Continued from the #20-11 best races post, it’s time to hammer out the ten most awesome and memorable races from 2012! Again, a lot of my choices are North American, so you Euro fans and the like take it easy on me!
Honorable mention: I believe I miscounted the number of races I had before… I really meant to include Mizdirection’s Turf Sprint here in the middle of the countdown. Ugh! I knew I was bad at math but this is very erroneous… sorry Miz!
10) Union Rags sneaks by Paynter to win Belmont (I) - My most personal race from 2012 being that I was there for it, whether you cared for the race or not it was still one not to miss. Hot improver Paynter looked like the first horse in some time that could win the Test of the Champion wire-to-wire until Union Rags managed to find a path through on the inside just as time ran out. Watch it here
9) Questing all shock and awe in Alabama (I) performance - I was kind of heart-broken to have missed this race in person (it was between this weekend and the Whitney weekend I had to go to Saratoga), but all in all, it was still a jaw-dropping display of raw ability watching Questing set Secretariat-like fractions in a wire-to-wire romp in the Alabama (I) against top-class fillies! Watch it here
8) Shackleford deflects Caleb’s Posse to win stunning Met Mile (I) - I didn’t have him to win despite feeling that he could win this race last year after his Preakness victory, all because I thought he was in bad form. Shack Attack proved me wrong and his fan base was jubilant as he kept right on going in a rousing renewal of his rivalry with Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (I) champion Caleb’s Posse. Watch it here
7) My Miss Aurelia ousts Questing in Cotillion (I) match race - Despite boasting a four horse field, it was really a match race between undefeated Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (I) winner My Miss Aurelia and the rising star Questing, each well-handicapped against each other to make things an interesting race. Each filly gave it her best and it was quite the million-dollar race. Watch it here
6) Royal Delta digs in, gives away weight, and still prevails in gutsy Delaware Handicap (II) - We all knew she was something special, but a fast horse is nothing without a big heart. Royal Delta gave away 3 to 10 pounds to all of her foes, including a whopping 9 to recent Azeri (III) winner Tiz Miz Sue who challenged her in the stretch when she already appeared to be going all out. Watch it here
5) Wise Dan conquers international field, holds off Animal Kingdom in Breeders’ Cup Mile (I) - A vulnerable favorite, Wise Dan capped off an impeccable year as a do-it-all gelding with a win in the seriously competitive Breeders’ Cup Mile against shippers of colossal class. He skirted away to the lead in the stretch as easily as he did in past starts while managing to hold off Animal Kingdom who came sweeping in late. Watch it here
4) I’ll Have Another catches Bodemeister in dramatic Kentucky Derby (I) - A curious race from its rocky start, Bodemeister unexpectedly outran predicted pacesetter Trinniberg early and looked prime to wire the Derby in an outstanding display of might, only to tire and be caught late by the heroic I’ll Have Another. Watch it here
3) Orfevre caught by Solemia in upsetting Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (FR-I) - While it appeared that Japan’s Triple Crown winner was going to revel in the one of the world’s most prestigious races, it was Solemia who stormed in late and out of the clouds to upset the good Orfevre in the waning moments of the Arc. Watch it here
2) Frankel bows a perfect winner in Champion Stakes (ENG-I) - A timeless, unforgettable sort of horse, the fantastic Frankel made his last start worthwhile as he encountered trouble in the early stages of the race while running on soft turf against some of the best horses in Europe. The crowd cheering to a sustained din, it was the ideal end to a superhorse’s legacy. Watch it here
1) Black Caviar outsmarts and outsprints them all in Ascot’s Diamond Jubilee (ENG-I) to stay perfect - Humming off the rail in an unprecendented ship from Australia to England, the world’s most perfect sprinter looked easy-going making her move to the lead, but nearly lost her undefeated streak when jockey Luke Nolen appeared to ease her too early. Watch it here