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Nov 18, 2011

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


            In a year when there is no clear standout for Horse of the Year, in fact there are at least five horses that could be considered and in my opinion if any of those horses were chosen I wouldn’t be surprised. I am going to list in order my top five for Horse of the Year 2011.

1.    MY MISS AURELIA- Very rarely do you see a two year old win Horse of the Year let alone a two year old filly. However, this two year old filly did enough in my opinion to win Horse of the Year. She went 4 for 4 and she beat the best horses in her division on the biggest day. After breaking her maiden in her debut at Saratoga, she followed that up with a game score in the Grade II Adirondack Stakes at Saratoga. She was given two months off and returned to score a dominating victory in the Grade I Frizette at Belmont’s Fall Championship Meeting. On Breeders’ Cup day she was sent off as the 2-1 favorite, she stalked the leader, took over into the lane and again drew off to score by more than three lengths. This Steve Asmussen trainee did everything asked of her and in a year where there are no standouts, and the leaders heading into the Breeders’ Cup all lost, why not?

2.    TIZWAY- My second choice for the 2011 Horse of the Year would be TIZWAY. He only started four times in 2011 but he has two wins and two third place finishes. His two wins however did come in two of the most prestigagous races in North America. The Grade I Metropolitan Mile at Belmont on May 30th, TIZWAY put it altogether scoring in a very impressive time of 1:32:4 while winning by almost three lengths. His next start came around two turns in the Grade I Whitney Handicap, he stalked the leaders from third, made a move to take over into the lane and went on to score by three lengths. After that race he was the leader in the Handicap division and was supposed to run in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and then the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He was forced to miss the Gold Cup because of a fever and then he was injured while training up to the Classic and was retired. He will stand stud at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky.

3.    HAVRE DE GRACE- Four year old filly had a tremendous year going 5 for 7 with a second place finish. Her only off the board finish came in the Breeders’ Cup Classic when she finished second. She won three Grade I’s including a win over the males in the Woodward, a race that propelled RACHEL ALEXANDRA to her Horse of the Year award back in 2009. Just not sure if she did enough to win it.

4.    DROSSELMEYER- Hard to endorse a horse that has a record of 2 wins and 2 seconds from seven starts. However, he did win the biggest race of the year on the biggest day of the year when he rolled on by to the win the Breeders’ Cup Classic. His other win came in a $60k overnight stakes back in May at Belmont. Hard to see him winning it but I guess those that want to award a horse who won the biggest race of the year he would be the choice.

5.    CAPE BLANCO- You very rarely see a turf horse win the Horse of the year and one that only started three times in this country. However, he did win all three starts, all three of them were Grade I’s and he did beat the great GIO PONTI twice. He was injured in his last start, the Grade I Turf Classic at Belmont which he gamed out a nose victory as the odds-on favorite. He would be a longshot but his resume is solid and in a year where there are so many choices he does have an outside chance.

Good luck to all those horses in the running and to their connections.

 



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