readers? Unfortunately, the answer seems to be our stories that reported on some of the darker aspects of the sport. Here are the top 10 most widely read stories of 2023 and the number of views they received:

1) Europeans Unleashed As Santa Anita is Struck by Tragedy, by Emma Berry (96,627 views). TDN European Editor Emma Berry arrived at Santa Anita as the sport and the Breeders' Cup was dealing with another blow, the death of Practical Move (Practical Joke) and the injury suffered by Geaux Rocket Ride (Candy Ride {Arg}), who would eventually be euthanized. She marveled at the beauty of Santa Anita and watched the European contingent prepare for the races, but found it hard to forget that it had been another difficult week for the sport. “Even with such brilliant beauty close at hand, it was hard to revel in what should have been a joyful morning as the image of the prone Practical Move lingered on in the mind's eye,” she wrote.

2) Racing Word Mourns Death of Lady O'Reilly, by Emma Berry (96,536 views). Berry reported on the passing of highly successful and longstanding owner-breeder Lady Chryss O'Reilly, the owner of Haras de la Louviere in Normandy, who died at the age of 73.

3) Fatalities Mar Travers Saturday at Saratoga, by Bill Finley (51,660 views). The Saratoga meet saw an unusually high number of breakdowns, but two stood out. Maple Leaf Mel (Cross Traffic) broke down a jump or two before the finish of the GI Test S., a race she was well on her way to winning. In an eerily similar scenario that had occurred on the GI Travers S. card, New York Thunder (Nyquist) had the GI H. Allen Jerkens Memorial S. all but won before breaking down a few feet before the finish. On the same card, a horse named Nobel (Ire) (Lope de Vega {Ire} was also euthanized. Bill Finley wrote of a Travers Day that was supposed to be about everything that is great with the sport turning into one of the ugliest afternoons ever at Saratoga.

4) Everything Was Done to Save Him: Derby Hero Desert Crown Euthanized, Staff Report (50,946 views). The story reports on the death of Desert Crown (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}), the brilliant winner of the 2022 Derby, who was euthanized at Newmarket Equine Hospital after failing to recover from an injury sustained on the gallops in August.

5) Jockey Alex Canchari Passes Away, by Bill Finley (50,438). In one of the sadder stories of the year, Midwest-based jockey Alex Canchari passed away in March at the age of 29 after taking his own life, sparking discussions about jockeys' mental health.

6) Horse of the Year Havre De Grace Passes Away, by Alan Carasso (48,136). Havre de Grace (Saint Liam), the 2011 Horse of the Year, passed away in April. Wayne Sweezey, who boarded Havre de Grace at his Timber Town Farm, confirmed that the 16-year-old mare hemorrhaged multiple times and died after producing a colt by Into Mischief the afternoon of Apr. 28.

7) Pretty Mischievous Wins Test; Maple Leaf Mel Breaks Down at Wire, is Euthanized, Staff Report (41,426). Like the breakdown of New York Thunder later on in the meet, the breakdown of Maple Leaf Mel in the Test S. shook Saratoga and cast a pall over the meet.

8) HIWU Descends Upon a Shedrow, Upending Life For a Mom-and-Pop Stable, by TD Thornton (30,863). John Pimental is a small-time trainer who was well-liked, worked hard and had never been in any trouble during his long career. That all changed when agents for the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit (HIWU) descended upon John's stable and upended his world: one of his horses had tested positive for 193 picograms per milliliter of methamphetamine, a street drug of abuse that is classified as a “banned” substance in racing. The story details Pimental's fight to clear his name and takes a look at the tactics HIWU used to make the case that Pimental had violated its rules.

9) Sire Of Sires, WinStar Farm's Champion Speightstown Euthanized, Staff Report (30,066). The story reports on the passing of WinStar Farm's top sire Speightstown (Gone West) and his remarkable career as a sire.

10) The Week in Review: With Forte Non-DQ, NYRA Stewards Owe Public an Explanation, by Bill Finley (29,977). The Saratoga stewards decided not to disqualify Forte (Violence) from his win in the GII Jim Dandy S. at Saratoga, despite what appeared to be rough-riding tactics by Irad Ortiz Jr. that caused Forte to bump Angel of Empire (Classic Empire). But writer Bill Finley thought the bigger story was that there is next to no transparency in racing when it comes to stewards' decisions and that the bettors deserved an explanation over why there was no disqualification.

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