The Kentucky Oaks winner out-finished the others of her age
in the Distaff, while also winning the Acorn Stakes and Coaching Club Oaks. She
also boasts runner-up finishes in the Cotillion (to It Tiz Well), Santa Anita
Oaks (to Paradise Woods) and Santa Ysabel (to Unique Bella). She is a deserving
Unique Bella missed a lot of the year due to injury. She
looked to be the next Songbird when winning three graded stakes- the Santa
Ysabel, Las Virgenes, and Santa Ynez- but like Songbird, she missed the
Kentucky Oaks with injury. She returned later with a win in the L.A. Woman
Stakes, but flopped in the Breeders’ Cup Filly + Mare Sprint. She got her first
Gr.I win afterwards when defeating Paradise Woods in the La Brea Stakes.
Elate won two Gr.I’s in 2017, the Alabama Stakes and Beldame
against older mares. She also has a win in the Light Hearted Stakes, and board
finishes in the CCAO, Honeybee Stakes, and Suncoast Stakes. She finished fourth
in the Distaff.
Daddys Lil Darling got her big break in the final strides of
2017 when winning the year’s final Gr.I, the American Oaks. Early in the year,
she showed promise on dirt, when finishing second to Abel Tasman in the
Kentucky Oaks and Ashland Stakes. She also finished second in the Queen
Elizabeth II Challenge Cup to La Coronel.
New Money Honey, a turf filly, won the Gr.I Belmont Oaks and
Gr.III Wonder Again Stakes. She disappointed later in the year, but her general
record and form puts her at #5.
Honorable Mentions go to La Coronel, who won the Queen
Elizabeth Challenge Cup among other races, It Tiz Well who won the Cotillion, and
Lady Aurelia who won for the U.S.
at Royal Ascot.
The breakout runner Roy H won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint,
which makes him 5/6 this year, with his other wins including the Santa Anita
Sprint Championship and True North Stakes. His lone loss came in the Bing
Crosby Stakes, with many believing he would have won it if not for a loose
Drefong running his own race. Roy H’s Championship crowning will make a fitting
reward to Rockingham Ranch (and David Bernsen) who lost top campaigners in the
San Luis Rey Downs Fire.
Mind Your Biscuits won the Dubai Golden Shaheen at Meydan
earlier in the year in impressive closing fashion, along with the Belmont Sprint
Championship. He finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and second in the
Cigar Mile and Gulfstream Park Sprint Stakes. He flopped in the Forego,
however, the race won by Drefong.
Like Roy H, Imperial Hint only lost once, and he came into
the big picture a bit later in the year. Before the BC Sprint, Imperial Hint
competed in lower level stakes races, winning the Gr.III General George at
Laurel Park, Gr.III Smile Stakes at Gulfstream
Park, Fire Plug Stakes at Laurel, and Donald Levine
Memorial Stakes at Parx. The son of blue-collar stallion Imperialism is set to
be a top sprinter in the coming years.
Ransom the Moon, a son of Malibu Moon, won the Gr.II Kona
Gold Stakes before capturing a controversial Gr.I Bing Crosby. He also finished
second in the San Carlos Stakes. Like Roy H and Imperial Hint, he seems to have
come into his own as a five/your year old. I rate him higher than Drefong
because he finished better than him in the BC Sprint, while also going to post
more: Drefong made three starts in 2017, winning once, fading in another, and
throwing his jock in the first. Ransom the Moon made 6 starts with three wins
and a runner-up effort.
Sharp Azteca is a bit of a wild card here, as he seems to be
more of a miler than a sprinter. A demon at one turn, he might even be able to
stretch out a bit longer. Sharp Azteca defeated Mind Your Biscuits in the Cigar
Honorable Mentions go to Defrong, the Champion Sprinter from
2016 who only won once this year, Danzing Candy, who looked to be a top
sprinter this year after capturing two graded stakes before he was injured and retired,
and Whitmore, who won 4 stakes- 3 graded- this year. Also a shoutout to El
Deal, for he won the Alfred G. Vanderbilt this year before being retired for
basically no reason.
I think Runhappy may have worked too fast this morning…hopefully his last work, maybe two, before the Breeder’s Cup aren’t that blistering because otherwise there might not be a horse left. :57 and 4/5 and out in 1:10 3/5? That’s insane.