Diamonds in the rough
A year ago, few people had even heard of I'll Have Another. He had won his debut and finished second in the Best Pal Stakes, but then he did a bellyflop in the Hopeful, finishing sixth, 19 lengths behind Currency Swap. And so with Union Rags, Creative Cause and Hansen out there, sparkling in the public eye, I'll Have Another was easy to overlook. A year ago, Paynter had yet to race, and Bodemeister, despite his 21 workouts, still wasn't ready for prime time.And yet they became, along with Union Rags, the season's top 3-year-olds. But that has become the norm for 3-year-olds, many of the division's leaders emerging from the ranks of the unheralded and the unknown. Animal Kingdom, Shackleford, Big Brown and Drosselmeyer all won at 2, but did little else, their maiden victories encapsulating their juvenile accomplishments. Bernardini and Summer Bird didn't even race at 2, didn't race, in fact until March of their 3-year-old seasons. But they all won a Triple Crown race -- or, in Big Brown's case, two Triple Crown races. Animal Kingdom, Big Brown, Bernardini and Summer Bird all became champion.
But what about the outliers? What about all the talent that's lurking?