Photo courtesy of Horsephotos.com
As much as the Breeders’ Cup is billed as horse racing’s championship series, titles are not necessarily wrapped up during the sport’s richest weekend.
Some horses sit out the Breeders’ Cup and are still named champions, and this year a couple of runners tried — but failed — to enhance their resumes with an extra race before 2013 rolls in.
On Thanksgiving weekend, Groupie Doll tried to sway some undecided voters in the race for the best older female by taking on the boys in the Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) at Aqueduct. The Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) winner turned in a gallant effort against a field that included three fellow Grade 1 winners and lost by a nose in the final stride.
Executiveprivilege also tried to take a last stab at an Eclipse Award, but would have been off staying in her barn until she turns 3.
The early front-runner for an Eclipse Award as the year’s best 2-year-old filly, Executiveprivilege fell behind in that race when she lost to Beholder by a length in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). That put Beholder in the driver’s seat for a championship, even though she was beaten in two previous meetings with Executiveprivilege.
There was still some support for Executiveprivilege based on a record of a perfect 5-for-5 record heading into the Breeders’ Cup, and when she was entered in Saturday’s $500,000 Hollywood Starlet Stakes (G1) there was a school of thought that an impressive win there would convince some voters that Nov. 2 was just a bad day – and a record of 6 wins in 7 starts, 3 of them in Grade 1 stakes, would be the proof.
Unfortunately, those plans went awry.
Sent off as the 2-5 favorite, Executiveprivilege stalked in third behind the pace-setting Blonde Fog, moved up menacingly on the turn but then tired in the final eighth of a mile as Pure Fun charged past both of them to win by a length. Blonde Fog held on for second, two lengths ahead of Scarlet Strike, who had another 1 ¾ lengths on a fading Executiveprivilege.
Goodbye, championship aspirations.
PURE FUN STRIKES IN STARLET
Photo courtesy of Benoit & Associates
Interestingly enough, while an Eclipse Award for 2-year-old filly was being settled, the outlook for a 3-year-old season was changing like fall giving way to winter.
Right now, even if Beholder has an Eclipse Award on her mantle, the horse to back in next year’s Kentucky Oaks (G1) would be Pure Fun. Aside from Saturday’s victory, she was last seen winning by 9 ¼ lengths in a one-mile allowance race at Churchill Downs, the home of the distaff version of the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Given her late-running style, a mile and an eighth shouldn’t pose a problem for her.
There might even be a championship in her future – but not in January. That trophy belongs to Beholder, the leader in the clubhouse who saw her main rival double-bogey the 18th hole.
As we’ve seen on two occasions in recent weeks, sometimes it’s best to leave well enough alone.
And what are your thoughts? Is Beholder a cinch for an Eclipse Award? Who is most likely to shine at three? ‘