Havre de Grace—Can she beat the boys and be named Horse of the Year?
Uncle Mo—the 5-2 favorite, can he rise from the ashes?
Goldikova— Can she win her fourth (!) straight Breeders’ Cup Mile?
I started following the Breeders’ Cup in 2006, the year Street Sense and Calvin Borel scooted up the fence. My friends and I said, “Street Sense?!” Pine Island broke down. Invasor won the Classic. The Ladies Classic was still the Distaff. Saturday hosted all the races.
My interest peaked in 2007 with Street Sense, Hard Spun and Curlin. War Pass won the Juvenile. George Washington broke down. Curlin won the Classic. The Ladies Classic was still the Distaff. It was the first year of two days of BC racing.
Nothing grabs me by the collar and shakes me. Was it even that exciting a year? I think what happened was we were deeply spoiled by the previous few. And what did the previous few years have? In two words, Jess Jackson.
Jackson, at the very least, grabbed you by the collar and shook you. He tried to rename mountains; he bought a horse and wheeled it back two weeks later in the Preakness; he kept a mighty fine chestnut in training when most would choose retirement.
This year missed that icon more than it will admit. It also missed iconic horses, the ones you watch and follow the work tab.
Havre de Grace, despite her efforts, is like generic soad: it tastes similar to Mountain Dew, but this Mountain Lightning tastes like citrus toilet water. When Havre de Grace took on the boys in this year’s Woodward, who noticed? I was at Saratoga that day and it lacked the energy usually associated with a gal takin’ on the boys.
The past two years have seen the Kentucky Derby winners burn like cheap light bulbs. No three year old could string together consecutive Grade 1s. Animal Kingdom, Shackleford, Ruler On Ice, Coil, Stay Thirsty, To Honor and Serve. The list unspools.
The older division has, who, Game On Dude. Flat Out.
But then I get an email from Tommy, an avid player who, when he collaborates with his brother, is virtually unstoppable. And by unstoppable, I mean there’s no stopping them from hitting up Taco Bell. Hey-o!
Title of the email: PPs!
Body of the email: It’s so easy this year!
And I laughed my ass off, because who cares if there are no star horses, no thick story lines, no easy-to-grab-onto mares like Z.
I’ve got a bunch of friends converging on Saratoga Springs for the Breeders’ Cup weekend. We got banned from one hotel last year only to (somehow) find hospitality elsewhere. We’re going to drink terrible beer, smoke worse cigars, and somehow handicap even worse than those two horrible prior propositions. The room will look like a crime scene and it will smell like a Fen Way Park bathroom. I will light fire to my latest, terrible reader review of that book I wrote and pour some brownest of the brown over the rocks and down it like Draper.
Why not? It’s Breeders’ Cup and it’s never been about the horses.
Brendan O'Meara has a Twitter feed.