The week before the 2014 Kentucky Derby might seem like an odd time to be thinking about who may be awarded year-end honors, but with a brand new future wager just announced to whet our appetites, now is as good a time as any to do a little prognosticating as far as who may gallop home with the Horse of the Year Award.
Wise Dan is one-for-one this year, and more importantly, he is the reigning two-time Breeders’ Cup Mile winner, and Horse of the Year. He’s also the favorite for the inaugural Nevada offering on a future bet for Horse of the Year of 2014. Offered by William Hill in Nevada, if you believe he will win a third straight, you will get 4-1.
Over the years, Older Dirt Males has been the most likely place to find a Horse of the Year, but the division has been shut out for five consecutive years. Despite that slump, most of the horses just below the reigning two-time champ come from this division, including the overall second choice, Will Take Charge (5-1). Just behind him come a handful of the divisional heavyweights: Game On Dude (6-1), Mucho Macho Man (7-1), Palace Malice (8-1), and Lea (12-1).
If you tend to side with the fairer sex, and think one of the fantastic four-year-old fillies can follow in the footsteps of Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and Havre de Grace as recent females to be named Horse of the Year, you can get Beholder at 15-1, while Princess of Sylmar (20-1) and Close Hatches (20-1) are not far behind. Meanwhile, Untapable gets serious respect as the lone three-year-old filly on the list at 15-1.
One of the surest ways to win the Horse of the Year is to win the Triple Crown. It hasn’t been done in 37 years, but if it can be done this year, you can bet the feat will be honored in a big way next January. California Chrome, at 8-1, is far and away the lowest of the three-year-old males, while two of his main competitors for the Run for the Roses, are next on the list in Wicked Strong (40-1) and Hoppertunity (40-1).
Unless your name is Wise Dan, winning the Horse of the Year from the Turf or Sprint divisions is no simple task. If you really like one of them; however, you can find some attractive odds: Secret Circle (60-1), Little Mike (75-1), Big Blue Kitten (75-1), Winning Prize (100-1), and Sahara Sky (100-1).
My choice for the 2014 Horse of the Year, just in case you were wondering, is Palace Malice, and I am not the only one who likes him. For without his owner, Cot Campbell, inquiring to the good folks at William Hill about betting on his horse to win the award, none of this would have happened right now. I am willing to bet that the octogenarian, and driving force behind Dogwood Stable, is betting just a few more dollars on Palace Malice than I will be. Good luck, Cot!