by Dave Valento
It is widely considered the 2008 group of three-year olds is below par (besides Big Brown). Many feel that other than Curlin the older horses are pretty average, as well. With the nature of racing today, with horses running less and retiring early, it is hard to get a good gauge on the combined depth of horse quality until it has past us by. The racing year of 1987 might be the measuring stick when sizing up thoroughbred racing.
There were so many great horses running in 1987 that it is a bit mesmerizing. We may never again be so fortunate. Let’s look at some of the big names of that year:
– Alysheba ($6,679,242): Won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and was beaten a head in the Breeder’s Cup Classic. One of the greatest thoroughbreds ever.
– Bet Twice ($3,308,599): Won the Belmont by 10 lengths and the Haskell over Alysheba and Lost Code in one of the best races of the decade
– Forty Niner ($2,726,000): Two-year old champion of 1987. Was a force in 1988, winning the Travers that season.
There were other greats from that season. We at Canterbury really enjoyed equally great local running. We got to see Who Doctor Who ($813k). The “Doctor” won 33 of 64 starts in a legendary career. There was also Hoist Her Flag ($290k) as she was into her five-year old season in 1987. How about Turbo Launch? She broke her maiden at Canterbury in her first start by 15 lengths and later that season knocked off the highly touted California invader, Lost Kitty. Turbo Launch only raced 8 times (winning 4) in an injury shortened career. She may now be known best for being the granddam of Point Given. There were also names we’ll never forget like Charging Through, Forkintheroad, Staff Riot and John Bullit.
It was a year in racing (especially for Minnesota racing fans) that can be looked back on very fondly. Oh, did I mention the Minnesota Twins won the World Series in 1987?