On Saturday at Belmont, Life At Ten finished last by almost 21 lengths in the race that she won last year by two. She was part of what made that Belmont Saturday super in 2010, and that Beldame was the last time she was in the winner’s circle.
I’m sure that I saw Life At Ten race before the Rare Treat in 2010, but if I did, I don’t remember it. I remember being arrested by her at Aqueduct that day, though, arrested by her presence in the paddock. In a post I wrote for February 21 that year, I called her a “stunning chestnut”: “…when I went to the paddock, she was the horse who caught my eye: big, dappled, graceful.”
And I wasn’t the only one. Jockey Richard Migliore, who rode her to a 5 ¼ length victory that day in his only ride on her, said after the race that being on her was like “going horseback riding.” “If a horse ever tells you in the warm-up, ‘I’m ready to run,’ she did today,” said Migliore. “That was fun.”
Before that race, Life At Ten’s record was 10-3-5-1; after, she won three of her next four races, all comfortably, all graded stakes, two Grade 1’s. One of those races was the Ogden Phipps at Belmont, on a day when I had a party in one of the picnic areas at the top of the stretch. She was on the lead the whole way, and we watched her come around that wide turn, using her unrivaled speed, having run three quarters of a mile in 1:08.40, and we wondered…could she hold on?
She could, and it was breathtaking.
She came to Saratoga that summer and took on Rachel Alexandra in the Personal Ensign, took her on through a mile and wouldn’t let her go, losing both the battle and the war, finishing a distant third behind the reigning Horse of the Year and the winner, Persistently.
She came back to Belmont, the track she loved, to be one of Super Saturday’s headliners, and she didn’t disappoint.
She was a star, and we talked about her and Unrivaled Belle like we talk about Blind Luck and Havre de Grace. I couldn’t wait to see their rematch in the Distaff in the Breeders’ Cup.
We all know what happened, and I’ve no desire to re-hash it here. She gave us an unbelievable year: from November 2009 to October 2010, she made eight starts and won seven of them. She was one of my favorite, favorite things about racing last year. Whether I saw her in a stall, during a workout, or on the racetrack, she always made me stop and watch, and I always had the same reaction that I did the first time I saw her: stunning.
In this post, Richard Migliore talks about riding Life At Ten in the Rare Treat.