Photo: Don August
Another Breeders' Cup come and gone, and what an amazing one
it was. The Cup of 2013 brought us to the lowest of lows before it delivered us
to the highest heights one can imagine. We saw brilliance from every corner. We
witnessed heartwarming stories, comebacks, and passion. The Breeders' Cup of
2013 embodied everything that racing is currently, and can be in the future.
First off I would like to say farewell to all of those
leaving the track this year. For the fan favorites like Groupie Doll and
Mizdirection, they may not have been as dominant as they were the year before,
but they went out in style, leaving our memory banks brimming with excitement
and thrills. Fort Larned also ran his last race, and it will be sad to see the
complex, but brilliant old man go. His 2012 Breeders Cup Classic and 2013
Stephen Foster were races that will be remembered for years to come. The
comeback kid, Paynter, also leaves us. He wasn’t quite the same as he was in
2012, but for him to make it back was a story in itself. After all he has been
through, and after all he has given to us, retirement is well deserved.
The only one I am upset to see go, for the reason that is
much too soon is Verrazano. The beautiful son of More Than Ready was one of the
most brilliant horses of his era. Him at his best was a sight to behold, and I have
no doubt that he could have given us several more dazzling, dominating, jaw
dropping performances. Alas, he only ran one season. It is truly a crying shame
we won’t see more of him.
The most tragic event of the Breeders Cup had to be the loss
of the promising young filly Secret Compass. Blame whomever, whatever you want,
the track, the trainer, it doesn’t change the fact that this filly was taken
much too soon. She was a talented filly, full of potential, and will surely be
Now that the good byes have been given, it is time to look
ahead, to the Eclipse Awards and beyond….Game on Dude almost certainly lost his
chance at being crowned Horse of the Year and Champion Older Male, when he
faded to ninth out of 11. It is a shame as he was having a career best season
in 2013. However, as he faded out, Mucho Macho Man and Will Take Charge surged
into the light. In light of their courageous efforts, it is likely that both
captured an eclipse award for their own respective division….however, Horse of
the Year is far less decisive.
Right now it would seem Wise Dan has the best claim to the year-end
Award, though there are several who will be hesitant to give him Horse of the
Year because of his predictable season. Mucho Macho Man has a shot, as he has
won back to back grade ones, beaten the best in his division, and was third in
the Whitney….thing is he had a very inauspicious start to 2013, and missed a
good portion of the season due to health issues.
Both Juvenile divisions could be up in the air, though I
believe She’s A Tiger will garner most of the support, after a very controversial
decision that led to her disqualification, after her narrow win in the Breeders’
Cup Juvenile Fillies. On the male side you have to wonder who gets the honor.
Havana has the best overall record. Two wins, a grade one win and then a grade
one place, in the Juvenile…but New Year’s Day took home the big prize.
Three year old filly is now up in the air, after the
sporting gesture by the connections of Princess of Sylmar led to her worst
defeat this year, and at the hands of her main rival Beholder. Voters now must
decide which win means more. A win by Beholder in the Distaff, over her home
track…..or Princess of Sylmar’s Kentucky Oaks win, which was over neutral
grounds. Both fillies have legitimate claims, but who wins and who has the
better merits is in the eye of the beholder….no pun intended.
While the Eclipse Awards are exciting and suspenseful, what
brings me the most excitement and suspense is what the New Year will bring.
Rivalries that born this year will be continued to next, as several of the top
three year olds are sticking around. Word around the track is that Mucho Macho
Man is also going to hang around for another year. All in all, we should see
the return of Revolutionary, Dreaming of Julia, Unlimited Budget, Palace
Malice, Orb, Will Take Charge, Mucho Macho Man, possibly Cross Traffic, Wise
Dan, Point of Entry….I’m sure I missed a few, but you understand.
2013 was an exciting year, a brilliant year….but at the end
of the day I can’t wait to move forward into the New Year of 2014.