As the dust clears from the 2017 Breeders' Cup and the racing world's attention shifts to the 2017 Eclipse Awards, a lot of people are looking at the 3-year-old male category somewhat wistfully. For a couple of seasons, we were spoiled by Triple Crown trail stars like California Chrome and American Pharoah, but not every 3-year-old class has a standout.
This year, the default winner would appear to be Bob Baffert's West Coast, who did not run in the Kentucky Derby but found his feet in the summer and finished third in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
This had us wondering—where did the top finishers in the Triple Crown this year disappear to, anyway?
- Always Dreaming – After winning the roses as the betting favorite, this Todd Pletcher trainee seemed to fizzle out of the winning streak he was on in the Derby, finishing eighth in the Preakness, third in the G2 Jim Dandy, and ninth in the G1 Travers. Pletcher said after the Travers he was stumped by the horse's performance and sent him to WinStar Farm in Central Kentucky for examination. Shortly before the Breeders' Cup, the farm announced the son of Bodemeister had one of the worst cases of gastric ulcers Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital's Dr. Steve Reed had ever seen. Elliott Walden, president and CEO of WinStar, said the colt is recovering and is expected to resume training this winter and rejoin Pletcher's string at Palm Meadows.
- Lookin at Lee – The Steve Asmussen trainee finished second in the Derby, fourth in the Preakness, and third in the G3 West Virginia Derby before a disappointing tenth-place effort in the G1 Travers. Since August, the son of Lookin at Lucky has been on vacation at Rebecca Maker Equine Therapy in Central Kentucky. Asmussen said Lookin at Lee is scheduled to return to the barn Nov. 13. It's too early to commit to a next start, but Asmussen thinks he could appear at Oaklawn Park if all goes well.
“He's as cool as a horse can be and we're just excited to have him back in the barn,” Asmussen said.
- Battle of Midway – Anyone wondering what Battle of Midway was up to lately had their questions answered when he won the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said the colt was originally purchased for the Kentucky Derby and while his third-place finish was nothing to be embarrassed about, he realized in the Shared Belief Mile the horse wanted a shorter distance. Battle of Midway won by six, prompting Hollendorfer to focus on the Dirt Mile instead of the Classic. WinStar announced Battle of Midway will begin stud duties in the 2018 season.
- Classic Empire – The 2016 Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner was plagued by problems after running second in the Preakness. He got a hoof abscess and was scratched from the Belmont, then refused to train at Saratoga and was diagnosed with a back problem. He continued to battle more hoof issues through the fall. In October, his ownership announced he had been retired and would stand at Coolmore's Ashford Stud in Central Kentucky.
- Practical Joke – Also shortened up for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, where he was fourth behind Battle of Midway. Earned his third Grade 1 win last summer in the H. Allen Jerkens at Saratoga as betting favorite over Takaful and American Anthem.
- Cloud Computing – After winning the Preakness in his fourth career start, the Chad Brown trainee was somewhat disappointing in subsequent starts, coming in fifth in the G2 Jim Dandy and eighth in the G1 Travers. After a September workout, he was found to have a chip in his front ankle. His connections announced he would have the chip removed and spend the fall recuperating before resuming training over the winter for a 4-year-old campaign.
- Senior Investment – Still in training after switching surfaces. The son of Discreetly Mine was fifth in the Belmont, then tried turf in the G1 Belmont Derby Invitational, where he was tenth. Trainer Ken McPeek sent him north for the G3 Ontario Derby over synthetic, where he finished fourth. The colt worked a bullet at Belmont Park on Nov. 2 – on the dirt.
- Gunnevera – The Antonio Sano trainee was back in the winner's circle in August for the Tangelo Stakes at Gulfstream, was second in the Travers but finished fifth in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
- Tapwrit – After finishing fourth in the Travers, Tapwrit's connections announced he had shed the frog from his right front foot in the race. Eclipse Thoroughbreds' Aron Wellman reported recently the colt is healing well and enjoying daily turnout at Bridlewood Farm in Ocala, Fla.
“Tapwrit is in great condition and in high spirits,” Wellman said. “We absolutely intend for him to race in 2018 and he will likely return to Todd Pletcher at his winter base at Palm Beach Downs sometime around the first of the year.”
- Irish War Cry – Finished second in the Belmont and fourth in the Haskell but has been on the shelf since an eighth in the G1 Pennsylvania Derby. Trainer Graham Motion said Irish War Cry has been on layup near Motion's Fair Hill base and is expected to resume training over the winter with Motion's Florida string.
- Patch – Everyone's favorite one-eyed Kentucky Derby contender was 14th in the Run for the Roses but third in the Belmont. After a fourth-place run in the Grade 3 West Virginia Derby in early August, the Todd Pletcher charge resumed training at Belmont Park in the fall. He has since taken a vacation at Calumet Farm. Pletcher expects the son of Union Rags will mount a 4-year-old campaign and should be back in the barn soon to resume training.
- Gormley – After a fourth place run in the Shared Belief Stakes, the son of Malibu Moon was retired to Spendthrift Farm, where he will be part of the Share The Upside program in 2018. Gormley's fee will be $10,000 for non-Share The Upside breedings.
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