12/31/2009 1:00AM

Two names rose above the rest


That's all there is? Year gone again?

Must have been napping, steeped in gin

Or otherwise distracted, yes,

By business woes, an awful mess

That ate away at racing's core

While true believers ran the store.

The year flashed by in neon bright

With names that echoed through the night:

I Want Revenge, so come Well Armed.

Hot Dixie Chick, sound the alarm.

Telling, Flashing, She Be Wild,

Zensational, that summer child.

Seattle so Smooth, Life Is Sweet,

Candyman Can proved quite a treat.

Thorn Song, Bribon, Vineyard Haven,

Satisfied the deepest cravin'

For speed and class and all things cool

Like colts with names like Blame and Rule.

Ramon and Mikey, Bejarano,

Calvin, Go-Go, Kent Desormeaux,

Veterans all, they faced the fights

Despite the thrills, the spills, the frights

Of riding horses, sometimes rocky,

Or being cast as part of "Jockeys."

Rosemary rode to beat the band

With Anna, Emma, Sutherland.

The kids of yesterday, they grew

To be Garcia, Leparoux,

Saez, Rosario, Maragh.

They all deserve a great hurrah

For daily tempting of the fate

That felled Rene and Michael Straight.

Steve Asmussen, six-hundred wins

And counting till the game begins

To give the rest head starts or how

About Steve's runners pull a plow?

Hail Bob Baffert, Hollendorfer,

Hooked on winning more and more for

Hist'ry's sake, as well to fend off

Blows from Kiaran, Todd and Christophe,

Young Tim Ice and Eoin Harty,

AARP's Tom McCarthy.

Here's to a season twice as nice

For Kathy Walsh and Linda Rice,

Jenine Sahadi, Helen Pitts,

Josie Carroll - they gave men fits.

How about that Presious Passion,

Fled the gates in fiery fashion.

Go Gio Ponti, Conduit,

Old warrior Einstein knew no quit.

Hats off to Rail Trip, Richard's Kid,

And Bullsbay knows just what he did.

Luck is either Blind or Lookin,

Either way they loved home cookin.

Now both will need to flee the nest

To see if they're indeed the best

In classic battles, Triple Crowns,

Kentucky Oaks - the ups, the downs.

Nothing compares, just ask the boys

Who left New Mex to make some noise

In Louisville and Baltimore

And wrote a page of racing lore.

Though stranger things may have occurred,

The bar, for now, is Mine That Bird.

The other Bird, as we learned later,

Cared nothing about time or date

Or seasons - summer, spring or fall.

And thus was proven best of all

The three-year-olds in the land, uh,

At least who weren't named Alexandra.

Rachel was ruthless, liquid heat.

She ran her rivals off their feet

And left them gasping, "Please, no mas!"

No shock she went without a loss,

With victories that filled the soul

And caused the highest bells to toll.

So too Zenyatta scaled the heights,

Refused to lose, was quite a sight

Especially when the Classic loomed

And she inhaled them, sonic boomed,

Like no mare ever dared to soar

Leaving all hearts wanting more.

Mirror mirror, on tack room wall,

Who is the fairest of them all?

They took us on one sweet clean ride,

And left '09 replete with pride

In how the best in them shone through

To cast abroad a golden hue.

Those who have rued not having been

Alive to witness Sarazen,

Or Domino, great Man o' War,

Names fallen to the dusty floor,

Now have the filly and the mare

To cherish, see, 'cause we were there.