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HRN Original Blog:
Kentucky Oaks Runner

The Measure of Grace

Havre De Grace wins 2011 Azeri.
What is the measure of a man? For as long as pen and parchment have existed, and man first discovered the power and influence of words, there has been a desire to record, and question, the accomplishments of others. From Julius Caesar, to Leonardo da Vinci, Queen Victoria, and Martin Luther King, great figureheads in history have been put through countless tests to measure their worth in a million different areas of proficiency. Perhaps the question we need to be asking coming into Saturday’s Woodward Stakes is this: What is the measure of a filly?
 
Havre de Grace has been under constant and ever-increasing scrutiny, since she gave Champion Blind Luck one of the most testing races of her career in the Delaware Oaks (gr.2) on July 10th last year. The two fillies have since established one of the greatest rivalries thoroughbred horse racing have ever seen. Five times Havre de Grace and Blind Luck have faced each other since last July, and never has another horse finished between them. Havre de Grace began the year with an impressive score by more than three lengths over her nemesis in the Azeri Stakes (gr.3). She humbled the Apple Blossom Handicap (gr.1) field, minus Blind Luck, in her next start before capturing the Obeah Stakes (gr.3) with breathtaking ease. She locked in mortal combat the entire length of the Delaware Park stretch in her next start, proving tough-as-nails once again while finishing second to Blind Luck, defeated by a nose for the win in the Delaware Handicap (gr.2).
 
Now, six weeks later, Havre de Grace will be attempting something her decorated rival has yet to attempt: facing some of the nation’s best older males. This year that statement might not carry as much weight as it normally would, with such a depleted pool of talent in the older male division, but facing males should never be underrated or labeled an easy task. Only one filly has managed to win the prestigious Grade 1 race at Saratoga, the now epic 2009 edition, where Rachel Alexandra led at almost every call to win by an exhilarating head.
 
If any filly possesses the capability of winning the Woodward Stakes this year, it’s probably Havre de Grace. She has already competed successfully at the 1 1/8 mile distance when winning the June 11th Obeah Stakes and has won three 1 1/16 mile races in addition to being less than a combined length away from winning two 1 ¼ mile races. Another factor in the 4-year-old Saint Liam filly’s favor is her lack of Blind Luck caliber competition. In this writer’s humble opinion, not one of the capable males lining up against Havre de Grace has achieved her level of talent.
 
[Can Havre de Grace power her way to #1 on HRN's Active Power Rankings with a win in the Woodward?]

It has been just over one year since the Larry Jones trained filly has visited Saratoga. Patrons at the Spa last saw Havre de Grace dueling it out with none other than Blind Luck in the Alabama Stakes (gr.1). She finished second by a neck that day, but showed wonderful ability over the dirt strip. When it comes to fitness Larry Jones left no chances with his star pupil. Since her runner-up effort in the Delaware Handicap Havre de Grace has turned in three exceptional works, the best of which may have been her blazing :59.60 five furlong breeze on August 17th. That work was preceded by a 1:00.00 flat five furlong move and, followed up with a strong 1:13.20 six furlong move. Because of heavy rains brought about by hurricane Irene, trainer Larry Jones announced he would gallop Havre de Grace up til the Woodward in the days preceding the race, but that all changed once conditions became good enough on Tuesday morning. Jones sent Havre de Grace for a quick :35.60 three furlong blowout Tuesday in what will be her final major work before tackling the Woodward field.
 
In the end this becomes a question of class and talent. When it comes down to it, I believe Havre de Grace has a class edge in the Woodward, and is also the most talented entrant.

 

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Older Comments about The Measure of Grace...

East coast bandwagon? Just watch her race man. She is a consistent talented horse and really has an opportunity to win any race from a mile to 1 1/4 vs anyone in training today. No Hype just reality.
  • CraigBradshaw · if hdg connections get some cajones, and come west for once to face bl, she is just basically winning in the friendly confines of a few small states, and ducking her obligation to the rivalry. · 1087 days ago
It shows what you know about horse racing if you cant see Stay Thirsty is the best 3yo in training and maybe the best Horse... Same goes for HDG she is a top 1/2 Female in racing and maybe even the best horse going.. If you are taking a stance against these 2 I just dont agree with you and think you dont know about racing.
  • CraigBradshaw · until stay thirsty shows me that he can win outside of the friendly confines of the nyra, i will remain a skeptic. haynesfield is fresh in my mind. · 1087 days ago
the measure of GRACE have already been measure by BL!!
tim.....like i said before, don't get sucked into all that east coast bandwagon hype.
i just want to say that winning the woodward is one thing, winning a breeder's cup race is wholly another. it's like apples to oranges.
YOU RIGHT KYOAKSRUNNER....IT DO SPEAKS 4 IT'S SELF ONLY ONE G1 WIN.......AND THIRSTY IS HYPE JUST....LIKE MO...
  • KyOaksRunner · I'd have to agree...her track record truly does speak for itself, especially after winning the Woodward! Knock a horse all you like, but it means nothing until you bring up a valid argument as to why you think a horse is "all hype." · 1093 days ago
  • KyOaksRunner · I'd have to agree...her track record truly does speak for itself, especially after winning the Woodward! Knock a horse all you like, but it means nothing until you bring up a valid argument as to why you think a horse is "all hype." · 1093 days ago
Blind Luck's trainer is taking the easier path this time around in my opinion. Facing males in a Grade 1 should have been the next logical step for both fillies once they've reached the level they are at with their female counterparts. It's senseless to knock Havre de Grace for the quality of the Woodward field or call her overrated just because she's not facing excellent males. Her track record speaks for itself, no one can take that from her.
IF SHE DO WIN IT'S NOT GOIN 2 BE EAZY 4 HER SHE ONLY BEAT BLIND LUCK IN A G3 WIN SHE WAS NOT IN GOOD FORM YET...AND HOTY....I DON'T THINK SO IF TIZWAY WIN THE JCGC OR BCC ..HE WILL BE HOTY ... STAY THIRSTY IS ALL HYPE!!!!..HE IS JUST A SARATOGA HORSE WE SEEN WHAT HE CAN DO AT CD.....NOTHING AT ALL...
  • KyOaksRunner · Tizway is definitely the HOTY frontrunner right now. Stay Thirsty is a NY horse (so far) not just a Saratoga "wonder". He's proven himself to be competitive at Saratoga, Belmont and Aqueduct. Until some other 3-year-old colt is able to win three graded stakes this year he's not all hype. · 1094 days ago
Blind Luck's trainer is taking the easier path this time around in my opinion. Facing males in a Grade 1 should have been the next logical step for both fillies once they've reached the level they are at with their female counterparts. It's senseless to knock Havre de Grace for the quality of the Woodward field or call her overrated just because she's not facing excellent males. Her track record speaks for itself, no one can take that from her.
HAVRE DE GRACE should win this race because this year WOODWARD look like a grade 2 no real competition so HDG should have it easily!!GOOD LUCK HDG
I agree HAVRE DE GRACE should go t face BLIND LUCK she should come west to try to beat THE LUCK!!
HAVRE DE GRACE IS OVERRATED THIS IS A.... BAD RACE JUST ONE G1 WINNIN MALE IN THE RACE AND HE IS A BUM.... WHY NOT GO WEST AND RACE BLIND LUCK WHERE SHE WOOD....GET A REAL FIGHT...
New York Vinnie- I don't think she is extremely overrated. She is a very good horse. I would not call her one of the greats of all time, but she is very good.
Absolutely. All this hype for a mediocre field and an extremely overrated horse. This Woodward has all the makings of one big yawn. There is no meat on the bone here. It will be a boring race.
This has to be the weakest Woodward fields of all time. Now people can let up on RA.
I'm surprised how many think because Havre de Grace lost to Blind Luck in the Delaware Handicap that she won't be able to handle the boys. If the best males in the country were lined up against Blind Luck and Havre de Grace today I'd choose both to at least hit the board, and Blind Luck to win. Underestimate a classy filly at your own expense.
Excuse me. Brian, Blind Luck and Havre de Grace have met six times since last July, not five as you stated. And Blind Luck has finished ahead of HdG in four of those contests. I can't believe what some people have said consider Havre de Grace. The odds maker for the Woodward has made her the morning line favorite, and now Brian Zipse and her trainer, Mr. Porter are mentioning her as the possible HOY. Good grief, folks. I've never, ever read so much concerning a horse that accomplished so little. Have de Grace now belongs in the same category with Hurricane Irene and Uncle Mo as the most hyped stories of the year.
  • BrianAppleton · Sorry, yes, you're right, I mean to state the number of times they faces eached other and finished 1-2. I had to write it without internet thanks to Irene, so a bunch of it was "off the cuff". Thank you for brining that to my attention. · 1094 days ago
As of this year, where there is no current standout for HOTY a win here would be huge for HDG. Acclamation and Cape Blanco should be near the top of the ranks, but because they are turf runners they are shoved to the side. Tizway and Thirsty are the current spotlight horses because of their recent wins. The Factor has no shot at HOTY unless they want to go longer. You wanna talk about Grade one win in their back yard, that is The Factor and it was a sprint. HDG has probably beaten the best company of any horse gunning for the award. Switch and Blind Luck being at the top of the list. If she beats these she will some of the best males in the division. The only race she really did not face the best was Obeah. Should she win this she will have two grade one wins this year and a record of 5-4-1. Other that puts her right there with the turf stars, Stay Thirsty and Tizway.
Havre de Grace is one thing to win the Woodward , Havre de Luck is another !
This is what George Burns would say about Havre's chance in the Woodward, " Say Goodnight Gracie "

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 Meet Brian Appleton 

Thoroughbred Horse Racing is my passion.  It started when at the age of 9 I found a book called Come On Seabiscuit by Ralf Moody on my Mother’s shelf.  Reading that book was one of the most exciting things I ever did as a kid. I read that book so many times that I had entire chapters committed to memory and the dust jacket worn and ripped beyond recognition from so much use. From that point on I was hopelessly addicted, reading every book on horse racing I could get my hands on, especially racehorse biographies. In 2009 I began my own blog called Rail Runner on wordpress and have continued to blog there to this day.

Curlin is probably my favorite racehorse of all time. Being able to attend six of his races will always be one of the highlights of my life. Whenever I need to re-find some inspiration in my life all I need to do is watch one of his incredible victories and relive the memories. Rachel Alexandra ranks right up there too. As any horse racing fan will tell you it’s almost impossible to choose just one favorite and I am no exception. Phar Lap and Citation are another two of my all time favorites and the list could go on and on.

I was homeschooled my entire life by my parents and graduated High School in 2006 at the age of 17.  Currently I am completing my Marketing degree with the hopes of entering the Thoroughbred Horse Racing field as a writer/journalist , or in the marketing/advertising/promotions side of the industry.

It is my dream to someday become a thoroughbred racehorse owner and win major races across the United States. Who wouldn't want that, right?  For about 1 ½ years I was part owner in a racehorse, Lord Greystoke raced, and owned by Hibiscus Stables. I was able to attend one of his races at Belmont Park on Kentucky Derby day, May 2, 2009 and it was an incredible experience. While Lord Greystoke finished 7th in the race, being able to stand in an owner’s box not 30 feet away from Penny Chenery’s owner’s box was one of the most amazing feelings in the world.

Later in the year Lord Greystoke was finally able to break through with a 4 ½ length win which made me feel like one of the world’s most accomplished thoroughbred owners and further fueled my appetite. I think it would be rally neat to win the Appleton Stakes (Gr.3) at Gulfstream Park, even though I'm generally a bigger fan of dirt racing I can't help but think it would be neat for me to win a race with the same name as my last name.

That’s me in a nutshell, just a very passionate, driven young guy that wants to be a part of this amazing sport and share the adventure with other fans.