2) Travers Stakes - If not for the unforgettable drama in the Classic, this year’s Travers would have made for a worthy race of the year. In Saratoga’s most important race, two proud colts hooked up late and battled nose to nose to the wire leaving the rest of the field far behind. Afleet Express would win the photo and the Travers, but Fly Down ran huge and only lost by an eyelash.
3) Fleur de Lis Handicap - It was a tough season for my favorite horse, Rachel Alexandra, but not on this day. Looking like the same filly who had the greatest season of any three-year-old filly in history the year before, Rachel’s performance in the Fleur de Lis allowed this admiring onlooker one last thrilling moment with the filly I loved.
4) Whitney Handicap - It became the changing of the guard when the leader of the handicap division, Quality Road was challenged by the up and coming Blame. It was a challenge that Quality Road could not handle, as Blame took his place as the best male horse in the nation with a thrilling stretch drive in the Whitney.
5) Breeders’ Cup Mile - Goldikova and Gio Ponti. The all-time great French mare against the excellent American challenger. It was set to be a showdown, but it turned into a coronation. Goldikova is an incredible mare, and she was never finer than in this year’s BC Mile. In the process, she became the first horse ever to win three Breeders’ Cup races.
6) Breeders’ Cup Juvenile - No exciting finishes in this one, but this race resonated with me nonetheless for one big reason, and that reason is Uncle Mo. I have not been this excited about a juvenile for many years, and Mo let it all hang out in the biggest race of the year for two-year-olds. I have been on triple crown amber alert ever since.
7) Tampa Bay Derby - It was the photo that seemed to defy our own eyes. Whatever it was, the finish of this Kentucky Derby prep was fantastic, as the ill-fated Odysseus somehow came back to get the win over Schoolyard Dreams by a whisker, with future Derby hero Super Saver a close 3rd.
8) Vanity Handicap - It was just Zenyatta being Zenyatta. One of the best mares in the country, St Trinians ran her heart out on that day, and looked like she might be the first to defeat the undefeated superstar. Of course we all know who would be ahead as they hit the wire. Poor St Trinians.
9) Flower Bowl Handicap - The highlight of my trip to Belmont was the fantastic finish in this filly and mare turf, grade one. Ave was ultimately able to get the job done when she split horses in late stretch to narrowly out duel Changing Skies and Red Desire to the wire.
10) The Preakness - Redemption was sweet for Lookin at Lucky in the middle jewel of the triple crown, as he rebounded from a horrid trip in the Kentucky Derby, to regain his place atop the sophomore division. On a personal note, it was my first Preakness in person, and I was pleased to see a champion strut his stuff.
Photo Courtesy of Reed Palmer Photography