Was 2012 a year of disappointment? Was it a year where the depth
of divisions was so lacking that a Turf Miler would be named Horse of the Year,
Turf Champion, and Champion Older Male? Or was 2012 a year with such an
outstanding group of horses, that it took one so brilliant, so versatile, and
so talented to achieve such a historic Triple. Some may say it was the former.
I say 2012 was a year of outstanding brilliance.
Any number of horses were worthy of Horse of the Year, some
made it as finalists, some didn’t. Those that did, Fort Larned
, Wise Dan
, and I’ll
were nothing short of awe inspiring and brilliant. Fort Larned took a
little while to find his best stride, but once equipped with blinkers he was a
force to be reckoned with. He took the Whitney and the Breeders' Cup in
spectacular fashion, along with other stakes such as the Skip Away and
Cornhusker. I’ll Have Another was unbeaten this year. His battles in the Derby
in Preakness with Bodemeister
evoked memories of Affirmed and Alydar. He showed
brilliance and grit in his four starts. Wise Dan, well, his story is well
known. His only loss was a head, to Ron the Greek. Two track record
performances, one in the Breeders' Cup against some of the best in the world,
would bookend a spectacular season.
Others, who while not nominated, but had seasons worthy of
nomination were Groupie Doll
, Point of Entry
, and Royal Delta
. Groupie Doll won
five consecutive stakes, including a Breeders' Cup. Royal Delta won the Fleur de
Lis, the Delaware Handicap and the Beldame, before a scintillating performance
against, arguably, the strongest Breeders Cup field assembled this year. Point
of Entry demonstrated his prowess over distances, winning five in a row, 4
stakes, three grade ones. He came up just short in the Breeders' Cup, after
putting in a furious rally.
So, all in all, the facts point towards an exceedingly
brilliant and deep year. A year where six horses had a legitimate shot at
becoming Horse of the Year. Those six horses won sixteen races between them,
all but two won their division, and the two that didn’t were finalists in the
same divisions swept by Wise Dan.
This year was not weak. Anyone who thinks that needs to go
back over the year and look at what brilliance was shown to us. Wise Dan was
simply the most brilliant and the brightest of the rest of the stars. He is the
first horse to take home Champion Older Male, Turf Champion, and Horse of the
Year since 1981, and there is nobody, no matter how they try to degrade him, no
matter how harsh their words, that can take that away from him.
2012 was a superb year, and Wise Dan was the star of it.