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2023 Year in Review

horse racing
Cody's Wish is a sentimental choice for Horse of the Year for 2023.

Major Races in 2023

 Romantic Warrior wins the 2023 Longines Hong Kong Cup
 Junko victorious in the 2023 Longines Hong Kong Vase
 Golden Sixty takes the 2023 Longines Hong Kong Mile
 Lucky Sweynesse wins the 2023 Longines Hong Kong Sprint
 Surge Capacity wins the Matriarch Stakes (G1)
 2023 Cigar Mile (G2) Day
 Easter gets up in the Seabiscuit Handicap (G2)
 Flag Of Honour flies high in the Kennedy Road Stakes (G2)
 Chancery Road wins the Betty Grable Stakes
 Saturday at the Breeders' Cup Part 1
 Saturday at the Breeders' Cup Part 2
 Future Stars Friday at the Breeders' Cup
 Fev Rover wins the E.P. Taylor Stakes(G1)
 Jockey Club Derby Day
 Woodward Stakes Day
 Master of the Seas sails home in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile (G1)
 Summer (G1) and Natalma Stakes (G1)
 Velocitor fastest in the Prince of Wales Stakes
 Runhappy Del Mar Futurity (G1) Day
 FanDuel Racing Del Mar Debutante (G1) Day
 Pacific Classic Day at Del Mar
 Arcangelo triumphant in the Travers (G1)
 Travers Day Undercard Stakes
 2023 Woodbine Sales Stakes Day
 Anarchist wins the Pat O'Brien Stakes (G2)
 Paramount Prince crowned in the 2023 King's Plate
 King's Plate undercard stakes
 Anisette tops in the Del Mar Oaks (G1)
 Prince of Monaco rolls in the Best Pal Stakes (G3)
 Adare Manor rules in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1)
 San Diego Handicap Day at Del Mar
 2023 Woodbine Oaks Day
 Anisette wins the San Clemente Stakes (G2)
 Geaux Rocket Ride upsets in the Haskell Stakes (G1)
 2023 Haskell Day Undercard Stakes
 Pipit romps in the Victoria Stakes
 Canada Day Racing Festival at Woodbine
 Arcangelo wins the 2023 Belmont Stakes
 Belmont Undercard Stakes Results
 2023 Belmont Festival Friday Stakes Results
 Eclipse (G2) and Pink Lloyd Stakes
 Royal North (G2) and Belle Mahone (G3) Stakes
 Hollywood Gold Cup Day at Santa Anita
 National Treasure holds on in the Preakness (G1)
 Preakness Undercard Stakes Results
 Black-Eyed Susan Day Results
 Man O'War (G1), Peter Pan (G3), and Runhappy Stakes (G3)
 Mage a magical winner in the 2023 Kentucky Derby (G1)
 Kentucky Derby Undercard Stakes Results
 Pretty Mischievous wins the 2023 Kentucky Oaks (G1)
 Kentucky Oaks Undercard Stakes Results
 2023 Woodbine Opening Day
 Santa Anita Derby (G1) Day Part 1
 Santa Anita Derby (G1) Day Part 2
 Lord Miles upsets in the Wood Memorial (G2)
 Wood Memorial (G2) Day Continues
 Forte wins the Florida Derby (G1)
 Jeff Ruby Steaks day at Turfway Park
 Ushba Tesoro wins the Dubai World Cup (G1)
 Tampa Bay Derby Day
 Santa Anita Handicap Day
 Gotham (G3) Stakes Day at Aqueduct
 Japan rules on Saudi Cup Day
 Art Collector perfect in the Pegasus World Cup (G1)
 Atone wins the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1)
 Pegasus World Cup Undercard Stakes
 2023 Mohawk Million Night
 2023 Pepsi North America Cup Night

Date: 12/31/2023

As everyone celebrates the holidays, it is time to bid farewell to 2023 and the exciting racing which we enjoyed, however much like at the end of 2022, many of us are glad to be done with 2023. This year had some outstanding horses and great feats by both equine and human athletes, but we also had some sad losses to mourn, especially this year for us. Here's a look back at the best and worst of the 2023 racing season.

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Art Collector winning the Pegasus World Cup Invitational
The first big day of racing in 2023 is the Pegasus World Cup Invitational, run at Gulfstream Park for a $3 million purse, unchanged since the reduction in 2020. 15-1 shot Art Collector romped by 4 1/2 lengths over Defunded, with Stilleto Boy third and favorite Cyberknife sixth. The co-feature saw 4-1 Atone rally past Ivar in the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf, with Speaking Scout third and favorite City Man last.

The $20 million Saudi Cup on February 25 is world's richest horse race, contested at 1 1/8 miles on dirt. Japanese invader Panthalassa held off Country Grammer with Cafe Pharoah third and favorite Taiba 8th. On the undercard, Silver Sonic won the $2.5 million Red Sea Turf Handicap, Elite Power won the $1.5 million Riyadh Dirt Sprint, Bathrat Leon won the $1.5 million 1351 Turf Sprint, Mostahdaf won the $1.5 million Neom Turf Cup, and Commissioner King took the $1.5 million Saudi Derby.
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Ushba Tesoro winning the Dubai World Cup

A month later the eyes of the racing world moved further east on the Arabian Peninsula to Meydan for the Dubai World Cup. Ushba Tesoro won the headliner with Yuga Kawada aboard for trainer Noboru Takagi. On the undercard, Lord North held off Danon Beluga to win his third Dubai Turf, Equinox won the Sheema Claasic, Sibelius took the Golden Shaheen, and Derma Sotogake won the UAE Derby.

Mage wins the Kentucky Derby
At the Kentucky Derby, 23 horses made final entry but an unprecedented five scratched out. 15-1 Mage outfinished Two Phil's to win by a length with favorite Angel of Empire third. Two weeks later at the Preakness, 11-2 second choice National Treasure (who skipped the Derby) outfinished Blazing Sevens with Mage third. Arcangelo took the Belmont Stakes, with favorite Forte second and Tapit Trice third. Jena Antonucci became the first female trainer to win a Triple Crown race.

Paramount Prince wins the King's Plate
The Canadian Triple Crown begins in mid August, a change retained since COVID restrictions in 2020, a decision that didn't sit well with some (see below). After the passing of Queen Elizabeth II last September, Canada's signature race was again run as the King's Plate, won by 8-1 Paramount Prince under Patrick Husbands for trainer Mark Casse, with Elysian Field second, Stanley House third, and favorite Kalik 13th in the maximum 17 horse field. In the Prince of Wales Stakes Kevin Attard trainee Velocitor and jockey Justin Stein held off Kaukokaipuu by a length with Paramount Prince third. With no Triple Crown on the line, Touch'n Ride won the Breeders' Stakes for jockey Kazushi Kimura and trainer Layne Giliforte, with Elysian Field second and Two Way Crossing third.

White Abarrio winning the Breeders' Cup Classic
The Breeders' Cup World Championships were held at Santa Anita in Arcadia, California for a record eleventh time. The 40th Breeders' Cup kicked off with "Future Stars Friday" featuring all the 2-year-old races, starting with the Juvenile Turf Sprint won by Big Evs with Tom Marquand in the irons. Fierceness won the feature, the Juvenile, making him an early choice for the 2024 Kentucky Derby. Saturday was highlighted by the Classic, where favorite White Abarrio and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. held off Derma Sotogake with Proxy third, marking a triumphant return to the winner's circle for reinstated trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. Favorite Auguste Rodin won the Turf with jockey Ryan Moore, defeating Up to the Mark and Shahryar. Idiomatic and jockey Florent Geroux won the Distaff over Randomized and Le Da Vida. Earlier on the card, Inspiral won the Filly and Mare Turf with Frankie Dettori aboard, over Warm Heart and Moira. Elite Power repeated as the Sprint champion, over Gunite and Nakatomi; similarly Cody's Wish repeated as the Dirt Mile champion, just 2 days before his namesake and biggest fan Cody Dorman passed away. The Championships will return to Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in San Diego County, California for the next two years: November 1-2, 2024 and October 31-November 1, 2025.

The 2023 racing season will unfortunately be remembered for an unusually high number of equine fatalities at high profile racing events. Derby Week at Churchill Downs saw seven horses lose their lives, leading to the temporary suspension of trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. (who trained 2 of the horses), and after the death toll reached 12 for the meeting, the latter part of the meet was moved to Ellis Park. The Preakness wasn't spared either as Bob Baffert trained Havnameltdown broke down during the Chick Lang Stakes on the undercard and had to be euthanized on the track. Geaux Rocket Ride, a contender for the Breeders' Cup Classic, was euthanized 4 days after sustaining an injury during a workout, and then Tuesday morning of Championship week, Dirt Mile entrant Practical Move collapsed and died due to a suspected cardiac event after a gallop. 2023 was also the first full year of American horse racing being (mostly) conducted under the new Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA), which some horse people (especially in Texas and Louisiana) are against. After Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint entrant Givemethebeatboys was scratched by the veterinarians under the new HISA rules, trainer Jessica Harrington expressed she may not want to ship her horses over in future. As for the story from 2021 that seems to never end, Churchill Downs Inc. extended its suspension of trainer Bob Baffert through the end of 2024. We suspect this will reappear in this space next year as well.
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Down the stretch in the 2023 Preakness Stakes

There were announcements from Stronach Group about possibly running the Preakness 4 weeks after the Derby, given the poor field sizes the race has attracted in recent years, citing horse safety as a reason, however NYRA rebuffed them saying they have no plans to move the Belmont. On that note, New York racing will look very different in 2024 and 2025, with no racing conducted at Belmont Park as the aging facility gets rebuilt. The Belmont Stakes will instead be run at Saratoga, at a reduced distance of 1 1/4 miles. North of the border, the owners of Fort Erie Racetrack filed a complaint against Woodbine with the Canadian Trade Commission for a number of grievances, not the least of which is the scheduling of the King's Plate in August instead of its usual late June or early July, meaning Fort Erie's signature race, the Prince of Wales, has to be run in mid September, after the peak tourism season in Niagara Region has ended, leading to poor attendance and handle. (It also does not help that the race is run on a Tuesday afternoon). In addition Woodbine has a horse shipping policy restricting movement between the tracks, and has increased purses in lower level claiming events, a move Fort Erie calls predatory.

horse racing
Romantic Warrior wins the Longines Hong Kong Cup
Foreign racing continues to attract more and more attention in North America with increased availability of betting outlets and TV coverage. In the Melbourne Cup, the "race that stops a nation", 7-1 Without a Fight won by 2 lengths over Soulcombe and Sheraz with Mark Zahra aboard for trainers Anthony and Sam Freedman, with favorite Vauban 14th. The year closed out with the Longines Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin. 6-5 favorite and defending champion Romantic Warrior rallied to win the Hong Kong Cup by a head over Luxembourg and Hishi Iguazu, with James McDonald aboard for trainer Danny Shum. Junko took the Vase for jockey Maxime Guyon and trainer Andre Fabre. Lucky Sweynesse won the Sprint for local trainer Manfred Man and jockey Zac Purton, over Lucky With You and Wellington. 6-5 favorite Golden Sixty won his third Mile over Voyage Bubble with Namur third, under regular rider Vincent Ho for trainer Francis Lui.

Equinox, earlier mentioned as the Dubai Sheema Classic winner, completed a perfect 4 for 4 season adding wins in the Takarazuka Kinen, Tenno Sho Autumn, and Japan Cup, retiring to stud as the best Flat horse in the world by Timeform with his whopping 136 rating, tied with El Condor Pasa as the highest rated Japanese horse ever. Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and Prix du Jockey Club winning 3-year-old Ace Impact (rated 133), trained by Jean-Claude Rouget for owners Gousserir Racing and Serge Stempniak, was named the 2023 Cartier Horse of the Year, the biggest year-end award in Europe, edging out Paddington, Auguste Rodin, and Mostahdaf.

Of course, with all the excitement and joy the sport brings, there are always losses each year. Many horses lost their lives due to injury while others succumbed to illness or old age. This year was especially difficult for us with the passing of our photographer and close personal friend Vanessa Ng in March. She was a valued member of our team for 17 years. We also lost fellow Woodbine based photographer John Watkins in August. Here are some of the notable losses in 2023, both human and equine, with links to articles about each. If we missed someone, please let us know.







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Broadway Hall

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Tom's Ready

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Winter Memories

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Burt Bacharach

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Brereton Jones

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Vanessa Ng

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Jonathan Sheppard
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Ralph Ziadie

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Art Collector

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Awesome Feather

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Discreet Cat

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Funny Cide

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Fusaichi Pegasus

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Geaux Rocket Ride

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Havre de Grace

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Lion Heart

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Maple Leaf Mel

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New York Thunder

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Point Given

As other places put their year end recaps online, I will add links to them here.

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Stakes Racing in 2023 - from Pensylvania Horse Racing Association

  • Review 2023 - for Ireland and the UK from Irish Field Back to Horse-Races.Net main page

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    ©1994-2024,  Cindy Pierson Dulay   Privacy Policy   About Us   Search   Site Map   Add a Link   Advertisee   Suggest to a friend   RSS Feed   Follow on Twitter