12/30/2009 10:56PM

At the End of the 00's


The best racehorse of the decade that ends tomorrow was neither Rachel Alexandra nor Zenyatta. You can click HERE to find out my selection for the champions among the champions of the 2000's and HERE for a tip o' the hat to the best of the decade's non-champions.

My thanks go out to the many posters who responded to my request for help with this project in the previous post. I appreciate the time and thought that so many of you put into your comments.

--You can try to close out the decade on a high note at Aqueduct tomorrow, where there's a mandatory year-end payout of the pick-6, with a baby carryover of $24k already in the pot. The penultimate leg is the 13-furlong Gallant Fox Handicap, which drew a full field of 12.

James Mc. More than 1 year ago
Gunbow: I concur with your analysis of '03 and the quality of the horses that were also-rans to Mineshaft, but I disagree that "few would seriously argue that Formal Gold was a better overall horse than Cigar, Skip Away, or even Silver Charm." At the time of his unfortunate retirement due to injury just prior to the '97 BC, Formal Gold was much much better than Skip Away (about 5 lengths, see '97 Woodward, their last matchup). He proved it on the racetrack, leaving Skip Away staggering in his wake like a plowhorse on multiple occasions. Of course, the resuscitation of Skippy's reputation neatly coincided with FG's retirement, and Bailey/Hine ran some vaprous crap up the flagpole about Skippy being improperly ridden by Sellers ("Skippy likes to run on the lead", never mind he was incapable of getting the lead against FG) and the racing media saluted obediently. Left omitted was the obvious fact that Skip Away never could run with Formal Gold. Don't believe me, watch the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrbWUTwnKNY As far as Silver Charm being in the same class as Formal Gold? Please.
yuwipi More than 1 year ago
gunbow: No quibble with your opinions, but I'm looking at your 3 yr olds of the decade and seeing Curlin ranked 3rd. In your older male section Curlin is not listed in the top four. How does he get to Horse of the Decade?
Saddle Up More than 1 year ago
Dear Mr. Crist, Great fun to go back and remember the best (and not-so-best) horses of the last ten years. I look forward to following the next ten on this blog with you. Happy New Year! SU
Dehere is closing like a rocket! More than 1 year ago
No sooner do I write my enthusiastic endorsement of Xtra Heat than I realize that she in fact won the 3-year-old filly Eclipse in 2001 despite her defeat in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. (I always forget about that championship, because I believe that she would have earned the far more significant Sprint Eclipse had she managed to stave off Squirle Squirt in the final yards of the Breeders' Cup Sprint.) With that said, I retract my call for her to be listed as the greatest non-champion of the 2000's and plead for more love for her as one of the top 3-year-old fillies AND as one of the top sprinters of the decade. I know that her lone Grade I victory is what likely keeps her out of that discussion for you, but for all of the reasons listed in my earlier post, I believe that she belongs in the top 3 in each category. She will always be one of my favorites - both for her many accomplishments and for the manner in which she achieved them.
Dehere is closing like a rocket! More than 1 year ago
Steve, Love the list and agree with most of your choices - including Ghostzapper as the top pick. (By the way, do you remember his allowance race in 2003 at The Spa against Clockstopper? To me, that was when he first hinted that he might be a great one.) But no tip of the hat to Xtra Heat? Along with Forty Niner, she is one of my favorite racehorses of all time. 26 for 35, 33 for 35 in the money, and nearly $2.5 million in earnings don't tell her full story. She was as fast and as game as they come, she always ran a grueling campaign, she ran against all comers, and she raced at thirteen different tracks - 13!!! Her greatness may have been revealed the most in two of her rare defeats: the 2001 Test, where she set a ridiculous pace of 21 and 4 going 7 furlongs yet managed to finish second (well clear of 3rd) to Victory Ride - and the 2002 Breeders' Cup Sprint, where she almost hung on for the win at 17-1 while posting a 118 Beyer while half of a length behind Squirtle Squirt. And of course, her amazing string of 24 stakes victories (including one Grade I, six Grade II's, and four Grade III's) simply speaks for itself. To me, she is THE greatest non-champion of the 2000's - and perhaps of all time.
bigjc More than 1 year ago
Pretty sad decade for racing,if Ghostzapper was the best. I'd give it to Curlin on the strength of BC classic and World Cup,then Tiznow for the 2 classics. It's too bad all the horses are retiring at 3 and 4.I haven't liked GZ ever since he beat me out of a big ticket at 'toga in an allw race early on
GunBow More than 1 year ago
das, excellent points about Congaree in comparison to Commentator. Congaree won 5 grade 1 races in his career, one at 7 furlongs, 2 at 8 furlongs, one at 9 furlongs, and one at 10 furlongs. So, in terms of accomplishment, he is definitely superior to Commentator. What about speed/brilliance? Well, if Commentator has any advantage in the Beyer fig department, it is very slim. As you wrote, Congaree has two 120 figs, and 6 other figs between 115 and 118. On top of everything, Congaree won his grade 1 races all over the country, with 3 coming in New York and 2 in California. He also won the gr.2 Wood in New York, grade 2 San Pasqual and San Antonio in Cali, grade 3 Del Mar Bud Breeders Cup in Cali, and the grade 3 Lone Star Handicap in Texas. In my opinion, the tough handicap horses of 2003 that finished behind Mineshaft for the Eclipse are some of the best horses of the decade. They include Congaree, Medalgia d' Oro, Pleasantly Perfect, and Perfect Drift. While many comment on how strong the 04' Breeder's Cup Classic was, I really think the 03' edition was tougher. Ghostzapper wouldn't have been able to get away with an uncontestested lead if he had been in the 03' field(the half in 03' was 4/5ths faster than the half Ghostzapper set).
GunBow More than 1 year ago
Mr. Crist, I respect your expertise and thank you for your work in compiling these lists. You and I share the same ranking for both 2 year old males and females, the top male turfer(Fantastic Light) as well as the top 3 year old fillies(Rachel, Rags, Ashado). I also have Zenyatta and Azeri dominating the older female list, and have Ouija Board and Goldikova 1-2 for female turfers, although I have the latter's 2009 campaign slightly ahead of the former's 2006 and 2004 seasons. For male sprinter I differ only ever so slightly, rating Kona Gold ahead of Midnight Lute. Where we differ is with 3 year old males, older males, and the top overall horses of the decade. My rankings: 3 Year Old Male- 1.Point Given 2.Smarty Jones 3.Curlin 4.Tiznow Older Males- 1.Invasor 2.Ghostzapper 3.Tiznow 4.Mineshaft Male Horse of the Decade 1.Curlin 2.Tiznow 3.Invasor 4.Ghostzapper 5.Point Given 6.Lava Man It appears our differences stem from the fact that I tended to weight accomplishment while you leaned towards brilliance. This is clearly evident in our opinions of Bernardini, with you having him rated 3rd for 3 year old males while I have him #6. We also differ in how we evaluate Ghostzapper. If you had asked for the most gifted/brilliant horse of the decade, I would have had no problem with rating Ghostzapper on top. However, for a horse that had rather thin accomplishments in grade 1 races, particularly around 2 turns, I just can't agree with Ghostzapper being ranked #1. Ghostzapper won only 2 races around 2 turns, only one of which was in a grade 1, and in that one grade 1 victory around 2 turns he was able to set relatively soft early fractions. While Ghostzapper, and even Tiznow for that matter, might have been more talented, I have to rate Curlin #1 given that he won a Triple Crown race, a Breeder's Cup Classic, a Dubai World Cup, as well as 4 other grade 1 races. By the way, Formal Gold's top 3 Beyers(126/125/124) are actually superior to Ghostzapper's top 3(128/124/122) as are his top 5, yet few would seriously argue that Formal Gold was a better overall horse than Cigar, Skip Away, or even Silver Charm. Beyers have a role when comparing and ranking horses, however they should not be given more weight than what was actually accomplished on the track. For, shouldn't a 108 Beyer while winning a gr.1 be considered a greater achievement than running a 120 while winning an allowance race?
Kellsboro Jack More than 1 year ago
Steve I enjoyed your selection lists. One quibble would be with the non-mention of Sweet Catomine as 2-yr old filly. Before Zenyatta's last to first style in SoCal was beloved it was the 'Sweet Caroline' big gal who inhaled fields like minows in the mouth of a whale. I'm not a fan of Marty Wygod but he had a horse in her who was just as good in my view as Halfbridled. In fact blazing fast filly Madcap Escapade, just as she did on the track, notched a spot above Halfbridled.
das More than 1 year ago
Commentator as the #2 best horse of the decade to not win a championship? He was 3-for-12 lifetime in Graded Stakes races .. and his lifetime 3rd best Beyer figure in a Graded Stake was a whopping 106 when he beat up on the always dangerous Rexon's Rose in the Richter Scale. But hey, I can totally see rating him, Better Talk Now, and Ventura ahead of Congaree. Congaree only managed to win 10 Graded Stakes races this decade (tied with only Kona Gold for decades best) - in a 10 race span between the '02 and '03 Cigar Mile .. Congaree ran 8 Beyers of 115 or Better. He also ran 9 of 110 or better. Congaree ran a pair of 120 Beyers in Grade 1 stakes wins at ages 4 and 5. At age 3 he dusted a next out Ky Derby winner in the Wood, survived a killer pace to run 3rd in the Derby, and was 3rd beaten only 2.5 lengths to Point Given in the Preakness...