most fascinating aspect of 2019 is trying to envision how historians are going
to treat this unique crop of 3-year-olds, whose adventures read something like
an Agatha Christie novel, with twists and turns on every page. You just never
know what is going to happen next.
even Christie's super sleuth Hercule Poirot could decipher all the bizarre
events that have unfolded this year. But no matter what the plot entails, it is
all about the ending, and at this point it looks as if we could have an ending
where the readers close the book, utter a deep sigh, and say, "So everything
makes sense after all."
we won't go quite that far. I don't think anything will ever make sense when it
comes to this year's leading characters.
still has to happen to make such a glorious ending a reality, most notably
victories by Code of Honor in the Breeders' Cup Classic and Omaha Beach in the
Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. We have already been given a delectable taste of the
perfect ending with Maximum Security's stirring victory against older horses in
the seven-furlong Bold Ruler Stakes, coming back from one setback and
misfortune after another that prevented him from performing his final acts on
the sport's biggest stages.
Park does not attract the crowds it used to and in fact often plays to
miniscule audiences. It therefore says a great deal when on the closing weekend
of the meet, with only two small stakes carded, there actually was a good-sized
crowd that gathered four deep around the winner's circle and gave a rousing
ovation to the star-crossed Maximum Security following his Bold Ruler
performance, in which he ran pretty much the entire field into the ground and
drew off to an impressive score in a dazzling 1:20 3/5 for the seven furlongs.
some still feel sorry for him for what he was deprived of on the first Saturday
in May. Or perhaps they admire his resilience for bouncing back and still
giving his all despite his misfortunes all year. Or perhaps they love a good
old fashioned Cinderella story and want to see a happy ending. Then again,
perhaps he just has the charisma, brilliance, and talent to warrant such
projected torrid battle for champion 3-year-old honors, Maximum Security, his
Kentucky Derby debacle well behind him (well, maybe not), set the bar high for
his two opponents by conquering older horses and doing it like a champion, just
as Code of Honor had done in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Omaha Beach in the
Santa Anita Sprint Championship.
contenders to the crown all defeating older horses in graded stakes? Who said
this was a poor crop of 3-year-olds?
has taken foul claims, stewards inquiries, disqualifications, a suspension, a
lawsuit, a quarter crack, an entrapped epiglottis, colic, a last-minute defection of
the Kentucky Derby favorite, a number of missed races and altered schedules, a
big-race decision change, and a couple of memorable comeback performances to
get us where we are now. And how about a jockey taking off the eventual
Kentucky Derby favorite and winning the race by disqualification with a 65-1
late pick-up mount? And how about the Derby and Belmont Stakes winner not
running another race and the Preakness winner not winning another race? Yet
still the leaders of the crop have an opportunity to make history and lift the
class of 2019 into an elite status. Even Preakness winner War of Will, who ran
in all three Triple Crown races, is still around and ready to throw his name in
the arena when he dons blinkers for the first time in the BC Classic.
we are with three immensely talented horses all vying for the 3-year-old
championship, with Code of Honor, Omaha Beach, and Maximum Security all having
to beat older horses once again, and in grade 1 races--the BC Classic, BC Dirt
Mile, and Cigar Mile, all of them tough assignments. Two will be favorites and
one will be the favorite or second choice, so it is a distinct reality.
next weekend's Breeders' Cup, Maximum Security can comfortably sit atop the
3-year-old throne, as many racing fans still regard him, in their mind at
least, as the true Kentucky Derby winner. But it is a new season, with a
championship still out there waiting to be claimed, and for Maximum Security
the past is the past and it is all about now.
Agatha Christie said: "One of the
saddest things in life is the things one remembers." When it comes to this
year's Kentucky Derby, as difficult as it may be, perhaps it is time to forget
and move on. For these three 3-year-olds the year is still young.