With all the hoopla surrounding the top four choices in the Breeders’ Cup Classic — Lawyer Ron, Street Sense, Curlin, Any Given Saturday and Hard Spun, it seems Tiago is getting lost in the shuffle just a bit. I mean, we’re talking a very talented colt here who has won the Grade I Santa Anita Derby (pictured), the Grade II Swaps Stakes and the Grade I Goodwood. He’s one of the few 3-year-olds, along with Curlin, to have beaten older horses already this year.
Perhaps it’s only fitting that the week John Henry — the greatest gelding that ever raced — died at age 32, we pay homage to his memory by reliving one of his greatest victories. It was August 1981 when The Bart, with Eddie Delahoussaye aboard, and John Henry, ridden by the legendary Bill Shoemaker, hooked up in this nation’s first $1 million race in the inaugural Arlington Million. A fast-closing John Henry got up right at the wire to edge The Bart by a nose, but it was very hard to tell who had won. It was so close, Delahoussaye recalled. Shoe and me didnt get together until the horses left the grass course and reached the main track, and he said, What do you think?, and I said, Bill, its so close, its hard to tell. The TV commentators on NBC had announced to the public over the air that The Bart had won the race, and they had to retract all of that, and it was a mess. Thats what everybody who had watched the race on TV told me. There was a lot of controversy, and it was great because it was the first $1 million race. But John Henry was something else. He was a racehorse.
Time to relive one of the greatest events in thoroughbred racing history. The race caller is Phil Georgeff.
Check out our new handicapper in the racing consensus box each morning before you head to the track. He doesn’t give you the normal 9-5, 2-1 and 5-2 favorites. Ray Nelson had Smokey Route on top as his BEST BET in Saturday’s nightcap. The horse went postward at 61-1 and returned a whopping $124.40 for each $2 wager.