As the racing season winds down, the TwinSpires.com editorial staff have taken a look back at this year’s action and come up with our “top lists” in a variety of categories. Today, we present our selections for the top 10 U.S. racing performances of 2015.
10) Songbird – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1)
Quickly overcoming a wide draw to make the lead, she strolled around the Keeneland track to win with ease in a final time that eclipsed what males ran in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) several hours later. A potential superstar, she is the latest in a long line of champion fillies owned by Rick Porter and/or trained by Jerry Hollendorfer.
9) Tepin – Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1)
Not really viewed as a leading candidate for this race until a course-and-distance tour de force in the First Lady (G1) four weeks earlier, the four-year-old filly completed a splendid campaign with another romp, this time over many of the world’s leading milers in her first start against males.
8) Lady Eli – Belmont Oaks (G1)
Gliding into contention around the far turn, the undefeated filly’s five-wide journey entering the stretch was followed by the kind of push-button acceleration her fans had come to expect. The euphoric mood of seeing her cover 1 1/4 miles in a remarkable 1:59.27 was later subdued after she developed a life-threatening case of laminitis, which she has since bravely fought off.
7) American Pharoah – Preakness (G1)
The eventual Triple Crown champion not only beat back his peers with aplomb, but also mother nature. The menacing, biblical-like downpour before the race nearly caused its postponement, but more than anything it dulled the track as the final time of 1:58.46 was the slowest for a Preakness in 65 years.
6) Flintshire – Sword Dancer (G1)
Possessing a decided class advantage over his American rivals, the French star burst to the lead around the far turn and exuded his superiority in one of the more definitive displays of the season. Unfortunately, it turned out to be his only U.S. appearance.
5) Shared Belief – Santa Anita H. (G1)
In what sadly turned out to be the final victory of his brief life, the great champion cantered to the wire against overmatched rivals and firmly established himself as one of the best seen on the American turf during the young century.
4) American Pharoah – Belmont S. (G1)
After 37 years of frustration, racing fans young and old rejoiced in witnessing the first Triple Crown sweep since Affirmed’s in 1978. The moment was made more dazzling by the colt’s final quarter-mile, which was run in a shade over 24 seconds.
3) Honor Code – Metropolitan H. (G1)
Greatly overshadowed by American Pharoah’s Triple Crown heroics later in the day, the older star turned in one of the more unforgettable last-to-first rallies while rebounding from a poor showing at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby weekend.
2) Beholder – Pacific Classic (G1)
Clinching a third division title in the most emphatic way, the future Hall of Famer became the first of her sex to win Del Mar’s signature event in one of the more facile victories ever by a female against males in American racing history.
1) American Pharoah – Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1)
Solidifying his place in racing history, the 12th Triple Crown proved untouchable in his one and only start against older horses. His career-average margin of victory (4.94 lengths) was exceeded here as he walked away a legend following a 6 1/2-length score.
American Pharoah winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic photo courtesy of Jamie Newell/Horsephotos.com