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Nov 14, 2003

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ATC Lead

By: Joe Girardi


            As the year starts to draw to a close we will take a look at who the leaders in the Horse of the Year running

are. Although some may not believe it as clear cut as last year when AZERI won but to this writer it seems

that the winner should be another easy selection. Here are our top seven in order of how we think they will

finish in the running for the award.

 

1.      MINESHAFT-With a record of seven wins and two seconds from nine starts, MINESHAFT

is our top candidate for Horse of the Year. Four Grade I wins with the last three coming at Belmont,

each with relative ease. Since shipping in from Europe and switching to the dirt, this colt by A. P. INDY

has only lost twice, both in graded stakes races. The Woodward and the Jockey Club Gold Cup were

his final two wins and those races are major races on the New York racing schedule. The fact that he

didn’t go on to the Breeders’ Cup Classic and cement his argument for Horse of the Year takes something

away from him. But if the award means the best horse in North America for that year there was none better.

2.      AZERI-Last year’s winner only started five times this year with the first four starts resulting in wins.

Her last start in the Grade II Lady’s Secret Handicap, she carried 128 pounds but never made an impact and

finished a disappointing third but was put up for the place spot by disqualification. We put her second on the list

based on her honor last year, however, it is not an easy task to separate the rest from one another.

3.      MEDAGLIA D’ORO-Out of his three wins this year only one came in a Grade I and he only started

five times this year up until this point. His game second place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic was solid

but it does not make him Horse of the Year. Solid four year old can make an impact next year if he returns

to the races.

4.      HALFBRIDLED-This undefeated two year old filly opened some eyes with her Breeders’ Cup win,

breaking from the far outside post yet still scoring an easy victory over 13 other rivals. This well bred filly by

UNBRIDLED out of a DEPUTY MINISTER mare has a bright future ahead of her and was definitely the most

impressive two year old on Breeders’ Cup day. We had to mention her in this space because she is undefeated

as we saw back in 1997 FAVORITE TRICK won this award after completing an undefeated season as a two year old.

5.      PERFECT DRIFT-Was five for eight this year earning over $1.5 million dollars for his efforts. Won one

Grade I this year and that was over the number one horse listed here, MINESHAFT. However, when given the

opportunity to improve his chances by winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic, he threw in a clunker finishing a

well beaten sixth. A win there would have made him one of the favorites for the award but a loss definitely

dropped him out of contention.

6.      CONGAREE-Was four for eight this year with two seconds but was beaten by a few horses on this list

and finished fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. His two Grade I wins this year came at two very different

distances. His first came in the Carter Handicap at Aqueduct at seven furlongs and his other came in the

Hollywood Gold Cup at 1 and ¼ miles at Hollywood Park. This showed his versatility and a win in the Classic

could have moved him way up.  

7.      FUNNY CIDE-His wins in the Derby and Preakness put him on the fast track to this award but his failures

thereafter in the Belmont, Haskell and then finally his ridiculous entry in the Breeders’ Cup Classic

(finished ninth of ten) have definitely taken him way out of contention. He proved that not only was he not

the best horse in the country but he may not have even been the best three year old. That distinction should go

to EMPIRE MAKER or maybe even TEN MOST WANTED.



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