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Since we’ve already taken a look at the first half of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association 2013 Moment of the Year, let’s dive right into the second half-dozen nominees. Once again, I’ll be giving you my thoughts on each moment, so feel free to add your own opinions in the comments!

All photos are my own unless otherwise noted.

Moment 7: Ken and Sarah Ramsey win three major Grade 1 turf stakes – the Secretariat (with Admiral Kitten), Sword Dancer (Big Blue Kitten) and Arlington Million (Real Solution) – at two different tracks in less than two hours (Aug. 17).

August 17 was awesome for Ramsey Farm – three winners in one day is a big deal no matter what, but winning three Grade 1 (meaning the best of the best) races on the grass in one day is practically unheard of for an owner. 

I happened to be at Chicago’s beautiful Arlington Park for two of those three wins, as did the Ramseys. Ken Ramsey is definitely a very colorful character, and he wears his emotions on his sleeve when it comes to horse racing. That’s why it’s always so much fun to be around him right after he wins: his happiness is totally contagious. So when Admiral Kitten won Arlington’s Secretariat Stakes, Ken was clearly overjoyed and was not afraid to show it.

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Meanwhile, at upstate New York’s Saratoga Race Course Big Blue Kitten, another Ramsey-owned horse, took home the Sword Dancer, one of the summer’s premiere grass races on the East Coast.

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Image courtesy of Eclipse SportsWire

The Ramseys had one more shot at a Grade 1 that day, and it was in the Arlington Million. The race came down to a battle between South African-based The Apache and the Ramseys’ Real Solution. In a nail-biter of a finish, The Apache edged out Real Solution at the wire.

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However, as the horses were returning to the Winner’s Circle the loudspeaker announced that there would be an inquiry into the finish of the race, as it appeared that The Apache had bumped Real Solution during the stretch run. As the video was replayed on the big screen in the infield, the crowd’s reaction was pretty intense.

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And in the end, the stewards (the horse racing term for judges) ruled that The Apache would be disqualified and that Real Solution was the winner of the Arlington Million. This was the Ramseys’ reaction:

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Mike Ditka, who was at Arlington that day, approves of this moment.

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Moment 8: Will Take Charge barely gets up to beat front-running Moreno by a nose in the $1 million Travers at Saratoga Race Course (Aug. 24).

The Travers is always one of my favorite races of the year. Called the Mid-Summer Derby, the Travers is a test for 3-year-old horses who are the best of their class, and it’s always a thrill to see how there sophomores handle the second half of the year. I wasn’t able to attend the Travers in person this year, but I remember watching it on TV and jumping up and down with excitement at that thrilling finish.  Check it out below:

I mean, that is a close race. Will Take Charge was moving like a freight train on the outside while longshot Moreno was trying to make it to the wire first to upset the field. And Kentucky Derby winner Orb was right there in the mix, as was Belmont Stakes victor Palace Malice. That’s one heck of a horse race right there! The Travers was also a preview of the great things to come from Will Take Charge, who really became a powerhouse in the second half of the year.

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Photo courtesy of Eclipse SportsWire

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Photo courtesy of Eclipse SportsWire

Moment 9: Retired jockey Ramon Dominguez is presented with the Mike Venezia Award, as well as the 2012 Eclipse Award trophy for Outstanding Jockey he was unable to accept last January, during a ceremony in the Saratoga winner’s circle (Aug. 25).

Ramon Dominguez is one of the most respected and well-liked jockeys around, so when the horse racing community learned that he’d suffered a traumatic injury to his skull following a spill at Aqueduct in January of 2013 the outpouring of concern was truly universal. Due to the severity of his injury, Ramon was unable to accept his Eclipse Award for 2012’s Outstanding Jockey at the ceremony held at Miami’s Gulfstream Park in January. It wasn’t until August at Saratoga Race Course that Ramon was given his award, as well as the Mike Venzia Award that recognizes the jockey who exemplifies extraordinary sportsmanship and citizenship. When Ramon accepted his awards, it was with the support of the entire horse racing community behind him, especially from his fellow jockeys. Ramon has since retired from racing, but his impact on our sport will never be forgotten. 

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Image courtesy of Eclipse SportsWire

As his fellow jockeys surrounded him when Ramon received his honors, their concern for him and devastation over his injury were obvious. We as horse racing fans, and they as sportsmen, were lucky to have seen someone of Ramon’s incredible athleticism, talent, and strength of character in our lifetimes.

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Image courtesy of Eclipse SportsWire

Moment 10: Five-year-old mare Mizdirection beats males in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint for the second straight year in her final career start (Nov. 2).

The Miz! I love this mare so much. She was breathtaking in her 2012 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint win, but it was her furious drive to get to the finish line ahead of the boys in this year’s edition of the race that left a huge impression on me. Check out her performance in this video:

I mean, that is a mare who wants to win. She’s awesome, and I’m so glad that we were treated to another year of her in 2013.

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I also love the look on co-owner Jim Rome’s face in this picture: that’s a man who’s obviously very proud of his horse.

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And of course, everyone lives it when jockey Mike Smith wins a big race – his celebrations are so much fun! Looks like Miz was in on the fun, too – I caught them both looking to the heavens at the same time. Love that!

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Moment 11: Wise Dan wins the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Mile for the second straight year, capping a season that will likely be recognized with a repeat Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year (Nov. 2).

If you’ve stopped by this blog before, you’ll know that my obsession with Wise Dan is serious and true. This is my favorite horse, bar none, running right now, and I love him desperately. So it should come as no surprise that his second consecutive victory in the Breeders’ Cup Mile is my Moment of the Year. His late-closing kick and will to win were sublime, and when he got to the wire first I had to keep from screaming myself hoarse.

“Wise Dan: brilliant in the Mile!” You’re not kidding, announcer Larry Collmus! He was brilliant. I swear that horse has a determination to win like nothing else I’ve seen, and the Breeders’ Cup Mile was one race that he was not going to lose despite stumbling at the start and having to go wide around the turn for home. You’re the man, Wise Dan!

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Also, Wise Dan smiles after he wins – no joke. He’s a smarty-pants horse for sure!

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I think I was wearing a smile that was just as big after the Mile – I was so proud of my boy!

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And just because I like you guys, here is a photo of Wise Dan following a goat around, because there are not enough photos of goats and horses on the Internet and I am trying to fix that.

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Moment 12: Mucho Macho Man wins the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic by a nose for jockey Gary Stevens, trainer Kathy Ritvo and owners Reeves Thoroughbred Racing (Nov. 2).

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The story behind Mucho Macho Man’s win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic is one that defies belief: the trainer who nearly died from a heart condition, the 50-year-old jockey making an unprecedented comeback, and a horse that lost this race so narrowly the year before. I mean, this gang even brought the Village People back to national headlines, and you know that’s pretty amazing!

Before the Classic, Mucho Macho Man supporters were out in full force, carrying homemade signs and rooting for the big horse.

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The other side of this story is the race itself: I’ve watched a lot of horse races, and this finish will go down as one of the most thrilling I’ve ever seen. The race was so close and the stakes were so high that it made for one of the most dramatic moments I’ve ever witnessed at a racetrack. Check out the video below:

In the end, it was Mucho Macho Man who got to the wire first, and I think even people who bet against him were happy for his team.

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So that’s it for the 2013 NTRA Moment of the Year nominees! Be sure to get your vote in here as soon as possible. Thank you so much for stopping by, and please let me know in the comments what your favorite horse racing moment was this year!

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Penelope Miller

I'm Penelope Miller and I'm the Senior Manager of Digital Media for America's Best Racing. I've been involved with the Thoroughbred industry for most of my life and I want to make sure that the great sport of horse racing is enjoyed by people all over the nation. Please share your thoughts and ideas with me in the comments section below!

Image Description

Penelope Miller

I'm Penelope Miller and I'm the Senior Manager of Digital Media for America's Best Racing. I've been involved with the Thoroughbred industry for most of my life and I want to make sure that the great sport of horse racing is enjoyed by people all over the nation. Please share your thoughts and ideas with me in the comments section below!

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