It was not a racing year that was much unlike any other. Monarchos was far from the betting choice back in May at Churchill Downs, but nevertheless, he would unseat the heavy favorite and find his way into the winner's circle, where he was showered with roses. The public remained loyal to their big gun from the big barn, though, and they were handsomely rewarded as Point Given, piloted by jockey Gary Stevens, went on to capture both the 2001 Preakness and Belmont Stakes. It was a scenario that had been seen before, and certainly one that would be played out again. The underdog had won the battle, but the king had gone on to win the war. As the allure of the three-year-old thoroughbred campaign faded from the headlines, fans were eagerly anticipating the Breeders' Cup, scheduled for late October at Belmont Park in New York.
One year earlier, Giant's Causeway, Fusaichi Pegasus, and Lemon Drop Kid squared off in the Breeders' Cup Classic, yet it was an unlikely three-year-old named Tiznow that would triumph over that field. The dark brown colt, sired by Cee's Tizzy, was welcomed back to Belmont Park in 2001 to defend his title. It was a most daunting challenge, though. Not only had a horse never been a repeat winner of the Classic, no horse had ever won the race twice. Challengers included the likes of such accomplished thoroughbreds as Sakhee, Aptitude, Galileo, and Macho Uno. In the end, it was Tiznow that would once again be be victorious in the long drive to the wire, this time edging out Sakhee. It was the story that was meant to be written. The king of the Classic had returned and had gone on to win the war. He was the public's hope that became America's champion. He was a horse that knew no other way.
Looking back some twelve years later, little has changed. The Kentucky Derby still offers its updated version of heavy favorites and wild long shots. Gary Stevens continues to weave spells and find ways to win Triple Crown races, and America is as united a country today as it was back in September of 2001. This harmony is unfortunately forgotten from time to time, but in the face of extreme adversity, we are continually reminded that falling is not an option, for united as a nation we will always stand.