Nov 17, 2006
AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD
By: JOE GIRARDI
With the Breeders’ Cup over and done with the major races or at least the ones that will impact the Horse of the Year voting are finished. Let’s take a look at the top three candidates for that title.
1- INVASOR- Has one blemish on his record and that came in Dubai to the very exciting DISCREET CAT. He has nine wins from 10 career tries and is a perfect 4 for 4 in the United States. Since arriving in the United States his first win came in the Grade I Pimlico Special where he ran down the odds-on favorite WANDERIN BOY, even though he looked hopelessly beaten at the top of the stretch. His next start came in the Grade I Suburban Handicap At Belmont Park at 1 and ¼ miles and again he didn’t disappoint scoring by a very easy 4 and ¼ lengths, that was despite trouble at the start of the race. His next start just a month later in the Grade I Whitney at Saratoga he again had trouble at the start but recovered and held on to score by a nose. He was to run again in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont in early October but a sickness kept him from making that race and was trained up to the Breeders’ Cup by his trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. After breaking from post 11 in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, he settled in 8th, before coming with a powerful run to roll by the leader BERNARDINI for an easy one length win. He won over four different racetracks and overcame trouble to defeat the best horses in the United States and he is the leading candidate for Horse of the Year.
2- BERNARDINI- If the Horse of the Year went to the most visually impressive horse he would be the easy winner. This three year old trained by Tom Albertrani only had one loss heading into the Breeders’ Cup Classic and that loss came in his career debut way back in January. Since that time he rolled off six impressive wins with the last three coming as easy as a horse can win. He destroyed the field in the Jim Dandy, took some pressure in the Travers and toyed with that bunch and then met older horses for the first time in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and was a geared down 6 and ¾ length winner. He seemed to have trouble handling the track at Churchill and made a big move to the lead when he did get going but just didn’t have enough to hold off INVASOR. He should win three year old of the year over the sentimental favorite BARBARO because he was clearly the best three year old but he should finish second when it comes to Horse of the Year. Unfortunately he retired to stud and we won’t get to see his greatness next year but for the time he was on the racetrack he was a dynamic runner.
3- LAVA MAN- He was another that had a shot at winning the Horse of the Year title heading into the Breeders’ Cup Classic if he could have pulled off a win but he finished a disappointing 7th. He was 7 for 7 before that race and had four Grade I’s and a Grade II to his credit albeit all in California. His races outside the State of California have not been very good and could be the reason for his poor performance on Breeders’ Cup day. He will probably finish third in the Horse of the Year voting and the fact that he is a gelding he is scheduled to continue racing. He was claimed for $50k back in August of 2004 and is clearly the claim of the century earning over $3.5 million for his owners but he will come up a little short in this year’s voting. This 5yo gelding also handles the turf very well and may try to make his mark on that surface next year.
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