March 3, 2024

Best of Hanson: 2020 Anthology

Forty Niner in 2019 (Kate Hunter)

The cessation of racing in most jurisdictions during the darker days of the pandemic last spring afforded me the opportunity to produce a few more historically-oriented features during the course of the year than would normally have been the case. For the sixth year, I’ve compiled a handy, year-end anthology to allow readers to re-visit (or check out for the first time) those I feel were best of the best during the course of the holiday season.

You can share any thoughts and comments with me via Twitter (@VPHanson). Thanks for reading!

Forward Gal: Champion Florida Princess

In honor of the 50th anniversary of her juvenile filly championship campaign, I looked back at the career of one Florida’s earliest national champions who’s remembered annually with a stakes in her honor at Gulfstream.

Forty Niner: Winning, and drinking from, the Fountain of Youth

Shortly before his death in Japan at the ripe age of 35, I paid tribute to the former Claiborne Farm champion on his longevity and recalled his victory in the 1988 Fountain of Youth Stakes.

Temperence Hill helped put the Rebel Stakes on the map

Forty years ago, a locally-owned colt named Temperence Hill helped put Oaklawn Park’s Rebel Stakes on the map as an up-and-coming Triple Crown prep.

1945 – When the Kentucky Derby moved from May to June

After the announcement of the 2020 Kentucky’s Derby postponement from May to September, I looked back 75 years to the last time the Run for the Roses was not held on the first Saturday in May.

How Susan’s Girl laid the foundation for the Apple Blossom Handicap

One of the signature events of Oaklawn Park’s Racing Festival of the South, the prestigious Apple Blossom Handicap for fillies and mares was won by a three-time champion early in its history.

Good reads: Racing books to curl up with at home

At a point last spring when home quarantining was widespread, I offered up personal selections of the best racing anthology books for readers to pass the time with.

The 1920 Kentucky Derby that Man o’ War passed up

On the centennial anniversary of Man o’ War’s brilliant 3-year-old campaign, I took a closer look at what the Kentucky Derby he famously skipped looked like.

Belair Stud: The Triple Crown’s original dominant stable

Before Calumet Farm became the leading campaigner of Triple Crown race winners in the 1940s and beyond, Belair Stud held that distinction.

Triple Crown head-to-head: Citation vs Secretariat

In a preview of the virtual Kentucky Derby in May which pitted the 13 Triple Crown winners against each other, I sized up the two leading contenders.

Manila schooled his rivals when writing a new chapter in Churchill Downs history

When the Matt Winn Turf Course at Churchill Downs opened in 1987, one of the best turf performers the U.S. has ever produced was there to christen it.

The time when a juvenile stakes overshadowed a shortened Belmont Stakes

After it was announced the 2020 Belmont Stakes would be run at a reduced distance, I looked back to the last time it was run at 1 1/8 miles and concurrently overshadowed by another stakes on the same card.

Hidden Treasure Rediscovered: The story of Find

In this Longform, I look back on the career of a forgotten Maryland-bred gelding who traveled far and wide during the 1950s and for a time was the show bettors’ best friend.

Darby Dan’s Sunshine Forever among the last of a breed

When a race in his honor was the only stakes run in the country on a Saturday last May, I looked back on the ambitious championship campaign of a 3-year-old turf star the likes of which we haven’t seen since.  

Clem: The Voice of Racing’s namesake Thoroughbred star

The namesake of announcing pioneer Clem McCarthy was a pretty good turf horse and a thorn in the side to a number of his more illustrious peers in the late 1950s.

Royal Harmony: Ohio’s Iron Horse

A tribute to one of the hardiest horses ever to emerge from the Buckeye State, who also happened to be one of the sport’s all-time great weight carriers.

Clash of the Titans: Remembering the 1950 Hollywood Gold Cup

On its 70th anniversary, I looked back at one the most accomplished assemblages of Thoroughbred talent in American racing history and certainly one of the best ever for a December stakes.

Lost History: Detroit Race Course’s Michigan Mile

For more than four decades, racing fans in Michigan got an annual treat of seeing some of the best horses in the country compete in the tradition-rich sports market of Detroit.

Here’s an archive of previous anthologies: