So far, 2012 has been a record-setting year for horse racing, with record viewership for many of the Grade 1 races throughout the year and millions of dollars in purse winnings.
With the Breeders’ Cup Classic approaching in a few weeks to close out the racing season, this is the perfect opportunity to look back at some of the biggest horse races of the year, with the aid of some summarized/paraphrased opinions from Matt O’Neill of fantasy horse racing game website MyFantasyStable.com.
A record crowd of more than 165,000 race fans watched the 138th Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs, and, O’Neill noted, it provided a great kickoff to the 2012-2013 racing season and the Triple Crown. Heading into the race, Union Rags and the Bob Baffert trained Bodemeister were heavy favorites, only to be run down at the wire by 15-to-1 longshot I’ll Have Another. Coming from the No. 19 post, the spirited colt closed a 5-length gap in the final stretch to run down Bodemeister and win the Kentucky Derby.
The second leg of the Triple Crown at Pimlico in Baltimore was very similar to the Kentucky Derby, O’Neill said, with Derby favorite Bodemeister taking a strong early lead only to be run down in the final stretch by Derby winner I’ll Have Another. Despite a strong break by Bodemeister, I’ll Have Another and jockey Mario Gutierrez were able to stalk the leaders for the first mile before running down Bodemeister at the wire a second time. The win at Preakness set up a potential Triple Crown win for I’ll Have Another going into Belmont.
The first two legs of the Triple Crown saw the unlikely rise of I’ll Have Another, setting the stage for the potential first U.S. Triple Crown winner in 34 years. All eyes turned to this young horse and jockey going into the Belmont Stakes. However, I’ll Have Another was not set to break the longest drought in Triple Crown history, as he suffered a torn tendon the day before the Belmont Stakes. With the presumed winner out of the running, Paynter took an early lead from the No. 9 post and held it into the homestretch. However, O’Neill said, much like Bodemeister in the first two legs of the Crown, Paynter faded in the homestretch and Union Rags pushed past Paynter on the rail for the win.