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Blog - RACING

We’re back! Here are options 7-12 for the 2012 NTRA Moment of the Year. Again, this is a blog, so I will have anecdotes and opinions throughout, plus what I think the Moment of the Year should be, so if you disagree let me know in the comments. If you’re ready to vote and don’t need to hear my views on these moments, no worries! You can get your vote in by clicking here right now.

To read Part I of this Moments of the Year blog, click here.

Just to review, here are the options for the 2012 Moment of the Year:

1) Rosie Napravnik becomes the first female jockey to win the Kentucky Oaks (G1), guiding Believe You Can to victory

2) I’ll Have Another and jockey Mario Gutierrez pull the upset from post position 19 in the Kentucky Derby (G1)

3) I’ll Have Another runs down Bodemeister to win the Preakness Stakes (G1) by a neck

4) On the eve of a highly anticipated Triple Crown bid, I’ll Have Another is scratched from the Belmont Stakes

5) For the first time since 1874, the Travers Stakes (G1) ends in a dead heat as Alpha and Golden Ticket hit the wire together

6) Haskell winner Paynter overcomes deadly battles with laminitis and colitis and begins rehab for a possible 2013 campaign

7) For the second straight year, Royal Delta wins the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (G1) for trainer Bill Mott and jockey Mike Smith, who registers his record 16th Breeders’ Cup riding win

8) Groupie Doll trounces her opponents in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1)

9) Shanghai Bobby digs in under Rosie Napravnik to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and remain undefeated

10) Wise Dan breaks the course record in capturing the Breeders’ Cup Mile over an international field

11) Fort Larned holds off Mucho Macho Man to take the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1)

12) Shackleford ends his career on a winning note in the Clark Handicap (G1)

Ready? Let’s hit up Part II!

7) For the second straight year, Royal Delta wins the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic for trainer Bill Mott and jockey Mike Smith, who registers his record 16th Breeders’ Cup riding win.

Royal Delta – what can I say about this amazing racemare that hasn’t already been said? Even with my flair for hyperbole, I don’t think I can overstate how much I’ve enjoyed watching her run. When she was sold after her win in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic, the racing world held its breath waiting to find out whether her new owner, Besilu Stable’s Benjamin Leon, would move her from trainer Mott into a new stable. Fortunately, Leon decided not to mess with perfection and left his new filly under Mott’s care. That decision paid off when Royal Delta returned to defend her title in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic.

Defend it she did – Royal Delta took on a field of top-class fillies and mares and ran away from all of them, finishing the race alone at the wire.

Royal Delta

As she and jockey Smith returned to the winner’s circle, they were cheered by fans for their remarkable performance in the race. Smith had just scored an unprecedented 16th Breeders’ Cup win, and the crowd knew that they had seen something special.

Royal Delta (2)

Once Royal Delta was adorned with her garland of flowers, Smith celebrated in his customary way: by throwing flowers into the air, providing a wonderful finale to a great race.

Royal Delta (3)

8) Groupie Doll trounces her opponents in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

Oh, Groupie Doll, how I love you. As in, I love her to the point that my friends and I were thinking of getting T-shirts made that said “Doll’s Groupies” on them and wearing them to the Breeders’ Cup. Sadly, that would make me look super unprofessional, so I restrained myself.

So with that in mind, you can guess that I think that this horse is just so cool. She tries her eyeballs out all the time, and is absolutely beautiful to boot. So when she was tearing down the homestretch of the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, I was screaming for her to win with absolutely no regard for any of the other photographers’ eardrums. She was electrifying.

Groupie Doll 1

Here she is with jockey Rajiv Maragh after their win. See that? That is the smile of a jockey who just had the ride of his life. Even the Doll herself looks pretty pleased.

Groupie Doll 2

High fives for everyone!

GD 3

9) Shanghai Bobby digs in under Rosie Napravnik to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and remain undefeated.

Okay, so we can all agree that Rosie Napravnik is a pretty fantastic rider after 2012, right? She got Shanghai Bobby, a very talented horse, to fend off a late-closing charge from He’s Had Enough (a horse with the same connections as I’ll Have Another.) It was a thrilling race, with the winning jockeys of the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby battling it out to the finish line.

Shanghai (1)

That is a tight finish, folks. Any tighter and we’d be seeing a repeat of Moment #5, the Travers dead heat. Napravnik stayed cool throughout her ride, and had a big smile on her face as she headed back to the winner’s circle and possibly on her way to Triple Crown glory. I can’t wait to see what Shanghai Bobby has in store for racing fans in 2013 – he is one determined horse, and as he matures, he could become a monster. Bring on the Triple Crown!

Shanghai 2

10) Wise Dan breaks the course record in capturing the Breeders’ Cup Mile over an international field

Okay, remember how I said I get kind of dorky about Groupie Doll? Multiply that times about 50 and you will begin to know my feelings about Wise Dan. Anyone who’s followed my Diaries on this site will know that I have a bit of a horse crush on Wise Dan. Observe:

Wise Dan

Image courtesy of Keith McCalmont, Woodbine Entertainment

This is me meeting Wise Dan, up close and in person, for the first time at Woodbine. Notice how much more excited I am to meet him than he is to meet me. I am totally fine with that.

I absolutely stalked this poor horse at the Breeders’ Cup. I was at his barn; I was at his turf gallops. I find him to just be an exciting, compelling horse with unlimited heart and determination. Poor trainer Charles Lopresti was probably ready to take out a restraining order against me.

Wise Dan 2

Wise Dan 3

Wise Dan 4

So, it was now race time on Breeders’ Cup Saturday, and I was as nervous as though I actually owned Wise Dan. As in hands-shaking, heart-pounding nervous (which is always awesome when you take pictures for a living.)

And then he did it. He won, he set a record, and Animal Kingdom was second, and all was right in the world. I was jumping up and down screaming. I had a group hug with some of my reporter friends outside of the winner’s circle. This was, in short, my NTRA Moment of the Year. I will never, ever forget it. For me, that moment represented everything I love about the sport of horse racing: the anticipation, the thrill of seeing your horse triumph against the best, the camaraderie with your friends when the horse you have supported and loved makes you proud with a display of heart and guts that moves you in a way you can’t explain to non-fans. Thanks for that, Dan. I mean it. 

Wise Dan 5

The win!

Wise Dan 6

Wise Dan is so cool that he sticks his tongue out at haters.

Wise Dan 7

Attaboy, Dan. Attaboy.

11) Fort Larned holds off Mucho Macho Man to take the Breeders’ Cup Classic

Fort Larned came into the Breeders’ Cup Classic as an underrated horse. With big names like Mucho Macho Man, Game On Dude, Ron the Greek, To Honor and Serve and others competing, the Whitney Handicap (G1) winner was unheralded leading up to the Classic. But when the favorite, Game On Dude, failed to run the race fans anticipated from him, Fort Larned stepped up to the plate. In a heart-pounding stretch duel with the gutsy Mucho Macho Man, jockey Brian Hernandez got the timing down perfectly to win the richest race on North America’s calendar. The best part? Not only was it the first time Hernandez had ridden in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but it was his birthday, too! Awesomesauce.

Fort Larned

The joy on Hernandez’s face was a wonderful thing to see as he came back to the winner’s circle.

Fort Larned 2

Fort LArned 3

And he had a big pat of thanks for Fort Larned for giving him one heck of a birthday present!

12) Shackleford ends his career on a winning note in the Clark Handicap.

Shackleford – he’s been a fan favorite since he won the 2011 Preakness Stakes; in fact, he has a legion of followers who call themselves The Shackettes. An incredibly striking, bright chestnut horse with white face and legs, Shackleford was the favorite for the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). However, after stumbling at the start of the race, Shack never really had a chance and finished out of the money in what was supposed to be the final race of his career.

Shack 1

Everyone was disappointed that the big horse would go out with a loss like that, so Shackleford’s owners and trainer Dale Romans decided to give the colt one more chance in the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs. This time, Shack did everything right and held off foes Take Charge Indy and Bourbon Courage to win the last race of his career.

Shack 2

Image courtesy of HorsePhotos.com

After his win, jockey Jesus Castanon was visibly moved to be aboard for Shack’s final victory, and the horse himself was clearly pretty thrilled, too. Something tells me that he’s going to do just fine standing at stud at Darby Dan Farm.

Shack 3

Image courtesy of HorsePhotos.com

So that’s it for the 2012 Moments of the Year. Who do you think should get the honors? Was anything left off of the list? Am I an insane human being who has let her heart and not her head rule her decision? Let me know in the comments, and be sure to get your votes in by Sunday Dec. 23 by clicking here.

Thanks for stopping by, have a healthy and happy holiday season, and may all of your tickets in 2013 be winning ones!

Image Description

Penelope Miller

I'm Penelope Miller and I'm the Senior Manager of Digital Media for America's Best Racing. I've been involved with the Thoroughbred industry for most of my life and I want to make sure that the great sport of horse racing is enjoyed by people all over the nation. Please share your thoughts and ideas with me in the comments section below!

Image Description

Penelope Miller

I'm Penelope Miller and I'm the Senior Manager of Digital Media for America's Best Racing. I've been involved with the Thoroughbred industry for most of my life and I want to make sure that the great sport of horse racing is enjoyed by people all over the nation. Please share your thoughts and ideas with me in the comments section below!

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