At last night's Eclipse Awards for "horse of the year" honors, the racing world waved good-bye to the stars of 2006. It was a great year for racing, although most of the nominated horses are injured or retired; one is even dead (Pine Island, who broke down in the Breeders Cup).
Barbaro, nominated for top three-year-old honors, was no doubt watching the ceremony from a tv in his stall at New Bolton Center's ICU. He didn't win. He lost to Bernardini, the horse who kept on running and won the 2006 Preakness while Barbaro broke down near the start. Bernardini is already in Kentucky, with mares lined up for the breeding season that is starting now.
At evening's end, Barbaro again ran second to Invasor as horse of the year. Invasor's story was one of the quirkiest of the year. He arrived from Uruguay as a surprise to his trainer, having been purchased on a whim by Hoofcare & Lameness subscriber Hassan bin Ali, who was in Uruguay buying endurance horses for Dubai's royal family.
Hassan's next stop from Uruguay was the Hoofcare & Lameness office, where he grilled me, as usual, about new horseshoes and technologies that might be of use to his training program. But he also showed me videos (on his cell phone, of course) of the horses in Uruguay, and "this super racehorse".
The next time I saw Hassan bin Ali was when he joined Invasor in the winner's circle at the Whitney Stakes in Saratoga. Invasor just kept on running, all year, and won the Breeders Cup Classic, defeating even Bernardini. And the best news is that Invasor will keep on running in 2007.
Back home in Uruguay, I'm sure the crowd went wild. Congratulations!