Filly and Mare Sprint – Groupie Doll
What an amazing horse Groupie Doll has turned into. I have to admit I thought she could fall victim to an upset, but she won this thing so easy. Unbeatable as a sprinter! Dust and Diamonds ran as well as she could to get second, and how about the classy Switch getting up for third! This was an enjoyable race to watch on all fronts, and one of the best performances of the Breeders Cup.
Dirt Mile – Tapizar
Tapizar had shown us his love for Santa Anita in past races, but Saturday was the best yet! His trip was perfect was perfect, and when it was time to run he simply blew the competition away. You have to like the Rail Trip got up for second. The horse’s tough luck is well documented, and he still has some class left. Moving forward it’s obvious Tapizar needs a mile or shorter. Is he only good at Santa Anita, or will he carry his class with him from now on?
Turf Sprint – Mizdirection
This was certainly a “horse for course” type race. Mizdirection extended her record on the Santa Anita downhill course to 4 for 4 in this one. She overcame a pretty wide stretch run which showed me she was actually much the best. Unbridled’s Note was 1 for 1 over the course, and ran well to get second. Some of the first timers on the downhill didn’t fare so well, which was the only “home court advantage” you could point to this Breeders Cup. Jim Rome winning and talking about the victory all day on his talk show on Monday was great for horse racing.
Juvenile – Shanghai Bobby
Shanghai Bobby showed us that he is all heart in winning this one! The horse looked beat at the top of the stretch, but he dug in several times to hold off the He’s Had Enough. The time of the race isn’t going to impress many, but you can win a lot of races with a fighter like him. Draw a line through this one for Power Broker. He basically was eight wide into both turns. With a better trip he would have been in with a big chance. Can these horses move on to Triple Crown glory? Always hard to tell, but historically the odds are against them.
Juvenile Turf – George Vancouver
No doubt in my mind that the top three horses were much better than the others in here. Credit George Vancouver for shooting through an opening and winning. Excellent ride from Ryan Moore. Balance the Books finished third, but was running the strongest of the two Chad Brown runners. Give him another few strides and he would have passed Noble Tune.
Sprint – Trinniberg
Color me SHOCKED that Trinniberg won this thing. Bottom line: the horse ran incredible. He set extremely fast fractions and still had plenty left in the end. The Lumber Guy completed the exacta, making it two 3 year olds on the top. Smiling Tiger ran a great race to get third considering his long layoff. Several horses got rough trips in this one, and last years winner Amazombie failed to run his best race.
Turf – Little Mike
I was shocked again with this result. I’ve never really jumped on the Little Mike bandwagon, but you can’t deny that he ran a great race in this one. Credit Dominguez for giving him a great trip, and credit the horse for making it count. It was kind of a cluster of horses that finished behind him. Only a handful of lengths separated second from tenth. Point of Entry ran another solid race, as did St. Nichols Abbey.
Mile – Wise Dan
Perhaps one of the most incredible performances I have ever seen. Wise Dan is the Horse of the Year. There is no debating it. He smashed the Santa Anita turf record, and made Excelebration look average. We can always wonder what a Wise Dan vs. Frankel match up would have looked like. I must give credit to Animal Kingdom as well. The horse ran a fantastic race considering the long lay off. Hopefully they can keep him healthy for a stong 2013.
Classic – Fort Larned
Since this is the big one, I’ll run down my thoughts on every horse:
1. Fort Larned – He stole the race with that move on the turn where he separated himself from the others. He did the same thing in the Whitney at Saratoga earlier in the year. What a race horse he’s turned out to be, and how hard is it to pass this guy in the stretch?
2. Mucho Macho Man – Raise your hand if you thought he was definitely going to win when they turned for home! I told my wife, “Mike Smith is going to do it again!” He didn’t, but it was still an excellent race for Mucho Macho Man.
3. Flat Out – The speed bias was just too hard to overcome, but Flat Out ran a fine race. Solid horse that I hope stays in training.
4. Ron the Greek – After having such a great start and middle to his season, he fizzled out somewhat towards the end. Not a bad effort, but he’s ran better.
5. Richard’s Kid – Like this horse, but he’s just not a Grade 1 winning type performer.
6. Nonios – I’m interested to see what he does next year. Solid three-year old was always in the mix of things. With a little improvement, he could win some races next year.
7. Game On Dude – Total flop! Not sure what happened.
8. Pool Play – I guess as it turns out he’s just a cut below the best in this division.
9. Handsome Mike – Had him spotted way to high.
10. To Honor and Serve – He’ll make his way into the breeding shed as a horse that never fully lived up to the expectations.
11. Brilliant Speed – Not a dirt horse, curious spotting.
12. Alpha – He’s this years version of Stay Thirsty….good in New York, but not anywhere else.