If nothing else, 2020 was a news-making year. From the indictments to the coronavirus to the passage of the Integrity Act, the news started early and just kept on coming.
For the first time ever, the TDN eclipsed 8 million pageviews. What were the most popular stories among those? We took a look back at the most-read stories of the year; while the indictments and the virus dominated the news, we also found some surprises.
- Standardbred Horseman John Brennan Dies of Coronavirus, March 10, 2020.
Coming on the heels of the indictment news, the first racing-related death from COVID-19 was our most-read story of the year.
- Cox Refuses to Take Rockingham Ranch Horses, by Bill Finley, March 10, 2020.
Published the same day as the number one story of the year and one day after the indictments, this story details Brad Cox's unwillingness to take horses formerly trained by Jorge Navarro for Rockingham Ranch. It outstripped even the original indictment story in number of reads.
- Jason Servis, Jorge Navarro Face Federal Indictment in Doping Scheme, by Bill Finley and Alan Carasso, March 9, 2020.
“The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York unsealed indictments against Thoroughbred veterinarians and trainers, including Jason Servis and Jorge Navarro Monday in Manhattan. A total of 27 defendants were named in four separate indictments, alleging that the two trainers and 25 others engaged in a `widespread, corrupt scheme by racehorse trainers, veterinarians, PED distributors and others to manufacture, distribute, and receive adulterated and misbranded PEDs and to secretly administer those PEDs to racehorses under scheme participants' control.'” So began the story that would continue to make news for the rest of the year.
- Empire Maker Dies, by Alan Carasso, January 20, 2020.
At the age of 20, Empire Maker succumbed to a rare disease that compromised his immune system. We took a look back at his legacy.
- Woodford Team Voting for Independence, by Chris McGrath, February 6, 2020.
McGrath's profile of Shannon Castagnola at Woodford Thoroughbreds was his most-read story for us in 2020.
- Baffert Unveils Another Into Mischief Monster, November 22, 2020.
The debut of WinStar Farm's Life Is Good (Into Mischief) was our most read race-result of the year and sixth most popular story overall.
- Harness Trainer Rene Allard Latest Arrested in Doping Scandal, by Bill Finley, March 13, 2020.
Harness trainer Rene Allard, the second-leading trainer at Yonkers at the time of his arrest, brought the number of individuals known to be involved in the doping scandal to 29.
- Letter to the Editor, Brad Weisbord, on his Battle with COVID-19, March 23, 2020.
“On Monday (3/18) my wife said to me in the middle of the night, `What's wrong with you? You're gasping for air.' On Tuesday morning, I could not get out of bed.” Weisbord would go on to test positive for COVID-19.
- Florida Racing Prepares to Say Goodbye to Calder, by Bill Finley, October 2, 2020.
Finley chronicles the last-ever season at Miami's Calder Race Course, which had been in operation since 1971.
- Despite Fears of Getting Caught, Alleged Doping Conspirators Chatted and Texted Anyway, by T.D. Thornton, March 9, 2020.
“The indictments also yield another startling revelation: That some of the defendants–particularly Navarro–allegedly expressed a fear of getting caught by communicating their alleged wrongdoings via phone conversations and text messaging. Yet they allegedly persisted in making alleged doping plans using their mobile devices anyway.” Thornton details those key 2019 conversations.