What ends up happening is drinking that would scare Hunter Thompson straight not to mention inexplicable nudity that would scare Truman Capote straight. Our stomachs turn into garbage disposals for grease, cheese, potatoes, beef, chicken, bourbon, orange juice, amaretto, Miller Lite, Busch Light, and Sam Adams Octoberfest. I could go on, but I’m getting nauseous.
This year promised to be the same as we got a room at Hyatt Place five miles outside Mohegan Sun. There’d be only four of us this year. Pete, Tommy, and Troy placed their bets earlier in the day while I was driving three hours from Saratoga Springs, making a quick stop in Easthampton, MA to pick up a party size Sicilian-style buffalo chicken pizza for the day. This thing could feed an offensive line … or four out of shape slobs.
We did see a Horse-of-the-Year performance with Wise Dan and if he does win Horse of the Year—and if I had a vote that’s who I would cast it on—he’ll be in rare company.
Wise Dan stands to win Champion Turf Horse, Champion Older Male, and Horse of the Year. Here’s a short list of the horses who have also won three (or more) Eclipse Awards in the same year.
Secretariat: Champion Three Year Old, Champion Turf Horse, Horse of the Year.
John Henry: Champion Turf Horse, Champion Older Horse, Horse of the Year.
Forego: Champion Sprinter, Champion Older Horse, Horse of the Year.
Dr. Fager: Champion Sprinter, Champion Turf, Champion Older Horse, Horse of the Year*
Yeah, I’d say those horses we Ooookaaaaay.
Wise Dan showed an incredible turn of foot and was ridden to perfection by Hall of Famer John Velazquez. Wise Dan’s wins in the Woodbine Mile, Shadwell Turf Mile, and Breeders’ Cup Mile were as electric as they come this side of the Pond. We had the fortunate vantage point of watching it at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville … at the bar … on an iPhone because—whoopity doo—Alabama v. LSU was on. That game, until the final drive, was about as exciting as watching a 14-furlong jaunt around the Santa Anita oval.
We squinted and watched the Mile. Then we squinted and watched Fort Larned and Mucho Macho Man turn the Classic into a stretch drive reminiscent of Alysheba and Ferdinand. We thought how unreal it was that Mike Smith has finished no worse that a nose behind the winner in two of the last four Classics. He won the other two. Here’s Smith’s last four Classics: Win, Gag, Win, Nose.
*Added after commenter pointed out its absence.
Our Breeders’ Cup tradition kept going. We woke with only moderate hangovers and left with the same empty pockets we always leave with.
We wouldn’t have it any other way.