The 2010 racing season was one of remarkable highs and one of remarkable lows, much like any of the racing seasons that preceded it. The one race that all sports fans recognize, the Kentucky Derby, was run over a quagmire at Churchill Downs for the second straight year, and for the second straight year, Calvin Borel was aboard the soggy champion. However, in my opinion, the Derby didn't qualify for me as one of the Fab Four Races Of 2010. Here are the four that do:
#4- The Arlington Million- Gio Ponti had won the Arlington Million in 2009 and was trying to become the first horse in the history of the event to win it in back-to-back years. For a while in the Chicago stretch, he appeared that he was going to accomplish the feat. Then. Debussy, who looked as if he was defeated at the top of the stretch, suddenly burst through the rail in the stretch and ran down the defending champion, Gio Ponti, to get up and win in the shadow of the wire. It was a magnificent performance by the European invader and his rider, William Buick. To watch the 2010 Arlington Million, here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKnaJ99ckUY.
#3- The Tampa Bay Derby- This was the race that the eventual Kentucky Derby champion, Super Saver, used as his key prep for the big day in May. However, the story of this race was the three-horse photo finish that came at the end of it. Super Saver was there with Schoolyard Dreams and Odysseus. In fact, Super Saver would end up in the third position behind the other two. Odysseus appeared defeated on the far turn, only to re-rally and run down Schoolyard Dreams for the victory in a photo finish that I still cannot believe that Odysseus was the winner of. Sadly, Odysseus would not survive the summer. He was euthanized in August for complications from laminitis. Still, he provided the most memorable prep race of the 2010 Kentucky Derby season. To watch the 2010 Tampa Bay Derby, here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jr98xT193IE.
#2- The Preakness Stakes- I wrote about this race not too long ago when the connections of the winner, soon-to-be Three-Year-Old Champion Male Lookin At Lucky, announced his retirement. Lookin At Lucky had all kinds of bad luck through the spring, culminating with his disaster in the Derby. Trainer Bob Baffert, however, knew that he had the horse primed for a big effort two weeks later in the Preakness. Certainly in recent years if anyone knows when his horse is going to run a big race during the Triple Crown, it is Bob Baffert. However, the best race of the day came from Jackson Bend, who would end up third. When you watch the replay, watch Jackson Bend and see what he had to overcome just to get to where he finished. It was a noble effort. To watch the 2010 Preakness Stakes, here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPJFs24BeDA.
#1- The Breeders' Cup Classic- Anyone that knows anything about anything knew this one was going to be in the top spot. It became a de facto race for Horse Of The Year between Blame and Zenyatta. Zenyatta was so far behind early on that many people felt she was going to be pulled up, but she gathered herself and gave us a race for the ages. It has been said that her greatest performance came in the one race she did not win. I think that might be accurate, but Blame's performance was pretty darn great as well. Which one deserves to be Horse Of The Year? Well, each only finished behind one horse all year. However, while Blame finished behind Haynesfield in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (whom he subsequently dusted in this Classic), Zenyatta finished behind Blame. I am just thankful that I don't have a vote in this election. I still think that it is absolutely too close to call when it comes to Horse Of The Year. To watch the replay of the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic, here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Et15M6wsPo.
Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!