01/05/2018 12:20PM

2017 Eclipse Awards: Bar of Gold

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Before the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint was run Nov. 4 at Del Mar, absolutely no one was talking about Bar of Gold as a potential Eclipse Award winner.

But when Bar of Gold pulled a 66-1 upset, she leapfrogged numerous other would-be candidates by capturing easily the most important race in the filly-and-mare sprint category.

A Breeders’ Cup victory was a surprise bonus to end the 25-race career of Bar of Gold, who had nudged past the $1 million earnings mark in October. Bred in New York by owners Chester and Mary Broman – longtime staunch supporters of the breeding and racing programs in their home state – the mare had never won so much as an open stakes, but had established herself as a highly versatile sort, usually earning checks regardless of surface, distance, or class.

The final year of racing for Bar of Gold began April 15, when she finished fourth in her 5-year-old debut in a one-mile turf stakes at Aqueduct. She would go on to race eight more times in 2017, with her best results before the Breeders’ Cup being a runner-up finish in the Grade 2 Ruffian over a sloppy Belmont Park surface in May, a win in the Yaddo for New York-breds over the Saratoga turf in August, and a second in the Grade 2 Presque Isle Masters over the Tapeta synthetic surface in September.

Her penultimate start came in the Oct. 8 Spinster at Keeneland, where Bar of Gold labored home a distant sixth over a sloppy track. It was hardly the type of effort to merit a trip to the Breeders’ Cup, but following a spirited workout at Belmont on the Saturday before the Breeders’ Cup, Bar of Gold was flown to California.

“We were kind of disheartened after [the Spinster],” trainer John Kimmel said after the Breeders’ Cup, “but she did seem to rebound the way we wanted to see.”

Breaking from post 5 in a full field of 14 in the seven-furlong Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, Bar of Gold got a sensational ride from Irad Ortiz Jr. She saved ground on the turn without getting stopped, then angled widest for the drive before nailing Ami’s Mesa in the final jump. Her $135.40 payoff for a $2 win bet was second-highest in the 34-year history of the Breeders’ Cup, behind only Arcangues, who paid $269.20 in the 1993 Classic.

“She broke good, put me in good position, and I just saved her,” said Ortiz. “She made a good run on the inside, and when I took her to the outside, she responded pretty good.”

Mary Broman said after the win: “I’m elated. My husband has put his heart and soul in this sport.”

Bar of Gold, by Medaglia d’Oro and out of the graded stakes-winning Broman homebred mare Khancord Kid, by Lemon Drop Kid, ended her career with seven wins and earnings of $1,551,000. She will be bred in early 2018.