While the racing world eagerly awaits to find out who will, and who will not, be voted in as the 2013 Eclipse Award winners, I’ve decided to put a little different spin on things. I’ve fired up the ZATT time machine and jumped forward just a little bit. Call it a fool’s mission if you must, but I’m only trying to have a little fun with some reasonably well thought out projections for the 2014 racing season.
It goes without saying that my juvenile picks are shots in the dark, but they represent a couple of yearlings that I was very impressed with at their respective sales…
Champion Two-Year-Old Colt – (Speightstown - Say It With Feelin, by Deputy Minister)
Champion Two-Year-Old Filly – (Distorted Humor – Dream Rush, by Wild Rush)
It's been 24 hours and I'm still impressed with the show Shared Belief put on yesterday in the CashCall Futurity. Clearly there are big questions about dirt and classic distances for the son of Candy Ride, but as of right now, 4 1/2 months from the Derby, he's looks like the best horse of this crop. I'm excited to see how well he can answer those questions in 2014. On the female side, I like a filly who has yet only run against maidens. I loved what I saw from Unbridled Forever in her second start at Churchill Downs, and I could easily see her developing into a Kentucky Oaks heroine.
Champion Three-Year-Old Male – Shared Belief
Champion Three-Year-Old Filly – Unbridled Forever
This time last year I tabbed Mucho Macho Man as the horse that would go on and win the 2013 Breeders' Cup Classic, and what do you know, he did it! Now, two in a row is no easy task, but I still think there is a ton left in the tank of this soon to be six-year-old. If he can indeed repeat in the Classic, over a Santa Anita strip that he loves, look for him to be named best of the older males in 2014. It was a storybook season for Princess of Sylmar right up until the Breeders' Cup. I expect another big one for her next year as well.
Champion Older Male Horse – Mucho Macho Man
Champion Older Female Horse – Princess of Sylmar
Zaikov is finally back, and ... he's fast! The fact that they brought him back in a six furlong race has me thinking that Team Pletcher might see him more as a sprinter than a router. We shall see, but whichever direction he goes, look for him to make some noise in '14. As much courage as She's A Tiger showed in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, I still believe that she will ultimately be best at one-turn. The thought of her as a mature six-furlong filly next fall is one that could spell trouble for her competition in the Filly & Mare Sprint.
Champion Sprinter – Zaikov
Champion Female Sprinter – She's A Tiger
He may not be an American, but I'm convinced that Up With the Birds was the finest three-year-old turf horse in North America in 2013. Further development for the Sam-Son runner could not only see him as the horse to beat in the Canadian International, but several other important turf stakes south of the border. Now in the Chad Brown barn, I'm expecting big things from Stephanie's Kitten. A top turf horse all along, her 2013 season was cut short by injury. In 2014, as a healthy and mature five-year-old mare, look for her to be a force on East Coast turf courses.
Champion Male Turf Horse – Up With the Birds
Champion Female Turf Horse - Stephanie's Kitten
And for the second year in a row, I'm picking the big boy as my super early Horse of the Year …
Horse of the Year – Mucho Macho Man
There you have it, eleven predictions sure to entertain a least a ghost of a chance for 2014 glory. Don’t laugh, this was not easy … Have any very early predictions of your own?