(Charlatan winning the G1 Malibu / Photo Courtesy of Santa Anita)

It’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s. A week that normally gets lost between Big Event and Big Event. A week that is reserved for happy times and hangovers. (And, the hangovers could be defined as the “Uncle Eddy’s” that are not departing quick enough.) A week that we can use for reflections as much as for resolutions.

So, we are going to do a bit of both:

Some reflections.

Some resolutions.

Here’s our thoughts for the day.

Number One:

Charlatan will not be the “Horse of the Year,” and cannot be the “3-Year-Old Horse of the Year,” either. Those honors will be reserved and preserved for Charlatan’s roommate in the barn of Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert. Those prestigious titles will go to Authentic, who has earned the laurels on the racetrack, too.

And, there is no argument on this possible argument.

After all, Authentic did win the most difficult Kentucky Derby in the past 146 years. The sport’s most prestigious and time-honored race was moved from the first Saturday in May to the first Saturday in September, and Authentic managed to win it, despite the hoopla and the hype that the media bestowed on a horse that supposedly couldn’t lose — Tiz the Law. All Authentic did was win. All Tiz the Law did was lose.

If that wasn’t enough, Authentic ended the 2020 racing year with a handsome win in the Breeders’ Cup  Classic — beating Tiz the Law soundly, again, and a group of elders that were well-respected, if not considered super stars.

Racing’s bling was bought. Authentic would wear the titles and the rings. No doubts.

But truth be known?

I still think Charlatan is the better horse. The better 3YO. The better runner. The best.

On Saturday, Charlatan proved his worth and his style by over-powering a worthy field in the G1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita. It was a butt-kicking performance. It was a virtuoso on dirt. It was a masterpiece.

And, it was Charlatan’s 4th powerful win in just 4 tries.

Never seriously challenged.

Never seriously threatened.

Never in doubt.

He was a winner. Again.

First win in February — by 53/4 lengths — over a good one in Shooters Shoot.

Second win in March — by 101/4 lengths — over a good one in Rushie.

Third win in May — in the G1 Arkansas Derby by 6 lengths — over a few good ones.

Fourth win on Saturday — in the G1 Malibu by an easy 41/2 lengths — over the likes of Nashville, Independence Hall, Thousand Words, Collusion Illusion and Express Train. And, off a 7-month layup to help him heal from an injured ankle.

Oh, yeah. I know. He was DQ’d after failing a post-race drug test in the G1 Arkansas Derby.

Say or write what you want. That drug positive — on that day — did not, in any way, make Charlatan a winner; or run faster; or better. Respected veterinarians that I have discussed the matter with have all agreed. It just didn’t.

What made Charlatan the best that day is exactly what made him the best on the other days and the best on Saturday, too.

This son of Speightstown is the fastest. Period.

This chestnut colt, who has often been compared to the incomparable Justify, is the toughest. No doubts.

This sprinter is not bound by time or distance, either. He’s simply the best. He’s what you may refer to as “A Freak.” No doubts.

On Saturday, Charlatan ran up against a horse that was coming off a track-record setting performance at Keeneland in the highly-touted Nashville.

He kicked his ass.

On Saturday, Charlatan ran up against Graded Stakes winners Independence Hall and Thousand Words.

He kicked their asses.

On Saturday, Charlatan ran against a 7-month layoff and the doubts of both friends and foes.

He kicked all of their asses, too.

And, on Saturday, Charlatan left little doubt and few doubters. In this year of many troubles, Charlatan simply kicks “troubles” ass, as well.

Don’t know when or where Charlatan will race again. One may suspect that he will be pointed to the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park in early 2021. We will reach out to our good friends and find out more soon.

But here’s hoping that Charlatan gets a chance to showcase his skills again. And, again. And, again.

If he does?

He will win the honors that he truly deserves for his performances in 2020.

He is not a superstar in the making. He is a superstar in our midst. Take the chance to enjoy greatness while it happens. It is happening now.

(Here’s a photo of Social Paranoia. Which is what we saw on Twitter today / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)

Number Two:

I read on social media today that the reason Nashville didn’t keep up with Charlatan in the Malibu was due to the fact that he didn’t handle the racetrack.

I have laughed so hard that my sides hurt.

The only thing Nashville didn’t handle was Charlatan.

Number Three:

A lot of people can opine about Charlatan today. After all, it’s not too tough to pick a superstar when they are in the midst of stardom.

But here’s what I wrote on Friday — in advance of the G1 Malibu Stakes:

“What a race and what a way to wrap up the 2020 racing season, with just a week to go. This one has the skill and the depth to be a whirlwind from start to finish. But I like a horse that can finish. And, finish first. That’s the reason I like Charlatan (4). This 3O son of Speightstown comes from one of the most underrated sires of our time. The sire throws winners all over the place, and big time winners, too. This one truly is a perfect 3-for-3. DQ’d after the win in Arkansas and idle since with a tender ankle. Looks poised now. Looks poised and dangerous. I go here. And, I go big. Love this one. Key Play of the Day / Night & Maybe the Year. I bet the 4 to win/place and then key the 4 over/under the rest of the numbers in the exacta. Don’t throw out or under-estimate Thousand Words in here, too. Could add some punch to the exotics. I go strong on Charlatan in the horizontals, too. Will single in some bigger tickets, for sure.”

Back patted.

(Trainer Bob Baffert / Coady Photography)

Number Four:

There is no trainer in the world of horse racing better than Bob Baffert.

Zero.

Not even close.

(John Clay / Photo from Kentucky.com)

Number Five:

After each and every loss, I see the “professionals” try to opine and define the problems that are obvious with this year’s version of the University of Kentucky Wildcats.

They can’t shoot.

They are too young.

They don’t have a team chemistry.

They have not figured how to play as a “team.”

They have not figured out how to win the close games.

OK. Got it.

But here’s a theory that I have not seen anywhere, and I don’t understand why those that “cover the team” on a regular basis for the “recognized media outlets” don’t consider.

Maybe the difference is that Kenny Payne — the former Louisville standout; the longtime Kentucky assistant coach; and perhaps the best “Game Time Coach” on the UK bench the past few years — is no longer there.

Maybe this UK team is missing Kenny Payne.

Maybe what this UK team needs, more than anything else, is Kenny Payne.

I truly believe it.

(Breeders’ Cup 2020 / Coady Photography)

Number Six: 

I still have trouble with the American riders complaining about the new whip rules that are being considered and implemented in some jurisdictions.

After all:

The European riders kicked our butts in the Breeders’ Cup — deploying the “underhand” approach.

And, on Saturday at Santa Anita, rider Umberto Rispoli got Smooth Like Strait up to win the G2 Mathis Brothers Miles Stakes from a stalking position with just modest urging and an under-hand approach; jockey Mike Smith rallied Kiss Today Goodbye from last with just modest urging to win the G2 San Antonio Stakes; jockey Ricardo Gonzalez motivated Fair Maiden from well back in 7th to win the G1 La Brea with mostly hand-riding and a few under-hand taps; that jockey Flavien Prat coaxed speedster Duopoly from gate to wire to win the G1 American Oaks Stakes with mostly hand-urging; and that Smith never once went to the whip to win with Charlatan in the G1 Malibu.

Maybe it is time to thank CHRB Chairman Dr. Gregory Ferraro for his masterful tap on the shoulder to get California to alter the whip rules.

Seems to me, it is working. Quite nicely.

Number Seven:

I think Mark Stoops will have the University of Kentucky’s football team ready to play in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 2. I think we will see why the ACC is one of the worst Conferences in all of the land when it comes to playing football. Real football. And, I think we may see the beginning of the new Kentucky offense, too.

We are going to send a runner over the river and through the woods to the sports betting venue in Indiana. If you want to join in.

Number Eight:

We hosted a UK-U of L “Game Party” at The Louisville Thoroughbred Society on Saturday.

Our first “Big Game.”

I can safely say there is no place better to watch racing and sports with friends and family.

No place.

Not a single place.

You should check it out.

Number Nine:

I’m on Cloud Nine.

See you soon.