By DICK POWELL
The other day, I ended my analysis of the 2018 Horse of the Year debate by asking why isn’t MONOMOY GIRL in the conversation? So let’s look at her sophomore season, in which she captured five Grade 1 stakes races and finished first six times, compared to the last 25 divisional champions. Working backwards:
2017: ABEL TASMAN won three Grade 1 stakes before running second in the Cotillion (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1).
2016: SONGBIRD won four Grade 1 stakes before missing by a nose in the Distaff, her first career loss after 11 straight wins.
2015: STELLAR WIND won only a single Grade 1 but her runner-up in the Distaff clinched the Eclipse Award.
2014: UNTAPABLE won four Grade 1 stakes including the Distaff.
2013: BEHOLDER won four Grade 1 stakes including the Distaff but lost the Kentucky Oaks (G1) by a half-length.
2012: QUESTING won two Grade 1 stakes races.
2011: ROYAL DELTA won two Grade 1 stakes including the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic.
2010: BLIND LUCK won three Grade 1 stakes and was second in the Ladies Classic.
2009: RACHEL ALEXANDRA won five Grade 1 stakes including wins against males in the Preakness, Haskell & Woodward.
2008: PROUD SPELL won two Grade 1 stakes.
2007: RAGS TO RICHES won four Grade 1 stakes including the Belmont Stakes.
2006: WAIT A WHILE won two Grade 1 stakes and both came on turf.
2005: SMUGGLER won two Grade 1 stakes.
2004: ASHADO won three Grade 1 stakes.
2003: BIRD TOWN won two Grade 1 stakes.
2002: FARDA AMIGA won two Grade 1 stakes.
2001: XTRA HEAT won a single Grade 1 stakes and just missed against males in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).
2000: SURFSIDE won two Grade 1 stakes.
1999: SILVERBULLETDAY won four Grade 1 stakes.
1998: BANSHEE BREEZE won three Grade 1 stakes.
1997: AJINA won three Grade 1 stakes including the Distaff.
1996: YANKS MUSIC won four Grade 1 stakes.
1995: SERENA’S SONG won six Grade 1 stakes including the Haskell and also captured the Jim Beam (G2) over males.
1994: HEAVENLY PRIZE won three Grade 1 stakes.
1993: HOLLYWOOD WILDCAT won two Grade 1 stakes including the Distaff.
So, Monomoy Girl compares very favorably with the three-year-old filly champions of the past 25 years. Only Serena’s Song won six Grade 1 stakes races at three. And it will always be tough to compare to Rachel Alexandra, who enjoyed a sophomore season for the ages.
A private purchase after romping by 20 ¼ lengths in the Kentucky Oaks, Rachel Alexandra came back two weeks later for new connections to win the Preakness and easily defeated eventual three-year-old male champion Summer Bird when dominating the Haskell by a six-length margin. She finished the year with a gut-wrenching win over older males in the Woodward at Saratoga, a race so tough on her she never really recovered and could only win a Grade 2 stakes as a four-year-old.
Some of the underrated performances from the above list are Yanks Music winning four Grade 1 stakes and Xtra Heat winning a divisional championship despite only one Grade 1 triumph. Xtra Heat was also in the running for sprint champion but missed sweeping both honors when finishing a half-length second to Squirtle Squirt in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).
The 2018 campaign of Monomoy Girl virtually guarantees her a place in the Hall of Fame. Had it not been for the stewards controversially disqualifying her in the Cotillion (G1), she would have six straight Grade 1 wins to her credit. Either way, she is in great company and should be a Horse of the Year finalist this year.