If you take anything away from Saturday’s $ 6 Million Breeders’ Cup Classic, horses can get better as they age.
With a lot of attention paid to the trio of three-year-olds, it was five-year-old Nix Go who flew out of the gate and walked the wire to win the richest race in the United States. Three 3-year-olds – Medina Sprite, conditional winner of the Kentucky Derby; Essential Quality, Belmont Stakes Winner; and Hot Rod Charlie, runner-up in the Belmont Stakes, came in second to fourth.
The fact that Knicks Go won shouldn’t come as a surprise, as he has won three Class 1 races since moving to Brad Cox’s stable early last year, after a very unremarkable career with previous coach Ben Colbrook. The Knicks Go won the Dirt Mile Breeders’ Cup last year.
The Knicks Go was never seriously tested with Joel Rosario. He lunged forward quickly and relaxed on the stretched back, allowing the next pack to come an inch closer. Then, as they turned towards the house, he went very wide into the lot, but pulled everything together to win by 2¾ the length.
The Knicks Go paid $ 8.40, $ 6.20 and $ 4 to beat seven other horses in a 1 mile race. The field decreased by one when the express train was scratched in the morning due to minor injury.
Each of the losing three-year-olds has a story to tell.
Medina Spirit’s victory in the Kentucky Derby is expected to be revisited after he tested positive for an anti-inflammatory drug, which is legal, but not on race week. No charges have been filed against coach Bob Buffert.
Essential Quality, which could easily have become a star in the sport, is retiring because of its value as a stallion.
And Hot Rod Charlie had one of the best races of the year when he lost to Essential Quality at the Belmont. He later won the Haskell Stakes but was disqualified for interfering.