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Dec 05, 2014

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


               As 2014 winds down let us take a look at the Horse of the Year running, we will take a look at four horses that are the frontrunners.

  1. BAYERN- This might be a controversial choice as many believe that he should have been disqualified from his win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He never started as a two year old so all of his ten starts have come in 2014. He started out breaking his maiden impressively followed by a huge win in an allowance race. He then started in the Arkansas Derby but tired to finish third as the favorite. He then won the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs only to be D’Qed from that win. His next race was the Preakness, he had some early trouble but never factored and checked in 9th beaten 21 lengths. His trainer Bob Baffert then added blinkers back on (had them on in career debut) and he was a different horse. He won the Woody Stephens on Belmont day by more than seven lengths in 1:20:3. The Grade I Haskell was next and he also won that race by more than seven lengths in a sharp final time. He tried the Travers at Saratoga but stopped badly losing by 20 lengths and checking in 10th. The Grade II Pennsylvania Derby was next and he was a bit winner scoring by almost six lengths while setting a track record in 1:46:4. His next race was the Breeders’ Cup Classic, he broke inward impeding Shared Belief and Moreno changing the dynamic of the race. Moreno would have showed speed and pressed Bayern early but the incident at the start changed that. However, the race went on and Bayern set a solid pace while under pressure from the start, he was still there into deep stretch and dug in to hold off Toast Of New York and California Chrome. He survived the stewards’ inquiry and was declared the winner. He has two very important Grade I’s to his credit as well as two Grade II’s and he did win on the biggest stage in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

  2. MAIN SEQUENCE- Had only four starts on the year and all four of them wins, all against Grade I competition. Seems like a lock for Horse of the Year based on the fact that Wise Dan won Horse of the Year with all turf wins. He won the Breeders’ Cup Turf getting up in the final strides for the win. The only knocks against him are that he did win all of his races on turf and he never dominated his competition like Bayern did on a few occasions. This race for the top spot is close and it will be interesting to see who will get the nod.

  3. CALIFORNIA CHROME- He has the popular vote but he also has a pretty good resume. He has four Grade I wins and a Grade II to his credit on a year that saw him go 6 for 9 with one third. He won the Derby and the Preakness and was odds-on to win the Triple Crown at Belmont Park. He had some brief trouble but just couldn’t finish when it counted and checked in fourth. He came for the Pennsylvania Derby but Bayern ran him off his feet and he checked fourth as the odds-on favorite that day. He bounced back with a solid third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic but he did have the whole stretch to go by Bayern and Toast Of New York but he couldn’t. His connections tried him on the turf in the Hollywood Derby, a race run over the turf at Del Mar and he won by two lengths over a nice filly named Lexie Lou but there wasn’t much else in that race. It was a Grade I with six horses that played out more like a Grade III at best. California Chrome is a good horse but he is not the Horse of the Year in my opinion.

  4. SHARED BELIEF- The longest shot out of these four to win Horse of the Year honors but he may be the most talented. He was undefeated through his first seven starts and his only loss of his career came in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic when he encountered plenty of trouble. He won the Grade II Los Alamitos Derby, the Grade I Pacific Classic against older horses and the Grade I Awesome Again at Santa Anita also against older horses. If he would have won the Breeders’ Cup Classic he would have been Horse of the Year, but he didn’t. He will have to wait until 2015 to try again but he does have loads of talent and will be one of the best older horses come the new year.

     



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