My MVP won’t be your MVP. The guy I want is more of the sabremetric version. Most people would say the MVP is Orb, but he wasn’t. He was defeated, head-to-head, by another horse who will be named this year’s MVP: Oxbow.
I’m sure I’ll be the only guy who voted for Carmelo Anthony for MVP over LeBron James in this case, but I’ll stick to it.
Runners Up: Gary Stevens, Rosie Napravnik
In this case, I want to say Todd Pletcher for bringing so many girls to the dance while closing the deal with just one, but it’s that one that was the most impressive feat of courtship, er, training that will place him elsewhere on this list.
The LVP during the Triple Crown, hands down is Michelle Beadle. When she was Colin Cowherd’s sidekick, she was a charming, attractive, witty counterbalance. But being what amounts to a Daily Show correspondent mixed with Matt Lauer mixed with Kenny Mayne makes me want to swallow a shotgun.
She always came across as someone who would rather be somewhere else and, let’s face it, most reporters would. The Triple Crown to her felt like a career black hole. Take heed, Michelle, even General Zod came back from the Phantom Zone. She grabbed Oxbow’s tongue and I’m almost positive The Coach loved having her blonde hair around his pristine barn. Maybe she’ll improve, but anytime I heard her voice I closed my eyes and dreamed of Jeannine Edwards.
Runners Up: Louisville rain, Todd Pletcher, Verrazano, Rudy Rodrigruez, Mike Battaglia
Rookie of the Year
Curlin, in his first crop of three-year-olds, bagged himself a Classic winner in Palace Malace. Curlin, if there were Triple Crown Postseason Awards back in 2007, would have, no doubt, been the MVP with his incredible third-place finish in the Derby (after A. Beyer said he was too inexperienced to even finish in the Top 10.), winning the Preakness before getting nosed by a girl in the Belmont.
Curlin’s book, without question, will swell with viable mares that may make him the next great sire, maybe even the next A.P. Indy.
Runners Up:Kevin Krigger
Gary Stevens, at age 50, came back like Roger Clemens, picking his spots, rising to the occasion in big races. Stevens and Oxbow might go hand-in-hand for an unprecedented tie in the Triple Crown Postseason Awards. Both tanked the Arkansas Derby then finished sixth in the Derby. They followed that effort with a front-running win in the Preakness, and then just a gutsy, gritty second-place finish in the Belmont.
Stevens just couldn’t stay away from the game. Even Chantal Sutherland couldn’t stay away. For all the substance abuse we see on the backside, none may be more infecting than the horse itself.
I smell a three-way tie: Todd Pletcher.
Yes, the Toddster, the Pletcher Industrial Complex, is also Most Improved. He saddled 10 Triple Crown mounts. Ten! Yet he sneaked in there with his most impressive bout of training by winning the Belmont Stakes with Palace Malice. Blinkers on for Derby, front-runner, faded to 12th. Blinkers off, on the lead, perfectly ridden and relaxed, finished first.
Only the trainer and maybe Cot Campbell (because, let’s face it, he had to) had faith in this horse and PM delivered. Pletcher will not be remembered in 2013 for having the most horses saddled, but guy who won the Belmont. End of story.
Runners Up: Belmont weather, Mike Smith
Will Take Charge, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, came into the Derby off a seven-week layoff. Fresh, he finished eighth, the Preakness sixth (in a short field) and 10th in the Belmont. Call it fatigue, call it what you will, but Will Take Charge had every chance to improve and failed.
Kegasus. If Kegasus goes down in flames, allow me to light up like a monk with him. In an age where we need a mascot the likes of which we haven’t seen since Joe Camel, who made smoking so accessible to impressionable children, we need Kegasus more and more to pollute, corrupt and pillage Baltimore on the second Saturday in May.
Runners Up: Nick Zito, The Thorougbred Times
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