The horses burst from the gate at the start of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (Gr. I) at Keeneland. Java's War won from post 4, and eventual Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice (post 5) was 2nd.
Undefeated Princess Arabella, whose breathtaking 2012 Sunland Park Oaks will not be forgotten, nuzzles her first foal, a colt by Tapit. I had already chosen this photo as one of my favorites when I learned the colt had tragically passed away on December 21. This photo, once touching, is now poignant and bittersweet.
One of the last surviving sons of the great Damascus, Ogygian has long been my favorite retiree at Old Friends Equine. My mare is a paternal granddaughter of Damascus so I half-jokingly call Ogygian her "uncle" and visit the old man as often as I can.
Discreet Hero, Max A Million and Kano Doble nap in the mud and sun at Old Friends Equine.
The striking No Rachmones receives a pat from his groom at Arlington Park.
1998 Horse of the Year Skip Away lays at rest in the idyllic hills of Old Friends Equine.
The graves of The Axe II and Tom Fool on a misty spring day at Gainesway Farm.
9-year-old warhorse Rahystrada receives an appreciative hug from his groom after winning the Arlington Handicap (Gr. III) for the third time.
Running 3rd in the same race was the ever-handsome Dullahan (Kent Desormeaux up). Dullahan passed away after suffering severe colic in October.
Dank (GB) was a sight in the Arlington Park paddock prior to winning the Beverly D. Stakes (Gr. I). She would go on to win the Breeder's Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
Gary Stevens is right at home on a horse--in this case, Marketing Mix prior to the Beverly D. Stakes. Since coming out of retirement in January, Gary has had a whirlwind year, which includes wins in the Preakness Stakes, Breeder's Cup Distaff and Breeder's Cup Classic.
Light and shadows play upon the meticulously-groomed Side Glance (GB) in the paddock prior to the Arlington Million (Gr. I).
A pony horse gallops in the morning at Del Mar, the Surfside Great Race Place.
Fiftyshadesofhay, winner of the Black-Eyed Susans Stakes at Pimlico on Preakness Day, eyes a dog on the Del Mar backside.
Meeting Game On Dude was one of the top hightlights of my year. He was very sweet in his stall at Del Mar...
...but was all business in the paddock before the Pacific Classic (Gr. I) the next day. He won going away by over 8 lengths under Martin Garcia.
Stablemate Fed Biz (Martin Garcia up) also had his time in the winner's circle after winning the Pat O' Brien Stakes (Gr. II) in track-record time. Goldencents was 2nd.
The last race of the day in the setting Pacific Ocean sun.
Florent Geroux celebrates aboard I'm Already Sexy after winning the Pucker Up Stakes (Gr. III) at Arlington Park.
Champion sprinter Groupie Doll has a moment with groom Matt Hebert in the Keeneland paddock prior to the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (Gr. II).
Better Lucky and groom rush for cover in one of the many torrential downpours of the day at Keeneland. Over the next few moments, she would win a soggy First Lady Stakes (Gr. I).
Dayatthespa was reluctant to leave the shelter of the Keeneland saddling stalls. Despite her dislike for the rain, she finished 2nd in the First Lady Stakes.
2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan's presence could be felt in the furthest corners of the paddock prior to the Shadwell Turf Mile (Gr. I), which had been taken off the wet turf. Trainer Charlie LoPresti hardly took his eyes off the champion, even as he stretched the gelding's legs.
Wise Dan is walked back to the barn by his disappointed handlers after his defeat in the Shadwell--his first and only loss of the year. The great gelding would later trounce Shadwell victor Silver Max in the Breeder's Cup Mile.