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Liz O'Connell

Liz O'Connell

Posted: November 24, 2010 12:56 PM

Where to start when giving thanks? Do I bring it in personal or spin it out to the universe?

I am thankful and proud to have a great family of friends. We chat, laugh, tease, complain and whine together, that's what friends do.

What I am particularly thankful for is that "my guys" have my back when things go bad. Working with horses is a blessing. But when a situation starts spiraling downward, no amount of veterinary intervention, best practices or prayers can remediate a bad outcome -- the horse or foal may die or have to be euthanized.

In the moment, I deal with these nightmares professionally and compassionately. It is the emotional aftermath when my calls at three in the morning are picked up and kind ears listen. Thanks Judy, Norman, Ronnie and Nancy. Some of you have been listening for over thirty years, some of you listened in February.

Even though it's corny, I'm thanking the horses. In 2010, a great race mare, Zenyatta, caught our attention like no other race horse has for decades. Zenyatta's come-from-behind style of running, getting to the wire first nineteen out of twenty times brought her to the fore.

What kept and keeps our attention is her spirit, her aura. Off the track, her dancing and engaging her audience is legendary. In her barn her sweet nature has been shared by her owners Jerry and Ann Moss and her trainer John Sherriffs. Zenyatta poses for pictures, plucks snacks from hands, looks you in the eye. Looking back in Zenyatta's eye, you see a calm, kind sentient being.

I saw Zenyatta (and Goldikova, Work Force, Rough Sailing et al) because I covered the Breeders' Cup in Louisville, Ky. Jim Gluckson of the Breeders' Cup rolled out the welcome mat and I thank him. I have to give a shout out to my two "redheaded mares" Windy and Breezie. Now I can be amused forever that their names were in the same paragraph as Zenyatta's!

I've lived abroad, I've lived in other states, one thing I know is that I am a New Yorker. I am a thankful New Yorker because the governor finally got out of his own way and let the video lottery terminal (VLT) project commence at Aqueduct Race Track. A small share of revenues from the VLT's will shore up the thoroughbred breeding industry in N.Y.. I am not so thankful that the same, now lame duck governor is championing a casino to be run by a Native American tribe that has a tenuous-at-best claim to land in the Catskills. What up?

While on the subject of turkeys, I am thankful that I will be enjoying turkey on Thanksgiving Day, and I am mindful that others won't. Please join me in donating whatever you can, food or cash, to local food banks for the upcoming holiday season.

Cheers... and, thanks!