With such a high turnover of stars this winter, who is left for fans to root for next year? Curlin’s retirement leaves a huge hole in the handicap division that won’t be filled by even such middling talents as STudent Council or Zanjero, who are also going off to stud. The sprint division has lost a great group, lead by Midnight Lute, Street Boss, Bustin’ Stones, Benny The Bull… heck, all of the top sprinters will be in the shed next year.
So, who will get sucked into the vacuum? Here are 10 horses I think will be able to step out the shadows and shine on the Grade 1 stage. Most of them are 3yos who, finally out from under the gorilla Big Brown, will be able to repair the bad rap stuck on their crop. A few are already established stars who will gallop even higher into the stratosphere.
1) Zenyatta: Undefeated in 9 starts; can she make it 10 more?
2)Harlem Rocker: DQ’ed in Cigar Mile victory but will make us all forget that effort next year.
3) Colonel John: He’s everybody’s favorite grinder, which should make for some thrilling finishes in the big races of ’09.
4)Fatal Bullet: He ran 1:09 in the BC Sprint but got beat. The horse who beat him retired. He’s Canada’s champion 3yo and HoTY. Plus, he’s a son of my fave Preakness winner, Red Bullet.
5)Proud Spell: She duked it out with Pure Clan and Music Note and just missed a meeting with Big Z. She’s on a break now, but watch out when she comes back!
6) Cowboy Cal: Consistently in the money on turf, dangerous on poly, and just the type who may spring a big shocker on dirt, he’s gonna be a Darley horse, with all the benefits, next season.
7) Court Vision: IEAH’s successor to Big Brown & Kip Deville, a son of Gulch who can get 1 1/4 miles on turf.
8)Go Between: The always competitive son of Point Given who is best on polytrack. Can’t wait to see him in the Big Cap.
9)Cocoa Beach: Second to Big Z in the Distaff, winner of the Matriarch last month, she’s just now coming into her best stride.
10) The Entire 2009 3yo Crop: The 2 top prospects are heading for Dubai to train, a slew of promising stakes winners are shipping to winter training grounds, and several talented maiden winners are stepping onto the scene…the 135th Kentucky Derby is only 6 months away!