Triple Crown Success Pushes Point Given to the Top

Triple Crown Success Pushes Point Given to the Top
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Point Given was admired by just about everyone associated with horse racing in 2001. Turf writers were at a loss for adjectives and handicappers returned to the old adage, "If you can't beat him, join him," making him the betting favorite in all seven of his starts. Even casual racing fans got excited about the horse affectionately called "The Big Red Train" and went in droves to local tracks for a chance to watch racing's newest superstar.

Point Given ended the season as the lone unanimous selection in Eclipse Award balloting as North America's top 3-year-old male. He also beat out defending Horse of the Year and 2001 champion older male Tiznow and champion 2-year-old male Johannesburg for Horse of the Year honors. Point Given was a finalist in the 2-year-old male category in 2000, but finished second in the voting behind Macho Uno, who defeated him by a nose in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I).

The horse that captured the public's imagination, drawing record crowds to Monmouth Park and Saratoga, and all-time high attendance for the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) in a non-Triple Crown year, was retired from racing in late August due to a strained tendon in his left foreleg.

Point Given retired with nine wins from 13 starts and earnings of $3,968,500 and became the first horse in history to capture four consecutive $1-million races. He was bred and owned by The Thoroughbred Corp. of Saudi Prince Ahmed Salman, who was a finalist for both outstanding owner and breeder of 2001.

Following Point Given's retirement, he was syndicated for $50 million--the second-highest price in history--and enters stud in 2002 at Mr. and Mrs. Robert N. Clay's Three Chimneys Farm near Midway, Ky., where he will stand for an initial fee of $125,000 live foal.

The towering chestnut colt began his 3-year-old season with a 2 1/4-length win in the San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) and then cruised to a 5 1/2-length win in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) before heading to Kentucky to contest the Run for the Roses.

Point Given entered the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) as the 9-5 favorite but finished a well-beaten fifth behind Monarchos after chasing a fast early pace.

Trainer Bob Baffert shook off the upsetting Derby defeat and sent Point Given to Baltimore for the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), where he was narrowly favored over Monarchos at 2-1. Point Given made easy work of the Preakness field and crossed the wire 2 1/4 lengths ahead of his nearest rival, A P Valentine.

And then it was on to New York for the rubber match with Monarchos, who was sixth in the Preakness. In the Belmont, Point Given, who was sent off as the 6-5 favorite, completed a half in :48 before clocking the next two quarters in under :24 to reach the mile marker in a brisk 1:35.56. After that, the big red train took complete control, completing the 1 1/2-mile distance in 2:26.56 and 12 1/4 lengths ahead of A P Valentine, with Monarchos in third.

After winning two-thirds of the Triple Crown and leaving a lot of racing fans saying "what if," Point Given headed to the Jersey Shore for the Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I), whose purse was increased by $500,000 to a record $1.5 million. On Haskell day, 47,127 people packed Monmouth Park to get a look at the dual Classic winner, and in turn bet him down to 3-10. When the gates opened, Point Given and regular rider Gary Stevens settled into fifth, about five lengths off the early pace, and were content to stay there until approaching the final turn. Point Given didn't show his usual acceleration, after missing 10 days of training because of cracked heels, but he managed to get the job done, hitting the front in the final yards to win by a half-length over Touch Tone.

His victory in the Travers Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga was his ninth in 13 starts, and fourth consecutive grade I triumph. He received a Beyer Speed Figure of 117 in the Travers, his career best. Point Given took the mid-summer derby by 3 1/2 lengths over E Dubai in what would be his last start.

A son of Kentucky Derby-Belmont winner and 2001 leading sire Thunder Gulch, Kentucky-bred Point Given was produced from the Turkoman mare Turko's Turn.

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