Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
Racing fans like to whine about how we haven’t seen any brilliance over the past decade. We like to compare the horses of today to the horses of old, and say how much better they were. We like to say that there is no spark
in the male division anymore, and note how far it has fallen.
I listen to this, and in my mind think how on earth can
American fans think this? Over the past 10 years we have seen some of the most
brilliant male runners to contest over the classic distance. We have seen
records shattered by both speed and accomplishment. We have seen greatness and
brilliance. Let me refresh your memories, by recounting the top 10 males to
race, over the last decade.
10.) Fort Larned
- He may not have been the most consistent,
but when he was on his game there was not a horse running today who could match
him. A three-time grade one winner, he won his Breeders’ Cup Classic while
winging it on the front end, before fighting off Mucho Macho Man
, in an epic
stretch duel. Also on
his resume are dominating, laughably easy wins in the
grade one Stephen Foster and Whitney Handicap.
- He raced but one season, but in one season,
he showed more brilliance and dominance than most do over an entire career.
Winner of the Preakness, Jim Dandy, Travers, and Jockey Club Gold Cup, it took
another titan by the name of Invasor, to finally put the youngster in his
8.) Pleasantly Perfect
- A Breeders’ Cup Classic and Dubai
World Cup winner doesn’t always get a ton of respect, but to take those two
races while also winning a couple Goodwoods and a Pacific Classic, is quite the list
7.) Medaglia d’Oro
- Danced every single dance there was to
dance, only placing worse than second twice. The handsome stud won three grade
ones, while placing second in the Dubai World Cup and Breeders’ Cup Classic. At
three he won the Travers, while finishing second in the Belmont. At four he won
the Whitney and at five the Donn. They don’t make many others like him.
6.) Game on Dude
- The California Monster is the perfect
nickname for this one. Just this year, he became only the second horse to sweep
California’s big triple, the Santa Anita Handicap, the Hollywood Gold Cup, and
the Pacific Classic. He has also taken his show on the road running second in
the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Clark Handicap.
- Came to America to try his hand at dirt and
the son of AP Indy only lost twice. Winning four grade one races and just a
head shy of winning five grade ones in a row. He may not have a Breeders' Cup,
but with a resume that includes the Pimlico Special, Suburban Handicap, the
Woodward, and Jockey Club Gold Cup, that can be excused. He came, he saw, he
conquered, plain and simple.
4.) Lava Man
- Doesn’t get a whole lot of respect outside of
California, despite the fact he is the only horse to win a grade one on dirt,
turf, and synthetic and that he was the first horse to sweep the Santa Anita
Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup, Pacific Classic. Oh, he also won seven grade
ones, including three Hollywood Gold Cups and two Big Caps. He was easily the
most dominant California horse this past decade, on any surface. He was a true
sensation, in every sense of the word.
-If you like raw speed, power and brilliance,
look no further than this freak of nature. He could outsprint the sprinters,
run the milers off their feet, and decimate the classic runners. Many believe
that based on ability, that he was the best horse since Spectacular Bid, but
don’t take my word for it, look at his resume yourself. He won the Vosburgh,
running his final 1/16 in a dizzying 5.97 seconds. He won the Woodward in
1.46.38 after being carried out into the parking lot. Then he won the Classic
in 1.59 flat, a new Breeders Cup Classic, in his first time ever trying the
Classic distance. His only flaw was his fragility.
- Much like Mineshaft, he came he saw he
conquered, the only difference, he came to America and did not lose. Winner of
the Breeders Cup and Dubai World Cup, against some of the best runners in
America and the world. Who could forget his epic battle in the Whitney, as he
dueled with Sun King down the stretch, or how easily he overcame a horrendous
trip in the Donn to win with his ears pricked? A great horse, who during his
reign, had no equal.
- Brilliant, Accomplished, Dominant. He ran
everywhere over everything. He went from unknown maiden to Preakness winner to Breeders’
Cup Classic victor, to Horse of the Year in one season. In his next season he
flew to Dubai and added the Dubai World Cup to his lists of conquests. He won
the Woodward and Stephen Foster before winning the Jockey Club Gold Cup for the
second straight season, while becoming America’s leading money earner. Overall, he won 7 grade ones out of 12, finishing worse than third only once. He was the
modern day Iron Horse, you just don’t see them made like him anymore.