As I sit here typing this, I can say for certain that Dullahan and the rest of the Pacific Classic contenders have not yet made it back to their respective barns. The excitement emanating from the social media world is nearly tangible; everyone that is a fan of horse racing is talking about the 3-YO that shipped West and beat a field full of excellent older males. Personally I am so excited that it is all I can do to sit still in my chair and not whoop and holler. I have been a fan of Dullahan since I met him at Gulfstream over the winter, and I have backed him in every race despite knowing that dirt is not his favorite surface. Today, he got back to his favorite surface, and boy did he shine!
Being the 3-YO in a field of older males is tough. Being the out-of-town shipper is tough. But none of that bothered him in the least. For those that said this year’s field was weak, I have to beg to differ. This year’s field consisted of seven Grade 1 winners: Amani, Richard’s Kid, Rail Trip, Jaycito, Dullahan, Suggestive Boy, and Game On Dude. Whoever won this race was going to have to run a big one and would be a deserving winner. Well, Dullahan ran a huge race in record time, and he is a deserving winner.
Dullahan’s Pacific Classic victory is his second Grade 1 win for the year, which puts him in the elite group of multiple Grade 1 winners in 2012. His win today also gives him that coveted score against his elders, something that adds a little extra “oomph” to his 2012 record. I have said all year that it would take something special for any 3-YO to top I’ll Have Another’s stellar performance at the beginning of the year, and I think that this could be it. Granted, Dullahan is still one Grade 1 win shy of Cookie’s mark and has a few races that will cause naysayers to question his credentials, but it’s only the end of August, and there are still plenty of marquee races to be run. Now, I’m not saying that Dullahan deserves to be named Champion 3-YO off of this race alone, but I am saying that he is worthy of consideration. He has Grade 1 wins; he has a victory against his elders; and, with any luck, he can pad his resume between now and year’s end.
What he doesn’t have, though, is a win on dirt, which detractors have pointed to already. Dirt is the premier surface in America, but it isn’t the only surface. Most champions are dirt runners, but they don’t have to be. With all of the major 3-YO dirt runners retired, I argue that this would be the year, if any, to buck the trend and make a non-dirt specialist champion. Now is the time, and with the proper credentials, I vote Dullahan for Champion 3-Year Old.