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The Official Superfecta 2009 Year in Review

It almost seems we racing fans have experienced a karmic reversal this year; after the lows of the previous few years, we were treated to nothing less than history – live. So, without further ado, here are the top ten moments in horse racing for 2009, as seen from Superfecta HQ:

10) Einstein wins the Big ‘Cap
It was wonderful to see Einstein, a blog favorite for years, pick up a big win; this may not have been his best season, but it certainly had high points – this being the top. Hopefully his versatility and record of sheer hard work will be rewarded with a successful stud career.

9) Bambera wins the Clasico del Caribe
Yes, the Venezualan filly is the real deal. Sid Fernando is your man for all things Bambera – and he notes that we should see her Stateside in 2010. She’s won 15 of 17 starts – 10 of those were G1s, including her nation’s filly Triple Crown and most of the mixed-gender variety as well. Look out, Gulfstream!

8) Goldikova repeats in the Breeders’ Cup Mile
Let’s recall that the French mare was beating the boys long before it came into fashion this year – she handled them with no difficulty in last year’s Prix du Moulin and, of course, the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Trainer Freddie Head, who rode the great Miesque to her back-to-back Mile victories thinks she’s even better; she’s on track to come back next year to aim for a threepeat. Fingers crossed!

7) Yeats wins his fourth Ascot Gold Cup
The Times was right – it’s hard to imagine a more perfect swansong for the 8-year-old; he’s demonstrated time and again why he’s an all-time great. Here’s hoping his stamina and quality is recognized at stud – it will be hard to live up to the reception he received from fans after his victory.

6) Rachel Alexandra wins the Kentucky Oaks
Can you remember seeing anything like it? Rachel Alexandra would go on to demonstrate in the Mother Goose that against her peers (including a perfectly nice filly like Gabby’s Golden Gal), that’s just how she rolls – deal with it. Super filly? You bet.

5) Sea the Stars wins the Arc
That’s a lot of Group 1 winners finishing behind him – and it’s not every day you see a colt equal his mother’s success in that particular race. His win made him the first horse to win the 2,000 Guineas, Epsom Derby, and the Arc in the same year – and he did it all undefeated. While it’s easy to see the allure of getting the half-brother to über-stud Galileo into the shed, it’s a shame we’ll never really know what he might have been capable of.

4) Rachel Alexandra wins the Preakness
While I normally go to the Belmont, it takes something special to get me to Pimlico for the Preakness (largely because of the appalling state of the track) – but I was certainly not going to pass up a chance to see Rachel Alexandra take on the boys for the first time in person, and it was a beautiful thing. It’s only the second time I’ve seen the entire crowd cheering for one horse (the other being Smarty Jones coming into the Belmont with a Triple Crown on the line); it was to be the first time I would see that faith rewarded.

3) Rachel Alexandra wins the Haskell
What, you want me, the Preakness winner, to beat the Derby and Belmont winners? Hey, you asked for it. Even with the miserable weather, this is by far the best performance I’ve ever seen live (sorry, Sunday Silence and Easy Goer!); once again, the crowd was there for Rachel, and only Rachel – and she repaid them with another runaway victory. This race also receives special note for Sarah K. Andrew’s fantastic photo (right) – my favorite of the year.

2) Rachel Alexandra wins the Woodward
Finally, some real competition – and the chance to see what Rachel would do when eyeball to eyeball with another horse. Apparently, the answer is win – yet again. I’m looking forward to seeing her as the ‘older horse’ – after all, in a few short days, she’ll be all of 4.

1) Zenyatta wins the Breeders’ Cup Classic
I’m one of Those People who wanted Zenyatta to be Horse of the Year last year and I was not pleased by the rest of her campaign this year – but she proved she’s more than just a great mare with a distinctive running (and, let’s be honest, walking) style. She earned the number one spot with her sparkling, historic performance.

While I’ve already determined that the Horse of the Year debate will not matter much in the long run – indeed, who, beyond the industry, even knows or cares that such a thing exists? – my own vote would go to Rachel Alexandra. I cannot think of another year when I would have listed the same horse more than twice, at most, in a year-ending review – to see the same name four times is not something I expect to see again anytime soon. However, as she’ll be running next year, I may need to keep some slots vacant…but the truth remains that both Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta firmly stamped themselves into this history books in emphatic style.

Here’s hoping that 2010 will be half as exciting as 2009!

6 comments to The Official Superfecta 2009 Year in Review

  • Sarah Andrew

    Many thanks for the shout-out and the comments about the photo. I really appreciate it.

    Great list. Nice to see some non-cookie-cutter races on there. The 2009 Haskell was one for the ages, but the Woodward and Preakness would be lower on my list, I think. Great performances, no doubt, but they do not showcase the filly's talent the same way to me.

  • sid fernando

    Bambera is in Miami now, FYI, and she's 16 for 18 after the Clasico del Caribe. Pretty cool that you included her on your list.

  • Anonymous

    I don't know I've missed this Bambera, but I'll look forward to seeing her at the Gulf. Anyone know where she is in Miami, and who's her trainer?

  • sid fernando

    Gustavo Delgado is her Venezuelan trainer, but I believe she's with Pablo Andrade in Miami.

  • Tom

    What a year it was! Can't wait for 2010.

  • railrunner

    I love the way you write, feels professional and personal at the same time. Great top ten.
    I was at Belmont on Derby day and all I was hearing was: "did you see Rachel Alexandra in the Oaks yesterday?!" or "she should have run in the Derby today!"
    Love that you included Yeats on this list, long-distance runners get so little attention compared to the classic and sprint runners.
    It will be thrilling watching Goldikova go for three in the Mile this year, can you imagine if she wins?!
    Great post as always, hope you have a wonderful New Year.

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