Churchill Downs was a familiar track for Paul Moran, who covered every Triple Crown race for the past 40 years, including Orb's victory in the Kentucky Derby this year (Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire).
Paul Moran, two-time Eclipse Award-winning journalist and long-time Newsday racing columnist, passed away on Saturday, Nov. 9 after a grueling battle with lung cancer. He was 66 years old.
Moran covered racing for Newsday from 1985 to 2007, when he retired to Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and wrote for ESPN.com. He covered every Triple Crown from 1973 to 2013 - that’s 40 straight years.
Paul Moran was a passionate racing fan and a lover of animals. An email he sent to his friends and loved ones before he passed read “All fights end, and you always lose the last one. I have enjoyed a wonderful life full of great people, places and animals. Everything else is secondary to the places I’ve seen, the horses I’ve covered and the moment’s I’ve witnessed.”
|Photo courtesy of Joan Lawrence|
Even at the end of his life, Moran paid tribute to the animals that make the sport of horse racing great, and gave his life so much joy.
In “Nightmare in the Daytime,” the Eclipse Award-winning column Moran wrote on the occassion of Go for Wand’s tragic breakdown in the 1990 Breeder’s Cup Distaff, Moran also visited this theme - that it is the animals that bear the greatest burden in order to experience the pleasure of watching them run. He describes the scene as Ron McAnally, trainer of Bayakoa, the winner in the fateful race, as he leaves his box to head to the Winner’s Circle:
There was no triumphant celebration for Ron McAnally, who trains Bayakoa. Tears were in his eyes as he awaited his mare's return to the winner's circle. His lower lip quivered. The words that his wife, Debby, spoke before he left their box for a hollow observance in the winner's enclosure haunted him. "They give their lives," she said, "for our enjoyment."
"I can't cope with this," McAnally said, choking on the words. "That other filly ..."
Paul Moran was a writer of another era, one where racing writers were more than just mere reporters - they were poets. They were artists. They were storytellers of great import. And the racing public expected as much. The loss of Paul Moran will be acutely felt among those of us who scan the racing news every day, searching for something beautiful to read with our morning coffee, something that can make us feel the way it must have felt to stand and watch that race. Paul Moran was that kind of writer. In the same column, on the moment that Go for Wand broke down:
But the seventh Breeders' Cup was over at the moment she fell. Racing stopped, at least in spirit, as though it had been stabbed in the heart by a hot knife.
If you didn’t know what that hot knife felt like then, go read this column and reflect on the loss of this wonderful scribe, and know what it feels like now.
Moran’s ashes will be spread on the infield at Saratoga; fittingly, over Go for Wand’s grave. May they both rest in peace.