Last night, I looked at the statistics for Blinkers Off for 2016…mainly, to get an idea of what posts were read most during the year last year. The Chicago off-season, January and February, are my least frenetic months of the year writing-wise. Between that and the fact that the change in year makes a nice, neat point from which to think about where my writing is going.
These were my top five most-read posts in 2016…followed by five other pieces that were not among the top-read at Blinkers Off, but that I come out of the year proud of.
- A Close Call in the Paddock – I came within inches of being trampled by a racehorse, and have the video to prove it. Fortunately no one was hurt, but it serves as a compelling reminder to stay alert when you’re around horses.
- Why I’ll Miss Conquest Stables – I started following Conquest Stables when Conquest Titan was on the Derby trail. They were nice people with good horses, and their social media presence made them fan favourites. They’ve left a void in the sport.
- Picks and Ponderings: 2016 Travers Stakes Preview – The rest of the top five were Blinkers Off originals, but this link to a Picks and Ponderings piece was the third-most accessed post of the year. Unfortunately, Paul and I were about as wrong as we will ever be on anything. Neither of us thought much of Arrogate — and, after the Travers and the Breeders’ Cup Classic, those words create cognitive dissonance now.
- Connecting – The Sport of Kings can seem elite: an old boy’s club, or at least something you have to have grown up in. The chance to connect with people in the sport, particularly through social media, has helped erode that fear.
- Individuals, Institutions, and That Breeders’ Cup Tweet – The fact that I had to write this post at all made me sad, since it would have been nice if the tweet in question had never happened. But, it did, and staying out of the conversation just because I am typically scared of conflict would have done no one any good.
These were some good pieces…but, as with any list based completely on website traffic, it did not necessarily hit everything I thought was my best work last year.
Here are a few more pieces from last year that I’m specifically proud of, in no particular order. In some cases the pieces were published elsewhere; in others, they are personal favourites from Blinkers Off.
- A Lady’s Day at Ascot – I love writing horse racing poetry, though I write it less often than I’d like since there hardly seems to be a niche for it. But, letting the Queen Mary go by without some verse would have been a travesty.
- In Different Silks, Babybluesbdancing Continues a Legacy in the Pat Whitworth – I love writing race recaps, particularly when there’s a compelling story behind the race. This was one of my two favourite race winner back-stories (the other being Cammack in the Black Tie Affair), but I don’t remember being so absorbed by writing a recap as I was for this Pat Whitworth piece.
- The Golden Bloodline of N. C. Goldust – Getting the idea for this piece was fun, since it involves so many racehorses I enjoy on the track. Researching it was fun, because I kept stumbling across even more excellent horses in the family. I loved everything about writing this.
- My First Live Contest (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) – I played in a live NHC qualifier at Hawthorne in November. I bit off more than I could chew at the time, but thought through what I did right and what I could do better next time.
- Did You Wear a Big Hat? – In this piece at Outsports, I think about identity, belonging, and whether there would be a place for me in horse racing.
Thank you for reading over the last year (or two, or three…), and I’m looking forward to telling even better stories in 2017.