Mucho Macho Man's Breeders' Cup Classic Win was voted "Moment of the Year." <br><a target="blank" href="!i=2886417538&k=4zKvpNR">Order This Photo</a>

Mucho Macho Man's Breeders' Cup Classic Win was voted "Moment of the Year."
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Skip Dickstein

Classic Win is Voted 'Moment of the Year'

Second in balloting for 2013 highlight was Paynter's winning return to racing.

A nose victory in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic by Mucho Macho Man  was voted by fans as the 2013 National Thoroughbred Racing Association's "Moment of the Year." (Watch the Race).

The results of the online poll were announced Jan. 17 at the second annual ThoroFan awards breakfast at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino in Hallandale Beach, Fla.

Mucho Macho Man, owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, went off at 4-1 in the Breeders' Cup Classic, a race he had finished second in the previous year. Jockey Gary Stevens, who earlier in 2013 had come back from seven years of retirement, urged Mucho Macho Man to the lead approaching the top of the stretch and saved enough to barely hold off late charges from Will Take Charge  and Declaration of War  in a wild three-horse photo finish.

With the win, Kathy Ritvo, a heart transplant recipient, became the first female trainer to win North America's richest race. She rewarded Patti and Dean Reeves for the faith they showed in both her and the popular hard-trying horse, who had never won a grade I event until the second half of 2013 despite several close tries.

Finishing second was Paynter  for his winning return to racing following a miraculous recovery from colitis and laminitis; the popular grade I winner's near-fatal illness topped the 2012 Moment of the Year voting.

Balloting was conducted at the NTRA website and the images and events that fans chose from (listed chronologically, with percentage of votes received, rounded to the nearest tenth of a percentage point) were:

Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens rides his first winner in North America since 2005 aboard Branding in the first race at Santa Anita Park. (1.2%)

Spicer Cub bolts around the parked starting gate along the outside rail and still nearly wins at Pimlico Race Course, losing by a nose.  (15.8%)

Orb  wins the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey and owners Stuart Janney III and Dinny Phipps. (5%)

Oxbow  wins the Preakness Stakes, giving Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas his sixth win in the Triple Crown's middle jewel and 50-year-old Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens his third. (3.5%)

Paynter, after battling back from life-threatening illness the year before, returns to the races to win an allowance at Betfair Hollywood Park. (18.3%)

Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze becomes the first North American rider to reach the 12,000-win milestone aboard Handful of Pearls at the Alameda County Fair at Pleasanton. (2.2%)

Ken & Sarah Ramsey win three major grade I turf stakesSecretariat (with Admiral Kitten), Sword Dancer (Big Blue Kitten ) and Arlington Million (Real Solution )at two different tracks in less than two hours. (4.2%)

Will Take Charge barely gets up to beat front-running Moreno by a nose in the $1 million Travers at Saratoga Race Course. (5.3%)

Retired jockey Ramon Dominguez is presented with the Mike Venezia Award, as well as the 2012 Eclipse Award trophy for Outstanding Jockey he was unable to accept last January, during a ceremony in the Saratoga winner's circle. (5%)

Mizdirection beats males in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IT) for the second straight year in her final career start. (3.2%)

Wise Dan wins the 2013 Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) for the second straight year, capping a season that will likely be recognized with a repeat Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year. (6.2%)

Mucho Macho Man wins the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic by a nose for jockey Gary Stevens, trainer Kathy Ritvo and owners Reeves Thoroughbred Racing. (30%)

"Mucho Macho Man's win in the Breeders' Cup was thrilling because it was a wild finish decided by a nose, but it was especially unforgettable because of the stories behind the horse," said Keith Chamblin, NTRA senior vice president. "Voting for the Moment of the Year was up more than 50% this year and the popularity of Mucho Macho Man and his connections are surely part of the reason."