The thoroughbred racing season reached a grand finale at Churchill Downs where the Breeders' Cup Classic featured one of the most exciting fields in history.
The favorite, Skip Away, had won its first nine races of the year but came up short in its bid to surpass Cigar as horse racing's all-time money winner by finishing a disappointing sixth.
Silver Charm, the illustrious veteran, mustered a second-place finish and British-based Swain came in third. Victory Gallop, the Belmont winner, finished a close fourth.
The upset winner, however, of the $5.12 millions Classic was surprising 4-year-old Awesome Again which won all six races it started in 1998. Trainer Patrick Byrne regrets not starting Awesome Again in more races, but still believes his horse deserves the Horse of the Year title for beating the world's best at the Classic. Byrne retired Awesome Again to stud in November.
The record crowd on hand at the Classic expected Skip Away become the first horse to break the $10 million mark in career earnings. Instead Skip Away finishes with $9,999,185, second only to Cigar.
Real Quiet came real close to capturing the sports first Triple Crown since affirmed in 1978. Real Quiet, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, became the 14th horse in history to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes only be nosed out at the Belmont Stakes. Derby and Preakness runner-up Victory Gallop and jockey Gary Stevens spoiled Real Quiet's chance at history in 1998.
Meanwhile, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association hired Tim Smith to be the organization's first commissioner in April and went on an all-out blitz to get younger fans interested in horse racing.
Harness racing crowds also saw strong Triple Crown runs. But by winning the Kentucky Futurity, Trade Balance spoiled Shady Character's bid to become the ninth pacer to win the Triple Crown. While Fit For Life's victory in the Messenger Pace spoiled Muscles Yankee's bid to become the first Trotting Triple Crown winner since Super Bowl in 1972.
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