This weekend definitely lives up to its hype. Not only were we entertained by a slew of grade ones, but we saw racing at its best when Sea The Stars, Summer Bird, and Music Note solidified their threat to the top of their Division. We also saw some spectacular upsets, where Goldikova finished third in her seven furlong prep for the Breeders Cup Mile, and Gio Ponti finished second when trying to get his fifth consecutive Grade one.
First, why don't we look at the upsets that took place this week, starting with Gio Ponti. Gio Ponti had won four grade ones in a row but had yet to go the distance of 12 furlongs. He has shown the ability to run over any surface, but torrential downpours soaked the surface of Belmont's turf track, making the track soft and heavy. Gio Ponti ran extremely well, but after pulling away in the upper stretch, the track began to take its toll on the champion, and he was run down late and would have to settle for second money. This race should give him plenty of bottom for the Classic or the Turf during the Breeders Cup. Should he run in the Breeders Cup Turf, one can rest assured that the lightning fast turf track will prove much more suitable to Gio Ponti for traveling 12 furlongs.
Even though the upset of Gio Ponti was big, it cannot match the astonishment felt when last year's Breeders Cup Mile hero, and probably the best miler in the world, Goldikova, was beaten in her final prep. Goldikova ran well too, and the seven furlongs, which is not her best distance, was probably used to just sharpen and hone the filly's speed before she comes to defend her title in the Breeders Cup Mile.
Now lets get back to the spectacular performances of some of those who went in as champions and exited with even better reputations. We will first start with Music Note, who ran in the Beldame. The win wasn't necessarily eye-catching and flashy, but over a field that was plagued by defections, Music Note did her job easily and will have plenty left in the tank for a show down with champion Zenyatta.
Next comes Summer Bird, who, if not for Rachel Alexandra, would be the top 3-yr old in the country and would probably be the front runner for Horse of the Year. In the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Summer Bird would face the talented Quality Road and the classy Macho Again. Displaying his recently discovered tactical speed, Summer Bird sat in third, biding his time while Tizway set a pedestrian pace that Quality Road stalked. At the top of the lane, Summer Bird was a half length behind Quality Road and began to methodically wear down his opponent. Inside the eighth pole Summer Bird took the lead and drew off to finish a length ahead of Quality Road, and several lengths ahead of the third placed horse, Tizway. Summer Bird came out of that race as a clear leader of the American 3-yr old colt division, and it will take a miracle for any other horse to dethrone him.
I saved the best for last, and that would be the unbeatable Sea The Stars. Acting up before the race, things did not seem like they would go well for this colt's bid at history. During the race he was stuck near the rail, in behind horses the whole way. In the stretch a gap appeared, and Sea The Stars rushed through with a magnificent burst of speed. As they crossed under the wire, Sea The Stars silenced any doubters of his by beating all of the best in one race, and he beat them convincingly. Sea The Stars, with that performance, made himself worthy of the title of the best horse in the world.