May 23, 2022

Hanson: Horses I’m most looking forward to watching in 2019

Roy H sails home at Churchill Downs under jockey Paco Lopez for his second straight Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) on November 3, 2018 (c) Cecilia Gustavsson/Horsephotos.com

The new year is only a few days away, and there’s a lot of great racing action to look forward to in 2019. There’s also more than a few racing stars throughout the world that will be sticking around to build on their reputations.

Here’s a brief list of horses I’m most looking forward to seeing in action in the coming 12 months.

Roy H

No horse in U.S. racing history has earned more than two consecutive sprint championships, but this gelding could enter the record books at age seven with another stellar campaign. Expect to see just enough of him before he takes a shot at a third consecutive TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), this time over his home track of Santa Anita.

Elate

Infirmities limited the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro to just two starts in 2018, an impressive win in the 1 1/4-mile Delaware H. (G2) off an eight-month layoff and a narrow, controversial neck loss to Abel Tasman in the Personal Ensign (G1). It also cost her a chance at an Eclipse Award in a division that lacked clarity at season’s end. The older dirt female division figures to go through Monomoy Girl and this gal.

Instagrand

Connections took an unconventional approach after he won his first two starts by a combined margin of 20 1/4 lengths, shutting him down in order to gear up for a three-year-old campaign. Hard to say how the Best Pal (G2) winner would have fared in the longer and more prestigious juvenile events, but we’ll find out in early 2019 whether he can stretch his speed a distance of ground as he limbers up for the Kentucky Derby (G1).

Too Darn Hot

England’s juvenile champion showed an amazing turn of foot to reel off four consecutive wins, three of which came in the Solario (G3), Champagne (G2), and Dewhurst (G1). Considered by some as one of the more exciting 2000 Guineas (G1) prospects in years, it remains to be seen whether he’ll stretch out much beyond a mile. Along with Enable, one of many that brought a smile to the face of trainer John Gosden this year and may continue to do so going forward.

Sea of Class

After a tough draw, it was brutal to see this three-year-old filly come up a neck short against Enable in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1). It was only the sixth start in less than six months for the daughter of Sea the Stars, who notched the Irish Oaks (G1) and Yorkshire Oaks (G1) before her photo-finish loss at Longchamp. It could be another year of fillies and mares being dominant in Europe, and hopefully she’ll play a primary role for trainer William Haggas.