Earlier this year we lost our friend and 14-time winner Awad (Caveat – Dancer’s Candy by Noble Dancer). This turf eater had finished in the money in 50% of his races over his great career and had won some very prestigious races such as the Pilgrim, the Secretariat, the Maryland Million, and the Manhattan.
However in my opinion, Awad’s greatest victory was in the Arlington Million in 1995. That day Awad turned in a dominating performance by not only winning by 2 ¼ lengths with Eddie Maple aboard, but set a course record of 1:58.3: a record for 1 ¼ miles that still stands today. Awad proved again that day how much he loved the Chicago turf course. You see, Awad had already won the Secretariat Stakes on the same turf track as a three year old in 1993. Note that he also ran well again after that great victory in Chicago with a place finish in the 1996 Arlington Million and then finished third in the 1997 Stars and Stripes. Definitely a horse for the course!
With the white turf rail set at lane 5, and the gate set at 1 ¼ miles on the expansive turf course, champion Awad let the early speed dictate the race as he dropped back to 9th (of 11) early. And what a pace it was!! Speed burner, Arlington winner, and son of former Million champion Manila, Manilaman, held the lead through a full mile of the race setting blistering fractions of :22.4, :46.2, 1:10.3, and 1:35.1. 3-2 post time favorite Sandpit set off on the pace with Corey Nakatani aboard and Kiri’s Clown held second behind the leader.
The final quarter mile would change the Arlington Million forever. 26-1 longshot, The Vid, grabbed the lead at the top of the stretch while Awad passed rivals, jumping to second place. What happened after that was magical. With a huge burst of speed Awad went five-wide and jumped ahead of Sandpit and The Vid drawing clear under Maple’s strong handling to set the new course record. Again, the record still stands to this day! To me, it’s amazing how some of these records stand the test of time.
Awad will always have a special place in my heart and I am thankful for his 21 great years with us and his legacy will live on through the likes of Johns Pic and Wadadelight.
As the Million draws near, I wonder if any other horse will ever come close to the record Awad set that day.