Jun 07, 2013
AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD
By: JOE GIRARDI
With the year almost half way gone we will take a look at our half year Horse of the Year leaders. There is plenty of racing left including the Breeders’ Cup World Championships but we will take a look now and see how many are still at the top our list at year’s end.
1. WISE DAN- Last year’s Horse of the Year at age five, he won five of his six races in 2012 with one second and won races over the dirt, turf and synthetic racetracks. He returned this year and it looks like he will be focusing on the turf. He is 2 for 2 in 2013 with both wins coming in Grade I races. The Makers Mark Mile at Keeneland his first start of the year and he won by a length despite being a bit rank early on. In his second start of the year, the Turf Classic on Derby Day at Churchill Downs over a yielding course he went on to score by more than four lengths. This horse can handle multiple distances, multiple surfaces and will be a leader at year’s end if he continues on this path.
2. GAME ON DUDE- Last year’s favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Classic and probably would have won Horse of the Year last year with a win in that race but he didn’t make the lead and tired to finish seventh. He has returned running in 2013 with three wins from three tries, two Grade II’s and one Grade I. He did ship to Charles Town for his last win in the Charles Town Classic over a track he wasn’t handling very well but still gamed out the win. I am sure he will be spending the rest of the year in his home state of California and can make a big dent in the Horse of the Year running with a similar year he had last year as along as it ends with a win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
3. CROSS TRAFFIC- Started his career in January of 2013 as a four year old. However, this well bred Pletcher trainee got his career off to a solid start. He win his debut impressively in a sharp time and then followed that up with a win in an allowance race by more than seven lengths. His next start came in the Grade III Westchester at Belmont Park on April 27th and just got beat a head in a mile that went in 1:32:4. He then followed that up with another impressive race in the Met Mile, battling on the lead throughout solid fractions, taking on challenges throughout and then just getting beat on the wire by a nose in just his fourth career start. If he can stretch his speed out around two turns he can be a big force in the handicap division as the year goes on.
4. DELAUNAY- This six year old gelding is on a six race win streak dating back to last year but is three for three this year. Two wins in ungraded stakes at the Fair Grounds and then an easy win on Derby Day in a Grade II stakes. This one time claimer has really come into his own and if he can take his race elsewhere, continue to win and then come up with a win in the Breeders’ Cup at years’ end while others fail he could surprise and be in the running for Horse of the Year. As it stands now he is the leader in the sprint division, albeit with a long way to go.
5. ORB- We put ORB fifth on the list and by the time the year comes to an end he could easily be first or be last. The Belmont Stakes run this Saturday, June 8th at Belmont is a start if he can get the job done. He won the Kentucky Derby in impressive fashion, he failed as the odds-on choice in the Preakness checking in fourth. If he can bounce back in the “Test of Champions”, the Belmont Stakes, follow that up with a win in one of the big summer races for three year olds and then a win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic he would definitely be at the top of the Horse of the Year list. He has the potential to make his mark throughout the year now he just has to go out and do it.
We will revisit this list at the end of the year and see how many of these horses are still on it.
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