01/08/2014 1:01PM

2013 Eclipse Awards: Points Offthebench

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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."

Matthew Linda Jr. More than 1 year ago
When their connections realize .. these BABIES are not motors .. the GAME can once again become the Sport of Kings. Time and patience is the KEY !!!!!!
Debbie Lawrence More than 1 year ago
Exactly. Well put.
Debbie Lawrence More than 1 year ago
Again it comes down to training these young horses at a level that is too much for their bones, muscles, etc. The constant pounding and pressure leads to break downs and death to hundreds of horses every year...no accountability for any of the deaths or even the fact that they use the horses to the point where they are no longer useful to them and get sold and unless they are bought by someone that will care for them as they should be, they have the possibility of being purchased by a kill buyer who's only in it for the amount of money that can be gotten per pound. Somewhere there has to be responsibility taken and the training practices need to be taken seriously in that the horses, who start training sound, end up with torn ligaments, bowed tendons, and breaks that can't be healed, leading to death. This is sugar coated for the masses as unfortunate incidences that come with the industry and are not the norm. The shameful truth is that it's becoming more the norm than the exception. Fix it...it needs to be done.
Leslie Bliman-Kuretzky More than 1 year ago
He was a wonderful horse who sadly was taken too soon from us :(
bruce breton More than 1 year ago
Sad to see any horse pass on. Should not have been voted Eclipse winner based on what could have been. Best wishes to all of his people, but bad selection by the voters. Bruce, Latham , NY,
Barbara Bowen More than 1 year ago
He wasn't. He won fair and square based on what was, Bruce. Two Gr. 1 wins.
Lynwood Slipp Sr. More than 1 year ago
Of course somebody from New York would like to take something away from a California horse especially a Cal Bred horse. Bottom line is the voters (and FYI the majority of the voters are from the east) felt he had done enough. My question to you is simply who was better than Pointsoffthebench?