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Nov 16, 2012

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD-HORSE OF THE YEAR

By: JOE GIRARDI


               With just about 6 weeks to the end of the year let us take a look at who we think is in the lead for the Horse of the Year voting. We have seven horses, listed in order of who we think is in the lead for the voting.

1.      WISE DAN- He is probably the leader on most experts ballots and why not. He was 5 for 6 this year with a second place finish, he has won on synthetic, conventional dirt and the turf. He has three Grade I wins, albeit all over the turf with a Grade II on that surface, a Grade III win on synthetic and a second in a Grade I on the dirt. He won the Breeders’ Cup mile in record time, his versatility on all surfaces, distances and tracks puts him number one on our list.

2.      FORT LARNED- This four year old is a close second in our book. He had five wins from nine starts with one second and one third place finish. He only has two Grade I wins on the year but they came in the prestigious Whitney handicap at Saratoga over RON THE GREEK, incedently the horse to defeat WISE DAN this year. His other Grade I win came in the biggest race of the year, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, going wire to wire over MUCHO MACHO MAN. His resume may not be as strong as WISE DAN’S but it is right up there.

3.      ROYAL DELTA- This four year old filly had a good year as well. She won four times from seven starts with two seconds and one off the board finish in the Dubai World Cup. She won the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic for the second straight year and this time she did it wire to wire. She is clearly the top older filly and probably would have had a big chance for Horse of the Year if she won the Breeders’ Cup Classic against males or another prominent race against the males.

4.      I’LL HAVE ANOTHER- Was undefeated for the year going 4 for 4 with three Grade I wins and taking two thirds of the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. He was the favorite for the Belmont Stakes but was scratched the day before. Obviously you can’t make assumption he would have won the race but if he did he clearly would have been horse of the year but his record is still pretty strong and is in the hunt to the win the title. It goes without saying that he is the Three year old champion.

5.      GROUPIE DOLL- Four year old mare was never off the board in eight starts this year with five wins, one second and two third place finishers. She just recently dominated the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint by more than four lengths. That was her third Grade I of the year and her connections are considering the Grade I Cigar Mile as her next start. If she is able to win that race she definitely moves up this list.

6.      SHANGHAI BOBBY- The last two year old we saw win this honor was FAVORITE TRICK, who was undefeated back in 1997. This runner went 5 for 5 this year and ended with a win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He also won the Grade I Champagne and the Grade II Hopeful, which should clearly be moved back to a Grade I. However, even though he was 5 for 5, the two year old crop was what you would call a strong one and there are just too many more viable candidates this year. He should be a unanimous choice for top two year old and it should be interesting how far he will be able to stretchout next year.

7.      LITTLE MIKE- He had a good year with four wins and a third from seven tries but he would not have even been considered for any awards before his upset win in the Breeders’s Cup Turf. He has three Grade I wins, all over the turf and two of them coming in the Arlington Million and the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Now that doesn’t make a Horse of the Year but it sounds like a similar resume to WISE DAN. Obviously WISE DAN has wins over synthetic in a Grade III and just missing in a Grade I on dirt. With all that being said he should be right there in the older turf male division.

This is clearly on of the hardest years to determine Horse of the Year but it seems WISE DAN has that buzz which will probably make him the winner



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