Horse Madness II: Canonero v. Angle Light

Welcome back to the second round of Horse Madness 2016!  We are through the play-in round, and an updated bracket is here:  Horse Madness 2016

Today we have a matchup of horses who ran in the Decade of Champions: the 1970s. Although both Cinderellas, Angle Light and Canonero could not be more different. Angle Light, was a Kentucky blue-blood with strong American connections, and a need-the-lead running style. Canonero II, was a sun of an Epsom Derby winner who got no love in the  auction ring and was sold as to a Venezuelan businessman, made left his best impression on American by his last to first triumph in the 1971 Kentucky Derby.

Canonero II’s life story appears fantastical. For a great read, and much deeper insight than can be provided in this post check out Steve Haskin’s Bloodhorse article about this 3 year old Champ.  If one were to merely look at the record books, you would wonder why Canonero made this list; winner of Derby and Preakness, as a well as champion 3 year old male, how is that a Cinderella?

Canonero II, known as the Caribbean Cannonball,  raced primarily in Venezuela before the 1971 Derby, although he did make an appearance at Del Mar as a two year old. The Daily Racing Form could not give any information whatsoever about his races in Venezuela prior to the Derby. It was later revealed that he won a stakes race in March of that year, against older horses at 1 1/4 miles.  He was added to a pooled betting entry with three other horses; totally neglected by the handicappers. Chick Lang, then VP of Pimlico, called him a mystery horse (a  favorite term and betting strategy for the Thorobros). His workouts for the Derby were slow, and often done without a saddle. Also entered in the Derby were two Calumet runners, Eastern Fleet and Bold and Able. Both from well-bred stock, they were the class of the field. Around the far turn Team Calumet was in front, but Canonero II was cruising up to them. He catapulted by to win by open lengths. Canonero II went on to win the Preakness, and become a national hero in Venezuela, and the hero for all underdogs out there.

Here is Canonero II’s Derby.


Angle Light, a speed freak, got the best of the two best horses of his year in the 1973 Wood Memorial: Secretariat and Sham. Secretariat, of course would go on to win the Triple  Crown and be among the greatest of all time. Sham would finish second to Secretariat in the Derby and Preakness, and had just won the Santa Anita Derby in record time. Angle Light, a stablemate of Secretariat and coupled for betting purposes,  went right to the lead and never turned back. Although it is said Secretariat had a minor health issue that day, trainer Lucien Laurin is said to have been so distraught by Secretariat’s performance, he did not even realize his other horse had won the race. It is one thing to shock the world, it is a whole other story to surprise your connections. The win made Angle Light the only horse to ever beat Secretariat and Sham in the same race.

Watch the 1973 Wood Memorial

Cast your vote for who should move on.

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