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A global view of the best in 2010
NEW YORK – The 2010 World Thoroughbred Rankings, the most inclusive of the world’s racehorse ratings, will be announced on Jan. 11, with the Eclipse Award winners following six days later.
In the meantime, here is a selection of the three best horses in each age and distance category regardless of surface that eschews national and regional biases, if such a thing is humanly possible.
2-year-old colts: The achievements of Frankel in England and Uncle Mo in America can hardly be separated, especially as there are no comparable form lines between them. Frankel was 4 for 4 with a 10-length victory in the one-mile, Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes and a 2 1/4-length triumph over subsequent Group 1 Criterium International winner Roderic O’Connor in the seven-furlong, Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes. Uncle Mo was 3 for 3 with Grade 1 scores in the one-mile Champagne Stakes (by 4 3/4 lengths) and the 1 1/16-mile Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (by 4 1/4 lengths). By Galileo, Frankel is the more likely to stay beyond a mile but at this stage they finish in a dead heat for world juvenile honors. Nashua and Remsen winner To Honor and Serve, a son of the hot first-year sire Bernardini, noses Roderic O’Connor for third place.
2-year-old fillies: Misty for Me, like Frankel and Roderic O’Connor by Galileo, won the best juvenile filly races in Ireland – the seven-furlong Moyglare Stud Stakes – and in France – the one-mile Prix Marcel Boussac.The best 2-year-old filly performance of the year, however, was produced by Hooray, who posted a front-running 4 1/2-length win in the six-furlong Cheveley Park Stakes. Hooray also won the Group 2 Lowther Stakes on turf and the Group 3 Sirenia Stakes on Polytrack, but Misty for Me was beating better in her victories, so she gets the nod. White Moonstone, a Dynaformer filly who won the Group 1 Fillies Mile, takes third. Honorable mentions go to Crystal Lilly, who beat colts in the world’s richest juvenile race, the Golden Slipper Stakes at Rosehill in Australia, and to Reve d’Essoir, the Japanese Grade 1 winner who beat Japanese champion 2-year-old colt Grand Prix Boss in the Grade 3 Daily Hai Nisai Stakes..
3-year-old males: There can be no denying Workforce the title of world’s best 3-year-old. The King’s Best colt broke Epsom’s hallowed 1 1/2-mile course record when winning the Derby by seven lengths, then completed his season with a victory in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, which remains the single most important race in the world and the one at which more top-class middle-distance horses are aimed. The excellent miler Canford Cliffs takes the second spot by virtue of his Group 1 triple in the Irish 2000 Guineas, the St. James’s Palace Stakes and the Sussex Stakes, the last named against older horses. Makfi won the 2000 Guineas and beat Goldikova in the Prix Jacques Le Marois, but his campaign was marked by inconsistency, so third goes to the retired Eskendereya. Who knows what might have been for this Giant’s Causeway colt after his wins in the Fountain of Youth and the Wood Memorial by a combined 18 1/4 lengths?
3-year-old fillies: After her victories in both the English and Irish Oaks, Snow Fairy was neck-and-neck with Lily of the Valley and Sarafina for the title until she swept past them with a four-length win against older females in the 1 3/8-mile Queen Elizabeth Commemorative Cup in Kyoto. She than trumped older males in the 1 1/4-mile Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin. French Oaks winner Sarafina is second after an unlucky third in the Arc. The Galileo filly Lily of the Valley placed third after her sixth straight win in the 1 1/4-mile, Group 1 Prix de l’Opera over older fillies and mares.
4-year-olds and up: The best Thoroughbred performance in the world in 2010 was Harbinger’s 11-length romp in the 1 1/2-mile King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on July 24. He had subsequent 5 1/2-length Irish Champion Stakes winner Cape Blanco back in second and the subpar Epsom Derby and Arc winner Workforce well beaten in fifth. Sadly, a fractured leg suffered in an Aug. 7 workout ended his career and he has been sold to stand at Teruya Yoshida’s Northern Racing Stud in Japan. The son of Dansili ended his career on a four-race winning streak and rates the best older horse in the world. So You Think, a son of High Chaparral, is the runner-up with four Group 1 tallies between 9 and 10 furlongs in Australia. Blame noses Quality Road for third. He gutted out the Breeders’ Cup Classic, although the best performance in America in 2010, and the best performance on dirt anywhere, belongs to Classic also-ran Quality Road, whose weight-giving 12 3/4-length romp in the Donn Handicap came at the expense of a suspect group of journeymen.
Older fillies and mares: Goldikova walks away with the honor, her third straight Breeders’ Cup Mile title being her fifth Group 1 triumph of the year. She won at the highest level between seven furlongs and 1 1/8 miles, 55 yards in England, France and America, beating numerous Group or Grade 1 winners each time, and is the most accomplished Thoroughbred of her sex since Miesque. Second is Buena Vista. The unluckiest horse in the world, her winning run in the 1 1/2-mile Dubai Sheema Classic was blocked by eventual winner Dar Re Mi. She then won Tokyo’s Grade 1 Victoria Mile and the 1 1/4-mile Autumn Tenno Sho against males, was controversially disqualified from first in the 1 1/2-mile Japan Cup, and ran out of room in the short stretch at Nakayama when a nose second in the 1 9/16-mile Arima Kinen. All of that puts her ahead of the provincial minded Zenyatta, who spent most of the year beating up inferior females in Southern California before failing in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the one worthwhile Grade 1 race she tried all year.
Sprinters: The elite speedsters of the world met at Sha Tin on Dec. 12 in the six-furlong Hong Kong Sprint, and it was the South African J J The Jet Plane who emerged victorious as he defeated Singapore champ Rocket Man and Hong Kong champ Sacred Kingdom, who is eased out of the world No. 2 spot by Starspangledbanner, the winner of two Group 1 sprints in England and one in Australia. Kinsale King deserves honorable mention for his win over Rocket Man in the Dubai Golden Shaheen, but as long as the likes of Big Drama and Majesticperfection stay at home in America, their form remains suspect.
Stayers: The French-trained Americain, a Kentucky-bred son of Dynaformer, rescued this division with his 2 3/4-length victory in the two-mile Melbourne Cup Handicap, his fifth win in a row, four of them going at least 1 7/8 miles. That was marginally better than Gentoo’s late season Group 1 double in the 2 1/2-mile Prix du Cadran and the 1 15/16-mile Prix Royal-Oak, or French St. Leger. Ascot Gold Cup winner Rite of Passage, a hurdler by trade, takes third by default.
Milers: There can be no doubt that Goldikova was the best miler in the world, followed by Canford Cliffs and Gio Ponti in third, his game second in the Breeders’ Cup Mile following a very good win in the Shadwell Turf Mile.
Middle distance (1 1/4 miles to 1 1/2 miles): Harbinger and Workforce finish one-two, with So You Think and Snow Fairy dead heating for third.
Horse of the Year: All hail Goldikova, whose overall record was superior to those of Harbinger and Workforce. Luckily we will see Goldikova and Workforce again in 2011, along with Canford Cliffs, Snow Fairy, Sarafina, Lily of the Valley, Buena Vista, Gio Ponti, J J The Jet Plane and So You Think, who has been purchased by Coolmore and will be trained in Ireland by Aidan O’Brien.