01/06/2011 5:00PM

2010 Eclipse Awards: Proviso

Justin N. Lane

It is an unusual year when Juddmonte Farms does not have an impact at the top of the game. Given that, 2010 was not an unusual year.

In Europe, Juddmonte’s 3-year-old colt Workforce won the two most famous races in the Old World, the Epsom Derby and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, while in North America, the 5-year-old mare Proviso sailed through the regular season hitting all the right notes to land among the finalists for champion turf female.

The chances that both Juddmonte runners could have gone home with Eclipse Award trophies was very real as the Breeders’ Cup approached at Churchill Downs the first week of November. Then harsh reality intervened.

Workforce was the towering pre-race favorite for the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf but was scratched when the ground did not suit his trainer, Michael Stoute. Proviso, on the other hand, answered the bell for the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile, and while likely champion Goldikova brought her best game to Churchill Downs that day, Proviso did not.

Based on her record going into the Mile, Proviso’s seventh-place finish was unrecognizable. After making an auspicious U.S. debut with a first-place finish in the 2009 Spinster Stakes – she was disqualified for interference, which was caused by a lack of concentration – the daughter of Dansili spent 2010 as one of the most reliable performers in a middle-distance turf division deep with talent.

Upon the late-2009 death of Bobby Frankel, Juddmonte’s American trainer, Proviso was moved to Bill Mott for 2010 and lost nothing in translation. She began the year on synthetics at Santa Anita, finishing a strong second to the Grade 1 winner Gabby’s Golden Gal going seven furlongs.

Mott dealt to her strength after that, asking Proviso a series of testing, Grade 1 questions on the grass. In her California farewell, she defeated the accomplished older horse Fluke in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile with a dramatic, last-second rally. Three months later at Belmont Park, Proviso made relatively short work of the Just a Game, also at one mile.

Proviso’s most spectacular score was arguably in the Diana at Saratoga, in which she was required to stretch her speciality to 1 1/8 miles against a field that included such established stars as Shared Account and Forever Together. Proviso came out narrowly on top of a four-horse photo-finish. After that, it was on to Keeneland and the one-mile First Lady, where her regular companion, Mike Smith, let Proviso have a little Zenyatta-style fun, waiting until the last minute to seize the day. Her half-length margin was far easier than it looks on paper.

Losing to Goldikova in the Breeders’ Cup Mile is certainly nothing about which to be either ashamed or surprised. Proviso has had plenty of company over the past three years. She could have warned them as well, having run very hard to finish third to Goldikova in the 2009 running of the Prix Rothschild on Deauville’s straightaway mile.

After completing a transatlantic career of 9 wins from 23 starts and earnings of $1.7 million, Proviso, a daughter of the Woodman mare Binche, was retired to the world-class Juddmonte broodmare band at the end of 2010.

PAST PERFORMANCES: Proviso's 2010 season PPs (PDF)

KEY RACE REPLAY: Diana Handicap at Saratoga >>