We have once again circled the sun successfully and that means…it’s time for the Hillbilly Horse Awards. As a studious hillbilly horseracing enthusiast, we want to bring a little attention to some of the top performers this past year. Now, we understand some may think the words “studious” and “hillbilly” do not belong in the same sentence. Here is what you must understand, our study habits may be a bit different, but we still passed the three “R’s” at the rock school (reading, riting, rithmatic). The envelope please…
THE HOSE PIPE WATER
Remember when you were a kid in the summer and your momma told you to get outside and play. Because you knew better than to argue, away you went off in the heat and humidity looking for a wiffle ball game or whatever else you could get into. Bottled water had not been invented yet and you sure as heck didn’t have money for a cold drink. So when you got real thirsty, somebody’s outside faucet was turned on and you gulped from that gushing garden hose. Man that water was good. Tasted way better than any Dasani ever could. As you enjoyed satisfying swallow after swallow, you had to ask yourself…just how good is this hose pipe water? With that in mind, we present this award to Monomoy Girl. This three-year old filly was nothing short of sensational in 2018. She crossed the finish line first in six grade 1 events (DQ to second in the Cotillion) and completed the year with six wins overall. Included in those wins were scores in the Kentucky Oaks, Acorn, and Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Running her seven races at six different tracks, this Brad Cox trained filly was as good as it gets in her division…kind of like that hose pipe water on a hot summer day!
THE DOUBLE BARRELL SHOTGUN
My great uncle Onzie had a 20 gauge double barrel shotgun he always carried hunting. He let me carry it a time or two once he got older as he didn’t want to fall and risk anyone with a stray shot. At this point a cane came in more handy for him. I can still hear his advice ringing true “If you got any doubts give’em both barrels at once son” said the wise old country boy. Unlike the pumps and automatics others carried, there were only two shots before reloading. And if you pulled both triggers at once it would be over quick, but man what a powerful blast it would be. The double barrel goes to Justify. Later on the scene than most Kentucky Derby contenders, he ran the first race of his career in February and four months later was wearing the Triple Crown. In that brief time span this Bob Baffert trained son of Scat Daddy historically captured the Kentucky Derby, displayed his power in the Preakness, and was bedazzling in the Belmont. Six wins in six career starts with four grade 1 victories in less than 16 weeks means he was short lived in the game but oh my the power he packed… sort of like when you pull both triggers on that 20 gauge!
THE COON HOUND
If you have ever watched a coon hound work, sometimes you wonder what the heck they are doing. It’s night time and they run off into the woods and start barking. Especially with a young dog you have your doubts because you don’t know if they are really on the trail to success. Then the barking becomes much more fevered and you shine a light and see that all you needed to do was trust in your dog’s stuff. The 2018 Coon Hound goes to jockey Flavian Prat and Fashion Business. On the undercard of the Pacific Classic back in August was the mile and three eighths Del Mar Handicap. Run over the Jimmy Durante turf course at the fabulous Seaside Oval, this grade 2 event featured some of the heavy grass hitters from the left coast. Trained by Phil D’Amato, the British bred son of Frankel relaxed near the back of the field once the gates opened. Cruising along in ninth after the opening ¾ of a mile, the four-year old gelding was way back. As the runners neared the half mile pole Prat decided it was time to hit the gas. Accelerating like it was the final sixteenth, the savvy Frenchman asked his mount for a lot more and he got it. Fashion Business bolted to the front and lead by four lengths at the top of the stretch. The early move had most wondering “what the Hades is he barking at?”. Most expected Business to tire and fade as the finish approached, but instead it was just the opposite. This was no ghost trail he was on, it was the real deal with a prize treed at the end. The huge early move paid big as Fashion Business rolled to an easy 5 ¼ length win. Yes there were some questions early in the Del Mar Handicap hunt, but in the end we figured out why Fashion Business was barking.
THE UNCLE HENRY
Every smart hillbilly carries a pocket knife. You just don’t know when you might have to skin out a rabbit or cut up some ingredients for the latest batch of corn in a jar. When you have really arrived was when you had an Uncle Henry brand knife with at least two blades. Good news is if the knife gets dull, you just break out the whetstone and sharpen it up cause it is a quality product with two blades for cutting. This year’s Uncle Henry goes to Peter Miller. This spirited California conditioner wrote his name in the history books when he won two Breeders’ Cup races in back to back years with the same horses. Roy H was dominant with a powerful score in the Sprint for the second consecutive year and Stormy Liberal went back-to back in the Turf Sprint. Now here is where we find out how sharp Miller has been in 2018. After winning his first two Cup races at one of his home tracks in 2017, people were a bit skeptical as these two stable stars had a few ups and downs since winning at Del Mar. After losing his first four races of the year, Stormy responded to the program again and concluded a four race winning streak with a triumphant trip over the Churchill Downs turf at the Cup. Roy H had won two races in four starts on the year, but had a jockey change in August after a second place finish in the Bing Crosby at Del Mar. To Miller’s credit, he found a way to put a good edge on his other champ as well. Running just off a suicidal pace (21.35) in the opening quarter mile, Roy rolled to the front at the top of the stretch and cut the competition wide open as he won easily by a widening 3 ¼ lengths. Leaving little doubt about his abilities to sharpen up his horses for the big stage, it was Miller time for the second consecutive year at the Breeders’ Cup.