It’s truly a special event tomorrow in Kentucky, home of the sport, for the sport of kings.
The last time we had a Triple Crown winner, 1987, an event like this wasn’t on the calendar. Affirmed won the Derby, the Preakness at Pimlioc, and the Belmont Stakes, the 3-great races on the calendar, and that was the season, completed.
Now we have Breeders Cup Weekend, and this weekend it is back at Keenland, and for the first time, we have a horse going for the “Grand Slam”, winning a fourth event on horse racing’s illustrious card.
The Breeders Cup has grown by leaps and bounds in its two decades of existence. It is now a 13-horse race weekend, with big money prizes, totalling 26M in all. And the Breeders Cup Classic highlites the weekend Saturday afternoon, as American Pharoah goes for the imagined “Grand Slam”.
This has been some season for Bob Baffert’s great horse. Power victories in each of the crown jewel races. Yes the winning streak was snapped at Saratoga in the prestigious Travers Stakes. Maybe two cross country trips in a five week span, to Belmont and then upstate, took too much out of Pharoah. Maybe the wear and tear of the three jewel races, capped by the mile and a half at Belmont, took its toll.
But now well-rested, this 10-horse field is indeed loaded, but all the attention is on this special thoroughbred.
Keen Ice, who put on the power run to win at Saratoga is in the field.
Beholder, last seen beating Zenyatta at the Pacific Classic in Delmar a year ago, is here too.
So is the Belmont 2014-winner Tonalist.
This shapes up as a shootout and the greatest way to end as fascinating a horse racing campaign as we have ever had.
Pharoah capping off a spectacular individual season. Beholder having won stakes races 4-years in a row. And Tonalist and Keen Ice showing their explosive abilities.
We have the Grand Slam in Tennis, the Grand Slam in Golf, and how we truly have a Grand Slam event in horse racing.
“Down the stretch they come” capping off a really great 2015-horse racing season.