Photo: Eclipse Spotswire
In an era where owners are often criticized by fans for
sending the sport’s stars off to the breeding shed too soon, it appears that
racing has entered a Renaissance Era. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this is similar to racing's golden age when the likes of the mighty Kelso and Forego ruled
racing in the 60’s and 70’s regularly toting over 130 pounds, while winning
the country’s biggest races on a regular basis. The 2013 racing season is quite refreshing in
the fact that many of the games top stars are at least 5 years old. In fact, 6
of the top 10 horses on the HRN poll are 5 years of age or older.
Granted, the top 2 are the country’s top older males are
geldings, therefore squashing any thoughts of them going to the breeding shed,
but Wise Dan and Game on Dude are both 6-year-old geldings that are undefeated
this year and appear as though they haven’t lost a step in their “advanced” racing
age. Both appear destined to be favored once again in the BC Mile and Classic
respectively, as they were last year.
The 5-year-old horse Fort Larned had a tumultuous start to
2013, when dropping jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. at the start of his seasonal
debut, and then running 5th in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2). His
backers were starting the think he lost a step from his breakout win in the
2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic, but he put
those doubts to rest with a dazzling win in the Stephen Foster (G1) last month.
The star of the Ian Wilkes barn appears to be on a collision course with Game
on Dude this November at Santa Anita once again.
Though defeated at Churchill Downs last out, 5-year-old mare
Royal Delta looks to rebound in this weekend’s Delaware Handicap (G1). After
fetching an $8.5 million price from owner Benjamin Leon in 2011, it would have
been easy to send Royal Delta to breeding shed after winning her 2nd consecutive
BC Ladies Classic in 2012, but Leon has been a breath of fresh air for keeping
Royal Delta at the track. If things go according to plan, Royal Delta will
attempt to be the 2nd horse to win a Breeders’ Cup race 3 years
After his win in the Westchester on opening day and 3rd
place effort in the Met Mile on Memorial Day, the 7-year-old horse Flat Out
took down the Suburban Handicap (G2) at his home track, Belmont Park on July
6th. There’s no doubt that the Baron of Belmont isn’t quite the same when
taking his show away from Long Island, but it is still a treat to see the
veteran compete in at the highest level anywhere he goes.
On the sidelines since narrowly missing in the Cigar Mile
(G1) last November, the 5-year-old mare Groupie Doll has been on the work tab the last 2
months and appears to be on track to try and duplicate her breathtaking effort
in last November’s BC Filly & Mare Sprint. A fan favorite, Groupie Doll may return to the races in the Ballerina Stakes (G1) at Saratoga on 8/23.
Last Saturday, Rahystrada, the 9-year-old gelding by Rahy
became the first horse to capture the Arlington Handicap (local prep for the
Arlington Million) 3 times. Though not a leader in his division, the Arlington
Park specialist could vault his way up the leader board if able to improve on
his 3rd place finish in last year’s Arlington Million.
Marketing Mix, the 5-year-old mare defeated males last out
in the Sunset Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park. Owned by Glen Hill Farm, who
breeds a lot of their runners, it would be very each to send her off to the
breeding shed after her runner-up effort in last year's BC Filly & Mare Turf.
Expect Marketing Mix to be one of the favorites in next month’s Beverly D (G1)
at Arlington Park, before heading out to Santa Anita to take another shot at
Breeders’ Cup glory.
Point of Entry is a 5-year-old horse who was at the top of
the turf marathon division before sustaining an injury during his win in the
Manhattan Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park. It’ll be a stretch, but his long term
goal is to make it back to Santa Anita this November for the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Though
it appears Point of Entry has relinquished his spot at the top, it seems that
his stable mate, Boisterous (6-year-old horse) has picked up the torch in the
marathon turf division following his win in last Saturday’s Man O’ War Stakes (G1)
at Belmont Park.
Ben’s Cat is the 7-year-old gelding who lays claim to being
the best turf sprinter on the Eastern Seaboard. A winner of 3 of 4 races this year;
Ben’s Cat is honest as they come by winning stakes throughout the Mid-Atlantic
region. Though not Breeders’ Cup nominated, don’t be surprised to see Ben’s Cat
consistently beat horses that will show up to racing’s biggest weekend.
Sure, there are some flashy youngsters that will make an
immediate splash and then be whisked off to their second careers, but whether its
dirt, turf, short or long it’s nice to see some of game’s biggest stars
competing at such a high level for an extended period of time.