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Jun 24, 2011

American Turf Club Lead-Horse of the year midyear

By: Joe Girardi

            We are almost half way through the year and around this time we like to take a look at the frontrunners for the Horse of the Year honors. At this time however there is no clear cut favorite or favorites that we can say definitely that this horse will win or that horse will win. Let’s take a look at who we think is leading the way now.

  1. TWIRLING CANDY- This four year old has to be at the top of many lists at the half way point in the season. He is 2 for 3 this year with the two wins coming in Grade II races in California. However, the brilliance that he has shown is probably the biggest reason to have him at the top of the list. When he runs his race he will be very difficult to beat and that would make him the current frontrunner in a year when the Horse of the Year honor is wide open
  2. SIDNEY’S CANDY- This used to be Twirling Candy’s stablemate but this four year old was recently sold to Winstar and moved to the east coast into Todd Pletcher’s barn. His two races so far this year both resulted in two second place finishes. He was expected to be pointed to the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga; a race that if he wins and moves forward into the fall and the Breeders’ Cup Classic he would vault himself into the lead in this category. However, that is a long way to go but this horse definitely has potential to get that far and is in right hands.
  3. HAVRE DE GRACE- Four year old filly has been very tough this year with a record of 3 for 3 all her wins coming in graded stakes and all coming very easily. She annexed the Grade I Apple Blossom at Oaklawn back in April and if she can continue the rest of the year in a similar fashion and finish it off with a win in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic she could definitely put her name in the mix.
  4. TIZWAY- Hard knocking six year old is another that has shown flashes of brilliance but could never really follow those efforts up with another good one. His most recent race, a big win in the Metropolitan Mile at Belmont on May 30th was the biggest win of his career. It was another flash of brilliance winning in a very solid time of 1:32:4. We will now have to see if he can follow that up and continue that throughout the year. If he can win a year end Breeders’ Cup race, either the Classic or the Dirt Mile depending what he can do the rest of the year and how the others shake out he may have a chance at this title.
  5. BIG DRAMA- Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner has only had one start this year a big win in the Mr. Prospector at Gulfstream in a very fast time of 1:08 flat. This five year old is clearly a top sprinter and is going to be pointed to a late summer return and he hopes to defend his title in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. You very rarely see a sprinter win Horse of the Year but this year is prime for the taking.
  6. GIO PONTI- Six year old horse is of the hard hitting variety who has earned well over $5 million dollars but he is 0 for 2 this year and he may be tailing off from his best form. He was fifth in the Dubai World Cup back in March and then followed that up with a closing third in the Manhattan Handicap on Belmont Stakes day. He is definitely at his best on the turf and can easily go on a roll this summer racking up graded wins and ending the year with a Breeders’ Cup score in the Turf or the Mile. However, in his current form that is asking a lot and he would need to go undefeated the rest of the year and a Breeders’ Cup win to be considered for this award. He is a past champion and never count out the heart of a champion.

As we are still only in June no two year old has really stepped up to show his/her brilliance, we could have a big year from a two year old and that horse could also be considered based on how wide open this year seems to be. It should be an exciting year watching how it plays out on the racetrack.

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