Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Taking a look at some of the Horse of the Year contenders

As the year that has seemed underwhelming comes to an end and the season records of some of the “bigger” horses are examined, the year has turned more exciting. A few names have been mentioned for Horse of the Year honors (both by myself and others) and for the sake of being able to look at all of their records together, I decided to put them in a blog post. I don’t get a vote but the process always interests me so without farther ado, here are some of the Horse of the Year nominees that have been talked about both seriously and not-so-seriously in the past few weeks (names are in alphabetical order).

Note: This only includes North American races.

Fort Larned-
Overall 2012 record: 9-5-1-1 for $3,598,455 in earnings.
Wins:
Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I)
Whitney Invitational Handicap (gr. I)
Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (gr. III)
Skip Away Stakes (gr. III)
Challenger Stakes (UG)

Second:
Alysheba Stakes (gr. II) to Successful Dan

Third:
TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational Stakes (gr. III) to Flat Out and Stay Thirsty.

Unplaced:
Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) eighth, the top three were Ron the Greek, Wise Dan, and Nates Mineshaft
Tampa Bay Handicap fourth, the top three were Wiki, Successful Mission, and Swift Warrior

Overall count:
2 G1 wins
2 G3 wins
1 ungraded win
1 second in a G2
1 third in a G3

Game On Dude (8) in the 2011 Classic (Melissa Bauer-Herzog)
Game On Dude-
Overall 2012 record: 6-4-1-0 for $860,00 in earnings
Wins:
Hollywood Gold Cup Handicap (gr. I)
Awesome Again Stakes (gr. I)
Californian Stakes (gr. II)
San Antonio Stakes (gr. II)

Place:
TVG Pacific Classic Stakes (gr. I) behind Dullahan

Unplaced
Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) seventh behind top three Fort Larned, Mucho Macho Man, and Flat Out

Overall count:
2 G1 wins
2 G2 wins
1 second in a G1

Groupie Doll-
Overall 2012 record: 8-5-1-1-2 for $1,315,314 in earnings
Wins:
Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (gr. I)
Humana Distaff (gr. I)
Vinery Madison Stakes (gr. I)
Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (gr. II)
Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes (gr. II)

Second:
Optional Claiming race

Third:
Inside Information Stakes (gr. II) to Musical Romance and Hot Summer

Overall count:
3 G1 wins
2 G2 wins
1 third in G2

It is possible that she could run in the Cigar Mile (gr. I).

I’ll Have Another-
Overall 2012 record: 4-4-0-0 for $2,629,600 in earnings.
Wins:
Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I)
Preakness Stakes (gr. I)
Santa Anita Derby (gr. I)
Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. I)

Overall count:
3 G1 wins
1 G2 win


Little Mike-
Overall 2012 record: 7-4-0-1 for $2,668,742 in earnings.
Wins:
Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. I)
Arlington Million Stakes (gr. I)
Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes (gr. I)
Florida Sunshine Millions Turf Stakes (UG)

Third:
Shoemaker Mile Stakes (gr. I) to Jeranimo and Suggestive Boy (ARG)

Unplaced:
Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitation Stakes (gr. I) behind the top three of Point of Entry, Treasure Beach (GB) and Kindergarden Kid

Overall count:
3 G1 wins
1 ungraded win
1 third in a G1

Point of Entry-
Overall 2012 record: 7-5-1-0 for $1,746,600 in earnings.
Wins:
Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes (gr. I)
Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes (gr. I)
Man o’ War Stakes (gr. I)
Elkhorn Stakes (gr. II)
Allowance

Second:
Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. I) to Little Mike

Unplaced:
Allowance optional claimer behind top three of Sky Blazer, Slow Pace and Hailstone

Overall count:
3 G1 wins
1 G2 win
1 second in a G1

Royal Delta-
(Melissa Bauer-Herzog)
Overall 2012 record: 6-4-2-0 for $2,009,251 in earnings.
Wins:
Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (gr. I)
Beldame Invitational Stakes (gr. I)
Delaware Handicap (gr. II)
Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II)

Seconds:
Personal Ensign (gr. I) to Love and Pride
Sabin Stakes (gr. III) to Awesome Maria

Overall count:
2 G1 wins
2 G2 wins
1 second in a G1
1 second in a G3

Wise Dan-
Overall 2012 record: 6-5-1-0 for $2,622,037 in earnings
Wins:
Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. I) ntr
Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes (gr. I)
Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes (gr. I)
Fourstardave Handicap (gr. II)
Ben Ali Stakes (gr. III) ntr

Second:
Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) behind Ron the Greek

Overall count:
3 G1 wins
1 G2 win
1 G3 win
1 second in a G1

For comparison stats:
* Wise Dan, Point of Entry, Little Mike, Groupie Doll, and I’ll Have Another are all tied at Grade 1 wins with 3 apiece
* Groupie Doll and Wise Dan are tied with the most graded stakes wins at 5 each.
* Many of the horses on this list have five wins overall on the season.

Opinion time: This is the first time in a long time that I can think of more than two horses deserving Horse of the Year honors. While I have a good idea who is going to win the award just from listening to conversations, I think that an argument could be made for most of the horses on this list to take home the top honor. Interestingly, some of the horses on this list may not take home any awards, especially in the Turf Male category. From my view, that definitely makes 2012 looks much more competitive than it did in the summer when we were more focused on horses retiring than racing. 

Of course, we still have some big races to run in the coming weeks so all of this could change if someone wins another Grade 1. It was announced today that depending on weights, Groupie Doll could make a start against the boys in the Cigar Mile (gr. I), if she won the race it could change the whole landscape of Horse of the Year,

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