Wow…after watching a weekend of nothing but the best
Thoroughbreds duking it out, a weekend of upsets jumping up and favorites
proving their mettle, all I can say is what a fantastic Breeders Cup.
The 2012 Breeders Cup had anything and everything happen. In
the very first race to kick off the series we saw the heavy favorite, Merit Man
, have the race stolen from under him as the 0 for 8 maiden, Hightail
slipped up the rail to win the race in a thriller.
Hightail’s performance was the only upset, in fact it was
only the beginning of longshot domination that nearly lasted the entire day.
The next upset provided a little bit of international flavor and rewrote some
Breeders Cup history as the Argentinian bred Calidoscopio
took the Breeders Cup
Marathon, in turn becoming the oldest horse to win a Breeders Cup event, at
nine years old.
The Juvenile Fillies was supposed to be East against West,
but as it would turn out it would be a rematch of the West’s two best Juvenile
fillies as Executiveprivilege
ran at Beholder
, who simply refused to let her
rival pass. The two eastern fillies, Dreaming of Julia
and Kauai Katie
finish third and fourth.
In the Filly and Mare Turf, the very consistent but
slammed her doubters mouths shut, proving that over the Santa
Anita Turf course she could indeed run 10 furlongs very effectively. In winning
she became the first major East Coaster to strike a blow, beating Marketing Mix
and Lady of Shamrock
, who had dominated out west, as well as international
invaders The Fugue
Friday would end with the crowning of a champion as Royal
rewarded her many backers when setting a blistering pace under Mike
Smith, far from her customary closing position, before holding off every
challenger including a stubborn, previously unbeaten, My Miss Aurelia
. It was a
great race, with the only downfall being that a key contender Questing
up not far out of the gate.
On Saturday, the day started with an upset again, as George
beat out highly regarded Noble Tune
, but in the very next race,
showed her brilliance once again. After being farther out of the early
fray than normal, she made a bold, sustained move around the turn and into the
stretch. She won in dominating fashion in a sharp 1.20.72 for the seven
furlongs earning her fifth consecutive graded stakes victory.
I will say, while the Dirt Mile was a surprise, it in some
ways was not for me. It seemed to be more of Karma, as I had backed Tapizar
several times in the past with inconsistent results. The one time I decided to
leave him he runs the most brilliant race of his career, beating some of the
best milers in North America. The Irony of racing, don’t we all love it.
In the Juvenile, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw
slow to what looked like a walk after having a commanding lead
coming off the turn. At the top of the stretch I thought he would be swallowed
by the entire field as he came to a crawl, but in the next instant, the colt
re-broke and engaged He’s Had Enough
for a thrilling stretch duel. That is one
race I can say that I actually felt my heart slam into my throat. Simply
Later we saw a Rags to Riches story, as Little Mike
a hard charging Point of Entry
, the heavy favorite, while also tying the world
record for 12 furlongs over turf. Little Mike also became the first American to
take the race since 2003. The unexpected “little” horse with a big heart overachieved
and surprised again.
The American dominance didn’t stop there as Wise Dan
and Moonlight Cloud
, two of the best Euro milers in the Breeders’
Cup Mile. Wise Dan stopped the clock in course record time and it should be
noted he was not far off the world record. While Wise Dan was star of the show
and most likely earned Horse of the Year with his scintillating performance,
one cannot let the performance of Animal Kingdom
go unnoticed. Off an injury
and an eight and a half month layoff, the Derby winner demonstrated greatness,
coming within 1 ½ lengths of Wise Dan after a troubled trip. That was nothing
short of brilliant.
The final race, which was one of the most exciting, was the
Classic. Game on Dude
may not have brought his A-game, but the two who did,
Mucho Macho Man
and Fort Larned
, put on a show that we will never forget. In a
move reminiscent to that of his Whitney win, Fort Larned spurted away from the
field around the turn, but instead of going on to a dominant win, this time
Mucho Macho Man began to close into his gap with giant strides. The two flew
down the stretch distancing themselves from the field. The Macho Man on the
outside, Fort Larned on the inside, both fighting stubbornly, but in the end
Fort Larned’s neck was the one to cross the wire first.
The Classic, was my favorite race, as I believe that was
racing at its finest, but there is no denying that the other races didn’t
provide thrills and brilliance. I said before the Breeders Cup that this was
one of the best in years, and I stand by that statement now that the chips have
fallen. History was rewritten, champions showed their brilliance and their
heart, there were heart stopping stretch duels and races of complete
domination. This is was easily one of the deepest, most exciting Breeders Cup
series, and I will likely never forget it.