By Gene Kershner
There's a bit of a lull in the schedule for the holidays and it’s not quite time to post my ballot for the Eclipse Awards, so instead I’ll share my annual racing candy bar awards for 2012.
We're giving away candy bars to our favorite horses, jockeys and trainers, whether they won a Breeders’ Cup race or not complete with the theory behind each winner’s candy bar award. So let's get after it....because sometimes you feel like a nut…
Reggie Bar. We give the Reggie Bar to Archwarrior. There was lots of hype, but not too much substance for the juvenile who was billed as the next coming of Secretariat.
Kit Kat. It was a rough year for the Cat horses, usually dominated by Storm Cat and Kitten’s Joy progeny. We had to search long and hard to find Csaba, who won three stakes races at Calder, including the Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper Handicap. We’ll give this Kitten’s Joy 3-year old the nod.
Snickers. There were some great names during 2012 that entered the racing scene, but none were better than Notacatbutallama. C’mon that made you snicker, just a little, right?
Everlasting Gobstopper. This one has to go to the winner of The Test of a Champion, the Belmont Stakes victor Union Rags, who gets this long-lasting candy hands down. The horse winning the year’s toughest race matches up perfectly with the gobstopper.
Ghirardelli White Chocolate bars. I used to love when they called Jason Williams, "White Chocolate" on the hoops floor. Since no white horse established him or herself during the 2012 racing campaign, we’ll give this one to the white-haired Bob Baffert. After surviving a heart attack in Dubai before the World Cup, he returned with a couple of prized 3-year olds, Bodemeister and Paynter, who collectively ran second in all three classic races and won the Haskell, which was a record sixth time for Baffert! He gets the Ghirardelli white chocolate laurels.
Oh Henry. We'll give one of these to The Lumber Guy, for being a war horse along the lines of Hank Aaron. The New York-bred gave us a tremendous season winning the Grade 1 Vosburgh and the Grade 2 Jerome and running a respectable second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint behind Trinniberg. His connections were not afraid to run him against the best and he definitely brought the lumber like Hammerin’ Hank.
Baby Ruth. I’ll Have Another gains a Baby Ruth bar for his Derby/Preakness double. Winning the Preakness in Baltimore, the Babe's hometown, put him over the top.
$100,000 bar (aka 100 Grand Bar). We'll just award this one to trainer Todd Pletcher for winning another Saratoga training title and crushing it with 23 juvenile winners in 67 starts at the Spa meet. That’s 34 percent winners and 58 percent ITM (in the money) resulting in a $2.42 ROI (return on investment).
Heath Bar. Made with old English toffee...we'll send one of these to super-horse Frankel, it just seems right, doesn't it?
Payday. The richest race in North America, the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic went to Fort Larned, who grabs the Payday bar award. He won the Classic holding off Mucho Macho Man in the stretch to collect the big check.
Clark Bar. That’s an easy one. The Clark Handicap went to none other than Shackleford in his final career race. I’ve been a big fan of the Shack since seeing him in the paddock on Derby day 2011, and he has not disappointed since.
York Pepperment Patty. The king of the New York racing colony is as cool a customer as those minty patties are in your mouth. Ramon Dominguez garners this candy bar award as the top jockey in the land.
Whoppers. Louisiana Derby winner Hero of Order lit up the tote board at the Fair Grounds at 109-1, paying $220.80 for the win. Need I say more?
Wonka Bar. Who's got a golden ticket? Travers dead-heater Golden Ticket wins this one hands down.
So that's a wrap for this year's candy bar awards, next week we’ll treat you to the annual “It’s a Racing Festivus” column.