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Best of Horse Racing for 2000-2009

Thoroughbred Race Horses

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2009 will close out the first decade of the new century, so it is time to look back and see who was the best horse racing had to offer over the last ten years. There have been many great race horses in that period, and it is hard to point to one as being the best of them all, since most never competed against each other or raced on different surfaces.

I have listed the 14 horses I selected in chronological order to show the progression through the decade, this does not indicate any other order and some were included more because of fan popularity.

Also check out the best Trainers and Jockeys of the past decade.

1. Tiznow

Tiznow
© Cindy Pierson Dulay
Tiznow is the only two-time Breeders' Cup Classic winner, was Champion 3-year-old and Horse of the Year in 2000, and Champion Older Male in 2001. He retired with 8 wins in 15 starts and earnings of over $6.4 million. He was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 2009 and is enjoying an excellent career at stud with stakes winning offspring such as Well Armed, Colonel John, Bear Now, Folklore, Tough Tiz’s Sis, Bullsbay, Da'Tara, Slew's Tizzy, Tizdejavu, and Informed. He would be an excellent choice for best race horse of the decade given his performance in the top ranks both on the track and as a stallion.

2. Azeri

Azeri
© Cindy Pierson Dulay
Azeri won the Breeders' Cup Distaff in 2000 and was named Champion Older Female in 2002, 2003, and 2004. She is also one of only a few females to win the Horse of the Year title, which she earned in 2002. She retired with 17 wins in 24 starts and over $4 million in earnings.

Azeri's first foal was sired by top stallion A.P. Indy, and was originally named Vallenzeri but was recently renamed Take Control. Azeri's owner Michael Paulson bought him back for a world record $7.7 million in the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale, but he was finally sold at the 2009 Keeneland April 2-year-olds in training sale for $1.9 million. Azeri herself was offered up for auction in January 2009 but was bought back by Paulson for $4.4 million.

3. Funny Cide

Funny Cide
© Cindy Pierson Dulay
Funny Cide was the popular New York-bred winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 2003. He missed the Triple Crown, finishing third in the Belmont Stakes but was still named Champion 3-year-old for 2003. As an older horse, he won the Jockey Club Gold Cup in 2004 and raced until age 7, when he retired with career earning of over $3.5 million. He is now a resident at the Kentucky Horse Park where his many fans can come and visit him.

4. Ghostzapper

Ghostzapper
© Walter Pitcher
Ghostzapper is the pick of many people for best race horse of the decade because of his blazing speed, earning a Beyer speed figure of as high at 128. In 2004, he was the Breeders' Cup Classic winner, Champion Older Male, and Horse of the Year in North American and was also the top ranked horse in the world that year. He also won the Vosburgh in 2003, the Woodward and Tom Fool in 2004 and the Metropolitan Mile in 2005, where he earned a Beyer figure of 123, but was retired afterwards when a hairline fracture was found in his left front ankle. He had 9 wins in 11 career starts with earnings of over $3.4 million. He stands at stud at Adena Springs in Lexington, KY, and his first offspring are 2-year-old in 2009.

5. Ouija Board

Ouija Board
© Terence Dulay
Ouija Board was the winner of the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf in 2004 and 2006, and was also second in 2005. She was named Champion Grass Female in 2004 and 2006 as well as European Horse of the Year those same years. Ouija Board won major races in other countries besides the United Stakes, such as the Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin, Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot, and the Irish Oaks at the Curragh. The British-bred mare retired with 10 wins in 22 starts with over $5.7 million in earnings for her owner Lord Derby, Edward Stanley. Her first foal, by sire Kingmambo, is named Voodoo Prince and was born in 2008 so won't race until at least 2010.

6. Smarty Jones

Smarty Jones
© Tina Hines
Smarty Jones was the winner of the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness who missed the Triple Crown when he finished second in the Belmont Stakes, his only career loss in 9 starts. The colt, who was named Champion 3-year-old Male in 2004, was very popular and gained a huge fan following not only from his racing success but his charismatic connections. He had to be retired after the Belmont Stakes due to chronic ankle problems and had total earnings of over $7.6 million. He currently stands at stud at Three Chimneys Farm in Lexington where he gets many vistors. His first foals are 2-year-olds in 2009 and he has already had several winners including the Grade 1 placed Be Smart who was second in the Darley Alcibiades Stakes at Saratoga.

7. Afleet Alex

Afleet Alex
© Cindy Pierson Dulay
Afleet Alex finished third in the 2005 Kentucky Derby and went on to win the Preakness, despite a near fall in the stretch, and Belmont Stakes. He became a fan favorite and was associated with the Alex's Lemonade Stand pediatric cancer charity with part of his earnings donated and lemonade stands raising money at his races. Afleet Alex had to be retired due to a hairline fracture in his left front leg found after a workout but possibly related back to the Preakness incident. He retired with 8 wins in 12 starts and earnings of over $2.7 million and was named Champion 3-year-old Male for 2005. He stands at stud at Gainesway Farm and his first foals are 2-year-olds in 2009, including Dublin winner of the Hopeful Stakes (G1) at Saratoga.

8. English Channel

English Channel
© Terence Dulay
English Channel was one of the top turf horses in 2005-2007, and was named Champion Turf Male of 2007. He had wins in the Virigina Derby, Colonial Turf Cup, United Nations (twice), Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (twice), and Breeders' Cup Turf. He retired with 13 wins from 23 career starts and earnings of over $5.1 million. He now stands at stud at Lane's End Farm in Versailles, KY, and his first foals were born in 2009.

9. Street Sense

Street Sense
© Cindy Pierson Dulay
Street Sense was the first colt to ever win both the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (2006) and the Kentucky Derby (2007), and he was named Champion 2-year-old Male for 2006. He also won the 2007 Jim Dandy and Travers and retired after a 4th place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic behind Curlin. He retired with 6 wins in 13 starts and earnings of over $4.3 million. He now stands at stud at Darley America in Lexington, KY, and his first foals were born in 2009.

10. Barbaro

Barbaro
© Cindy Pierson Dulay
Barbaro was the popular and tragic Kentucky Derby winner of 2006 who shattered his ankle in the Preakness and was eventually euthanized after an 8 month battle to recover. He won 6 of 7 lifetime starts with over $2.3 million in earnings and captured the hearts of racing fans everywhere with his will to survive.

On to page 2 for the last four horses.
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