thank you for a year.

Last year, I was just starting to write a few things about horse racing.  My Twitter account had become mostly racing chatter, but sometimes that felt short.  I had tried my hand at writing a few longer things, and wondered if it would be something that I would enjoy doing on a regular basis.  I figured I should do something to make sure I stayed on top of horse racing, with Hawthorne having gone quiet just before New Year’s.

A year ago today, I threw a couple of Palace Malice videos up on here and declared that I was starting a horse racing blog.  I was petrified that I would not have enough to write about to keep it regularly updated, but that worry quickly proved unfounded.

A year later, starting Blinkers Off ranks as one of the best decisions I have ever made.

This corner of the internet has led me on a host of adventures over the last year, things I would never have done had I not started writing about racing.

It has led me on late nights of research and contemplation, as my handicapping of Chicago tracks moved from just scrawling my own notes in a racing program on race day to regularly writing my opinions in prose form.  I have gotten some things right over the last year, and gotten more than a few things wrong…but both my ability to handicap and my confidence about putting my thoughts about horse racing out there have strengthened significantly in the last year.

It has inspired me to follow Curlin’s progeny in meticulous detail, instead of simply remarking, “oh, that’s pretty shiny…” when I saw a tweet about a Curlin baby winning a race.  Many hours of research and writing later, it is a rare occasion to hear about a Curlin baby on the track (or even the worktab) who was not already on my radar.

It has given me the opportunity to contribute regularly in other places, as well.  Had I not started Blinkers Off, Chicago Railbird would not exist.  Had I not started Blinkers Off, I would still be reading Picks and Ponderings, but I would not be writing for it as well.  I am eternally grateful to both Scott Shapiro and Paul Mazur for taking a chance on someone who was just getting their feet wet in the Chicago racing world, and trusting that I had an idea what I was talking about.

That leads into the best part of the last year.  Writing about horse racing has given me the chance to meet people who are as passionate as I am about racing.  Our stories of how we got into the sport may all be different, our current involvements in the sport may all be different…but we all share a passion for horses, and for horse racing.

I had started going to the track more regularly last year, and had started tweeting about it last year, but this year has been when horse racing has transitioned from a fairly solitary pursuit to a community one for me.  Horse racing was fun to follow on my own, but the sport has become even more engaging and meaningful when shared with people.

This means you.

Thank you, everyone who has read Blinkers Off over the last year, everyone who lays eyes on this.  Whether you have commented here, chatted with me on Twitter, or taken a quiet moment to read something here…Blinkers Off would not mean nearly as much without you.

I am looking forward to the next year, and hope you will join me.

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