So, it seems that even after a narrow loss to Blind Luck in the Delaware Handicap, the owner Rick Porter may still be pointing his star filly, Havre de Grace, to the Woodward Stakes. Is this a wise choice or will it become a setback for the nearly unbeatable 4yr old? Porter also has the 10fl Personal Ensign Handicap to consider, a race where he would likely meet their nemesis, Blind Luck. Both races have high risk/reward factors and both could make or break her case for Horse of the Year. So what does she do? Does she want to be one of the boys? Or does she go for round seven in the never ending rivalry?
Saratoga mentioned doubling the purse of the Personal Ensign, if the connections of Havre de Grace do indeed decide to run and extend the rivalry. That would mean the purse would be a lucrative $600,000, enough to make any owner of a promising filly/mare consider running against the two titans. However, that may be the only plus of running her in the Personal Ensign.
The cons are small but stack up to a height that may sway the connections of Havre de Grace towards the Woodward. First of all, while it is widely thought that Blind Luck and Havre de Grace will share equal weights if they run, one can bet the weight spread will be up to 15lbs plus. That means either Havre de Grace will have an impost of 128 or slightly above or the others will be carrying feather light weights of 108lbs, at most. I’m more inclined to think that the weight will be packed on rather than have a jockey starve themself more than they already do, especially during a heat wave like this. Secondly, if the weight were to cause her to lose to a horse that is not even near her class level, it would weaken her chances for any Eclipse award immensely.
Now, if Havre de Grace were to run in the Woodward one can easily see that even a narrow defeat would not hurt her as greatly as it would as a loss in the Personal Ensign, and that a win would most likely move her to the head of the division and the race for Horse of the Year. If she were to run in the Woodward she would get the 3lbs weight advantage, instead of getting saddled with a high impost. She would be running 9 furlongs, not 10, the latter being Blind Luck’s preferred distance and that of the Personal Ensign. She would also be racing for a richer pot of $750,000, which is still higher than the Personal Ensign if doubled.
Cons are very minimal. She would be racing colts for the first time, which is never to be taken lightly. The only filly to win the race was Rachel Alexandra, who won as a 3yr old. Havre de Grace is four, which should help ease her task slightly and put her on a more level playing field than what Rachel Alexandra had. The race will likely sport the winner of the Whitney Handicap and should that winner be Sidney’s Candy, Rail Trip, or Tizway she will have her work cut out for her. However, that statement could go the other way as well. Should the Whitney sport yet another upset winner who is coming into the Woodward with questions over their head, it makes it much easier for her to assume command.
So, what does Porter do? Both races would be wonderful for the sport should she partake in either. I mean what is better than an Ali vs Frazier match over and over and over? What is better than seeing a girl take on the opposite sex and prevail? This writer says go for the Woodward. What do you say?