The task seemed relatively simple. Certainly not as difficult as, say, tasking youth soccer midfielders new to the full-sided, 11 v. 11 version of the beautiful game. Come up with a list of your 10 most memorable racing moments of 2013.
Coming up with the memorable moments was the simple part. The difficulty came when reducing the list to just 10 and then ranking them. One major caveat – had to be there, of course. That should make it easy, too, considering 2013 for me included the first Preakness in person since 2008, a 16th Belmont as a reporter and the first opening day at Saratoga since 1998. Missing my first Kentucky Derby since 1997 and a second straight Breeders’ Cup (seriously guys, bring it back East) would make it difficult.
Here are two to get things started, served to you between unwrapping presents and sipping mimosas and digging into Christmas dinner, wine, some eggnog and plenty of baked goods.
10. Dance to Bristol at Pimlico. The only thing I really knew about Dance to Bristol before watching her win the Skipat Stakes at Pimlico the day before the Preakness came from editing an “Around the Ovals” report from Charles Town for the June issue of Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred. Dance to Bristol it seemed was the beneficiary of the scratch of Book Review from the Sugar Maple Stakes in late April.
She won the Sugar Maple, her third stakes win, and the Skipat on the Black-Eyed Susan/Pimlico Special card would be her fourth. Plenty of people pay attention to that card and it served as the start to Dance to Bristol’s rise to stardom. She rose steady and high after that winning a Grade 3 at Belmont, a Grade 2 at Saratoga and finally the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga.
Owner Susan Wantz told me earlier this month how she’s still amazed at the filly’s “reach” and her popularity in the Mid-Atlantic. She’s retired now, but Dance to Bristol’s achievements on track were enough for the Maryland Jockey Club to throw her a farewell party before she went to Kentucky.
9. Calidoscopio’s mad mud dash. The day before the Belmont was nowhere near as nice a day as the day before the Preakness. It rained hard, forcing the races off the grass and turning Big Sandy into an absolute quagmire. The day really couldn’t have been any worse, but the fans who stuck it out under the cover of Belmont Park’s aging stands witnessed a truly remarkable performance by defending Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner Calidoscopio. Literally more than 20 lengths behind on the backstretch of the 1 1/2-mile Brooklyn Handicap, the South American-bred unleashed a powerful middle move that carried the 10-year-old gelding to a runaway victory. Officially it was a 1-length win over Percussion and sadly it turned out to be Calidoscopio’s career finale. Read more here.
Alright, that’s two to get started. Joe’s got two of his own already and Sean’s got one. We’ve yet to overlap so there’s plenty to read about 2013 already. Keep checking back right until New Year’s as we fill out our lists and count down to No. 1.