Although the Eclipse Awards are six weeks away and the best horses in each division will be decided then, I thought it would be a fun to do some voting of our own.
Since I still haven't decided on some of the divisions and I don't expect you guys/gals to do all that research, we'll keep this simple. This is a vote for the Top 10 Performances of 2008. It can be for any division, in any single race.
Obviously, there are many to choose from, that's what makes this so tough and fun. After reading mine, I'd love to see what everyone agrees and disagrees with. Feel free to post your own Top 10.
10. Commentator, Whitney Handicap - This was the highlight of the remarkable gelding's fabulous year. He not only won the event for the second straight year by nearly five lengths, but posted a 120 Beyer, which was by far the highest number of any dirt horse going more than a mile this season. Of course, he also recorded the best Beyer at less than a mile in 2008 as well. Not a bad year for a 7-year-old.
9. Benny The Bull, Dubai Golden Shaheen - All four of Benny's wins came in spectacular, come-from-behind fashion, so it was tough to choose between them. I nearly picked the True North Handicap at Belmont because it looked like he had no chance to win in deep stretch but somehow got up with a devastating late charge. However, you can't overlook his performance in Dubai, which was against better. It was breathtaking.
8. Proud Spell, Kentucky Oaks - The Larry Jones trainee not only beat a solid field of 3-year-old fillies, she destroyed them. The five-length victory gives her the edge over Music Note for divisional championship honors.
7. Red Giant, Clement Hirsch Turf Championship - Not only did the 4-year-old colt show grit in edging Out of Control by a head, but he set a new North American 1 1/4-mile turf record in 1:57.16, breaking a mark that had stood since 1977. That's impressive. Out of Control's effort should not be overlooked either.
6. Curlin, Dubai World Cup - His 7 3/4-length romp wasn't against the best of fields, but it was still a tremendous effort. It also solidified him as one of the best horses since the turn of the century.
5. Goldikova, Breeders' Cup Mile - The French invader knocked off a talented group of boys, including last year's winner Kip Deville, in spectacular fashion. Her turn of foot in the final sixteenth was eye-popping, and a highlight of the weekend.
4. Midnight Lute, Breeders' Cup Sprint - Speaking of BC highlights, the 5-year-old Real Quiet horse may have provided the weekend's best performance with his amazing 1 3/4-length score, in which he set the BC record of 1:07.77 for six furlongs. It was his second straight BC Sprint win and amazingly, came in only his second start of the year.
3. Stardom Bound, Oak Leaf - Her BC Juvenile Fillies win was great too, but the Oak Leaf was even more dazzling. The Tapit filly rallied from the clouds to mow down rivals in the stretch in a scintillating 3 1/2-length score, doing it in a time of 1:42.44.
2. Zenyatta, Apple Blossom Handicap - It's difficult to choose her best performance of the year since she went undefeated. Obviously, her Ladies Classic triumph was special and locked up divisional honors. But the Apple Blossom was scary good. The 4 1/2-length victory was against a very good group, including champion Ginger Punch, and it proved she was just as good on dirt as synthetics, if not better.
1. Big Brown, Kentucky Derby - Many of us have gone on record as saying Big Brown was not our favorite horse, but you cannot discount what he did in the Derby. It was one of the best performances since Secretariat, considering he did it from the 20-post and in only his fourth career start, and it was so dominating. It may be a long time before we see a 3-year-old do that again under those circumstances.
Some of the great performances I reluctantly left out of my Top 10 were Old Fashioned in the Remsen, Pyro in the Risen Star, Big Brown in the Florida Derby and Preakness, Da' Tara in the Belmont, Raven's Pass in the BC Classic and Eight Belles in the Derby.
Let the debating begin!!