A thrilling stretch duel in the Breeders’ Cup Classic is what will define Horse Racing’s Championship Day(s) in 2012. The marquee $5- million Match, drew eleven Competitors out to Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California today, just one of several title-deciding races held Friday and today. Racing Fans got exactly what they had hoped for – a real Battle to the Finish, watching Fort Larned win the Classic by a head over Mucho Macho Man. Race Favourite Game on Dude who finished second in the same Event last year, placed a troubled seventh this year, causing many to criticize Trainer Bob Baffert‘s decision to replace Woodbine-birthed Rider Chantal Sutherland mid-season after much success with her. “That was the worst race of his Career”, Baffert tells NBC Sports.
Even though all eyes were on the day’s big Finale, it was a stunning Victory from Wise Dan in the $2-million Breeders’ Cup Turf Mile which ultimately sealed the deal for the five-year-old Gelding as North America’s Horse of the Year, based on the strength of three consecutive Grade I wins this Season, including a giant Victory at Toronto’s Woodbine Racetrack this September in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile. Under just a bit of urging from John Velazquez, Wise Dan steered clear of last year’s Kentucky Derby Winner, Animal Kingdom to set a Course Record with a sizzling time of 1:31.78 for the one-mile Event. The Champ even took a minute to Re-Tweet me today (below) after his Win. Great to see he’s so versed in Social Media!
Unbeaten in five starts, two-year-old Colt Shanghai Bobby has stamped himself a deserving Favourite for next year’s Kentucky Derby. Jockey Rosie Napravnik guided him to a Win in the $2-million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, solidifying his standing as the best two-year-old Colt in North America. Napravnik has the distinction of being only the second female Jockey ever to win a Breeders’ Cup Race.
Royal Delta on Friday for a second year in-a-row, won the $2-million Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic under famed Jockey Mike Smith, en route to in all likelihood being voted Champion Older Filly or Mare at the forthcoming Eclipse Awards. She was voted Champion Three-Year-Old Filly last year and now has earned a remarkable $3.7 million in only 15 races. Word is that she’s United Arab Emirates-bound for the $10-million Dubai World Cup.
The Canadian Contingent fared well at the Breeders’ Cup this year with a pair of Runner-Up finishes. Delegation finished a bang-up third under Toronto-based Rider Patrick Husbands in the $1-million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile; he was just at Woodbine a couple weeks back winning the Durham Cup Stakes. Meanwhile stellar Filly Marketing Mix, finished second yesterday in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Spring in the Air, a major Contender (and my personal pick) for Champion Two-Year-Old Filly in Canada, finished a respectable fifth in the $2-million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on Friday under Husbands also.
Celebrity Horse Racing Fans who were named Ambassadors at this year’s Breeders’ Cup include the likes of Elizabeth Banks, Toby Keith and Bo Derek, while legendary Crooner Tony Bennett was called-upon to sing at the Post Parade for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, also presenting the winning Trophy post-Race to the Connections of Fort Larned.
Watch the Recaps of the Races over at the Official Website for the Breeders’ Cup right here. How could you not love this Sport?
This breaks my heart. Woodbine‘s Pride and Joy Chantal Sutherland announced her v. sudden Retirement from Horse Racing today after an outstanding Career which saw her win the Sovereign Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey in Canada twice and almost becoming the first-ever Female Jockey to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic aboard Game on Dude last year.
Sutherland‘s popularity spread also South of the Border with spreads in Vanity Fair, Vogue and more recently she starred in HBO‘s ill-fated but acclaimed Series, Luck. She tells my dear Friend and esteemed Commentator Dawn Lupul following her final race today with mixed emotions, “In this Game you have to be all in it. There’s no half-way. I’m starting to be half-way and it doesn’t work that way. To be on-top and to be where I wanted to be – to be winning a lot of races… you have to be six, seven days a week and very, very committed.”.
After getting married earlier this year, Sutherland now is turning her focus to relaxing and hinted that she may train for a Triathalon. Spending time with her Sister in Ottawa also is going to be a reality soon as she looks forward to watching her Nephew and Niece grow-up.
Admittedly, after watching this Interview a few times, something tells me that we haven’t seen the last of Sutherland in the Irons and perhaps after she spends time away to regroup, she just might be back? I just don’t get the sense that this is over. It has been a tough year and to see her talk about how cruel the Sport can be, is just saddening.
Horse Racing just won’t be the same without Sutherland and she will be remembered for what she’s done to pave the way for other young Women in the Sport. Although there have been and will continue to be many wonderful Female Jockeys to come, there is and always will be only one Chantal Sutherland. A remarkable Woman.
Watch her Interview below:
I had the Honour of meeting Sutherland around this time last year. Read about my Moment here.
(Photo/video credit: Woodbine Entertainment Group)