The 12 Days of Christmas
By Nick D’Agostino
I was sitting around thinking to myself about all the good the bad and the down-right ugly things we have all endured this year in the Sport of Kings. Seeing how it’s the holidays, I decided to call this article “The 12 days of Christmas”. I had no intentions of angering anyone that doesn’t celebrate Christmas, and this is certainly no slight to our Jewish friends “Chag Urim Sameach!” and Happy Hanukkah. Now that we got Past the Wire on that first part of business, let’s roll right into it here, shall we?
First things first. I knew he was for real. I just knew it:
I chose 12 things about this past racing year that I would like to recap and or re mention because well…in all honesty I think it’s worth it.
On the 1st day of Christmas horse racing gave to me-Dina Albarano who never filed a 501-C!
I wanted to believe that there is good in people, some people in life you come across portray specific things that would make you believe they are on the up and up; however, in the case of Dina Albarano and all of the mess that stemmed from her crowd funding campaigns and the mud-slinging that has gone on for months, I’m left with the need for 3 Advil because I have a headache! There are several inconsistencies in stories, questionable financial records and fake twitter accounts, deceased horses and poor conditions. I’m forced to call B.S. on this situation and Dina should be ashamed of her behavior while giving everyone on social media a headache. The best gift she could give is if she mailed everyone a bottle of Advil for that matter. It’s clear you took in money and you should step up to the plate and disclose where all of it went with DOCUMENTATION that is verifiable. Steve Haskin writing in raves about the campaign and then pulling a Twitter vanishing act when questions arose didn’t help the cause. Merry Christmas!- Naughty List for Dina and a big thumbs down for Haskin
On the 2nd day of Christmas horse racing gave to me, a washed out summer at Saratoga and failure to take races off the turf appropriately! (don’t worry, you have a few more left under the tree)
It was a tough summer to navigate the racing product that was offered to the betting public at Saratoga this year because mother-nature did not want to cooperate. Several races were washed off the turf and NYRA did a poor job. They failed to take the races that were scheduled to be on the turf off in enough time so that people playing multi race wagers weren’t being forced to take post time favorites after late decisions were made to take races off. Effectively allowing people to bet into races and then take them off the turf when you knew in advance strikes me as either being greedy or completely poor judgement. Merry Christmas! / Mother Nature- Naughty List!
On the 3rd day of Christmas horse racing gave to me, incompetent gate crew at the Saratoga meet!
This one still bothers me. You had a bunch of inexperienced gate crew workers that had never worked a gate in their life allowed to hinder the outcome of several starts, cause scratches and even run a race at the wrong distance! For that you get the “Grinch Special” and a few lumps of coal in your stocking. Extra Merry Christmas to you!
On the 4th day of Christmas horse racing gave to me, 3 blind stewards at the Saratoga meet!
What can I say here in regards to the calls and the no calls that were made at Saratoga this summer by the stewards. Many people lost some big scores due to your careless bad calls. It will be forever on my mind as I am sure with many that it added up to a brutal beating day in and day out. We expect better out of you and are hoping for major improvement next year! “ That’s actually on my Christmas list.” Merry Christmas!
On the 5th day of Christmas horse racing gave to me, Justify winning the Kentucky Derby!
For those that know me know that I predicted him to win the Kentucky Derby and I declared that he would win the Triple Crown before he ever broke his maiden. Thank you Justify for not making me look like a knucklehead. Un-raced as a 2 yo and breaking Apollo’s curse. You gave Hall of Fame race rider Mike Smith his Triple Crown and the icing on his “career cake” as far as bucket list items that any rider would ever want. My only knock is that we didn’t get to see that much of you and the haters came out in full force. Can’t we just enjoy it? I did! –Sorry haters.
Merry Christmas Justify!
On the 6th day of Christmas horse racing gave to me, John Sadler winning a Breeders’ Cup race in Kentucky!
Ok wait a minute did I just type that? ….He did it and nobody believed he could. Congratulations to Hronis Racing, John Sadler and the connections for delivering a BC Classic victory with Accelerate.
A giant Boo! -To Pincay Jr. for calling him out during the draw. Wasn’t well received and was completely uncalled for, somehow I think you know that by the crowd reaction that you received! Merry Christmas to Accelerate and the connections! /Naughty list for Pincay Jr.!
On the 7th Day of Christmas horse racing gave to me, Happy Thanksgiving Michael Wrona, you’re fired ! -From the Stronach Family!
Don’t shoot the messenger, I just occasionally write the news. I try and I try so hard to stay neutral and I call things down the center as much as possible. This one though…is a no for me! He didn’t deserve to be fired in that manner and he did a great job calling races at Santa Anita. After all of the dog and pony show job interview the man went through to get that job you dispatched him like he was yesterday’s newspaper. Not nice!
I believe we will all see Michael Wrona calling races at some premier track in the future.
Merry Christmas Michael Wrona! / Stronach- Naughty List!
On the 8th day of Christmas horse racing gave to me, a sad departure from racing with Gary Stevens retiring!
Still sad to see one of the best to ever ride say goodbye to a sport that needs more people like him around. Will he come back as a trainer? A commentator? Maybe racing secretary? I heard Santa Anita needs one. #justsayin – Regardless I am hopeful we will still see him around in some capacity. I still have yet to personally thank you for that awesome ride on Thunder Gulch, I made a ton of money that day!
Merry Christmas to the entire Stevens Family!
On the 9th day of Christmas horse racing gave to me, Brian Leckie making it into the Urban Dictionary?
At first when I heard it I was literally on the floor laughing so hard. If you aren’t aware of what it means to be “Leckied” I suggest you look it up! Thank you for the entertaining debates on twitter and thank you for sticking up for that woman on facebook who was being brow beaten and bullied because she happened to like a horse who wasn’t so successful on the track that happened to die. You stuck up for her and in true fashion Anthony Stabile got “Leckied”! Did he ever get you banned from NYRA? Probably not. There might be a better chance he gets banned at some point, although he did do a nice job with his race call. That ain’t easy.
Merry Christmas- Brian Leckie/ Anthony Stabile- You get the Grinch award for 2018- oh…Merry Christmas!
On the 10th day of Christmas horse racing gave to me, Andy Serling not blocking me?
I made it through the year, I think… without being blocked by Andy Serling on Twitter. Andy you are in the public eye of horse racing and you should not be blocking people unless they are abusive. I get people can be irritating or may have a different point of view ;however, you are in a position where people are going to constantly engage you. Right, wrong or indifferent, you almost have a duty to be a little bit more “inviting”? We didn’t force you to take that job, you applied for it. I would also refrain from calling people on Twitter “crazies” although some of us certainly are. You’re sorta on the naughty list….well maybe more than sorta Merry Christmas Andy!
On the 11th day of Christmas horse racing gave to me, Mendelssohn retiring!
I saw this coming from a mile away….. I would have liked to see him run on turf more, I think there is missed opportunity with this horse. Just my take! I do not believe he should have ever run on dirt after his 2nd attempt in the United States. I believe a lot of money was left on the table from a turf racing perspective and even being able to parlay that into a bigger stud fee down the road. What do I know…I’m not the trainer!
Besides, despite Aidan O’Brien’s dirt record, he still is one of the best trainers in the world! Cut him some slack.
Merry Christmas- Ballydoyle!
On the 12th day of Christmas horse racing gave to me, one last day to speak about an atrocity.
Earlier this year I had a story that I was working on, It was going to be a huge piece on Camarero Race Track in Puerto Rico. It wasn’t a pleasant piece and it was filled with a lot of really bad things. I still have that story, it’s in the hard drive of my computer and worse it’s haunted me and is burned in my brain. I feel really bad that I let a lot of people down. People that spoke out and were hoping I would tell their story. I couldn’t tell their story because nobody would go on record.
They were too afraid to put their name down because of the environment that has been created allegedly at Camarero by the upper management. Some claimed they were afraid of physical violence, losing their job or would endure worse working conditions than they already work in. I have interviewed countless people at Camarero; jockeys, accountants, former employees and trainers. I wanted you to know I never forgot you and to those that are there that can do something about it, “you know who you are” and so do I, you need to step up to the plate and do something besides turn a blind eye because you’re getting paid and you don’t want to ruin your cushy situation. Rant over!
Merry Christmas! And Happy Holidays to all our readers, supporters, sponsors, TRACKING TRIPS #MEMBERSHIP and everyone!!!!!!
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