When I read Steve Haskin's article about Goldencents heading east to the Cigar Mile, last night, the first thing I thought was they're going after the Eclipse Award. After all, it has been a long season, and he just earned his signature win in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. What else could be the reason? Upon further review, that Cigar Mile bonus, which raises the kitty to a cool million for Goldencents, is also clearly a consideration. Still, though, I really think a year-end championship is what is really driving the decision by majority owner, Glenn Sorgenstein, and I love it!
Obviously, the son of Into Mischief has bounced back from his Cup win in good order, and the one-turn Cigar Mile at Aqueduct, scheduled for November 30, fits well into the horse's strengths. The question now becomes, can the plan to usurp the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Three-year-old Male in his final two starts actually come to fruition? It could, but I think he is going to need a little help, because Will Take Charge currently has a strong argument.
In the below chart, I take a look at the two horses side-by-side. While each of them threw in a few clunkers, they both had six quality performances which are representative of their best this year.
As you can see, I give the edge in check marks here to Will Take Charge 4-2 over the Doug O'Neill charge. Granted, I could have arranged their lists differently, but anyway you slice this, I see the Lukas runner coming out on top. Some may argue my pick of the Travers over the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, but I believe the Mid-Summer Derby win carries slightly more weight than a victory in one of the newer BC races which has never crowned a champion. Both were good fields, but when pressed, I'll take the Orb-Palace Malice-Moreno-Verrazano grouping over the Golden Ticket-Brujo de Olleros-Hymn Book-Verrazano bunch. The classic distance over the flat mile distance is also something to consider in the comparison.
If you consider each of their best losses, and I think you should, again I see Will Take Charge as the winner of the battle. If for nothing else, his just miss charge in the Breeders' Cup Classic, carries this argument.
Another point I have seen Goldencents supporters make is the Grade 1 total wins tally, which is 2-1 in favor of Goldencents. This holds less water with me, as I believe each race should be judged on its own merit, rather than a rating placed on the race with no regard of what the actual 2013 field looked like.
So, if the season ended today, Will Take Charge would be my choice over Goldencents and Orb. In my estimation, the latter's inability to win after the Kentucky Derby leaves him on the outside looking in. Happily, the season has not yet ended for either Will Take Charge or Goldencents.
Will Take Charge is pointing to the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs the day before the Cigar Mile. Both races are of the grade 1 variety and carry a comparable amount of prestige. That means Goldencents needs to gain ground on his main competition in these two races. If they both win, or both lose, I say Will Take Charge wins the Eclipse Award. If, however, Goldencents gets another big win, while Will Take Charge loses in Kentucky, it could very well be enough to swing the vote in his favor. Who said the racing season ends after the Breeders' Cup???