Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Top Ten Favorite Horse Races (Videos in Post)

I have said that I am a huge horse racing fan before.  Not sure if I ever mentioned that I did a six month internship on a breeding farm and had big plans to make my career working with thoroughbreds.  It never happened and most days I am okay with this because I chose instead to get married, have kids, and settle down.  But every once in a while, I really wonder what could have been.  Today is one of those days.

So without further ado, here are my top ten favorite races I have seen since I became a horse racing fan.  I plan on doing another post one day about historical horse races and the greats like Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Cigar will be mentioned then.

1)  Skip Away winning the 1997 Breeders Cup Classic.  I love the race call from this race (and sadly can still quote it 15 years later.)

2) Afleex Alex goes to his knees, gets up, and wins the 2005 Preakness Stakes.  This was during my internship year.  Giacomo was the Kentucky Derby winner and a funny story because we had been picking horses at a internship function we were at.  There was horse confetti on the tables and we were reaching into a pile and jokingly saying who the winner was.  At one point my friend pulled a horse and said "Sorry.  Giacomo."    It was hilarious to us sleep deprived interns.  I put a win bet on Giacomo because of that and he went  on to win the Derby and I made some big bucks.

We were all rooting for Giacomo to win the Preakness since we haven't had a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.  (If you don't know what the Triple Crown is, you can read all about it here.)  When Afleet Alex went to his knees, me and the other two interns I was watching the race with went for cheering on Giacomo to immediately shouting for Afleet Alex.  It was a stunning display of heart and sheer strength and courage to get up and not only finish the race well, but to win it impressively.  Plus his jockey was a young fairly new to the big leagues jockey and he managed to not get unsaddled and keep his wits about him.  I still get goose bumps when I watch this race.

3)  Rags to Riches takes the Belmont over Curlin
This race was so special to me because it was the first time since I started following horse racing that I got to see a girl beat up on the boys.  She was also the first filly to win this race in over a century.

4)  Curlin winning the 2008 Dubai World Cup.  He was just an amazing horse and a true champion.  In person, he was breath taking.

5)  Barbaro winning the Kentucky Derby.  I was plastered to the fence at the top of the stretch just hoping to catch a glimpse of him.  He put his head in front just as they passed me and never looked back.  He was a beautiful horse that had so much promise, but unfortunately it all ended to soon.  He got hurt in his very next race.  He fought valiantly for many months, but eventually succumbed to laminitis.  He is still missed by his loyal fans.  Churchill Downs put a statue of him winning the Derby in front and it always has flowers and apples left for him on it every time I visit. 

6)  Real Quiet loses the Belmont Stakes and a chance at the Triple Crown by a hair on his nose.  This was heart breaking.  It was so close.  I cried and told my dad that I don't think I will ever see a Triple Crown winner in my lifetime.  So far this has held true.  Oh and side note, I had a kitten I named Thomas Jo after the beautiful gray Thomas Jo in this race.

7) Zenyatta wins the Breeders Cup Classic in 2009.  She was an amazing horse to watch pre race.  She loved to dance and prance and show off and she still does even in retirement.  She was a huge mare that was bigger than a lot of the boys and watching her races were always an exercise in patience as she didn't make a move until half way down the stretch.  But when she came motoring, she was nearly flying.

8) My final three are all of the same horse.  But she captivated the US and was the most amazing filly I ever saw run.  Some of my most prized pictures are the ones I took of her at Churchill Downs when she ran and won the Fleur de Lis.  The first race is when Rachel Alexandra won the Kentucky Oaks.  She was by a million miles the best horse that day and just felt good.  This came as no surprise to anyone as she had been a powerhouse in her workouts leading up to it.  The only disappointment is that she was so good she could very easily have probably won the Kentucky Derby against the boys if she had been entered, but her owner didn't feel it was a good thing to run the fillies against the boys.  Rachel could have quit running half way down the stretch and walked to the finish and still won.  She set a track record this day.

9)  Rachel Alexandra wins the Preakness Stakes against the boys.  After she was sold following the Oaks, her new owner decided to put her in the Preakness to see what she could do against colts her own age.  She sure showed those boys what she was all about.

10) Rachel Alexandra wins the Woodward against older male horses.  This is unheard of for a three year old filly to be able to beat good older male horses.  Fillies are much smaller and not nearly as strong as colts and especially older horses who have had longer to grow and get bigger and stronger.  But it didn't matter.  All that mattered that day was the heart and courage that this champion had.  This race actually still brings tears to my eyes each and every time I watch it.  She set blazingly fast fractions at every step of the race as the other horses never let her rest and yet still held on to win this race showing every ounce of heart this courageous filly possessed.