Hoof Beats – On Track – May 2018

Welcome back On Track! In this month’s edition, all about the May 2018 issue of Hoof Beats, we get to see some top 3-year-old pacers prepare for the racing season, and say goodbye to our executive editor. Enjoy! –TJB

Dark Horse

The May issue is the Pacing Preview, and there was a surprise horse in the top 25 of this year’s Hoof Beats Comprehensive Predictive Pacing Rankings.

It was Done Well, who rode an unprecedented write-in campaign to finish at No. 17. Last year he won four of four starts out of the Brian Brown barn before a fracture sidelined him. The USTA team caught up with Brown at Spring Garden Ranch in Florida to talk about the colt. You can view that video here.

That will be the first of four videos that will be coming out in the next two weeks. Keep an eye out for videos of Stay Hungry, Lost In Time, and, the one that is predicted to be the richest 3-year-old pacer of 2018: Youaremycandygirl.

T.J. Says Farewell

This is my last issue as executive editor of Hoof Beats. It’s been a wonderful experience.

I am leaving to take a job outside the harness racing industry. Thank you for reading our book all these years—I certainly had fun producing it. Here are some of my favorite moments from my 10 years at the USTA:

Favorite race I watched: 2008 Meadowlands Pace (Art Official over Somebeachsomewhere). This is what every race should be like. Horses coming from everywhere. Multiple lead changes. A feeling of unpredictability throughout.

Favorite race I attended: 2015 Little Brown Jug (Wiggle It Jiggleit over Lost For Words). Never heard a crowd roar like the Delaware crowd roared when those two battled down the stretch.

Favorite place to cover races: Mohawk Racetrack. Easy to get around. Nice facilities. Great racing. Felt welcome as press.

Best racetrack food: Brisket sandwich trackside at Red Mile. Must have that ring of fat around it.

Proudest moment: Being named the youngest editor in Hoof Beats history at age 28. I knew I would make it. I just didn’t know it would happen so soon.

Second-proudest moment: Coming out with the redesign in March 2018. It took 10 months, but I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

Favorite part of my job: Choosing and placing photos each month—especially the cover—with Art Director Gena Gallagher and Photographer Mark Hall. More than 70 years of combined experience would get together each month and it was fun every time.

Favorite story I ever wrote: My feature on my trip to the 2016 Prix D’Amerique. A once-in-a-lifetime trip. I cut almost half of that story for space, but saved a copy for my wife.

Favorite issue: March 2016, the one with Wiggle It Jiggleit on the cover. Also had the France story above. There are absolutely no extra copies left here because Joe McLead took them all for the feature on Sugar Valley Farm.

Biggest regret: Not finishing the digitization of the Hoof Beats archive. It’s going to be such a great resource when it is done. I can’t wait. Speaking of can’t wait…

I can’t wait to: Go to the Little Brown Jug as a spectator instead of a guy working 30 hours in two days!

–T.J. Burkett

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