BY Dick Jerardi
No racing for three months. No open stakes. No Kentucky Derby Day in May.
Since March, nothing has been as normal about 2020 at Parx, with even some carryover from 2019.
We all missed the annual Awards Night in March at Celebrations to acknowledge the best horses to run at the track the previous year. The good news is those horses and their connections are still going to be honored with a day at the track (date to be determined) and video tributes to the winners in all the categories.
The voting has been done, but the winners have not yet been revealed. Most of them are fairly obvious, none more so than 2019 Horse of the Year. It has to be Spun to Run, the 3-year-old colt that completely dominated some of the fastest horses in the world when he blew away the competition in the Nov. 2 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita.
Racing for owner Robert Donaldson and trained expertly at Parx by Carlos Guerrero, Spun to Run was being pointed for the Preakness in the spring until he was sidelined for several months due to an entrapped epiglottis.
Outfitted with blinkers for his comeback, Spun to Run ran third behind Maximum Security in the Haskell Invitational before winning the Grade III Smarty Jones Stakes on that memorable Labor Day when Smarty Jones returned to the track for the first time in 15 years. It was the first graded stakes win of Guerrero’s career, but it was just the appetizer.
After finishing fifth in a strangely-run Pennsylvania Derby, Spun to Run blew away the best older horses at the track in the M.P. Ballezzi Appreciation Mile. That effort was so good that it was decided the ship Spun to Run west for the Breeders’ Cup. He was 9-1, but ran like 1-9, getting the lead immediately and winning convincingly over heavily-favored Omaha Beach, giving Guerrero his first Grade I win.
Spun to Run finished off his season with a strong second to eventual 3-year-old champion Maximum Security in the Grade I Cigar Mile at Aqueduct. All told, Spun to Run won five races and $1,140,660 in 2019. Five of his races and four of his wins were at Parx.
In addition to Parx Horse of the Year, Spun to Run will almost be named top 3-year-old colt or gelding.
There were so many fascinating categories, but none more fascinating than the 2-year-old colts or geldings. What a powerhouse group that includes Monday Morning QB, Johnny Ritt, Ny Traffic and Vanzzy.
Ny Traffic was second by a nose in the Haskell and will run in the Kentucky Derby. Vannzy won the Jersey Derby. The 2020 races, of course, don’t count towards 2019 awards, but it will be interesting to see how the voters looked at the 2-year-old males and all the other categories, including top 2-year-filly, 3-year-old filly, 4-year-old and up males, 4-year-old and up females, outstanding claim and top claiming horse.