2019 Racing Preview: 5 Horses I Can't Wait to Watch
Triple Crown winner Justify might be retired, with his Horse of the Year challenger Accelerate slated to follow suit in January, but that doesn’t mean the sport of racing will be lacking star power in 2019.To the contrary, there are so many talented horses set to compete around the world next year that narrowing down the list to a handful of my favorites is a task easier said than done. In compiling a list of just five horses that I’m particularly excited to see in action, I’ve had to leave off such established stars as Winx and Enable (which is painful, believe me!), but I hope the result is a slightly more unpredictable list highlighting a few less obvious horses to keep an eye on in 2019.
In alphabetical order, my five horses are….
Almond EyeI’ve already ranked Almond Eye as the best horse to race anywhere in the world during 2018, so suffice to say I’m eager to see what this sensational filly can accomplish as a four-year-old in 2019. The daughter of Lord Kanaloa effortlessly swept the Japan Filly Triple Crown and concluded the season with a world record-breaking run against older males in the Japan Cup (Jpn-I), a performance that has her connections targeting such prestigious international events as the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) for 2019.
Bricks and MortarI had Bricks and Mortar pegged as a potential star miler in the making following a productive three-year-old season in 2017, and on December 12th he returned from a 14 ½-month layoff to win a one-mile allowance race at Gulfstream Park in powerful fashion. Unleashing a sustained rally from mid-pack, Bricks and Mortar gamely reeled in the speedy Mr. Cub by a half-length while running the final quarter-mile in about :23 flat, an eye-catching performance off the long layoff. That’s a performance that Bricks and Mortar can build on in 2019, and in my opinion it’s just a matter of time before he scores a Grade 1 victory.
Cardiac KittenAfter waiting nearly two years for Cardiac Kitten to debut, I was delighted to see him finally reach the races on December 1 at Turfway Park, when he rallied from a few lengths off the pace to win a one-mile maiden special weight on Polytrack by 1 ¼ lengths. It might not have been a breathtaking performance, but this son of Kitten’s Joy is a full brother to the top grass performers Bobby’s Kitten and Camelot Kitten (two of my favorite runners from recent years), so I’m excited to see what Cardiac Kitten can achieve if he tackles turf in 2019.
Game WinnerWith three Grade 1 wins under his belt, including a hard-fought triumph with a poor trip in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, the stoutly-bred Game Winner has emerged as the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby. Trained by Bob Baffert, who will be shooting for a record-equaling sixth win in the Derby, Game Winner has talent coupled with an undeniable will to win, making this undefeated colt a star prospect for 2019.
NewspaperofrecordIn a freakish display of domination quite unlike anything I recall seeing from a two-year-old turf horse, Newspaperofrecord went unbeaten in three starts during 2018, winning a maiden race by 6 ¾ lengths, the Miss Grillo Stakes (gr. II) by 6 ½ lengths, and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. I) by 6 ¾ lengths. Newspaperofrecord was never remotely challenged at any point during the season, leaving me to wonder if we might be looking at a budding superstar in the making. If she comes back as good or better in 2019, we could see very special things from Newspaperofrecord—maybe even a victory in the Coronation Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot?
Which horses are you excited to see race in 2019?