By the time Arazi hit the eighth pole, five lengths in front, the crowd at the Downs was on its feet and roaring him home, and Paulson was chanting: "Come on, Arazi! Come on, Arazi!"
On he came. The final 70 yards, Valenzuela put a dab of mustard on the hot dog of the day, first glancing behind him and, seeing no shadows, standing up to slow the colt down. Arazi won it in a common canter, closer to a walk than a run, and still beat Bertrando by 4� lengths in 1:44[3/5]. It was a magnificent performance, and it left a host of witnesses rummaging through their memories for valid points of reference. "My horse is no quitter," said a disappointed Bruce Headley, Bertrando's trainer. "Arazi just ran by him. I've only seen Swaps and Secretariat do something like that."
No Breeders' Cup afternoon needed elevation more than this one. A week earlier, the 1�-mile Classic had loomed as a showdown battle for Horse of the Year honors between In Excess and Farma Way, two speed horses. But by Wednesday morning Farma Way had been withdrawn with a minor ankle injury, and Bruce Jackson, the trainer of In Excess, had opted to duck the Classic and enter his colt in the Breeders' Cup Mile on the turf, saying that In Excess would not last 10 furlongs over the tiring Churchill Downs racing strip. Any chance Jackson's colt had to be voted Horse of the Year, compromised when he pulled out of the Classic, collapsed entirely when In Excess faded badly in the Mile to finish in a dead heat for ninth, beaten seven lengths by Paulson's Opening Verse. Black Tie Affair, with no one seriously challenging him early, got loose on an easy lead and led all the way in the Classic to win by 1� lengths. He will undoubtedly draw support for Horse of the Year, as will the Canadian Triple Crown champion, the filly Dance Smartly, whose victory in the Distaff was her eighth straight this year without defeat.
Though there is no consensus on Horse of the Year, there should be, because one horse certainly deserves it above all others. Secretariat is the only horse in the modern era to have been unanimously voted Horse of the Year as a 2-year-old, and last Saturday millions witnessed a performance reminiscent of his brilliance and style. The Breeders' Cup is designed to be the ultimate battleground for champions, and this year it served its purpose well. The champion did not come out of the Classic, as most expected, but blew like a high wind right out of the Juvenile. Arazi is the best racehorse in America in 1991, and he is the Horse of the Year.