2019 Racing Preview: 5 Wishes for the New Year

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

December 31st, 2018

Happy New Year, racing fans!

Maybe my greeting is a tad premature—2019 is still a few hours away—but I can’t help myself. I’m already thinking ahead to the new year and pondering an interesting question: If I could make five racing-related wishes, all guaranteed to come true in 2019, what would they be?

Well, first I decided to put some limitations on the wishes and keep them reasonably realistic in scope—otherwise, I’d start by wishing for a Triple Crown winner who averages twenty starts per year while racing through the age of ten and conquering the globe thanks to his (or her!) equal prowess on both dirt and turf.

So while staying within the realm of actual possibility, in 2019 I would love to see….

Better Coordination of Post Times

Bloodhorse.com recently published a story detailing how racetracks running at night in North America are attempting to coordinate their post times to avoid overlap, an effort that I wholeheartedly applaud. It’s good for everyone involved when races aren’t run on top of each other, and I hope to see the major daytime tracks make similar efforts in 2019. After all, it’s always a shame when multiple graded stakes races are run at the same time, which occurs with surprising frequency on busy weekend afternoons.

A Successful Return for Colonial Downs

Racing has not been held at Colonial Downs since 2013, but the legalization of historical horse racing machines in Virginia promises to restore the track to glory in 2019. According to the Daily Racing Form, a 15-day fall meet offering substantial purse money is on the agenda, an exciting development for a facility that provides a sweeping 1 ¼-mile main track plus a massive turf course measuring 180 feet wide. Here’s hoping that the meet is embraced by horsemen and handicappers alike!

Yet Another Triple Crown Winner

Following a 37-year Triple Crown drought that saw some question whether the three-race series had become too difficult to sweep, it was a delight to witness American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018) prove that the Triple Crown is still attainable for the right horse. Wouldn’t it be wonderfully ironic to see another horse sweep the series in 2019, giving us three Triple Crown winners in the span of five years? That would mark the densest streak of Triple Crown success in history.

Increased International Competition

What’s better than watching the best horses from around the world face each other in international competition? The increasing participation of U.S. runners at major race meets across the globe, particularly in England, has brought a whole new level of excitement to the sport and I hope to see even more international competition in 2019. One of these days, perhaps we’ll even be lucky enough to see a U.S. horse take a rare shot in the prestigious Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) in France.

Le Vent Se Leve Win the Dubai World Cup

This one is personal since I’ve been hyping Le Vent Se Leve of Japan ever since his debut, telling anyone who will listen (and a few who won’t!) that he has the talent of a top-class runner. I even had him prominently ranked in my 2018 Kentucky Derby Top 10, and while an injury prevented him from pursuing any Derby ambitions, he came back strong during the second half of 2018 and ended the year with a decisive score in the Champions Cup (Jpn-I). If he can prove his class on an international stage in the Dubai World Cup, I’ll feel like my support has been justified.

If you could make five racing-related wishes for 2019, what would you wish for?