In 2012 there were over 1,300 races contested at the three (3) Maryland thoroughbred tracks (Laurel Park, Pimlico and Timonium). Of course, the biggest was the 137th Preakness Stakes that saw Derby winner I’ll Have Another chase down Bodemeister in the final yards to capture the second jewel of racings’ Triple Crown.
To the casual horse racing fan, they may only witness races that are broadcast on network television. But 365 days a year somewhere in North America, a track is conducting races. Whether it be a graded stakes or a $5,000 Claiming race, they all hold the possibility of generating great excitement along with a fantastic finish.
Here are my Top 10 Maryland races of 2012. Do you have one that didn’t make the cut?
10. Black-Eyed Susan – May 18th– Race 10 @ Pimlico
In Lingerie looked tight as a drum while impressively pulling away from the field.
9. 107-1 Winner – March 21st – Race 9 @ Laurel Park
A 1 for 18 lifetime low-level claimer Wire Funds proves that running on turf versus dirt can be like night and day. This one was first time on grass (for $10,500 tag) while stepping up from the $5k claiming ranks on dirt, failing to have hit the board in his previous 5 outings. After winning this one, he came back to win his next 3 on the lawn against $12.5k Claimers, $25k Claimers and $43k Allowance company.
8. Mr. Diz Stakes – April 7th– Race 10 @ Pimlico
Reigning MD Horse of the Year Ben’s Cat rallies to take 3rd consecutive Mr. Diz Stakes.
7. Near Triple Dead Heat – March 16th – Race 7 @ Laurel Park
After racing 7 furlongs, no measurement could separate Milwaukee Chief and Artic Raven, while Let Me Be Frank settled for SHOW money a mere whisker behind those two.
6. Ladys Legend for the Cure – May 18th– Race 4 @ Pimlico
Class Rules may have won easily but it was 59-year-old Jennifer (Rowland) Small in who was in the irons, and the other retired female jockeys who made the 3rd annual People’s Pink Party Day a memorable $40k Allowance NW1X race.
5. Rapid Redux notches #22 – January 4th – Race 6 @ Laurel Park
This $5,000 Starter Allowance would be the 6-year-old geldings final race. Retired with a record 22 race win streak intact, he won a total of 28 races from 42 career starts.
4. Frank J. DeFrancis Dash – October 27th – Race 9 @ Laurel Park
Action Andy rallies in deep stretch to catch Il Vilano at the wire. What really hurts is that I had Il Vilano. How many times is the cameraman wrong when showing the winner on the gallop out in a tight photo?!
3. Pimlico Special – May 18th– Race 12 @ Pimlico
Alternation puts in a game performance as he gets the better end of the head bob versus Nehro. Watch the slow motion replay at the wire. Nero actually catches and gets ahead of Alternation 5 feet before the wire. Once again, guess who had Nehro at 6-1?!
The next day I had Steve Asmussen (Nehro’s trainer) crying on my shoulder saying, “How in the hell did he not win that race?!”
2. Double Dead Heat – October 8th – Race 7 @ Laurel Park
Truly a horse racing rarity, as Rockaby Bay and Masterel hit the wire simultaneously for the WIN while just a neck behind Elkhorn Creek and Colonel Bill could not be separated for the SHOW purse, in this $25k Optional Claiming event.
1. 137th Preakness Stakes – May 19th– Race 12 @ Pimlico
I’ll Have Another and Bodemeister, Round 2. If this stretch run doesn’t give you goose bumps, then you must not be breathing.