From Feb. 4th
to Nov. 24th there were a total of 102 graded stakes races run at the
NYRA tracks of Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga. I have gone through the results
of these races and have selected my six favorite New York stakes of 2012.
NYRA is a political
football, and it has always been. There appears to be no way to get around
that. Whether it was the fight for
the renewal of the NYRA franchise, or the recent takeover and restructuring of
NYRA by Governor Cuomo, the day-to-day operation of Aqueduct, Belmont, and
Saratoga, it is clouded and hampered by New York politics. There are times during the
year when NYRA bashing becomes sport, a sport that plays out in the social
media, in the blogs, and in the traditional press.
Through all of this, NYRA
puts out the best racing in the country and this blog entry is meant to remind
us of that and to highlight the best of the best.
At the end of the blog you
will find a spreadsheet listing the winners of all 102 of the stakes. Please
feel free to comment about your favorites.
March 3 – Gotham Stakes (G3) – Hansen reasserted his presence on the
2012 Derby Trail with his victory in a field of 13 horses.
May 28 – Met Mile (G1) – The immensely popular Shackleford defeated a very strong
field in the Met Mile. Track announcer Tom Durkin said that Shackleford ran,
“furlong after powerful furlong,” and was still able to hold off the late charge
of Caleb’s Posse.
June 9 – Belmont Stakes (G1) – With the scratch
of I'll Have Another and the
disappointment that there would not be a try for the Triple Crown, Union Rags saved the day with what
Durkin called “A thrilling rendition of the Test of Champions." With a second
place finish, Paynter began what was
to be an emotional roller coaster for his owners, the Zayats, and his devoted followers.
July 28 – Diana (G1) – Winter Memories won her final career
start with her trademark explosive stretch run to win a race that included Zagora, the
probable female turf champion of 2012. In the video you will hear Tom Durkin
exclaim, “Look at Winter Memories kick away.”
August 11 – Fourstardave Handicap (G2) – We got to
see probable Horse of the Year, Wise Dan,
win on the Saratoga turf. The stretch call was, “Wise Dan dashes to the lead.
The versatile Wise Dan scores an impressive victory over the yielding going
August 29 – Travers Stakes (G1) – The Travers did
not have one of its strongest fields, but the dead heat finish of Alpha and Golden Ticket more than made up for it.