In a wild year that seemed to upend conventional wisdom with twists, turns and, unfortunately, too much tragedy, 2019 will be remembered as one of the most turbulent stretches in the history of thoroughbred racing. Part of how it will be remembered falls on the National Thoroughbred Racing Association naming its “moment of the year” — a designation they look for with help from fans.
In addition to voting through the NTRA’s website, fans can voice their preference by retweeting hashtags, which we have marked below. (Who says horse racing is past its prime?) Voting is still open for a few more hours — with the horse race for horse racing’s top moment closing Friday, Jan. 17, at 11:59 pm ET.
These 14 nominated moments were selected based on their memorability or significance. The 2019 NTRA Moment of the Year will be revealed at the Eclipse Awards on Jan. 23 .
Hitting the Board
#MaximumSecurityDQ (May 4) – Hold all calls. We have a winner. The 145th Kentucky Derby set the table for what kind of year we were in for when Maximum Security crossed the finish line first, but was disqualified for interference. That vaulted 65-1 shot Country House to the victory. Seriously, this entry just lapped the field.
#MitoleMet (June 8) – The deepest field of the year; there were six Grade/Group 1 winners in the gate, made this not only the best field on the Belmont Stakes card, but one of the best races of the year. And it didn’t disappoint when Mitole nipped McKinzie by three-quarters of a length. One reason why Mitole is the favorite to win the Eclipse Award for Older Dirt Male.
#BisouBest (Aug. 24) – Midnight Bisou and Elate carved out one of the best rivalries in the sport when the two Grade-1 winners turned in another epic race at Saratoga. Midnight Bisou tracked down and nipped Elate in deep stretch by a nose to win the third and final meeting between the two. Simply great racing.
Not Far Behind
#BelvoirBayBC (Nov. 2) – One of the best 2019 horse racing moments, despite being buried on Breeders’ Cup Saturday. Less than two years ago, Belvoir Bay had to run for her life to escape the Lilac Fire that destroyed San Luis Rey Training Center north of San Diego. In the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, she ran the race of her life, beating her male rivals in record time.
#OmahaBeachSprint (Oct. 5) – Versatile, thy name is Omaha Beach. The Kentucky Derby favorite, before being scratched due to a throat ailment, hadn’t started since he won the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby in April. He merely came out and reeled in Shancelot to win the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby Sprint Championship Stakes. Yes, folks, that’s “sprint.” And yes, you’ve got one more chance to see Omaha Beach at the Pegasus before he ships off to stud.
#ThunderSnowDWC (March 30) – History was made when this Godolphin horse nipped Gronkowski at the wire to become the Dubai World Cup’s first two-time winner. We’ll put it here because we love history.
#BricksBC (Nov. 2) – Your likely Horse of the Year put in a 2019 Horse-of-the-Year moment. Bricks and Mortar cemented his place here with his resounding victory in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Yes, it may be routine; after all, Bricks and Mortar went undefeated in 2019. But when is greatness routine?
In the Pack
#FourStarStormy (Aug. 10) – A bold move by owner Gary Barber to send filly Got Stormy out in the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap a week after she won the De La Rose Stakes at Saratoga proved genius when she beat Uni to become the first filly to win the race. This became bigger when Uni won the Breeders’ Cup Mile three months later, but it was more a Saratoga horse-racing moment than a national moment.
#GoodbyeMarylou (July 19) – The “Queen of Saratoga” and owner of 2004 Belmont Stakes champion Birdstone, Marylou Whitney was one of the most important figures in eastern horse racing, and a staple of the Saratoga and Lexington racing seasons. The socialite and philanthropist died in July at 93. It’s not a 2019 horse racing moment per-se, but her nearly 50 years of contributions to the industry can’t be overlooked.
#CovfefeTest (Aug. 3) – Your eventual Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint champion took down Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress to win the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga. Yes, it was the third of Covfefe’s five 2019 victories, but it’s a reach to give it any more significance.
#VinoRossoBC (Nov. 2) – The Breeders’ Cup Classic was the gaping hole in trainer Todd Pletcher’s resume, one he closed when Vino Rosso turned in one of his best performances. Yet, based on the horrific happenings that befell Mongolian Express down the stretch, in the coming years, this is going to be a trivia question few will answer.
#BodexpressRun (May 18) – Bodexpress dumped jockey John Velasquez at the start of the Preakness Stakes and took a joyride alongside the field. So? Why is this here?
#IradBC (Nov. 1-2) – Your odds-on favorite to win the Eclipse Jockey of the Year award rode four winners at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Wonderful. Not a 2019 horse racing moment. But wonderful.
#ChadSweep (Aug. 10) – A pretty legit feat for trainer Chad Brown, sweeping all four graded stakes – including three Grade 1s – on that day’s Arlington Million card. Again, wonderful. And again, not a 2019 horse racing moment.