Mucho Macho Man’s nose victory in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic has been voted by fans the 2013 National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Moment of the Year. The results of the online poll were announced this morning at the second annual ThoroFan Awards Breakfast at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.
Mucho Macho Man, owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, went off at 4-1 in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, a race he had finished second in the previous year. Jockey Gary Stevens, who earlier in 2013 had come back from seven years of retirement, urged Mucho Macho Man to the lead approaching the top of the stretch and saved enough to barely hold off late charges from Will Take Charge and Declaration of War in a wild three-horse photo finish. Heart transplant survivor Kathy Ritvo became the first female trainer to win North America’s richest race, rewarding Patti and Dean Reeves for the faith they showed in both her and the popular hard-trying horse.
Balloting was conducted at the NTRA Web site, ntra.com, and offered voters 12 different images illustrating a range of human emotions as well as outstanding displays of equine athleticism. Finishing second was Paynter’s winning return to racing following a miraculous recovery from colitis and laminitis; the popular Grade I winner’s near-fatal illness earned topped the 2012 Moment of the Year voting.
The 2013 images and events that fans chose from (listed chronologically, with percentage of votes received, rounded to the nearest tenth of a percentage point):
- Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens rides his first winner in North America since 2005 aboard Branding in the first race at Santa Anita. (1.2%)
- Spicer Cub bolts around the parked starting gate along the outside rail and still nearly wins at Pimlico Race Course, losing by a nose. (15.8%)
- Orb wins the Kentucky Derby for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey and owners Stuart Janney III and Dinny Phipps. (5%)
- Oxbow wins the Preakness Stakes, giving Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas his sixth win in the Triple Crown’s middle jewel and 50-year-old Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens his third. (3.5%)
- Paynter, after battling back from life-threatening illness the year before, returns to the races to win an allowance at Betfair Hollywood Park. (18.3%)
- Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze becomes the first North American rider to reach the 12,000-win milestone aboard Handful of Pearls at the Alameda County Fair at Pleasanton. (2.2%)
- Ken & Sarah Ramsey win three major Grade I turf stakes – the Secretariat (with Admiral Kitten), Sword Dancer (Big Blue Kitten) and Arlington Million (Real Solution) – at two different tracks in less than two hours. (4.2%)
- Will Take Charge barely gets up to beat front-running Moreno by a nose in the $1 million Travers at Saratoga Race Course. (5.3%)
- Retired jockey Ramon Dominguez is presented with the Mike Venezia Award, as well as the 2012 Eclipse Award trophy for Outstanding Jockey he was unable to accept last January, during a ceremony in the Saratoga winner’s circle. (5%)
- Five-year-old mare Mizdirection beats males in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint for the second straight year in her final career start. (3.2%)
- Wise Dan wins the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Mile for the second straight year, capping a season that will likely be recognized with a repeat Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year. (6.2%)
- Mucho Macho Man wins the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic by a nose for jockey Gary Stevens, trainer Kathy Ritvo and owners Reeves Thoroughbred Racing. (30%)
“Mucho Macho Man’s win in the Breeders’ Cup was thrilling because it was a wild finish decided by a nose, but it was especially unforgettable because of the stories behind the horse,” said Keith Chamblin, NTRA Senior Vice President. “Voting for the Moment of the Year was up more than 50-percent this year and the popularity of Mucho Macho Man and his connections are surely part of the reason.”
The first-ever “NTRA Moment of the Year” was the touching scene between Charismatic and jockey Chris Antley following the 1999 Belmont Stakes. The next year’s winner was the stretch run of the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic, which saw Tiznow hold on for a dramatic victory against Giant’s Causeway. Tiznow won again the following year as fans selected his stirring repeat victory in the Classic over Sakhee. In 2002, fans cited the passing of the last living Triple Crown winner, Seattle Slew. In 2003, the popular Kentucky Derby win by Funny Cide was selected. Birdstone’s upset win in the Belmont Stakes over Smarty Jones took down top honors for 2004. In 2005, fans selected Afleet Alex’s spectacular victory in the 2005 Preakness Stakes. Voters in 2006 chose Barbaro’s gallant struggle to recover from his Preakness injury while at the New Bolton Center. The 2007 Moment of the Year was a historic victory by filly Rags to Riches over Curlin in the Belmont Stakes. In 2008, it was Zenyatta’s win in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic. Zenyatta “repeated” in 2009 as fans selected her triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
In 2010, fans selected Blame’s narrow Breeders’ Cup Classic victory over Zenyatta. Drosselmeyer’s hard-fought win over Game on Dude in the Breeders’ Cup Classic was the public’s choice for 2011. Last year, the recovery of Haskell Invitational winner Paynter from near-deadly battles with laminitis and colitis captured the hearts of voters like no other story.