01/08/2014 1:01PM

2013 Eclipse Awards: Points Offthebench

photo by: Benoit & Associates

One of the best stories of the 2013 racing season turned into one of the saddest in the blink of an eye on the morning of Oct. 26. Points Offthebench, who rose from relative anonymity at the beginning of the year, suffered a catastrophic injury while nearing the completion of his final workout for the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Under the guidance of trainer Tim Yakteen, Points Offthebench was the unofficial leader of the sprint division at the time of his fatal mishap, and would have been the morning-line favorite for the Sprint.

A son of Benchmark, Points Offthebench was bred in California by Gary Rocks and owned by the partnership of Donnie Crevier and Charles Martin. He had made just three starts entering 2013, having won a statebred maiden race to close out his 2-year-old season and an allowance race for California-breds in his only start at 3. His career ended tragically and prematurely with 6 wins in 8 starts and earnings of $514,940.

Points Offthebench, a lightly made gelding whose races were purposefully spaced by Yakteen, suffered his only defeat in five starts in 2013 in his first outing of the year, when beaten a half-length after contesting the pace in a six-furlong allowance dash at Santa Anita. He would run the table after that, going perfect in four subsequent appearances, a series of hard-fought efforts that concluded with close decisions over Goldencents in both the Grade 1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar and the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship.

Points Offthebench pulled off a rare accomplishment on July 30 when going directly from allowance competition to win a Grade 1 race, capturing the Bing Crosby by a head under Mike Smith. He didn't compete again for 10 weeks, but Points Offthebench was able to duplicate that performance in the Sprint Championship, again posting a narrow decision at the expense of Goldencents, who would ultimately return to flatter both those victories with his triumph in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.

Little did anyone suspect at the time that the Santa Anita Sprint Championship would be the final race of Points Offthebench's career.

Yakteen, who tutored under two of the best trainers in the business, Charlie Whittingham and Bob Baffert, called Points Offthebench the best horse he has had in his stable since going out on his own in 2004.

"He was a really neat horse to be around, a real character, he was like a pet," said Yakteen. "He was also very quirky. He wouldn't put in an effort unless he had something to run at, and once he would run them down, he would ease himself up. I don't think his winning margins reflected the ease with which he was able to accomplish what he did throughout the year. It's still hard for me to express what I went through after what happened to him that morning at Santa Anita. Not a day goes by that I don't think about it. It will be with me my whole life."