Barbaro hit
our hearts

Dec 25, 2006 7:19 AM

The Year in Review. It’s a ritual done every year in virtually every publication.

The annual practice of reliving the events of the past 12 months that brought the most attention. In sports gaming, that usually involves the biggest events. That’s only natural because bettors wouldn’t be wasting their valuable bucks betting on minor sports they knew little about.

No boxing here. GT columnist Michael Katz rightly proclaimed Manny Pacquiao as Fighter of the Year. Other than the recent Nuggets-Knicks basketbrawl in New York and the numerous UFC bloodbaths, we would never challenge Katz as a Boxing Hall of Fame writer.

And 2006 will be remembered for Vince Young’s dramatic fourth down run to the end zone as time expired to give Texas the national championship over USC in one of college football’s alltime best games.

We just set out to establish 12 major events, each occurring in a particular month that proved to us worthy of major media attention and sizeable betting volume in the Las Vegas sports books.

To be perfectly honest, we chose the photo of Barbaro winning the Kentucky Derby as our featured shot because it was the most dramatic we had. Barbaro was also a feel good story, one first of tragedy when it seemed he would lose his life to a broken leg.

But Barbaro was not merely a great horse. He proved a thoroughbred in spirit and determination, fighting back from overwhelming odds to a somewhat normal life. Beating the odds is something even the toughest Vegas cynics have trouble attacking.

It’s really not possible to define an entire year without omitting some event that people believe should have been included. That’s why we’ve made it a point to stress that all these betting events were merely worthy of documenting when looking back at the past 365 days — or 12 months, if you prefer.

Next week, we’ll take a look ahead at 2007 and what it has in store. Certainly, the bets will be coming and so will our stories and predictions. This last week of 2006 is a way of thanking everyone who has subscribed to or picked up our publication in Vegas sports books since the 1970s when the late Chuck DiRocco wanted to make a statement within the gaming industry.

We’re grateful to our columnists for their time and effort in giving the readers their very best in terms of information, perspiration and gratification. And, a little humor doesn’t hurt. Here’s to a happy finish to 2006 and the best of New Years. See you again Jan. 2, 2007, a day before Ohio State meets Florida for college football’s national championship.

By the way, Mirage currently lists Ohio State a -7½ favorite with the total 47½. We just can’t get away from it.