The 1997 Breeders' Cup at Hollywood Park was memorable for many reasons, among them Skip Away's dominating win in the Classic and Chief Bearhart picking up a win for Canada in the Turf. However, no storyline dominated as much as the Breeders' Cup Juvenile where Favorite Trick was the overwhelming choice to win. Favorite Trick was undefeated entering the race and seemed destined for greatness regardless of the outcome on Breeders' Cup Day.
Well, he certainly lived up to the billing in the Juvenile. He would win by five conclusive lengths and set a stakes record time in doing so as well. The victory capped his undefeated campaign and was part of the resume' he had in being named Horse Of The Year in 1997, the first two-year-old since Secretariat to be accorded that distinction. Needless to say, everyone thought Favorite Trick would be able to carry over his brilliant form into his three-year-old season and win the Kentucky Derby and everything else along the way. As we all know, it didn't quite turn out that way. 1998 was the year of Real Quiet, who was documented earlier this week on this blog following his untimely passing. Favorite Trick ended up running eighth in the 1998 Kentucky Derby and did not race in either of the other two Triple Crown races. He ended up coming back in the summer to win the Saratoga prep for the Travers Stakes, the Jim Dandy, and his connections tried to turn him into a turf miler. He scored a nice win at a mile on the turf at Keeneland and was sent off as the betting choice in the 1998 Breeders' Cup Mile, but ended up running eighth that day as well.
One must wonder what might have happened had Favorite Trick been able to remain with the trainer that guided him to that two-year-old championship campaign. Trainer Patrick Byrne had Favorite Trick ready to go in all eight of those two-year-old efforts and after the successful season, Byrne was hired away by Frank Stronach and left Favorite Trick behind. 1998 Horse Racing Hall Of Famer Bill Mott took over Favorite Trick's training and was never able to achieve the same level of success with the horse that Byrne had.
Favorite Trick perished in a barn fire in New Mexico in 2006. For his career, he started sixteen times, winning twelve and running third once. His career earnings were $1,726,793. If you would like to watch Favorite Trick's performance in the 1997 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jikiWUEmzdU.
Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!