Summer has passed, Fall has finally arrived, and with comes Homecoming Season for all high schools America. One of the biggest parts of Homecoming is the homecoming King and Queen, but before they are elected we have the entire Homecoming Court. In light of this, I am going to give you a list of this years "Horse of the Year Court". The Horse of the Year Court is made up of eight horses, I will give you a brief overview of each horses' accomplishment for the duration of the year, then determine by your comments and votes, which ones should be crowned Horse of the Year.
First we start off with Turf monster Gio Ponti, who can do no wrong, as of late. He has won his last four races, all graded ones. He has wins ranging from one mile to eleven furlongs. In his latest win, he beat Einstein in the Arlington Million. He also defeated Precious Passion, who set a track record earlier this year. In the Man o War he beat Midships, Dancing Forever, Grand Courturier, and Musketier. In his Woodford Reserve Manhattan win he won beating Court Vision, Cowboy Cal, and Better Talk Now. Then in his last start at one mile he won beating Ventura, who just recently became the first filly to win the Woodbine Mile. Nothing seems to stop this colt he can run anywhere, any distance, against anyone and he is able to win.
Next we have the improving three year old Summer Bird, who has racked up quite an impressive resume. After running third in the Arkansas Derby in his third start, he ran a troubled sixth in the Kentucky Derby. He then bypassed the Preakness, going on to win the Belmont Stakes, beating Florida Derby runner up, Dunkirk, and Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird. In his next start he ran a creditable second to super filly Rachel Alexandra, beating Grade two winner Munnings. In his next start he came back in the Travers Stakes, to win impressively, beating Hold Me Back, Kensei, and Quality Road. He has been showing steady improvement all year, and now sits atop the three year old colt division.
Next we come to the ever so consistent and classy Macho Again. He has finished in the top two placings for three consecutive, Grade one, races. He won the Stephen Foster, beating Asiatic Boy and Einstein. Then he came to Saratoga for the Whitney, where he was a good second to Bullsbay. Then in his latest start, he was only a head away from handing Rachel Alexandra her first defeat of the season, in the Woodward.
Rail Trip, the talented four year old male, and one of California's best hopes at the Breeders Cup Classic come next. This season he has yet to finish worse than third. His latest win came in the Hollywood Gold Cup, where he beat Tres Borrachos, Life is Sweet, Informed, Mast Track, and Bullsbay. Before this win he finished second in a pair of Grade two races where he was beaten by Ball Four and Informed. In his latest start he finished a good third in the Pacific Classic to Richards Kid and Einstein.
Speaking of Einstein, this versatile old horse deserves a shot at the title with the year he's had. His only clunker this year was a fifth in the Arlington Million, where he was beaten by Gio Ponti, but other than that he has been one of the most versatile and consistent horses this year. He started off the season with a third in the Donn Handicap on dirt, but the rebounded with two consecutive grade one wins, on two different surfaces. One was on turf in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic and the Santa Anita Handicap. Einstein went to dirt for his next start, in the Grade one Stephen Foster where he finished a troubled third to Macho Again and Asiatic Boy. In his latest start he returned to synthetics, running a good second to Richards Kid in the Pacific Classic.
Now onto the Ladies, starting with Zenyatta. Zenyatta has raced a very conservative campaign so far, running in only three starts. She won her first race of the year in the Milady, where she beat her stablemate Life is Sweet. Next out she ran in the Vanity Handicap, under a weight of 129lbs, where she again got up in the last sixteenth of a mile, crossing the line with her ears pricked. In her most recent start, the Clement Hirsch, she had to dig down deep and show the courage of a champion, as she ran down her opponent to win by the narrowest margin of her career, a head.
Second in line comes the brilliant Ventura. She started off the year with a bang, winning the Santa Monica, but the suffered two losses, both seconds. In the Frank E. Kilroe Mile she ran second to turf star Gio Ponti and in the Vinery Madison she was second to Informed Decision. In her next start Ventura would make history, as she motored down the lane, going from ninth to first in an impressive edition of the Woodbine Mile.
Last but not least, is super filly Rachel Alexandra! This incredibly talented filly will be looking to become the first three year old filly since Busher, in 1945, to win Horse of the Year. This year she has run in on seven different tracks in six different states. She has set a stakes record at one mile and nine furlongs this year. She has won from a mile to a mile and three sixteenths, and has beaten colts three times this season. In her last start she became the first filly of any age to ever win the Woodward. Nothing she has done this year has been short of greatness.
There they are ladies and gentlemen, your Horse of the Year Court. Now it's up to you to decide who should take home the honors of Horse of the Year.