by Dean Hoffman
It was surely asking too much of the old horse. Yes, he was a wonder horse, but he was, after all, just flesh and blood. And he’d seen the starting almost 200 times in eight long seasons at the races. Those old legs had to be tired.
He’d been less than impressive at times early in the 2013 season. Was the old warrior finally slowing down? Was he finally losing a step or two? Most horses suffered such vulnerability at a much younger age.
In the Breeders Crown, the 9-year-old Foiled Again would be facing horses less than half his age. In contests where pure speed is essential, fortune favors the young. That is, except when Foiled Again is involved.
Foiled Again was already the reigning money champion in harness racing with a bankroll exceeding $5 million.
When the entries were drawn for the 2013 Breeders Crown, Foiled Again found himself facing a Murderers Row of rivals: Pet Rock, Sweet Lou, Bolt The Duer, Modern Legend, Golden Receiver, Michaels Power, Warrawee Needy, and Clear Vision.
They would surely all be blasting away from the start in a frantic race to get to the front and stay there. How could the old warrior possibly compete?
He could compete because he was Foiled Again and because he was getting hot as the weather was turning cold in the fall of 2013. He’d won three of his last four starts coming into the Breeders Crown. He was made the favorite by bettors who were so impressed by his recent form that they ignored his ancient age.
At the start, Golden Receiver sprinted to the front over a damp Pocono racing surface in a blazing :25.3. Foiled Again found no room along the inside and was parked out fifth. Things didn’t look good.
After the opening quarter, driver Yannick Gingras had little choice but to send Foiled Again up to challenge in an attempt to get the lead. But it wasn’t as easy task. He gritted his way to the front past the grandstand the first time but couldn’t clear to the inside.
He was on the lead—but still parked out—as the half-mile marker was passed in :53.4.
Parked to the half-mile in such a hot fraction? Few horses could overcome that grueling start.
But Foiled Again was still in front when the field passed the three-quarter pole. Not by much, but he was in front.
Foiled Again was still in front when the field turned into the stretch. Not by much, but he was in front.
And Foiled Again was still in front when the field reached the finish line. Not by much—only a nostril.
It was enough.
Where had Foiled Again found that courage and heart? Modern Legend looked as if he would pace right by Foiled Again with a quarter-mile remaining. Pet Rock mounted a similar threat in the stretch.
Foiled Again, however, simply had the “No Passing” sign up on this truly memorable Breeders Crown night with a 1:49.2 win.
You need look no further than this Breeders Crown moment to realize why Foiled Again is truly a great horse.